Archive Page - 12/1/12 39 years, 2,079 covers and 53,260 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- 4 Outfits in 1 Day: See Jennifer Lawrence's Glam Cannes Style
- Kate's Royal Lookalike Speaks: My Life Has Totally Changed!
- What's Kate Bosworth's Favorite Dish to Cook & Reality Show to Watch?
- Justin & Selena Get Cozy in Vegas Before Billboard Awards
- Ben Affleck & Jennifer Garner Spoof His 'Marriage-Is-Work' Oscar Speech on SNL
On Newsstands Now
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Sunday May 19, 2013 01:10PM EDT
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- October 07, 1985
- Vol. 23
- No. 15
Charles Dance Finds a Jewel of a Job with Streep in Plenty
Dance won Streep's approval—and more recently that of critics as well—for the part of Raymond Brock, a clench-jawed diplomat saddled with an unhappy wife. But the role responsible for Dance's good fortune gets a bad review from the actor. "There's little about Raymond Brock that's similar to my personality," says Dance, 38. "He is the most annoying character I have ever played. I would have seen all that trouble and gotten the hell out."
Ironically, that strong will brought Dance the role in the first place. Although he looks like a Yorkshire vet, complete with a thatch of strawberry blond hair and a dappling of sandy freckles, Dance projects a strapping, masculine presence. That appealed to Plenty director Fred Schepisi. "What I didn't want for the role was a wally, or I guess what you would call in this country a big wimp."
Offscreen as well as on, Dance and Streep found their professional conduct conflicting. "Dame Meryl," as he jokingly calls her, mystified him. Not long after the 11-week shoot, he told one reporter, "I did not find her easy to work with, but then it's not her job to make it easy for me." These days he hedges—a bit. "I didn't have the rapport with her that I'm used to having with English actors," he says. "On days that our characters got on, so did we. The days they didn't, we didn't either." In the film, the latter far outnumber the former. There were times, he says, "I would think, 'Christ, is it me? Do I have bad breath today? Or am I turning in an appalling performance?' "
Unlike the chap in Plenty, there was more than a dash of Dance in Guy Perron, the good guy he played in last season's Emmy-winning PBS miniseries The Jewel in the Crown. "I am very like Guy Perron, which was the principal attraction," says Dance. "He's an 'up-yours' kind of guy." But Perron didn't totally please Dance. He wanted the role of the villain, Merrick. "No actor in his right mind wouldn't want that part. Lose your arm, get a big scar and be a sadomasochistic homosexual. What more could you want?"
Dance's flair for the dramatic may be a reaction to the quiet, rural childhood he led in Devon. His father, an engineer, died when Charles was 4. But his mother, who worked in a restaurant outside of London, and civil servant stepfather provided "just about comfortable circumstances," he says. "We took one family holiday. Ever." A stammer during adolescence repressed his interest in acting, so he attended art school, where he met his wife, Joanna. When the stammer suddenly disappeared, so did his lack of enthusiasm for acting. Given his disdain for the orthodox, Dance didn't train at a prestigious academy. Instead he worked for two years with two eccentric and elderly male acting coaches who lived in a Devon cottage. Three days a week, in the back of a pub, one of the men introduced him to Shakespeare. On Sundays at the cottage, the other taught him stage technique. "They were very sparing with the praise," recalls Dance. "They'd say, 'You don't realize how bad you are, do you, boy?' " In 1975 Dance joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and in 1980 left to do films.
In his search for movie roles Dance has temporarily left his wife and two children, Oliver, 11, and Rebecca, 5, at their Victorian family home in North London. Touring the U.S. to promote Plenty, he has made the obligatory party stops. But it's on the street that he is most recognized as a public TV sex symbol. When complimented about his burgeoning female fans, Dance answers with a characteristic quip: "I'll put you on the Christmas card list this year." But don't get your hopes up, girls. Says Plenty director Schepisi: "There were a few hopefuls hanging on while we were shooting, but Charles is very well married."
- David Hutchings.
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!