Teen Set magazine, no date
David McCallum is not at all what the magazines and newspapers would have us believe; but he is also everything they would have us believe.
First of all, he is not aloof and withdrawn. He does answer questions, and many of today's pop stars would do well to take lessons in courtesy from him (he even apologized for having to make a phone call to his wife.) He has a sense of humor, a gutsy vocabulary (but not vulgar), and he digs the pop music scene.
Secondly, he is Illya. He made that very clear. He did not adapt his personal life to the image he plays on our TV sets--Illya is merely an extension of himself, they're one and the same. Not that David McCallum spends his free time tracking down enemy agents, but the same subtle humor, the privacy-seeking, publicity-shunning Illya, is McCallum. The element of "mystery" and "intrigue" which surrounds his tube character also surrounds his off-stage personality. He will discuss why he insists on his private life remaining private, but he will volunteer little or no information on just what that private life entails. Except that it is his refuge, his escape, and if it were exposed to the public he would have nowhere to go. "If I were to go home and lie down on my bed, pick up a magazine and see a photograph of my own bedroom, I would feel terrible."
He is adamant in insisting that his wife and children remain out of the public eye. No photographs over the breakfast table or in the back yard. He mentioned that a photograph of his wife and children, which he had commissioned a photographer to shoot (for his own use, to be seen only in his own home), appeared in a national magazine. He's quite upset about it. When he sets the rules, just as when he gives his word, he abides by them and expects others to do the same.
Why does he rarely grant interviews? "I see no point in having an interview if there is nothing to talk about. When the show (The Man From UNCLE) first started, there was a great deal to talk about, and now, with you, there's the Capitol album I've just completed. I don't want to talk to reporters just because some people want to read about me; I would be saying the same things over and over."
Why the album? "All my life I've been interested in and influenced by music. My parents, my grandfather, my uncle, all were actively involved in music, and I studied it when I was young. At present I'm involved in collecting all the works of Bach."
David went on to explain that the album, due for January release, contained several pop tunes ("Satisfaction," "Downtown," etc.), plus two tunes which he composed himself (titled "Insomnia" and "The Far Side of the Moon"). McCallum "created", or hand picked, the orchestra and the types of instruments he wanted, did some of the arranging, and conducted all the numbers. He was originally contacted to cut a vocal record, but he refused because "I'm not that good, and I don't want to do anything that I don't feel I can do well." He did "talk-sing" on a recent Hullabaloo show (which he thoroughly enjoyed emceeing), but he didn't feel this was enough to warrant a record. Instead, he has put his musical preferences and impressions on wax. The album is called "Music: A Part of Me" and it's too much! It's unlike anything else on the market today.
When questioned about script developments for Illya, he said there were none that he knew of: "I'll just keep playing the same old guy," he joked. Same old guy! There is, however, a change in the overall script; a girl from UNCLE. David couldn't fill me in with details, but the girl hadn't been selected at the time of our interview.
David admitted that he does frequently suggest script changes, but "only before we start shooting." In one case, he changed a line which contained an American slang term. He didn't think Illya would use those words, so he "Europeanized" the line. While we were sitting in his dressing room (he had some last-minute line studying to do), he dashed out to find the writer to see if they could make a change before the cameras started grinding.
David has traveled hundreds of thousands of miles all over the U.S., as part of promotion work for UNCLE and also because he enjoys travel on his own. His favorite spots are New York City and the South, especially New Orleans. He would like to travel again, but time is something that is very scarce for him.
In the last 2 1/2 years he's had only 3 vacation days, many times working on weekends. He longs for a nice, quiet holiday, but if UNCLE continues its topside ride, he'll have to read travel books and just say he's been where he wants to go. While working on the album, just to give you a rough idea of his schedule, he would leave his Hollywood Hills home at 6:15 in the morning, travel the 30 minutes to MGM in Culver City, film until 8 or 9 in the evening, drive tot he Capitol Tower in Hollywood, record until midnight, and then home, to bed, and back on the road at 6:15 the next morning.
But let's be honest with ourselves--we wouldn't have it any other way. the more we see--and hear--of David McCallum, the better!