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Chronicles '98

London visit
Cardiff visit
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Peter Hudson
Valentine Pelka
Marcus Testory
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Hudson, Pelka, Testory

Transcribed from audiotape as best as I could — there are still gaps, but I hope you can still enjoy what's there. Please send any corrections or clarifications to me at or leave a note in the Guestbook.

[Square brackets] indicate either (1) my paraphrase of parts of the tape that weren't clear, (2) proper names where I'm not sure of the spelling, or (3) explanatory notes or commentary to make the text more readable.

[laughter] indicates laughter from the audience.

[?] indicates I don't have a clue what was said.

Ellipses indicate quotes dropped because they either weren't clear on the tape or they were repetitious/redundant and don't add any new info.

All audience questions are paraphrased for brevity's sake (some people took a while to get to the point) and because many of them weren't clear on my tape.

Now here are the bad boys of Highlander...

Pelka: I just remembered a little story which I thought I might like to share with you. It's sort of related to the trials and tribulations of being a horseman. Not necessarily one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but a horseman in a film perhaps.

I think most of you might remember I was talking about horses I have known and loved. I talked about a horse called Fury, who was the horse I rode on First Knight, and it's one of the most experienced — I mean, he's got a CV as long as Laurence Olivier. Fury was a well established horse and he sort of knows this. He has a certain set of tricks and one of them which I found, to begin with, rather annoying and secondly, eventually, rather useful, was — certainly Peter Diamond who will be speaking later, he almost certainly will have come across Fury at some point in his work.

Fury has a habit of playing with the bit in his mouth and he tends to salivate rather a lot. Anybody who rides will know that the least opportunity a horse has to grab a bite of grass, he will do so. Well, Fury very often will try and get some grass so the saliva was not going to be free flowing; it was green. [laughter] Right. Here comes the interesting part.

Fury had this habit of rejecting the faceplate that was over his nose. He didn't like it. It was disturbing him, and he kept going like this. I'm sure he did it purposely. He waited until he was salivating so much, he collected so much saliva, and then, I'd be minding my own business sitting there, in my nice blue [?] uniform, and then suddenly he'll go WHACK! And just about here, or here, I would get this rather large globe of saliva, green in color. Right.

We were waiting to cross the causeway in Camelot one day. We'd been waiting there for hours. And we're getting a little bit bored, and so is Fury. And Sean Burn, an actor from London [?] is behind me, and he's sort of complaining about his horse. He's complaining about lunch. He's complaining about his [?]. I thought "Ah." And Fury is showing signs of — [laughter] And by this time my timing was perfect. I knew when it was going to happen and I took cover. So I checked behind me — anybody who meets Sean Burn can ask him and he'll tell you — and just at the time the head came up, I went like this [ducks] and Sean Burn got it right [in the face]. He got off his horse and he walked away for a few moments....

Hudson: What a great story.... In fact, I may look stupid to you because actors are quite competitive. Notice the way he pushed us all to the side when he came in. [laughter] One of the great pleasures, for me anyway, because I only met Marcus yesterday, so I can't really say much about him — he's a delight. [laughter]

Marcus: [grins] Thank you!

Hudson: One of the great pleasures for me was to bump in to [looks at Valentine] what's your name? [laughter] Because as Valentine was very rightly saying, you spend most of your time as an actor waiting around, so we had a lot of that to do when we met. As I was saying, actors quite often competitive. I mean we're always very friendly to each other but — [laughter] It was a great pleasure getting to sit with Valentine while we were waiting and finding things in common.

Pelka: He didn't know my wife and I didn't know his. [laughter] Contrary to what people might think, the job of acting is a bizarre job. If you have to do a job description of somebody who's a lorry driver — he drives a lorry from A to B. Most people can job describe themselves fairly easy — easily even.

But the way I like to describe acting, it sounds so ridiculous if you describe it to anybody normal like you rather than, well, these two. Yeah, you're real people!

I mean a theater actor, for example, is somebody who goes to a building, he gets into clothes that don't belong to him, with a lot of other people who also do the same thing, then they go into a room on a sort of high bit like this[the stage], and there are five/six/seven — maybe seven hundred — people in the dark, all waiting and watching them, and these guys in clothes that don't belong to them, are pretending to be people that they're not, in clothes that don't belong to them, and [then] take them away, put them in the wardrobe and go home. It's a bizarre job description.

