News, Reviews and Interviews by fans, for fans THE FANZINE FOR CLAN: THE RENEGADE HIGHLANDER APPRECIATION SOCIETY
Comic Book Connor Highlander comic book writer Brandon Jerwa interviewed!
The Four Horsemen
The producer on the epic Highlander audio adventure
On Location Visiting the real locations used in the movies and TV show
! Highl reboo ander td Juan irector Ca Fresn rlos adillo in pro file
Highlander 2: The sequel that continually polarizes the fanbase re-examined 20 years on...
BACK FROM THE DEAD!
and on sale from February 14th! 2 www.starburstmagazine.com
GREETINGS The great thing about putting together Issue 10 of Highlander Heart was that nobody knew it was coming! To say that finding the time to put together Issue 11 has been taxing would be an understatement. But, finally here we are and I hope it’s been worth the wait! This issue we have interviews with the prolific Brandon Jerwa - who helped to bring new Highlander stories to life via the superb comic book series - and the lovely Paul Spragg, producer of the Highlander audio dramas. As you’ll notice by the cover, we also revisit Highlander 2, asking Starburst editor Jordan Royce and Pop Culture Zoo editor Joseph Dilworth Jr to reveal their differing opinions. In addition to this, we have features old and new, including a profile on the remake’s latest director (imagine the face-palm as I published Issue 10 and saw that Lin had walked just hours later). We also visit Eilean Donan Castle in our new On Location feature. There’s some great art on display again, along with fun looks at the Highlander 2 merchandise and music and all the latest news. As I sit here (Glenmorangie sitting cheekily, inches away), there are some exciting things ahead for us. While Facebook has been a fantastic forum for us to reignite the magazine, we’re working hard on creating our own little corner on the web where you’ll be able to read the magazines and catch up with the latest news. Highlanderheart.com will be with you shortly. So, off you go and read the magazine! Remember to let us know what you think (about this and Highlander in general) on the Facebook group. Also, if you’ve visited a location used in Highlander, let us know. This is your magazine, so please feel free to get involved. And most of all... hold fast, and don’t lose your head!
All the latest Highlander news from around the world
Brandon Jerwa Interview The talented writer on bringing Highlander to life in comic form
A nostalgic look back at the second movie’s tie-ins
Highlander 2: For & Against
We examine two very different viewpoints on the controvercial sequel 12
Learn a little more about your remake director, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo 18
The Four Horsemen
The producer of Big Finish’s Horsemen audio drama discusses the project 20
Visiting real Highlander locations
A little preview of what’s coming your way next time
Editor Grant Kempster Contributing Editor Robert McGregor Contributing Writers Jordan Royce and Joseph Dilworth Jr Special Thanks to Paul Spragg Highlander © Davis Panzer Inc. All Rights Reserved
The latest Highlander news from around the globe
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Justin Lin Makes a Furious Exit! Highlander Reboot loses its latest director
No sooner had Highlander Heart 10 hit the net than news arrived announcing the departure of Fast Five’s Justin Lin from the Reboot director’s chair. Lin’s exit shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise, as the director had not long dumped the long-gestating Terminator follow-up to take on Highlander. Rising box office takings for his last movie Fast Five, however, seem to have persuaded him that immortals just weren’t as exciting a prospect as more fast and furious car action. Consequently, The Fast and the Furious 6
(which will no doubt find a snappier title pre-release) is now his next project. But not all was lost. As Lin exited, 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo arrived, seemingly freeing himself of the Crow reboot to do so. So, with news of a new director comes a new swathe of speculation regarding cast. Could any of his recent collaborators – such as Clive Owen or Robert Carlyle – be in the running for roles? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see...
TV Series to Reach a Wider Audience? Peter S Davis
We would like to hear your feedback.
