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Thread: Derren Nesbitt

  1. #1
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    I'll be interviewing the actor Derren Nesbitt at the forthcoming Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films, and am very much looking forward to discussing the films he made with Vernon Sewell (such as THE MAN IN THE BACK SEAT and STRONGROOM) - but there are other movies that don't appear to have been released to DVD that I'd like to see again beforehand, and wondered if anyone had copies of the following for trade:-



    GIVE US TOMORROW

    SPY STORY

    THE NAKED RUNNER

    NOBODY RUNS FOREVER

    INNOCENT BYSTANDERS



    Cheers

    Stephen Laws

    The Midnight Man: The Official Website of the author Stephen Laws

  2. #2
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    Naked Runner is always on TCM

  3. #3
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    PM me and I can do you a copy of Innocent Bystanders - I interviewed Derren a while back and he has a good story about filming the fight scene with Stanley Baker. I found he was much better if you asked him about individual performers and directors than if you mentioned specific films - as he said to me, if filming went without a hitch he didn't really remember many of his films.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    Nobody Runs Forever is available to buy legitimately in both R1 and European R2 versions.

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    Senior Member Country: United States theuofc's Avatar
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    name='Stephen Laws']I'll be interviewing the actor Derren Nesbitt at the forthcoming Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films .........



    Cheers

    Stephen Laws

    The Midnight Man: The Official Website of the author Stephen Laws


    Hello, Stephen,



    If you have the time, might you ask Mr. Nesbitt if he has any memories of the filming, (or any fallout from it) of VICTIM (1961) with Dirk Bogarde? Nesbitt played Sandy, the blackmailer on a motorcycle who took pics of victims.



    Many thanks,



    Barbara

  6. #6
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    Hello all -



    Thanks for the information on NOBODY RUNS FOREVER being legitimately available on Region 1 and 2. I hadn't appreciated that, and will be buying a copy.



    As to VICTIM - yes, this is on my list. An excellent (and ground-breaking film) with Nesbitt playing one of his trademark nasties to great effect.



    Anyone else reading these posts - let me know if you have specific and particular questions about his film and TV work that you've been keen to know, and (subject to discretion, of course) I'll be happy to see if I can slip them in.



    Stephen Laws

    The Midnight Man: The Official Website of the author Stephen Laws

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    Thanks Stephen .... I watched Derren recently in Flawless (and very good he was too) with Michael Caine and wondered, as he hadn't made many films in the previous 20 years, how he felt the film making process had changed in that time and also if he enjoyed working with Michael Caine, especially as he had worked with him in the past.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    name='Stephen Laws']Anyone else reading these posts - let me know if you have specific and particular questions about his film and TV work that you've been keen to know, and (subject to discretion, of course) I'll be happy to see if I can slip them in.
    Derren Nesbitt



    also:



    http://www.britmovie.co.uk/forums/ac...n-nesbitt.html



    I'd be interested to know if he has any memory of Ralph Smart, from his ATV/ITC years. I've seen him in bit-parts in The Invisible Man and Danger Man, both Ralph Smart creations.



    One of his most impressive ever roles for me was his turn as Noureddine, in the Danger Man episode "Sting in the Tail"








  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain mariocki's Avatar
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    Stephen - I'd be very interested in hearing if he has any memories of working on the Man In A Suitcase episode Dead Man's Shoes in 1967, and in particular what he thought of Richard Bradford. Derren had a very good part in this episode.




  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: United States theuofc's Avatar
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    name='Stephen Laws']Hello all -



    .........As to VICTIM - yes, this is on my list. An excellent (and ground-breaking film) with Nesbitt playing one of his trademark nasties to great effect. ..................



    Stephen Laws

    The Midnight Man: The Official Website of the author Stephen Laws


    Stephen,



    Many thanks. Any comments on VICTIM that you might report back would be very appreciated.



    All best,



    Barbara

  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: United States theuofc's Avatar
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    name='Moor Larkin']Derren Nesbitt



    I'd be interested to know if he has any memory of Ralph Smart, from his ATV/ITC years. I've seen him in bit-parts in The Invisible Man and Danger Man, both Ralph Smart creations.



    One of his most impressive ever roles for me was his turn as Noureddine, in the Danger Man episode "Sting in the Tail"





    Moor Larkin:



    Thanks for the great pic of Nesbitt and Mr.Danger Man himself. Nesbitt looks very different (and better I must say) as a dark-haired character vs. a blonde.



