"Use the force, Luke"
August 6, 2000 6:26 PM   Subscribe

"Use the force, Luke" Of course, Sir Alec Guinness hated being typecast by the Star Wars films. But his death seems to mark the end of an generation of British actors who straddled the differing demands of stage and screen. Who will take their place?
posted by holgate (13 comments total)
Ralph Fiennes, Kenneth Branagh, Jonathan Pryce, Derek Jacobi, Rupert Everett, David Suchet, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Michael Caine, Malcolm McDowell, Gary Oldman, Patrick Stewart spring to mind as possible successors to the crowns. All have done theatre and film. I wouldn't put any money on Hugh Grant.

I adored Guinness. The Man in the White Suit is one of my favorite movies of all time.

posted by the webmistress at 7:25 PM on August 6, 2000

We should add Alan Rickman to that list, as well as Ralph Fiennes brother, Joseph, who has started find film stardom of his own with Shakespeare in Love and Elizabeth.
posted by m.polo at 7:33 PM on August 6, 2000

A month or two ago, my wife and I listened to Alec Guiness read his last book, on tape, whilst on a long trip in the car. I came away from it loving him so much. Such a nice, funny man, so very clever. I have been thinking about him friom time to time, as his tape frequently mentioned his health problems. Thinking that this day would be coming, and that it might make me sad. I cannot really be sad, as he was a stranger, but even the slight loss that I thought I would feel is not present. He had such a wonderful life, and lived it so well, that I am almost jealous. I bet he had no regrets, I hope to do as well.

posted by thirteen at 8:31 PM on August 6, 2000

He brought joy to so many. I can't help but get warm fuzzies thinking about him. Dead or alive, in the hearts of those who experienced his talents, he'll live on.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:34 PM on August 6, 2000

It's nice to see someone mention J Pryce, who's underrated. I'd add Jude Law--and Robert Carlyle, if he wasn't a Scot.

Guinness was one of a kind, even among Gielgud, Olivier, Burton, Sellers and O'Toole, all of whom belong to another era, it's just not the same for many reasons.
See "The Horse's Mouth" (which he adapted), "Kind Hearts and Coronets", "The Ladykillers", and "Smiley's People", as well as the better known spectacles.
posted by aflakete at 10:12 PM on August 6, 2000

I can't think of the guy without remembering how he bragged about reducing a 12-year-old Star Wars fan to tears after the kid told him he watched the movie 100 times. "One of a kind" indeed.
posted by rcade at 10:58 PM on August 6, 2000

Rcade:I heard A.G. tell that story on N.P.R some time back. He did not sound like he was bragging, he made it sound like he was actually concerned. Kind of like grandfatherly advice, and certainly kinder than Shattner's get out of your parents basement line. What kind of 12 year old loses it when some old man say 'Please never watch that movie again' anyway?
posted by thirteen at 11:14 PM on August 6, 2000

To me he is and will always be George Smiley (of John Le Carre's books). What a brilliant performance.
posted by prolific at 12:14 AM on August 7, 2000

aflakete: that just reminds me that I really need to avoid the rumoured remake of "Kind Hearts and Coronets" next year, with Robin Williams in the roles played by Guinness in the original. Dear me.
posted by holgate at 8:48 AM on August 7, 2000

I'm sorry that he's dead, but I always have a hard time feeling too sorry for someone who makes it past 85 after a long and very productive career. When Friz Freleng died in his 90's (after all his work at Warner, and then after the Pink Panther cartoons) it didn't really affect me much. He got a lot more than any of us have a right to expect.

Where I actually cry is when someone dies way prematurely. John Lennon and Jim Henson both brought me to tears for the waste, for what we missed out on had they lived full length lives.

Sir Alec is dead, and that's unfortunate. But he didn't get cheated by life; he had a full and productive life and leaves behind a large body of work and millions of people who respect and adore him.

We should all be so lucky.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 1:51 PM on August 7, 2000

holgate: Yeah, my heart sank a bit when I heard about the remake--but that's Hollywood! (Nothing against Williams, whom I like.) How many people under 40 would have seen the original to know it's a remake anyway??
posted by aflakete at 5:18 PM on August 7, 2000

Prolific: Ever hear le Carré read his own material? I think he's one of the two or three best readers in English. Does all the voices himself. OTOH, he's said that Guinness was one of the reasons he stopped writing Smiley, because Guinness took over the character so fully.

To the topic: I'd add Rufus Sewell, who originated the role of Septimus in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, to the list.
posted by aurelian at 1:53 AM on August 9, 2000

Whoa - we almost forgot about the venerable Sir Anthony Hopkins. He's sublime.

posted by the webmistress at 12:58 PM on August 11, 2000

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