Tags: Famous People. Actors. Mr Dance. Celebrities
An odd word, ‘sexyful,’ but somehow more powerful and descriptive than ‘sexy,’ and if that word applies to anyone, it does more so to the dashing Charles Dance, than any other show business celebrity I have ever met.
As we are having a tête-à-tête in London in 1986, sitting on a traditional S-shaped English loveseat, facing each other, but retaining that modest barrier between us, the blonde Charles Dance originally from Worcestershire, oozes such sex appeal that it is almost intimidating, yet inoffensive because there is no arrogance, just a friendly bubbling self-confidence. This has taken me by surprise, as Dance is nothing like his image: the archetypal, glacial Englishman – reserved and distant, introspective and infinitely private. Instead, he is breezy and waves his arms about a lot when making a point. But an even greater surprise is that everyone calls him Charlie.
At 40 he is a family man with two children, Oliver 12 and Rebecca six. “I’ve never had a chip on my shoulder,” the slim, 190cm tall Mr. Dance assures me, “although I did start to think I was ready for better parts about five years before I got them!” His acting skills, whether the perfect villain or shrewdest politician, are so incredible, that Charles is never short of work. This year he has three major movies released – Shirley Maclaine’s OUT ON A LIMB, in which he stars as the mysterious MP lover; Eddie Murphy’s, GOLDEN CHILD, where he portrays the sly devil; and as a film director character in GOOD MORNING BABYLON.
But it is only 2 years ago in 1984 that Charles soars high as the star of TV’s JEWEL IN THE CROWN, while his acting debut in the original mystery TV series FATHER BROWN, dates back to 1974 and his cinematic debut FOR YOUR EYES ONLY to 1981. “We all like our egos pampered from time to time,” he chuckles with warmth in his voice, “but I don’t read a part like Guy Perron in THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN, and think that’s going to turn me into a sex symbol. “I’m not a star.
I regard myself as a character actor because if you’re going to call yourself a star, you have to continually produce something that is instantly recognizable and I don’t want to do that.” He must be one of the most prolific performers ever as the decades go on, for Charles will have done over 180 movies, TV series, and programs, live theatre performances, narrating audiobooks, video games, and documentaries, including six episodes of National Geographic’s Savage Kingdom – their most expensive WILD TV series ever.
But he has not always been this confident he admits nostalgically. “As an adolescent, I didn’t have acne or other teenage problems. Instead, I developed an unexpected, awful stammer. And so, I got stuck with a label – stammerers’ aren’t supposed to be very bright. My confidence slid away. I suppose I was lucky, because when I turned 18 my stammer disappeared over three weeks, as strangely as it had come.” So, Charlie lost his ‘stupid’ label and his confidence gradually returned.
But acting is just one of Charles’s deep-seated and amazing talents: With both screenwriting and directing films, encouraged by his having studied graphic design and photography, he will choose Judy Dench and Maggie Smith for my favourite, and his most successful screenplay and directing box office movie, LADIES IN LAVENDER. Dance will also win the PARIS FILM FESTIVAL AWARD FOR BEST ACTOR in the Canadian KABLOONAK one of his most impressive movies while accomplishing his biggest dream: travelling.
But right now, the man who always surprises his audience with each different villainous role only wants to talk about labels, not his next starring movie, WHITE MISCHIEF, the erotic Murder mystery drama in Kenya, with GRETA SCACCHI, nor the future. “I believe you must ignore labels. They are hard to live with for everyone. When people have a certain image of you, even when it has been made up by someone else, they still assume it’s a label you have put on and you are proud to wear.”
“So then you are obliged to uphold that image, and when you do something out of character, people begin to tear you apart because you’re not what you are supposed to be – even though you never said you were that in the first place.” “It does present a problem because instead of having to live up to your own expectations – which is difficult enough – you have to live up to other people’s. It’s not on. You should always insist on being yourself.” His looks don’t concern Charles either, but his both distinctive and distinguished voice, once heard is never forgotten.
“Look at me – I’ve got an odd face. For a start my nose is bent. If I blink with these heavily hooded eyelids it’s like barn doors closing. If I have a single late-night, the lines under my eyes get darker still, the bags heavier and the angles from which they can photograph me even more limited.” He isn’t fishing for compliments. He means it and believes he is plain. “It’s not a classical looking face. I just don’t have film star looks.” None of which has stopped him being hailed Britain’s answer to Robert Redford. Dance shakes his head in dismay.