it wasn't easy to be jack lemmon,cinema's everyman. He felt the pressure, knowing people would see his work and think of their slightly defeated father, neurotic co-worker or desperate neighbour. He spoke of the everyman tag, owning up to it and claiming that people were right to see him that way, that the foibles and failings of his characters came from deep inside him.
But he wasn't a method actor. He didn't need to dredge up his emotional life for a role. Feeling just flowed through him, through his fast-talking, gesticulating nervousness.
He could rarely get through a scene without his hands flying back and forth as if he were fanning an invisible fire at the bottom of the screen.
He had a habit of shaking his head back and forth when perturbed, and when he let loose and hit top talking speed, you'd be lucky to catch half his lines.
That's what made Lemmon so wonderful to watch: you appreciated his energy and never felt he was dogging it or simply working for a paycheque.
As a young actor, he was all about movement, mostly starring in comedies -- Some Like It Hot, Bell, Book And Candle, The Apartment -- that gave him permission to fidget.
But he grew as a performer, reining in the energy, disciplining some of the mannerisms. In 1962 he played an alcoholic alongside Lee Remick in The Days Of Wine And Roses, and his dramatic skills were outed.
As Billy Wilder said, Lemmon was a master at conveying the comedy within tragedy and the tragedy within comedy.
For the rest of his career, he did just that, moving effortlessly between the two and helping us see that life dances between pain and exhilaration.