Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Location: Nashville, TN
|Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 11:39 pm Post subject: Transcript of Paul's Q&A at the Ascension con
|Cardiff Sunday November 20th 2005.
The man walks on stage and says, "Before we do anything, do you mind if I take a picture of ya? Cos my son just called me, and he said he doesnít believe what Iím doing and where I am." Paul holds up his camera phone, saying, "So, try and get you all in. [Dalek speaks- ďSay cheese.Ē] No flashes, please. There we go. Cool. Just talk amongst yourselves. Iím just going to send, just to prove it to him. That was really Scouse Doctor Who. I could hear it out there. Shhhh. Hang on a sec. Cool (smiling and giggling). Itís great. You all look great. If slightly stunned. Nice. Do I need a mic?
Paul sits down and is ready to begin.
I always feel, erm, slightly fraudulent on these occasions. Cos in one respect at least, cos I donít watch telly. I keep a telly but just to mainly watch the medical channel at 3 in the morniní...'Take out my spleen', that kind of thing. Or, erm, the occasional football match. But Iíve not seen any of the new or the recent Doctor Whoís. Iíve not seen 'em. Not seen a single episode (groans from the audience). Yeah I know itís weird. So, I donít know what itís like, what heís like, I dunno. Iíve seen tiny clips of them. And similarly, I wasnít even much of a Doctor Who watcher as a kid. I mean, I saw it. No more, no less than any of my mates or my family, so, you know. I just thought Iíd say that, just in case you thought that it kinda comes with the job. That one needs to be encyclopedic on the subject. I donít know. We can make it up, as we go along, canít we? We can talk about what we want. Canít we?
How did you get the gig in the first place?
How did I get the gig in the first place? The pilot? They phoned me up. That is, Phil Segal. The producer from the, erm, he didnít go though the normal channels. That is you know, there was no audition, or call to the agent. He rang. He got my number, and he rang me. And he said, you know, would this be something that might interest you? And I said no. Not really. Thanks for asking. We knew, you know, at that time God, itís ten years ago now. Wow. But we knew that the acting community, there was Doctor Who in the offering. And at that point it had been seven or eight years hadnít it, since? Since thereíd been a series. Since McCoy had finished the series. And there was all kind of rumors, you know. Eric Idle, Alan Rickman, Robert Lindsey, Oliver Reed, or who ever it was. Actually, heíd made a really good Doctor Who. So it was a bit of a surprise. I didnít even believe this guy. I thought he was just having me on, you know. I thought he might be a press guy. Sometimes they do that, you know--they ring you up, a radio station. And he basically, he badgered me for about six months and more. And kept coming back. And then I was trying to deflect him by saying, you know, itís not my thing, itís not my shtick. And he just sort of broke down my arguments. And really by saying, you know, come and talk to us, come and tell us what it is that you think is the that you do. And then they kinda tailored it that way to me. I kinda ended up doing it in the end, because I canít say no to him any more, you know. Also they were auditioning other people anyway. Even my brother Mark, I remember. Somebody once showed me. A filmed audition, you know a tape of a reading that heíd done--Mark. Has anyone ever seen that? Isnít it out there? On the web or something? Iíve seen it. And he was great. He was terrific. And in the end they gave it to me soÖ(giggles). And it was great. What year was it? (Audience shouts, "1996."). Is that when it came out? So, it was a winter. I remember it was winter in Canada when we shot it so. Would that have been the year before? Probably. Yeah, 95/96 we shot it. So yeah, itís ten years now. [Someone say, "Tempus fugit."] What? [A man explains, "time flies when you're having fun."] It does fly. Yep. Even when youíre a Time Lord! (giggles) Someone fire a question at me. Something really difficult. Sir.
..........Monocled Mutineer. because i really enjoyed that.
Thatís twenty years ago. Itís funny now, that itís been an old ham officially you know. I remember when I first started out. One of the first things I ever did as an actor was I played this kid who was a snooker prodigy, on the telly, and Robert Lindsey was in it. I remember sitting down with him and asking him Ďhow old are you?í. And he said 32. Blimey. Can you imagine being that old? I donít wanna be an actor when Iím 32. Anyway, I was 46 last week, still playing away. Monocled Mutineer was, I think, that was probably the thing that got me going, you know. That was the break for me, that was the job, the TV job. Got more work for me. Got the break through. Itís just the way, I think, itís probably just the same now. You know when you start acting, you know you train, or whatever, but you start and try and get on the telly, cos thatís where the work gets. And from there, cos we all wanted to be movie stars. This is the thing, none of us wanted to tread the boards. At least not all the time. We watched movies like anyone else, fans of the stuff. And at the time you did your telly, and, what did they say? ĎBe good in a hití. You know thatís the only advice to listen to. Try and be good in a hit. And maybe if you get that big telly, like I did with The Monocled Mutineer, then maybe someone will put you in a movie. And thatís exactly what happened, because few months after it was Withnail and I. So, thatís the way it tends to happen for actors. But I loved that. I loved the Monocled Mutineer. I think that probably might be the best work I ever did. All in all. You know. I n terms of the role, and the complexity of it. And the impact it had.
