|Interviewer: Robin Hughes
Recorded: November 14, 2002
This is a transcript of the complete original interview conducted for the Australian Biography project. Each transcript page covers one videotape (approximately 35 minutes). There is also QuickTime video of the full interview available. To play the video, click on the icon in the right hand column. In addition, each question in the transcript is linked to the video. Clicking on a question will play the video from that point. (Help with this feature.) Optionally, you can download the video file for offline viewing (approx. 10MB).
The interview has been left it in its original state so that you can get a sense of how the conversation developed. The repetition of some questions, or a question followed by another question, is often due to the end of a particular tape or some other interruption, and has been indicated at the appropriate place in the text. There has been minimal tidying up of the text so that the flavour of the encounter has been kept.
In talking about acting, you've talked about how as well as the craft of acting, there are a whole lot of rules about behaviour. About to be a good acting employee, I suppose, somebody who behaves well on the set. Has that stood you in good stead, do you think, in getting roles?
Oh, very, well - I don't - it may, yes. It was interesting. I did a lot of first episodes of quite good series in England for a while, particularly ones produced by a very good producer called Richard Bates, son of the famous H.E. Bates, the author. I said to him, "This is beaut", because it often meant that I wasn't in for the whole run but a very good guest role. And he said, "Oh, it's just that we like the way that you work so it's good to get you into the first episodes because it's a good influence around the place". Which was a very flattering thing to say. But I would thank Scotty Ehrenberg and those classes all those years before, the workshops in Sydney before I did 'Always Another Dawn'. Because the one marvellous thing that I and Joe Scully and those of us who were in that class learnt was that there are other people doing very important work on the movie set and you must be aware of everybody else. I suppose that's one of the main reasons why I love movies. It's a very cooperative art, if you like.
You've left a few shows. Have you ever been sacked?
Yes. Oh yeah, I think I claim to have got sacked five times by Crawfords at various times. Mainly when I was being a director. I laugh about it now but it was a little bit worrying at the time I suppose because of the family. But I was one of the early directors on 'The Sullivans' but I was trying to insist on the actors sticking to that very carefully crafted script and it was structured in a way that meant it was accurate for 1939 language in Australia and if the actors adlibbed, it came up to 1978 or 9, whenever we were making the show. And I used to, as I had once said to Johnny Alderton, "If you can stick to the script, you'll be a much better actor if you can make the difficult line work even if it's using phrases that you're not used to saying". And I remember saying to, I think it was Michael Caton, "Now look, if it was Shakespeare you wouldn't change it". And he said, "I think that this isn't Shakespeare", and I said, "How do you know?" In about 300 years it might well be considered to be the Shakespeare of its day. But, yeah, and I remember Ian Crawford saying, "Look, you know, it is a bit of a problem that you're being so insistent on that so we'll let you go". And I must admit in a few weeks they got me back and I said, "Do you want me to get them to stick to the script?"
He says [sic], "You be a bit more flexible if you like". Not on 'The Sullivans', though we tried to keep that accurate. But yes, there were other, I don't know whether I was sacked for bad behaviour or anything. But, no, I was, I think the euphemism is 'I was let go'. So. But I was always reemployed as soon as they could.
So what were the - how did you feel when that happened, Bud? I mean you'd never - this wasn't a familiar experience for you, was it?
No, it wasn't. Oh, the feet went back on the ground pretty quickly I guess. But somebody did say something reassuring to me which is not a very nice phrase and I don't particularly want to use it accurately, that phrase accurately. But it was sort of suggesting that Crawfords were renowned for keeping people on who weren't likely to be able to look after themselves if they were let go. And they would let people go who were very likely to get another job fairly quickly. And it was quite a nice thing about Crawfords. Maybe a bit paternalistic or something but they, if they had people who, perhaps they were training and weren't fully skilled, they'd try and keep them on so they didn't have to go out into the, into the dangerous big world and fight for themselves. But those of us who'd been around a bit, yes they'd let us go so we could, knowing we could look after ourselves. That was the reasoning anyway. Slightly reassuring.
