Eddie Izzard often uses an impression of James Mason in his stand-up comedy routines as the voice of a confused, dithering God.
11 years after being mentioned in Rope (1948) as making an excellent villain, he was finally cast by Alfred Hitchcock as such in North by Northwest (1959).
An avowed pacifist, he refused to perform military service during the Second World War, a stance that caused his family to break with him for many years.
Can be seen visiting the set of Stanley Kubrick 's The Shining (1980) in Vivian Kubrick's TV documentary Making 'The Shining' (1980) (TV). Stanley Kubrick did not usually allow visitors to his set, but made an exception for Mason, who had memorably played Humbert Humbert for him in Lolita (1962) .
Grandfather of actor James Duke Mason.
He had been considered for the part of Harry Lime in TV series "The Third Man" (1959) (1959-65) but Michael Rennie ended up in the role.
He refused to wear make-up.
He should not be confused with the American actor Jim Mason (1889 - 1959), aka James Mason, who appeared in silent films, particularly Westerns in the Twenties and Thirties.
He suffered a severe heart attack in 1959.
He was offered the role of Lawyer Crosby in the The Cat and the Canary (1978). However, the gender of the role was changed to female and was played by Wendy Hiller.
In 1952 while remodeling his home, he discovered several reels of Buster Keaton 's "lost" films (Mason had purchased Keaton's Hollywood mansion) and immediately recognized their historical significance and was responsible for their preservation.
Reportedly, he once saved the life of Max Bygraves' son Patrick. Max Bygraves and his son Patrick were at a party at Judy Garland's house. Patrick fell into the pool and Max didn't notice. James Mason did notice and, fully clothed, he jumped into the water and pulled Patrick out.
Starred with his wife Clarissa Kaye-Mason in the original "Salem's Lot" (1979). They appeared together in the film, Age of Consent (1969).
Told "Playboy Magazine" in the late 1970s that he hated rock n' roll but loved country music.
Turned down the role of Hugo Drax in the 1979 Bond film Moonraker (1979) .
Was offered the part of Viktor Komarovsky in Doctor Zhivago (1965) by double-Oscar winning director David Lean after Marlon Brando failed to respond to director Lean's written inquiry into whether he wanted to play the role. Mason initially accepted the part. Lean decided on Mason, who was a generation older than Brando, as he did not want an actor who would overpower the character of Yuri Zhivago (specifically, to show Zhivago up as a lover of Lara, who would be played by the young Julie Christie, which the charismatic Brando might have done, shifting the sympathy of the audience). Mason eventually dropped out and Rod Steiger, who had just won the Silver Bear as Best Actor for his role as the eponymous The Pawnbroker (1964), accepted the role.
Was rejected by fellow student Alistair Cooke for an acting role whilst at Cambridge. Cooke asked Mason what course he was studying. "Architecture", replied Mason. "Then I think you should finish your degree and forget about acting." advised Cooke, in one of his rare lapses of judgment.
Was responsible for getting an unknown actor from New Zealand his first major film role. That actor was Sam Neill .
Was scheduled to play James Bond 007 in a 1958 TV adaptation of From Russia with Love, which was ultimately never produced. Later, despite being in his 50s, Mason was a contender to play Bond in Dr. No (1962) before Sean Connery was cast.