Advice to Young Actors
Michael York, OBE is an English actor. An early career with the National Youth Theater, Oxford University Dramatic Society, and University College Players led him to the National Theater in London. After acclaimed roles in Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet (1968), Cabaret (1972) and Jesus of Nazareth (1977), he is more recently known among mainstream audiences for his role as Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers series of comedy films. Classically trained, Michael York wrote a handbook "A Shakespearean Actor Prepares."
You know, I've been luck because I've been working. And I think that's the only reward. You know, we get these wonderful little gold statues and this and that and other awards and you know, it's basically a shop window for the profession we are all, you know, we're better off for it. But basically the only reward, is to be allowed to carry on your profession. I remember I worked for the great Billy Wilder, this creative genius of American film, in a film that was very hard for him to put together. It was called "Fedora," you know. You would think that producers would line up offering you know, him one film after another to do. But no, it was hard you know, to raise the money. And then afterwards, you know, he won the rewards-- the awards started coming in whatever. I remember he said, you know, "This is-- what I'd really would like to have given me, is another movie." But everyone, you know, makes their own career. There's no structure. There's no path through the jungle. You don't do this to do that. You just you know, the advice I was given starting out I think is good advice. And it was to believe in yourself and your ability to succeed because you're going to enter a profession where lots of people are not going to believe in you. They're going to reject you and they're often wrong, you know, as it turns out. So you have to have this firm core of belief that one day you're going to succeed. And the terrible thing is, that sometimes this breakthrough happens much later in life. I was unbelievably lucky that it happened earlier on in my career. You know, one thing led to another. Other people have to wait. But it's-- I think it can be a you know, it can be a most wonderful profession as you know, an interpreter of mankind to be able to get behind the words, words, words that lie dead on a page, breathe life into them and so that people respond to the you know, the beauty of the words’ insights and the words in a much more powerful way than maybe they can get from just reading. And I think that's the other thing, you know, that we've always had this ability to sit in audience among your fellow man and create this unique experience of reacting you know, with actors on the stage. I just hope this experience will continue. I know that we are in this highly electronic age and everything is downloaded and it comes to you directly on your, you know, on your screen or on your watch or your phone, that we are not going to lose this wonderful thing of being in a society, of sitting in a communal experience and sharing you know whatever is happening.
There is no path through the jungle - everyone makes their own career, says York.
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