One of my predictions was right. When I saw it I said ĎDoctor Whoí.
No way. What was Whoish about Percy Toplis, do you think? Thatís interesting.
Back to William Hartnall being a bit nasty. Toplis was a completely unsavory character. Brutal fight to the very end.
Yeah, itís good. A few times Iíve played, had to play, characters that actually had lived. Now or were still around. Which is strange. Quite interesting. And once or twice, Iíve actually played people who are actually there watching me do it. Playing Ďem.
Thatíll be Chris Ryan.
Yeah, that was one. Yeah, and there was another one. The very first thing I ever did. A young Liverpool lad. Whoís since died. But, thatís quite an odd thing. Toplis, of course, had lived. Percy Toplis. And obviously, I mean just reading what remained of him, just reading the legend of him. And the eyewitness accounts of these exploits and these things he did. It was fairly obvious, no matter who got the part, this Toplis was a better actor than any of us were gonna be! He must have been a scholarship. Itís conceivable now, for example that I. You know, Iím a working class kid, you know. If I got a bunch of A levels and went to college I could be an army officer, for example. You could do that now. But in those days, during the First World War, officer and gentleman were one and the same. You couldnít be an officer without going to the right school or coming from the right class of people. He was a kid outta the mines in Nottinghamshire. For anyone who doesnít know the story, Iíll quickly precis it. This kid worked for the RAMC as a stretcher-bearer. And thus had access to, basically, the personal effects of dead bodies, dead solders, and officers from the stores. About half way through the war, he started nicking clothes and effects and pretending to be these dead people. So much so, that not only would this kid walk into the officersí mess dressed as a major sometimes, and he was 20! He spent two years integrating himself into London society, and he was some kid from Mansfield. And occasionally people would twig. But he had a way about him. And he was a criminal, a crook. He was certainly no angel. You know, he was going out with ĎLady so and soí of so and so, in Ponce street. And nobody was sussing out that really (Paul does Nottingham accent) ďreally he talked like that you knowĒ. And he was dragged up. Left school at 14. So you know, that was like the ĎScarlet OíHaraí. The role that year. You know, everyone wanted to do that, everyone wanted to play that part. But they gave it to me.
They gave it to me.
I just been in India, Iíd just been away with my mates for four or five months. And it was in the January, and I came back. It was freeziní in England, as well at that time. Deep snow, and I had a suntan and weíd been away a few months. And the director, Jim OíBrien. I met him in this office in Soho. Iíd been back a few days. I dunno know. If anyoneís been away a few months, or for the first time, anyway. You go as a kid over to the Far East. Or when you go seriously traveling, not just for a two-week holiday. Particularly if you include India or somewhere like that. You know, the culture shock happens when you get back. Not when you're there. You realize how weird Britain is! You know what I mean. You ever had that feeling? Canít believe we live like this. So I was a little freaked, well more freaked out than I usually am, for a couple of days anyway. I met this guy for this audition. Oh, I must have looked a state. Anyway, he said, 'Where ya been?' I was like the color of a tea bag! I said, 'Iíve just been to India,' and he said, 'So have I.' Heíd been shooting Jewel in the Crown. Oh, thatís how I got the job Iím sure, cos we just used to talk about India. Anyway, on such things you know, careers turn, ladies and gentlemen.
Paul shouts Next!
Is there any role that you would like to play?
I'd love to play me Dad. I'd love to play me Dad. Me Dad died--Joe McGann died in 1984. I was 25. Now particularly looking at my brothers, cos weíre all turning into him. Anyway, more and more and more. You know. And weíre all raising our own kids. And itís like that thing you know. Iíll yell something upstairs at my kids, and itíll come bouncing back off the walls, and Iíll go oh my god, thatís him, you know. Also a combination of missing him very much still. You know. Iím sure thatíll never fade. But particularly easily remembering him, you know. In his 40ís and 50ís. I dunno. Maybe our Stephen will have to write something. Stephenís quite a good writer, you know. Heís been trying to weed out the acting for a few years and concentrate on the writing. Heís been threatening, I think, but keep it under your hat, cos it might put the kibosh on it, you know. If he finds out Iíve said anything. Cos heís superstitious, heís thinking about putting something together about me Dad. You know. So long as I break our Mark's leg, I might get the gig. You know. Our Joe canít do it, cos he's just not--he's like twice the size me Dad was. Has anyone ever seen our Joe? Whatís all that about? Heís the size of a doorway, isnít he? Fantastic you know. Heís got the biggest head in London! Itís official. They made him a hat for something he was in. The wardrobe department rang down to the hat shop. They said, 'I think thereís been some mistake,' and theyíre going, 'No!!í Honest to god, heís got a 26 Ĺ inch head! Big init? Itís as big as someoneís waist. Not only that, but itís long as well. It like (demonstrates). Even at school they used to call him the Ďloafí. You know he was really close to getting James Bond (Jo and Sara gasp). Wouldnít that have been cool? It would have been really cool. He only told us last weekend. He didnít wanna say you know, superstitious again, he didnít wanna say you know. But they saw him 3 or 4 times. He said they made him do all the things. Running up the thing, pretending to have a gun, and a cocktail. At least a Scouser got it. ( our Jo says Ď yeah, but the wrong one!) Yeah. We had this last night. Heís a lovely actor. Looks like a Ďbig issueí seller. I didnít make that up. I read it somewhere. I didnít mean that. What was the question? Yeah. Me Dad. Joe Frances McGann.
