Christopher Plummer tells a hilarious story about filming The Fall of the Roman Empire with Stephen in 1963 in his autobiography “In Spite of Myself”.
I remember one day we were shooting the return of Livius to the Eternal City. They had cordoned off an entire section of the actual Appia Antica in the hills above Rome. The Imperial Guard with their menacing shields and lances lined up flanking each side of toad some two hundred strong, I, as Commodus, in my chariot, waiting for Livius (Stephen Boyd) at the far end. The action called for Boyd to enter on horseback as far away as the eye could see, ride all the way down through the ranks and, when he came close to my chariot, halt, dismount, walk the next few yards and tell me in the most stilted and unmemorable of lines –‘Lucilla has returned to Rome’. Setting up this money shot took forever–one wondered if it was all worth it. Everyone was getting tired and hungry, Boyd especially. It was now the end of the day, the light was fading fast, there was only time for one take. Action! Boyd rides down the long path, dismounts, approaches my chariot, looks up at me and says with colloquial clarity, ‘Sophia’s back in town’. Not realizing what he’d said, Stephen’s blank look of surprise was priceless. We were forced to wrap for the day, and the whole mess had to be shot again the following afternoon. Looking back on it now, I’m sure that Stephen’s version was far superior.