Now, in relation to your life, we've had a description of a life that was, even though you were sacked and - what implications did that have for the family? Were you, were you ever in financial difficulty when you had a family?
Yes and no. It was, in a way it was a sort of false difficulty. I remember when I was working out here first, we kept the house on in London. We had somebody in looking after it, paying what I think was called a caretaker's rent. A rather low rent but we knew they were happy if we had to go back, to go, they'd go out. A family, small family. And, and, so that was it. So I had a house and I think I owned it, I'm not sure whether we still had, we owed money on it or not. But I remember when I first got let go at Crawfords, I think it was my daughter saying, telling me she'd just heard me doing a voiceover that had gone to air. And she said, "No it's good. You'll get a lot of those". And I don't think I got all that many but that was slightly reassuring. They rallied, I guess and, again, it didn't seem to interfere with their school work. They were still doing well at school and Christopher was swotting hard for his, looking towards getting a science course at one of the universities which he did do eventually. And, no the family was great. Audrey never, as I think I said before, never wanted to go to the very posh restaurants or anything like that. We seldom were eating out. We were all sort of homebodies and things, yeah. So, yeah, it, but - yes, of course it's a worry and suddenly you realise, yeah, wait a minute, this is a big, real world I'm in here, you know.
Everybody talks about you, you know, in making enquiries about you, in talking to other people about you, everybody talks about you as really the essential Mister Nice Guy, as someone said. Have you ever had a serious falling out with anybody?
I must have done. Oh yes. I, I did something appalling to Scotty Ehrenberg, when I think back on it. And I bumped into him on the street and he was, "Ooh, I've met some people in my time but..." And what happened was, when he got me the job directing at Charles E. Blanks, he, I called out to say thanks and he said, "How's it going?" I said, "Ooh, golly it's tough. You know, very limited raw stock and we've got to be so carefully prepared and I don't know that they need to be quite so careful with the thing". And while I was sitting there he picked up the phone and rang Clarrie Blanks and said, "Look I sent you a very good bloke. Now that's, this is not the way to treat him". And Scotty really, perhaps thoughtlessly went to bat on my behalf. Presumably thinking he was doing, doing the right thing. Now when I got into the office next time, they were all saying, "What the heck did you say to Scotty Ehrenberg?" And I thought, oh the danger - what is it? Is it the Chinese whispering system or something, that something quoted by somebody else, by somebody else. And I said, "Oh, no, no, no. You know, Scotty, no, he, you know, went just a bit over the top". And, instead of saying, "Well yes, I did tell him how difficult it is to work with only a certain amount of raw stock" and so and so and so and so. And I suppose, yes, I did, I denied him in a - I don't think in a terribly serious way.
And then somebody must have rung Scotty and said, "What are you, what do you mean? He said it's all right. He's happy to be working here". And that's when Scotty, Scotty must have got very angry with me for not backing him. Now, if he'd asked me if I, I will ring them and go crook, I would have said, "Ooh no, don't", and would have talked him out of it. But before I could say anything Scotty picked the phone up and - believing he was doing the right thing. And that was a big lesson to me. Because I'll never forget his face when he bumped into me the street in the city and he said, "Ooh, listen", you know. And I, I'm - sadly I don't remember that I saw that much of him after that and I was very grateful to him. But you know, it, it, I'm sure I must have done that to people. But I think that's one of the things that made me extremely cautious about talking about people too much. Unless you can say something reasonably good about them, shut up about it, you know.
So that's the worst falling out you've ever had in your life?
Well, it was, in my book it was severe, it was a big black mark I gave myself.
So you have had - you have had a policy that you won't talk badly of anybody? If you can't say something good about somebody, you won't talk about them.