So that when you come into a rehearsal room for the first time, meet actors for the first time, the most important thing is, you try to get along. And it's usually on a sort of work-a-day, fairly superficial level. You try to make the work easy. So it's not always very often that you come across somebody who becomes [a] very good friend. That doesn't happen very often. It happened on Ivanhoe with me, and it certainly happened on Highlander as well. But that's not the rule, that's the exception.

Hudson: Well, we were talking yesterday about the fact that there's something special about Highlander. I mean, I'm sure people say this at conventions, but to me that's all part of what we were saying about how there is a certain sense of solidarity and generosity, and it's reflected the kinds of people that are employed. I'm not throwing flowers at myself; I don't mean that. It's just that there's a sort of homogeneity about the people who work on the show and, as I've really discovered this weekend, about the people who like it.

Pelka: Homogeneity — there's a word! I don't think I could spell it. I did pronounce it, but I'm surprised.

Hudson: The first time I went to Vancouver to have a read through, you know, of the text for each episode one time... so we can discuss any changes.... And the first day I went in there, Bill Panzer was there. I said, "I'm not sure we can say this." And Bill said, "What do you mean?" And I said, "Well, it's not grammatically correct." And he said, "Grammar?! I haven't heard that word for years!" That's a true story. But we did change it — I said "easily" and not "easy."

Pelka: They say that when you meet people that you don't know very well, the last things you should talk about is politics and religion and all the other stuff, you know. Those were the first two things we talked about. And we managed not to have an argument about it, so I suppose maybe it's a good test. And here we talked for hours, that's a surprise, isn't it.

Hudson: Only in his case. I just saw yesterday the episodes that these two guys did originally, you know, the Four Horsemen. I'd never seen them. And they were great.

Testory: [deep voice] Good try.

Hudson: He's [Marcus] got this huge voice, have you noticed? You look like a singer or something. [laughter] We went to a restaurant last night to have a pizza and there was Pavarotti all over the wall, so that's what made me think of it.

Testory: [starts singing in deep operatic voice] [laughter and applause]

Pelka: It was all new to Marcus when we came to Bordeaux. Peter's been in this for years, so have I. Richard Ridings [Silas] has been in the business quite a few years. Peter Wingfield. We're all fairly used to the way things work, and the way you work.

Marcus had never done it before, and I think what was extraordinary — I going to embarrass him now — but it was terrific the way he adapted so quickly. His fight was not easy. It was tricky at the best of times. There are two weapons in your hands — Peter Diamond would probably say the same thing too. It's very, very difficult — as Adrian experienced, yeah. [laughter] Have you had a good weekend, this weekend?

Audience: Yeah! [applause]

Pelka: It's been my first one; I really enjoyed it.... I'm surprised to see quite a few of you here.... Does anybody have any questions?

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Hudson & Pelka

Is it true that you challenged Adrian and Peter Wingfield to a soccer match in Anaheim?

Pelka: Well...

Hudson: Well, I think I'm entitled to answer that question. Well, there was talk of it, but I think Val was largely responsible.

Pelka: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Yeah, it's sort of true. Adrian said he played football and I said to him, "Well what position do you play" and I think he said, "Forward." And I said, "Oh, I'm play on the right." And Wingfield plays — on the left — we need balance. And so I said to Adrian, "Well, maybe you know, if we can get down in LA anytime, maybe we could get a soccer match together." And so we placed a bet. And [looks at Hudson] do you play?

Hudson: ... Well, I'm taking my boots.

Pelka: Yeah, I think it might be worth it.... Tiring....

Hudson: Thirty-five seconds each way.

What do you look for in a role?

Hudson: Sausage. [laughter]

Pelka: [You're only going to] get a boring answer from me. Um, I don't like sausage very much. Um, good writing. Good writing.

Testory: Good part. Lots of [?]

Were you disappointed that Kronos' role in later episodes was so small?

Pelka: Actually, to be honest with you, what happened was, there was this big double-header episode, which was great. And a fantastic character. It was two really really good episodes. And I accepted the job on that basis. So I didn't expect any more. But when they asked me to go back, as I said yesterday, there were flashbacks and if [?] So no, not at all, I wasn't disappointed at all. That was the job. What was the great bonus was that he came back.

[something about actors' salaries]

Hudson: That's a serious question.

Pelka: Are we going to give a serious answer?

Hudson: We should think about it.

