You may not know who Julian Glover is off hand but there’s a good chance you’ve seen something with him in it. The 83-year-old English actor has had an illustrious career, co-starring in such films as The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Troy, Dr. Who, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, co-starred as the villain in 007 For Your Eyes Only and most recently, was seen quite a bit in the smash hit HBO show, Game of Thrones. Talk about a portfolio. I got front row seats to hear the thespian talk about his craft, his experiences, influences and more at Montreal Comiccon.
Minor spoilers for Game of Thrones here
Right off the bat, Glover his the audience with a surprise revelation: he was quite often bored with his role as Grand Maester Pycelle in Game of Thrones. A series mainstay for so many years, Glover stated that playing a weary old man became boring and that his role didn’t go anywhere other than being “ticked off at Cersei” half the time. It got so bad that Glover began asking showrunners Benioff and Weiss to kill him off. Usually, the first question out of any actors mouths to the producers are “do we survive” this season when working on Game of Thrones, but Glover was interested in making his exit after being told yes he was going to survive the season for so many years. Finally, in season six of the show, Glover got his wish and his character was killed off-only after Glover negotiated that he film the scene at his leisure and that he was paid three times his usual salary! Thirty minutes after making the request, the studio agreed to his wishes. The scene in question, which was said to be “the scene for him”, was delivered to him via motorbike courier. The package was a box with a key. Inside that box, another box with a key with three sheets of paper inside. The pages were the script where Pycelle met his end in the show-much to Glover’s content. He would also comment that Tywin Lannister actor Charles (Charlie) Dance was at the top of his game on the show and that he was infuriated that a scene between the pair, which showcased that Pycelle’s old man appearance was all a facade, was cut from the film-further encouraging his departure from the series.
Glover then went on to talk about what got him into acting. As stated before, he’s in a wide variety of very successful film franchises and there must have been a motivator, actor or film to get him inspired for all these roles. But Glover stated that he was never inspired by any one particular film or actor, but that doesn’t mean he was without inspiration. Glover took up acting at the age of fifteen, where he played Marc Anthony in a South London production of Julius Caesar by Shakespeare. On the role, Glover stated it was a good, strong first role and that once he gave the performance, he knew acting was the profession he wanted to undertake. He needed to do it.
It just so happened that luck also played a part in his amazing career. By the late 70s, Glover had already been featured in Dr. Who (which he calls “jolly good tea time television”) and was beginning to make something of a name for himself. His next-door neighbour though just so happened to be Robert Watts, the associate producer for The Empire Strikes Back. While Glover was out working in the garden, Watts peaked over the fence and stated that “they’re working on a second Star Wars, you want a role?”. It was rubbish pay, but the part of General Veers would open the door to working on other high profile pictures.
Of course, one of those high profile pictures he co-starred in was none other than Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Unlike Star Wars, which was a tiny role, Crusade saw Glover act as one of the primary antagonists for the film, Walter Donovan. On making the film, Glover stated that part of the success was the excellent combination of Harrison Ford at the top of his game and Steven Spielberg. The filming and final result are, and I quote, “extremely good”. Interestingly enough-and a bit funny, Glover called Crusade the second film in the Indiana Jones franchise a few times, despite it being the third film. Probably for the best we don’t talk about Temple of Doom anyway. He was also very happy to refer to the film as “my film” in reference to the one he had been in.
Part of the success of the Indiana Jones franchise though comes from the brilliant concept and how Spielberg and George Lucas were able to execute that vision. It’s a silly movie and the filmmakers and leads never try to make it anything other than campy fun for the masses. They understood the joke and ran with it. Glover then stated that Spielberg may be a brilliant director who can do anything behind the camera, but he was rubbish at acting himself. Thankfully, he always takes the actors opinions into account and encourages them to share their inputs. The line “she talks in her sleep” from Sean Connery’s character was in fact improvised and Speilberg loved it so much it made the final cut.
Finally, Glover spoke about his time as a Bond villain. When asked if he ever reads a novel in advance of a role, Glover stated that he never does that at all as a film script does not equal a book, nor should it be the same. So he doesn’t want his performance to be dictated by the events of the film when he can make a character his own. Once production is done, however, he enjoys reading the novel and comparing his performance. His favourite scene to shoot on For Your Eyes Only was actually the first scene he filmed, in which the villain Kristatos captures Roger Moore’s, James Bond. He said the sheer joy in capturing 007 while wearing high society fashion on a boat in the Aegean Sea was a joy to shoot. But it wasn’t all fun times as Glover revealed that Bond producer Albert Broccolini was quite often ruthless in his criticism of the actors’ performances at times. But due to those films being made on celluloid, the actor wouldn’t get the feedback from the producer until two days after the fact as the rushes were taken care of in London. Thankfully for him, such negative feedback never came his way and Glover got to continue his passion.