Highlander producer Peter S Davis recently dropped a hint that the powers that be are considering remastering the entire series in widescreen on Blu-Ray. “The question we pose to you is as follows,” Davis explained via the franchise’s Facebook site. “If Seasons 1-6 of Highlander: The Series were re-mastered in a true cinematic 16X9 hi-def look, with digital 5.1 surround and enhanced stereo, how many of you would be interested in purchasing the collection? We would like to hear your feedback.” Needless to say, if this did occur it would swiftly consign the standard DVD versions to the attic space. What do you think? Let us know via our Facebook group!
Highlander Heart hits the Net!
At last Highlander Heart is online!
2012: The Year of the AP It looks as if the new year belongs to one Adrian Paul! The Highlander star has not one, not two, not even three but six movies in the pipeline this year, and 2012 only just got started! First up Paul has lent his voice to Boris Acosta’s ambitious Dante’s Inferno Documented, a visual and narrative journey to Hell told by over 30 scholars and artists. Next up Adrian will be seen as a disillusioned helicopter pilot in Deadly Descent, followed by At 2:15, a character study set in Madrid. Deauville comes next, taking place in 1940s Paris, while Miracle Underground will take Paul deep below Chile in a dramatisation of the Chilean miner disaster of 2010. Finally, Paul re-teams with Highlander scribe David Abramowitz on the epic animated steampunk movie War of the Worlds: Goliath. And although Adrian has battled the Martians before, this time he’ll be taking them on as a strapping young Irishman called Patrick.
Brandon Jerwa has been writing comic books for nearly a decade and during that time has handled his fair share of tie-in properties. He started out writing G. I. Joe, but gained wider public attention with his work on Battlestar Galactica. In between those two series he wrote the Highlander series for Dynamite Comics.
Prince Issues 0-4 were co-written with Michael Avon Oeming and revealed a previously unknown encounter between Connor MacLeod and the Kurgan just after World War II. Jerwa took over solo writing duties on the book starting with issue five, where Connor was joined in an adventure with his clansman Duncan. The tenth issue would continue after the events of the film Highlander: Endgame with the series concluding with issue twelve. Jerwa followed up that series with a two-issue comprehensive telling of the entire life of the Kurgan, which stands as the definitive origin of the original Immortal bad guy. As superbly written as the comics were and considering they weave in and out of established continuity, you would think that Jerwa would be intimately familiar with the entire franchise. However, such was not the case initially. “I had seen (and enjoyed to varying degrees) the Highlander films before Dynamite asked me to pitch for the comic,” he says when asked about his familiarity with the films and TV series. “But I’d never, ever watched the TV series. I’ve been upfront about this from day one because I didn’t want to fail a pop quiz about continuity and get caught out in front of the entire fan community!”
That wasn’t a problem, as Jerwa further reveals. “I was worried that my lack of exposure would lose me the gig, but Dynamite editorial said they didn’t mind at all. I’d have to do my research later if I got the gig, of course, but they were intrigued by the prospect of someone having an unhindered take on the property. Obviously, it worked in my favour.” He did do his research before beginning writing, admitting that he “watched everything. For about two weeks, I lived, ate, slept and breathed Highlander.” It is then that Jerwa’s humorous side surfaces as he describes the TV series thusly: “Have you ever seen that one episode of the TV series where Duncan has brooding stubble, and an Immortal returns after a long absence to fight him? I think that episode also had a flashback in it. You know, that one. “I think that Highlander, as a franchise and a concept, is a nice canvas in and of itself,” he continues more seriously. “You have this fantastic backdrop that has the creative space for all kinds of elements: