(Interview conducted in London during filming for the mini TV series "The Bourne Identity")
Q: What attracted you to this particular story?
RC: I read the book, and loved it. I thought it was a rip-roaring, exciting, unusual story, but very complicated. To have included all the details of the plot would have taken about 16 hours, so we had to simplify it without losing all that intriguing eccentricity of the plot, and that was hard. It's about a man suffering from amnesia. He doesn't know who he is. Amnesia is a very interesting thing. I consulted a psychiatrist about it. He told me that he felt amnesia, generally, is desired by the mind which might want to block out certain experiences that are too painful to remember. The mind is looking for any excuse it can find to forget. In the book it does seem that Bourne's amnesia is mechanical. After he's shot in the head, he forgets everything. Marie, the part Jaclyn plays, really represents truth in this story. She has that female intuitive sense of what is real, and she doesn't believe the horrible things Bourne is led to believe about himself.
Q: Has there been anything in your own life you would like to shut out?
RC: A great deal (he laughs). There are a number of things I can recall that still give me a shiver of embarrassment, or unhappiness. And now you're going to ask me what, but I'm not going to tell you. (He laughs again).
Q: What about the therapy you sought some years ago?
RC: Obviously you seek therapy because of certain feelings that something specific is missing in your life. In America, especially in California, it's sort of a matter of course. You want your life to become a little richer, so you go to somebody who seems to be an expert in that area. I found it wonderful, both as a human being and as an actor.
Q: What do you think was missing in your life?
RC: A kind of freedom. I was being too preconceived in my life. Too careful. In relationships I found I was being more formal than I would like to be. Less accessible. I just like the sense of privacy. The group therapy was fascinating, especially from an acting point of view. I found there was one kind of basic problem people have - a sense of unworthiness. My object was to learn how to be myself. I grew up in the Fifties, and the late Forties, and being well-mannered and well-behaved was what you were supposed to be. I still think that's fine, but in my early twenties I didn't even know when I was angry. I would just become withdrawn in subtle ways. The last five years have been especially rich for me.
Q: How long were you in therapy?
RC: In and out for about six or seven years. I feel I'm now much more honest and I don't mean that in the sense of telling a lie, I mean letting whoever I'm with know who I am, and how I feel.
Q: Has your screen image as one of the great romantics been something of a cross to bear?
RC: Yeh. Yeh! And it gets more so because the more you want to be yourself, the harder it is to be a public person. People come up to you with so many pre-conceived ideas about who you are. It takes a lot of time to work through all that. If they've seen me in The Thorn Birds then they really think I'm a sexy priest, or they might think of me as being Allan Quatermain, with all those heroics. So the simple quality of being recognised becomes slightly uncomfortable because they are recognising you as somebody you aren't. I long for the anonymity that most people have, and yet I wouldn't change jobs. I love what I do. Mostly people are really nice.
Q: Do you get crazies, as well?
RC: Yes, there are a few, especially when you are doing a play because they know where to find you. You'll find three or four crazies around. There was somebody in New York, a girl who thought see saw UFO's and things like that. She was hanging around all the time. I felt sad for her. They just hang around for as long as they want. Mostly women. I have received some fairly nasty mail, not often, but once in a while. But most of the people who approach me are really, really friendly. It's gratifying.
Q: After you came out of the Dr Kildare TV series did it take you a few years to settle down to a career as a film actor?
RC: Yeh. The movies I did then were boring anyway. They were just little quickies. I was very happy to get out of show when it ended, because I wanted to do so many other things. Not because I didn't like the show, but I had so many other ambitions. When it finished I celebrated for a couple of weeks, and then I was hit by this terrible insecurity. I hadn't realised how protected and secure I'd been. A regular job is not to be sneezed at. I knew I needed to learn more about acting so I went to the Eastern part of America to do summer stock. But I found that was inadequate. Then I did the film Petulia with Richard Lester and Julie Christie and had this tremendously strong urge to come to England to see if I could get some basic training here, and did so. That was great. Portrait Of A Lady was the start. That was a big turnaround for my whole career. I hear it's going to be released on video soon.
Q: Would you like to play havoc with your screen image?
RC: Yes! Evil is wonderful to play. I did an extensive trip to South America once and we were with some white magic people. Kind of an interesting group. They said there was something very vulnerable and fragile about white magic, and how it's so easy to be overwhelmed by black magic. There's a lot of available power in evil, and playing evil. Nobody's offered me anything like that. In fact any good material is hard to find.
Q: Which historical villain would you love to play?
RC: I'd love to have a go at lago. Rasputin was offered to me once. He'd be interesting, except I don't think I'd be physically right for him at all. But the script wasn't interesting enough as I recall.
Q: What will you be doing next?
RC: I have two projects being developed. One is a theatrical movie based on a wonderful short novel, but I am not free to talk about it at the moment. It's a modern piece. The other is a TV project - it could be a two-hour movie, it could be a mini-series I'm not quite sure yet.
Q: Have you ever thought what kind of a father you would have made?
RC: Yeh. I think I would have been a rotten father until eight or ten years ago. Now I think I'd be a rather good father.
Q: How do you keep healthy?
RC: I exercise a lot. And I eat pretty well. I don't eat much red meat anymore. I like a lot of fresh vegetables, lot of fruit.
Q: Do you ever feel you're like a Dorian Gray, never ageing?
RC: No. It's all slipping now. I see the movies. I know what's happening! It's lasted a long time. I'm not worried.