When Bruce Lee was working on the television show “The Green Hornet,” Twentieth Century-Fox sent to him study acting with my father, Jeff Corey. The show’s producer, William Dozier, only wanted Lee for his Gung Fu skills and refused to give him any lines. Lee and my father believed he was capable of doing much more. In a letter to Dozier Lee said, “Jeff Corey agrees, and I myself feel, that at least an occasional dialogue would certainly make me feel more at home with the fellow players.” Lee prevailed and continued to study with my father for many months.
Dad was able to show Lee how be himself on camera and discover ways to approach his role. “Leave the performance alone,” was the advice my father often gave his students. Lee understood this when he wrote, “Simplicity–to express the utmost in the minimum of lines and energy–is the goal of Gung Fu and acting is not much different.”
One day, Lee offered to give my father gung fu lessons. For reasons I will never understand, dad turned him down. He was probably incredibly busy–but it is not every day one gets an offer from a Master. Nonetheless, dad and Lee got along famously. I know dad found him charming and talented and was happy when Lee was given the “active partnership” he had requested from Dozier. Lee felt the same way about dad. In an interview given at the height of “The Green Hornet,” Lee told a reporter, “Jeff Corey is the best in Hollywood.” It was simplicity in action.
Improvising Out Loud: My Life Teaching Hollywood How To Act by Jeff Corey with Emily Corey, Foreword by Leonard Nimoy, Afterword by Janet Neipris – BUY NOW!