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Estelle's account of Sunday brunch with Paul

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Joined: 04 Feb 2006
Posts: 473
Location: Sussex, WI USA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 9:37 am    Post subject: Estelle's account of Sunday brunch with Paul Reply with quote

This is from the EZ Board Library, also. Estelle gave a wonderfully detailed account of the 'goings ons' at Paul's table (which she won a seat at--the lucky wench! Mr. Green ) at the optional brunch on Sunday. (I could still kick myself for not going to this, as it looked as if a marvelous time was had by all Confused... )

Estelle provided many pics on the original thread, but all the pics can be viewed here, also, on pages 6 + 7:

(Thread originally posted on 12/18/04 9:52 pm)

Estelle wrote:
The all-access member could choose his/her brunch guest, and, of course, you all would never dream of the personage I'd want to have brunch with. Ah, you know me too well--I was definitely hoping that I could sit at Paul's table. However, when I queued up on Sunday morning, I still didn't know. Organizer Jennifer Adams Kelley had told me the evening before that she still had people higher on her list than me (#23 and Amanda, #24) to ask. However, she wrote down my preferences in descending order: Paul, India, Gary, and Jason. At 9:50 am on Sunday, she said she still had a couple of people left to talk to but added that if they didn't show up by 10 am, then I could sit with Paul. She buzzed by at the appointed hour and said because of my patience and for following the rules, I could have brunch with Paul. *happy dance*

I found my place setting, which was three seats to Paul's left. Gwyn Jeffers whom I know from the CT yahoo list, would be sitting right next to Paul, and her boyfriend John Chadwick was sitting between her and me. The tables filled with guests and con-goers, but our man of honor was nowhere to be seen. I thought maybe I'd take a picture of Gwyn and the empty chair next to her and call it "Missing Piece." [Little did I know that it would be Gary Russell who stood up his table.]

Finally Paul came in carrying not one but two plates of food: one plate piled high with slices of cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and pineapple, and the other with scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, and a biscuit. Somone suggested that introductions were in order; we went around the table saying our name and where we were from. When Gwyn Jeffers said she was from Maryland but was going to school in Delaware, Paul got this dreamy look and said: "Maryland. That's where Lynn lives. I think I'd like to visit Maryland sometime." When I told the others that I was Estelle May from Nashville, TN, Paul smiled broadly and said, "I know."

One lady asked him if he worried about his safety at Doctor Who cons, and he deadpanned, "No, not until now." He said he usually feels high as kite after one of these cons and spoke of getting waves of good will from the fans. He commented that people spoke of him not wanting to do cons in the past, and he wanted to set the record straight. [Now, he very definitely didn't want to attend any cons for the longest time. Back at CT2001 I asked Gary Russell how Paul came to change his mind about attending the ultimately canceled Starfury con, and Gary said, "It's always a matter of money with Paul." Jason had introduced con organizer Sean Harris, a pal from Buffy conventions, to Paul who said he'd have to be suitably recompensed for his appearance. When asked how much he wanted, Gary said Paul named an outlandish sum, thinking he wouldn't even get a tenth of it. The promoter agreed, and Paul was surprised his bluff was called.]

The talk during the brunch was mainly about acting. Paul started off talking about the Danish filmmakers who created Dogme in 1995, and film student John Chadwick was the only one who knew the reference. Paul said the filming would take place in Kent and that there would be no script and no lighting--everything would be natural. The movie, tentatively called Home, is about asylum-seekers who are sent to live in Kent and who have to deal with the ill-will of the townspeople who resent and hate them (I don't think he ever said where the foreigners are from). He added that the title would probably change by the time the film is released.

He said he was approached for the role based on something he'd previously done (but I don't remember what). He said for Empire of the Sun, Spielberg asked him to do that soldier boy thing he'd done before.

He remarked that next year he would be touring with a theater group in England. He said they would be putting on Taming of the Shrew and a Restoration comedy (maybe one by Sheridan in answer to my query) without a director. He commented that he'll have to do more commercials when he's with the theater ensemble.

He said many actors are insecure people who could entrance a crowd of 2000 and then clam up in front of a small group like the one at our table. He commented that actors are born not made and that if you're able to tell a story or joke convincingly, then you can act. He thought his younger son Jake who could deadpan at age five while telling a story could probably succeed as an actor. However, he thought his older son Joe (who appeared with Paul in Sweet Revenge) would not be good as an actor. He said, "He's a nice kid, but what you see is what you get." He said it was easy to know if a kid had acting ability, just as it was easy for him to tell who would be good at soccer during the five-year period when he taught a children's soccer class.

Paul likes the idea of mystique in an actor and thinks that only people who can't be dissuaded otherwise should become actors. He also spoke of having to be able to handle rejection. He coaches kids for drama school auditions and said one boy had failed and was very cut up about it. Paul said he told him, "Welcome to the business."

