by Rod Edgar
Rod Edgar caught up with supporting Highlander actor Peter Wingfield,
the 5,000-year-old Methos, at Glasgow's Sector 14 event in March.
Raised in Cardiff, Peter was a keen sportsman, representing Wales
on the trampoline and in the national club finals for pole vaulting.
He originally set out to study medicine and ended up supporting
himself through drama school one of his first roles was,
ironically, in the hospital series Medics with Tom Baker...
DreamWatch: How did the role of Methos come about?
Peter Wingfield: My agent rang me and asked if I'd audition for
it. It was for one episode initially. I never met the people I was
auditioning for. I went to the casting director's office, did a
couple of speeches onto videotape, and they sent the tape to Paris.
They looked at it, and asked me if I'd come back and do some scenes
from the episode. I think that was on the Wednesday. That tape went
out to Paris that night, they made the decision on the Thursday
and offered me the job, and I flew out on Friday and was filming
Were you familiar with Highlander's mythology?
I knew the first film, but had no idea there was a TV series. I'd
never seen or heard of Adrian Paul. I didn't know anything about
Do you find the task of credibly portraying a 5,000-year-old immortal
Yeah, it's certainly challenging. I don't actually know how you
go about being convincing. All you can do, practically, is try and
play the detail of the scenes that you're in as credibly as possible.
I don't know that you can actually play the weight of 5,000 years,
and the experience of it, so I try to suggest it.
To what do you attribute his popularity?
I think it was a really strong idea, having a very, very, very
old man who looks young, because you expect him to be grey bearded
and very wise and that if you live to 5,000 you still wouldn't
know the answers to the big questions, if God existed or not.
Because of the way Highlander works, there's no reason why
he should be old. He's just going to be the age he was when he first
died. That was just a good, sound basis for the character. Then
you constantly have this dichotomy between what you see, seeming
to be very contemporary, but yet he's been around forever. There's
so much mileage in the character. However far any of the other characters
go back, he's been there.
Peter Wingfield with the other three Horsemen of
the Apocalypse: Marcus Testory (Caspian), Richard Ridings (Silas)
and Valentine Pelka (Kronos)
Being an athlete, do you find it frustrating that Methos is one
of the less active Immortals?
Yeah, I do. I really like doing the fight stuff, and I don't often
get a chance. But just recently, Methos has had a few more fights,
so that's been great. There's a two-parter around the hundredth
episode ["Comes a Horseman"/"Revelation 6:8"]
which is great. I get to fight and ride horses. It's terrific.
Would you like to see the character's history explored, or maintain
an air of mystery?
I think it's time his history was explored. I think it would be
good. I think it's been good that they haven't focused on where
he's from, or who he is, until they really had a good idea of where
to place him. In "Comes a Horsemen/Revelation 6:8," they
are very specific about one part of his history which is a very
sound idea, because it's so not what you would expect. And I think
that, having taken the step of saying, "Okay, this is one part
of Methos' past," they are now more able, because they've lurched
so far in a direction you didn't expect, to go off on tangents for
Were you satisfied with the way in which Methos' relationship
with a terminally ill woman named Alexa was handled?
You're never satisfied, but I really enjoyed that. It was great
working with Ocean Hellman, and it was nice for us that the story
didn't particularly impinge on the rest of ["Timeless"],
so that we were quite self-contained. That was great in terms of
working on the story, but it means that when they cut the episode
together, bits of it disappear, and it's very much more sketched.
The follow-up, "Methuselah's Gift," I thought was terrific,
very strong. It would have been nice if Alexa and I had more stuff
together, but then, that's kind of the point she was mortal,
and she died.
Are there any particular episodes or sequences with which you're
There's a lot in "Methuselah's Gift" that I think is
very good. In "Timeless" there's a scene we did sitting
on a fountain in the pouring rain in Vancouver that had a nice feel
to it. The stuff that I've done in this season, there's been a couple
of bits that I'm really pleased with. MacLeod and I had a huge,
great screaming argument in one episode. ["Comes a Horseman"]
But it was great, fantastic, and was very exciting to film, because
we both kind of went at it full pelt, and made no real concessions
to the cameramen, the sound guys, and the pople that are trying
to film it. "You get on and do what you can, but we're just
going to just play the scene. You catch what you can manage."
How would you describe the relationship between Methos and the
Distant, whenever possible. Things have changed a lot for Methos.
He's survived all this time by keeping clear, and now, just in this
last year or so, he's very much back in and becoming part of the
gang again, which is dangerous for him. I think that's part of the
reason he's getting more fights now: once you come back in, that's
what you have to do. You elect not to be part of the game to survive,
but if you rejoin you have to fight. He's come back in and actually
realises he's missed it, and enjoys it.
There have been suggestions that Methos is working to his own
agenda, and that he has a vested interest in keeping MacLeod alive.
Will this be explored in future episodes?
I don't know, but it is certainly there. That is one of the strong
things about the character. Everything he's ever done and ever said
is open to another reading. It's possible, with all the things that
have happened, that he could be the baddest of all bad guys. I don't
know, I'm not writing the scripts.
