Thursday, March 20, 2008

Paul Scofield, RIP

The great actor, Paul Scofield, is dead at 86. Check out these two clips of his acting, one from A Man For All Seasons and one from Mel Gibson's Hamlet.

Both clips feature brilliant acting. Scofield's Ghost quietly and convincingly shows the agony this creature is in -- something most actors miss in this role.

The writing in these clips is also pretty good. The scene from A Man For All Seasons has a nice defense of law against the medieval religious mentality. And Hamlet is, well... it's Hamlet. I'm always struck by how modern Shakespeare's writing is in this play. It is one of the great masterpieces of drama, a work of art that enhances your life for experiencing it.

When I watch a master like Scofield at work, I am inspired to make the extra effort in my own work. A good actor is not satisfied with mediocrity, not when such greatness is possible.

(If you want to see another bit of brilliant Shakespearean acting, though not featuring Scofield, check out this scene from Coriolanus starring Alan Howard. The language is quite difficult, but it's worth watching the whole scene. The way Howard says "Shall remain!" is spine-tingling. I find Coriolanus a fascinating play because it is about a proud hero who disdains the mob.)


Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

He was wonderful. The last thing I saw him in was the British TV mini-series of Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit.

I seldom went to the theater when I was still living in London but, because I loved A Man For All Seasons and had seen it three times, I went to see him in Uncle Vanya at the Royal Court in 1970. The TV or film screen didn't do him justice.

I just read that he was married to the same woman for 45 years.

Mike said...

I am in awe of his performance in A Man For All Seasons. RIP indeed.