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Adrian Paul

Adrian takes to the stageAdrian took to the stage to a fake Quickening, with flash pots and glitter bombs on the stage and fibre optic cables rigged overhead and to the walls, which also had poppers rigged to them. He looked fit and relaxed, with his hair slightly fuller than during Season 6, but still cut short. He had flown in from Romania, from the set of Highlander: Endgame, the previous day.

He went straight into questions and so will I.. He’s been doing martial arts for about eleven years now, originally Tae Kwon Do, but later widening into Hung Gar Kung Fu. He had been practising with a sword for about a year prior to getting the role of Duncan MacLeod, but has continued with the discipline since the series ended. He said it provided a path for him, as he had a temper when he was younger and it had given him a way to quell that.

Asked to tell us something we didn't already know about him, he quipped that the people on-line know everything about his public and private lives, although not many people know that he’s only 23. As he spoke, he was struggling to open a bottle of water whilst holding the microphone and he added that he wasn’t very good at opening bottles. He said we should ask his mother, who delights in embarrassing recollections every time he takes a friend home, but then the light went on. He smiled, then admitted that he was scared of thunder and lightning as a child, to much laughter. He had a cousin who was only 5 years younger than his mother, who was almost a second mother to him, and who was a dressmaker. Once, a storm sent him scuttling under the table, where he distracted himself by drawing. Unfortunately, it was on a dress that his cousin was making and she was not amused when she found his scrawl on the material. Adrian got the standard bad-boy telling off, but his cousin forgave him when she saw that he had been really scared.

He said that when he needed to have short hair in a flashback, they had pinned his own hair against the back and top of his head before overlaying the wig, although sometimes they just pinned it at the back. He described how they fit you for a wig in the films, by placing a plastic bag on your head and then wrapping lots of tape around to form a last of your head. They then draw your hairline on the tape and, voila, they have an imprint of your head. The same is true of beards.

He didn't have a lot of time to read up on antiques for that part of the role and added that the antiques were definitely more a part of Duncan MacLeod than Adrian Paul. He likes stuff from different areas himself, not necessarily things which are antique, and doesn’t believe something has to be antique to have value. He had done some research, though, for The Modern Prometheus, as there wasn’t enough about Byron in the original script for him. He had read a thickish book about Byron and had had the poems written into the script, particularly the short piece which ends the episode. Modern Prometheus was supposed to be a small and calmer episode, which is why Adrian got to direct it. As he wryly observed, it contains two Quickenings, three fights, a carriage chase and several other stunts.

He said that he had done quite a bit of preparation and blocking out of scenes and so he arrived on the set at the chateau the first morning quite confident, only to be met with the news that the trailers hadn’t arrived. That put them two hours behind on the first day, but Adrian thought they could make it up on the next day. He arrived on set the next day to see his Assistant Director walking around nervously. He asked if something was wrong, but was assured that there wasn’t. Another crew member engaged the Assistant Director in whispered conversation, complete with lots of Gallic shrugs and finally they admitted to Adrian that they had left one of the principal actors behind at the hotel, which was 2 hours away. They had picked up an extra instead and, as the head count was right, had set off without checking who they had.

AdrianHe would like to direct again, but not Endgame, as he felt that was too big. He said Romania is a great country and they are beginning to come out of the difficult times and the oppression they have endured. He said he had learnt a lot from Highlander and that his favourite period had been the Scottish segments. He added that there was reference to Culloden in the film.

Asked if he would ever consider giving a martial arts seminar, he said that he wouldn’t think of it now, but perhaps in ten or fifteen years, when he felt he had something to offer. He said so many people practise these disciplines that there are more people who know what they’re talking about. He had turned down a invitation to be included in the martial arts Hall Of Fame for that reason - he considers himself first and foremost an actor.

He said that War Of The Worlds had not finished itself, as they didn't know whether they would get renewed. He felt that it was an object lesson in what not to do with a series, as it was story driven and not character driven. Highlander, on the other hand, had been very character driven and the stories had provided the bones on which the characters had been fleshed out. He said the connection with Highlander was about how you feel about these people and that they were bringing this to the movie, whereas War Of The Worlds was about what was going on. Someone later mentioned the episode of War Of The Worlds where the brother of Adrian’s character appeared, but Adrian said that was how the script came to set and he hadn’t influenced the story - he wasn’t that involved.

One of the French fans chided Adrian for his caricature of the French Assistant Director on Modern Prometheus and he responded in French, the two of them having an animated conversation. Eventually, I asked if the rest of us should leave! He told us that he would like to do some theatre work, but this had been frustrated by the shifting schedule for the movie this year. He had been back to acting class this year, as he felt that film and television were very different to theatre. Whilst TV and film offered the chance to do it again if you didn't get it right, theatre offered the continuity that was so often missing from film work, where everything is filmed out of sequence. He said he would like to try comedic drama, but he is perceived as an action star and not a comic. The play he studied in his L.A. classes is called The Rose Tattoo.

