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De Lancie: Acting Was A Life Preserver

Posted by T'Bonz - 18/02/14 at 01:02 pm


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After dyslexia caused him grief in school, John de Lancie found acting to be his salvation.

The actor was dyslexic at a time when no one knew much about dyslexia, or what to do about it.

“I was not a good student, and the reason I was not a good student is that I didn’t know how to read,” said de Lancie. “I was dyslexic, but at the time that was not really a word that was used. What was used was ‘mildly retarded’ or ‘slow.’ I ended up flunking out of a couple of schools. The last school I went to, they said ‘Oh, no, no, we think he’s dyslexic,’ but nobody really knew what to do with that. I probably was fourteen by that time.”

A teacher led de Lancie to discover acting. “My teacher, who was really quite a wonderful teacher…we would do projects,” said de Lancie. “One year, we would do Handel‘s Messiah. Another year, we did Marriage of Figaro, and then this particular time of the year, it was in the springtime, he said, ‘We’re going to do Henry V, and de Lancie, you’re going to play Hal [King Henry V].’ I could barely read it, but I learned it, and I did it, and a gentleman who had come…took my father aside and he said, ‘If your son has an interest in this, you should encourage him because he has a flair for it.’”

“And so it came to me mostly as a life preserver, quite frankly.”

De Lancie also spoke briefly about his best-known character to Trek fans, the omnipotent Q. Would de Lancie ever reprise Q? “I don’t think so,” he said. “I could come on as a voice or something like that, but…I’m supposed to be an immortal, omnipotent guy, and, you know, what you would mostly see, you’d kind of go, ‘Wow! Q’s really aged!’”

Source: The Roanoke Times

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  • Kang the Unbalanced

    Fascinating! No wonder I like this guy. I’d love to see him reprise Q. The aging could be used to show a maturing of the character, and (though he’d never admit it) a respect for Jean-Luc Picard.

  • milojthatch

    Wow, I had no idea. I have dyslexia too! I think my admiration for Mr. de Lancie has just grown ten fold.

  • Ben Gunn

    First, this story clearly shows one should never underestimate the power of Hal and his longbows…

    …and second, I think there should be one last ST:TNG, on TV. With Q. Because TNG is about humanity, part of humanity is our mortality–finally losing the race, but the race nevertheless continuing on….and the Robin Hood legend is not complete until Robin shoots one last arrow.

    Do this story right, and TNG never dies in the shadow of TOS (remakes of which I think will be the pattern going forward) but lives forever as a legendary set of tales on its own.

  • Theragen Derivative

    If only TNG had ended with “All Good Things”, and never produced four middling-to-bad movies to sour everyone’s memories, that might be its status. Too late now.

  • Ben Gunn

    In my view, “Nemesis” actually had some hallmarks of potential greatness–but the deriviative nature became too much. I still think it a reasonably decent movie. “First Contact” is great, and “Generations” will always hold special memories for me simply because of when I saw it (as a movie, it’s a great two-part TV episode).

    I was thinking the same thing about “All Good Things”–it really is a good stopping point, just as the end of DS9 was. There really is no *need* to go back and do what I suggest. Except…if you want to gamble you can put out a piece of literature, I think the opportunity exists–just as it did with “Nemesis”. Whether or not the opportunity can be converted into reality is another question.

    As far as being too late…momentum is the next touchdown. In other words, if you can deliver the goods, and tell a story for the ages, it’s never too late. After all, it is the ending of Beowulf that gives the whole power, not the monster-slaying stuff.

  • Ben Gunn

    Expanding on the idea…the “Odyssey” is complete in and of itself, but Tennyson’s “Ulysses” adds without detracting. Given that we have “All Good Things”, what could be done as a codicil to that that adds a little fillip to the entire series, perhaps the entire 1987-2001 era?

    What does Jean-Luc do when he knows he is dying? No family, no kids–presumably the Rykers (“Trois”) have kids, presumably Worf is integrated someplace, Geordi settled down, Beverly perhaps too. But what is Jean-Luc’s bucket list, what memories does he have to go over–and where is Q?

  • Theragen Derivative

    I watched Nemesis for the first time in a decade not long ago and was surprised at how much more I liked it than I did in ’02. It’s a pretty decent TNG outing and its reputation as a disaster is undeserved; there were far worse bows that crew could have taken.

    Generations is my favorite of the TNG movies. It’s a severely flawed movie, but I have the same kind of nostalgia for it that you do. It recalls a time in which the future of Trek seemed limitless. I found First Contact to be profoundly mediocre in ’96 and it’s only gotten worse for me upon subsequent viewings. Insurrection is a monumentally inexcusable film.

    I’d be all for one more try at a TNG TV movie or miniseries before the cast is too old to do it (Patrick Stewart is pushing 75 and I’m not sure there’s a single member of the cast aside from Wil Wheaton under 60). I think the nostalgia factor for TNG is definitely there to justify it. But I do think it’s “too late” in terms of the will just not being there among the Powers That Be to make one. The Abramsverse is what they’re pushing right now, and though I think the Abramsverse is a dead-end for the franchise that even now is in the process of burning out, I’m afraid it won’t happen before the window for the kind of TNG reunion we’d like to see has shut.

  • JoCat

    John De Lancie is a fantastic and eloquent actor. All of his performances are just superb.