He possessed one of the most distinctive faces and voices in movie history. Even if you don’t know his name, you’ll recognize Sir Alec Guinness (1914 – 2000) from a variety of roles. Successive generations of cinema audiences knew him as Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948), Col. Nicholson in The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957), George Smiley in the BBC adaptations of John le Carré‘s spy novels and of course Obi Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy.
That last character in particular cemented him into popular culture. Guinness wasn’t a fan of the franchise’s mysterious Force – “Fairy-tale rubbish but could be interesting perhaps,” he remarked in a letter at the time. However when it came to strange forces on planet Earth, the actor was considerably more intrigued.
With Halloween fast approaching, here are three insights into Guinness’s encounters with the supernatural, as recounted by the man himself.
A GHOSTLY STAY
In Christmas 1983, Guinness was at a London hotel when someone – or something – assisted him while he tried to put on a coat.
I had put my arm in one sleeve and had got my hand into the arm of the other when, suddenly and swiftly, I was helped on with the coat.
Having seen no-one around who could have helped him with the manoeuvre, Guinness was alarmed. But he soon laughed on realizing the helping hand had a ring of familiarity:
I thought it was the sort of thing that Ralph (Richardson) might have done. I have been left wondering if, in some very mysterious way, it could have been Ralph.
Fellow performer and film veteran Ralph Richardson had passed away mere weeks earlier.
A WATERY GRAVE
Guinness believed he was spoken to by an unknown presence during wartime. As part of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve during World War II, he went to bed on what turned out to be the night before a perilous situation (the details of which are classified).
He remembered hearing “an AUDIBLE and SINISTER voice” saying one word: “TOMORROW.”
He took this unusual incident as a premonition of his death, though thankfully this did not occur!
A REBEL’S DEMISE
Most chillingly, Guinness had a fateful encounter with the legendary James Dean in 1955. It was a happy meeting, though one aspect went on to have a terrible significance. Having been approached by Dean when he couldn’t get into a busy Hollywood restaurant, the actor accepted the young star’s invitation to join him at his table.
On the way Dean wanted to show the older thespian his new car, a silver Porsche 550 Spyder. Guinness admired the vehicle but was suddenly overtaken by a desire to relay something to its owner:
Some strange thing came over me. Some almost different voice and I said… ‘I must say something: Please do not get into that car, because if you do’ — and I looked at my watch — and I said, ‘if you get into that car at all, it’s now Thursday (Friday, actually), 10 o’clock at night and by 10 o’clock at night next Thursday, you’ll be dead.’
Dean didn’t heed Guinness’s out of the blue warning. Sure enough, while driving his Porsche the following Thursday, he was killed in a fatal accident.
Read our Halloween Movie Special: The A – Z Of Michael Myers on this site tomorrow…