He said he's never done a chat show and never will. He doesn't like the idea of turning up somewhere dressed in his own clothes and talking tabloid. However, he does do promotional work for projects because he said you can't avoid it. He also said that he never shows his face in commercials and does voice-overs only. He doesn't mind coming to a Who con because it's smaller scale and just about a single topic.

He spoke a little about the differences between performing on stage and in front of a camera and said you can be more subtle on camera. On stage you have to project your voice, and the audience can't see your face very well. On a film set, however, there's the camera and lots of ancillary people milling about and looking at what you're doing. He said you have to ignore everything around you and concentrate on your lines. He then leaned close toward Gwyn, put his left arm around her shoulders, and said that if they were doing an intimate scene together, she'd have to ignore the onlookers ("No pressure," he said). Gwyn's eyes were as big as saucers by this time, and she looked gobsmacked and tongue-tied (the situation would have made for a great picture).

Someone asked whether it was a lot harder doing drama compared to comedy, and Paul said drama was easy. He said you don't have to actually feel the emotion you're showing. He told a little story about Kirk Douglas who was asked whether he was moved by the scene in which as van Gogh he slices off his ear. Douglas said, "No, it's moving for you." Paul then recalled an old Polish drama school teacher at RADA who said not to cry as an actor because if you do, you cross a line and are no longer in control. He added that if tears are required for a scene, then the effects people will blow menthol into your eyes to induce tearing. He admitted, however, that some actors can cry on demand and stop when "Cut!" is yelled. [I guess like Mel Gibson is said to have done during a stressful scene in Lethal Weapon where he's weeping and struggling not to kill himself. The director said cut, and Mel asked if they should do the scene again.]

Paul said that actors in the theater tend to view each other as equals, no matter what the level of experience is. He thought this camaraderie made for better performances Things on a movie set are usually more hierarchical. He then spoke of working with Lauren Bacall on the set of Innocent Victim and said, "Here's an indiscreet story."

He said Bacall was very much acting the part of the regal star. One day when they were sitting together in the makeup trailer, Bacall was getting tired of the efforts of the makeup girl who was terrified of the grande dame. He said the actress put her hands on her face and smeared the makeup which had taken an hour to apply. When the makeup girl burst into tears, Paul said he asked Bacall, "Why are you being so horrible?" He said things got very quiet, and everyone in the trailer left, except for him and Bacall. She asked him if the pub across the street might be open for them to have a drink. He said the two of them, still wearing makeup bibs, sauntered over to the pub and sat down for a drink. He said she spoke to him for an hour about the need to exert oneself. She told him, "You Brits, always trying to be egalitarian. If you don't stand up for yourself, someone will take your place." [I don't think he learned Bacall's lessons very well.]

Someone asked him whom he looked up to and he said probably sports figures. I asked him if the actors in Mourning Becomes Electra could have used their native accents. I said as an American I found the Southern-sounding speech of the women (except for Helen Mirren who sounded spot on) to be distracting. He said the performances would certainly have been easier to pull off without having to emulate an American accent. He said Mirren commented that speaking with a regional accent while acting felt like her skirt was wadded up in her knickers. He said a lot of Americans couldn't do decent English accents either but added that Gwyneth Paltrow's accent was very good.

I asked him about how an actor gets an OBE, since the Fifth Doctor Peter Davison has one. He said the Royals get recommendations from various Ministers and that Princess Diana picked whoever she liked on TV. He mentioned the Biographer movie about the Princess and Andrew Morton and said that co-star Brian Cox told him on set, "There goes the knighthood, kid." He said that movie would never be shown in Britain. I told him that most of the scenes with Morton and his family (including the cute one at the end, where he's reading a story about the Emperor's New Clothes to his daughters, and they all start shrieking, "He's not wearing any clothes, he's not wearing any clothes!") were deleted in the CBS version, and he asked why. He then asked whether Peter Davison really had an OBE.

The gentleman sitting next to me talked to Paul about being a ham radio operator and said he would usually talk to a guy in the Ukraine. Paul wondered what his friend was thinking about the political situation going on there now. The radio operator then gave Paul a $2 bill as a souvenir of the con and showed off some Canadian money, too. About this time India came over and spoke animatedly to Paul (and now I know she was telling him about Andie's beautiful cross-stitch project).

Things were winding down, and I asked my fellow brunchers if I could take a couple of pictures. They (including Paul) agreed..

People started coming up and asking Paul to pose with them for pictures, and he most graciously agreed. I asked the ham operator guy if he would mind taking a picture of me and Paul, and he said sure, he'd take a picture.

When I asked Paul if I could get a picture with him, he said, "Get in here!" He turned toward me, put his arm on my shoulder, and had this big grin on his face when he said, "I feel like Santa Claus. So, what do you want for Christmas, little girl?"

I said, "Some people would say--you." And he kept on grinning.
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