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Elizabeth Gracen

ElizabethLizzie's session was very driven by questions, so things jumped around a bit. She said that the idea for "The Damn Deal" had come to her when she was having her hair done at home in Arkansas. She could hear one of the hairdressers talking and he was using language that was redolent of her days in beauty pageants. She asked what they were talking about and found a world she didn't know existed in her home state. She went to the Miss Gay Little Rock contest and watched 8 or 9 guys transform themselves from 5 o'clock shadow to these creations. The reason that Peter Wingfield isn't credited is that's the way he wanted it, but he and Carolyn are in the thank-yous at the end. They flew out to Toronto, where Lizzie was living in the time, and Carolyn took over Lizzie's kitchen, which is where she made Peter up - this apparently took a long time, because Carolyn was ageing Peter. Lizzie said that, just before she left to come to Australia, she realised that she had releases from everyone for the film except Peter and that she only got the release from him as she left.

She said that she had about 10 hours of footage for each of the three guys she interviewed for the documentary, but that the hairdresser, who is the third guy on screen, freaked out just before he was due to be interviewed. Lizzie spoke to the other two on a Sunday and the hairdresser relented about 6 months later.

She said the biggest surprise to her when she became Miss America was the whirlwind that hit her. All through the contest, she hadn't given any thought to what would happen afterwards, but once she won, she was petrified. She described it as a whirlwind that hit her - she did 200,000 miles in her year's reign. Miss America is booked solid well in advance of the contest itself and she described herself as becoming a shadow of a person, fulfilling Miss America's commitments. However, it paid for her acting school, which was why she entered. She had originally wanted to study corporate law.

She enjoys painting and prefers to use oils on canvas. She has had no established studio for three years, as she has moved between Toronto and Paris whilst filming The Raven, then she lost everything when the bad times came. She said that creating, in whatever form, makes her happy.

Someone commented that she had lost her accent, to which she replied that she only has to talk on the phone to her mother for it to come back. Whilst she normally avoids accents, she did have to do a Southern accent when she filmed Time Trax in Australia. She said that she would love to do another documentary and would like to do something about psychiatrist Charlotte Kasel, who writes on women's issues. She has been thinking of putting together a website for some time, which would host various things.

She said that she didn't audition for "The Lady & The Tiger", but was put forward after she appeared in "The Death Of The Incredible Hulk". She said that considered the role carefully - they were going to fly her to Paris and it was paid work - she took all of two seconds to say "yes". She said that she had received an e-mail from Paul Johannson, to wish the convention well. She said that he was directing his first film in Toronto, with Ray Liotta and Gena Rowlands in the lead roles. Lizzie and Paul did not get on during filming, but she says that they are now friends. She said that she clicked straight away with Adrian and that they always had fun, although she remembered there was one big scene in "The Return Of Amanda" where she was jet-lagged and she wasn't happy with the way things were going. Adrian told her to relax about it and they got the scene straight away. Lizzie said that it was a major scene in the loft.

She said that wardrobe mistresses tended to treat her like a Barbie Doll. She found Amanda's transition to The Raven difficult, as it was hard at first to imagine Amanda as the hero. In the first couple of episodes, Amanda had to grow up. As she put it, you can't be flighty and then take heads. She felt that The Raven didn't find its stride until the end. She said that the season was a struggle, with Paul Johansson fighting for his character and his stories. She said that MacLeod might make mistakes, but he was always left standing. She said that she would have liked to see Amanda's past fleshed out more in the original series and that they were getting there with The Raven, but she had wanted to see more of the famous people that Amanda talks about in the flashbacks. She felt that they hadn't explored this part of Amanda enough.

She said that she had bleached her hair just before filming The Raven and that they had then been stuck with it, but she found that bleaching her hair every week started to raise welts on her neck, away from her hair line, as they were poisoning her doing it so often. Hence, later in the season, her hair got darker. She said that she was always doing things like that - the nose stud in "Finale" freaked out Bill Panzer and David Abramowitz. She said that she would have liked to see The Raven continue. Two endings were filmed to "Dead On Arrival" - the one we saw and one in which Amanda cures Nick. In both, he got mad and walked off, but the unused ending was rewritten by Lizzie and Paul in an effort to improve it, but she was glad they went with the one they showed, which was always the stronger of the two.

