‘The Dresser’ Preview with Ian McKellan & Anthony Hopkins

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Sir Ian McKellan (l) and Sir Anthony Hopkins (Starz)
Sir Ian McKellan (l) and Sir Anthony Hopkins (Starz)

We’re all fascinated with actors who appear on the big screen, on stage and on television for a variety of reasons and once in awhile that fascination comes from the fact that they sometimes get a chance to act their pants off.

Case in point with the new Starz TV movie adaptation of the Ronald Harwood play, The Dresser.” It’s a great project because the subject matter is about the theater and actors and all the good and not-so good that goes on between them.

In this production, Sir (yes, that’s what he’s called) is played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, who is an aging mess of an actor/manager, and he’s making life harder for dutiful dresser, Norman (Sir Ian McKellan), who’s main job is to make sure Sir gets on that stage no matter what.

For Hopkins, as he told a group of critics earlier this year at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, he may be a legend in his own right but he was still fascinated with why actors what to act especially since he admitted his own uncomfortableness with performing on the stage. “Why do they want to do Shakespeare?  Why do they night after night after night go on stage and repeat the same performances over and over and over?  And this play, “The Dresser,” more or less answers that, that you have to go half mad to survive that kind of life. ..doing “The Dresser” was a painless revisit to a world that I had known 50 years about something I wasn’t comfortable with.  And now I can understand why Sir and so many great actors love Shakespeare.”

McKellan added that “The Dresser” is a great project for any audience watching but especially an audience that includes actors. “I think every actor recognizes themselves and their past in this play.  And if you, as an outsider, want to know what it feels like to be in a dressing room and a desperate performance is minutes away, this play tells you exactly what it’s like,” he said. “And it’s a whole range of characters ‑‑ not just Sir and his dresser ‑‑ but the stage manager and the ingénue girl, just starting out, and the tired other people in the cast, and they’re all in love somehow with the theater, and it rings absolutely true.  I think that’s why the play has gone on being so successful over the years and on stage and now back on screen.”

Here is a behind-the-scenes preview of “The Dresser”:

If you’d like to check out the 1983 film version starring Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay, you can watch it with XFINITY ON DEMAND.

“The Dresser” airs May 30th at 9pm on Starz.

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