Archive for 2010

The Sun: Parents will always be the bad guys

The Sun
Parents will always be the bad guys
Garth Pearce

[Original article here]

GILLIAN ANDERSON became an international star at 25 playing special agent Dana Scully in hit US television show The X Files.
Now 42, she spent her initial years in London before leaving for America, aged 11, with her parents, where she admits to having some wild teenage years.

Gillian now lives in London with daughter Piper, 16, from first husband Clyde Klotz, and sons Oscar, four, and Felix, two, with partner Mark Griffiths.

Having established herself as a top-notch actress in British films, Gillian has come in for high praise for her latest TV role as Wallis Simpson in Channel 4’s Any Human Heart.

“WHEN I moved with my parents from London to America at 11, I hated it.

There was part of me which wanted to put the brakes on and scream: ‘This is not happening.’

But it did happen and I had some difficult, rebellious teenage years. When I left high school my classmates voted me Most Likely To Be Arrested!

What I learned about those years is that I should have talked more about what I was feeling instead of behaving in a silent, resentful way.

Although I was born in America, I regarded London as home. But I then found myself living with my parents in the middle of Michigan.

What a culture shock.

Exactly the same thing happened, in reverse, with my own daughter Piper.

She was brought up in America and I brought her with me — aged 11 — when I moved back to London.

The biggest lesson I learned from being 18 is that I should have talked more about my feelings.

The result is that I now talk to Piper non-stop.

I have often wondered what the pay-back might be for my own adventurous teenage past.

Part of me thinks that the relationship between teenage girls and their mums is set in stone. The parent is always going to be the bad guy. There is a reason, in my opinion, why teenagers have to go through a tough time.

If they did not forcibly separate themselves by saying: ‘You are the enemy,’ there is no way kids would be able to leave home.

Huge success ... Gillian Anderson with David Duchovny as The X Files' Mulder & Scully

Huge success … Gillian Anderson with David Duchovny as The X Files’ Mulder & Scully

But I do think plenty of talking to each other — and talking through everything — is the way forward.

I have been given a chance to do things differently with my own daughter — and hope she comes away from it with positive memories.

She is curious about the fact that she has spent a good period of her life growing up on a film set.

That was just the way it had to be at the time.

I was in The X Files and working non-stop. It is not an ideal way to bring up a child. But I would not want to be a teenager again.

That is certainly one lesson I’ve learned. I have always felt older. Even in my twenties, I wanted to be 34 or 36.

Life goes at such speed, though, it is like a whirlwind and you don’t appreciate how quickly it will go by when you are 18.

I just spent my life showing up and doing what was in front of me, as an actress.

I remember getting The X Files, my first marriage, the pregnancy, my first baby and the divorce — all within three years. I was so wrapped up in the here and now.

The incredible work rate on the show made life more acute, in a sense.

I had all the advantages of a hit show and being able to travel comfortably.

But there were things I could never do, like hitchhike across Europe, which I wish I had done. I do not generally handle time off very well.

So a lot of the time off is spent with me trying to deal with it successfully.

Mark has helped. We met through mutual friends.

He has a very good head on his shoulders and part of me was ready to be grounded. I am able to do small-budget films which interest me, because earnings from The X Files have allowed me to do them. It is a lovely position to be in and I feel alive and creative, both as an actress and a mother.”

NY Mag: A Three-Minute X-Files Reunion With David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson

A Three-Minute X-Files Reunion With David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson
NY Mag

[Original article here]

A Three-Minute X-Files Reunion With David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson

Photo: Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

We knew we’d get to see Agent Mulder in the flesh on Monday when we attended former X-Files star David Duchovny’s theatrical debut in the Off Broadway production of Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon, about a man who survives an office shooting and finds God. But what we didn’t expect was to see Agent Scully (a.k.a. Gillian Anderson) by his side in the intensely crowded opening-night after-party. We grabbed them for a hot three minutes in between their mingling with old friends Ben Stiller, Garry Shandling, and Duchovny’s wife, Téa Leoni.

How often do you see each other?
Duchovny: Not often. Twice a year?
Anderson: Yes, twice a year.
Duchovny: Depending on whether we’re doing an X-Files movie or not. If we’re doing an X-Files movie, we see a lot of each other.
Anderson: In France, apparently, there is going to be one in France.

With you guys?
Duchovny: No, no. Not at all. Apparently the script’s written.
Anderson: We’re not in it at all.
Duchovny: But we always would love to do another one. So we’ll see. We’re getting a little long in the tooth, but we’ll do it. Just me. Not her. Long in the tooth, I mean.

Would you do your same roles or become FBI mentors?
Duchovny: Well, I wouldn’t be doing her part.
Anderson: I’ll be on crutches. He’ll be in a wheelchair. But, yeah, it would be fun.
Duchovny: I would do it forever. I will always come back. By the end of the run, we were all good.

Do you keep in touch over e-mail?
Duchovny: A little bit, yeah.
Anderson: A little bit of texting, a little bit of BlackBerry action.
Duchovny: I don’t know if you know this, but Gillian’s an accomplished stage actor. She came all the way from London just to see this. I’m very touched by that.

What are you doing in London?
Anderson: I live there. I’m shooting Johnny English 2, but I live there.

And you just couldn’t miss David’s opening night?
Anderson: I was told that he finally got to levitate. I had to see it with my own eyes.

Didn’t you levitate in The X-Files?
Duchovny: Oh sure, I did.
Anderson: Oh sure, yeah.
Duchovny: That’s why they hired me in this play. That’s something I can do.
Anderson: Typecast again, man!

This was a more realistic levitation?
Duchovny: Real enough.

Did you get hurt at all in the scene with Amanda Peet where she’s beating on you?
Duchovny: Sometimes she gets my ear but mostly she just gets my cheek.

There’s a scene with a prostitute. Did Californication help with your prep for the blow-job scene?
Duchovny: There are prostitutes other places other than on Californication. It’s not the only show that has sex on it.

Your wife, Téa [Leoni], said you use your iPad as your scene partner …
Duchovny: I do. It’s amazing.
Anderson: Your iPad?
Duchovny: This is going to be an advertisement. There’s this thing called iRehearsal.

Duchovny: You get your script on the iPad and you can record your lines or the other person’s lines and the script will scroll.
Anderson: No! And speak the other person’s lines at you?
Duchovny: Yeah, you record their lines. So you can rehearse all by yourself with the lines, and just talk to yourself. It’s great.

Last thing. Have you started to pray more now that you’re doing this play?
Duchovny: Not really. I pray enough in the show. David Duchovny: “Je suis francophile”

David Duchovny: “Je suis francophile”
L’acteur de Californication goûte peu à la langue de bois
Julia Baudin

[Original article here]

David Duchovny: «Je suis francophile»


D’un côté, la diffusion sur M6 de la saison 3 de Californication. De l’autre, la sortie en salles le 17 novembre de La Famille Jones. David Duchovny enchaîne avec le théâtre et d’autres longs métrages, évoque ses 50 ans, s’interroge sur l’avenir des Etats-Unis. Qu’aurait-il fait s’il n’était pas devenu acteur ? Entretien.

David Duchovny, vous venez de terminer le tournage de la saison 4 de Californication… Comment évolue Hank Moody, votre personnage ?
Dans la saison 3, Hank a accepté de donner des cours de littérature à l’université. Au début ça l’amuse. Très vite, ça l’emmerde. Alors il fait tout pour se faire virer, enfreint les règles, se montre grossier, couche avec tout ce qui bouge y compris avec celles auxquelles il ne faudrait surtout pas toucher… Dans la saison 4, il passera totalement à autre chose, heureusement ou malheureusement d’ailleurs.

A toujours pousser le bouchon de cette façon, ne risque-t-il pas de tomber dans le cliché ?
L’humanité toute entière ne passe-t-elle pas son temps à véhiculer des clichés ? Le point de vue de la série n’est pas de montrer un professeur amoral qui couche avec ses élèves – un cliché en effet communément associé au métier d’enseignant. Le point de vue de la série est de faire rire. La fin de la saison 3 tourne même à la farce totale, façon vaudeville français, un des plus vieux ressorts de la comédie hollywoodienne. Nous appelons cela « French farce »…

Vous avez étudié la littérature dans de prestigieuses universités… Une incidence sur la façon dont vous incarnez Moody ?
Le fait d’avoir été étudiant pendant longtemps, d’avoir fréquenté des professeurs, d’avoir une mère enseignante et un père écrivain m’aura-t-il aidé ? Sans doute. Mais c’est aussi un défi. Comme le fut celui de trouver la façon juste d’incarner Fox Mulder dans X-Files.