Of "The Damn Deal", she said that she had enough money to have it professionally lit, but the interviews were just her, the guys and the camera. She said that the original film stock, along with all her other possessions, is missing and that she hopes it is in storage somewhere. She has been paying lawyers to try and find out where her stuff is and to get it back. For the last seven months, she has been getting her life back together ever since she had to file bankruptcy. She said that she tried to open a bank account in Los Angeles recently and was refused. The tapes she brought to the con are NTSC video copies and all she has, so to make each one unique, she had kissed each cover leaving an individual lipstick kiss on each one.

Looking forward, she said she has a friend in Italy who is a great cook and she's been talking to Highlander producer Marla Ginsburg about making a cookery show. Marla told her that they're not expensive and she has made a demo show. She has couple of acting projects in the pipeline and said that she found Amanda great fun to play. She has a couple of ideas for a similar character, but not an Immortal and has a couple of scripts in the Amanda style, but without the swords.

Of her favourite episodes, she said that she enjoyed "Dramatic License" and they all had great fun, although the language on the set was more than a little blue. She gelled straight away with Sandra Bernhard and said that she liked Adrian when he was "girly". Of "Money No Object", she said that she dated Nick Lea for a while and really liked that episode, as well as "The Stone Of Scone". She had problems with the gears on the older cars used in those episodes, as no one told her to double declutch. She said that she had no experience with swords prior to Highlander and that she felt she was terrible with them, but she did train with a sword prior to The Raven. She said that she had wanted Amanda to use a katana, but that some of the early photo shots were done before they had settled on the sword that she would finally use.

A moment's thoughtAsked which was the most emotional episode for her, she thought for a moment before replying. Someone suggested "Methuselah's Gift", but she said that, although Adrian was a demanding director, they were friends, so any rows were in the moment. She felt that train fight, although she was exhausted, was demanding of Peter Wingfield as emotionally, it was a turning point for Methos. She said that the director of "The Manipulator" shot it like a movie and she was in so many shots that she was physically worn out. She tried to talk to the director, but was getting nowhere, so she threatened him during the filming of the flashback wedding scene that if he didn't shoot all her scenes first, so that she could leave and get a good night's rest, she would call in sick the next day. What was impossible became "give me a minute" and Lizzie got her single night of rest. She said that, during the filming of "War & Peace", her beagle was hit by a car whilst they were waiting to film the last outside scene. She says that he's in an episode of The Raven, when she and Nick are down by the river buying flowers, (which, from memory, is the beginning of "The Manipulator").

Asked if any gender issues cropped up on The Raven, she said that they were always there, unless you were working with a female director. She said that Adrian can throw fits and get away with it, but a woman is afraid of being called a bitch. Lizzie said she has her Miss America charm to fall back on. She said she was a lot stronger by the end of The Raven, but not necessarily a nice person to be around. She needed to relax, as the long days, the show's demands and the constant need to look good had left her worn out.

Someone asked about her comment in "The Watchers' Guide" about conventions and pageants, where she said she disliked them because of her Miss America days. She said that the recent Gathering in Denver had marked a rebirth for her after her troubles and she felt she had got back into the swing there. She doesn't sing any longer, although she did during her pageant days, always torch songs, so the song at the beginning of "The Return Of Amanda" wasn't difficult, although they actually ended up recording her vocal at 2:00 in the morning.

Asked if there were stunts she'd rather not have done, for example the harness shot in "The Lady & The Tiger", she felt that that hadn't been a problem, but she remembered that Carlo Rota had just been woken for their fight in "Full Disclosure". They were filming in the car park at 2:00am and it was hot. Elizabeth was clad in leather and he wasn't fully awake, so the combination of discomfort and concern made that fight awkward. Another guest star on The Raven, (who she didn't name), couldn't fight at all, which he tried to counter by fighting harder. In the end, the director told him he had all the shots he needed and the stunt double took over....

Next... Methuselah's Gift