(if they can spell it)
When Bette Davis turns up for a scene 10 minutes early, then that must be the way to behave.
No egos. No temperament. Sheer discipline. That’s Simon MacCorkindale’s view of cinema stardom
And he should know, having just finished filming Agatha Christie’s Death On The Nile with stars of such calibre as Peter Ustinov, David Niven and, of course, Miss Davis.
MacCorkindale plays a hard-up young man who strikes it rich and easy with his marriage to an heiress. But Simon discovered, while working with the stars, that there’s no quick and easy route to the top of the acting profession.
“It’s sheer professionalism and hard work,” he explained, “It was marvellously exciting working with actors I’d admired for years and in every way they lived up to my expectations”
Not that Simon finds it difficult to accept the discipline of a film set. The son of a Group Captain and educated at public school, he admits that he tends to like doing things “the right way”, which is possibly why he found his early years at drama school “thoroughly miserable”.
All the other students were more extrovert than I was,” he said, “I’d never dressed up in a leotard before or indulged in any self-expression. I suppose all my English inhibitions and embarrassment at making a fool of myself came to the fore. I felt like a fish out of water”
But another reason for his discomfort was that he decided to go to Drama school, mainly “to learn to be a better director”
“From the age of eight I desperately wanted to be a film director,” Simon explained, “but I knew it would help if I learned about acting first. What I hadn’t expected was that, once I’d got over my shyness, I developed a love of acting and, although I still want to direct eventually, I’m really enjoying being an actor.”
He’s been told many times that the name Simon MacCorkindale is difficult to remember and “won’t look good in lights”.
“But I’ve never wanted to change it and I’ve fought against the pressure to do so. I believe it stands out and, after all, it is my own name and I know my mum and dad get a kick out of seeing the family name on the screen.”
It’s also a name TV viewers are becoming familiar with since Simon’s appearances in I, Claudius and Jesus of Nazareth. It was after the filming of Jesus of Nazareth, two years ago, that Simon married Fiona Fullerton, of TV’s Angels, and it’s typical of Simon’s desire to “do things properly” that they didn’t rush off to the nearest register office.
“Because my father has an OBE we were able to be married in the chapel of St Paul’s Cathedral I wanted to do it that way, quite apart from the fact that both our families loved it.”
Death on the Nile opens in London on October 23, and is going to make Simon very well-known indeed. He’s also starring in a new film with Jenny Agutter called Riddle of the Sands.
Simon confessed: “I’m never really happy with myself on screen but I think that’s true of most actors. I like to hear other people’s views of my work and I read all the critics”
He’s certainly gone into the profession with his eyes open and no one needs to tell him it’s a tough climb to the top. But when Bette Davis takes the time to watch a scene and then tells him “That was very good, Simon”, there’s a strong feeling that Simon MacCorkindale won’t have any trouble getting his name in lights in the future.