INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO: CHRISTOPHER REEVE (TV)

Summary

One in this series of interview programs at New York City's New School for Social Research, in which host James Lipton explores the work of well-known individuals in the performing arts. In this program, recorded at the John L. Tishman Theater, Lipton talks to actor and director Christopher Reeve, less than two years after the horse-riding accident that left Reeve a quadriplegic.

The conversation touches on such topics as: his first role as a child singer in "The Yeoman of the Guard'; embracing the "family" within the theater program at Princeton Day School, where he appeared in several more plays; his musical education, including music theory; attending Cornell University at his parents' behest, followed by the Juilliard School under famed teacher and actor John Houseman; portraying villainous Ben Harper on the soap opera "Love of Life" alongside onscreen wife Elizabeth Kemp, then the youngest actor ever admitted to the Actors Studio; his close friendship with Katharine Hepburn, who played his grandmother in the Broadway play "A Matter of Gravity"; why a sense of "snobbery" initially led him to have doubts about a film adaption of "Superman" (1978), for which he was cast after a worldwide search; playing the do-gooder extraterrestrial character as a "friend with no sense of self-importance"; inspiration from Cary Grant in "Bringing Up Baby" (1938) for his portrayal of shy Clark Kent, Superman's Earthly alter ego; a memorable compliment from actor John Wayne while presenting together at the 1979 Academy Awards; contrasting the Superman role, which he reprised in three sequels, with the part of a disabled, gay Vietnam veteran in the play "Fifth of July" in 1980; the particular challenges of the pocket-less Superman costume; why the theater is a place of "renewal" for an actor; playing a duplicitous character in "Deathtrap" (1982), directed by the meticulous Sidney Lumet; why he values rehearsal time; his appearance at the 1996 Democratic National Convention to address the issue of medical research for disabilities; how he chooses his acting roles; why an actor needs to "see the humanity," but not necessarily the likability, in a character; mastering a Southern accent for his role in "The Bostonians" (1984); his praise for director James Ivory and "intimidating" co-star Vanessa Redgrave; his experiences as a pilot, including solo trips across the Atlantic and a terrifying incident in which he believed himself doomed when a flight to Reykjavik went awry; his small part as Congressman Lewis in "The Remains of the Day" (1993) as the role of which he's most proud; a greeting from gold medalist equestrian Joseph Fargis (present in the audience); his first outing as a director for the TV movie "In the Gloaming" (1997); and his belief that a director's job is to "facilitate" the talents of others.

Lipton then conducts the Bernard Pivot questionnaire, after which questions from the audience lead to a discussion of the follow topics, among others: his frustration with the portrayal of disabled characters as either "villains or pathetic"; his hopes to appear in a remake of the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock classic "Rear Window" (which came to pass in 1998); his sense that he has only recently grasped the subtleties of film acting, with his role in "Remains" as his most "un-self-conscious"; why an actor should try to be "inappropriate or irresponsible" to create magical moments of spontaneity; his sense that he "failed upward" in transitioning from acting to directing; the importance of collaboration between actors, directors and writers, including his ideas for "radical" changes to Will Scheffer's script for "Gloaming"; and how his own near-death experience informed his ideas for the movie's protagonist, who is dying of AIDS.

Clips from "Superman," "Deathtrap" and "The Bostonians" are interspersed throughout the program.

Details

  • NETWORK:
  • DATE: 10:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:59:34
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: 120156
  • GENRE: Talk/Interview
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Actors
  • SERIES RUN: Bravo - TV series, 1994-2018; Ovation - 2019-
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

  • James Lipton … Executive Producer, Writer
  • Mike Kostel … Producer
  • John Servidio … Producer
  • Joe Lavine … Associate Producer
  • Jeff Wurtz … Director
  • Angelo Badalamenti … Music by
  • James Lipton … Host
  • Christopher Reeve … Guest
  • Joseph Fargis
  • Cary Grant
  • Katharine Hepburn
  • Alfred Hitchcock
  • John Houseman
  • James Ivory
  • Elizabeth Kemp
  • Sidney Lumet
  • Vanessa Redgrave
  • Will Scheffer
  • John Wayne
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