Michael Sheard

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You'll probably best know Michael Sheard as the actor who played Admiral Ozzel in The Empire Strikes Back, or you might remember the cameo he had in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as Adolf Hitler.  Those of you who are British might also know him as Mr. Bronson from the television series Grange Hill.  He also had many parts you might recognize him in:  Charlie in High Road to China, Bauer in Force 10 From Navarone (with Harrison Ford), and besides that, he's played Adolf Hitler about a dozen times on television and in cinema.  More recently, he has written a book about his acting life, entitled 'Yes, Mr Bronson: Memoirs of a Bum Actor'.  It discusses just about all the parts he's had in his life.  Currently, he is writing a second book that will be more about his part in Empire Strikes Back as Admiral Ozzel, and about the convention appearances he has made recently.
Michael Sheard was very friendly throughout all the letters we've written.  I have put two addresses at the bottom - one where you can write him, and one where you can purchase his book.  You'll find more details below!


Michael's Filmography

-Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) (uncredited) .... Adolf Hitler
-Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission, The (1985) (TV) .... Hitler
-High Road to China (1983) .... Charlie
-Green Ice (1981) .... Jaap
-Empire Strikes Back, The (1980) .... Admiral Ozzel
-Caught on a Train (1980) (TV) .... Preston
-All Quiet on the Western Front (1979) (TV) .... Paul's Father
-Escape to Athena (1979)
-Riddle of the Sands, The (1979) .... Boehme
-Miserables, Les (1978) (TV) .... Commissary
-Force 10 from Navarone (1978) .... Bauer
-"Lillie" (1978) (mini) TV Series .... Colonel Hertzl
-"Grange Hill" (1977) TV Series .... Mr. Maurice Bronson
-Rogue Male (1976) (TV) .... Adolf Hitler
-England Made Me (1973) .... Fromm
-Darwin Adventure, The (1972) .... First Man
-McKenzie Break, The (1970) .... Ingenieur-Offizier Unger

         

TV guest appearances

-"Doctor Who" (1963) playing "Headmaster" in episode: "Remembrance of the Daleks" (episode # 25.1) 1988
-"Doctor Who" (1963) playing "Mergrave" in episode: "Castrovalva" (episode # 19.1) 1981
-"Tomorrow People, The" (1973) playing "Hitler" in episode: "Hitler's Last Secret" 1977
-"Doctor Who" (1963) playing "Supervisor Lowe" in episode: "Invisible Enemy, The" (episode # 15.2) 1977
-"Space: 1999" (1975) playing "Dr. Darwin King" in episode: "Dragon's Domain" 1975
-"Doctor Who" (1963) playing "Laurence Scarman" in episode: "Pyramids of Mars" (episode # 13.3) 1975
-"Persuaders, The" (1971) playing "Walden" in episode: "Home of One's Own, A" (episode # 16) 12/31/1971
-"Doctor Who" (1963) playing "Dr. Summers" in episode: "Mind of Evil, The" (episode # 8.2) 1971
-"Doctor Who" (1963) playing "Rhos" in episode: "Ark, The" (episode # 3.6) 1966
-"'Allo 'Allo" (1984) playing "Herman Goering double"
-"Blake's 7" (1978)

This list isn't complete, because Michael mentioned that he also was in Raiders of the Lost Ark, among others.


And now, for the interview:

Q.  How did you get the part of Admiral Ozzel in Empire Strikes Back?  What process did you go through?

A.  The casting director asked my agent if I'd like to meet the director.  I did, we had a chat and I was offered the part.  I was pleased that it was not larger as it fitted very nicely between two other engagements.


Q.  Had you seen Star Wars: A New Hope before you were hired to be in Empire?

A.  Yes.  We lived just outside Guildford in Surrey then and walked into the city along the river and took the children to see it as a surprise.


Q.  How do you feel about being part of one of the most popular and successful movies ever?

A.  I enjoy doing conventions and meeting people and I enjoy the fact that I was in the movie.  But, certainly at the time, it was just another part in a very busy actor's career.  I've done more than 800 TVs and 38 movies.


Q.  In Empire, Darth Vader choked you using the Force.  Did you have to practice being choked a lot?

A.  No.  And I did it in one take!


Q.  What did you think of the recently released 'Empire Strikes Back Special Edition'?

A.  Great.  The premier of 'Star Wars' in London - my wife and I were guests of George Lucas - was excellent.


Q. What was it like working with Dave Prowse, George Lucas, and Irvin Kerschner?

A. Nice guys, very professional.  I do a lot of conventions with Dave of course.  Irvin - George's tutor at college I believe - was damn good.


Q.  How many days of shooting were there for you in Empire, and also for Last Crusade?

A.  I honestly can't remember.  I think each contract lasted about a month.


Q.  About how many people were there on the sets of both movies (cast and crew)?

A. Oh Lord!  All told there must have been something like two hundred.  On Last Crusade, more. There were all those soldiers.


Q.  How did you feel about the final outcome of the film, and what did you think of it's sequel, Return of the Jedi?

A.  I think that they are very good adventure films which I must see again sometime.  Then I'll tell you what I think of the ending and the sequel.  I do know that George's favourite is 'Empire', he told me so.


