“The ultimate example of Guiness’
iceberg characters, nine-tenths concealed”
(From a review of the series)
When I first heard that BBC was filming Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy (released 1979), I was very sceptical. I couldn’t see how the novel could be adapted to the screen at all. How wrong I was! The director, John Irvin had managed to catch the tone of the book beautifully, and above all – Alec Guiness made a formidable George Smiley.
I recently found an interview with John le Carré on YouTube, in which he tells how Alec Guiness transformed himself to George Smiley. Here´s a short extract:
“I think he loved the part for a lot of reasons. Smiley had great authority. He was really somebody who from the backseat was driving the world. Smiley was a moderator, a father Brown-figure. He was the confessor to other characters and in that sence Smiley rang a lot of religious bells with Alec, and I think he equated closely with the kind of role in society that Alec felt he should be playing. Smiley was super-observant. Seeing a lot, as T.S. Eliot said, is very painful. Smiley is painful. He carries his pain on his back somehow, in his face. He is reconciled. He is a disenchanted romantic in a sence and above all some kind of arbitor of ends, some kind of arbitor of morality and human behaviour.”
Here’s the scene showing the meeting between Smiley and Karla. Karla is played by Patrick Stewart.
The interview with John le Carré is actually very nice. Click here, if you want to watch the whole interview!