Stephen Fry’s Heroes
Comedian, actor and writer Stephen Fry was born in 1957 in London and brought up in Norfolk. He attended Queen’s College Cambridge from 1979, joining the Cambridge Footlights Dramatic Club where he met Hugh Laurie, with whom he forged a highly successful writing partnership. His first play, Latin! or Tobacco and Boys, written for Footlights, won a Fringe First at Edinburgh Festival in 1980. He wrote again for theatre in 1984 when he rewrote Noel Gay’s musical Me and My Girl (1990). This was nominated for a Tony Award in 1987.
He has written for television and screen, and as a newspaper columnist – for the Literary Review, Daily Telegraph and The Listener. Stephen Fry's four novels are The Liar (1991), The Hippopotamus (1994), Making History (1996) and The Stars' Tennis Balls (2000). He has also published a collection of work entitled Paperweight (1992); Moab is My Washpot (1997) - an autobiography; and Rescuing the Spectacled Bear: A Peruvian Journey (2002) – his diary of the making of a documentary on the plight of the spectacled bears of Peru.
His book, Stephen Fry's Incomplete History of Classical Music (2004), written with Tim Lihoreau, is based on his award-winning series on Classic FM and is an irreverent romp through the history of classical music. The Ode Less Travelled - a book about poetry - was published in 2005. His latest book is Stephen Fry in America (Harper Collins 2008).
Question: Who are your heroes?
Stephen Fry: We’ve mentioned some of my heroes. Oscar Wilde is certainly one. I like people who are as unlike me as possible, which is not an expression of self disgust or self hatred, but it’s just that you know you obviously particularly admire things that you recognize yourself as not having, so ornery artists, people who speak their mind and don’t care who knows it because I fear that one of my greatest faults is my desire to please all the time and my dislike of offending people. I think it’s a good thing in many ways. I’m absolute attacking my own instinct for politeness, but I think I admire artists who just speak out or who are strong, so it’s very hard. You know if I name them I’ll go home thinking why didn’t I name this person or that person and obviously the usual suspects of the you know. Your Mandela’s and your whatnots, how can you not admire them? But also and this will sound sentimental, people who live quiet ordinary lives of unremembered kindness, people like my brother. I’m not saying he is ordinary. He is remarkable, but you know he is a reminder to me of the you know the… just the virtues of being a good person.
Recorded December 8, 2009
The British comedian admires Oscar Wilde, Nelson Mandela and likes "anyone as unlike [him] as possible."
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Photo credit: Jie Zhao / Getty contributor
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