He said he hoped to do more of the audio tapes that he did about the first two seasons, but that was dependent on having the time, as he has spent most of the year writing a script. He had done the first two tapes from memory, but he has gathered together a lot of clips at home to help him structure any new tapes better. He may not move on to Season 3, but might theme the tapes instead, perhaps focusing on the fights or the directors.

His favourite colour is cream, although it was red in his younger days, (I kid you not, people really ask these things). He has never traced his family tree, although some of his family have. They didn't turn up anybody interesting, though. Asked if talent is enough to succeed, he said that he didn't think so. Success requires hard work and luck as well. When he was younger, he played soccer semi-professionally and that was what he wanted to do, but things changed. He allowed his dreams to change as he went and has tried not to be scared to try new things.

He said he would still have done Highlander if he had known in advance how successful it would be and how it would change his life, adding with a grin that he would have asked for more money though! He said he had known that he was going to work on Highlander two years prior to getting the role, as he had seen a poster for Highlander II and said, “I’m going to do something with that one day”, although he had thought it would be film and not TV. He said that the changes it has brought have all turned out good, although some were out of his control. His private life got a little stomped on, people talk about him and he can’t please everyone. Highlander has provided him with a better understanding both of the industry and of the human spirit, but it has also provided him with the opportunity to launch the PEACE fund. It’s been an important part of his life, spanning eight years.

The autograph sessionHe was asked about the pranks played on set and an evil grin spread over his face. He said that they always played tricks on Stan Kirsch and how, during the filming of Band Of Brothers, they got a crew member to dress up in a bear costume and sneak up behind Stan during the filming of the scenes on the island, a story Stan recounted at Chronicles. Adrian said he had tried to lighten up things on the set, particularly during the second season, to lift the burden of the 14 hour days. He said that they had played a particular trick on Alexandra. One of the make-up girls had told her that there were no cats in Canada, because it was illegal to own one and you could be fined. Alexandra was uncertain about this, but people kept telling her the same thing. Towards the end of her time with the show, Adrian planted some cat hairs in her trailer and set up a camera across the way. He got an extra dressed as a cop to knock on her door, after reports of a mythical cat. He said her suspicions were aroused when she saw that the cop had a name tag that read MacLeod, but the extra kept going, walked in and found the cat hair. He started to rebuke her, but she threw him out. Stan went along and, seemingly passing by, told Alexandra that she had to speak to the guy, as he was a cop. Alexandra is now wondering and, when the producer, (who was in on it), walked past, she was hooked. At that point, Adrian let her see the camera and she realised she’d been had.

He said pranks on him never succeed. Once, Stan Kirsch thought that it would be funny to dress up as a girl and mob Adrian on set and he spent hours getting himself ready. Adrian spotted this girl on set and didn’t twig, but it was James Horan who recognised Stan. The cameras were rolling and Stan walked up to Adrian, who let him get quite close before nonchalantly going, “Hi, Stan”. Stan was beside himself at this and Adrian does a nice line in a Stan Kirsch impersonation, as he showed us how Stan reacted. Adrian had this on tape, but he made the mistake of lending the video to Stan, who destroyed the evidence.

Asked about his favourite episode, he singled out The Blitz and Homeland as fun episodes, the later not just because he directed it. He finds it difficult to pick episodes, as some he like for the fighting, some for the relationships and some just because he thought the actor was cool. He highlighted the Horseman episodes and said that he felt that Seasons 4 and 5 were the best years of the show. Season 6 hadn’t lived up to what had gone before, but he did get more time off! From Season 1, he liked Band Of Brothers, from Season 2, (with a wicked grin towards the green room), The Darkness and The Samurai from Season 3. He had wanted to do a story about where Duncan’s sword came from and added that e gets asked about the sword every time he goes through Customs. He had been talking to David Abramowitz and Bill Panzer and they had a story about a Japanese princess and a vow made by MacLeod and the sword just slotted right in.

Asked what he misses about the UK, he said first and foremost it’s his family. The US is very big and very different to the UK. The people and culture differ, as does the sense of humour, but he’s growing to like the US sense of humour. He described himself as being in the middle of the pond and added that there is more opportunity in the US. He said he hadn’t fund a Scottish accent difficult, as he always used to tell jokes as a kid and did accents. His Italian upbringing helped as well, teaching him to roll his “rr”s.

