Brilliant at morphing into different personas, UK-born-and-raised actor Peter Sellers (1925-1980) cycled through countless guises while always strumming the funny bone. Sellers would first get the character’s voice (and accent/patois) pitch-perfect and then nail some of the wittiest dialogue and physical humor ever scripted—or go completely off-the-cuff. In yet higher-wire acts he played characters who are themselves pretending to be someone else, and performed multiple roles within the same production. His characterizations were deliciously curlicued, his visages gloriously skewed, his line readings uproarious, and his accolades richly deserved; Sellers won BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards, and was twice Academy Award-nominated for Best Actor. By his own and others’ assessment the real Sellers could be elusive, with a seeming lack of grounding identity outside of the roles he so fully inhabited.
In advance of the revelatory documentary The Ghost of Peter Sellers as well as the 40th Anniversary of his passing, the Quad presents a sampler of Sellers—spanning 10 characters across six films—in classics and curios that illuminate his genius and include a new 2K restoration of Mr. Topaze, which he both directed and starred in.
Organized in collaboration with Jason Simos of the Peter Sellers Appreciation Society, who will introduce select screenings.