Le personnage pourrait-il vous lasser ?
J’ai surtout peur de me lasser de moi-même, vous savez… Il va sans dire qu’un personnage récurrent demande plus d’implication qu’un personnage de long métrage. Un long métrage, c’est trois mois dans une existence. Une série, c’est plutôt trois ans, quand ce n’est pas six. Je ne suis pas las de Hank Moody, d’autant que chaque saison de Californication ne compte que douze épisodes, ce qui correspond à environ trois mois de tournage – un peu plus cette fois-ci puisque je réalise un épisode. Je ne me suis jamais lassé de Fox Mulder non plus, sinon je n’aurais pas accepté de faire deux suites pour le cinéma. J’étais fatigué de la série.

Que faites-vous entre deux saisons ?
D’abord, j’habite New York. C’est ma ville. Ma famille, mes amis et une partie de mon travail sont là-bas. Ensuite, j’ai eu 50 ans cette année. C’est une seconde partie de ma vie qui commence et j’ai beaucoup de choses à faire.

Par exemple ?
Du théâtre. Je joue ces jours-ci à New York une pièce très contemporaine dans laquelle j’incarne un personnage qui tente de se remettre, au travers de sa rencontre avec Dieu, d’une terrible fusillade survenue à son bureau, emportant la plupart de ses collègues.

Hank Moody pourrait-il rencontrer Dieu ?
Hank Moody peut tout faire… C’est ce qui est formidable avec lui.

David Duchovny croit-il en Dieu ?
Je suis juif d’origine russe par mon père, Ecossais par ma mère, New-Yorkais d’adoption et francophile par nature. C’est déjà pas mal, non ?

La Famille Jones, dont vous partagez l’affiche avec Demi Moore, sort cette semaine en France. C’est une satire sociale très américaine dans laquelle vous incarnez un père de famille encore une fois assez atypique…
Il s’est produit quelque chose de très intéressant autour de La Famille Jones lors de sa présentation au dernier Festival du film américain de Deauville, chez vous, en France. C’est en effet une satire sociale construite sur un mensonge qui finit par ruiner une famille, le genre bourgeois huppé archi-consumériste. Tout part en sucette. Mais, cela se termine bien. Et voilà que le public français a détesté la fin – encore un cliché, les Français n’aiment pas les happy-ends. Mais les critiques ont été si sévères que les producteurs américains ont refait une fin tout spécialement pour vous et qui ne sera diffusée que chez vous. Incroyable n’est-ce pas ? C’est pour cela que je suis francophile, pour cela que j’ai tourné il y a deux ans dans Si j’étais toi, sous la direction de Vincent Perez, et que je recommencerais volontiers.

Vincent d’Onofrio avec Staten Island, Hugh Laurie avec The Oranges, vous maintenant… Certains acteurs de grosses séries hollywoodiennes ont besoin de se tourner vers le cinéma d’auteur new-yorkais. Est-ce une respiration ?
C’est comme de partir en vacances ! Le cinéma new-yorkais ou plutôt le cinéma américain indépendant jouit d’une liberté d’action et de pensée que ne peuvent se permettre les grosses machines hollywoodiennes, tellement cadrées, tellement calibrées. C’est un peu normal. En revanche, il a moins d’argent.

Côté grosses machines, verra-t-on bientôt un X-Files III ?
Il est en cours d’écriture. On attend juste le feu vert de la Fox, un peu échaudée par l’accueil relativement médiocre du deuxième volet. L’erreur vient, selon moi, de ce que les auteurs s’étaient trop écartés des racines mêmes de la série. De plus, le film était sorti en plein été. Le troisième sera beaucoup proche de ce que le public attend, avec des conspirations gouvernementales, etc.

Gouvernement justement… Il règne un drôle de climat aux Etats-Unis actuellement…
Ce qui se passe est cyclique car ce genre de retournement s’est déjà produit dans l’histoire récente américaine. Obama paie très cher ses réformes financières et du système de santé. J’espère sincèrement que ces tarés de détracteurs ne gagneront pas les élections de mi-mandat. Entendre les membres du Tea Party ou Sarah Palin déblatérer leurs âneries à la télévision est une chose, les imaginer jouer un rôle au sommet de l’Etat m’est insupportable. Ce serait une catastrophe pour le pays. A part ça, c’est pas mal chez vous non plus !

Si vous n’étiez pas devenu acteur, que feriez-vous ?
Sans doute serais-je écrivain ou professeur… de littérature, tiens !

English translation (partial)


Speaking of big machines [the previous answer involved the ‘big Hollywood machine], will we see soon an X-Files III?
It is being written. We’re just waiting for the green light from Fox, who were a bit scalded by the relatively poor reception of the second one. The error came, I believe, from the fact that the writers strayed too far from the very roots of the series. Moreover, the film was released in the middle of the summer.
The third one will be much closer to what the audience expects, with government conspiracies, etc.

Chronological Snobbery: Fifteenth Anniversary: The X-Files – “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (October 13, 1995)

Chronological Snobbery
Fifteenth Anniversary: The X-Files – “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (October 13, 1995)

[Original article here]

Fifteen years ago today, on October 13, 1995, “The X-Files” aired what might be its best, and most philosophical, episode, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose.” Concerned with dilemmas presented by fate, and guest starring the late Peter Boyle, the episode garnered much popular and critical acclaim. We here at Chronological Snobbery remember this episode fondly, and for its fifteenth anniversary, we present this piece, which includes not one but four original interviews with members of the episode’s cast, those being Dwight McFee, Greg Anderson, Frank Cassini, and Stu Charno (who played the villain, known only as “The Puppet.”).

Reached by e-mail in November of 2007, before this site went on its extended hiatus, actors Dwight McFee (pictured above), Greg Anderson, Frank Cassini, and Stuart Charno, were kind enough to submit to brief email interviews. McFee played Detective Havez, who is ultimately slain by the killer while protecting Bruckman. Cassini played Detective Cline, a local cop assisted by Mulder and Scully. Anderson played a jaded crime scene photographer, while Charno, as aforementioned, plays the killer. For the most part, I asked all four actors the same set of questions, and so for the sake of ease and clarity, I’ve included them below collectively.

1. You appeared in what is widely regarded as one of the best episodes of The X-Files. Looking back twelve years, how do you view it and your performance therein?

MCFEE: It’s hard to believe that that was twelve years ago! However, I remember it clearly. Why do I remember it that clearly? The buzz on the set . . . was clearly that the show was taking off. The buzz was great and Mr. [Chris] Carter had nurtured the baby along with interesting and relevant stories. Cast and crew had been together for awhile, the enterprise was gelling. And now there was more money per episode. The time could be taken to make the episode as clean and perfect as possible. This episode had an several extra days to shoot. Sincerely, there was a feeling that maybe this was more than TV, but ‘classic’. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but each director, (in my case the inimitable David Nutter), had a small stable of actors who were used somewhat as a repertory company. In other words, we appeared in several episodes in different sized and kind of roles or voice overs. It was a thrill to be able to participate and contribute in the growth of the series. We were given the confidence of Mr. Carter and our director and it made us feel that we had a stake in making this series as good as possible. As to ‘Clyde’, it was early in the shooting season and it was like old home week. And we had Peter Boyle. The care that David Nutter took with the episode and the great story, well, I just knew this one was going to be good. As it turned out, my instincts were right. Regarding my performance: I did the best I could and felt it worked for the episode. I generally let other people do the judging.

ANDERSON: In all honesty, I have never seen the episode. I have seen the opening scene where I am flashing a picture of eyeballs.

CASSINI: Well, I do agree that it was one of the best episodes. It had a humor about it that was so intelligent and witty. I think it still stands up really well. Looking back at my performance is fun. Saying those lines with a straight face was challenging but it was the only way to do it.

CHARNO: I think that the idea of an insurance salesman who can see the future, is brilliant. Darin Morgan, who deservedly won an Emmy for the writing of the script, created (as he always does) some very interesting characters. Peter Boyle also won an Emmy, for playing that ironic insurance salesman, so marvelously. The Puppet, which was what my character was called in the script, “couldn’t help” doing what he was doing. And all the characters he eviscerates, are fortune tellers, to whom he goes for help, to find out why he’s doing these terrible things. With the first fortune teller we see the Puppet attack, played by Karin Konoval, he says to her, “you’re a fortune teller . . . you should have seen this coming.” Brilliant. From the view of trying to bring to life what Darin created, I took him to lunch to ask him some questions. Until that time, like the character I was playing, I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing. My lunch with Darin was no help. The writer’s process and the actor’s process aren’t necessarily usefully coordinated. Darin (who is also a trained actor, and played a major character in one episode of the show) said that sometimes certain things the writer has to do, are just what the television story requires. It wasn’t about the characters’ logic. That was revelatory for me. As far as my performance goes, I always wish I could do it again. I see that as a general symptom of any artist, though. A performance (acting, playing an instrument, dancing, etc), is whatever runs through the artist at that moment, and looked at later, it will either “feel right” or not, to the artist. It’s the unscratchable artist’s itch, which continually drives them/us to make efforts/practice to improve. . . . I personally find acting, to be the most difficult art. Needless to say, this varies from person to person, but personally, I just don’t like getting upset for make believe reasons — which is what acting mostly is. If you look at anything on TV right now, you’ll see actors “getting upset” for make believe reasons. Some people love doing that. I’m not one of those people. This is important, I think; I never intended to be an actor. I graduated music college, and had every intention of earning my way in the world, through music. I was sitting in a place in Manhattan, watching a friend sing, when a woman at a nearby table, who had been looking at me throughout the evening, sidled her chair over to my table, and asked, “Are you a comedian?” I smiled and said, “Well, I feel funny.” She gave me her card. Yvette Bickoff was her name, and she was an agent. “Go study some acting. I want to represent you.” A couple of months later, (and a couple of acting workshops later), she started sending me on auditions. I got three movies, back to back: The Chosen, Friday the 13th Part 2, and a TV movie for ABC. Now I had to learn the art of acting.

