The other day I was watching The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revenge. I love these films dearly, as I have since I saw them when they were first released. The costuming is spectacular, the scripts witty and engaging, the cast amazing, and the spirit of Dumas shines through both films.
The Three Musketeers was, I recall, the first time I saw Michael York, who has remained one of my favorite actors ever since. He was perfect for the passionate – albeit not terribly likely to think things through – D’Artagnan. With his ability to maintain equal amounts of wide-eyed innocence, terrier determination, and kid-in-a-candyshop love of all ladies at the same time, it remains one of his finer performances.
And yet I have firmly maintained for decades that the finest performance he might ever have given is one that, alas!, he never did.
You see, the instant I first read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, I saw Michael York in Wilde’s damned protagonist. As I read of Gray’s descent into hell, I knew that York would be the perfect person to carry both the innocent beauty of the outer shell and the fiendish, decadent cruelty of the man within.
Unfortunately, nobody ever cast him in the role. And, of course, Dorian Gray is a role that may only be played by a man in the first blush of youth. Michael York is still a brilliant actor and a handsome man… but the time has passed. We will never see his Dorian Gray. The world, I think, is a tiny sliver less wonderful for it.
Have you ever just known the perfect role for an actor who never wound up playing it? Who and what? Tell me all about it!