Yeah. And also, don't forget, I was living through what I thought was a fairly dangerous time when you think of the McCarthy situation in America and the disastrous effect that had on people's careers at perhaps a falsely active political, controversial time that was probably being used for other reasons. I, I felt that was dangerous and when I suspected that it was starting to happen here, it made me very, very cautious indeed. And I suppose if, according to somebody, I did stick my neck out by never saying anything, you know, particularly bad about anybody, even if I were in a position to know something about them. I'm sure my own family had suspicions about my political feelings and I think I, I've been sitting politically on the fence for very many years and it's very uncomfortable sometimes and it hurts. And I love the fact that I've never had to really tell people how I vote out here which I think is rather beaut. But, yeah, I - it, it can be dangerous and I'm trying to think of - you know, after getting sacked because I asked the actors to stick to the script and being rather shocked when a slightly disguised reporting of the incident appeared in one of the TV papers. All those actors have apologised to me, except one, who's - I've worked with recently and is a very good guy. And on one film we were working on, he was the only one in the cast who wanted to change one line and we all talked him out of it. And I helped talk him out of it. That was many years later. And he shall be nameless.
Now, you have lived through a life as an actor, where there's a lot of uncertainty. Where you're never quite sure what's going to happen next. You've lived through [cough]. Excuse me, I've got your problem. You've lived through a situation in which, you know, your wife sometimes - your much loved wife has been ill, and then you lost her. You've had all these difficulties and yet you seem to me intriguingly to be essentially a happy man. Am I right?
I think so, yes. I think I've sometimes surprised myself by being able to get over things when the circumstances are right. We had a really big medical fright five months ago when my youngest granddaughter was born. Things went wrong for both Liz, my daughter-in-law and the baby, and they were both in intensive care in different hospitals within about 24 hours and we weren't sure how it was going to go for about, oh, a bit over 48 hours. And awful for Christopher my son and we, we, we had no idea what was going to happen and weren't game to think of the worst, though the worst was possible. And, I must touch wood, we think everything's been fine and they both seem to have recovered. And I'm sometimes surprised that I've almost forgotten about it. And I haven't of course, the moment I think about it. But, there may be some lack in me that, that I haven't had to dwell on things too much. Except of course the ongoing problem when we realised Audrey was seriously ill over what really turned out to be quite a long period. But she was naughty because she'd never complain, you see.
Is it important to you to maintain optimism? Do you think that's the trick?
I don't think I've consciously done it. And, I - looking back my memory of my mum a lot is Mum sitting there with a fairly benign look on her face saying, "Mmm?" And you wondered whether she was really taking it all in and I don't think that, you know, if I told her that "Gee whiz it was dangerous being shot at over an enemy territory", I don't think Mum would say, "Mmm? That's interesting". I'm sure she'd be concerned about it. But I don't remember that she ever displayed too much negative emotion. And she'd been through quite a bit in World War I, having lost a fiancé long before she met Dad, of course, and watched her elder brother go through all, you know, join the army, go to France and get back. And that generation had enormous things to handle and whether they developed a sort of front that, you know, covered things up. But I don't remember my mother being apparently terribly concerned. She must have gone crook at me a lot because I don't think I was terribly [sic] good child and I do remember being chased around the back of the flats in Randwick by my young, youngest uncle, Uncle Viv, Mum's youngest brother. And he had a feather duster in his hand and he had the feather part in his hand and I got whacked by the cane end for being cheeky to me mum. He was being the protective brother of the mum with the difficult child. So I've got a feeling I had been pretty difficult. But, yeah, no, I think - if it is a fairly basic optimism, I've think it's come from Mum somehow. And certainly she had to cop some difficult stuff in the Depression.
What does it mean to you to be Australian?
