I was having dinner. I was sharing a flat with an actor there called Terence Stamp, and we were having dinner at a restaurant. And Harry Saltzman, one of the producers of the Bond films, is making the film The Ipcress File, and he’d bought the novel from Len Deighton. And he was in this restaurant, and he sent me a message, saying, “At the end of your meal, would you please have a coffee with me?”
He was with his wife and kids, and I went over, and he gave me Ipcress File. He’d just seen Zulu that night. Now Ipcress File was a sort of cockney working-class spy. He had just seen Zulu, with a posh, very posh officer, absolutely nothing to do with the other treatment.
I asked him about that. I said, “Well, you’ve just seen Zulu; now you want me to play the…” He said, “It’s about screen presence, Michael. Once you see the presence, once you’re on screen, you’ve either got screen presence or you haven’t. And there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.” I didn’t know I had it. I didn’t know what it was, but it seemed that I had it.