A character 30 years in the making

During his recent visit to Seattle, a relaxed and friendly Terence Stamp related how his audacious, career-reviving turn in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert led to the very different character of Wilson.

Of director Steven Soderbergh, he explains, "He's on record as having said that Priscilla was the only Oscar-worthy performance of [1994]." Soderbergh suggested that screenwriter Lem Dobbs research his old films, Stamp adds, resulting in the (re)discovery of Poor Cow and its fusion with The Limey. "From that moment, it was being written for me," he adds gratefully. And how did he feel about this intermingling of scripts, the continuation—after some three decades—of one character into a new film? "Thrilling, thrilling. I couldn't believe my luck.

"It was a rather interesting prospect to revisit that character, to listen to the voice that I'd used," says Stamp—and to ask, about Wilson, "how would these years of incarceration affect him? . . . either prison breaks you or it makes you. And obviously it's an environment that's made Wilson."

Certainly, the prison-hardened Wilson grieves for his murdered daughter, Stamp believes. "He's had to suppress a lot of his conscience, really"—for abandoning his only child. "He's stayed true to himself, but the price is enormous. He's probably pushed away everybody who's loved him." Yet in Wilson's wary approach of two potential allies during his LA visit, Stamp notes, "You get the feeling that there's some kind of redemption. Maybe his life is going to start over."

But isn't Wilson intent on first avenging his daughter's death? "No," Stamp declares. "And that's like his life. The only way that he's been able to survive all these years of incarceration is to be consciously in the moment." In other words, his mind isn't made up in advance. "I saw him as kind of like a Zen monk," Stamp concludes. "He's not good or bad." Instead, Wilson simply waits, watches, and reacts to the present, but finally allows his future actions to be equally determined by the memory of a young girl's reproachful face.

 
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