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."
Question: Will America get a president who can engage citizens?
Michael York: Wow. That is a consummation devoutly to be wished, as Hamlet said. And I'm not sure it's the president's function. I would like to think that someone sets the example and it sort of trickles down and that the funding opportunities are there. Obviously you know, in Washington there is the Kennedy Center you know, as a sort of focus of what can happen when you have an enlightened president who sees the value of the performing arts. And we are at this extraordinary stage in American life where we are about to elect a president and it's a very important choice, where you know, whether having spent a lot of the country's wealth on funding wars and keeping us secure, which is very, very important, not to be denied. You just have a feeling that the wealth should be shared among things that not just, you know, don't just simply make people. But make them extraordinary and you know, educated and enlightened. And all those things that you know, that are enshrined in that-- in the phrase of the constitution about the pursuit of happiness, which I think you know, concentrating on war does not do.
York quotes Hamlet: "A consummation devoutly to be wished."
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Sigmund Freud, circa 1921. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
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