Terence Stamp was born within the sound of the bells of St Mary-le-Bow
Church in London which means he is one of the few people entitled to
call himself a cockney. He began his working life in advertising but
the happy chance of his failing the medical for National Service gave
him an unexpected two years to look around for something else. He found
acting and, after having worked in the British theatre, most notably in
a National Tour of Hall’s The Long the Short and the Tall with another
young actor called Michael Caine, Stamp was cast in the title role in
Ustinov’s Billy Budd (1962). His immense success in the role, his famed
exploits with his new flat-mate Caine and his affair with the prototype
for the supermodel, Jean Shrimpton, led to an iconic presence in the
similarly iconic sixties London scene.
He chose his film roles
with caution, working with such greats as Schlesinger, Loach, Passolini
and Fellini, and famously rejecting the role of Alfie.