This is absolutely one of the best–if not the best–of the many interviews Orson Welles did over the years. It’s from a 1974 BBC program, the highly respected interview show hosted by Michael Parkinson. Welles is more relaxed than he is on guard, which is often his default attitude when he doesn’t like or trust an interviewer. His Dick Cavett interviews are good but his Johnny Carson appearances always disappoint me–Carson seems intimidated by Welles and overcompensates by talking way too much. Parkinson, though, is low-key, clearly a devoted fan and knows enough to set the stage and get out of the way. Except for the deplorable conversation on bullfighting in the middle of the show–though to be fair to Orson he discusses how he’s gradually coming around to not thinking as highly of the sport as he did for many years–it’s a perfect conversation and gives you the feeling of what it must have been like to sit with Welles over cocktails/food/cigars/whatever. I once asked Peter Bogdanovich if Welles was intimidating to most people and he said that he was, though it made him sad. “Orson never understood why people were scared of him. He loved people and conversation and he wanted more of it.” I also once had the great privilege of getting a phone call on May 6th. It was Peter. After I said hello he said simply: “It’s Orson’s birthday today.” There was something so poignant about him knowing that day and considering it of central importance even two decades after Welles death. A moving moment I’ll never forget…


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