“Fellini was adorable to hang out with”: Terence Stamp remembers it all

Terence Stamp
Terence Stamp

The great British actor Terence Stamp shares his thoughts on Fellini, Brando, George Lucas, the swinging 60s, and his own brilliant life and career.

By Sam Wigley

Born in East London to a merchant seaman, Terence Stamp was Oscar-nominated for his screen debut in Peter Ustinov’s film of Herman Melville’s Billy Budd (1962), before becoming one of the defining actors of swinging 60s Britain. Roles in Ken Loach’s Poor Cow (1967) and John Schlesinger’s Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) earned him critical acclaim, even as his offscreen relationships, with Julie Christie among others, kept him in the media spotlight.

He lived in Italy in the late 60s, working with Federico Fellini on his ‘Toby Dammit’ section of the Edgar Allan Poe portmanteau film Histoires extraordinaires/Spirits of the Dead (1967) and Pier Paolo Pasolini on Theorem (1968), in which the actor plays a mysterious visitor who seduces each and every member of a bourgeois Italian household.

Terence and Julie Christie
Far from the Madding Crowd (1967)


When leading roles dried up after this, Stamp disappeared from the public eye to live in India, returning to mainstream filmmaking when he was offered the part of General Zod, playing opposite Marlon Brando, in Superman (1978).

Adjusting to a career as a character actor rather than a top-billed star, Stamp has continued to seek out creatively interesting projects, starring as a retired gangster living in Spain in Stephen Frears’s The Hit (1984), a transsexual in the Australian road movie The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994), and – most recently – an ageing husband coming to terms with his wife’s illness in Paul Andrew Williams’s Song for Marion (2012).

We spoke to him about the tumult of his early celebrity life, the directors he admires (and the ones he doesn’t), and his knack for a comeback.

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Letters to The Hobbledehoy, October 2022

Aedan writes:

Hi there! Thanks so much for doing the research on “Long Time Sun” and posting your findings. I was told it was an old Celtic prayer, but the way I’ve heard it sung by the yoga people didn’t make much sense. I specialize in Celtic music on Celtic harp, and am glad to finally know it’s origin. Interestingly enough, like Mike Heron, I use it as a closer to performances. After listening to his rendition, like it much better than what I’ve heard. Thanks again!

Hi Aidan!
Thanks for visiting The Hobbledehoy. The post on “Long Time Sun” remains one of The Hobbledehoy’s most popular. Very big fans of Mr. Heron and the Incredible String Band.

Don writes:

Are you aware that Fellini made a movie titled, I Vitelloni. It was translated different ways across the world. In the UK it was translated variously as, The Spivs and The Hobbledehoys! Thought you might like to know. I recently acquired a copy of a theater handout synopsis with that title listed. If interested, I will send you a pic. I will soon upload it to my Fellini website. Cheers

Hi Don!
Thank you for your letter. I did not know that bit about Fellini and The Hobbledehoys – excellent! Good luck with the website on Fellini. I’m a big fan of Nino Rota who contributed music to Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, as well as Coppola’s Godfather trilogy, for which he won an academy award in 1974.

Stella writes:

Hi there. I’m a retired American who just stumbled onto your webpage, and though it hasn’t been updated much lately, it doesn’t look like your dead. That’s a good thing.

I’ve been thinking of trying to do a pub tour of at least some part of the UK, since I’ve expanded my taste in beer and have always wanted to travel more. Searching tours mostly only brings up very costly and busily planned packages, but if I come alone it’s a bit daunting, and not just because you all drive on the wrong side of the road. You seem like a person with a wide enough range of interests to suggest some kind of idea. Would it even be feasible for a blue-haired lady (of the modern kind) to set out alone on this adventurous and liver-challenging quest?

Hi Stella!

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated! The Hobbledehoy is once again being updated regularly.

I was in Edinburgh a few years back and there are daily tours available featuring Scotch whiskey tastings. Not sure about pub tours, however I’d recommend a night of pint pounding at The Royal Oak (try a pint of “Heavy” a dark Scottish beer.) The Royal Oak is also a great venue to hear folk music. Among those to have performed in this 200 year-old Edinburgh pub have been legendary Scots Billy Connolly, Dick Gaughan, and Hobbledehoy recent favorite Karine Polwart. I would say most Edinburgh pubs would be safe travels for a blue haired lady, though Glasgow – not so much.

Check out this article written by travel authority Rick Steves, Britain’s Pub Hub. We’ve been in Rick’s company many times and enthusiastically recommend his tours. Here’s Rick’s advice for seniors traveling in Europe