    Barbara

  12. #12
    Member Country: Wales
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    name='Stephen Laws']I'll be interviewing the actor Derren Nesbitt at the forthcoming Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films, and am very much looking forward to discussing the films he made with Vernon Sewell (such as THE MAN IN THE BACK SEAT and STRONGROOM) - but there are other movies that don't appear to have been released to DVD that I'd like to see again beforehand, and wondered if anyone had copies of the following for trade:-



    GIVE US TOMORROW

    SPY STORY

    THE NAKED RUNNER

    NOBODY RUNS FOREVER

    INNOCENT BYSTANDERS



    Cheers

    Stephen Laws

    The Midnight Man: The Official Website of the author Stephen Laws






    I've got "Give Us Tomorrow" and "Spy Story" if you are still looking for them.

  13. #13
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    Moor, I'd like to see that still "photo-shopped" with Bond and Mrs Peel with Patrick instead and perhaps someone interesting at the table. Kind of like that Monroe, Dean, Bogart - "Nighthawks At The Diner" - Hopper pastiche.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    Derren Nesbitt at 75 | Sussex Life
    AT THE height of his fame, Derren Nesbitt was the man we loved to hate. With his peroxide-yellow hair, large pursed lips and faultless German accent, he cornered the market in Nazi villains.

    He reached his apotheosis as the cold-blooded SS officer, Major von Hapen, in that classic war thriller, Where Eagles Dare (1968). By then, his great knack for playing Germans was actually beginning to fool people into thinking he really was German, prompting his great partner in crime, Anton Diffring, to famously remark: “You’re more German than I am!”

    But Derren, now 75 and still playing Germans, is as English as they come (well, give or take some Russian blood on his father’s side). And now he’s living in that most English of seaside resorts – Worthing, where, appropriately enough, he will be treading the boards in April.

    He has lived in the town for several years and likes nothing better than a walk along the sea front, battling a brisk south-westerly. “I’ve lived in most countries around the world, but I would never move from Sussex,” he says firmly. “My wife Miranda was brought up in Hove and we initially looked at properties in Brighton. But then we found this delightful house in West Worthing and I love it. I particularly like leaving the house, seeing the sea and then glimpsing the Downs.”

    For a man who has carved a career playing villains, Derren has an unexpectedly sunny temperament. A gifted storyteller and mimic, he has a keen sense of the ridiculous – and never more so than when he’s the butt of his own humour.

    But why, I wonder, is he still touring in his eighth decade? Well, why ever not? And besides, his old mate, theatre impresario Bill Kenwright, was looking for an actor to play one Herr Frederick Winklekopf in a revival of the Oscar Wilde play, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime. I mean, who else was he going to call?

    Where Eagles Dare
    Derren landed the defining role of his career in 1968. Where Eagles Dare, starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood, was written by Alistair McLean and shot mainly on location in Austria and Bavaria. Though it ran massively over budget, it’s now heralded as a cinema classic and has become compulsory bank holiday viewing. For men of a certain age, it’s as comforting and dependable as that first sip of Horlicks.

    Derren had worked with Burton many years before at the Old Vic. Did they become friends? “No, he drank too much. You couldn’t be friends unless you were a drinker, too.”

    By the time they paired up again, Burton was drinking five bottles of vodka a day and couldn’t act when he was sober. “In the big scene at the end of the film, he came on and couldn’t remember a line. So Brian Hunt, the director, took him away, and when they came back four hours later Burton was plastered – and could do it.

    “I was on a daily rate by then because the film had run massively over budget. MGM never thought they’d get their money back, but I was very happy because I was earning a fortune. I felt like saying: ‘Richard, why don’t you have another drink?’”

    Derren researched his part meticulously, even tracking down an SS major so that he could quiz him about the medals he should wear. “He arrived with a scarred face and a leather coat down to his ankles, then produced a paper bag and laid out his trophies. The swastikas had been knocked out.

    “In the film, I wore a medal with huge gold wings, awarded for hand-to-hand fighting. You were given a bronze for three hand-to-hand fighting, a silver for eight hand-to-hand fighting and for the gold... well, you had to be a homicidal maniac. You threw away the machine gun and slashed at people with a bayonet. And there, on the table, was a gold one!”

    Despite Derren’s best efforts, the film was riddled with historical inaccuracies, so typical of the genre. The heroes had a seemingly limitless supply of ammunition and a helicopter was seen taking off at the start of the film, even though they were virtually unheard of during the Second World War.

