From heartthrob to icon of edginess, the actor had an extraordinary career. On the centenary of his birth, Sophie Monks Kaufman wonders if we will see so daring a leading man again.
By Sophie Monks Kaufman | BBC
Many actors have undergone transformations, from Olivia Colman morphing from a British sitcom mainstay into a serious actress of international repute, to Robert DeNiro trading method-actor intensity for jovial fare like Meet The Fockers – but no-one has made quite such a provocative career turn as Dirk Bogarde.
The British actor had two distinct phases: from 1948 he lit up screens as a dashing matinee idol, and then, from 1961, he chose roles that challenged received morality and that pushed the scope of cinema. All the while, he stayed alive to the world beyond his forcefield, as revealed by the entertaining letters he wrote to everyone from collaborators to random penpals.
As we approach the centenary of his birth this weekend, it’s interesting to reflect on a unique star whose legacy is a clarion call to pursue creative freedom. By the time he became an actor he had experienced enough of the heaviness of life to take fame lightly. In other words: he didn’t believe his own hype, even though there sure was a lot of it not to believe.
The crowd-pleasing early days
“Presenting Britain’s most popular star” shouts the trailer to the 1958 Charles Dickens adaptation A Tale of Two Cities, cutting to a figure who is every inch the romantic gentleman with a cravat, top hat and furrowed brow: “Dirk Bogarde as Sydney Carton”. Continue reading