Poetry and Acting: An interview with Julian Sands
The polyhedric British actor Julian Sands agreed to share with UberAura his love for literature and performance.
Julian Sands is a polyhedric British actor, who worked on several productions. He became known to the public thanks to his role as George in A Room with a View directed by James Ivory, but in his long carrier he has embraced different genres. He’s a very energetic person and he shared with UberAura his love for literature and performance, in all its forms.
We know that on the 15th and 16th June 2018 you’ll be reading poems by Keats and Shelley at the Keats-Shelley House in Rome, and we know that this is not your first performance connected to works of famous literary personalities. Do you enjoy performing and speaking about poetry?
I have loved poetry from a young age. I remember winning a school prize aged 10 for reading Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade to my class. I read Ted Hughes’ Hawk Roosting to audition for Drama School aged 18. I have continued to read and recite ever since… I often spend time in the mountains and always have a book of poems which I read to my fellow climbers. I have been asked many times to read poetry at colleges and schools… I always say YES!
In 1986 you plaid a possessed Shelley in Ken Russell’s marvellous film Gothic. Do you feel you have a connection to Shelley and his radical life?
Shelley always impressed me for his radical beliefs, so progressive and passionate – Karl Marx’s favourite poet! As a younger person, Shelley’s free loving wandering life style caught my imagination, but now I have greater respect for his political and humanitarian beliefs.
So is Shelley your favourite of the English romantic poets? Or could it be Keats?
The work of both Keats and Shelley have great appeal to me. Probably Keats has eclipsed Shelley as the finer poet of feeling. But the work of Shelley has a greater range of ideas.
How have you approached literature?
As I said, I have responded to poetry since a young age, but also to other forms, like novels, plays and essays. Since I travel so much for my work as an actor I have the luxury of much time for reading. I like real books not Kindle or other digital forms.
It could be said that you are a complete actor: you have worked in cinema, TV shows, theatre, now you are doing live, exclusive performances. What’s next?
I am lucky as an actor to work in many forms. Radio too must not be underrated, it is a very pure form of art. I have taken part in many radio plays. Already this year I played the role of ‘Q’ in BBC radio4 adaptation James Bond: Thunderball. Also Tarzan and Johnny Weissmuller in a tender poignant play about the relationship between him and Cheeta the Chimp, played by my great friend John Malkovich, and an adaptation of George Elliot’s Daniel Deronda for American Radio. As an actor it is important always to look for new ways of interpreting material in whatever opportunities are presented. For example, when I was approached to write the Preface for the Keats-Shelley House’s Anthology John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley: Essential Poems selected by Duncan Wu, having read their marvelous works again, I was immediately struck with the possibility of reading a selection at Keats-Shelley House as an exciting rich and fulfilling experience for me and hopefully for those who will come to listen. To prepare, just like I did last year, I might approach visitors to the KSH if they would like to hear a poem and just read to them in a very intimate and personal way, a sort of communion. It has been very rewarding.