Nationality: British. Born: Terence Henry Stamp in Stepney, London, England, 22 July 1938. Education: Attended the Webber-Douglas Drama School, London. Career: Stage actor: role in Why the Chicken ; 1962—film debut in title role in Billy Budd ; later stage roles in Dracula, The Lady from the Sea , and Alfie ; 1980s—published three volumes of autobiography. Awards: Best Actor, Cannes Festival, for The Collector , 1965; Seattle International Film Festival Golden Space Needle Award for Best Actor, for The Adventures of Priscilla,
Billy Budd (Ustinov) (title role); Term of Trial (Glenville) (as Mitchell)
The Collector (Wyler) (as Freddie Clegg)
Modesty Blaise (Losey) (as Willie Garvin)
Far from the Madding Crowd (Schlesinger) (as Sgt. Troy); Poor Cow (Loach) (as Dave)
"Toby Dammit" ep. of Histoires extraordinaires ( Spirits of the Dead ) (Fellini) (title role); Blue (Narizzano) (title role); Teorema ( Theorum ) (Pasolini) (as the visitor)
The Mind of Mr. Soames (Cooke) (as John Soames)
Una stagione all' inferno (Risi)
Hu Man (Lapperrousaz)
Strip-Tease (Lorente); La divina creatura ( The Divine Nymph ) (Griffi) (as Duke Daniele di Bagnasco)
The Thief of Bagdad (Clive Donner—for TV) (as Wazir Jaudur); Superman (Richard Donner) (as Gen. Zod)
Amo non amo ( I Love You, I Love You Not ) (Balducci); Meetings with Remarkable Men (Peter Brook) (as Prince Lubovedsky)
Misterio en la isla de los monstruos ( Monster Island ; Mystery of Monster Island ) (Piquer) (as Taskinar); Superman II (Lester) (as Gen. Zod)
Morte in Vaticano ( Death in the Vatican ) (Aliprandi)
Bloody Chamber (Lewin); Chess Game (Tucker—for TV)
The Hit (Frears) (as Willie Parker); The Company of Wolves (Jordan)
Hud (Lokkeberg) (as Edward, an artist); Legal Eagles (Reitman) (as Victor Taft); Link (Franklin) (as Dr. Steven Philip); Directed by William Wyler (Slesin—doc) (as himself)
The Sicilian (Cimino) (as Prince Borsa); Wall Street (Stone) (as Sir Larry Wildman)
Alien Nation (Baker) (as William Harcort); Young Guns (Cain) (as John Henry Tunstall)
Genuine Risk (Voss) (as Paul Hellwart)
Beltenebros ( Prince of Shadows ) (Pilar Miro) (as Darman)
The Real McCoy (Mulcahy) (as Jack Schmidt); The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Elliott) (as Bernadette)
Tire a part (Bernard Rapp) (Lamb)
Bliss (Young) (as Baltazar Vincenza)
Kiss the Sky (Young) (as Kozen); Love Walked In (Juan José Campanella) (as Fred Moore)
The Limey (Soderbergh) (as Wilson); Star Wars: Episode I— The Phantom Menace (Lucas) (as Chancellor Finis Valorum); Bowfinger (Oz) (as Terry Stricter)
Red Planet (Hoffman) (as Dr. Bud Chantillas)
Stranger in the House (+ sc, ro)
Stamp Album , London, 1987.
Coming Attractions , London, 1988.
Double Feature , London, 1989.
The Night , London, 1991.
Interviews with Robin Bean, in Films and Filming (London), December 1968 and January 1969.
Interview with Sheila Johnston, in Stills (London), October 1984.
Interview with F. Guérif and P. Mérigeau, in Revue du Cinéma (Paris), October 1985.
Interview with Allan Hunter, in Films and Filming (London), June 1988.
"Terence Stamp's Summer Camp," interview with Jonathan Bernstein, in Interview (New York), August 1994.
"First-class Stamp," interview with Steve Grant, in Time Out (London), no. 1259, 5 October 1994.
"He's Every Woman," interview with Charles Busch, in Advocate , 24 January 1995.
Hibbert, Tom, article in Empire (London), no. 61, 1994.
Dowd, Maureen, "He's Got Legs," in Premiere (New York), August 1994.