Oh, the, it, it - the feeling I used to get was a very deep feeling of great luck to be born here. If, even in the old days, I remember, you know, we, we used to, in the, I can remember in the primary school we used to think about, you know we didn't know that much about it, you couldn't fly around Australia very easily in those days except, unless you were Kingsford Smith or somebody. But I remember we, somehow or other we thought, especially living in Coogee, "Gee whiz, it's not bad. You've got a great beach here and it's only half an hour by tram into the city". And it was just a general feeling of what a beaut place to be. I remember being very concerned when, when I would have been about eight or nine maybe. One of our teachers at Coogee Public School saying the huge problem they had with the Aborigines and we were all, yes, paid attention. And that was to try to keep them alive. And they, there was a feeling at that time according to him, that if we weren't very careful the Aboriginal community could gradually die out after a certain time. Especially full-bloods and tribal people who were living in, what in those days were considered very difficult circumstances. And, and that, that was pretty alarming.
And the, the other thing I remember us having a big discussion about, what the potential population could be and that was linked to a - gee whiz, we are only about seven or eight million people in those days in this huge land mass. And then I remember we worked out all the land that matched in type. The land in, say, the United Kingdom and we did a great bit of arithmetic. Well, I suppose not bad for about eight or nine. That we could probably, with luck, make fifty million one day if we used the land carefully that was a bit like the land all over the United Kingdom and or Europe. So we must have been concerned about problems, but, in fact, those were not the same as living in an earthquake area or a, you know, a flood plain, or drought didn't really get that close to Sydney very often in those days. Used to be worried about your friends who may have relatives out in the country but I don't remember too many major worries about huge problems and we must have had, and obviously did have, bush fires and things like that. So, in general, you just sort of kind of felt lucky that you were in a country that didn't have those huge problems. And didn't seem to have many riots, except Captain de Groot did cut the ribbon at the opening of the Harbour Bridge in 1932 before Jack Lang did. I can remember Dad being very concerned about this chap in Germany who was starting to be nasty to all sorts of people and were they going to build up to yet another war. But, again, just being in Australia, you, it always felt beaut somehow.
You've lived overseas and therefore you have a bit of perspective on it. Do you have a view that there is such a thing as an Australian character and if so, what, what are the qualities that you think of as Australian?
Yeah, I, I, yes, I suppose there is and, and I suppose it's that which, you know, a lot of people discuss. You know, a bit of a rebellious background and, yes, the convict thing and all that. And I think people to have survived going way back to our very early settlers, must have taken considerable courage and expertise and skill and I remember having an argument with a very well-educated actor friend, a little bit older than I, not all that long ago, about the fact that we must remember that in 1788-9 and 1800, you couldn't hop in an aircraft and fly around and see if there were any people living out there. And to some extent that almost excused the terra nullius attitude that there were vast areas of Australia that were even, were bigger than Europe with nobody living there at all and even the Aboriginal community, knowing if a, a white or European person were going to try and drift out into those areas, they would try and stop them because they were uninhabitable areas. To feel that there were dangerous parts of Australia if you got lost or if you were going to try and do it by horseback or camel or something and your animal died, you were in a lot of trouble. Now, Europe wouldn't have quite as many of those sorts of problems and, even the controversial nature of Burke and Wills but, boy, they, they had to take an awful lot of supplies with them and they didn't have jeeps and trucks and things like that.
So it's an awful lot of courage, I believe, that's become sort of unfashionable to talk about, that was displayed by people who've - and it's not all that long ago by world standards. I remember we were going to do a filmed version for the ABC, long before telly, of the Sturt row down the Murray. And ultimately I had to drop out. Grant Taylor and I were going to do it. Play, he was going to play Sturt and I was going to play his, his lieutenant or second-in-command. And eventually Rod Taylor took over from me which was good for them because Row [Rod] was a good rower. He used to row with the surf club. And I went off to do the 'Kangaroo' movie. But I had the - and somewhere I've got an old fashioned photocopy of Sturt's diary of that trip and it's enormously inspirational. And the, the friendships they made with two particular Aboriginal tribal people, who became their friends as they went down, and used to run along the bank while they rowed down and joined them at night and just, they had no language in common but they, they made some sort of communication. And then they lost sight of them and they were about to be attacked by a warlike tribe at the end of the, the row and they'd lost sight of their friends days before and suddenly these friends turned up and turned it into a welcoming committee. And - fabulous story. But just thinking of the difficulties of doing all that with the happy outcome that could have been a tragic outcome. All that, I think, has subtly coloured us, you know, subsequent generations. And it's a long time - since they had to do that in Europe, you know.
