4 February 1999
Vicki Gabereau: My next guest went from being a 5000-year old
Immortal we all wish we could be that on the show
Highlander, and now he is an ever-so-cool cop on Cold Squad. Please
welcome Peter Wingfield. [applause] I was just looking the calendar,
hey. You got a calendar of your own and you're not even a fireman.
Peter Wingfield: Isn't it crazy?
Gabereau: Yeah, 'cause this is a sort of modest one. [Holds up
May 1999 a headshot.] There's some of them sort of shirtless
Peter: Yeah, uh, they, uh...
Gabereau: Like that one. [Shows centerfold of Peter in swim trunks.]
Peter: ... a bit of the cheesecake shot.
Gabereau: Yeah, uh, cheese? No, it's called beefcake!
Peter: Beefcake, right.
Gabereau: Cheesecake are girls. Beefcake, guys.
Gabereau: You submitted to this, though. You had to agree to it.
Peter: Yeah, I did. My wife took most of those photographs.
Gabereau: Oh, well, that's how discreet.
Gabereau: [laughs] That's pretty good. [Shows stack of papers.]
You want to know what this pile of stuff is?
Peter: Uh... that'll be e-mail, I would think.
Gabereau: That'll be e-mail. And that comes and ordinary
mail, snail mail, all kinds of mail cards, letters, handwritten
asking about when you're going to be on this show. So it's
travelled like wildfire.
Peter: Yeah, I have a, uh, a very fanatical following.
Gabereau: Yeah, does that come it starts with Highlander,
Peter: Yep, yeah.
Gabereau: Because the Highlander fans are, um, well, there're
conventions and things, aren't there?
Peter: There's a convention in Birmingham, in England, in two weeks,
Gabereau: Will you be going?
Gabereau: And what happens at those things?
Peter: [big sigh] You do Q&A sessions where you have uh...
you have people asking the most BIZARRE questions.
Gabereau: Much like this situation! [laughs]
Peter: Yeah, and they're usually not as rational as this. They're
Gabereau: Hey, it's not over yet, this one! [laughs]
Peter: Yeah... Boxers or briefs, are you going to ask me that?
Peter: Okay. That's where it usually starts with Highlander.
Peter: Yep, yeah.
Gabereau: I would die!
Peter: Kind of weird stuff. And they always do ones about what's
it really like working with Adrian Paul and the other actors on
there. And always they do ones about, in a particular episode, in
a particular scene, when your character laughed, you really seemed
like you were laughing, so what was really going on? And you always
say, "I was acting." So does that mean the rest of what
I was doing stank? And that was the only bit that was convincing?
Gabereau: Yeah, that's the part that drives me people ask
me questions like that too, yeah: "You look like you were having
a good time." Like, for a change, I suppose.
Peter: Like the rest of it was
Gabereau: Yeah, the rest of it was like, ugh!
Gabereau: I don't get that. Or "your hair looked better Wednesday."
As opposed to what?! Tuesday?! How bad did it look on Tuesday?!
Peter: Yeah, why didn't you tell me then?
Gabereau: Yeah, and why did you wait till Wednesday for? But guys
don't have the hair problem like the women.
Peter: We just cut it short and do that [rubs hands in hair] in
the morning and it's
Gabereau: That's right. I thought we'd take a little look at you
Peter: Oh, cool.
Gabereau: That's his name, isn't it.
Gabereau: [to someone offstage] It's not Methos? Are we going
to look at Methos?
[fade to Cold Squad excerpt]
Ross: [to Ali] Getting involved with Michelle was a huge mistake.
That much is true. And I didn't want you to know, because I was
embarrassed. I thought that you might think less of me. But that's
all there is. There's nothing else.
Ali: [sarcastically] Yeah, well, I'll just trust you on that.
Ross: I'm not asking you to trust me.
Ali: [shouting] You did ask me to trust you!
Ross: [shouting back] I'm asking you to do your job!
Ali: [quieter] I always do my job.
[end of excerpt]
Gabereau: My goodness. Having a fight with Ali, are you?
Peter: That's not the 5000-year old man. That's the uh...
Gabereau: No, no, that was the younger guy from Cold Squad.
Gabereau: But that's okay. We got to see some of your work. Yeah,
so, what is your relationship, really, with Ali?
Peter: [pauses in thought] Yah... I I think it's growing,
Gabereau: Spit it out.
