Friday, December 5, 2014


I never knew that one day I would interview Harold Pinter, Franz Liszt, and Percy Shelley all in the same person. That’s British actor Julian Sands. Some may know him recently for television appearances in the series Dexter and Gotham, but I had the opportunity to talk with him about many of his other roles—on stage as playwright/poet Harold Pinter, on film as composer/pianist Franz Liszt and poet Percy Shelley.

As Harold Pinter, Sands gives a one-man stage show in which he recites and comments on Pinter and his poetry. This show, directed by Sands’s longtime friend, John Malkvich, benefits from Sands’s own association with Pinter, dating back to 2005, when the ailing Pinter worked with him on the genesis of the presentation. As Franz Liszt, Sands worked with director James Lapine in Impromptu, a serio-comic portrayal of Liszt and his friends, Chopin (Hugh Grant), George Sand (Judy Davis), and de Musset (Mandy Patinkin), who had gathered together for a wild weekend in the French countryside. As Shelley, Sands appeared in Ken Russell’s wildly phantasmagoric Gothic, in which he joined Gabriel Byrne as Lord Byron and Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley.

Sands is a very agreeable and talkative interview subject. We spent about a half hour in conversation. He related amusing anecdotes about the hazards of negotiating the notorious speech inflections of Pinter’s rhetoric, the pianistic pantomimings of Liszt’s virtuoso pianism, and the day-to-day antics of Ken Russell on the set.

Sands is presently contemplating a new stage presentation in which he returns to poetry of Shelley.

My thanks to Emily Biermann of Johnson County Community College for the interview opportunity. Sands appears at that venue tonight (December 5) as part of a national tour.

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