"I went from soppy romantic to vicious war monger."
— Peter Wingfield in The Toronto Star, 25 Nov 1998

Wingfield Dr Helm

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"Lookin' good for a 5,000-year-old man"
Rita Zekas
The Toronto Star
25 November 1998

PETER WINGFIELD: His Cold Squad character Simon Ross and his Highlander alter ego are enigmas

Is there a doctor in the house?

There could have been, had Peter Wingfield not switched from operating theatre to stage.

Wingfield plays Simon Ross, no-nonsense inspector and sometimes spin doctor on the series Cold Squad. A native of Cardiff, Wales, he trained as a doctor at Brasenose College, Oxford.

"Who knew?" Wingfield recalls over the phone from his adoptive Vancouver, "I did 5 1/2 years of training. My father is a retired doctor, a hospital doctor. I really got into acting late — I was 16, 17 when I started doing anything. I never thought of it as a realistic career; deep down I felt you can't make a living.

"During medical training, I did lots and lots of plays. Later on I started acknowledging that I didn't want to be a doctor who acted in his spare time. I had to burn all my bridges so I left before the end of training. My dad was apoplectic for quite a while. He took it personally, it was what he did for a living."

Wingfield was classically trained. But drama school, he says in retrospect, was not exactly the best training for TV.

"We had a laughable TV training, where other students were pushing a camera, trying to focus. But loads of Shakespeare and Ibsen and classics."

His TV credits include the Brit series Crocodile Shoes, Medics and The Men's Room. His stage credits include Pirandello's Six Characters In Search Of An Author and The Rules Of The Game.

He has been based in Vancouver since last year, but fell in love with B.C. in 1995, when he came to shoot a "few" episodes of the sorcery and swashbuckle series Highlander. He was held over to do the fourth and fifth seasons.

In Highlander, he played the dual role of Adam Pierson/Methos. What started out as a four-day gig in France (the majority of the series is shot in Paris) evolved into the turning point in his career. The series took off faster than Leonardo DiCaprio at a photo op.

"At a convention in Denver was the first point I got sense of what the series meant to the fans," Wingfield marvels. "Fifteen-hundred to 2,000 people went completely nuts! It was the defining point in my life — the whole basis of my work shifted to the North American audience.

"I played the oldest man in the world, it was great. He was about 5,000 years old and they worked hard not to define him. Turns out I was one of the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse. The great mystery of the character allowed him to be a different character every time you saw him. It was an incredible opportunity for an actor: I went from soppy romantic to vicious war monger."

Wingfield can find a correlation between Methos and Ross.

"In a sense, there is a similarity in character," he allows. "You don't know about Ross' past. He is secretive. But they are very different characters, too. Ross is very driven; Methos is laissez faire. Ross is obsessed by his job and doing it well. He has a life plan, being chief of police or maybe more. Maybe president, king, ruler of the world — I don't know."

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