One of the old school

By admin
19 November 2010

He’d hoped to be drinking coffee, reading books and writing at this point in his life but retirement is out of the question for at least five years, thanks to the recent acrimonious divorce from his third wife.

“I have to come up with a million dollars every year for my ex-wife until I’m 76. That’s when I can stop paying alimony,” John Cleese says.

Then he adds with a deadpan expression, “My message to South African fans is that all contributions are welcome. I’ll probably have to eat biltong to survive. Good thing I quite like the stuff.”

Movie fans the world over would be forgiven for breathing a small sigh of relief. If not for his financial woes we might not have seen his brilliant portrayal of the beloved teacher of John Milton, aka Spud.

The British comedian, who recently travelled to SA for the premiere of the film based on local writerJohn van de Ruit’s popular book of the same name, is excellent as the cantankerous, eccentric English teacher Mr Edly, better known as The Guv.

He enjoyed reading the script. “I was immediately interested. This is one of the few scripts I’ve read that I thought was just excellent. And a little more than that – I thought it was interesting too.”

Filming Spud was an up-and-down experience for the 71-year-old. He loved working with Troye Sivan(15), who plays Spud. “He’s everything you want in a co-star. He’s bright, open, quick, funny and he’s not egotistical.”

The rest of the cast were excellent too, John says. “None of these guys seem to be the slightest bit affected by the fact they’re being morphed into minor film stars.”

On the downside the trip wasn’t the best he’s had. He and his partner, jewellery designer Jennifer Wade (40), flew to Joburg and decided to drive to Michaelhouse boarding school in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands where the film was shot.

“We thought it would be interesting but it wasn’t.”

Still he is prepared to fly if necessary, for example if the producers of Spud decide to make a sequel – and John sincerely hopes they do. If John’s that keen to do a sequel it’s obvious he isn’t ready to retire just yet.

Read more about John in YOU, 25 November 2010.

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