2. How did you prepare for your role as this character, and how would you describe him?

MCFEE: After I read the script and found the script ironic and kind of off beat funny, my first impression of these two detectives was that they were fish out of water. Kind of discombobulated over the whole thing. And the FBI were involved! Just think of the first scene. Camera pan to an eye in a tea cup with two federal agents! And look, I mean, the character’s name is Havez. When Mr. Nutter and I talked we had a good laugh over that one. As Mr. Nutter said, this guy is even confused about his identity. My first thought was that we were going to dye my hair black and put a moustache on me (I had done that one on a double episode of “Wiseguy” with Paul Guilfoyle). But after talking with Mr. Nutter, he was right: It’ll be funny and confusing to have a blond Havez. And that’s where I started. Then it called to mind and I did a little research on those thirties and forties detective movies (Dick Powell, Cagney, Mitchum, etc.) where there are two detectives following the evidence while the lead really knows what’s going on. The detectives are a bit klutzy and awkward, enamoured with the oddity of the situation and forgetting what they are doing. And I’d say that that was Havez. There he is, having to protect the star witness, and he’s more concerned about whether he will die of cancer from smoking. And it’s funny. The pulling of the cigarette from the ear and heading into the bathroom with a “Don’t open that door.” Then being attacked by the bellhop. Cut to a cigarette on the floor burning with a long ash. I did love that sense of seriousness and ‘send up’ in that episode. And with that character. One of the lovely things about that series and episode was that Mr. Carter used the supporting cast not just to deliver plot but was able to use the supporting cast integrally to establish the mood, the world that this series lived in.

ANDERSON: I remember being very happy to have this job. I also remember David Nutter saying to me, before we shot anything, “It’s just a job and he (my character) is just doing his job.” That is what I went for. The “seen it all before” thing. Nothing would bother me. Not even eyeballs and flesh on a table.

CASSINI: This was one of those roles where I relied more on David Nutter, the director, to guide me through because of the distinct style he was going for. Again, dry and straight. I saw the character as someone who wanted to do well. To solve this mysterious crime. So he went to work.

CHARNO: As an actor, the work that I learned (I trained for 4 years with Peter Frisch), was to put myself in a quiet creative space, and use my imagination to fill in a life for the character. With this character, I inexplicably kept coming up blank. My imagination supplied nothing. The lines in the script felt like I was just saying them — like a puppet — which is what Darin named the character. Suddenly, it made sense. Just saying the lines, like a puppet, with no “real internal feelings” about them, seemed the way to play it. That’s all my imagination could come up with, to explain the terrible things my character was doing. He just didn’t think about it. The director, David Nutter, in the scene with Peter Boyle in the hotel room, where [Bruckman] and I finally meet each other, told me to “play it very casually. Like it was no big thing.” So that’s what I tried to do/show. For me, some of the intensity of their meeting, is lost with that choice, but that’s what directors do, to get what they want. So many arts and artists come together — writing, acting, photography, music, sets, costumes, etc., — and archived on film, that directing attention to any single art, loses the bigger “picture.” Everyone who works, is part of what’s seen, but few are actually on screen.

3. What was it like working with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson? Do you have any specific memories of him on the set that you would like to share? What about Peter Boyle?

MCFEE: I never really got to know either David or Gillian except to watch them work or with them in a scene or small chit chat waiting for the next set up. As actors, though, we got to know each other. For instance, because “Clyde” had a certain playfulness and off beat humour to it, shooting the tea scene opening was a lot of fun and you could tell David was having a gas. It was a kind of release. To be able to, I guess, not take it to seriously. Which was right in keeping with the script. It wasn’t, in a way, as serious as the usual events for Mulder. But it became serious. So shooting that scene and [the Stupendous Yappi scene] was to be ‘played’ with for David. For Gillian, it was all serious all the time. Her work had a weight to it. Not unlike working with Richard Widmark or Cliff Robertson whom I had worked with just before this episode. However, watching them progress over the episode and the series, they had two contrasting styles. One loose and kind of improv and the other classical and straight. Which of course was perfect for the series, as well as the writing being excellent. In this episode, the two got to stretch it a bit and even they could be incredulous until they work it out. These are only observations from an actor watching and learning. Both created a thinking, working serious environment. And generous. Which was great.

As for Mr. Boyle, I had followed this wonderful actor’s career since Steelyard Blues with Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda. After all, Mr. Sutherland was a Canadian. Way back then, I was doing a lot of theatre (still do) and in some instances, playing several parts in one play (not any more). Mr. Boyle played all the other parts in Steelyard and it was amazing. Plus, I had a few scenes with him! What more does a guy want. Mr. Boyle was (and you have to be when you’ve got a guest starring or large role when you ‘drop in’ on a series for one episode and a few days) totally focused on the role. Consummate in his concentration. Which is so helpful in accomplishing resonance and life in a scene. That kind of experience and craft and giving makes a scene percolate for all involved. He was a pro, God rest his soul.

ANDERSON: I had a great time on set. I remember David being very dry and funny and Gillian being very quiet. She would sit, and then all of a sudden, something very obscure would come out of her. They were both fun. Peter was great. Very intimidating. I have always been a fan of his. The thing I remember most is me coming out of my trailer and going to hair and make-up. It was very late, and the set was down town. Peter had just flown in and came from the airport to the set. I saw him, and he smiled, a tired smile. That was it. That smile and his messy hair.

CASSINI: Working with Gillian and David was great. They’re both very professional and friendly. They both have the capacity to remember a lot of dialogue seemingly with ease. It was great to watch Peter at work. A real committed actor.

CHARNO: Peter Boyle was just a delicious human being. We went out for dinner one night, and a little kid came up to me and asked me for my autograph. There I was, sitting with Peter Boyle in a restaurant, and the kid wanted my autograph. I smiled, and started to look for paper and pen, when the kid asked me, “Are you Frankenstein?” I looked over my shoulder, at his parents, who were wildly gesticulating, trying to get their son to go to the other guy, Peter Boyle. Young Frankenstein. Peter happily signed. Most people don’t know this; David Duchovny does a great Christopher Walken impression. He did it, under request duress, and we howled. I’d worked with David’s brother, Danny Duchovny, who is a director, on some commercials over the years, also. A fun gene pool.

4. What do you think this episode says about the nature of fate, and do you agree with it?

MCFEE: What does the episode say? That all is pre-ordained? Is it? What IS inevitable? Certainly the ideologues of Globalization and corporate crony Friedmanite capitalism would have you believe it is inevitability. That all nature is Fate. I don’t think that episode says that or that Clyde represents that. I think Chris Carter was saying that there is mystery out there. There are choices, choices we can’t or don’t make or even will make that all affect our lives. It’s up to each one of us to have the strength and courage to respect that (which David and Gillian’s characters have). That Clyde lives in fear of the unknown (after all the series was about fear of the unknown) and sometimes your mind can make these things happen. Maybe? Clyde sees his own death and it comes to pass! Why? We don’t know. We can only be human and want to know the great mystery that is this world or dimension. If fate ran our lives and we knew how it was going to work out, then the life changing experiences like LOVE and discovery and enlightenment and eureka would not be what they are. Life changing. Fate is a rationalizationfor fear. Fear of the other. Fear of change. Fear of love. Fear of what’s OUT THERE.

ANDERSON: Now, that is a hard one to answer. I remember reading the script and thinking this is cool. The fact that Clyde saw the murders, and then his own, and then to accept it. That ultimately is it, isn’t it? To accept what you think you cannot change and then by accepting it, making it unchangeable?

CASSINI: I do agree with fate and that certain events cannot be pre-determined. Destiny has it’s own course. In the case of Clyde, he had a gift to pre-pre-determine, which shows us it’s better to not know, because in Clyde, we saw the effort and pain it cost him. The responsibility is too much to endure. He would mix things up which added to the humor, but when he did get it, it was very powerful. Great writing!

CHARNO: Fate — or the assumption that things that happen, had to happen, I see as both true and false. We’re all, both, out of our control, and completely in our control. I call this simuntaneous truth of opposites, “wiggle room.” It’s the amount of variation from one’s natural, built-in habits, that’s also, built in. “Wiggle room” is why some people can stop smoking, or lose weight, or change any behavior, and also explains why it’s SO difficult to change. The way a human is built, certain behaviors are automatic, or controllable. Breathing , blinking or swallowing, are examples, as is thinking. These things will go on naturally, or they can be controlled a little bit. Wiggle room. So fate will determine your life, AND you’re in complete control, at the same time.

