Sometimes, it’s easier to put your thoughts and feelings into writing than speech. That’s the premise behind Love Letters, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated play being staged in Dubai this weekend, with American actors David Soul and Stefanie Powers as a couple who have a 50-year relationship through letters. If those names ring a bell, it’s because they’re pretty watchable — Soul was the Hutch in Starsky and Hutch, while Powers is famous for American soap Hart To Hart and a stint on the UK’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Sadly, Powers didn’t want to chat about that experience, but ahead of the play, at Madinat Jumeirah’s First Group Theatre tonight, we chatted to Soul. “I’m really looking forward to it,” he said of working with Powers. “She was my neighbour across the street way back in 1971 in LA. I hardly knew her them and our professional lives have never crossed. So I’m really looking forward to working with her … finally. She’s a lovely woman and fine actress and I hope we’ll have the kind of chemistry that will make Love Letters a memorable experience for the audience.”
Q: Does Starsky and Hutch make you proud?
Q. What do you really think about the new versions?
A: Hated it. Was not the spirit of the original series.
Q. Best memory from filming the show?
A: Not one specific memory …. as my memory has dimmed over the years. You don’t live in the past. But as you asked me, my ongoing friendship with Paul Glaser is the best thing to come out of the show.
Q. What role do you credit your celebrity status to?
I don’t like the term “celebrity” at all because being a celebrity is not a job description .,.. you don’t have to do anything to be a celebrity. You’re only famous for being famous. What’s the value in that except it might get you a better table at a crowded restaurant or chased by a bunch of paparazzi… and who likes that? Anybody who does deserves to be a celebrity.
Q. Who or what gave you your big break?
My life in entertainment began in 1965 so it’s difficult to pinpoint any one thing. There are so many people and events along the way that opened doors for me and for whom I’m thankful. Because of them and just plain hard work there’s nothing I would rather be doing than what I do. Sorry … in fact, I really don’t know what else I could do.
A: I regret any pain I may have caused the people I love and loved in my life … including my ex-wives and my children.
Q. If you could play movie role today what would it be and why?
A:Offer me a job and I’ll tell you.
Q. Give us a taste of the roles you went for but didn’t get?
Oh, there were so many over the years… you have no idea. You have to remember I’m 69 years old and I started in this racket when I was 24. You don’t think there were a lot of disappointments along the way? Think again. Mostly, though, despite the disappointments, you have to look out for your own well-being … maintain, maintain and maintain … celebrating the victories and suffering the defeats and learning how to survive both.
Q. Stage or screen? Which is better and why?
I love whatever I’m doing at the moment… doesn’t matter … film, theatre, music as long as I give it my best.
Q. You have five children – are any of them actors/actresses? Is it something you encouraged?
Actually, I have six children – five sons and one daughter. My daughter is the only one who’s involved in entertainment. She’s a singer/songwriter, China Soul, and she’s released her first album, Secrets And Words in the UK. I’m very, very proud of her. Her music is fabulous. The others, the boys, are following their own paths … which is the right thing to do, and they are doing a whole bunch of different things… things I wish I’d done.
Q. Tell us one thing nobody knows about you?
A: These days I’m very much involved with Cuba. I’m making a documentary there that’s following the restoration of Ernest Hemingway’s 1955 Chrysler New Yorker for the Hemingway Museum. Hemingway lived 22 years on the outskirts of Havana on an estate called ‘Finca Vigia’ which was his favourite home. That’s where he wrote his Nobel Prize winning novel, The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls. When I grew up, he was my literary hero and since becoming a UK citizen (I have dual citizenship) I have realized a childhood dream… one I couldn’t do as an American because of the ridiculous embargo that has denied access to US citizens for so many years. But now, with my British passport, I have no problem to visit and I have been there half a dozen times. I have visited his home and now I’m making a documentary, not only about restoring his car, but about the pride, passion, ingenuity of the Cuban people. And like Hemingway observed about the “Pearl of the Caribbean”; “It not only looks beautiful, it is beautiful!”
Q. Ever been to Dubai before? Any expectations?
Never been there and looking forward to it. So I have no expectations. I always like to meet new places and people with an open mind and spirit. Q. When you look in the mirror are you happy with what you see?
Only if I’ve had a good night’s sleep.
Q. Music was your first love. Which wins now – music or movies?
A: Take your pick. Music is of the soul … acting is something you develop.
Love Letters is at Madinat Theatre from Thursday until February 2, 8pm. Tickets, Dh200 and Dh300, at Madinat Theatre Box Office, 04-3666546 and Virgin Megastores.