Terry Wogan: Course, maybe you did one Superman too many?
Christopher Reeve: Uh Two too many! To be very honest with you.
BBC 1 -Wogan 15th December 1989
Christopher Reeve’s appearance on Terry Wogan’s chat show on 15th December 1989 (BBC 1). Chris appeared on the show to promote his new movie The Jackal and the Rose. Chris talks very candidly with Terry about perhaps starring in too many Superman movies and sequels in general, Somewhere in Time, Switching Channels and Theatre.
Full transcript of the interview below the video.
Terry Wogan: Welcome back to the old casting couch, A man who first bound into our attentions as Superman but went on prove his real acting credentials on stage with the likes of Katherine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave and in such movies as Switching Channels, Welcome Christopher Reeve.You know all of that stuff it’s good to see you, you here for Christmas
Christopher Reeve: No, I’m actually just here for the weekend for my son’s birthday and I have to take time out to do this, I’ve never done this on tv before, but its Matthew’s 10th Birthday on Wednesday, he’s sitting right there watching, Al’s (Alexandra Reeve) right next to him and I have to say Happy Birthday and you know how proud I am of you. Happy Birthday
Terry Wogan: Good, well
Christopher Reeve: Thank you folks
Terry Wogan: Television has to be good for something and that’s one of the few things its good for, being able to say hello to your own children
Christopher Reeve: I love it, it sometimes sitting at home, and you go “oh stop already, don’t do that!” but I am so proud, you know
Terry Wogan: Oh, never mind, you spend much time in Britain?
Christopher Reeve: I come over as often as I can, every time I get a break between some project or whatever, I come over always for Birthdays and every vacation I get a chance and the kids come out to the States as well.
Terry Wogan: Its quite a while since we talked together, think you’ve made a couple of movies since, I think Great Escape II you’ve just finished, you’ve been on Broadway and on Shakespeare earlier on in the year, you’ve made something called the Rose and the Jackal
Christopher Reeve: Right
Terry Wogan: Was that made here?
Christopher Reeve: No, actually that was made in Savannah, Georgia, Savannah Georgia which is a wonderful place, I’d never worked in the American South, and I’ve worked here a lot, I’ve worked in Italy and Hungary, Yugoslavia those places. But the American South is just wonderful, because they’re not jaded about Movies yet, they think it’s a big deal and this is a Civil War picture and they have over there guys, you know who work in a garage during the week or whatever teach school and on the weekends they re-enact battles for the Civil War and they have all the gear and they’re fully trained, and there’s thousands of them and this year is the 125th anniversary of the Civil War. And I think for the re-enactment of Gettysburg they had 25,000 of them, you know lined up and really doing it, and I said, “How do you know when you’re dead?” and he said “Well, when you get tired, you just lie down and drink a little Gatorade and you’re out for the day”, you know, but they take it very seriously, I remember we were doing one shot and there were hundreds of these Federal Troops in Prison, and I had to walk among them looking for someone, and just before we were about to do the take, there’s this one Soldier had this little red cross on his hat and a friend said “No, no you can’t have that, that was 1863 and this is 1861”, you couldn’t tell him that we’re not seeing you sir, we’re not seeing your hat or anything.
Terry Wogan: No
Christopher Reeve: Had to have it right. That uh enthusiasm, that authenticity really makes the picture look good.
Terry Wogan: Course, what sort of part do you play?
Christopher Reeve: Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a love story and I did one ten years ago that people liked quite a lot called Somewhere in Time and it’s been a while since I’ve done sort of that genre of picture, this is a little darker, it’s about an obsessive passion that this man Allan Pinkerton, who was the head of the Secret Service under Lincoln develops for a woman he’s um trailing, and she’s a spy for the Confederates and he has to bring her to justice, at the same time falling “hook, line and sinker” for her, so its obsessive passion.
Terry Wogan: Yes, I saw you
Christopher Reeve: You know all about that!
Terry Wogan: Of course, I do! You can’t work three days a week on a Talk Show and not have an obsessive passion. I was just thinking, the last movie I saw you in last that really impressed me was your part in Switching Channels, and you play in that, a fair little bit of passion in that, Kathleen Turner, you and Kathleen.
Christopher Reeve: Well, it’s funny, you can almost say that one’s OTT, Over the Top, because we’re very far out there, I play a genuine jerk, I mean a “dyed in the wool” jerk, I’m not sure that was a great career move or not
Terry Wogan: Well, I was going to ask
Christopher Reeve: The jury’s still out on that one
Terry Wogan: Did you do that deliberately, to play a kind of act that everyone would look and say God, what a wimp! (Chris Laughs) but to as an act as an antidote to the Superman?
