Picturegoer, The National Film and Entertainment Weekly, April 12, 1958
This man McCallum is winning a big teenage following. But, please don't call him another James Dean, says Jill Ireland, his wife
Jill Ireland pleaded with me: "Don't call him Britain's James Dean. He's not. Dean was round and relaxed. David's angular and tense." She was talking about her husband, David McCallum, currently to be seen in Violent Playground and B.B.C. TV's Saturday night play, "Ladies in Retirement."
Jill is the right person to give an insight into the personality of the young man who has been called one of the few real British screen discoveries in years.
As an actor, he's hard to define. Introspective he may be. But he's no rebel with, or without, a cause. He doesn't aspire to popular stardom. He just wants to act, just as his father has to express himself in music---he's leader of the B.B.C. Television Orchestra.
His impact is compelling. He breathes life into his roles. He doesn't see himself as a definite type. Nor does Jill. "He's a character actor," she says.
"They mustn't give him conventional roles, whatever they do. I like to see him as a bit more than an ordinary person. And he likes a part that needs a lot to grasp."
David McCallum is no ordinary person. "He goes into moods of being within himself," Jill explains. "He'll sit for three hours at his desk, doing nothing---alone in his own world. I don't think he realizes it."
"He's an idealist about people and things and I've never heard him say a disparaging word about anyone."
Temperamental? "No. He doesn't often lose his temper, but when he does it's because a lot of big things have built up and then it takes him a long time to shake out of the mood.
"He's terribly intense. He loves delving into reference books. He does everything with terrific enthusiasm and concentration. When he's playing a part it drives everything else out of his mind."
As a screen actor, because of his unusual personality, he is going to face problems. McCallum himself says: "I must have strong parts, but I don't mean cheap psychological roles."
He is not keen on comedy, either. He was not in his element as Mercury (though he gave a good performance) in the recent TV "Amphitryon 38." He's more approving of "Ladies in Retirement."
He's no romantic he-man. His figure is slight. His head is that of a young and studious professor. His features are craggy.
Not romantic? But Jill Ireland fell for him in a big way. They met briefly at a party. Then she was cast opposite him in Robbery Under Arms and they were married within a few weeks. They're expecting a baby soon.
I fired a million-dollar question at Jill: "Breadwinning aspects aside, if one of you had to give up acting, what would you do?"
"I'd give it up," she said, promptly. "I'd hate to---but I act because it pleases me. David has so much more to offer than I have."
John K. Newnham