Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Acting Is Not Easy, Says Gregory Peck

Cleveland Press January 28, 1964

NEW YORK -- Gregory Peck has a theory about acting -- that quite a bit of effort goes into the business of not appearing to act.

The Academy Award winner expounded on his acting theories in an interview after a screening of his latest film, "Captain Newman, M.D."

I had asked him to elaborate on a statement attributed to him in a recent magazine article, a statement to the effect that acting on the stage is just a matter of vocalizing and declaiming.

"I was misquoted," Peck said quickly. "I had been asked to compare the stage and screen and I pointed out that it is hard to do a good job in either medium. So far as stage actors are concerned it is not enough, when they are in front of a camera, to declaim.

"UNFORTUNATELY, the names of Laurence Olivier and Richard Burton came up and people think I was criticizing them. I admire their work on both the stage and screen."

In person Peck displays the same ability to communicate sincerity as he does on screen. And in view of that sincerity it seems churlish to wonder if his theory that an actor mustn't be caught acting isn't really an explanation of his own work.

At one point in the conversation he mentioned that the story is first, the part in it second. It's a statement that has been borne out in 20 years of stardom in the movies. A thorough pro is wise enough to pick strong scripts.

Is he in a position to pick his parts?

"LET'S SAY that I can at least turn down a part," he explained.

Of "Captain Newman, M. D.," more when it opens at the Hippodrome in March. Enough for now to say that Peck won't be hurt one bit by a solid story from Leo Rosten's best-seller.

Gregory Peck in person seems to be an extension of most of his best screen roles -- self-effacing, quiet, dignified, but showing a little more humor than he displays before the camera.

He is Everyman in a gray flannel suit. And if it is difficult to separate the role from the man when seeing him on the screen, it is equally difficult to separate the man from the image when meeting him face to face.