School for Scandal; for His Latest Role as a Headmaster, STEPHEN FRY Was Able to Draw on His Own Misspent Schooldays of Truancy, Canings, and Theft. He Tells FRANCES HARDY How He Left His Life of Crime Behind Him
Byline: FRANCES HARDY
Stephen Fry has the genial condescension of an old-fashioned public school headmaster. His manner veers from didactic to twinklingly avuncular and his vocabulary is a lexical showcase of flamboyant and highly polished gems. Cast as Dr Thomas Arnold, the pioneering headmaster of Rugby School during Tom Brown's Schooldays, for an ITV remake of the classic 1857 Thomas Hughes novel, he is filming a scene set in the family dining room.
A posse of Arnold children - ranging in age from four to eight - is busily slurping soup.
Off camera, Fry addresses his onscreen brood with a polite but indecipherable request.
'Would it mortify you if I were to suggest a marginally less fortissimo ingestion of the pUtage?' he asks. When the children respond with blank stares he translates: 'That's very nice soup drinking. I've rarely heard better.
But would you mind awfully doing it a little more quietly?' What to make of the towering 47-year-old Fry? The famously capacious brain - a repository of abstruse literary allusions and very difficult words - tops an imposing 6ft 4in frame, today swathed in breeches, black stockings and Victorian frock coat. I expect to be floored by the sheer weight of his erudition. But Fry is in amiably discursive mode, chatting away about his own wayward schooldays and the numberless thrashings he endured for bad behaviour.
'I was beaten all the time,' he recalls. 'In my last year at prep school I was probably beaten every day because I was very bad. It's nothing.
It really isn't. It was being hit on the bottom with a stick. It's a big deal if you're being hit out of hatred, contempt or because a master takes a sadistic enjoyment from it. But that was …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: School for Scandal; for His Latest Role as a Headmaster, STEPHEN FRY Was Able to Draw on His Own Misspent Schooldays of Truancy, Canings, and Theft. He Tells FRANCES HARDY How He Left His Life of Crime Behind Him. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: Daily Mail (London). Publication date: December 18, 2004. Page number: 5. © 2007 Daily Mail. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.