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Peter, Stan & Valentine

The BoysThis session was difficult to note, as there was so much cross chat and repartee between Peter, Stan and Valentine that I couldn’t keep up. Before the boys came on-stage, a little set dressing was undertaken, as a sofa was brought out to replace the usual chair that guests had been sitting on. Stan Kirsch, Peter Wingfield and Valentine Pelka were greeted on stage by an onslaught of camera flashes so bright and persistent that Peter joked they just had the first triple Quickening. As they sat down, Stan looked at the other two, who sat either side of him, and looking worried, said, “Should I be here?” A written report can’t do justice to the body language - they were clowning around all the way through, with Stan acting intimidated as Valentine and Peter reprised the Not To Be Horsemen, with lots of “He doesn’t look happy!” type grins. Before anyone could get a word in, Peter started to recount how he’d sat down at his home on the Friday night and started channel surfing, when he’d seen this man in silk pyjamas riding a horse and thought “that looks like my mate, Valentine Pelka”. He was surprised to find that it was Val, in the China Seas flashback from A Matter Of Time. This was the first time Peter realised that Valentine would not be portraying Kronos when he appeared on The Raven. Valentine said he hadn’t seen the episodes, so he had no idea how they turned out. He’d had a phone call when he was leaving to go to the Homeland Convention last October and had been on a plane as soon as the convention finished. During his time in Toronto, he went to Grossman’s Blues Bar with Jim Byrnes, who’d lived in the city in the late sixties. At this point, I should mention that Valentine does a mean Jim Byrnes takeoff. Grossman’s was one of JB’s haunts during his time in Toronto, so it was a nostalgia trip for Jim, who swore that nothing had changed, even down to the ashtrays. Valentine said that, as the evening wore on, there was this kid who kept looking at him. Reckoning that the lad had either recognised him or was going to pick a fight, Val decided it was the former when the lad leaned over and said “excuse me”. Almost already reaching for his pen, Val was somewhat deflated when the questioner continued, “is that Jim Byrnes?”.

The BoysStan commented that Valentine had no grounds to complain about his costume in Raven, as he hadn’t had the green leather jacket with the “retro mutant ninja turtle look”. Guess Stan really didn't like that Season 1 outfit. Valentine replied that he thought he looked good in saffron and maroon, although he had once taken a wrong turn and got lost inside that costume, requiring external help to find his way back out. Finally, someone got a word in edgeways and asked if Stan would be back on The Raven. Stan said he would do it if asked and Peter, smiling evilly, said he could become Highlander’s answer to South Park’s Kenny and be killed in every episode. Stan said if There Can Be Only One, he would still be in there trying.

The BoysConversation turned to practical jokes and Stan recounted a joke played on him during the making of Band Of Brothers. When they were filming the log scene on the island, everyone froze and looked behind Stan. When he turned round, he saw a mountain lion behind him and freaked. It was a grip in a costume which the producers had hired especially for the stunt. He recounted how he made an arrangement with the production office one day. Every half hour or so, a message arrived on set for Adrian, each time supposedly from a different woman. By the end of the day, Adrian was beside himself. Peter talked about the scene in Forgive Us Our Trespasses where Amanda goes to see Methos in the middle of the night. His ad-lib on the blooper reel “And then we get our own show” was prophetic for Elizabeth, but the thing got out of hand and the angrier the director got with them, the funnier it seemed. Someone asked what it was like working with Adrian and Stan leapt in straight away, joking that he was glad it was over. Motioning at Val, he said, “but he keeps going back”. Val made some comment about looking like a loo brush, which clearly baffled Stan, as he thought Val couldn't possibly have said what he thought he’d said and then was aghast when he realised that he had heard him correctly.

Stan has been appearing in a play in Los Angeles called The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, in which he played Lt. Keith, one of the conspirators. The lead role had been played by James Morrison, who was in Space Above & Beyond. Valentine said that he had been spending time finishing his short story and hoped to take some movies roles when finishes on Family Affairs. Peter hasn’t done a story, as he thought the deadline had already passed.

Asked which other characters on Highlander they would have like to play, Valentine said he’d really liked being Kronos, but if he had to pick another role, it would be Duncan MacLeod. Peter just asked if we were joking - everyone wanted to play Methos, so he was quite happy with his lot. One of them joked that Kronos would like to play Methos - in C sharp! Stan said he would quite like to play Amanda.... and when the laughter stopped, said he couldn’t imagine himself in any role other than Richie. He felt that all of the actors did a fine job and couldn’t imagine anyone playing a different part. Peter agreed, saying that the actors had really gelled and even on occasion so had the directors! He said that acting on a series can become drudgery, but this had never happened on Highlander and he went on to say that the whole company were very supportive, so that he was confident that he could become vulnerable if he had to do an emotional scene. He felt this was very rare.