Below are screen captures of Anderson, Cassini, and Charno:

This Is Who We Are: Patrick Harbinson interview

This Is Who We Are
Patrick Harbinson interview

[Original article here]

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Writer Patrick Harbinson manages to juggle writing duties in both Hollywood and the UK. An ex-soldier, he served his writing apprenticeship penning episodes of Soldier Soldier and Heartbeat before moving out to Hollywood in 1995. Writing gigs followed on Millennium, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, E.R., James Cameron’s Dark Angel and 24. Patricks’s most recent TV credits are for the ITV firefighting drama Steel River Blues, Red Cap and the world-wide British born success “Wire In The Blood”. Patrick agreed to talk exclusively to TIWWA about his time on Millennium and I know you will all join with me in expressing your gratitude to him for taking time out of his busy schedule.

TIWWA: You remained with “Millennium”, in some capacity, for the three seasons of its existence and three seasons which saw a number of changes to the shows thematic as well as the coming and going of characters and showrunners. How do you view the experience of Millennium as a whole in retrospect and what were the notable successes of the show in your opinion?

PATRICK HARBINSON: was only on the ‘staff’ of Millennium for its third and last year. I wrote – co-wrote in fact with Bobby Moresco – an episode in the first season, but I wasn’t on staff then. I had worked with Bobby on a short-lived but critically successful drama series called EZ Streets, created and run by Paul Haggis (Oscar winner for Crash). When EZ Streets died, Chris Carter hauled Bobby onto Millennium and Bobby then called me and asked if I had any ideas. I did. So I wrote one episode in that year, and then, as I said, came on staff for the third year.

Changes? My impression of the first year was of a show struggling for identity after its extraordinary opening. I remember someone (who was closely involved with the show) saying that Millennium’s initial success on the back of massive publicity – new show from the creator of the X-Files, etc. – was the worst thing that could have happened to it, because it created an expectation of great things – among fans and Fox executives – that few shows could have sustained. So by the time I turned up with a story about horses they were quite glad to have something that wasn’t about serial killers – though of course it was. I had nothing to do with the second year so can’t comment on that. Third year, once Chip Johannessen took over the reins fully from Michael Duggan, the series became a gentler, more mysterious, more enquiring animal. If any TV series could be said to have aspired to magic realism it was Millennium.

Most of this change – in year 3 – was down to Chip. Once I found my feet on the show, I loved what I was able to write – what Chip encouraged me to write – and it is still one of the highlights of my career.

TIWWA: Many members of the cast and crew hold “Millennium” in high regard and consider it to be a particular high-point of their careers. It has been espoused that people knew they were making ‘something special’ at the time. Do you concur with this and what do you believe it was that made “Millennium” such a unique experience?

PH: Yes, it was an unique experience, but I don’t think that, at the time, I realised quite how unique. I certainly haven’t had the same freedom to experiment in anything I’ve done for US television – for any television since.

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TIWWA: You wrote the first season episode, “Broken World” which is widely regarded to be an episode that attempted to explore the boundaries of what could be achieved within the remit of “Millennium” as well as being evidence to counter the ‘serial killer of the week’ label which some critics attached to it. Was it a conscious decision to play with the format a little and how easy was it to be creative with the format and were writers encouraged to do that?

PH: I walked into Millennium rather innocently, having seen the pilot and a few episodes, but not really having much idea of its political or creative currents and stresses. What I did have though was a rough story based on some particularly nasty crimes that were happening in England around that time – I guess it must have been 1995, 96? – which involved the mutilation of horses. I was a. appalled, b. deeply curious, as to the ‘why’ of it all. Then I discovered, as any crime writer soon will, that according to the rubric, cruelty to animals is one of the indicators of a potential serial killer. So I thought what if Frank Black is drawn to this crime (non-human victims notwithstanding) because he recognises the darkness in it.

Then, researching deeper, looking to relocate it to the US, I came across the pregnant mare farms, the whole PMU thing, and I thought, bloody hell, this really is weird. And from that an episode emerged, which I pitched to Bobby, then, with his support, pitched to Chris Carter, and after some of the usual story struggles, Chris said Okay, write it. If I hadn’t been teamed with Bobby M at that stage I doubt Chris would have let me go with it on my own, so without Bobby it would never have happened. Also, I think – though I don’t know – that they were beginning to struggle for stories, so this idea was something of a relief.

Did it encourage others to be creative with the format? I don’t know. It certainly showed me how elastic the show could be, and it taught me the invaluable lesson that the deeper you dig into a story the more you’re going to learn, the richer your script is going to be. Broken World eventually won a Genesis Award. I was proud of that.

TIWWA: I know various statements have been made over the years that Fox desired thematic changes to the second season of the show and Glen Morgan and James Wong did their best to accommodate their dictates whilst fighting against some they didn’t agree with. Is it difficult for a production team to work on a show that has established a format but is facing outside interference in terms of its continuing direction?

PH: Yes, it’s a nightmare when you and the network have different ideas about the show, or different expectations, But I thought some of what Morgan and Wong did – I didn’t watch the whole Season – was extraordinary. The trouble with Millennium is that the format was/is somewhat limited, and the arc of Frank Blank ‘seeing his way’ through crime after gruesome crime could become familiar – to the writers as much as the audience. If you consider a show like Criminal Minds which functions in the same arena and has had enormous success for – I think – at least six years, twice Millennium’s run, you’ll see that the creators have stocked the show with a large regular cast so that the interplay of character and relationships among the regulars becomes as important for the viewer as the actual crimes those regulars are investigating.

TIWWA: When production began on the third season of the show, Michael Duggan was the showrunner but he left fairly early on into the third season leaving Chip Johannessen to pick up where he left off. Is it easy for a production team to adapt when a show loses ‘the hand at the rudder’ and do you recall the transition from one showrunner to the other to be a relatively seamless affair?

PH: Not entirely seamless for me personally in that Michael had brought me onto the show, and by the time he left I hadn’t really developed a relationship, personal or creative, with Chip. So once Michael had gone – he’d only wanted to be a transitional figure anyway – there was, for me, an uneasy couple of months as I tried to establish myself, and work out Chip’s story-telling style. As it turned out my sensibilities were much closer to Chip’s than anyone else I have ever worked with, but that was not immediately apparent – to either of us. In fact, Through a Glass, Darkly, my first script, was sliding alarmingly down the filming order, and it was only when Chris Carter – rather arbitrarily – threw out another script and asked what else was ready, that my script got onto the schedule. But after that it was all fine and dandy.

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TIWWA: “The Sound of Snow” is rightly considered one of the finest episodes “Millennium” and fans have often wondered why it took so long to resolve Frank and Catherine’s story considering the state of their relationship when Megan Gallagher left the show. Was it a bitter-sweet experience to know that Megan would be returning albeit for a single episode and a daunting one considering the level of anticipation there would be for such a story?

PH: I had no idea it was thought of so highly, that’s nice… But this episode arose entirely out of my efforts – almost literally – to go into stream-of-consciousness story-telling and just see where it ended up. So I started with a girl driving down a forest road and she puts a tape in the tape deck – it was the 90s – and there’s this gentle hiss, and then it starts to snow, and she drives on thinking how pretty, but then she starts to hear the flakes hitting the windscreen, and it’s weird, and then scary, and they’re getting louder, and louder, and then one cracks the windscreen, and… etc. etc. I was doing stuff, coming up with stuff, just to see if I could keep Chip (and Ken Horton – Ken was always there) listening, not interrupting, waiting to see what would happen next.

If someone were to analyse seriously the genius of Chris Carter’s story-telling, it’s that: keep your audience suspendeded in the dark waiting to see what happens next. Anyway, after that came the struggle to make it all mean something, relate it to Frank, find an episode in it. And I realised, after several weeks’ uncertainty, that these mysterious cassettes were a kind of consciousness-enhancer, sending their listener into a quasi-hypnotic state where the past became physical, real. So I asked Chip and Ken if we could bring Megan back, and they said okay, and we had our story, and I was able to resolve one of the big unanswered questions of the series. Was it daunting, the Megan part of it? If I’d been asked to write an episode specifically resolving the Megan/Frank relationship, that would have been daunting, but as it was, coming at it backwards, as it were, it seemed simple, logical, and right. I was simply finding closure for her, for us.

TIWWA: Another particularly well received episode is “Darwin’s Eye” which is a superb concept that really toys with the viewer in making them perceive a conspiracy, in true “Millennium” style, when no conspiracy exists. Could you give us some insight into how you conceived of the story and what the inspirations behind it were?