sci-fi, romance, period drama, humour… it’s pretty wide open, and that’s always creatively fulfilling.” Of course, long-standing Highlander fans know the pain of attempting to reconcile the films with each other, as well as with the events of the television show. But like any terrific writer, Jerwa takes it all in stride. “Look, movies and comics are produced for the purpose of enjoyment above anything else. Do I wish we had a Highlander film franchise with flawless continuity? Yes, absolutely. Can I enjoy the movies without being bugged by it? Sure. Well, most of the movies, anyway.” Which leads to the inevitable question of what he thinks about the long-gestating reboot of the entire franchise, prompting a thoughtful, considered response. “Oh, I think it’s a great idea. I just hope that
“Do I wish we had a Highlander film franchise with flawless continuity? Yes, absolutely.” 8
“Maybe the new film franchise will give us a reason to go back to the Game in comic form.” the shepherds of this new franchise will be very careful to maintain their continuity and keep it going for many years to come without the need to excuse entire films from the canon.” While Jerwa is sure some fans may not think he got the voices of Connor and Duncan exactly right, he does feel that “I did all right. They are two very distinct characters, which made it easier in the long run. Especially since I had them interacting directly for an entire arc.” While it’s been nearly three years since Dynamite Comics published a new Highlander comic book, the writer would happily return to the world of the MacLeods, without hesitation. “The Highlander franchise – and the fandom, by extension – has been very, very good to me. Ask Dynamite editor Joe Rybandt how many times I’ve asked if there will be new Highlander comics. He must be sick of that question by now. Who knows? Maybe the new film franchise will give us a reason to go back to the Game in comic form. Finally, Jerwa leaves us with his answer to the question that every Highlander writer, director, producer and star has been asked since the TV series began twenty years ago. Who does Brandon Jerwa think would be the Immortal to ultimately win The Prize? “David Abramowitz.” With that last quip, Jerwa returns to working on his latest projects, which include more comic book work as well as his documentary film entitled Untold Tales of the Comic Industry. Thank you to Brandon Jerwa for his time. Jerwa’s next work can be found in Vampirella Annual #1 in December and look for Shooters from Vertigo, with co-writer Eric Trautmann and artist Steve Lieber, on sale in April. To find out more about Untold Tales of the Comic Industry, please visit the Facebook page.
Joseph Dilworth Jr
Poster Child How do you sell a sequel which looks nothing like the original? It seemed like everyone had a different idea! Hereâ€™s a selection of the posters for Highlander II that showed up around the globe in 1991.
The Music How do you top a Queen soundtrack? You don’t...
Knowing that music was such a large part of the success of the original movie, it’s no surprise that Highlander’s sequel would have a soundtrack album. What was a surprise, however, was just how bland and unmemorable the entries were. Even the likes of Lou Gramm Band and Notorious couldn’t elevate this album beyond sub-80s soft rock. Ironically, the most powerful music in the entire film was left off the album. The stirring orchestral movement heard at the beginning – Götterdämmerung from Wagner’s The Ring – was noticeably absent. Instead we had three excerpts from ex-Police musician Stewart Copeland’s by-the-numbers score. With director Russell Mulcahy’s intensely stylized music-video look, it seems crazy not to have incorporated a killer soundtrack. But then, the early 90s was an odd transition period for rock, and this would appear to be one of its casualties.
“H2 towers above the real garbage which was about to descend upon the Highlander franchise.” 12
There are some people in this world who like Highlander 2, and there are some people who don’t. Which one are you?
â€œAs part of the greater Highlander franchise, H2 is a true oddity and an inferior chapterâ€? Jordan Royce and Joseph Dilworth Jr go head-to-head...
