Exclusive interviews: Duncan Jones (Director of Moon) - Andrew Barker (Director of Straw Man) - Tony Grisoni (Screen Writer of Red Riding Trilogy, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) - Michael Marshall Smith (author of Spares, Only Forward, The Straw Men etc) - Alejandro Adams (Director of Canary) - Ryan Denmark (Director of Romeo & Juliet vs The Living Dead) - Neal Asher (author of the Cormac series, The Skinner etc) - Marc Robert & Will Stotler (Able) - Kenny Carpenter (Director of Salvaging Outer Space)

Press Conference - Public Enemies - Johnny Depp, Michael Mann, Marion Cotillard


FEATURED REVIEWS - Public Enemies - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Moon - The Hurt Locker

LFF is on Facebook - Twitter - Friend Feed

Friday, 24 October 2008

Not even a heart attack can stop the Emperor

This from The Times.

A leading actor in a West End play insisted on finishing his opening night performance before being taken to hospital.

Concealing his discomfort from critics at the Gielgud Theatre sufficiently for them to later deliver glowing reviews, Ian McDiarmid carried on with his role as the Father in Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author despite suffering from dizzy spells.

McDiarmid, 64, who gained international fame as Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars films, declined to comment yesterday on reports that he had had a heart attack on stage.

Representatives of the play said that the actor's condition could not have been as serious as a heart attack because he returned to the role a week later. But McDiarmid's condition was sufficiently worrying for backstage staff to call for an ambulance ten minutes before the performance was due to end.

Paramedics arrived within seven minutes and saw the actor after the curtain call. A spokeswoman for the play said: “I think he had dizzy spells or something. He did the curtain call and he felt not quite there.”

She had previously denied that McDiarmid was taken to hospital, but said that this had been a mistake. “The doctor saw him and said, 'Why don't you rest for a few days?' There was a very rigorous technical rehearsal period up to that point. The show had been in Chichester [before it transferred to London] and everything.”

Benedict Nightingale, theatre critic of The Times, who attended the performance on September 15, said that he had not noticed any frailty. “He looked ghastly, but then he was meant to. He looked white, but whether he looked any whiter than he does normally, I can't say. He is a very febrile, contained sort of actor.”

The Times awarded the play four stars and said that McDiarmid “doesn't quite catch the Father's inner guilt but is still an impressively sardonic, sinister figure”.

The show the following day was cancelled and Stephen Crane, the understudy, took over for the remainder of the week. Sources close to the production said that McDiarmid was a committed actor who would not wish to retire over a health scare.
McDiarmid, who describes himself as a private person, has a distinguished history as a stage actor and helped to inject Hollywood glamour into London theatre during his 13 years as artistic director of the Almeida by persuading Kevin Spacey, Cate Blanchett and Liam Neeson to perform there. He is best known for his portrayal of the most evil man in the Universe in four of George Lucas's Star Wars films.

He will soon portray Sir Denis Thatcher in Margaret, a television dramatisation of Mrs Thatcher's last days in power.

McDiarmid is expected to continue in Six Characters in Search of an Author until the run ends on November 2.