Sunday, 25 July 2010

Orlando's Honorary Speech

I came across this on another site and thought it was worth posting in the midst of all the furor over his SSW (super sekrit wedding) - I think its a great speech from him!

" I would like to thank you very much indeed. It’s such an honor to be here. What a wonderful experience! And I mean that quite literally: I am in wonder – I’m wondering how on earth I got here. The truth is I am truly humbled by this moment that I share with you today.

I think one experience from my childhood here in Canterbury will explain precisely how humbled. They say every actor has a formative acting experience that he carries with him for the rest of his life; well this is mine:

I am starring in a performance at the Marlow Theatre produced by the Mary Woodman School of Dance. I’m four years old. I am wearing a furry monkey suit, as are my three fellow performers. A rather hot monkey suit. That becomes increasingly itchy over the course of the performance. Which is why, when that bug bit – or something did – I was compelled to whip around, aim my behind at the audience, lift my tail and scratch my backside in front of a suddenly riotous crowd. Twenty-nine years later, that roar and laughter still follows me.

So it is fitting that I am back – back in my home town of Canterbury; here in the Cathedral where I was confirmed, and where my mother used to bring me to hear choral music that was so beautiful it could captivate even the unbearably fidgety child that I was.

This Cathedral was one place of importance for me, as I was growing up. Others were the fields, gullies and the duck pond of Kent University’s campus (my playground) near to my childhood home. They were to me as magical as the Woods of Rivendell or the Mines of Moria were to Legolas and Gimley in the fictional world I would enter many years later- The Lord of the Rings.

However, truth be told, my favorite place was probably the ABC Cinema, as it was called when I was growing up, at the top of town. My friends and I discovered that if we picked up the discarded tickets that were littering the pavement outside, we could re-enter the cinema, emerge from the toilets, hand the stub to the attendant and watch whatever films we liked. And this was how I first saw American movies and met characters from Indiana Jones to Edward Scissorhands, from Han Solo in “Star Wars” to Daniel Day Lewis in “Last of the Mohicans” – and far too many others to mention. It’s also how I was able to put my monkey suit memories behind me and dream big for the first time, in a real way, of becoming an actor.

Acting was easier than the rest of school for me because I have always battled dyslexia. Extra classes for English and Maths helped -but I struggled to keep up; quite honestly, if I had not found acting I have no idea how I would have turned out. So from the age of nine I threw myself into every school play I could. By 16, determined to avoid the more academic disciplines, I moved to London to attend the Fine Arts College in order to take my A Levels in photography, sculpture and theatre studies. However, after passing my A Levels and eagerly applying to drama school, I found my progress halted. I was rejected absolutely everywhere I applied for! So for a year I put my head down. I had two jobs at two different clothing shops. In my free time I played a spear carrier in a National Youth Theater production of “Othello.” I gained a scholarship to attend a three-week course given by the British American Drama Academy, which in turn got me seen and represented by my first agent. With the help of that agent I clawed my way into a single episode of “Casualty” and managed to deliver a single line as a rent boy in my first feature film, “Wilde,” with Stephen Fry and Jude Law. And the next time I applied to drama school I got into my first choice, The Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

But it wasn’t long before my next setback, this one potentially crippling. I was in my second year, enjoying my studies and happily performing in “Twelfth Night,” when, one afternoon, I climbed out of a friend’s window to reach a roof terrace and fell three floors to a balcony below and broke my back. I suppose it was telling that when I regained consciousness, my first thought was “I wonder who’ll play Orsino?” For the first four days in hospital, I was told by the doctors that I may never walk again and that, in any case, I would be on my back for at least six months. Yet, after an operation, I wilfully recovered and walked out of the hospital after a week and a half. Determined to finish my three year training, I played all my third-year performances in a back brace – in preparation for the world of utter determination and never-ending setbacks that is acting: the world whose brink you all find yourselves on today.

The truth is -from my experience -that’s the rhythm of things in this world: it’s one step forward, one step back, a harder step forward, and stagger on. The good news was that I got lucky and landed that first agent. The bad news was that agent soon left the business to work with horses. The good news was that, my new bigger agent got me an audition to be considered for “Moulin Rouge.” The bad news was that, after briefly dallying with the idea of casting unknowns, Baz Luhrmann came to his senses and cast Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman as he should. I have been extremely fortunate so far in this business – and certainly, being cast in ” The Lord of the Rings” was a career- and life-changing event. (However) I am also always on the brink of being unfortunate. I tried to turn down “Pirates of the Caribbean” because I thought that a film based on a Disney ride sounded daft, thankfully my new American manager talked me into it just before my childhood hero Johnny Depp came onboard and made it a dream.

So- I suppose,- although I have no words of wisdom to offer you, I do have one lesson to pass along: a lesson I continue to learn as I go. And that’s the need to experience the trials we endure as actors neither as cruel and senseless defeats, nor as decisive triumphs – but as moments to commit to and own, every one of them! I have learned that almost getting kicked out of drama school for acting too independent was absolutely crucial in improving my creative teamwork with a group. I have learned that the many failed auditions I had before graduation were not shameful, but invaluable – as they gradually taught me how to be myself in a room. And I have learned that not giving my all during every audition, every hair and makeup test, and every experience – fictional or real – represents a missed opportunity to improve my skills and my relationships, and to be the kind of actor, and person, deserving of the sort of honour you bestow on me today.

There are no stepping stones, no stages, and no upward path to follow. There are only moments that deserve and require our full commitment – every one.

I am certainly fully committed to this moment, and appreciate it even more than I can say. Please accept my gratitude for this distinction, and this honor, and the opportunity to be among you on this great day. And congratulations on your graduation.

Thank you all very much."

Delivered at Canterbury Cathedral: occasion of award of UKC Honorary Doctorate:13 July2010


  1. Sam must have written his speech. Dr and Mrs Douchebag are far to dumb to be able to spell half the words in it.

    And after his escapades of the last few months, he could tell us the sky is blue and the grass is green (sometimes) and I'll not believe anything that spews forth from his forked tongue.

  2. ROFL "Spews forth from his forked tongue" - I had to explain what i was laughing at it came out so loud...

    Dr. Douchebag - PML - Joders, you are on a roll today!

  3. Oh thanks for this. Just lovely.

  4. I checked out the Marlowe theater when I visited Canterbury back in 2003... such a lovely little town. I reckon Orlando had a 'ghost writer' for that speech.

  5. Am I the only one who thinks he wrote the speech himself? In green crayon?

    (My pet peeve: people who use the word "literally" without knowing what it means.)

  6. Well, its full of the PR version of orlando we are all meant to still believe in - but somehow I reckon he would of had advice on this, particularly given it was published post ceremony.....

    LOL or blue crayon perhaps.....

  7. Did anyone else realise he'd been kicked out of drama school??? I wonder what that was for!

  8. "My pet peeve: people who use the word "literally" without knowing what it means.)"

    I'm with you there. When my boss wants to compliment me, she calls me 'her right arm - literally'. I appreciate the sentiment but it makes me wince on the inside...