PH: Once I’d finished an episode I would immediately start the area into odd areas of research, odd reading, to try and find the germ of the next idea – you see how far we’d come from serial killers. At the time of Darwin’s Eye, I’d just finished – entirely by chance – a biography of Darwin, and I’d come across the fact that Darwin was worried about the eye – that it didn’t quite fit with his theory of evolution, And pondering all this – without smoking anything – I found this voice saying: ‘So you start with the primal ooze… and you end up with Hitler, Mozart, me…’ Anyway, I put a face to the voice and the whole thing just snowballed into this story of a paranoid girl – victim or psycho, who knows? – and her journey towards justice, or retribution. And I married this exercise in (false?) paranoia with Klea Scott’s story of (true?) paranoia – origami, wooden boxes, her father folding her sister’s face into flowers, palms in the nuclear wind. I really wasn’t smoking anything, but it was for me one of the most exciting and surprising writing experiences I’ve ever had. Ken Fink directed brilliantly. Tracy Middendorf was great. Does it actually add up to anything? I don’t know, but it was a wonderful ride and couldn’t have happened on any other show.

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TIWWA: When you approached the script of “Via Dolorosa” were you aware at the time that you penning the beginning of the end, so to speak, and how conscious were you of affording the fans closure if that was the case? Am I right in thinking that people were still unsure as to the fate of the series until relatively late in third season?

PH: I don’t remember a lot about Via Dolorosa which I wrote with another friend Marjorie David. But I think we felt that the show was coming to an end. Though the fractured free-form style of Season 3 led to many lovely episodes, especially Chip’s, it could be confusing, indeed irritating, to the audience. So, by the time we were writing Via Dolorosa, yes, I think we thought it was heading for the finish.

TIWWA: I was a huge admirer of “Wire In The Blood” and I know “Millennium fans” who appreciate the series consider it a British equivalent of “Millennium” in the sense that there were tangible similarities between the two shows and a similar high quality of story telling and production. Did you as writer perceive the similarities in the way some viewers did and how do you compare working on a “Wire In The Blood” script to penning an episode of “Millennium”?

PH: If anyone’s read Val McDermid’s Wire in the Blood novels, the first of which is The Mermaids Singing, they’ll see that the Tony Hill (Robson Greene) character is quite serious, quite dark, quite flawed. It was the awareness not only of Robson’s last big English role, Touching Evil, but also of Lance’s character in Millennium, that made me change – or argue that we should change, and happily people agreed – the character of Tony Hill and make him, well, funny, clumsy, muttering, almost autistic, in everything except his perceptions, his analyses.

I knew how funny Robson could be as an actor, so I knew he could do it, and I think this humour was a big part of the show’s success in the UK and abroad. So Millennium was really important in that it told me I couldn’t hope – didn’t want to – replicate Frank Black in a UK context. As far as I remember, in the first script I had very little – if any – of Robson ‘seeing what the killer sees’ – those Frank Black flashes that were a signature of Millennium. What I replaced them with was genuine forensic psychology, which led to crash courses in criminal psychology for me, and much horrible trawling through crime scene books, true crime stories. To be honest, I was deeply uncertain as to whether Wire in the Blood would succeed; it had a gothic gore to it that was even beyond what we’d done on Millennium, and I wasn’t sure that Robson and Hermione would be enough to lift it. But the series was beautifully made by Coastal Productions, and could be more daring in its direction, its editing, its use of sex and violence, than Millennium.

Compare writing experiences? Once I knew what I was doing, could do, on Millennium it was actually great fun. Writing Wire in the Blood was always tough – partly because it’s 100 plus minutes rather than 43, the stories had to go a bit deeper and a bit darker into uncomfortable places – if they were to be any good, that is. Also, and this might not seem significant but it was: Millennium was intensely visual as a writing experience, we’d almost challenge each other to go for pages without a word of dialogue – partly because Lance was so powerful as a non-verbal actor, partly because it was just cool. Whereas Wire in the Blood could be – at least in my scripts, at least in the Robson scenes – literally crammed with words: I wanted Robson almost never to stop talking, even to himself – not that it couldn’t be visual too, but words were more important: our lead character was a doctor, I wanted him always to be wrestling with words, trying to explain the inexplicable.

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TIWWA: “Prayer of the Bone” (“Wire In The Blood”) and “Through A Glass Darkly” both share a similar central theme in that the audience, and the protagonist, initially believe an innocent man to be guilty of a crime and deserving of the punishment that has been dispensed. One thing I enjoy about your writing is that the viewer can never be complacent with the narrative and the truths of it are often subverted a number of times during the course of our journey to understanding it. Do you enjoy keeping viewers on their toes and dealing, often, with moral ambiguities?

PH: Yes. See my comment on Chris Carter: Keep the audience in suspense, then surprise their expectations, reverse the narrative flow. What I think (hope) I’ve discovered since is that if I can also confound our prejudices, our instinctive rushes to judgement, then the story really becomes interesting, not just an exercise in narrative trickery. Prayer of the Bone, Through a Glass, Darkly, even Wounded Surgeon (another Wire in the Blood) are all about suggestibility: the vulnerability of the criminal – who most of the time is, to put it mildly, educationally challenged, not the hyper-cunning serial killer – to the tender mercies of the police, the lawyer, the doctor, the psychiatrist. I just wanted – want – to be able to remind people that even when they think they know, they don’t.

TIWWA: For admirers of your work, can we ask what the future holds for the continuing career of Patrick Harbinson?

PH: Murder and mayhem, probably.

TIWWA: I wanted to conclude by thanking you for taking the time to speak to us and we wish you every continued success in the future.

PH: Thank you! Best wishes to all.

This Is Who We Are: Dean Haglund and Mark Snow come to TIWWA

This Is Who We Are
Dean Haglund and Mark Snow come to TIWWA

[Original article here]

Dean Haglund needs no introduction and in the time honoured tradition of then going on to give one that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Dean (born July 29, 1965) is a Canadian actor known for the role of Richard “Ringo” Langly, one of the Lone Gunmen on The X-Files. Haglund is also a stand-up comedian, specializing in improvisational comedy (formerly with Vancouver TheatreSports League.) Dean also portrayed Langly in the spin-off The Lone Gunmen, which aired thirteen episodes in 2001. As La La Land Records and Mark Snow have released a superb double-disc release featuring Mark’s compositions from the show I wanted to use the opportunity to celebrate a show I recall with great fondness. My gratitude, of course, to Dean for giving of his time so freely. As he would no doubt say himself, enjoy the Dean-ness.

TIWWA: If we could begin by taking you back to the time when your involvement with Ten Thirteen Productions began. Do you think that people are more or less paranoid than they were in the 1990s when the “The X-Files” was at its peak? Are there more reasons to worry now than back then?

DEAN HAGLUND: I think that we are more “informed” now than before, because of the internet providing more “information” than it did back then, but I put that in quotes because in this info tsunami we live in, any idea can be backed up by a web site that spouts exactly the same idea, regardless of how unfounded the idea to be. So therefore, the paranoid idea will have a echo back which will build it into a movement. I think of the ‘birther’s movement’ as such an example. The other side of the coin is that also individuals who know the truth can get that truth out there to a larger audience faster than before. So as more whistleblowers come forward, the worry is that one’s filter has to be razor sharp to know what to follow and what is useless.

TIWWA: When you were cast in “EBE”, along with your fellow gunmen, I believe it was the positive reaction of the fans that secured the characters recurring roles. Whilst the fans could evidently see the potential of the characters I wondered if the production team, or yourselves, realised at the time that something magical had been created in that episode? At what point did you realise (or get told) that your role of Langly would be a recurring one?

DH: We never really realized it till maybe Season 4 or 5 where we got to do “Unusual Suspects.” After Deep Throat and X were both killed off it seemed that none of the recurring characters could boast that we were sticking around. Chris Carter always kept you guessing.
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TIWWA: I was interested to learn that you disliked how the “The X-Files” subsequently developed from a cult show to something more mainstream can you explain why that is?

DH: It is not that I disliked it, so much as the pressure from executives increased as it gathered mainstream momentum. That caused the writers to battle with them instead of focussing on the stories and the later seasons seemed to be a testament that. The writers and producers split focus at that point, and it became tougher on everyone involved. I understand that is typical to all series and why some succeed is that there is a person who takes the brunt of that and gives space to the rest of the creative team.

TIWWA: Due to the success of your characters within that show you were given your own show back in June 2001. At the time the show was being developed did you have any trepidation at all about taking the characters out of their comfort zone and into new territory? Did you have any input into how the show was being developed and the direction it would take?

DH: No, we really didn’t have input on the show or its development, which is probably for the best. It is hard to have the proper perspective when you are acting day to day on a series. I was not worried at all of taking the characters out of their comfort zone because I think that we had already made incredible backstories for ourselves that it was kind of relief to finally learn what else these guys did other than help Mulder all the time.
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TIWWA: When The Lone Gunmen essentially became a quartet with the introduction of Jimmy Bond I am aware that Stephen Snedden was concerned about how this would effect the established dynamic of the team. What was the feeling amongst the three of you about the addition of a new character and how do you view Stephen and Zuleikha’s contributions to the show in retrospect?

