James Garner In His Own Words (Video)

by HFPA July 21, 2014

We mourn the passing of James Garner, the actor who embodied debonair leading men with inimitable style in a Hollywood film and TV career that earned him universal accolades as well as four Golden Globe Awards from no less than 12 nominations. Born in Oklahoma, Garner was a merchant seaman, gas station attendant and carpet layer, in addition to purple-heart Korean war veteran before getting into show business as an understudy for actor Lloyd Nolan during rehearsals of the Broadway-bound The Caine Mutiny Court Martial. Garner eventually copped a nonspeaking role in the 1954 production. He later acted in the TV series Cheyenne, eventually signing a $200 a week contract with Warner Bros. In 1958 he appeared in Sayonara with Marlon Brando and earned his first Golden Globe as “New Star of the Year”. He promptly proved that award prophetic by landing his first recurring TV role in the Western Comedy series Maverick. In a long and distinguished career he would later star alongside Steve McQueen (The Great Escape), Julie Andrews (The Americanization of Emily and Victor, Victoria), Yves Montand and Toshiro Mifune (Grand Prix) Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland and Tommy Lee Jones (Space Cowboys) and create Jim Rockford, the unforgettable, laid-back investigator of the Rockford Files. In some ways though, his name remained tied to the title character of Bret Maverick, which made him a household name thanks to the wry, irony that was to become his hallmark. With a typical self-effacing understatement, Garner would say of that role, “I’m playing me”. We had the chance of speaking to him about it in 1994 when he appeared of the movie reboot of the series, Richard Donner’s Maverick with Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson in the title role. Garner played marshall Zane Cooper in that film and talked to us about his life in movies. Check out the video.