Methos with his prisoner, Cassandra, played by
Is Highlander's cast particularly close?
Yeah, we get on really well. I think that's the reason that there
is such a good vibe about the show we actually like each
other. That's something that you can't fake. Actors have a terrible
name, particularly in Britain, for being "lovey, darling,"
and pretending that they're tremendous friends when, actually, the
relationships are very superficial. But we genuinely get on well.
We like each other.
Has that anything to do with the series being produced in a foreign
country for long periods at a time?
I think that it's just a matter of the personalities that
have been flung together. Over the course of the years, there have
been other characters that have come in and haven't quite worked
as well as the writers hoped. And there are other characters, like
Methos, who they didn't expect to work in the way that he has. The
blend of personalities sometimes just happens.
Highlander has received criticism for being too violent. Do you
The violence in Highlander, I think, is not particularly
graphic, and the audience it's aimed at, or follows it, is not a
particularly easily impressionable group of people. They are educated,
intelligent grown-ups who are able to make judgments of their own.
I don't think the violence is gratuitous, and that's the big difference.
There are lots of TV shows and films, where the violence is just
for the sake of it, and I really don't think that's ever happened
in any of the Highlander stuff that I've seen. Sometimes
the violence is quite shocking, but I don't think that's bad. What's
dangerous is when violence is casual and it doesn't feel like it's
a big deal.
Methos battles Silas at the climax of "Revelation
It would seem that the series has quite a strong moral base.
Very much so. David Abramowitz, the creative consultant on the
show, the guy at the heart of the stories, is a very moral man.
He's a wonderful guy. What interests him about the world is how
to be a decent human being in a society which is not particularly
good at rewarding that sort of behaviour. "How do you deal
with the conflict between what you want to be good and right, and
what you encounter every day on the street?"
Having been so involved in a "fantasy" programme, is
this a genre you'd now like to do more work in?
Yes, it is. In England, nearly all that I've done has been English
public school-boy stuff. I can't bear it. And because you do something,
and people see you in that, they cast you in that again, [and] the
only way of getting out of that is by saying, "Okay, I'd rather
not work than do this." That's what I've done in [Britain].
I've not really worked there for a couple of years. In North America,
I'm much more perceived as being in the fantasy genre. Yeah, I'd
love to do more of this stuff. Action hero stuff. I love doing the
physical, the fighting, the horse-riding, the stunts.
Has working on Highlander helped raise your profile abroad?
In England, it's pretty rare for people to stop me in the street
and say, "It's Methos." Usually, when people recognise
me, it's from Soldier, Soldier or the Sega ads I did a few
years back. But in Europe it's always from Methos, and North America
Highlander has certainly proved popular with American audiences.
Why do you think this is?
I think Americans are very much into their ancestry, and where
their family came from many generations ago. I think it's very easy
to feel very lost and lonely in an expansive land that big, with
so many people. There is a strong need for a root, and they look
to Europe for culture, and a sense of the ancient.
How does the production process differ between Europe and North
In America, it's much less of a big deal doing film and television.
It's a job, and people are very efficient. There's more of an excitement
making film or TV here. Everyone's just a little bit more giggly
and hysterical. In America they're much more down to earth. It's
a big industry, makes an incredible amount of money, and employs
a huge number of people. We're much more kind of "Whoah, we're
making a film!", which is why I think they find me a bit weird
when we film in Vancouver, because I'm just so excited to be making
TV. I get very giggly, and very silly.
Do your recurring appearances in Highlander place limitations
on your other work?
Certainly. For the last couple years, essentially I've been unavailable
for more than half the year, in terms of stuff in England. When
you commit to something for that length of time, it always means
that in choosing to do that, you choose not to do other things.
So there has been a specific choice not to work so much in England
because I like doing the show.
Do you regret that at all?
No, not at all. It's part of what life as an actor is: you follow
the work. If you don't like doing the work, then you stop and go
somewhere else. But if you enjoy doing something, it can lead you
in a different direction than you expected. It never occured to
me that I'd be working more in North America and Europe than I was
in England. It's bizarre, but that's how it's been without making
a particular effort on my part, initially. But once you see that
that's the way things are leading, then if you enjoy doing the work,
you go with it.
What other projects are you now working on?
I also do [the radio series] The Archers, which is about
the biggest contrast with Highlander that you could possible
imagine. My character's really not very popular. I've had death
threats. There are a couple of things that are possible later this
What are your future hopes and ambitions?
Highlander 4: The Movie, The Methos Chronicles? I
don't know. I'm not really good at career goal focusing. I like
acting and this show gives me a great deal of fulfilment because
every now and then there are episodes where the stories are emotionally
challenging, and sometimes they are very physically challenging.
I'd like to do more film work. I'd like to go back on stage, but
it would have to be a project that I found exciting. Stage particularly,
because you get up and tell the same story again, and again, and
again. If it's not a story you'd really like, it drives you crazy.
There has been talk of a Highlander movie featuring the TV series
cast. I take it that this is something that would interest you?
It would be dependent on the script and what they wanted to do
with the story, but yeah, I'd certainly be interested.