    Derren’s uniform was also wildly inaccurate, although his objections cut little ice with the director. “‘But you look so beautiful,’ he said. ‘And besides, they’ll never know in Arkansas!’”

    The movie may have been Derren’s finest hour, but it was very nearly his last. On his final day of shooting, Clint Eastwood was supposed to shoot him in the head and then the chest. But the explosives strapped to Derren’s chest failed to go off, until, at the fifth attempt, they went off rather too spectacularly and he was nearly blinded.

    “I looked like I’d been hit by a bazooka. My eyes were burnt and bits got into them. I was quite a sight when I arrived at the local hospital – dressed as an SS officer, with a perfect bullet hole in my forehead and 18 condoms of blood running down my trousers!”

    Fortunately, his sight returned within two weeks and Clint Eastwood sent him an enormous Fortnum & Mason’s fruit hamper. Buried in the middle was a bottle of Optrex.

    A star at RADA
    But Derren hasn’t only played Germans, of course. His credits run to several pages and he has worked with some of the greats, including Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak, Tony Curtis, Roger Moore, Dirk Bogarde, Christopher Plummer and Michael Caine.

    He was destined for the limelight. His mother was a chorus girl; his father was the South African comedian and vaudeville artist Harry Nesbitt, who performed in a popular double act with his brother Max.

    Derren was even born in a theatre – the Finsbury Park Empire in North London. “Bad timing on my mother’s part,” he grins.

    He made his first stage appearance before he could walk. “I crawled on in the middle of Max Miller’s act. Max couldn’t understand why the audience was laughing, then turned round and saw this little thing crawling towards him. ‘I don’t understand,’ he said. ‘He’s been calling me Daddy all day!’”

    At the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), Derren joined the likes of Albert Finney and Peter O’Toole. Far from being dazzled by his contemporaries, he outshone them, winning the Forbes-Robertson and Kendal awards for his outstanding Shakespearian performances.

    He served his indentures in Sir Peter Hall’s Oxford Repertory Company, before making his first television appearance in 1956 in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot. He appeared in many more cult TV shows throughout the 1960s – including Dr Who, The Saint, The Prisoner, The Invisible Man and Danger Man.

    His film breakthrough came in the landmark 1961 movie, Victim, which starred Dirk Bogarde as a closet homosexual barrister who risks his career to stand up to blackmailers. It was the first British movie to deal with homosexuality.

    Another key role was in the 1967 espionage film The Naked Runner, which starred none other than ‘Ol Blue Eyes. Sinatra badly needed a hit after two successive flops, but closed down the shoot for two weeks to marry Mia Farrow, then heaped oil on troubled waters by taking intermittent breaks to honeymoon in the South of France.

    One tabloid newspaper offered Derren a large sum to reveal all about working with Sinatra, but he turned it down. When Sinatra got wind of it, he sent Derren and his wife on a luxurious holiday to Copenhagen, courtesy of his private jet. Every evening, the hotel concierge would politely knock on their door and present them with a manila envelope, stuffed with bank notes – ‘with Mr Sinatra’s compliments’. “By the end of the holiday, we had so much money we’d run out of places to put it!” he laughs.

    In 1973, Derren finally got the chance to move away from villains by taking the lead in Special Branch, a groundbreaking drama serial for Thames Television focusing on the tough cops from Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist unit.

    Derren played womaniser DCI Jordan, replete with long hair and sideburns. None of this had been in the script, but he says he tore up the rule book when the producer failed to show for the first five episodes.

    When the producer finally discovered the changes, he threatened to cancel the show, but unexpectedly it became an overnight ratings winner and Derren’s contract had to be renegotiated. Nevertheless, it was a short stay of execution, and after 27 episodes he was axed and George Sewell and Patrick Mower were drafted in to take the lead roles.

    The remainder of the decade saw a marked decline in Derren’s career. He wrote, produced and directed a British sex comedy called The Amorous Milkman, starring Julie Ege and Diana Dors, but it was savaged by the critics and flopped at the box office.

    So what happened to RADA’s golden boy?
    “I was never ambitious and I took long holidays,” he says. “I didn’t need the money, so I treated my work as a well-paid, enjoyable hobby. I always thought enjoying life was more important.”

