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Endgame Panel - Peter Wingfield, Jim Byrnes & F. Braun McAsh

The Endgame survivorsThis panel consisted of Peter Wingfield, Jim Byrnes and F Braun McAsh and started with the showing of the Endgame trailer. Braun said that the film was scheduled for US release on 25th August. Peter said that there was a limited amount they could divulge to us, for legal reasons. Jim said that working in Romania was a real eye-opener and something as basic as getting a roll of tape became a major event. F Braun gave us another example of this, as he said that he had designed a spiked mace for use by one of the bad guy's sidekicks. The director decided that he wanted something barbaric, (as if a spiked mace wasn't barbaric enough), so Braun decided to use a baseball bat studded with nails. The only problem with this was that baseball bats in Romania are all made out of aluminium. In the end, they had to import wooden baseball bats from Italy. Jim said that it was a real Tower of Babel on the set, but before we got totally the wrong impression about the way the film is going to turn out, Peter said that the footage he had seen through the monitors looked fantastic, with the film having a mean and moody edge and he made reference to one mean and moody Jim Byrnes close-up we should all look for. He said what he had seen what felt like a Big Movie.

From the trailer, you could get the impression that the weather was not good, but F Braun said that Bucharest has more of a Mediterranean climate, but it can get damned cold. They had only two days of snow out of 12 weeks of shooting, but the nights could be bitterly cold and they did a lot of night shooting. Peter said that the film was scheduled to finish shooting before Christmas, but they were still filming in Romania in March. Braun added that the film had been finished in England, with some location shooting in Kent.

Peter jokingly said that the film was already in the top four of 2001! Jim said it was hard to say how much screen time he and Peter would have, as you shoot up the stuff that in the script but who knows how much of it ends up in the film. He said that they'd had a good time making it, though. Peter said there was one scene where he knew that the end that they had filmed definitely wouldn't be in the film and he headed off questions by saying that, once we'd all seen the film, he'd tell us about it some day.

They were asked about contributions to An Evening At Joe's and they said they'd been given a word count as a guide. F Braun said that he wrote until he was finished and turned in eighty pages. He said that he had started his career writing political humour, but that this was his first attempt at writing fiction. He added, not with a little pride, that he was the only one who had met Gillian Horvath's deadline. Peter said that he had not written since doing English essays at school and that he always handed those in a barely on time - whilst he had had fun writing for the anthology, this was also his first attempt at fiction and he didn't think he would do anything else. Jim said that he writes lyrics for his songs and he is currently working on a one-man show, so writing is not new to him. He said that he wrote two letters home from Joe when he was in Vietnam, one to his mother and one to his sister. He said that he will carry on writing, but he will concentrate more on his music. He added that if he had known they were going to get paid four cents a word, he would have written a lot more!

They were asked if they thought that there would be a 5th movie and Peter said "Yeah!" He said that, if the movie does well, then there would be no reason to rule out another spin-off. After all, The Powers That Be are business people and, whilst its two-and-a-half-years since the series ended and the general public's attention fades, if there's a cent to be squeezed out of it......

They were asked if they were amazed at the continuing strength of the fans' support for the show and if they thought we were totally nuts. Jim said that it never ceased to amaze him and that he loved coming to conventions as it was nice to see old friends and meet new ones.

Peter was asked about Queen Of Swords. He described it as being, (loosely), Zorro with a girl. They were filming in southern Spain and had done 2 episodes before they managed to get phones installed in the production office. This had led to a little bit of chaos and them filming whatever they could each day. They were filming in the desert, about an hour's drive from the nearest town, and he said that urgency is not a concept that works well with the Spanish. They were using lots of new people to make the show, who had not worked on television before and were receiving a lot of on-the-job training. He said the end results look stunning and the series could equally be either a massive hit or not finish filming. He said that the leading actress has come to the series straight out of film school, but that she is really good. However, David Abramowitz has surrounded here with people like Peter and Valentine Pelka who can cope with the pressures on the show. He said that, the previous Thursday, he and Valentine had been filming a scene as the sun disappeared behind the mountains, taking the light with it, and the director had told them to "do what you can". The end of the episode features Valentine and Peter talking and walking off into the sunset.

They were asked which person from history they would like to have met and Peter said that when he was at school, he found history very dry, but he had now found an interest in the subject through acting and he quoted plays such as A Man For All Seasons and Shakespeare. He said the Renaissance was incredible period in but there were so many rich periods to explore. They were asked if they had seen Galaxy Quest and Jim said that he had seen it on an aircraft when he was flying back from St Louis to Vancouver. He had found the film funny, but he could see himself and the fans in it. Peter said that he hadn't seen the film, but that his friends were recommending that he went to see it. He was asked if he'd ever sung and said that he hadn't sung professionally - he'd learnt to play the saxophone so that he could get out of having to sing. Later, he was asked if he'd like to play with Jim's band, and he said he wished he was good enough, as they already had an excellent saxophone player.

