Cross questioning

The travails of ageing actors

This article is taken from the February 2023 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

Although still struggling to come to terms with 2023, an upcoming event in the movie calendar seems unlikely to disappoint. Providing no further delays, Helen Mirren’s long-awaited and officially “controversial” portrayal of Israeli prime minister Golda Meir will finally grace screens in March.

While normally adept at calculating which way the wind’s blowing prior to media-savvy pronouncements on sexism, ageism, memories of pervy Parky and suchlike, Helen found herself the target of a rare backlash when it was initially revealed that she, a non-Jewish actress, had landed a Jewish role.

Accustomed to “interviews” of only the most fawning kind, the sight of our grand Dame having to navigate this unusually hazardous promotional trail may prove one of her more riveting performances in many a year!

Anxious to escape the shadow of an unfashionably heterosexual 007, Mr Craig is embracing Hollywood-friendly gay personas going forward.

Having already delightfully minced about in a vodka ad, not to mention being romantically linked to Hugh Grant in the latest Knives Out movie instalment, Daniel — in reality happily wed to the fragrant Ms Weisz — will reportedly venture into homosexual waters once more in an upcoming film role.

With life post-Bond a notoriously tricky business (one only has to glance at the disastrous misfortune of Mr Lazenby), we must applaud such canny reinvention.

Insisting on touring as Mother Goose until April, creaking show pony Ian McKellen’s propensity to bore for Britain about the ruddy north worsens by the month.

Matters recently came to a head when the old dear — (originally from Lancashire in case you somehow hadn’t heard!) — turned all teary while paying bizarre tribute to Mancunian taxi drivers at Piccadilly Station.

While this sentimental nonsense shows no sign of abating in Gandalf’s dotage, he draws the line at swapping the lavish Thames residence for Wigan Pier.

With many a Labour-supporting entertainer having sensibly taken cover during the Albert Steptoe lookalike’s unfortunate tenure as leader, how heartening to read the party is now actively recruiting celebrity backers once more. The sight of our wealthy socialist actors generously taking the time to explain the ways of the world to the rest of us will truly feel like normal service has resumed!

Readers may recall I was left little option but to exaggerate one’s “ailing” condition when preventing the nephew/manservant from ruthlessly abandoning me for a troublesome girl in Balham (worry not, the self-absorbed millennial never reads his uncle’s musings on these civilised pages).

Having successfully put the young rogue’s plans on hold following a particularly dramatic performance of which I’m not entirely proud, I’ve since experienced growing unease whenever subjected to his sceptical gaze. With the lad evidently keen to see further proof of the promised physical deterioration in his elderly relation/bequeather some time very soon, one’s repertoire is fast running out of road. 

Heaven forfend a sudden “recovery” on my part might be welcomed…

Eddie’s plum parts

One loyal showbiz figure still struggles to be appreciated in the Labour ranks, alas.

Recently rejected in Sheffield after a daft campaign to be the party’s next parliamentary candidate, celebrity transgenderist Eddie Izzard promptly headed off to perform a “one-woman” version of Great Expectations.
Surely sensible to have returned to this more welcoming world, rather than waste time trying to win over gloomy northern comrades? Only battle-hardened menopausal actresses — twitching at the thought of irrepressible Eddie nabbing further plum lady parts at their expense — would still like to see Miss Izzard’s energies transferred to Parliament.

Amiable matinee idol Mr Jackman is among those voicing support for psychiatrists to be employed on film sets to help our stars contend with “mentally demanding” roles.

With “intimacy coordinators” already on hand to guide actors through harrowing love scenes, one can be certain that attending to these fragile flowers will prove an increasingly crowded and lucrative business.

Having heard the estranged ex-agent had keeled over for the last time near Puerto Banús last autumn, I was recently surprised to learn I’d been remembered in the will.

Prior to a final, bitter parting of ways in Whitstable in 2019, it was I, more than anyone, who’d been at pains to expose his blatant favouritism towards certain “starry” clients on the books while neglecting the rest of us.

Eagerly opening the parcel when it finally arrived, I was disgusted to discover his final provocative act at my expense was a framed signed photo of Nigel Havers.

Only months after that first memoir hit the shelves, shameless exhibitionist Miriam Margolyes confirms she’ll soon be back flogging a follow-up. One must never underestimate the gullibility of the great British public when attempting to comprehend how such cynical nonsense prospers.

False friends

After a recent performance by yours truly met with a brief but distinctly unflattering verdict in the national press — I’ll not give the viper in question the satisfaction of naming her — I was once again reminded of an unsavoury truth in this disreputable trade of ours.

In marked contrast to those occasions when one’s onstage endeavours have been broadly praised down the years (seemingly never spotted by theatrical “friends”), one can be safe in the knowledge the very same bunch will feverishly clap eyes on any hostile review at my expense, ringing up with indecent haste to offer so-called “commiserations”.

Duty-bound to keep the adoring hoi polloi entertained, hats off to Judi Dench for feeding grubby media folk the same few dusty tales every five weeks or so, thus ensuring happiness all round. For those of you still not up to speed, a useful summary: the great lady “can’t bear” being called a national treasure, isn’t retiring, doesn’t have a favourite James Bond, and just loved playing all those naughty jokes on co-stars!

Sadly no official word that the late pontiff ever watched Tony Hopkins playing him in 2019 movie The Two Popes. While Jonathan Pryce went to the trouble of attempting passable Argentinian for successor Pope Francis, Tony’s accent for Pope Benedict was, after awkward confusion, sweetly described as “Welsh-German”.

Confirmation the now septuagenarian stars of Hollywood’s 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet are suing Paramount Pictures for millions — claiming they were duped into appearing in the nude all those years ago — prompts those of us of a similar vintage to courageously step forward.

Whilst my younger self may have outwardly seemed more than happy to appear in the buff on stage and screen, I now wish to declare, via a lawyer, that it was in fact always under the greatest duress — regardless of any sudden financial incentive to say so.

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