Posted on 8.7.13: If Gregory Peck had been clairvoyant and under the influence of a truth drug on the night he won the Best Actor Oscar for To Kill A Mockingbird in March 1963, he might have said, “Well, this is it…the peak moment. I’ve been lucky enough to play starring roles for the finest producers, directors and writers in the business for the last 18 years…Spellbound, Duel In The Sun, Gentleman’s Agreement, The Paradine Case, Twelve O’Clock High, Roman Holiday, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Moby Dick, The Bravados, The Big Country, Pork Chop Hill, On The Beach, The Guns of Navarone, Cape Fear…and it’s been wonderful. I’m saying this because for the next 40 years it’s going to be all downhill.
“Oh, I’ll make a few interesting films over the next couple of decades but my charmed career period is over and I know it. Some actors only get lucky for five or ten years. I nearly had 20. And for that I’m very grateful to the industry and especially to the public. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
This is a cruel topic to bring up, but who right now is in this position? Who out there is Gregory Peck in March 1963? In a good place and working all the time and maybe even peaking and financially flush, but the charmed, blue-chip glory days are basically over with nothing but gradually dwindling returns to look forward to.
Supplemental anecdote: During his acceptance speech after winning the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Witness, Earl W. Wallace (who co-wrote the Harrison Ford cop drama with Pamela Wallace and William Kelley) said “I have an uneasy feeling my career just peaked.” It happened 34 years ago, during the 58th Academy Awards telecast in ’86. Wallace says it at 4:55 [after the jump].