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Maureen Russell & Elizabeth Gracen - Methuselah's Gift

ElizabethAfter Elizabeth's Q&A session, we moved to looking at the dailies from "Methuselah's Gift" that Maureen Russell had brought with her. Maureen said that Adrian Paul had commented on the power of the train scene when she had interviewed him for "The Best Of Highlander". He had said that both Peter and Elizabeth were exhausted after filming the fight and that everything was on the surface for the confrontation between Methos and Amanda after the fight. F Braun McAsh had also said that he was proud of that fight, as it was done as one long continuous fight. Elizabeth said that the set was not what they were expecting, just as the top of the Eiffel Tower had been a shock when they got there.

The video started with the break-in scene at the Watchers' Chateau, where Amanda finds Methos stealing the crystal. We then moved to the scene where they break into the vault and the cat scene. As they were shooting the moment where Amanda and Methos realise that there's a cat on the loose, you can hear Adrian making meowing noises off camera. Elizabeth watched herself struggle with the laser sighted crossbow and night vision goggles and commented that props make life difficult. They showed a bit that got cut out from the final version, where Amanda shoots the crossbow, then there is a long pause, where you can hear Adrian count off the sensors going out one by one, then there is a long pause before the gate opens. After the take, you hear Adrian say "I'll take you through it again" and Elizabeth mutter sotto voce, "Lucky us". She said she was tired by then and remembers hating that day. Aside, she said that she had wanted to have Peter Wingfield appear on The Raven. We moved to the scenes with the cat, with Peter audibly referring to that "bloody animal". Then things got worse - the cat decided it liked Peter and wouldn't run away from him. In the end, they film the scene without the cat, to which Adrian responded in his usual way - "great, cut, print, do it again". Elizabeth muttered that she and Peter were like "trained monkeys" by this point.

Yeah, rightWe then moved to the train shed, starting with a long tracking shot following Peter and Elizabeth from the side as the climb through the carriages. At one point, Elizabeth drops her sword. She said that she was using her left hand to pull herself up the steps onto the trains and holding her sword aloft with her right arm, so she was exhausted by the end and her arms were dragging on the floor. We saw some of the shots they filmed as inserts, where Elizabeth was having problems both with the confined space and the closeness of the cameras, leading her to protest to Adrian. We then saw a long shot, starting where Amanda runs in to the shed to escape the pursuing Watchers, the chase being shot earlier in the day. As she catches her breath, Adrian says "buzzzzz……" off camera, (to which Elizabeth said that was what they did - apparently, Dennis Berry was very good at it), then they go straight into a long tracking shot which has Amanda accuse Methos of setting her up, the fight and the confrontation all in a single take. Then they did it again. Maureen Russell asked how long they were shooting, as she had been sent four hours of dailies from this scene. Elizabeth said that it was a very long day and, at one point, she stops mid-fight, saying that her arm has gone. F Braun McAsh changed the fight after that, to try to relieve the strain on her arm. She said that the fight was filmed in the evening.

There were some shots from the flashback, in which Elizabeth said she was wearing the worst wig known to man, rivalled only by the one they gave her in "Reunion". The scene where Rebecca catches Amanda trying to sneak away with the crystal had a little extra dialogue, in which Rebecca says "And I'm offering to forgive you" to Amanda, after she says "I stole from you". Amanda replies "You mean I can stay", to which Rebecca asks "has no one ever forgiven you before?" and the scene carries on as we know it. Elizabeth said that she and Adrian had a row during the filming of this, with him telling her that she didn't listen and she responded by telling him to "f**k off!". Nadia Cameron and the dialogue coach were stood in the middle of this, not quite knowing where to look. Apparently, Nadia had a habit of calling Adrian "André", which caused some confusion.