It’s easy to get stuck in and give Highlander 2: The Quickening a good kicking. Just hit Google and you will be bombarded with a universal chorus. It is probably regarded as one of the worst sequels in movie history. There are so many flaws, and outright contradictions. Throw in a strange eco message, and a co-star that could never have returned, and you have an easy point-scoring session for a lazy journo. But can’t we look a little beyond that appraisal, and spare ourselves the usual ‘There can be only one’ diatribe. I mean, seriously, is it really as bad as all that? I will come clean at the outset. I actually think that Highlander 3 IS the worst sequel of any movie ever made. I despise it with a vengeance for reasons I will expand upon later. In comparison I don’t find Highlander 2 anywhere near as bad, and actually quite enjoyable. H2 (we can dispense with the full title and colonics, can’t we?) is at least a proper linear sequel, and a proper sci-fi movie. It is probably much more sci-fi than any of the other instalments. When director Russell Mulcahy set out to make this sequel, he was absolutely hamstrung by the fantastic job of storytelling that he had performed previously. The original Highlander movie had a great (if a little metaphysical) ending. The story had been told. There was nowhere for a sequel to go. I feel some credit must be given for the fact that he at least tried. H2 catapults us far into the future of 2024 and MacLeod has saved the world from the depleted Ozone layer, with his electromagnetic shield. Sadly we have had to live in perpetual night, and word is leaking out that the shield is no longer needed. Unfortunately, MacLeod is no longer in control, and a James Cameron-esque evil Company is now fooling
us into keeping the shield in operation. OK, it is a little topical. Back in the early nineties, people were shit scared about these holes in the Ozone layer, and a few years after H2 these concerns were addressed at a bewildering number of summits (Is it mostly repaired now? It would be lovely to think so). So we have a sci-fi story steeped in very real and contemporaneous issues. But at least it had a story, and a theme, unlike the travesty that was to follow three years later. I also mention the importance that it is a linear sequel. How refreshing to move forward by a considerable period, and at least attempt to weave a new story with the mythos. I live in a period of TV and Movie Prequel Hell. Even the atrocious Highlander 3 took place before this movie. H2 remains the only Highlander entry to deal with the future, even if it dropped the ball somewhat. OK, so it deals with the future, and has sci-fi elements, but why is it hated so much? If you are to ask the haters for the biggest problem that they have with H2, you will have to endure the scowl followed by the Zeist rant, and a mumbling about Sean Connery. I will deal with Zeist first. We all have to admit that the core concept of Highlander is mumbo jumbo. ‘The Quickening’ is mumbo jumbo, pure and simple. Similar in many ways to ‘The Force’ in Star Wars. Also similar to Star Wars, it begins to completely fall apart when you attempt a reasoned explanation. The Planet Zeist in Highlander performs the same function as ‘The Midi-Chlorians’ in Star Wars –
‘[Lambert] actually gives Macleod his last notable outing’ it exposes the vacuous nature of the core concept. Never should plot devices of this nature ever be rationalised. In H2 we have the entire backstory of The Immortals explained, and even their presence on Earth, and ultimate purpose. The origin of the Immortals should have never been told. My stance is simply that some credit be afforded for at least having a stab at the impossible. It was also a mistake to introduce Michael Ironside as a Kurgan clone named General Katana. Katana was supposed to represent their oppressive brethren, from whom they had rebelled. Surely such a leader would not be able to command a following whilst behaving like a nutter? Although, any problems I did have with this performance were swiftly diminished when I saw the Kurgan clone played by Mario Van Peebles in Highlander 3. I do get the impression that Mulcahy at least tried to circumvent many, many difficulties, and has been unfairly vilified over the years. I have the greatest problem when faced with defending the inclusion of Sean Connery. The character of Ramirez provided the perfect mentor for MacLeod in the original, who was later brutally slain by Kurgan. The arc was complete by this stage, as MacLeod had learnt enough from his friend and mentor, and could now complete his lifelong battle. To even consider resurrecting the character (except in a flashback) was a horrendous misjudgement. Providing the most talented of wordsmiths, with an impossible task. When you realise this, you have to admire the fact that they just throw him in. He
appears at a Shakespeare play because he is needed. Ludicrous, but at least no attempt was made to justify this. You want more Ramirez, well here he is. It’s a very strange sequence indeed, even when viewed today. I guess my defence is that it was impossible, they were told that he had to be in it – so what were they supposed to do? At least it’s not pretentious. So, what do I like about it. Well the story was from Brian Clemens, and he wrote The Avengers and The Professionals, and he is dead good. I know he did his best, bless him. The music was also very good from Copeland and Kamen. I do also appreciate the fact that it stands alone as the only real sci-fi entry. I have a hatred for fake sci-fi, where the subject matter could be translated into a normal set of contemporary circumstances. This story could not be told without the sci-fi elements. At least it was trying to have a weird sort of integrity in this regard. I also liked the visual look of the film. It created a distinctive look and feel, which was