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Julian Sands, from 'Dragon Tattoo' to Harold Pinter

January 18, 2012 | 11:48 am


Julian Sands, the British actor from "A Room With a View" and the current "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," can lay claim to a friendship that few stage performers had the privilege to experience -- a close relationship with Harold Pinter.

"I had done the film version of his play 'The Room' and had done some of his plays on the London scene," Sands recalled in a recent phone interview. "It was really through working with him on his poetry that our relationship was formed. He was very possessive of his poetry. As far as I know, he didn't work with anyone else on them ... it was like an exclusive experience."

The actor is currently tackling the poetry of Pinter in his new one-man show that concludes its limited run Sunday at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble.

"A Celebration of Harold Pinter" is Sands' personal reflection on working with the Nobel laureate who passed away in 2008. The production, directed by John Malkovich, draws from Pinter's poetry and political writings, as well as Sands' own relationship with the playwright.

The show had prior performances on Jan. 8 and 14, and will conclude on Sunday at 5 p.m.  The performance will serve as a benefit for the Odyssey.

"Pinter" made its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year and went on tour through Britain in an expanded version. Sands said the show he is presenting in L.A. is the one from the British tour.

"Pinter was known popularly as an 'acerbic playwright' and an 'angry lefty,' but there was much more," said the actor. "Had he only revealed himself as a poet, his legacy would still be colossal."

Sands said that Malkovich "has a fantastic ear for Pinter's language. It was a very good triangle we held." (The two actors first worked together in the 1984 movie "The Killing Fields.")

Sands can be seen briefly in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," in which he plays the young Henrik Vanger in the movie's flashback scenes. He said his part was shot over the course of six weeks in Sweden. "I'm a great admirer of David Fincher," the actor said. "He's a master of the medium ... with a complete understanding of the cinematic process, and a sensitive antennae to actors."

Sands said he never got to meet Christopher Plummer, who plays the older version of his character, because the flashback scenes were shot before the present-day sequences.

Of Fincher's well-known penchant for shooting numerous takes of a scene, Sands said: "When you're working with someone on that level, bring it on."


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-- David Ng

Photo: Julian Sands. Credit: Eamonn McCormack / Getty Images