So you think of resourcefulness and courage?
Oh yes. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah and I think in, say in Sturt's case, I mean the, the support he had of his team of, you know, I bet they were strongly disciplined naval chaps who were, were used to the discipline of the navy. But, by golly, they were a very close knit together group as was the, you know, the Shackleton teams and, you know, and Frank Hurley, the brilliant Australian photographer. To be able to dive down and get - I mean of course it's done all over the world in various ways, but Australia seems to have had an awful lot of that in a relatively short history.
What did you miss most, when you were overseas, about Australia?
I don't know that there were [sic] anything in great detail. There was just a strange longing and we all seemed to share it, those Aussie mates. And we seemed to stick together a bit, not by design, it just happened that way, just missing home. Missing Australia. And I can't remember being terribly, you know, oh, I do miss being able to go down to Coogee and swim. I don't remember that all that much and there was, there were lots of beautiful parts of the United Kingdom all over it and Ireland and places. I don't know. I think there is a magic about this country and it gets into you and it's probably quite hard to explain, though great writers and things have done so, I'm sure, over and over again from their point of view.
What kind of an Australia do you want your grandchildren to grow up in?
Well, I don't want it to change too much because at the moment, compared with the rest of the world, it's having a pretty good run. I should touch wood for that too. But - and I love the fact that we are - we have received wonderful influences since World War II from countries all over the place. And that influence from Europe or from wherever and the general look of Australians is changing because of influences of other racial groups and things coming in. And to me it seems wonderful. Providing we can keep, keep it together and not sort of split up into too many factions. And I still feel a bit funny when somebody says "I'm, I'm a, I'm a Callathumpian, no I'm a Patagonian Australian". I'm trying to think of something safe to say. But, I, I like people to say, well I'm an Aussie, you know. But people are starting sometimes to say, "I'm Greek" or "I'm Italian", but they were born here and I think you've got to be a little bit careful of that. And, maintain their respect for the, their country of origin, or their parents' or grandparents' origin of course. And I got quite a kick out of finding out that my grandfather, Dad's father, was actually born in Sweden. I like that. I feel good about that. Though I think my mother was a bit worried when they were telling me.
She said, "You don't mind?" I said, "No, I think it's wonderful". Because they, we all thought that Dad's father came from some part of England or some, or Ireland or somewhere. So, but yeah, and I think at the moment we've got, not only, you know, the balance right, but - and I'd like to see, I'd like people to be a bit more open about and hear a bit more about some of the great achievers in the Aboriginal community. Going back a very, very long time too. Not just the recent high achieving people. And there were great achievers in, in, you know, way, way back. I'd like a little bit more knowledge to be spread around about things like that.
And in relation to the film industry, what do you see as the future for the film industry in Australia?
Well, I'd, I'd obviously love it to keep going because I think it's a very, very important educational tool for Australia in general for ourselves and it's very, very good public relations for Australia in general overseas. But I think a good film industry, whether it be for feature films or documentaries or both, is, is just a marvellous modern type of record. It's the equivalent a huge, well-stocked library or, or an encyclopaedia or something. But I love the fact that people get a surprise about Australia. We showed 'Bitter Springs', not all that long ago, at a special showing and there were quite learned film people coming up and saying, "My golly, I didn't know we knew about land rights back in 1949". So, I think it's very good for people to know that we did know about land rights and we made a film about whether we should be there or the Aboriginal community should stay there. I think that's, it's important that we made that movie at the time. It's a shame that nobody knew about until relatively recently again. But, you know, the modern filmmakers are making their 'Rabbit Proof Fence's and their 'Aussie Rules', 'Australian Rules' films with good, strong Aboriginal stories. So to me that, that increasing knowledge is, is very good for the country. I just think, I suppose, if we can keep it going at a, hopefully a very intelligent level.