DH: I loved them coming into the show. Bond provided the way the audience could relate to the our geek talk, and Yves’ character gave us the international scope so that we didn’t seem like we three were only affecting local politics and community actions.

TIWWA: A number of “The X-Files” cast had the opportunity to pen episodes on that show that allowed them to showcase their characters in a personally pleasing way. Was this something you would have liked to have had the opportunity to do during the run of “The Lone Gunmen” and what story would you have liked to have told with regards to Richard Langly?

DH: Had the show gone on to the second season there was a chance for us to add more to the show. Tom Braidwood was poised to direct an episode and I was talking to Pam Anderson to appear as herself in the show where she comes to Gunmen to help hide her. She was really into the idea.

TIWWA: One particularly well received episode of “The Lone Gunmen” was “Like Water for Octane” in which a car was created that was powered by water, the conspiracy theory being that the oil companies/governments had involvement. Did you like the premise of this episode and if one day a commercially available water powered car was invented, how do you think our world would change in terms of impact and how do you think the oil companies would react?

DH: I think of it in the same terms as Tesla’s “free energy”. At the time , the word ‘free’ worried Edison and the investors so they went out of the way to suppress the technology. It turns out that the corporate powers just had to learn how to meter and charge money for this service, and that free energy is the basis for our cell phone service. So it is just a matter of learning how to charge for water and we will have water powered cars. And just keep an eye next few years as the privatization of our water supply continues as they demonize the civil infrastructure currently in place. See my up coming documentary “the Truth is Out There” for more about that.
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TIWWA: As the show continued to air I know a great many of us felt that it wasn’t receiving the support it needed from 20th Century Fox. Were you aware of how the show was being received by the studio and would you agree with the fans that their support wasn’t adequate? I know Stephen explained that he felt they simply didn’t understand the show, would you agree with this?

DH: At that point, the tension between the executives and Ten Thirteen was pretty high so no one was doing any favors for each other. So whether they understood it or not didn’t really matter as to what filtered down to the day the day operations with other departments in the Fox building.

TIWWA: At what point did you learn that the show was to be cancelled and how was this news received by the cast and crew?

DH: I heard it from my lawyer at a Deli, so I was around the rest of the gang when I found out. By the time I saw everyone again, so much time had passed, that we never really discussed it again. In fact, the whole story is told in my comic book “Why the Lone Gunmen was Cancelled” which is available on my website – true story written and DRAWN by me.

TIWWA: Given the blow of having the show cancelled I would imagine the news that the Lone Gunmen were to be killed was another blow? I know Zuleikha and Stephen voiced criticism at the time of this decision I wondered how Tom, Bruce and yourself reacted to this news? A significant portion of fans still feel that this was a mistake, despite the decision not being something that was taken lightly, would you agree with them?

DH: No, I think that is was a great thing to do. It was better to go out in a blaze of glory that to us just help Mulder on last time and then walk off into the sunset with a hobo bag on a stick over our shoulders. Plus the show was lacking some emotional gravity at times, and this was an opportunity to give the fans a resonate episode to remember why you stuck with it for nine seasons.
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TIWWA: I’m hoping that there is some way you gentlemen can make an appearance in the third X-Files film if there is to be one as it wouldn’t be the same without you. On that note I am sure you are aware that the reception to the second film was mixed and I wondered if you had seen it and what your own feelings on it were?

DH: I think that there is ALWAYS a way for us to appear in another film. As for the second film, I tend to like a little more political intrigue in my story telling and I think that at the height of the Bush regime not to involve some of that evil skull drudgery into a story was unfortunate, but I understand the limitations that Chris and Frank were working under so I can’t fault them too much.

TIWWA: I know you have written the comic, “Why The Lone Gunmen Were Cancelled” and have gone on to express your desire to revisit the characters in other media. With Frank Spotnitz and Gabe Rotter writing another series of the X-Files comic for Wildstorm is this something you would like to pursueand are you still working on “Back from the Dead”?

DH: Absolutely. I would love to add to that, and Back from the Dead is very much alive. But that is all I can say at the moment.

TIWWA: You have a very popular podcast and continue to be active in the industry and I wondered if you could share with our readers the best way to keep abreast of your news and what to look out for in the future?

DH: The ChillPak hollywood hour is definitely the best way to hear what is going on with our production company and of course Facebook. But I recently re-did the web site and I’m trying to congeal all of it into one seamless platform of Dean-ness, but I am only one man and all my programming skills are from the 90’s. So if anyone has got any time and mad skills out there let me know.

TIWWA: May I express my gratitude for taking the time to talk to us and may we wish you all the very best for the future.

DH: Pleasure is mine.

London Film & Comic Con 2010: William B. Davis Interview

London Film & Comic Con 2010
William B. Davis Interview
Russell Nelson (Leicester Square TV)


EatTheCorn’s interview database

Welcome to EatTheCorn’s interview database!

This is part of the website

Here you will find an archive of interviews of Ten Thirteen cast and crew. This is a work in progress and will continue to be so until all interviews have been archived! New material is added constantly.

This is how many interviews are archived so far in this database, by year, from the birth of Ten Thirteen to today:

1993 (11)
1994 (15)
1995 (14)
1996 (21)
1997 (9)
1998 (59)
1999 (52)
2000 (71)
2001 (49)
2002 (65)
2003 (2)
2004 (4)
2005 (1)
2007 (2)
2008 (34)
2009 (8)
2010 (10)
2011 (15)
2012 (32)
2013 (10)

This is a collaborative project for the entire Ten Thirteen fandom!

You can use this post for general comments.

HoboTrashcan: One on One with Alan Dale

One on One with Alan Dale
Joel Murphy

[Original article here]

Based on the characters he plays on TV, you probably think Alan Dale is an intimidating jerk. It turns out that that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The New Zealand actor best known in America for his roles on The O.C., 24, Ugly Betty and Lost is actually a nice guy in real life. Luckily, this popular misconception doesn’t bother Dale too much since it affords him a certain amount of privacy.

We recently had to opportunity to sit down with Dale and pleasantly chat about the final season of Lost, his tragic history of on-screen heart attacks and his sweet 1970s afro.

How did you get into acting? When did you decide it’s what you wanted to do for a living?

I was probably in my 20s when I decided that’s what I wanted to do, but I had been doing it for years because my parents were involved in amateur theatre in New Zealand, where I grew up. They and some friends built a little theater at one point. I used to go in there and sneakily smoke cigarettes behind the sets and wind the wind machine when it was required and get involved. It was a place that I enjoyed.

When I got to my 20s, I was messing around. I sold cars and real estate, then I went back to university to do a law degree. And one day I thought, “I can be a lawyer or a judge. I can be a doctor or just be an actor. I’ll do it all.”

Did you work steadily as an actor early on or were you doing other things besides acting?

It was an odd thing because I was married at the time and I said to my wife, “Look, I’ve decided this is what I want to do” and in New Zealand, the population at the time was three million people – there wasn’t going to be much chance of making a living. But I did, for some reason. Fairly shortly afterward, I got a role in a series that lasted about nine months. Then I did have a period of a few months out of work, so I went to Australia and almost immediately went into a series there that lasted for three and a half years.

I also did a bit of radio along the way, so that was the sort of thing I used to do to fill in the gap. So I really had a good time, to be honest.

What made you decide to move to the United States? Did you come here to pursue an acting career?

It was for acting. I had been in a series that was very big in Australia, a series called Neighbours. Neighbours was a hit in Europe and Asia and Australia and New Zealand and I’d been in that for eight and a half years. That character that I played meant that it was very difficult for me to get a role in anything else in Australia.

So I fiddled around with it for a while, then in 1999, I did a movie of the week called First Daughter – an American movie made in Australia. I played the chief of Presidential security. I overheard the producer talking about what they were paying one of the American actors and I thought, “He’s getting about 10 times what I’m getting, I should go to America.” So I just picked up my wife and we had a two year old at the time and we just came across to see what would happen. It’s been fantastic, so that’s why I came and we find ourselves living here in California and very happy.

Three of your big American roles have been Vice President Jim Prescott on 24, Caleb Nichols on The O.C. and Charles Widmore on Lost, all of whom are powerful, tough men. Why do you think you keep getting cast in these types of roles?

Good question. I think part of it is because I can’t play the juvenile lead anymore. (Laughs.) I look like I do. It is interesting because before I came here, I didn’t play this sort of role very often in Australia. I became famous in Australia and New Zealand and England for this role in Neighbours where I was Australia’s most beloved father, really. But that was me when I was younger and I had hair and [this type or role] just seems to be the one that I’ve fallen into. I have tried out for other roles, but this is the one I seem to always get. So what do you do? It’s a living.

Three of your best known characters – Jim Robinson on Neighbours, Caleb Nichol on The O.C. and Bradford Meade in Ugly Betty were written out of their shows through fatal heart attacks.