He said that the accent had caused a problem with Bill Panzer and Marla Ginsburg, who had wanted him to tone down his Scots accent in favour of an American one. The argument lasted for 17 episodes, with the strength of the accent waxing and waning, until eventually Marla Ginsburg rang and told Adrian the accent had to go, as US audiences wouldn't understand what he was saying, to which Adrian replied, “Tough!”. Adrian was determined to hold on to the accent and said he doesn’t like being told “You can’t....” He decided not to argue, so when Bill Panzer rang him, Adrian said he’d tried to do it without the accent, but he didn't know who Duncan MacLeod was anymore. They reached an agreement - after Duncan goes to the States in 1815, no Scots accent, (although Adrian added that he subsequently pushed this back to 1850). In the film, he’s modifying Duncan’s accent through the flashbacks, so that audiences will see Duncan develop from 1525 to 1535 to 1750 to the present day, with his accent getting lighter later on.

Adrian talking about PEACEHe said he doesn't believe in fate per se, in the sense of predestination, but he does believe that events will take a certain path, but we have choices, so fate becomes what you make it. He believes you are who you are through the choices you made.

He had a great time filming with Roger Daltrey, who he found easy to work with, unlike some lesser known people who were on a star trip. Roger was very normal, with no attitude, and Adrian said that a lot of the Duncan/Fitz stuff had been developed by Roger and himself.

Clan Denial were present in force, displaying a nice sense of humour with a T-shirt that read “CLAN DENIAL COVERT OPS - You Never Saw Us, We Didn’t Happen”. Adrian is obviously exasperated by their more militant sisters in the US and had some simple words for them - “Get over it - he died!”. He said it was a choice they made - whilst he dearly liked Stan Kirsch and didn't want him to leave, Richie’s death had a big impact for Highlander and moved the show forward. He said one of the things about Highlander was that fans never knew what was going to happen. He then pointed to a door and said that he didn't know what would happen if he walked through it. Somebody yelled out “It’s a cupboard”, derailing Adrian mid-flow and making him go over and check - it wasn’t. Adrian had said at the start of Season 5 that they had to do something to end the season on an “out”. They didn't know at this stage if there would be a Season 6 and when it was decided to kill a character, Richie got the chop, (so to speak). Adrian said that Duncan never stopped blaming himself for Richie’s death and said that one of the make-up girls in Romania had told him that she cried when he cut his hair. He said that both he and Jim Byrnes felt that this was more because it was an act of mourning for Richie than any other reason. Richie’s death was a good thing for Highlander, although not for Richie!

Adrian was asked if, with so many love scenes with different women, he ever thought “oh, no, not again!”. He gave this a moment’s thought, then gave a definite “No!”, although he did remember that he met one actress an hour before she was naked on top of him. He added that he had finished doing two days of love scenes for the film two days before and this was why he looked so young. He said that they can be very technical and are akin to sword fights in some respects, (to much ribald laughter), as you have to understand what you are portraying, where the scene fits in the story. He said that the scenes with Elizabeth Gracen were always fun. In To Be, the script just said something like “Duncan and Amanda are in bed making mad passionate love”. Adrian wanted to make it fun and spoke with the director, which led to what was seen on screen. He said it would be tiresome if it was always the same every time.

He said that he had been one of the last 4 or 5 considered for the role of James Bond before Pierce Brosnan was cast. He said that he felt that he would be more suited once Pierce stops doing the role, as he would then be the right age and look. He would like to play Bond with more edge, more real, in the way that Connery did, with that sense of danger. He did say that Bond was a 25 year franchise and it would be nice to start something new.

He said the auditions for Highlander were a 3 to 4 month process. He was the first person seen for the role and he walked into a room full of writers, producers and directors. He later found out that, after he left, they all said, “Nah. Not the first person we see”! He was asked back to read for the part, then five of them were asked to screen test. The competition was whittled down to Adrian and one other and, when he’d heard nothing after a couple of weeks, he thought he’d lost the part. Then he got the call on Friday, telling him he was leaving on Monday for 5 months. Cristoph had been one week late arriving for filming, which had given him a chance to get the character developed a little.

On life lessons from Highlander, he said that he had once been told that as you grow as an actor, you grow as a person and he felt this to be true. You learn from your mistakes and your past, or you’ll repeat them. Life is short and you should go with what you want to do and do it now. The eight years on Highlander have flown by and it seems like yesterday that he started. Asked who he would be supporting in that afternoon’s Euro2000 qualifying match, he said that Duncan MacLeod would support Scotland, but as Adrian Paul, he would support Italy! - no, England.

He finished by telling us that the filming of Highlander: Endgame is going well and that everyone is very excited. There have been lots of problems, but there is a chemistry happening on the set. The jacket he was wearing was a crew jacket from the film and he would auction it later.

More from Adrian in the report on Alexandra's sessions