The big day came, I knocked on the door of her beautiful manor house, she called through, "come in", I followed the voice to her study and work room, I was greeted with that unique pouting smile, natural I might add, along with her mesmeric doe eyes. I can see why she was never short of suitors , dressed in a very flowing hippy skirt, old baggy jumper barefooted and looking very organic, she said "take a look around the house see where you want to take the picture, I’m going to put some lippy on". Wow, me looking around the house of a Hollywood actress, I entered the first room I came to, followed closely by Sarah's little dog Oscar poo poo, there was a large piano with a collection of framed pictures on top, Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard, to name but a few. The A-list elite and then my eye caught a glimpse of an Oscar no less, one of Robert Bolts Oscars. Cheekily I raised my hand to touch it, I felt like Indiana Jones, go on don't tell me you wouldn't be tempted to touch one. No sooner had I made contact with the cold golden accolade, that Oscar poo poo started to yap quite loud. Clever little alarm system, I felt I had been given an access all areas pass, but this was so much more.
Sarah came down and we decided to shoot in the lightest room in the house, the conservatory. It was a hot day and Sarah offered and poured me a large pint glass of water, we sat and discussed the project, and after a few minutes she knew what I was after for the photograph. She then announced, " you know what people are going to think when they see me and hear my name ". "No I said naively. "oh she’s the actress that drinks her own pee ", well I knew this from my research, and as she was drinking from a recycled Evian bottle with a date on it, proof enough this was no urban myth. I smiled, and she said, well I don’t look bad for a girl that drinks her own pee, I had to agree, because she looked great, yes I know what you are thinking large pint glass of water, don't worry mine was fresh from the well in the garden, it did cross my mind too, not sure if refusing cold fresh iconic actor pee is a faux pas, I don't even think source Miles could have mustered up that much Golden elixir, although if done correctly it should have the appearance of water.
We discussed her new book, aptly named “ taking the piss” and the benefits of the age-old Chinese practice, She told me a story about her old Hollywood friend, lover and co-star who she referred to as Bob, as in Mitchum, he had revealed Sarah's secret tipple at a National Theatre talk group, and at the time thinking it would detrimentally affect her career. I was listening to the story intently, but at the same time trying to process the data, "me, Sarah Miles chatting about Bob Mitchum, drinking urine, and the benefits to skin, hair and the immune system. It was unrepeatable and unforgettable, to say the least.
My hour was soon over, we set up the shot Sarah being well versed in taken direction, as Director David Lean was notorious for his push the actors until they break approach, so my humble still image direction was very easy, as yet I’ve not taken up drinking my own pee or anyone else's, I know what I put into my body first time round isn't that great , all in all spending an hour with the beautiful Sarah Miles is one meeting I’ll never forget, one of my favourite Russian Film writer directors sums it up perfectly, "The artist exists because the world is not perfect , art is born out of an ill-designed world.” ( Andrei Tarkovsky - 1932-1986 ) Sarah Miles is one such true artist in an ill designed world.
The day I met Sarah Miles
Sarah Miles was Probably one of the my most memorable meetings, a few days after posting my proposal to Sarah, I received a short handwritten letter, “received your proposal sounds great, don’t really understand it, love to hear more, call me, signed Sarah Miles” not awestruck at all, Sarah Miles, Oscar-nominated actress, (Ryan’s Daughter) directed by David Lean probably one of the greatest directors ever, co-starring Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard and John Mills who won the Oscar for best actor in a supporting role, Freddie Young won the Oscar for best Cinematography, and amazing it was too, Sarah was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA for best actress in a leading role, sadly she never won, the screenplay was written by her husband Robert Bolt also a great British film screenwriters, and famous for screenwriting many classics such as, Lawrence of Arabia, The mission, A Man for All Seasons and Doctor Zhivago, and winning the Oscar for Zhivago, and a Man for all seasons, hell yes, I was more than a bit awestruck.
The next step, speak to Sarah Miles on the phone….. surreal, it may all sound a bit gushy to anyone that’s not familiar with Sarah Miles, she first appeared in the film Term of Trial alongside Lawrence Olivier in 1962 and then went on to star in some great Films in the 60's 70's 80' 90's and in 2000 and many TV appearances, so I bucked up he courage and called the number, I was very familiar with Sarah’s voice as I had spent a few days catching up on some of her films, not so I could use the cheesy line “ "love your work” purely research, and I’m glad I did, I also finished one of her books, serves me right, big eye opener, it was a turbulent read about her life, loves and a very messy and what became a very public affair with Lawrence Olivier.