Q&A: George Hamilton

The actor has found his place in the Hollywood jungle

Image gallery: George Hamilton's star

On his 70th birthday, George Hamilton -- whose credits range from 1979's "Love at First Bite" to Season 2 of "Dancing With the Stars" -- receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and discusses how he used to pick scripts during his time at MGM with The Hollywood Reporter's Fabio Periera.

The Hollywood Reporter: How do you feel about getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

George Hamilton: It's a freak coincidence. My father was the orchestra leader at the Roosevelt Hotel in the 1930s, and that's where the star is for me, across the street.

THR: What made you want to be an actor?

Hamilton: I'm not in this business because I want to be an actor. I really was in it as an extension of my family -- they wanted to be in it. I would've probably ended up a doctor somewhere in a small town. What came out of it all was, to succeed in their eyes, I actually became that. So it really means a lot to me for them, not for much for myself.

THR: So if acting wasn't what drove you, how did you choose your roles?

Hamilton: By the weight of the script: If I felt the script was too heavy, I didn't want it -- because then I had to learn too many lines. When I was on contract with Metro (Goldwyn-Mayer), I used to go downstairs to the printer and we'd peek at (the scripts) to see what roles were coming up. If they were really heavy, I'd give them to George Peppard and say, "You go for that one."

THR: Which ones did you go for?

Hamilton: The ones that were really light, just a few pages. Western was always a delight. You knew that you (would) have a nice breakfast in the morning around six o'clock, watch the sun come up and you'd spend the day on a horse and have hardly any dialogue. "Yup. No. Yup." The worst were the legal ones, the movies where you had to learn copious amounts of dialogue. I just hated learning dialogue, hated it. I would have done much better in silent films.

THR: So no chance you're going to tackle Shakespeare?

Hamilton: No. I find Shakespeare fabulous to listen to and I love it, but I just hate learning dialogue. I've hated it my whole life. And yet I remember a lot of things; I remember Shakespeare that I've read. But having to learn it for the stage I think would be rather difficult for me.

THR: You're known for your social life as well as your stardom -- and you were in the press for hanging out with Imelda Marcos. Tell us about her.

Hamilton: Well, it's a strange thing that Imelda Marcos has survived her most severe critic, (former Philippines President Corazon) Aquino, who just passed away. The woman has spent every day of her life trying to clear her name, up until now when she's in her 80s. It would have been interesting if they had put that to some positive use, rather than just fighting their way out of a hole, but they've yet to ever convict her of anything. And she's now survived her strongest enemies, both legal and countries. I admire people who rise above things. I always think that life is what you make it, really, and if you see it as a disaster it will be. If you think of it as an opportunity to rise above things, it's amazing what you'll get out of life.