Peter: I think it's, uh, we we fought quite hard to let
it grow gently, because you get, when you're doing TV series, a
lot of the characters, you don't know how they're going to spark
together. You don't know how the actors are going to spark. So you
just, you kind of play a few bits and then the writers try and pick
up on stuff that's going on.
Gabereau: Your own personality twist on the character.
Peter: Yeah, stuff gels with some people, and you just get a little
edge in there that's interesting. But then, you then, you get an
idea from the writers: "Okay, it would be good if we put this
together." And you suddenly get scripts and lines where it's
like they've been together for the last six months. So we fought
very hard to let it grow, and to keep the edge in there, 'cause
they're both, they're both very wrapped up in their work, and they're
not good with their emotions, so, so we, uh, we're getting more
at ease with each other, but it's... I think it's important...
Gabereau: Literally and figuratively, I hope.
Peter: Yeah. Yeah.
Gabereau: [?] speaking too.
Gabereau: Can you improvise in a show like this? Can you change
something? I don't know how omnipresent the writers are, and whether
or not they say, "You must stick absolutely..."
Peter: It's very variable.
Peter: Highlander was the best show for that, yeah.
Gabereau: [laughs] Because nobody was in control?!
Peter: Yeah, nobody cared! It was they'd throw out an idea
and we would, we'd GENERALLY stay pretty close to it, but if...
The great thing about working with a company of actors where you
trust each other is that if somebody asks you a question that isn't
exactly what's in the script... Some actors will stop and say, "Sorry,
you were supposed so say, 'What day was it?' You said, 'What time
was it?'" And you have to go back. But in Highlander
you could ask somebody "What color is it?" And that would
they'd go off with that one.
Gabereau: Right, and
Peter: So anything that was thrown out, somebody else would pick
up and take it somewhere else. And a lot of the time it goes down
dead ends. But sometimes it comes up with very exciting stuff.
Gabereau: And was Adrian that flexible?
Peter: Yeah, absolutely.
Gabereau: He's a pretty cool guy.
Gabereau: I liked him. When he came here
Gabereau: and I said and, of course, I know Jim Byrnes
Peter: Jim, yeah.
Gabereau: He's just the world's greatest guy. But Adrian, I mean,
apart from being excruciatingly good-looking
Peter: Yeah, it's
Gabereau: Yeah, that sort of got in the way of the conversation.
Peter: It's bad.
Gabereau: Because I was like this [gives starry-eyed look], you
know. But other than that, I kept my control.
Peter: He picked that show up and carried it for five, six years.
Every single episode. He's he is the man; there is no show
without him. He's in there before everyone else; he's in there later
than everyone else; he directs episodes. I just, I have tremendous
respect for him. And he's not, you know, a lot of actors, when they're
holding a series, they get very paranoid. And they
Gabereau: He's pretty paranoid! He's paranoid, all right. We asked
him if he'd just like to walk over from the hotel, which is across
the street, and he said, "No, send a limo."
Gabereau: So we had to. And then when he came half a block in
the limo, of course, I made a big fuss about it.
Gabereau: And he said to me, "Oh good, make a fool of me
right on the TV."
Gabereau: [slyly] But I don't have any ammo on YOU like that,
which is truly unfortunate, but I'm going to try and think of something
in this break, and then we'll come right back.
Gabereau: I'm talking with Peter Wingfield, also known as Simon
Ross from Cold Squad, a highly successful television series. [to
Peter] You happy with it?
Peter: Yeah, I am.
Gabereau: It's done very well, eh?
Peter: Yeah, I've been watching the last sort of three or four
episodes which are going to play over the next few weeks, and there's
some really nice stuff in there. I'm very proud of it.
Gabereau: Oh good. You were nearly a doctor. I can't believe that
anyone would quit four weeks before they were called up, or whatever
you call it. Four weeks?!? Is this true?
Peter: Yeah, yeah.
Gabereau: Why would you do such a thing?
Peter: Uh, I didn't want to be a doctor.
Gabereau: [laughs] Well, it's a bit LATE after all of that, wasn't
Peter: Um, in ways, yes. But in many ways, it's a big it's
a big deal deciding not to deciding to step off that path
because I when I was in school, uh, I was good at sciences.
I was pushed towards that. And you know, people like doctors. They
think it's a good idea. You get pressure from the family, society.
Gabereau: People treat you nicely too.
Peter: Yeah, you know. People like to say, "Ah, yeah, my son,
the doctor." You know it's, uh...
Gabereau: Well, it didn't help who's name I've now forgotten
[giggle] uh, from the Old Vic, the doctor, the body in question.
Peter: Jonathan Miller.