You can't put that on the Net, Paul!We then moved to the battlements scene, where Amanda comes to Rebecca to seek sanctuary. There was nothing new in this scene, but when we saw the profile shot of the two girls side by side, Elizabeth commented that she loved that shot. She said that she and Nadia are good friends and that she felt that Nadia looked like Snow White in "Legacy". When they got to the line where Rebecca tells Amanda that she can't run back every time she meets an Immortal, Elizabeth muttered, "Oh, I can't?!". In the scene where Amanda "finds" the crystal locked in the chest, she said that she felt her acting was terrible - she was acting young instead of being young and she felt it showed. We finished the video with a last shot from the staircase confrontation, with Amanda ending in tears. Adrian can clearly be heard off camera going, "cut and one more please".

We then moved into a Q&A session. Maureen said that the Highlander actors as a group were fascinating to be around and were very professional. Elizabeth said that she exercises about three times a week, but trained every day whilst filming The Raven. Her sword was chosen for her and she originally given an epee, but she had held out for the two handed design they went with. Asked about the gymnastic moves in The Raven, she smiled and said that's what stunt doubles are for.

She said that she had been coached for the golf scenes in "The Stone Of Scone", but although she enjoyed golf, she had lost her clubs along with all her other possessions. Her talent in the beauty pageants had been to sing an old Judy Garland song.

I'm over here.....Of Peter being in The Raven, she said it would have made things more like Highlander, but both Methos and Amanda have their heads, so she would have liked it. She felt that The Raven grew more Highlander-like in quality as the season developed. She felt Liam was a good character, but that they had made a mistake in not having a Lucy character in Paris, as it took away some of the silly stuff from Amanda. She had wanted The Sanctuary to be a bit like Rick's Place in Casablanca, with Amanda doing wheeling and dealing behind the scenes with her shady contacts. She had also wanted to bring in a protégé in lieu of Lucy, someone who Amanda could bring on and someone with whom she could be female. She said that she had wanted all of the Highlander crowd to come on, (Nick Lea, of course, refused), but that she had the best time on the set when Jim Byrnes had appeared in "A Matter Of Time".

She said she would like to appear on stage, but wasn't sure what she would do. She would have liked for them to do one more show with Kenny, because she liked the twisted storyline between them. She was sure that Amanda would have killed Kenny if he'd harmed MacLeod. She joked that the wigs she and Myles Ferguson wore in the "Reunion" flashback made them look like Sonny and Cher.

She said that she likes to read and has recently read "The Bookmaker's Daughter". She is reading novels set in the South, as she is looking for film projects, both contemporary and historical. She made mention that Arkansas is a right-to-work state, with no unions. This meant she had bit parts in two movies made in Arkansas early in her career. She tends to rent movies rather than go to the cinema. She likes to watch foreign films, easier to do in Los Angeles than in Arkansas, (someone joked that a foreign film in Arkansas is one made in Canada). She said that she and some friends had appeared in a Tom Petty video several years ago, purely because Johnny Depp was also appearing in the background shots as well.

ElizabethShe said that Amanda's accent should not originally have been Cockney, but French, but the character's background had not been thought through enough when they filmed "Legacy". She doesn't watch a lot of TV, mostly cooking shows or something special, but she has started watching more since she moved to Los Angeles so that she's aware of the shows that she's auditioning for - she mention West Wing and ER as two that she likes and she likes comedy shows. She said she isn't choosy about what role she gets - a job is a job - but she would love to something like The Matrix, because of the fighting, which inspired her to pick up her training.

She left The Raven with a selection of Amanda's clothes, although not many, (as she doesn't want to dress like an Amanda clone), and none of the period stuff. What she brought away were mostly the silk kimonos that Amanda wore, as they had been designed for the show. She said that Amanda was her favourite role, without question, and that she had told Marla Ginsburg this when they had been in a car going to or from the locations for "Legacy". She said she would like to have a similar role in the future.

We finished with a dive into the gutter, with someone asking what men wore in love scenes, with particular reference to the fantasy Beethoven-sound-tracked scene in "Dramatic License". She said that love scenes are horrible to do, but remembered a love scene with Jeff Yeager which they had on the first day of a shoot together as being one where he tried very hard to make things easier, not that easy as they were shooting it in the back of a BMW. She answered the question directly by reassuring everyone that Adrian "wore something".

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