    Disillusioned with Britain, he married his third wife, an Australian beauty queen, and moved to her native country. He admits that with four marriages and five children to his name, his personal life has been somewhat rocky, but quips that his downfall was never being able to say no. “I’ve always loved women, but in the long run it’s far safer to sleep with a Bengal tiger – which hasn’t eaten for six months – than go to bed with a woman!”

    It appears to be a case of fourth time lucky for Derren, who tells me his present – and last – wife, Miranda, is an angel. “I never knew that women were like this! If she’d been the first, life would have been very different!”

    They met more than 30 years ago. He was 42; she was a 20-year-old assistant stage manager. But Derren was married with children, so the couple parted, pledging to stay in touch. Twenty or so years later, Derren was in the throes of his third divorce when Miranda wrote to him in Australia.

    “She said she’d been in love with me for the last 25 years. I was on the next flight back to Britain.”

    Now that all is quiet on the domestic front, Derren has returned to work with a vengeance and is currently playing to packed houses in Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, which comes to the Connaught Theatre in Worthing in early April. He plays a mad German bomber and the cast also features Kate O’Mara, Gary Wilmot and Lee Mead, winner of the hit BBC show, Any Dream Will Do.

    “I first performed at the Connaught Theatre when I was 20 years old – in Peter Ustinov’s play, The Love of Four Colonels. Since then, I must have performed there four or five times. This current production is great fun and audiences leave with a huge smile on their faces.”

    He took the part because his last play was very nearly the death of him and he didn’t want it to be his swan song. “I fell violently ill with an infected gall bladder, which led to septicaemia and pneumonia. I lay ‘dying’ in hospital in Darlington for four days and at one point my poor wife was told I probably wouldn’t survive the night. But I didn’t want to die in Darlington. Dying on stage in Darlington… that was enough!”

    Now, he assures me, he has the heart of an ox. “Eight shows a week… it’s as easy as digging roads,” he boasts.

    I don’t doubt him. Well, it did take Clint Eastwood five attempts to kill him.

    MY PERFECT SUSSEX
    What do you love most about where you live – and why?
    I love Worthing seafront and also being able to glimpse the South Downs.

    Describe your perfect weekend in Sussex.
    Getting up late and then going for a delicious meal in Sussex with my charming wife.

    What’s your favourite Sussex restaurant?
    The Tajdar on Horsham Road in Findon, which serves authentic Bangladeshi and Indian cuisine. It’s one of the best Indian restaurants in the world. I can vouch for that because I’ve lived in India and eaten Indian cuisine all my life.

    Where do you like to shop in Sussex?
    Worthing shopping precinct. I shop whereever my wife likes to buy clothes! I spend half my life sitting outside ladies’ changing rooms. I frequently tell the staff they should serve coffee.

    What’s your favourite Sussex theatre?
    The Theatre Royal in Brighton. I’ve played there many times. They used to have a call boy, who was about 80. If he ever knocked on your dressing room door and gave you your call, you knew you’d missed the boat. I used to tell the other actors: ‘Don’t rely on him!’ But no one had the heart to fire him.



  15. #15
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Tigon Man's Avatar
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    Lives in a modest semi two streets away from me, but i've only seen him a couple of times, he's usually away in touring theatre. I've seen his missus Miranda driving around in her car on more than one occasion.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Country: UK Merton Park's Avatar
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    To Moor Larkin

    Thank you for the interview, really enjoyable. Terrific actor, I used to know his brother and his cousin in the seventies, both very nice people.

  17. #17
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    According to Bill Kenwright in one of his recent radio programmes on Radio 2, Derren, who was a guest at Bill's house during Christmas tells a hilarious story about "The Naked Runner" regarding Frank Sinatra not knowing his lines when they shot a scene in an aircraft hangar. No wonder those envelopes were full.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Tigon Man's Avatar
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    I wonder if he's still trying to get get his book on religious falsehood published?

  19. #19
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tigon Man View Post
    I wonder if he's still trying to get get his book on religious falsehood published?
    Derren Nesbitt
    Nesbitt, best known for his role in 1970s television detective series Special Branch, has spent years researching The Concealment: The Hidden Bible. "It explodes many of the myths and falsehoods contained in the Old and New Testaments,” he said. “It will be hugely controversial. It may even make me the second Salman Rushdie.”


    Or the second David Icke perhaps. Either way it sounds like fun and that makes for a good life.............

  20. #20
    Senior Member Country: Wales
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    I always thought of the chap as a good solid performer so why did work dry up for him? Change in film/television content?, a drift away from tough guy productions? From choice?

    He has the most interesting face.

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