It’s terrible. I think I should go into the Guinness Book of Records as the actor who has had the most heart attacks on television.

It’s got to be a little disconcerting.

(Laughs.) Well, I do wonder if that’s how I’m going to go.

If so, it will undoubtedly be a fantastic scene.

Well, yes and I’m hoping the cameras are rolling.

How did you end up with the role of Charles Widmore on Lost and were you a fan of the show before becoming a part of it?

I was. I had just been cast as Bradford Meade in Ugly Betty. I think we’d made the pilot and I’d just come back. I think we were still waiting to see if the pilot was going to be picked up and this role came up. I went to see the casting people and got the role. As far as I knew, it was just one episode. I didn’t know that it was going to continue on right through to the end of the series. But that was it. And they were looking for someone to play an Englishman. Well, in the end, he mostly sort of has my accent more than an English accent now, but these things evolve.

But that’s how it happened. It really was just one of those things. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to stay and in the end in 2008 I went to London and played the lead in Spamalot on the West End for five months. They had to come to London to shoot scenes with me because I couldn’t take the time off to come back to Hawaii. Each step along the way, I haven’t know that I was going to be in it for the next season, but it just has turned out that way. So that’s good.

Alan Dale

When did you start to discover how important your character was to the mythology of the show? Was it just as you were getting the scripts and reading them or did they ever pull you aside and explain their plan for your character?

They have never explained anything to me. I still don’t know if I’m a good guy or a bad guy. But I’ve had calls from publicists and people like that. I remember my publicist ringing me and screaming down the phone. I’d done this one scene in the back of a Bentley in a factory parking lot in Waikiki. They had a hose and they were spraying down the car trying to make it look like England. I came home and it went on air and this publicist girl that I had been working with rang me and she said, “You’re the man. You’re the one behind the whole thing.”

I said, “I can’t be. I’ve only done one scene, what are you talking about?”

And so, she sort of explained and it looked for a long time like I was. I still don’t know if that’s true.

You mentioned being a fan of the show. Do you go on websites and read theories or do you just take the information as it comes and try not to worry about it too much?

Well, I worry about it because I do think it effects how you play the role – knowing where you came from and where you’re going and things. And I find that disconcerting. But, at the same time, there isn’t anything I can do about it.

The writers and producers had a thing where people paid $35 a head and spent the day with them and they told them what they wanted to hear, a few weeks ago. It was written up in the press and I read that. During that, Jack Bender, one of the executive producers and one of the directors of the show, was laughing about the fact that I was particularly difficult about it. Most other actors just put up with it. But I keep on about it because “Why am I doing this scene? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Am I trying to kill this guy or am I here trying to save him? What am I doing?”

They tell you only just enough, on this show, for you to do the job. It has been a bit frustrating, I have to say. But, on the other hand, it’s funny and fun and it’s nearly over. It’s been a great ride.

Have you drawn any conclusions about Charles Widmore? How do you view the character?

As far as I know, I’ve finished on the show. But they’ve still got two more episodes to shoot. I don’t even know if they’re going to want me to go back or if that is it for me. And as I say it to you, I still don’t if I’m a good guy or a bad guy. That’s the truth about what I know about it.

I’d love to be able to tell you more. And I’m asked this all the time and sometimes people get very frustrated with me. And I sometimes come up with convoluted answers to try to help and end up with terrible things happening.

If you have a minute, I have an example. In London a couple of years ago when I’d gone across to there to do a miniseries, I was doing publicity for it and there was one of those junkets where the journalists came in out of the room and I sat in this room. For two hours, I sat there. At the last one, I was finished and they were finished and we were putting our coats on because it was cold and we were about to leave. As we were walking out the door, the woman said to me, “So tell me about Lost.”

And I said, “I can’t really tell you anything about Lost.”

She said, “Why not?”

I said, “Well, I sort of stopped watching it really.” I said it tongue-in-cheek. I said, “After you watch them walking through the jungle a thousand times, you sort of wonder why you’re watching it. Then a cloud came out of jungle, picked up an African American man, threw him against the tree and killed him. And I said to myself, ‘Well, I don’t think I should watch it anymore.’” That’s what I said, just joking and chuckling and walking down the hallway. The next day, the headline in that paper was: “Lost star commits career suicide.” So you’ve got to be careful what you say.

But there’s not much to say because they really don’t tell us, you know?

You mentioned that you think you might be done filming the show. Did you get a sense of closure in the episodes you filmed? Did you walk away feeling that if you didn’t come back your character’s story arc is complete?

No, but again, you’ll have to understand I only get to read the episodes that I’m in, so I don’t see any other ones. So anything that hasn’t been on air yet, I don’t know actually what happens in those episodes that I’m not in. So the honest answer to that is no, I didn’t get that feeling. In fact, I thought, “Gosh, if that’s it, I still don’t know if I’m a good guy or a bad guy, so I don’t know what it was all about.” I’m hoping that when I sit and watch it, and I am watching it, that when it comes to the end, it will all be clear. But at the moment, I have no idea.

David S. Lee played Young Charles Widmore on the show. Do you think he did a good job playing a younger you?

They wanted to know what I looked like when I was young, so I sent pictures of then. If you go online onto YouTube, you’ll see in 1979 I did a Schick razor commercial and I had long curly hair, sort of like an afro. So they got a guy that had long, curly hair to play me. I met him, but he was a bit distant with me. (Laughs.) I don’t know why.

But I don’t know whether that’s me. It’s very difficult to tell whether that’s you or not.

The battle between Charles Widmore and Benjamin Linus has become integral to the show’s mythology. What is it like doing those scenes with Michael Emerson, particularly the one you mentioned where they came out to London to film that confrontation in Widmore’s flat?

First of all, suddenly Charles Widmore had a beard because I was playing King Arthur and he had a beard.

Michael’s a very nice guy. Really. And we really enjoy it, actually, because it’s quite intense. The scenes are intense. Truthfully, he knows a bit more than I do because he’s a regular on the series and I’m more a recurring character, so he lives there and he’s more immersed in it. But still, I don’t think he’s much more aware of whether he’s the good guy or I am.

But all we do is we get in there and he’s got those eyes and he stares at me and I stare back at him and we just go for it. That part’s really fun. Getting the job is the work. Playing the character, you’d do it for nothing. It’s fun.

Is there a different vibe for you this season actually being on the island?

Not quite as much as you’d expect because I’m actually on Oahu when I’m shooting most of those scenes anyway. But I have to say that my feeling about going to Hawaii changed considerably when I went to the North Shore for the first time to do some of those scenes last season – when I was taken down the jetty and put on the submarine when I was thrown off the island and a couple of other scenes I did. When I got to see that part of the island, I started to fall in love with the place. I’m very sad that it’s over, from that point of view. It’s a very beautiful place to go.

Alan Dale

Obviously, there is a big battle on the horizon between your character and the smoke monster character. Is there anything fans should be looking out for or things we can expect to see in the coming weeks?

I think just that. I’m hoping that it doesn’t end up being a damp squib. I’m concerned that fans might chase me down the street with meat cleavers if the questions aren’t all answered. But I have a feeling that they aren’t all going to be answered. So I’m not sure how it’s going to go.

Have you given any thought into how you would like the show to end or what questions you would like to see answered? Or is that not something you really worry about?

It isn’t really, to be honest. No, I don’t.

All I can say is it seems to be building towards some of a big event at the end and I don’t know what that event’s going to be. But it seems to be. But I can’t say anymore about that because that would be unfair. They’re so protective.

I was in the show The X-Files the last seven episodes playing The Toothpick Man. It was an interesting thing. We actually shot the final scene. They completely built the Oval Office and I was in the Oval Office with President Bush – they got that famous guy that’s a Bush lookalike and they cast him in it – and we did this scene, the end of The X-Files, which in the end they didn’t use. And I think they did seven different scenes like that and then decided which one to use so no one could guess how it was going to end. And I’m not sure that that’s not what they’re going to do here too. I don’t know that it is. So I think they’re being very careful to make sure that nobody knows how it’s going to end.

And I’ve talked to Matthew Fox, he doesn’t seem to know. If he doesn’t know, probably nobody does. Certainly Terry [O’Quinn] doesn’t know.

Do you and the other actors toss theories back and forth and try to figure this stuff out on your own?

It’s a little like working in an ice cream factory. You don’t probably eat that much ice cream when you do. I think when we’re finished, we’re happy to go and pour a glass of wine and talk about the football.

Do you get recognized a lot by fans because of Lost?

It’s interesting because when I played that character in Australia all those years, people used to hurl comments at me from cars and things. Now, they don’t do that so much because they’re not quite sure if this guy is likely to rip their head and do something dreadful to them. They tend to stand back with me a little bit with me now and I quite like that.

So playing these bad ass characters has helped you out a bit?

It does. It definitely does, in that way, yes.

What other projects do you have in the works? What’s on the horizon for you?

I just finished a movie called Earthbound with Kate Hudson and Kathy Bates and Whoopi Goldberg. And a couple other roles. They’re not huge roles, but they’re movie roles. I’m sort of hoping to move into that area a bit.