As the joking continued, Valentine asked Peter about National Throw-A-Coat-In-A-Car Day, otherwise known as the Jimmy scene. Peter said they filmed all of the shots of him first, so that when he threw his coat into the car after one take, they liked it and kept it. But then when they filmed Adrian’s shots, Adrian did the same thing. And, of course, when it was edited, Adrian go to do it first. Peter said that this is shows how editors have the power to change a scene. Stan told a story about Marlon Brando from filming Mutiny On The Bounty and how he had upstaged Trevor Howard in a similar situation, adding that you should NEVER let Adrian Paul have the last close-up. At this point, Valentine reached in his pocket and produced his mobile phone, which had gone off silently in his pocket, but as it was one of these vibrating phones, he could feel it ringing. As he sorted that out, Peter quipped that he had enjoyed taking Stan’s head, but he they wouldn’t let him take it through Customs.

Asked about coming to a small Convention, Peter said that 500 isn’t small. Access, with 100 people, is small and, by contrast, Anaheim was insane. He said that it was Kafkaesque - people with headsets were talking to thin air, but they were getting answers. He mentioned the autograph queues and the Gestapo on the lines. There was a mention of Marcus, lest he be offended by this, but Valentine said not to worry, he was back in his cell with a few cockroaches. Stan said he felt that Anaheim was the big wrap party for the show and asked if anyone was going on the next cruise, which will be from LA to Mexico.

Peter talked about his interview on the Gabereux, (sp?) show and said he felt the whole show was about selling and was very commercial. He felt a bit odd going on, as the guest before him was a Mountie who had lost a leg and he felt very ordinary and lightweight after her.

Asked if there was anything about their performance on Highlander that they would do differently with hindsight, they agreed that pretty much everything was open to self-criticism. Stan said that the filming was out of sequence and you were playing a guessing game about how other people were going to play earlier scenes that would be filmed later. He said he was happy with very little, looking back, but felt that if he was, he would not have any growth as an actor. Valentine mentioned that, during the filming of the Horsemen episodes, Adrian had assumed that Val would have a stallion, but the horse he got had clearly been ridden too hard before arriving on the set. Val’s usually impeccable French went into sudden retirement as he motioned that he wanted the horse master's horse, which he duly got and rode in the episode.

Peter talked about the ethical quality of the show and said he felt it would endure because of that. The episodes were morality tales and this was down to David Abramowitz. He said in the early days, the bad guy got his head chopped off and Duncan ended up in bed with someone, but they developed this and started asking what if the bad guy is a former friend? He said Highlander challenged, whereas most TV numbs you. He was in full flight on this and Val and Stan sat a little stunned, but eventually Stan agreed, adding that the show asked questions of us and the heroes we would want to be. He said there had been heated discussions from time to time on the set about plots, but they were rarely about egos. He said we’re all human and the show reflects that, as even MacLeod makes mistakes. Valentine said that show takes the tack that everything is connected and that he liked that there is always a price to pay on Highlander, for good or evil acts.

The BoysAt this point, the session was over, but they moved on to auction some stuff. Valentine had donated some artwork. There were three A1 drawings of the Horsemen, one of the modern Kronos against a sacked city, in pencil and two Bronze Age ones in charcoal and pastels, one of Caspian with a snake around his neck and one of Silas with a monkey. Then there was a profile of Methos in his mask from the Bronze Age, set against a violet sunset, in acrylics and a small painting of the horsemen riding against the horizon, which was lit by the sunset and the flames of the village they had just torched. But first, they had to auction an Ivanhoe sword, the kind used by Peter on the show. The BoysThe blade was autographed by Valentine, Peter and Marcus and they gave the sword to Valentine. At this point, Stan started to look nervous and edged backwards. Peter took the sword and said how difficult it had been, as it wasn’t well balanced, unlike the katana. And the little green jewels in the hilt drop out when you use the sword in a fight. The bidding stalled at around £300, then Peter said what if the sword had been run along Stan Kirsch’s neck? Stan was duly down on his knees and Peter was smirking like the dojo scene in Chivalry, but after a while, Stan decided that that had happened in an alternate universe, so he didn't see why he couldn’t have the sword, so positions were reversed and Peter was on his knees. Auctioneer Pelka kept the bidding going and the sword went for £600. Val then left the stage as the artworks were auctioned, but bidding didn't reach the reserve price. Eventually, one woman bid the reserve price, conditional on a hug from Peter and Stan. Sold to the lady and she came on stage to hug Stan, and Peter hugged her from behind, then she hugged Peter and Stan did the same. the general consensus was there was no air between the three bodies, but the embrace was disrupted as the door to the Green Room opened and Richard Ridings made his con entrance, barrelling out at high speed to join in. Methos, Richie and the conventioneer made a dive for cover, although Peter was gallant enough to place himself between the lady and the advancing Ridings. That seemed an appropriate point at which to finish the session.

Next... Valentine Pelka