Few actors ever have two years like Michael York did in 1965 and 1996.
On the London stage, York was in the National Theatre’s ‘‘Much Ado About Nothing’’ for Franco Zeffirelli, who would soon cast him in his film of ‘‘Romeo and Ju liet.’’ On screen, York was seen with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in ‘‘The Taming of the Shrew.’’
On TV, he was in ‘‘The Forsyte Saga,’’ BBC’s 26-episode series that was an international sensation.
‘‘You could say, I was suddenly the new face in town,’’ York says by telephone from the Los Angeles home he shares with his photographer wife, Pat.
Recalling ‘‘The Forsyte Saga’’ (now on DVD), York remembers something else he was doing while making ‘‘the mother of all miniseries’’: ‘‘I worked at the BBC picking up furniture for shows. We were called manhandlers. It was kind of ironic that some of the overstuffed period furniture I sat on while making ‘The Forsyte Saga’ looked very familiar to me.’’
The 60-year-old native of Buckinghamshire, England, said ‘‘yes’’ right away when the BBC asked him to do interviews about the DVD release of a job he had so long ago. To prepare, he said he thought he would ‘‘fast forward’’ through the seven discs, picking up highlights ‘‘here and there.’’ But once he and his wife put in the first disc, they couldn’t stop watching.
‘‘We were just glued," he said. "It holds up rather well. Now I think it’s even more like a crystal ball looking back at a particular time. Although it made a star of Susan Hampshire, I’m glad some of that glow fell on me.’’
Watching the drama of the aristocratic Forsyte saga for the ‘‘first time in years,’’ York, a resident of the States since 1976, was again reminded of the great societal differences between the British and Americans.
‘‘Even though this story is set in the Victorian age, I think Britain is still a classriddled society. All those class restrictions might be outlawed, but you’re still very aware of class distinctions. It’s stamped in our genes. The only thing we have totally in common is thinking everything will be solved with a cup of tea.’’
Now on sale
‘‘The Forsyte Saga’’: Unrated, 1966. BBC Video. DVD: $149. 98 suggested retail price (seven discs)