Christopher Reeve: Well, there’s a funny thing, it’s about perspective you see, because I see myself probably in a completely different way than anybody else, I mean having been an actor for twenty-two years and you don’t want to come out and blow your own horn, but you really do and I think if you talk to Michael Keaton who played Batman or talk to Tim Dalton who played 007, see it’s the era now of actual actors who have uh sort of a real career going who happen to do these Comic Book figures and it’s a very different thing stylistically then it would have been in the forties, the fifties when they found these heroes out of the Olympic swimming pool, so the thing is all of us in that genre are actually just normal actors who do this and expect to go on with our life. So, I never divided my life into before Superman, after Superman change the image, don’t change the image, it’s just what’s the best job I’m lucky enough to get.
Terry Wogan: Course, maybe you did one Superman too many
Christopher Reeve: Uh Two too many! To be very honest with you.
Terry Wogan: You think so?
Christopher Reeve: I think so, it’s hard to know when to stop, you know it’s like eating cookies
Terry Wogan: When the money keeps coming in.
Christopher Reeve: But you know it’s really, it’s really uh a bad disease that Hollywood has the Sequelitis , and unless you do what um Spielberg does with um his with um with his series the Raiders of the Lost Ark, you get Sean Connery, you go back and you direct it yourself, you spend the money, you go to the locations, cos the audience doesn’t want to be ripped off and I was sorry to see them ripped off in the last one.
Terry Wogan: Course not, I mean
Christopher Reeve: Not my fault folks, I didn’t mean it
Terry Wogan: Everybody makes mistakes and I agree that this proliferation of sequels, mind you they make money and that’s why there made obviously, obviously that’s why movies are made in the first place not for artistic reasons.
Christopher Reeve: Every now, Well you can do both you know every now and again there is a sequel which is better, I’ve just heard of the script for the Godfather III, which is phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal and Godfather II I think you can argue is better than Godfather I, uh you know some people like Back to the Future II a lot, you know it just depends on whether they take the time, spend the money, put all the effort into it.
Terry Wogan: Yeah, you probably need a PhD to decipher Back to the Future II you need to go to it at least four times to understand it. I was going to ask you about the Shakespearian acting
Christopher Reeve: uh huh
Terry Wogan: Um you seem to be part of the trend because uh Kevin Kline is doing Hamlet?
Christopher Reeve: He’s about to do, he’s already done it once and he’s about to do it again
Terry Wogan: and course we’ve had Dustin Hoffman
Christopher Reeve: Right
Terry Wogan: over here, get something of a pasting from the critics
Christopher Reeve: Really?
Terry Wogan: Yeah
Christopher Reeve: He opens in New York on Tuesday night; I’m planning on going to the first night and uh people are there’s a lot of respect for Dustin
Terry Wogan: Do You think Americans can play Shakespeare
Christopher Reeve: oh sure
Terry Wogan: Do you think they should be allowed to play Shakespeare?
Christopher Reeve: Yeah, I think there ought to be maybe a little moratorium on him in some places, there have been some bad productions sort of in a row in some places, But the general question of can Americans do Shakespeare, of course they can, otherwise we shouldn’t be allowed to do Strindberg (August Strindberg) or Chekhov (Anton Chekhov) or Moliere (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin Stage name Moliere) or whatever, because all of it is in a foreign language
Terry Wogan: Of course, it is.
Christopher Reeve: You just have to take the convention that um, you know, is the person right for the character, is he playing truly emotionally and er just adjust your ear a little bit, now if a guy, if a guy’s got a real dialogue problem, you know, some guy comes out and goes “To be or not to be, that’s the question” (Chris saying it in a Brooklyn accent) um you’re going to have a problem with that, but somebody with standard American mid Atlantic theatre speech, I think you can get used to that.
Terry Wogan: I can remember Marlon Brando was a wonderful Mark Antony, but I can’t remember if he played it with a broad American accent, played it with a slight American accent (Wogan imitates)
Christopher Reeve: Yes, but Marlon Brando can kinda get away with anything he wants, he always has done. But I do think though er, there’s a very nice thing that’s happening now, between English and American theatre and it’s led by people like the Peter Hall Company , Duncan Weldon, Um Ian McKellen, the kind of people who are Vanessa Redgrave, who are making a real effort to say, “Look the World is a Global Village, we’re the same Culture, we’re connected in so many other ways, Let us Americans open our stage up to all of you, and Lets, you open your stage to us, and let’s keep it going back and forth.”
Terry Wogan: Yeah, I think that’s a terrific stand to take, because there has been problems with equity of both sides of the Atlantic haven’t there
Christopher Reeve: Yeah
Terry Wogan: We’re always glad to have you back here, are you going to stay a little while
Christopher Reeve: That’s why I came Sir
Terry Wogan: I only came for the booze, came for the booze, but Christopher Reeve were delighted to have with us
Christopher Reeve: Thank you.