Pelka: Let me make things quite clear. Speaking clear, clearly as I can, I like to avoid questions as easily as possible. I mean, let's face it, every actor wants to find themselves in a situation where they're earning — like anybody else with a regular job — as much as possible. And to get as good parts as possible, as high-profile as possible....

Hudson: Seriously, there is an argument that if you look at the budget of a film and you see the percentage of the budget that's actually taken by the stars, it's [almost] non-existent.

Pelka: If you take a look at the Full Monty. I read in the paper that allegedly — obviously, everything I say is allegedly. I read an article and the chap who played the character who discovers he's gay in the Full Monty — a terrific role — apparently he got paid Equity minimum for a week. He got about 13,000 for that film. And the film had a budget of two or $3 million and it's made well in excess of $250 [million]. And he should have potentially made a bit more, or at least, if you don't know that it's going to be a success in the beginning, at least later on when it is a success, could he not have been given a bit more money perhaps?

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Pelka & Testory


Pelka: The first, as it turned out, the way it's shot and the pleasure we got out of it, the first fight we had in the power station. I didn't know Adrian very well, I was trying extremely hard to get anywhere near as good as him. He was very gracious and he really helped.

There was one take in particular I will never forget. We did the whole fight from beginning to end — the beginning when I started, "Some things always come back." From that point to the end of the fight when I said, "I'll be back." I think we did the whole scene for the master shot. It was terrific. Everything just clicked in place. There were no slips, no problem.... It was terrific. I really enjoyed that.

Hudson: No, it was excellent. I saw yesterday — very impressive. Because those swords — I mean, you've seen the swords. They're very heavy and it's got to look as though it's easier than it is.

Marcus, you said you had trouble riding a horse —

Testory: Who said that? The horses had trouble.

Val said —

Pelka: I denied it though, didn't I? I said he was being modest, didn't I? Yes?

Audience: Yes!

Did Valentine help you at all with his expertise?

Pelka: It's dog-eat-dog out there. He can help himself. He's a big boy.

Testory: The horse was bigger than I.... [I had trouble] making the horse understand that it has to stand still until the director says "Action." And then the fact that the horse should stop in front of the tent, not far away. Small trouble. But I didn't fall off.

Hudson: But the question was, did Val help you?

Testory: Just before I was asked if I think about becoming a politician. [smile]

Pelka: I think I said keep your heels down. And try not to fall off.

Hudson: Stop in front of that tent, say your lines, and gallop off.


Hudson: Well, I wasn't there.

Pelka: Well, yeah, if you've not done it before, you've got problems. It's tricky. It is tricky, and the horses sometimes do have a mind of their own. What can you do? But generally, we shot that scene — all that stuff in the tent — we shot it really quickly.

There's not a rider born. Anybody will tell you there's not a rider born, no matter how many years, who's not good enough too fall off. Or make mistakes or anything like that. I told you about the horse yesterday. The horse made me look stupid, but I allowed him to as well. It wasn't just the horse's fault. A really brilliant rider would have overridden him.

Peter, what crosses your mind when you get another script where you're playing Horton?

Hudson: I can't answer that question. I don't think I think.... No, I don't have any particularly [?] answer to that. I mean, I'm delighted.

[something about conventions]

Hudson: Well, if there are Highlander conventions in 15 years time we'll all be happy. Won't you?

Audience: Yes!

Pelka: We'll all be a bit older.

Hudson: The Wheelchairs of the Apocalypse.

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Valentine Pelka

You mentioned before that you had to make an effort to get to know the other actors at first rehearsal. Does that mean you would prefer to rehearse love scenes later on after you've got to know each other better?

Hudson: I haven't read any love scenes!

Pelka: Um, what love scenes are you talking about?

Any love scenes.

Pelka: I did a movie a few years ago and I had a scene where I had to be unclothed, as they say. And the first of those two scenes was the first scene I shot in the whole movie, which is what I call bad scheduling.

I have to say, I was absolutely terrified, really scared. And I didn't even know the actress I was going to play next to. She's one of the main parts in the film. And she handled it greatly. She just turned around to me and said — [laughter and applause] Oh dear. Please, come on! No, she just turned to me and suddenly she cracked a joke, and it was such a good joke, it made me laugh so much, it put me at my ease. And that really, really helped.

From then on, taking my clothes off wasn't a problem at all. [laughter] In fact, keeping them on — Yeah, those sorts of scenes are very sensitive. It's best to rehearse them in private if you can. [laughter] With the director!

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