(Peter Ustinov at the beginning of his career- picture taken from www.ustinov-foundation.org )
Besides my parents and grandparents the person I most admire and I aspire to be like is the late great Sir Peter Ustinov.
Generally I’m not one who idealises celebrities, for me we are all simply human beings, fame and fortune are things that distort peoples sense of self and lead to terrible excesses and unhappiness.
I admire Sir Peter Ustinov not because he was a famous Oscar winning old school actor but because he was an exceptional human being and above all an exceptional renaissance man in the artistic sense.
(Sir Peter Ustinov in his role as UNICEF representative, apologies for skipping everything else in between – picture taken from www.ustinov-foundation.org )
Sir Peter was someone who had a tireless energy in life dedicating himself to every possible creative and humanistic pursuit. He was not only a gifted character stage, t.v and movie actor but a talented director of film, opera and theatre, playwright of numerous award winning stage plays, author of hundreds of titles, documentary maker, journalist, visual artist, humanitarian (a UNICEF ambassador), voice artist, stage designer, impersonator (he could imitate every person you can think of), linguist (he was fluent in Italian, French, German, English, Russian and could string a sentence together in Turkish).
Above all he was an extraordinary communicator who respected all humanity and he did it all with an astounding humility. The goodness he did in the world is continued by the Peter Ustinov Foundation whose goal is to continue his work to build a world without prejudice.
I’m almost embarrassed to mention the fact I actually got to meet my so called ‘hero’ (I don’t particularly like that word). It was embarrassing on my part simply because I got terribly overwhelmed that I came across as a complete jackass.
I got to interview him back during my student days when a fellow broadcasting classmate and I ventured to his press conference on his visit to Perth Western Australia when he was touring the world on his one man show.
Thanks to an amazing fluke no one turned up to his press conference and so we got a one on one interview in Sir Peter’s hotel room. So you can imagine what happened to this nervous little thing with no questions and a head filled with Sir Peter memorabilia gathered from years of following his career as a fan. I couldn’t blurt out the fact he was the person I most admire in the world, I would have sounded like a maniac.
Thank goodness Sir Peter came to my rescue understanding that I was completely out of my depth we ended up having a completely normal conversation, which he assured me really is the best kind of interview.
Looking back I am thankful that Sir Peter Ustinov met my expectations and taught me the most important thing is to communicate.
Who do you admire?