I remember a beautiful time with Julie [Harris]. She came, as she so often did, to see me and other friends in a play, at Stratford, and it was a happy time for me. It was my first time working with John Dexter, and it was Chekhov–The Three Sisters.
I felt happy and strong in that time. I felt, as I rarely did, that I had sought out a part, an opportunity, and I was really working at it. I felt unafraid.
A friend had made a gift to me of a book–a book on the theatre–and when I was resting in my dressing room or at the house they had provided for us, I would read from it. I was finding it fascinating, and then I saw my name, and then I read how I was a problem in the theatre. I was homely; I was gawky; I had no place in a particular sort of commercial theatre. I was devastated. [The book was William Goldman’s The Season.]
I gave a matinee performance, and I was sitting in my dressing room, hurt, embarrassed, and that is when Julie came in to greet me, to talk about the performance. She was so helpful and dear, but she knew immediately that something was wrong. I described what I had read.
I cannot tell you the words she used with me that afternoon: I can only tell you that I was fine once she left, and I can tell you that she corrected what the writer of that book had stated without criticizing him or demeaning him, and she didn’t lie to me or flatter me. She told me the truth in such a loving way.
This is my memory always of Julie, but it is not just a memory: It is the reality of her moving and being among us. She is always there for me, and always so full of love and ready to share it.
I told her once that my students felt I lived in another time, and I think I still do. I want the happy memory of certain places and people, and I re-create feelings and times. And Julie told me that I wasn’t nostalgic, which was, to her, a sort of sickness, a longing, a weakness. Julie said it was right to go back to or manufacture a time of great happiness in your life and to then share it with others–through acting or living or teaching or just sharing.
One of her many gifts to me: The bounty of sharing.
From a conversation in 1991