Do you think that it's possible for us to contemplate a film and television industry here without government support?
It's a hard one. I, I like to think in the old days, in the '30s, I'm pretty sure Cinesound had a pretty good run when they were making quite successful films that did fit into the possible box office returns in Australia and show a bit of a profit. I, I don't think it's going to be possible to maintain a good film industry and a secure film industry without some form of government support. But I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be the only country to maintain some sort of government support. I'm sure the Americans, somewhere along the line, have got some sort of checks and balances that are covered by government support. Because I think the Americans have always believed that their film industry is a very important part of, not only their own culture, but their general public relations around the world. I, I suppose, I suppose it won't hurt for us to be very, very economical filmmakers and clever filmmakers like the people who made 'The Castle'. Or Chips Rafferty's 'Phantom Stockman', when he made it for almost no money at all.
In your own experience, have influential Australians in the film industry, such as leading distributors and so on, always been in favour of Australian content and Australian film industry? Or has there been some mixture of feeling there?
Yes, I, I think it would be unfair to say that, not to acknowledge that there were wonderful people like Hercules McIntyre, six foot six, christened Hercules. Tall man, known as Herc McIntyre. I think he ran Greater Union for a long time. He was always very supportive of the industry. There were other people in other companies, at least as important as Greater Union, who perhaps were quite open in their belief that we didn't need an industry in Australia. Didn't need a filmmaking industry because they had access to all the greatest films from overseas. In fact I did hear one particular leading CEO of one of those sorts of companies, when we were on location for a film way back in the post-war years, saying it was silly for us to be making movies because we could bring in, our company can bring in the very best from the United States and other parts of the world so we didn't need to make our own. And that, I'm sure, is the argument made by various shirt making people who said, we don't need to make our own shirts, we can bring them in from. I'm sure it's a standard sort of, you know, industrial problem, that should a company, a country like us be making things that can be imported even more cheaply. And I suppose it's alright if we can bring in cheap shirts, as long as we don't think about the poor people trying to make them for no money at all in strange parts of the world that have economies nowhere as rich as ours. So it, it's maybe a tricky problem. But film industry is, is different. It's really such a part of the, I suppose the cultural fabric, the educational fabric of any country, that we mustn't allow those considerations to govern our attitude and I've never agreed with that man who said, we don't need to make them because we can bring in the best from anywhere, particularly America.
What about you Bud? What do you see as your future?
At my age? To be able to get up in the morning and breathe is, is comforting. I, I - awful smug thing to say, I don't have anything I particularly want to do professionally. I love seeing the grandchildren growing up. But now that they keep developing brilliant electronic devices which are way over my head, I wouldn't mind doing a little bit of television directing again to sit in, in with one of the computer experts and see how editing can be done much more easily than the last time I directed. Wouldn't have to do all that arithmetic with time codes and things. But that's about all.
Do you think at all - you've been through it with your wife - do you think at all about death?
Yeah I do. Yeah. Not dramatically. As long as it doesn't hurt, I'm not too worried. But I occasionally think back to that extraordinary moment in the aircraft when I thought I was going to crash into the Mediterranean and that amazingly calm feeling I had. And I once heard a, I think it was a nursing sister, who was in a very difficult, oh, tunnel collapse or something and she was trying to rescue somebody and she suddenly realised in a moment she was to die and she described an extraordinarily calm feeling which matched the way I did. And whatever miracle happened, she didn't, and the rescuers got there or the collapse didn't take place. Something happened and she was saved. And it matched exactly the strange feeling I had for a very short period of time, maybe a split second. So that aspect of it - and I was actually holding Audrey's hand when she died and it was extremely peaceful and calm. So that aspect, aspect doesn't worry me.
For both of you... For Both of you?
