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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!
-Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) (uncredited)
.... Adolf Hitler
TV guest appearances
-"Doctor Who" (1963) playing "Headmaster" in episode:
"Remembrance of the Daleks" (episode # 25.1) 1988
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.
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.
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.
A. No. And I did it in one take!
A. Great. The premier of 'Star Wars' in London - my wife and I were guests of George Lucas - was excellent.
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.
A. I honestly can't remember. I think each contract lasted about a month.
A. Oh Lord! All told there must have been something like two hundred. On Last Crusade, more. There were all those soldiers.
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.
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.
A. No. But there were some that were never shot in 'Raiders'!
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'.
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.
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.
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.
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