sadly underexploited. Regarding performances, Lambert and Connery were good together, and tried to elevate proceedings above the awkward structure and pacing. Whereas, Lambert gave an abysmal performance in Highlander 3. Here he actually gives Macleod his last notable outing – so in that regard it is an important Movie in the franchise. I guess I do hang much of my defence of H2 on the fact that compared to Highlander 3: The Sorcerer (or whatever it ended up being called) – it is much more entertaining. Highlander 3 infuriates me. It actually had the gonads to reinvent the ending of the original, by having another Immortal stuck under a mountain, who escapes and nullifies the ending of Highlander – Cheeky buggers! A storyline based upon an utter con. My final defence has to be afforded to Director Russell Mulcahy who is a good movie maker, but you can’t always deliver the goods when you are burdened with unrealistic expectations. It is often under those circumstances that tons of compromise ensue. I am a big fan of his version of The Shadow and despite that commercial failure, Mulcahy proved he was far from burnt out after this debacle stained his CV. H2 should never have been made, but it was, it’s not that bad, and it towers above the real garbage which was about to descend upon the Highlander franchise. Jordan Royce
Against When Highlander 2: The Quickening arrived in theatres in 1991, it was to the puzzlement of all. The growing fanbase of the original film (thanks to the burgeoning home video market) hadn’t really demanded a sequel. Moreover, anyone who saw the film left the theatre scratching their heads. The film made little sense and seemed to be a jumbled mess. Scenes appeared to happen at random and, most memorably, during the climactic swordfight between Connor MacLeod and Katana (yes, the bad guy was named for a type of sword he never used), MacLeod managed to change clothes and switch swords. Also, the two opponents were suddenly in a completely different location. While attempts have been made over the years to re-edit scenes and tweak the story to make it more palatable and more comprehensible, this has done little to swing opinion towards the positive. Reexamining the film two decades later does have a curious effect. It is possible to see that while Highlander 2 is still a deeply flawed film, it does attempt to embody the heart and soul of the Highlander franchise. It can be argued that this film faced a rather basic problem to begin with, something that can be traced back to the conclusion of the previous installment. The original Highlander film ends with Connor MacLeod defeating the Kurgan, thereby becoming the last Immortal and winning The Prize. That sort of implies an ending to the story and really doesn’t leave room for a sequel. However,
science fiction tends to be kind of magical in the sense that rules can be rewritten and endings aren’t always the final word. While no one was demanding to see what happened next, the story at least takes an interesting approach in showing us an elderly MacLeod who, having both saved and cursed humanity, has detached himself from the rest of the world. Our hero begins the film waiting to grow old and die, something he views as a luxury. Of course, things don’t work out as intended and MacLeod becomes young and Immortal again before once again taking on the bad guy and getting the girl. The girl, in this case, is Louise Marcus, played convincingly by Virginia Madsen. What is unconvincing is the chemistry between Madsen’s Marcus and Christopher Lambert’s MacLeod. He seems to fall for her because she’s blowing stuff up and she seems to fall for him because he’s suddenly young and somewhat of a badass. And, despite both actors being very good at their craft, there just isn’t any on-screen spark between the two. There is a truly haunting and emotionally real conversation between the two where MacLeod reveals how monumentally painful it has been watching the women he has loved grow old and die while he never did. Yet this memory does little to deter him from pursuing a relationship with someone who will just do the same. It’s unclear if this makes MacLeod pathetically tragic or a sadistic monster. The worse transgression, at least in the eyes of the fans, is that Highlander 2 provides an explanation for how the Immortals exist
‘Its legacy appears to be as an abject lesson in how not to do a sequel’ and why they have been going around chopping each other’s heads off. While Highlander preferred to leave the Immortals’ origin obliquely and somewhat magically being “from the dawn of time,” the follow up dispels any ambiguity and roots the story firmly in science-fiction by portraying MacLeod and his brethren as rebels exiled to Earth from their home planet Zeist. Utter the word Zeist to any fan of the franchise and you will usually get a pronounced reaction, whether it be outright anger or a heavy, resigned sigh. In the same way that no one really wanted to know what happened after MacLeod won The Prize, the question of where do Immortals come from was never asked either. Even the characters seemed ambivalent about the whole thing, so why the producers felt the need to spell it out in detail is bewildering. What is even more muddled is the whole reason for exiling rebels to Earth, forcing them to fight until only one remained and then giving that individual the choice to grow old here or return back home with all the power of the Quickenings he had acquired. There was never any sufficient reason given as to why the captured rebels were not just simply put to death. That’s also ignoring the fact that the whole origin story is silly to begin with. Although an attempt would be made again in the fifth film to explain Immortals, the TV series and intervening two film sequels ignored not only Zeist, but the need to give a reason for all the swordplay and beheadings..