Paul breathes heavily down microphone. Oh, hi there.
I would just like to ask. How you came across the part of Golic and what happened to the parts you played in that didnít appear in the movie?
Yeah it was great. The day that we got chased down the ventilation shaft by the monster, (Paul giggles). Was just the best day. Like being back at school. And even when we met Fincher, the directors going Ďguys this is it. This is the dayí. You know. Youíre all going to get chased by the alien. And were going Ď oh greatí! itís amazing. And it was really really scary. Ďcos weíre just kids really. You know. It pays to just. Ďcos thatís what it is really, you know, just grown up play. Lots of grown up ply. And Ďem it didnít disappoint you know. Itís just kind cool you know, having seen it. You know the head with the head that comes outta the mouth. Did battle with it. It was cool. I loved it. And didnít they find loads of extra footage recently? They put a new version out havenít they. Yeah Ďcos you know, I was in it for ages. Well, you know, we all were in it for months and months and months. But I think I had quite a large role, substantial, then in the end, it sometimes happens like that. I think I was in the film for 10 minutes. By the time theyíd put it together. I know theyíve re-estate some of that footage havenít they. Trying to make more sense of the story. Unfortunately for him, for David Fincher. Ďcos it was his first solely directing job. The grown ups, Universal, they took it off him. Which has got to be the worst thing that could have happened to him. To a director. A really talented one like him. And you know, when we started he was fantastic. He was really young 25 Ė 26. For weeks he was great, he was on the ball. Having the time of his life. And I saw him again in California, you know, we were doing some re-takes, a few months later. And by that point theyíd already sacked him. Started messing around with the film that heíd made, and re-shouting the ending. You know, thatís really gotta hurt. And he looked really quite sad and rather haunted. But heís had the last laugh. I think heís a big cheese now. It sounds like he was able to, you know, get the footage back. Or at least request pressure on Ďem to get a directors cut. What ever that means. Iíd like to see it though. Ďcos itís great. Itís like looking at holiday snaps. You know. When you see yourself in pictures. I tend to wait at 10 years at least. Ďcos I cant stand watching myself anyway. After about 10 years itís ok you know. And then you go, omg, look at that place, or you tend to watch and remember the laugh you had you know. That was a great laugh. Doing that. And he was amazing. You know. Fincher. He was fantastic. A great talent. I think they found him in a school as a 16/17 year old, I think the story goes. Heís a really brilliant visual artist. Computer boffin, and what have you, you know. ĎIndustrial the magicí, the special effects company that George Lucas started. They found this kid. You know what they do, find good kids and get them working with the company, and thatís how Fincher started. He came up through that and through art departments you know. When I met him, get interviewed for the job. I was waiting for this kid to show me into the director. And heíd sussed thatís what Iíd been doing. I was with him about 5 minutes. And he said Ď are you waiting for me to show you in to the man? I am the maní. I said omg. He was younger than me. We were in this office and there was all these models and design drawings on the wall. And they were all his. And he had this Japanese theatre that heíd made, and puppets and what have you. And he was doing a couple of scenes from how he imagined how the film was going to look you know. Heís that kinda person. Iíve gotta work with this kid Ė it was fantastic. And so we did. It was great. Happy days.
Where were you going with the TV Movie? And if it had gone to series in America. How would that equate to what you do with the Big Finish stuff?