Gordinier, Jeff, "The Avenger," in Entertainment Weekly , 15 October 1999.
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Enjoying a late-1990s mini-renaissance in his film career, Terence Stamp is unlikely to find a more apt valedictory role than the part of vengeful Cockney rogue Wilson in The Limey . Out to get the shady American music impresario he blames for his daughter's death, the character is far more than just another vigilante "hero," drawing on Stamp's own background and a forceful star persona that has shone, with varying degrees of brightness, for nearly forty years. It says something about the erratic progress of Stamp's career that this justly acclaimed performance came six years after his last high profile film. Following a lengthy period in which he largely disappeared from the consciousness of moviegoers, Stamp served notice that he was still an actor of considerable range with his eye-opening star turn in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert . Stamp had not exactly been absent from movie screens, but he was commanding neither memorable featured parts nor the prestige starring roles he had won earlier in his career. For instance, when one thinks of Wall Street , in which he had a supporting role, one thinks of Oliver Stone, Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. When one thinks of Young Guns —in which Stamp has one of his better later-career roles as a British gentleman who becomes mentor to six youthful hooligans in the American West—one thinks of Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Kiefer Sutherland, whose combined thespian efforts looked pretty thin by comparison. When one thinks of Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace , which wastes Stamp in a brief cameo, one merely hopes he was paid well.
Back in the 1960s, his decade of stardom, Stamp established himself with his Oscar-nominated supporting performance as the ingenuous, ill-fated seaman in Ustinov's Billy Budd . This success led to his being cast with varying degrees of success in high-profile, prestige productions. Stamp's best roles were complex, enigmatic ones. In Poor Cow , he is impressive as the petty criminal whose tenderness towards Carol White is countered by his vicious beating of an elderly victim. He gave his finest star performances in The Collector , playing a warped young amateur lepidopterist who kidnaps an art student, hoping that during her imprisonment she will come to love him; the Fellini-directed segment of the three-part Spirits of the Dead , a surreal adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe story in which Stamp is cast as a cynical, alcoholic, ill-fated movie star; and Teorema , the story of a mysterious, ambiguous figure who disrupts and transforms the lives of a bourgeois Italian family. While the latter is very much the creation of its writer-director, Pier Paolo Pasolini, the film gains immeasurably from Stamp's imposing presence and otherworldly features. His lesser roles of the period came in Far from the Madding Crowd , in which he has little to do but look good in a cavalry uniform and wave his saber for the benefit of Julie Christie, and the desperately 'pop' comic-strip film Modesty Blaise , in which he is stranded as Monica Vitti's sidekick. Lead roles in the sleeper hits Alfie —which Stamp offered to play for free—and Blow Up eluded him, going instead to relative unknowns Michael Caine and David Hemmings.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Stamp made the transition from leading man to supporting actor. Among his strongest roles were the hunted ex-con in The Hit and the thoroughly evil General Zod in Superman II (also seen briefly in Superman ). The character of General Zod may have been one-dimensional, but Stamp is highly effective as he adopts a calm, detached attitude to his acts of destruction. But for the most part, his roles (as well as films) remained undistinguished until, in a brilliant bit of casting, he signed on to play his highest-profile character in years: Bernadette, the dignified yet vulnerable transsexual in Priscilla . The film is a funny, moving, sleeper hit comedy in which Stamp is one-third of a drag queen act touring the Australian provinces. Bernadette is a risky character for any actor, one which easily might have degenerated into a campy caricature. But the actor's striking features and sheer presence lent much to the role, which ends up a sensational star turn—and, perhaps, Stamp's most memorable screen characterization.
In the 1990s, The Limey returns to Stamp's sixties roots in the most literal way possible, utilizing clips from Poor Cow to depict the younger Wilson. Playing opposite fellow 1960s icon Peter Fonda, Stamp is both amusing and poignant as the East End Englishman in L.A., his deliberately impenetrable rhyming slang masking both resilience and resourcefulness. While Dave in Poor Cow was amoral and brutal underneath his "charmer" exterior, the equally tough Wilson is a man of principle, sharing Bernadette's sense of battered integrity, if not her taste in high fashion.
—Daniel O'Brien, with previous updates by Rob Edelman