And I must admit, I’m actually very tired, so if I end up with a month or so off, it won’t be a bad thing. I’ve been to New Orleans three times and Hawaii three times in the last six weeks, so you get rather tired from it. I’m just recovering.

Have you put any thought into what types of roles you would like to play? Would you like to do something different?

Yes, I have. I would really love to do a sitcom. And I had a lot of fun when I did Spamalot in London. I don’t know if you ever saw the musical Spamalot, which was Monty Python, it was very, very funny and fun to do. I actually did a pilot for a sitcom a few years ago – I played a gay English butler – it looked like it might go, but it ended up not going. That’s something I’d love to do. But whether I get the opportunity is … it’s one of those things, I often listen to these actors talking about how they choose the roles they play. I’m always a bit bemused because I know how I choose mine – they’re the ones I’m offered. (Laughs.) “That means income, you know?” “Oh, okay.”

I think I have turned one or two roles down. I’ve got four sons and two of them are little. I really don’t want to play child molesters or those sorts of characters. So I have turned those sorts of roles down. But apart from that, usually the roles I play are the ones that I’m offered.

What would you be doing for a living if you never got into acting?

I actually was quite good at selling cars. As quite a young man, my early 20s, I was the manager of a Nissan dealership in New Zealand. I was quite good at that and I didn’t mind it. I love cars, so I quite enjoyed that. Looking back, that’s probably what I would have done.

But apart from that, I have to admit once I started working as an actor, I have never regretted it. When they ask you to fill out the form that says occupation and I put “actor,” I love it.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you.

I played rugby as a sport and I played at just under the All Blacks level in New Zealand. I played for Auckland and for Wellington. That is one of my great passions. That might be something, I suppose.

There isn’t very much. Sadly, when you’ve been in the public eye for a long time, the public knows everything, even your age. I often meet people who hide how old they are, but I don’t have the option of that. They found out how old I was when I was young and it didn’t matter and they just add a year each year.

What does the future hold for you?

I don’t really know, to be honest. I think that’s one of the joys, though, of life. I think most people think that their safe when they’re employed by someone. They think life is safe. But life isn’t safe and in the business that I’m in – and you’re in, our business – you can be out of work tomorrow. It’s quite an exciting place to be. I don’t have any idea and that’s probably a good thing.

Alan Dale

Interviewed by Joel Murphy. The final season of Lost airs Tuesday nights on ABC, but you probably already knew that.

Kodak InCamera Web Exclusives: The Cinema History Behind ABC’s Castle

Kodak InCamera Web Exclusives: The Cinema History Behind ABC’s Castle

[Original article here]

Rob Bowman has television in his blood. His father, Chuck Bowman, directed and produced hundreds of hours of prime time television, working on hit shows like Jake and the Fatman, Alien Nation, The Incredible Hulk, and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

“My father grew up in the Midwest and he used the movies as an escape,” says the younger Bowman. “He knew all the directors, actors, producers and studios, and discussing the filmmaking craft was normal dinner conversation in our house. We grew up with an awareness of how many craftspeople it took behind the scenes to make the magic that appeared on the screen. We also knew that when it was done right all that hard work becomes invisible, and what remains are the emotions and the drama of the story and the characters. What remains is the magic.”

The elder Bowman made documentaries and local commercials, and Rob tagged along from an early age, holding a reflector or loading the camera. Eventually the family moved to Burbank, and while the father became a successful television director and producer, the son hung out at the video store and became an expert on the history of motion pictures.

“My goal was to see and understand exactly what my heroes did,” says Rob. “I think the most exciting aspect was seeing how each director used the exact same tools to construct their own incredibly distinct aesthetic. I learned early on that to be successful as a director, you had to have your own signature. Otherwise, why hire one person over another? Just by watching all these movies and seeing what I responded to, I’d started to develop my own aesthetic as well. Becoming a filmmaker wasn’t the most secure ambition, so I wanted to do whatever I could to make it work and I knew that the best thing I could do was to come to it with a strong point of view.”Bowman has gone on to have a major impact on today’s television entertainment. He was a key contributor to The X-Files, and is credited with changing the way television looks. The success of The X-Files also had a ripple effect on the writing and editing styles of the TV shows that followed.

“The X-Files came at a time when television was ready to jump forward in its film look, in its film aesthetic, as well as in the storytelling and production values,” says Bowman. “Around that time, you started seeing more feature film producers getting involved in television. On X-Files, we were dealing with paranormal, supernatural themes, and sometimes what you can’t see has a much stronger emotional impact. Shadows became an important narrative part of the show and part of its whole look. We tried to take our time and be very careful about how we lit each scene.”

The X-Files brought Bowman together with Bill Roe, ASC. Their collaboration continues today on the series Castle, which stars Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle, a well-known author of mystery novels who tries to overcome his writer’s block by tagging along on police investigations. Stana Katic stars as the no-nonsense detective who grudgingly admits that Castle’s imagination and ability to think like a criminal helps solve cases. Romantic sparks fly between the pair and there are occasional comedic moments.Bowman and Roe photograph Castle entirely on KODAK VISION3 500T 5219 film. They usually use two cameras, often with 11:1 zoom lenses and classical camera movement.

“The camera is moving pretty much every shot,” says Roe. “Often the movement is subtle – we call it ‘drifting.’ We use sliders, dolly track, or whatever seems appropriate for a given shot. We have a lot of dialog on Castle, so we try to spice it up with some movement and bold colors.

“Rob and I both come from a widescreen, anamorphic background,” adds Roe. “We stack things up by staying on the long end of the zooms. We like framing the actors really tight, no headroom, and keeping the camera off their shoulder instead of over their ear. When things get intense, in the interrogation room, for example, we sometimes shoot 360-degree shots that put the actor in the center of the frame with the background moving behind them.”

Roe says that his history with Bowman informs their choices on Castle. “We all learned a lot on The X-Files,” he says. “That was really a groundbreaking show. It’s not as easy as people think to shoot something very dark yet still maintain layers in that darkness. On Castle, we’re shooting eight or nine pages a day. You have to be as creative as possible within that difficult schedule. You have to have a crew that is willing to push themselves in order to keep things fresh.”

The tight television schedule is one reason Bowman and Roe insist on shooting 35 mm film. “There are two main reasons why film is right for Castle,” says Bowman, who serves as executive producer and directs some episodes. “This is a fast-paced production with a lot of setups and a lot of cuts. I wanted to be able to promise to deliver a quality show on time and within the budget. I knew I didn’t need to add more technology to the set. I needed to keep the set as simple and dependable as possible. We average 55 setups a day. Some days we do 40 and some days we do 80. From a purely practical sense, a camera that is only plugged into a battery is a better idea.

“Last year, ABC Studios did a full cost impact comparing film and HD,” Bowman says. “When they included updating archives, adding another AVID and another assistant for all the footage, et cetera, they found very little difference. Also, with film you don’t have tents on the set where everybody and their mother are commenting on the look. You’re still going into color timing in post anyway, so color timing on the set just slows you down. We just don’t have time for that. I think that digital production was sold with some numerical aphrodisiacs – numbers that weren’t really grounded in the realities of production.

“But ideally, the decision about which medium to use should be an aesthetic choice about what looks right for your show,” Bowman continues. “We feel that the dynamic range of film is superior to HD. It has better blacks and it holds the highlights better. Bill and I prefer the look and softness of film. It’s a chemical process, more like how our brains work. There’s an indescribable, warm feeling we have when we watch film. Digital has a starker look. And I think that turning images into numbers and retranslating them back into images for viewing, as is done in digital formats, has a different emotional effect on people.”

The right cinematographer, according to Bowman, is the one who will tell the story from the script, rather than from his or her own predilections. Roe fits that description. “Even though he is very unpretentious about his work, Bill really is a poet with light,” he says. “He reads the script, sees what the narrative is, and identifies the emotional values. The textures, colors and compositions grow out of that. Quite often people bring their historical baggage with them and just do the same old thing, or copy something they saw somewhere else. What’s interesting to me is telling this particular story using the pace, rhythm, locations, and the direction and nature of the light. All these are expressive tools. Bill’s lighting is not showy. He doesn’t light for light’s sake.”

Film’s archival qualities also appeal to Bowman, which makes sense given his respect for cinema history. “Once you make archival files in a certain digital format, you know that format is going to change,” he says. “If you need to go back to that format, and there’s nothing to play it back, that product is as good as gone. Film is as universal as the alphabet. It’s always going to be there as long as you keep it safe and sound. We joke in the editing room that when you lock picture, you better be happy with it, because for the rest of your life and long after you’re dead that is the cut. Have Gun, Will Travel still airs on the Western channel, even though most of the people who made it aren’t with us any more. I don’t think they’ve really worked out a dependable solution for digital archiving. But film has worked for a long time.”

Castle earned three 2010 Emmy nominations. The third season of the series began airing in September 2010.