Ultimately, the biggest problem with the film is that the producers stepped in and reedited the whole thing just before release. They removed key scenes and exposition and mashed other scenes together for no other reason than it looked cool. Make no mistake, visually Highlander 2 is a very interesting, if somewhat clichéd, film to look at. It does have that late-80s, early-90s music video view of the future where everything is dark, lit in blues and yellows and wreathed in lots of smoke and mist. But Russell Mulcahy has always been an accomplished director and gives us the proper look and atmosphere of a dystopian future. It’s just that jumbled together by the producers it made no sense. Eventually Mulcahy would get to do his cut of the film for a later home video release, dubbed “The Renegade Cut.” This version actually gives us a flowing and logical narrative, but all references to Zeist and another planet are excised and now Immortals come from “The Distant Past,” presumably the Dawn of Time referenced in the first film’s opening narration. This new cut of the film essentially trades a jumbled edit for an even more inexplicable origin, but probably gives the best possible version of the film bar rewriting and reshooting the entire thing. There are other minor problems with the film, things like Ramirez being brought back from the dead just to have a reason for Sean Connery to appear and the fact that Katana is clearly meant to have originally been the Kurgan. All things considered, changing either of these things would do little to improve the film. It has plenty of sword fighting, a bit of romance and a main character who is haunted by the loss of loved ones over the course of an extraordinarily long life. These are all tenets of the Highlander mythos and this film incorporates them as much as the other sequels and the TV series do. But as part of the greater Highlander franchise, a franchise that later ignores and even invalidates the events of this film, it is a true oddity and a very inferior chapter. Its legacy appears to be as an abject lesson in how not to do a sequel and perhaps as a warning against following up a story that has no reason to continue. If only the Highlander producers had heeded their own warning when considering Highlander 2. As far as Highlander the film franchise is concerned, there should have been only one. Joseph Dilworth Jr
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo [ Director of the Highlander reboot ]
Born: December 5, 1967 Place of Birth: Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands Bio: In 1985, Juan moved to Madrid where he studied Photography and Cinema. The short films he made as a student led to the creation of his own production company two years later which, as well as producing more shorts, also created commercials. It would be his short film Esposados that would propel Fresnadillo into the limelight almost a decade later. Winning not only 40 national and international awards but a prestigious Oscar for Best Short Film in 1996, all eyes suddenly turned to the Spanish filmmaker. Juan would next appear on the radar when his first feature film – Intacto – arrived in theatres to great critical acclaim. It would be this that paved the way for his first Hollywood feature: 28 Weeks Later in 2006.
28 Weeks Later
In 2011 it was announced that Fresnadillo would be helming (and co-writing) the remake of The Crow after original director Stephen Norrington bowed out. Following the news that Juan would be helming the Highlander reboot, it was announced that he too had decided to leave The Crow behind. Trivia: In 1977 Fresnadillo witnessed the aftermath of a terrible airline disaster which claimed 578 lives. It was this shocking sight which he credits as being the inspiration for his first feature film, Intacto. Juan was once listed as one of Variety’s Top 10 Filmmakers to watch.
