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I once met Ralph Richardson

Regulars | By Benedict Nightingale | July 2017


'A great actor and an almost equally great eccentric'. Benedict Nighingale remembers Ralph Richardson, who considered acting a better choice than being a hangman.

I was in a panic when I went to interview Ralph Richardson for the New York Times in 1982. Too much of my allotted half-hour was spent in a discussion of how to get to his first-floor drawing room (‘stairs or lift?’). More time went on deciding drinks (‘gin or whisky or gin and whisky?’). But what of my rapidly vanishing interview? Well, my frantic scribblings told me that he relished his latest role, which was as Tarzan’s titled grandfather in a film about the jungle gymnast. I recall Sir Ralph leaning forward, face mottled and eyes bulging, saying, ‘I’ve this huge bloody castle and nobody to leave it to, so I want the boy back!’ Also, that his favourite part was as an innocent-looking parson in a film called The Ghoul, starring Boris Karloff: ‘The lady of the house trusted him, but he was getting together firewood to burn...

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