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Peter Hudson

Peter HudsonI last saw Peter Hudson at Chronicles ‘98, his first convention, and he’s definitely got the hang of this by now. Having led the judging of the fancy dress on Saturday night, he was first on on Sunday morning. He’s just finished making a low budget 35mm short film, lasting just ten minutes. They had a week shooting with Valentine Pelka in Paris, with Peter directing. He said that the French Government are very supportive of film making and he had hoped to have had a VHS copy available for the con, but he only got the finished 35mm print on the day he left. He said that this isn’t his first stab at directing, as he has a production of Beckett’s “Waiting For Godot” running in a Paris theatre, for which they had very little rehearsal time. He enjoys directing as much if not more than acting, although he’s just finished a film in Germany where he is the leading bad guy, which was filmed in and around Köln.

He felt that Horton was a wonderful role, but it had grown incrementally and there was never much in the script to go on. Each time, there was something new, leading up to his evolution into Ahriman. He said he got the part by being in the right place at the right time. He had met Roger Daltrey and Alexandra on his first job and said that it hadn’t looked promising, but it has led him on a most unexpected journey. He has recently appeared in an episode of The New Professionals, as a villain smuggling gold in Formula One cars, but he was killed off. He described it as an independent production with not a lot of money and an inexperienced team. He understood that they were having difficulty in selling it and said that it was probably as well, as no one would ever see it. He didn't know that it’s showing on Sky!

He said he thought Horton wasn’t an action character as much as a speaking part. He got to swing a sword in The Hunters and said it isn’t easy, especially when you’ve not been trained. He felt it was a specialist skill, as there was little leeway. He had never been asked to do it again. He felt Horton was interesting because he talked, although the guns were fun. He had not been allowed to do the fall off the boat in Unholy Alliance, which he felt he could have done, as he was into the role and he always thinks it’s better body language if the actor does it. But he wasn’t permitted to do and he said he felt the stunt man jumped rather than gave the impression of having been shot.

He said he would like to do comedy, but only gets to do it at home, as he’s perceived as being a villain. He has done comedy in theatre where it’s part of a project he has worked up himself, but he is forced to stay with killers as he doesn’t have much of a comic face. His wife worked on his short film as the sound mixer, but as she works exclusively on big features, they’ve never worked together otherwise.

He said the script for Armageddon came to him after the writers had talked it through with Jim Byrnes. As an acting opportunity, it was very dramatic, but it was always Jim’s decision to go ahead with it. He knew that once Jim had committed to it, he would give 110%. He said it was a very powerful experience as an actor.

He has lived in Paris for a long while and took up acting whilst living in France. He said that there’s a myth about Paris arising from the likes of Hemingway, of a place of wonderful lovers and great cultural tradition, which he felt was a romanticised ideal and which is not as true as you might imagine. He said that French cinema in the 60s and 70s got very new wave and had a complex about being intellectual, but they’re now making simpler movies, although directors like Luc Besson still go to Hollywood to make action films. The French are supportive of film making and the Government gives pump priming money to make new films, which is recouped from the profits. 35% of films made in France are from new directors, of whom less than a third will go on to make a second feature, so that there is always new blood coming through.

Peter HudsonHe said that he never had a problem with the tight shooting schedules on Highlander, as his involvement even in a two episode show would be no more than eight days. It’s not like film where you can be involved for 2½ months. He said it’s not physically draining to be a guest artist. You have to do what you feel about continuity, although where scenes are well out of sequence you need to give things some careful thought.

He agreed that Highlander was violent, but felt that it also attempted to engage the issues of good and evil in its stories, which he found one of the interesting things about the show, the debate about good and evil. He said Adrian was very aware of this and the effect it could have. The violence was not gratuitous, but was used within the context of that battle of good and evil. He felt that it was closer to The Lord Of The Rings rather than the Hollywood movie, where the hero is often a bad guy. He felt that Highlander had an old fashioned morality and he would not have returned if he hadn’t been happy with the tone of the show. He said that the fans’ interest in its philosophy comes across.

He said that he doesn’t normally get much time to prepare to be a bad guy and so has to pick roles that he can do well spontaneously. There is usually little time to rehearse and so he has to let his dark side come to the fore. He said that it’s difficult to keep up with changing fashions in acting, remarking that everything is faster than it used to be, that edits come quicker. He said square jawed heroes were out of fashion, as square jawed guys are now the bad guys, heroes had to have what he called a “plastic” look. He had recently watched “Jaws” with his eldest children and it had struck him how dated the long continuous shots now seemed.

He didn’t often get to play the good guy, although he had done a mini-series were he played the father of a family, but nothing else. He said it would be fun to have more variety. He does do voice-overs for cartoon and entertained us all by having an animated conversation between two different characters all by himself, a squeaky and aggressive high pitched voice and a slower and low “duh...” type voice.

Asked how he felt Horton would have reacted if he had become Immortal when he died, he joked that it would have been another series, but then added that he felt Horton would have been terribly upset. It was interesting at how appalled Horton was at the whole idea.

He said his own taste in films was commercially on the fringe and that he like directors such as Fellini, Bunoir (sp.?), Hitchcock and Scorcese. He said he wasn’t much marked by films today, which was reflected in his choice of directors. He felt he probably would get more work if he spoke German, but noted that Europe was happening despite the Europeans. There were more co-productions and he had noticed a tendency for each nationality to say “we’ll show them how it’s done”. He said that films about the Second World War had been out of vogue, but were coming back. After every war, there is a propaganda phase, then the war goes out of fashion. He felt that 1944 was coming back, but to be in more intellectually challenging films. He has a project ready for when that happens.

He said Shakespeare is not easy to contemplate with four children and a mortgage and he had not done as much as he would have liked. He could probably get a job with the Royal Shakespeare Company, but he would have to start in small roles. Of Highlander, he felt you either had to be a regular regular or a bad guy, although Valentine Pelka had done something different. He said Valentine was immensely professional and very easy to work with. He likes it when there is mutual respect and no games between people on set. He met Valentine during the filming of Avatar and they had talked a lot at that time. His great Highlander moments were when he met people and he remembered how Alexandra had been tremendously generous and encouraging during his first Vancouver episode and the same went for Adrian and Jim. He said there is always a superficial intimacy on set, with people promising to keep in touch, but with Highlander they actually do!

Peter HudsonComparing US and UK conventions, he said that the US conventions had more people doing things at the same time, which was very organised, but you don’t actually meet people, whereas here you can meet people, wander round and chat. Everyone had been very respectful and there had been no real need for security this weekend. Asked which he prefers, he said you couldn’t draw a comparison between a con with 2,000 people and one with less than 500.

He said he had come to acting late and it wasn’t in line with his family’s expectations. He had studied for 25 years and then needed to find a job, so he became a teacher, working with French teachers of English, but ended up asking himself if this was what he really wanted to do.

He finished by saying he would turn down roles where there was nudity or he wasn’t happy about the morality, as he feels the role needs to be justified. For a fan club, we could contact Deborah, he said, who would advise and inform people. He hoped to sell his film through his web site, but said he was a technophobe and only checked his e-mail weekly, which was more often than he used to. There was a moment’s confusion when he though he was asked is he was wearing a dress, but it turned out to be a request for his web address. Deborah said that the site had just moved and she couldn't remember the URL, but she would post it to HIGHLA-L.

Next, the Dangerous Brothers ride - Marcus & Richard Ridings