Screen Love That Left Richard Red In The Face
He has been one of Hollywoodís hottest heart-throbs for more than 20 years. Yet making love on the screen still leaves bachelor boy Richard Chamberlain a little pink-faced.
"Playing love scenes are always difficult at first, even slightly embarrassing," says Chamberlain, matched in a passionate session with dusky beauty Rachel Ward in "The Thorn Birds."
"Itís the technical things which are the problem," explains the actor who has found that, at 47 and long after "Dr. Kildare," heís a pin-up again.
"You have microphones strapped under your armpit and wires all around you. The difficulty is moving around strategically without showing too much to the camera."
Women swooned over his role as Captain Blackthorne in "Shogun." Now, as Father Ralph de Bricassert, he is set to send their hearts thumping again.
"The Americans found Ralph sexier, which is nice," says Chamberlain, who went after the role dogged purpose.
"I was determined to win the part of Ralph. When I read the book I was fascinated by him and the extraordinary love story. Itís an irresistible story of the forbidden and the unavailable."
The forbidden is what he does on a beach near the Great Barrier Reef with Miss Ward, an actress he has only praise for.
"Rachel is a great beauty who is intensely serious about her work. Dramatically, there is nothing she wonít be able to do as she grows as an actress," he says.
Through roles like "Dr. Kildare," in the "Musketeers" and "The Slipper And The Rose," Richard Chamberlain has established himself as one of the great movie romantics.
Yet, perhaps surprisingly for a man so eligible, he has never married. Girls, hereís your chance because he says he has not met the right woman yet.
One woman was impressed him was Barbara Stanwyck, the Hollywood veteran who portrays the priestís tormentor and would-be temptress Mary Carson.
"She knew all her lines on the first day of filming and I suspect she also knew exactly how she was going to play every scene. She is the absolute professional," says Chamberlain, slightly in awe.
Miss Stanwyck told him to stay calm when things did not go right, but he found that easier said than done. At one point, exasperated for not performing as well as he knew he could, Chamberlain hit out at a camera and broke a finger.
"Iím sure Barbara Stanwyck thought that was rather ludicrous," he acknowledges.