Comedy Skit: Born To Play This Part
Sometimes, usually when I'm wide awake at night, plagued by insomnia, I'll wring a limp comic sketch out of something that tickled me and lodged inside my brain. What follows was inspired by Sir Patrick Stewart (a fellow Town fan but undeniably a massive lush) being interview by Robert Llewellyn in his excellent Carpool vodcast.
We join an episode of "Inside The Actor's Studio" somewhere at a mid-point. A honey-voiced female interviewer is posing the questions to a Shakespearian actor who replies in a cut-glass English accent, every word purposefully and deliberately enunciated, in that way that only Shakespearian actors can.
It has become the role that defines your career as an actor. Inevitably, it's the role you'll be remembered for.
Yes, yes - much to my chagrin, given the broad range of work in my canon...
Could you just talk a little about how you came to play that role?
Well, When I first took on the role it frightened me, I'll be honest.
My agent rang me... it was 1981, 82, something like that. He said to me: "Laurence... I have a script... there's a part... you were BORN to play this part, Laurence, you really were". And I didn't think anything of it, because agents say these things all the time.
But he faxed the script to me. And when I first read it.... oh! the words! the words just jumped off the script... this character was alive! It was thrilling. It resonated with me SO strongly, I can't begin to explain, but it was a character with strength, a tremendous... power, but also subtle vulnerabilities. I knew instantly I absolutely HAD to play this character. I DEVOURED that script, absolutely devoured it! Every word! I imbued myself with this complex, fascinating character. I could feel myself becoming him. I could feel his personality flowing through my veins, flooding my synapses. I was... engulfed!
And I barely practised. Usually, I'll read a script and I'll practise the lines, I'll develop a physicality, I'll sit in front of the mirror and test a range of facial expressions, it's an enormous amount of work ... but this role. I knew it. I. KNEW. IT. It was me. I absorbed it and I was absorbed in it....
And I stood on the stage for my audition, stood in that petrifying spotlight. A voice, the director's voice from the darkness asking me to deliver the lines. I paused for a moment, not knowing what to do, and then.... BANG! like a bolt of lightning! And it simply came pouring out of me...
<ACTOR ADOPTS THE VOICE OF A PATOIS-SPEAKING BLACK MAN FROM CHICAGO>
I ain't gittin' on no plane, ya crazy foo'!
Nobody drives mah van but me!
Quit your jibba-jabba!
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