Fresnadillo’s latest feature, Intruders, stars Clive Owen and Kerry Fox and was released late January 2012 in the UK.
May e v e t S th, u o m y Pl d Englan
Get your art on!
ART Luis Novo a, Spain
Any good with a pen or pencil? If so, upload your artwork to the Facebook group and we’ll put the most liked ones in the next issue! To get the ball rolling, we’ve got an amazing illustration from Jason Caldwell and a watercolour I did way back. No prizes I’m afraid, just our utmost admiration!
Ride On Big Finish producer Paul Spragg reveals the story behind the Four Horsemen audio reunion...
So, how did you get involved with Highlander’s audio adventures?
I’d imagine getting all four actors together must have been tricky! How did you organise the recordings?
I work in the offices of Big Finish Productions, who make Highlander, alongside executive producer Nicholas Briggs and line producer David Richardson. The previous producer, Sharon Gosling, had a multitude of new projects taking up her time, so I was asked by David if I’d like to take over on Highlander. I’d not produced an audio drama before, but I knew I could get support from my colleagues where needed and I was keen to give it a go, so I said yes.
The writers were keen on getting Toby Longworth to play Dilijan, the villain (or is he the hero?) of the piece, and because of his phenomenal range of voices, I thought he’d be invaluable to have in studio to read in any missing characters as well as playing his own. With Peter in LA and Marcus’s schedule pretty packed, we had to record one Horseman at a time, but with Toby playing opposite each one to give a sense of consistency. Valentine Pelka was in first, then Richard Ridings. We then did a day for the other voices, getting the essential John Banks to play all our other minor parts, joined by the magnificent Tracy-Ann Oberman, who played both Elena and Violetta, two very distinct and different characters. John filled in as Methos and other voices for her. Then Darren Gross directed Peter Wingfield out in Los Angeles, with a read-in actor for the other parts, before Marcus came along for the final day, once more alongside Toby.
Where did the idea of using The Four Horsemen come from? That was presented to me as part of the deal. The first series hadn’t sold in the most enormous quantities, so it was decided to use English actors if possible to save on high US recording fees. Jason Haigh-Ellery was aware that the Horsemen were fan favourites (and mainly English), so he asked for them to be the stars. Of course, once I started to get in touch with the actors in question, I discovered Peter Wingfield (Methos) was now based in Los Angeles and would have to be recorded out there, and we’d need to fly Marcus Testory (Caspian) in from Germany. So it wasn’t perhaps as cost-cutting as it first appeared. Did you have any other ideas on your plate at the time? Nope, it was always going to be the Horsemen. Although DavisPanzer and MGM had their doubts about their star quality in the beginning, wondering if we could use at least one central Highlander character in each story as well after we pitched them the story outline. After some tense moments trying to figure out how we could keep what we had and somehow insert other characters from the show while keeping costs down, we ultimately managed to convince our licensors to let us pursue the Horsemen alone as originally pitched.