Q.  You played Hitler MANY times.  Why have you played him so many times?  Do you know a lot about him?

A.  I think it's four or five, although one turned out to be a green blob from outer space.  If I like a script, I'll play the part!  My son, who's a history teacher, knows far more about the second world war than I do.  But I've researched, too.


Q. Were there any scenes in Empire or Last Crusade that you were involved in that were cut?

A.  No.  But there were some that were never shot in 'Raiders'!

Indiana Jones (left) meets Adolf Hitler (right) Q.  You had a small cameo as Adolf Hitler in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and you also co-starred with Harrison Ford in Force Ten from Navarone.  What was it like working with him?

A.  I was also in 'Empire' with him, remember, and I was in the first Indy film.  (Read my book to learn more!)  So what's that?  Four times.  He's a nice guy and a professional.  It was a pleasure to work with him, and play.  We were in what was then Yugoslavia making 'Force Ten' for almost three months and had many an enjoyable meal after filming.


Q. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first Indiana Jones movie, there was a scene with Hitler that was cut from the final version.  Did you play Hitler in this scene, too?

A.  No.  But as I said I was in the film!


Q. Your book (which I haven't read yet) is titled: 'Yes, Mr. Bronson: Memoirs of a Bum Actor'.  Why do you refer to yourself as a 'bum actor'?  Also, it contains a foreword by Roger Moore.  Is that THE Roger Moore, a.k.a. James Bond?  Finally, I assume 'yes, Mr. Bronson' refers to your years on the children's series 'Grange Hill', and since you named your book after it, are you most famous for that part, as schoolteacher Mr. Bronson?

A.  I would have thought you'd know that.  Bum as in your (the American) use of the word. In the middle ages actors were perceived as roving rogues and vagabonds, strolling players, wandering from village to village.  Bums.  Lord Laurence Olivier in fact always referred to us thus.  'We're all rogues and bums, dear boy'.
Yes, certainly, there is only one Roger Moore.  I've worked with him lots of times and he's a pal.
'Grange Hill' played, still plays, a big part in my life and I'm certainly recognised as Mr Bronson.  It was a great part and I was excellent!  But so I am in everything I play of course and I'm often recognised for 'Dr. Who', (I've worked with more Doctors than any other actor), 'Auf Wiedersehen Pet', (have you seen that over there?), 'Colditz'....  I really could go on and on.  Thank heavens!


Q. What motivated you to write this book?

A.  I'd always thought I had a book in me, but it was not until the publishers approached me and said they wanted a book about the business from a different angle, from a working actor's point of view, that I buckled down. I loved doing it. It took me about four years, tapping away between engagements and I'm thrilled that it's been so well received - not one bad review.  Indeed, the publishers are so delighted that they've asked me to do another.  This one will be published, all being well, when the next 'Star Wars' film opens here.  Why?  Because it will concentrate far more on all my 'Star Wars' chums.


Q.  I looked up your filmography on the Internet Movie Database, and it mentions that you haven't been in any movies or television programs since 1989 (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).  What have you been doing since then?

A.  I've been mostly doing a series in Germany and directing for the past six years or so.  But I have two movies and a new Sci-Fi series, 'First Frontier', coming up.


Q. Many Star Wars actors have been touring conventions in the UK and the United States the last few years, selling autographs, giving presentations, and mingling with the fans.  Have you appeared at any, or will you appear at any in the future?

A.  I've mentioned this already.  I do as many as my schedule will allow - I'm still very much a working actor.  I am one of 'Icons' band of celebrities in the United States and get over when I can.  The new book will concentrate on the convention scene, too.


Q. Finally, of all the movies and television shows you have been in what has been your favorite, or the most memorable one?

A.  Honesty time!  I've enjoyed everything I've done. So in order to give an answer I must take everything about the job into account.  The cast, the part certainly, the location, the crew, etc. And no my reply is not 'Empire' but 'Escape to Athena' which I made on Rhodes with Roger and a host of other great stars, including the dear man David Niven. (ed. note - stars included in the film are: Roger Moore, David Niven, Telly Savalas, Stefanie Powers, Richard Roundtree, Elliott Gould, and Sonny Bono)

Thanks to Michael Sheard for taking the time to do this interview!
Please do not use any parts of this interview without consent from me, as I don't want to see excerpts appearing all over the web :)

If you would like to write Michael Sheard to request an autograph or ask him a question, you can do so at the following address:

Michael Sheard
c/o The Narrow Road Company,
21/22, Poland Street,
LONDON. W1V 3DD. UK.

You will need to include at least two International Reply Coupons (IRCs) for a reply.  IRCs are available at your local post office, and they are $1.05 each (US).  If you live in the UK, just a self-addressed stamped envelope will do.  If you would like a big signed photograph, send $7.00.

If you would like to purchase the book signed by Michael Sheard himself, (It's a great read) send just $15.00 (this price includes P&P) to:

Summersdale Publishers,
46, West Street,
CHICHESTER. PO19 1RP. UK.

Don't forget to mention that you'd like the book 'Yes, Mr. Bronson: Memoirs of a Bum Actor' by Michael Sheard, since the company also carries other books :)  As soon as I get my copy, I will scan the cover and post it here.  I might also note that the book has a foreword by none other than Michael's good friend Roger Moore (James Bond)!

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