Jim was asked about whether he would be touring with his band and he said that going on the road was very expensive and normally required sponsorship these days, even for the biggest bands. He's working on some new stuff for the band and also some solo acoustic material, but he hasn't had time to finalise this. He's working on a possible CD. He said he hadn't had an acting job in seven months and this had given him time to really get back into playing acoustic guitar, as it's a very organic instrument and very real. Peter said that Jim had played one night in Romania in a bar, just a voice and solo guitar and he had felt that Jim had demonstrated a clarity and honesty in his playing. Jim said that the Romanians are really serious about arts and they love expression and music. Jim said that he grew up in St Louis near the Imperial Lanes bowling alley, which also housed a club and Ike & Tina Turner were the house band at the club for nearly four years.

Peter was asked about the Methos series and said that it seemed the way to go, to him, after Highlander finished, to have a series with Joe and Methos as the backbone. He said that you could tell any story you wanted and Jim added that Bill Panzer had often wished that Duncan had been born earlier, as this would have given them more stories to tell done and that this was possible with Methos.

They were asked if they were in any action sequences in Endgame and Jim said that, whilst he's involved in an escape drama, his action sequences normally feature a pistol. Peter said that he is not involved in any fights in the film. He was asked about the change of the dialogue in Comes A Horsemen, where he changed "death in a mask" to "death on a horse". He said that, whilst they changed the dialogue for that scene every time they shot it, that was a specific change. He said that it's very much Adrian's directorial style to get one good take as it is in the script, then to encourage the actors to try something different.

Peter pausesHe was asked about Noah's Ark and if it was a fun series to make. Peter said, picking his words carefully, that it was a nightmare. He explained that, in making a series for British television, the idea is pitched by the creator to the production company, who then asked for bids from television companies to make the series, the contract usually been awarded to the person who says they'll do it for the least amount of money. Because the British are very good at "mucking in", the film crew agreed a deal where there would be no overtime and 11 working days in every fortnight. He said that the show had a lot of good people and was fun to make, but it was spoilt for him because of the behaviour of the producers in taking advantage of the crew when shooting overran.

They were asked what their favourite scene in Highlander was and Peter said that he had dozens, as there were so many different scenes which presented an acting challenge. He singled out the Jimmy scene from Comes A Horseman, as he says there is very little of his work that he still likes when he watches it now, but he still likes that scene. He said that the entire episode Indiscretions makes him laugh.

Jim was asked about the relationship between Joe Dawson and Duncan MacLeod. He said that he approached the characters with the view that everyone is on a quest to find the truth in us all and he had tried to use that. Initially, he had signed to do four episodes but, as he appeared in more episodes, things got used for Joe that explored part of Jim's life. Peter said it was interesting that he generally didn't keep in touch with actors he had worked with, except Jim, Elizabeth Gracen, Stan Kirsch and Adrian Paul. He felt that they were a group of people who had worked well together and that had kept their characters alive, but that the chemistry between them reflected on the show.

This was a Saturday session and Peter said that he had to return to Spain the next day, but he would pass everyone's best wishes on to Anthony de Longis. Although they had already filmed two episodes, they were now shooting the pilot, which is why Peter had been able to get away, as his character does not appear until the second episode. He was asked how he was taking to fatherhood and he said that it was pretty damn nice. He said he felt fortunate to be at home to see his son growing up. Jim was asked if he had any words of wisdom for Peter on the subject and Peter said, "it's too late for that!" They were asked about their most challenging role and Jim said that he had found fatherhood to be his most challenging role in real life. In film and TV, Peter said that Methos was the most challenging because there were so many different sides to him, adding by way of explanation "I laughed, I cried, I did another Highlander."

They were asked what elements had made the transition from television to the movie. Jim said that there had been a great response in bringing the main core of the original film through, but that they had added the Watchers and the quest for truth from the television series. In developing a conflict between Connor and Duncan, they had used ideas and concepts from the TV show. However, this was a much bigger production so there was a lot more that they can do, adding that there was more sex and violence and that the film was more graphic than they could have been on TV. He said that Don Paonessa was helping Miramax to edit the film. There's lots of action, as you would expect in a big screen action movie, but that the drama and relationships which made the television series work had been brought in.

To much laughter and cries of "stop it!" from Peter Wingfield, they were asked if there were any talents and abilities they had that they had not yet used in a role. Jim muttered something darkly about Triple XXX movies before adding that he would love to do music in a theatrical show and maybe his writing ability would come to the fore. Peter just said that he had once juggled sprouts on stage.

Jim has asked about some of the roles he played. He said that Wiseguy had given him his big break and he felt that Lifeguard was a neat character. He was on that show from day one and got to know the people involved and they were able to bring their off-screen relationships onto the screen. He felt that it was very well written. He was asked about his appearance in the film Whale Music, in which he sported a southern accent. He said that it was nice to be involved with that film but that he had just had a single day's cameo. They were asked what their favourite piece of fiction was and what character they would like to play in a film of it. Peter said that he really liked the Harry Potter books, but there was no role though.

