Friday, March 21, 2008

Paul Scofield RIP

Paul Scofield died last Wednesday. He was known as a very good actor, mostly on stage, but also in several films. For many of us he will be best remembered as Sir Thomas More in the first film version of A Man for All Seasons. He inhabited the role, and if, like me, you watched the film over and over and listened to the records of the performance many more times, he was More.

The play and the script for the film were written by Robert Bolt. Here is a portion of it. The speakers are More and his prospective son-in-law. The initial reference is to a man who had just left them, Richard Rich.
More: Go he should, if he were the Devil, until he broke the law.

Roper: Now you give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes, what would you do? Cut a road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: Yes. I'd cut down every law in England to do that.

More: And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted with laws from coast to coast... Man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the wind that would blow then? Yes. I give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety's sake.
From the Los Angeles Times about Scofield:
Scofield originated the role of More, the morally courageous 16th century chancellor of England who defied King Henry VIII, in Robert Bolt's "A Man for All Seasons" on the London stage in 1960.

A year later, he was playing More on Broadway, a role for which he won a Tony Award for best actor in a play.

"With a kind of weary magnificence," a Time magazine writer observed, "Scofield sinks himself in the part, studiously underplays it, and somehow displays the inner mind of a man destined for sainthood."

His best-actor Oscar-winning performance as More in Zinnemann's movie version of "A Man for All Seasons" - which won six Oscars, including best picture - brought Scofield international fame.

Not that he sought such attention.

An intensely private man - "Privacy is not negotiable" - Scofield did not seek publicity and rarely gave interviews. "It is a snare and a delusion to become too well known," he once said.
IOL: Actor Paul Schofield dies, Paul Scofield, 86; award- winning British actor - Los Angeles Times

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