Translation of an interview for Spanish magazine ONDAS in February 1974.
By Peter Symer, London.
We are a few minutes before the curtain rises on a play in one of the most famous theaters in London. The protagonist of the play is the famous Deborah Kerr, one of the most sacred “beasts” of the seventh art, who is now playing “The Lady of Dervis” (*). A big success according to the critics and a more important personal achievement for the actress.
Recently, secluded in her home in Marbella (Spain), she barely appeared on the cinema or plays.
We try to make her talk a little about her present and future; Her past being well-known for a vast majority. She doesn’t feel like it at the begining, but with the encouragement of her husband, famous scriptwriter Peter “Wayler” (Viertel) (*), she gives us one hour. We truly apreciate the time we’re being given for it’s always interesting being close to a personality as Kerr’s.
-It was said that you were retired, was there any truth in that?
-It’s not that I had retired. It’s just that after so many years working so hard I deserved a little rest. As you can see, I am back in bussiness.
-You wouldn’t have taken this rest if you were twenty years younger?
-No! I feel quite proud of my age, cause I can still call myself a young woman. What matters is not the age one has but the youth of spirit.
-What are you expecting from your return to the theatre, something you’ve never liked? (*)
-I want to show who is Deborah Kerr as an actress. I want people to see the actress not as a veteran with all her past triumphs but the ambitious woman always looking for something new in this art.
-Honestly, aren’t you afraid of the new facfes coming up in the cinema and theatre these days?
-Day by day I must fight with actresses who are much younger than me and , obviously, prettier than me, who whish at any cost to get the main part in any film or play. But none has succeeded yet! It’d take a lot of heart… or a big name behind them to win over me. I am a true beast when I fight for a part I really want to do, that really interests me.
-Who is Deborah Kerr?
-A woman who one day chose to make her way into art and who many years later, day by day, still fights to improve.
-Why do you keep striving to reach positions that you already achieved so many years ago?
-Look, I appreciate your words but I disagree. The ultimate goal in life is not the ending line of a race! And I am still alive. Learning many things everyday, improving. I can’t believe in “STARDOM”, in people saying someone reached the top of their career. As if they knew it all! In art, learnign is everything, it’s all about renewal. Many call me a “master” but I am still learning. If Socrates said “All I know is I know nothing” I’d say “All I know is I learn new things everyday”.
-What do you think of awards?
-They are a stimulus. Always! awards should be received with gratefulness, without vanity, like a congratulation on a job well done. I have always been moved when I’ve gotten an award. They play an essential part in an artist life. Although, honestly and with all sincerity, many are the times that a great artist has been neglected an award he very much deserved.
-Deborah Kerr has a reputation of being easy going although in some occations has been considered vane just for making herself respected in her bussiness. Are you really a vane person?
-No, I am not at all. I never have been. Perhaps cause I realized on time that vanity is like a cancer for a performer. More than once I’ve had to take out a list of my artistic achievements for someone – because one thing I can’t stand is a “stupid” newcomer who comes to me trying to diminish my accomplishments. That’s the only time when I’ve had to set things straight to avoid others take advantage of a situation. I guess that’s why some thought I had an ego, but I am not a vane person.
Deborah Kerr can talk about the film industry with freedom, for not only is she a splendid actress but she’s also been in the bussiness for many years. When asked about the differences between the movies in the 40s and those made nowadays she says:
-The good thing about cinema today is there are more actors and less “stars”. Years ago, the only ones who really made it were the pretty ones, most of whom were not good at all. I don’t mean to say they were all bad, there were some really beautiful women who were also tremendously talented!
-Do you go to the movies often?
-Quite often, but only to watch good films.
-Would it bother you to be directed by a younger director?
-No, just the opposite. The reason I like young directors is their audacity, their enthusiasm. I love working with them!
-Which actresses do you see in films today that are really worth watching?
-There are some really good ones. Although most of them are already over thirty… escept maybe for Mia Farrow. There are Macha Meril, Glenda Jackson, Jane Fonda…
-What si Life for you?
-A constant fight, a joy, a pain…
Deborah Kerr, an actress as there is no other, a fighter who won her place in today’s artistic reality and holds in her hand her many triumphs declares:
-I am an actress who learns day by day. I’d love to work with younger directors to trade my experience on the set for some of their vitality on the job.
Happy with her husband and two daughters, even though she did not say it, we have no doubt that soon she will announce her retirement from the stage. A loss all movie lovers will regret. (*!)
(*) Though author refers to the play Deborah is doing as “The Lady of Dervis” in 1974 the play Deborah was doing in London was “Seascape”.
(*) Though author says she never liked “performing on the stage”, Deborah often said she loved it and it was a true joy for her.
(*) Though author insists on pointing out how “old and vane” Deborah was and how “finished” her career was and how close to retirement she was, I must state that this author was just a dumbass who couldn’t even get her husband’s name right! Peter Wayler?! Geez.