He was asked about his appearance on StarGate SG-1 and he said that he played a Goa'uld, (although he couldn't pronounce it), who initially seems to want to help destroy the Goa'uld, that turns out to be a bad guy in the end. He said that his last episode of Cold Squad had overlapped with Jim's appearances as a bartender and he felt that it would have been humorous to get him to do a double-take when he saw Jim's character. They said that the new season of Cold Squad started next week and Jim had no idea if his character it would be in it. Jim has asked whose idea it was to get Joe to play guitar and he said that everyone at the production office claimed credit for the idea. He asked everybody in Vancouver to come and see the band when they were playing, so everyone knew that he played guitar. He said that it was away of meditating for Joe and that he found it very real for the character.

Peter was asked for advice about training for the marathon and Jim simply said, "Don't!" Peter said that the first marathon he ran was the most painful, as he didn't take it seriously enough and realised too late how far 26 miles is. He said he didn't train enough and this son became home to him during the race, which was in 1984, and he thought he could keep going, but at 21 miles he lost co-ordination. To the questioner, who was running a marathon in Washington in October, he advised them to drink a lot and to walk the miles to get used to the distance.

Peter was asked if he would consider the role of James Bond and he said that he felt they were only a handful of actors who would get considered for the role. He wasn't sure that Adrian was in the ballpark, let alone him, but if he was approached, yes! He said that in one of the Queen of Swords episodes they had already filmed, his character leaps off a cliff and he'd asked the director to let him do this, but they had insisted on using the stunt double. Asked if he was playing a good guy or a bad guy, he said he didn't know yet. He was asked if he would turn down roles and he said yes, if he felt at the role was not very good or that he couldn't see why somebody would want to spend the money making that show. Sometimes, he would turn roles down because it would mean going away.

He was asked about the challenge of portraying a convincing 5000 year-old man and Peter said that he didn't know where to begin, so he tried to suggest that there was lots going on but not saying much. He tried to suggest wisdom in what he did and relied on the people around him keep saying that he was really old.

Where's my drink?They were asked which their favourite episodes were. Jim said that he like the ones that he was in the most and Peter said he never watched the ones that he wasn't in! Jim said that he really liked Indiscretions and that he had enjoyed working with Peter Hudson in making Armageddon. He said that Joe was often used to give background information and the episodes he enjoyed were the ones where he was involved in the action as well. Peter said that he had also enjoyed making Indiscretions and that he really liked Methuselah's Gift and Timeless as well as the Horsemen stories.

Peter said that he had made a movie for the Fox channel called The Man Who Used To Be Me and he said that, in many ways, it was a reprise of his appearance in The Outer Limits. The director of the Outer Limits episode was directing this movie and there was a role in the script for a 50-year-old businessman. The directors said the producer that, if they made a character younger, he had someone who was ideal for the role. Peter said that the film should air in the fall, possibly in October.

They were asked about filming the end of Archangel, which the questioner referred to as "the episode where Richie dies", to which Peter responded, "which time?" They said that it was very emotional, as the final scenes came at the end of a 16-hour shoot and everyone knew it was the last episode and the end of the season. They didn't know at that time what kind of future the show had of, if any. Peter said that what we see on screen is not what is in the script, as they kept the cameras running and a lot was done that was extra, not on the printed page. He admitted that he thought they had come away from that episode without enough having been filmed.

Where's Braun?Jim was asked about his early influences and he said that he had had the chance to play with some of the greats over the years - Buddy Guy, Albert King and Muddy Waters - but perhaps the greatest thrill had been when he been playing in a band with a man who had played piano in BB King's band and they had ended up waiting at the club until after three in the morning, but BB King had come to where they were playing after he'd finished his own show across town and they played until eight the following morning.

Jim said that there would be no more Higher Ground episodes made, as one of the lead characters had landed the role of Anakin Skywalker in the new Star Wars film. He was asked about the variety show he had done and he said that it was a victim of Canadian TV politics - its future was up in the air right now, but he was still pursuing it.

Peter was asked about Strange World, which he said was a very interesting show. He said its basic premise was about peripheral medical research and that the entire idea wasn't laid out in the pilot, but it was left for viewers to piece together the plot as the series progressed. The underlying idea was about research into changing the genetic composition of humanity to create a race of superhumans. The main character was ex-army and dying of aplastic anaemia. He received mysterious syringes through the post, which had the effect of prolonging his life and Peter's character saves the hero's girlfriend when someone tries to kill her. Initially, he appears to be helping the hero, but it turns out that he is running a research project and is the baddest of all bad guys. The only reason he is helping the hero is that he is trying to find out who we sending him the drugs. Although only two episodes were aired, 22 episodes were made, of which Peter is in three. He said he felt some sympathy for the actors who had been involved in the whole season, as it was the year out of their lives that never made it on screen. He said he felt that it suffered because the X-Files bubble had burst.

Jim was asked about his appearance on The Raven and why there was no reference to MacLeod. He said that the producers had deliberately avoided mentioning the Highlander background, as they were trying to establish The Raven as something in its own right and didn't want to bring over elements of the Highlander myth. He said that if someone was not familiar with Highlander, The Raven had to make sense of itself.

They were asked about accents and Peter said anyone who had seen The Sentinel would know that he couldn't do them! He said that he would not do accents for film or for voice-overs, but he might do some for the theatre.

Next - charting the Evolution of Methos