I felt a strange, I felt a similar feeling myself to that moment in the aircraft and I'm sure she did though she was not very conscious. She'd been conscious in the morning and was very dozy in the afternoon and, and her breathing just slowly, gently stopped. And so, but there was a moment or two there. I remember the nursing sister, I was talking to Audrey and, and I said, "Oh, should I be doing this?" "Yes", said, "yes, keep doing that because that's the last sense to go". Hearing, apparently. And David Williamson had almost that same line in one of his recent plays. And I mentioned it to David when I was talking to him about it and he'd researched it and apparently that is true. So, somehow or other I felt Audrey and I shared an extraordinary, I suppose, calm moment at that time. But, yeah.
And that's what you'd hope for for yourself at the end?
Yeah, I don't want it to hurt.
Do you think there's life after death?
Oh. Yet to be proved I suppose. I do like, I'd love to think there's something going on. It's one of the reasons I'd loved about Alan Hopgood's play, 'The Carer', the chap is chatting to his wife's photograph a lot and, occasionally he says, "No, wait a minute, if you're anywhere at all", so and so and so and so. And I must admit I felt like that with Audrey a lot. And my son and daughter and I often laugh about the fact that, I remember if I did something silly in the kitchen, that became Mum having fun. You know, making me spill the sugar or something. And, but I, I, I sometimes, half joking, say, I've had such an amazing run, Audrey's got a great influence in high places saying, keep the old so and so busy. I, is - I once heard a bishop in England discussing such things and he accepted that we don't really know and no matter how many books they write about it, whether Old Testaments or New Testaments, we really don't know. And, yeah, I'm happy with that. But it's a nice thought and I can live on the possibility which is OK I guess.
Have you ever been religious?
Oh, yeah, yeah. I taught Sunday school when I was about fourteen. Until my seven old brother came into my class. And I can remember I was going through a slightly difficult teenage period at home and I'd have some violent, not violent but angry arguments with Mum and or Dad or both and then go down and try and teach Sunday school to my, my little brother. So I slowly stopped teaching Sunday school. The hypocrisy started to get me a bit. Or my hypocrisy. I, I can remember thinking, when I first became aware of, say Christ's history and work and what happened to him and everything or is said to have happened to happened to him, I thought what a beaut bloke he must be. And I was very impressed in the McCarthy period when, as a bit of a test, the people who were really terribly worried about McCarthy and what he was doing to the United States' political freedom, when they did a sort of plain language version of the 'Sermon on the Mount' and gave that to various people and say, "What would you think if somebody said all this?" They said, "Oh, Communist obviously". And I thought, yeah, well, that's interesting that there's been a lot of wisdom around, whether you agree with Communists or Socialists or whatever, but there's, there's a lot of very deep thinking going on the way our species might survive. And there haven't been too many people in high places, apart from perhaps Nelson Mandela, who've really obeyed some of those principles. And I suppose I'm into turning the other cheek and things a bit here and there.
So you've lived by Christian principles but you don't really believe in...
I don't know that I believe, awful thing to say, the magic part of it. But as a practical way through life, I think it is terribly good and, at its best I think, dare I say it, a really good film unit gets close to some of those principles.
How do you mean?
Well, a really good film unit can't operate unless everybody is absolutely totally cooperative. And that actor A is not trying to upstage actor B and you've got to be concerned about the guy behind the camera and the guy with the microphone boom and with this, and the make-up people and all those things. And if you're all working to one thing called a nice result called a movie, if we're all doing that in a community to work to a nice result called life or something, that wouldn't be too bad. And I think, often accidentally, often, you know, with some degree of inspiration from groups of people, it tends to happen. Not always and not everywhere.
How important to your happiness has it been to try to be unselfish? Is that an important value to you?
Yes. Yeah. I'm haunted by the selfishness of me not being game to back Scotty Ehrenberg up when he perhaps tactlessly complained to Clarrie Blanks that time. I'd, I'd hate to be accused of upstaging another actor in a scene.
[end of interview]