Peter: Jonathan Miller.
Gabereau: Yeah, Jonathan Miller. He didn't have such a bad career,
Peter: He was always held up to me as "this is what you should
do. You should qualify first. You should be a doctor, then you've
got that to fall back on." But things are very different now.
Medicine is so incredibly technical. And acting is so much different
now. You used to be able to if you'd been to Oxford or Cambridge,
then you could just walk into the National Theatre, the Old Vic,
and it's it's not like that anymore. There's so much more
competition. And there's also not um, Jonathan Miller himself
these days doesn't do medicine. He
Peter: He's not able to make them both work. I think that for me
they're both careers that demand everything of you. And I didn't
want to be a a bad doctor.
Gabereau: Or a bad actor.
Peter: I certainly didn't want to be a bad actor. That stuff stays
around forever! There are still tapes of me...
Gabereau: [laughs] Still bad, really bad tapes? You're Welsh,
Gabereau: But you don't have your Welsh accent I
don't hear it.
Peter: Yeah, it's been a long time. I mean, I lived in London the
last 12, 15 years. I've been here two, three now.
Gabereau: Did you come here because of Highlander?
Peter: Yep. Yeah.
Gabereau: And are you now stationed here?
Peter: Yeah. Yep.
Gabereau: And you won't go back to London?
Peter: Oh yeah. The thing about being an actor is you
Gabereau: You're portable.
Peter: You live where the work is, yeah. So now we have a place
in England as well.
Gabereau: A house.
Gabereau: This is the old house that you're in?
Peter: This is the
Peter: Sixteen-twentish, yeah. We don't really know because there's
a farm that is marked on maps around the tail end of the 1600s,
but this is just a stone barn next to it. So it was probably built
about the same time, and then over the last two, three hundred years
there've been extra barns added on. So they're now knocked through
and we're turning it into a a habitable family home.
Gabereau: So is it livable at this stage, or is it?
Peter: Yeah. Yeah.
Gabereau: You could
Peter: We were there we were there over Christmas for a
Gabereau: No leaks? No...
Peter: Ah... [smiles] not quite no leaks.
Gabereau: Yeah, see, I got a 20-year-old house. Leaks. You got
a 400-year-old house. Doesn't leak.
Gabereau: What does that tell you? Building codes.
Peter: Yep, and you know, the weather out there, it rains and it
blows, and you hear it whistling around, and you see all the trees
bending, and you think, "This is probably going to be okay.
These stones have been on top of each other for the last three hundred
years. They'll be okay."
Peter: Yeah. The old wooden shack, I don't know...
Gabereau: Are you, um what're you doing now? I mean, Cold
Squad is in, uh
Peter: Yeah, I'm actually doing I'm doing a series called
Strange World, which is a US Fox Network show. [Actually,
it's done by Fox's television arm, not their network arm, and it's
Gabereau: Is it are you acting in there or are you narrating?
[She thinks it's one of Fox's "reality" shows.]
Peter: No, I'm acting.
Gabereau: Oh, right. So it's not what is it about? What
Peter: It's ah... it's the guys who set up X-Files. Howard
Gordon producing it. And it's
Gabereau: So it's another one of Chris Carter's brilliant ideas?
Peter: Chris is not writing on this, no. But it's the same kind
of territory. It's paranoid territory. But, uh...
Gabereau: Oh perfect, just what I need.
Gabereau: More paranoia.
Peter: Except this is real stuff. Instead of it being aliens, it's,
uh, it's science-based stuff: chemical warfare, uh, gene manipulation.
Gabereau: What do you play?
Peter: [pause then smiles] I'm not sure, you know. I play an enigmatic
Gabereau: [laughs] You're "not sure"!
Peter: He may be a good guy; he may be a bad guy. But it's, um
Gabereau: Usually a bad guy though, aren't you?
Peter: Was it Lee Marvin said, "There are no bad guys? I never
played one"? Uh, I often play characters that other people
say, "He's a slimeball. He's a bad guy." It doesn't strike
me that way usually.
Gabereau: No, but, there's a good [grins] there's goodness
in all of us.
Peter: [smiles] That's right.
Gabereau: Thank you
Gabereau: That's right. The misunderstood jerk! [laughs]
Gabereau: Thank you very much, Peter.
Peter: My pleasure.
Gabereau: Can I keep the calendar?
Peter: Yeah, you can keep it.
Gabereau: Oh good! I'm going to put it in my office. [Holds up
a page to the camera] Look! In the pool!
[Applause and fade to commercial.]