Did you ever manage to get them all together at once? Nope. Although Marcus was very nervous about his day’s recording, especially with English not being his first language, so Richard came along with him to offer some moral support, as he’d also offered up his house for Marcus to stay in during his trip over. Marcus was brilliant, of course, but it was good to have Richard back in studio, and it meant we could do a little interview at the end of the day with two of the Horsemen, which is a free download extra when you order the box set. I did let Valentine know when Marcus was in the country, so three of the Horsemen may well have met up for reunion drinks. But I don’t know for sure… You’ve worked with plenty of charismatic actors on Doctor Who audios etc, how did the Highlander bunch compare? They were all utterly fantastic. Valentine was astonishingly good from the off and really set the standard for the others to follow. He
slipped back into character effortlessly and was suitably evil while also being charming. He was also good enough to come into the office many months later and appear on a podcast alongside me and writer Scott Andrews. Richard was extraordinary. His story involved vast pages of long narrated sections, and though they were tough to do, he ploughed through them in good heart – although he did jokingly ask Scott later on if next time he could use a few more full stops in his writing. Marcus had a tricky time, especially with some difficult pronunciations, but despite his opening concerns he very much rose to the occasion and delivered take after take of quality stuff. I’m told Peter Wingfield loved being back as Methos and was keen to do so again, and he posed for some fantastic pictures to use on the CD booklets. Director Ken Bentley was most excited by all the voices; he said every single one of the actors had a very distinct and brilliant vocal quality and he’d love to work with them all again. Where did the story come from for the four-parter? The sick, twisted mind of Scott Andrews. He came up with the premise of the Pain Eater and the idea of the Horsemen each suffering some kind of devastating loss, and then he and James Moran fleshed it all out into a four-part narrative. How did you go about putting together the complicated narrative? My only guidelines were that I wanted this to contain all the key elements of Highlander, which for my money were action, adventure, beheadings, multiple time periods and romance. The original plan was to have James write two stories and Scott do the other two, but James was very worried about writing his first audio script and said he’d rather just do one. So Scott stepped up to do a third
one. Both of them worked together so that the plays would reference each other and build to be more than the sum of their parts Scott came up with the idea of Dilijan and after talking with James, who wrote the Methos story, they realised Dilijan could run through the whole series instead of being a one-episode villain. All this was overseen by script editor Jim Swallow and me, but we didn’t really have to intervene to any great extent; we were presented with four excellent scripts with plenty of twists and turns. Because if there was one thing I didn’t want this series to be, it was predictable. Did you have to run the story past Davis/ Panzer? Yes, Davis-Panzer and MGM, who licence the show, have to approve everything. So they get the premise to look over, the finished scripts which they offered notes on, and the final audio of the stories. They were good to work with; they had very few changes over the course of the process, and congratulated us on the finished product, which they loved. There was a dangerous moment early on when Davis-Panzer wasn’t sure about us using trepanning, which resulted in a few sleepless nights for the writers as it was central to the whole conceit and we weren’t sure how we could get around it. But in the end Davis-Panzer let us run with it. That was quite a relief… Will there be more Highlander audio adventures? Sadly, it appears not. Not at the moment, anyway. It’s not a massive seller for Big Finish, and while the box set has had overwhelmingly positive reviews, it’s not translated into sales. So if you want more, buy a copy now and show your support! Then tell your friends! It may yet come back one day if we can let the fans know it’s there... Grant Kempster
Eilean Donan Castle* *aka MacLeod castle
There are few Highlander locations that can elicit a feeling of awe greater than Eilean Donan Castle. As you round the bend on the A87, with Loch Duich on your left, the sheer tranquil majesty of the castle is jaw dropping. The Castle & Exhibitions 10.00am - 6.00pm In Highlander, Eilean Donan doubled as the ancestral home of the Clan MacLeod in Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel. In truth, the 13th century castle – which has been home to the MacRae family for the last 100 years – is some 80 miles away from Glenfinnan at the juncture of three lochs. From a fan’s perspective, just standing on the shore is worth the trip, but taking a stroll along the bridge (you’ll need a ticket to do so) is a real spine-tingler. The castle itself is impressive in its own right, containing rooms filled with history relating to its unusual past (the castle was largely rebuilt in 1911). Standing on the turrets also provides some incredible views. My enduring memory of the times I’ve spent by the castle is the immense feeling of calm (even during busy periods). Scotland itself is a land of moving oil paintings. Standing on the shore of Loch Duich, you can’t help but feel like you’re looking at a masterpiece. In short, this destination is an absolute must for all Highlander fans.
(Last Admission 5.00pm)
Every day 1 March - 31st Oct (9.00am opening during July & August) Open February - December 10.00am - 5.00pm Castle Admission Prices 2012 Adults £6.00 Concessions (Students & Seniors,) £5.00 Family (2 Adults + 3 Children Age 5-15) £15.00 Under 5s FREE Group Rate (min 12 persons) £5.00
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