"Apocalypse now! (or confessions of a Horseman)"
by John Mosby
... For the first time since the Bronze Age (or more accurately
the now legendary Highlander two parter that introduced them),
the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are back together. Kronos (Valentine
Pelka), Methos (Peter Wingfield), Caspian (Marcus Testory)
and Silas (Richard Ridings) are appearing at their first con together.
As Peter and Valentine take the stage their cry goes out: "The
Boys are back in town....!" No kidding.
Peter Wingfield was supposed to be at last year's event in Manchester,
but had had to pull out a few days before because of work commitments.
This year, he made it ("Hello Manchester, sorry I'm late!"
he quips). He's worth waiting for as he talks about filming his
scenes, Methos's true motivation and the lighter sides of filming.
Though the other major guests included Stan Kirsch (interviewed
last issue), Donna Lettow and author Maureen Russell, the main emphasis
of the event surrounded the popular Four Horsemen episodes: "Comes
a Horseman" and "Revelations 6:8."
One of these scenes ost discussed over the weekend was the scene
in which Methos and MacLeod have their confrontation the
moment when Duncan confronts the reality that his friend my actually
be a mass-murderer. Donna Lettow (one of the senior writers on the
show) brought a special treat for fans, showing the various out-takes
of that scene, explaining how it was finally edited together. Getting
to see this unseen footage (which also included Valentine Pelka
and Stan Kirsch's audition tapes and an unused tag for the finale
of the "Archangel" episode) is something that most fans
can only dream about, but cons like this provide such opportunities.
"The thing about Highlander is that it was fun but
it was also emotionally demanding," Peter explains. But despite
the emotional power of that scene (probably the most shocking in
the show's six-year run) it also recalls some lighter themes.
"I just want to know, who decided it was the National Throw-your-coat-in-the-car
Day?" laughs Pelka recalling the ending of the scene.
"You know that's always bugged me about that scene!"
Peter smiles. "...because as you can see if you watch closely
there's a change in the lighting. That's because it took so long
to shoot. When the camera is on me, it's daylight and when you look
at Adrian/MacLeod it's obviously later in the day. So I did that
first! It seemed like a good physical end to my scene so I took
off my coat and threw it into the car. Lo and behold, Adrian does
the same thing... and in the edited version... HE does it first!
"We'd go out for a few drinks at night," Wingfield admits.
"One moment that is seared into my brain is Richard Ridings
travelling into work. You know those inflatable things that you
rest your head on during flights. Richard had one of those things
across his EYES (laughs). I asked him how it got there and he doesn't
remember. I'm not surprised!"
One of the trickiest scenes in the episodes involved the Horsemen
doing what comes naturally... arriving on horseback to pillage a
Bronze Age town. Though Valentine was an expert rider and Peter
knew how to handle a horse... getting all their dark steeds to behave
was something else entirely...
"It's all trick photography!" Peter jokes, "...
we were never in the same field together! If we were we were going
in different directions. Maybe we could have reversed the negative
and then Marcus would have been going in the right direction!"
Valentine also recalls a potentially more serious incident during
"The most awful thing that has ever happened to me on set
happened while we were filming the Bronze Age sequence," Pelka
admits. "I was supposed to split a piece of cloth that Richard
and Marcus were holding. We got to the stage where they were holding
it close and tightly and I had a complete lapse of judgment. As
they pulled it I struck and hit Richard on the thumb. He didn't
even flinch! Not even a bead of sweat. I mean, the professionalism
of the man... he waited until the director yelled cut to pick his
thumb up! (laughs)"
("Another excuse to go to the pub!" Richard laughs.)
All the guests admit that though the idea of doing conventions
once filled them with dread, their experiences at such events have
let them see the positive side of fandom.
"Doing this show has spoiled me for just about everything
I've done since," Peter Wingfield admits. "It's such a
bizarre world that the Highlander fans love, but it has a seductive
quality to it because there is such warmth, love and generosity
in it that comes from them. The first time I went to a Con was in
1996 and it was a shock. After you've done a few you get blase about
it. I was trying to consciously remember what it was like the first
time. It's not something you can explain in a nutshell. In this
case it wasn't just filming a series where you turn up for work,
it goes on the TV and then that's the end of it. With Highlander
we had and continue to have the most tremendous feedback. I think
that's amazing and wonderful."