We were, again, during that year. Segal was determined to get me to do this part. You know. Saying come on Phil, give me a break. Itís not my thing. I donít really watch Doctor Who. Iím not really this or that. Iím not steeped in the legend sort of thing. Anyway, the further we went you know, Iím saying anyway look you know. I just donít do that. Thatís not what I do. Thatís why Eric Idles gonna get the gig. You know, you need to be like McCoy. McCoyís a mate. You need a comedian. And heís saying no, no, no, we want you. So having corned me with my own argument. Effectively. I was then having to actually dissect what it is I thought that I did for a living. We decided that if this thing you know, the pilot took off. And was successful. And that weíd play it in a certain way and Ďcos it was never written, I canít tell you what was planned but what we talked about. Particularly the dark side of him you know. I was very taken with this imagine as this outsider. Ďcos I was given the background to read. Even an outsider in his immediate circle. You know, Seagal had told me all about his Dad, Doctor Who had, had some row with his Dad. You know, he was making it up as he went along Iím sure. You know, heíd been ousted from this and that and it all sounded great. You know, it got more kinda ÖÖas it went along. I was really taken with that. And I thought ok. You know, whatever his immediate engaging personality is, then. Like any actor would be enthusiastic about this, there seemed to be layers to this character. Whatís he hiding? Whatís he trying to disguise? You know, why is he being so ĎWhoish?í you know, to keep yourself interested, thatís what you have to do you know. Potential it was going to be 6 years you know. At that time, ĎInterview with a vampireí was being made. And I said to Seagal thereís a touch of a vampire in this character. You know. The melancholy attachment like the Anne Rice books to the lead characters. And he seemed to buy that. But we never got a chance.
So how does that differ to your approach to him on the audio?
Occasionally it happens. But you know, melancholy on the radio is actually quite a tricky one to pull off. You know, the audio adventures are such that. I know Ďcos I did another few this week. You know, radio tends to be plot driven. You know itís not a fault itís just the way it is. You know. (Paul acts a little ott -) Ď Oh look, there are 6 of Ďem, and theyíre all coming this way.í You know. Thatís the way radio has to be so you can visualize whatís happening. Where as you know, shooting a film, you can look sad or youíre disguising something. Itís slightly tougher on radio believe me. You just sound glum. Or hung over. Or both. It doesnít quite come off. The audio adventures, I really enjoy doing Ďum. More for the communal, the company spirit. Getting a bunch of people. Radioís really funny to be on. Itís a laugh. Working on a film set is tough. Scary. And all this machinery pointing at you. And everyoneís looking at their watch, and Ďcan you get on with ití. Where as radios different. Itís more like doing theatre. Your all in the same room, youíre all getting it together, the energy there. Itís good fun. As far as the character goes, I like to think thereís more we could do with it. On the radio, but Iím not quite sure how we could pull that one off. Turn him into ĎHamletí or something. You know what I mean. (Gentleman makes a comment I canít quite catch) These are the jokes fellas. Giggle one in a row.
Do you feel you have to be a better actor to work on radio than you do on camera?
No, a different actor. You know. Working as an actor, yeah. Itís just different stuff. I do voices as well for documentaries. But itís all work you know. Itís another skill. Radio differs from telly, you know. I mean principally you can get things on radio that youíd never get cast for in a film Ďcos you just donít look right. You know. Film and TV, first and for most, is how you look you know. We all try and deny that, but of cause itís true. Unless you can accept that youíll never be happy doing it. No itís kind hard to take, you know. When you first start acting as a performer, you think, this is who I am, you want to be an individual, but of cause you have to get used to the simple fact your in a group, your type. And youíre up against other people of you type constantly. And just get used to it. And you know who they are Ďcos you met them every few weeks. Going up for jobs. (Paul whistles). All right, yeah?
Tell us about Sharpe.
Sharpe. What my do in Sharpe? I did Sharpe. Actually I did Sharpe for just a bit longer than I did Dr Who. In the event. About 10 weeks. Sean Bean did that for what, about 5 years? I was the original Sharpe. We went out to Ukraine. In 1991 to shoot. It was going to be a long shoot about 16/17 weeks. But I got injured in the first weekend. In their wisdom, they thought theyíd Ė the first Sunday off, before the Monday. They thought theyíd take us to the beach and play football. And I never made it to half time in this gig. The exclusive producer all 19 Ĺ stone, no word of a lie, committed himself to a tackle. That he simply couldnít get out of. I could see him coming. For about 5 yards. He was like a tanker trying to turn in the channel as it was, but once heíd started. Anyway, he landed on me, and that was that. That was the end. And Iíve never been the same since. It just tore all the ligaments in my left leg, in me knee. And that was me. We were in this town, in Crimea, S?????, or simply awful as we called it. They took me to this hospital. They said, oh, youíve sprained it. Youíll be all right next week. I said what? It doesnít feel like itís sprained. This town was about as big as Liverpool, you know. They said weíve got 2 football teams here I see this injury every week. Anyway, they put me on light duties. It just got worse, and worse, until by the end 7,8,9, weeks of it. I was saying, look, this ainít right; I need to go and get this checked out. You know. I said to the producer. Not the one that flattened me! They sent me to Moscow. To get it checked out. Or fly me to London. But as soon as I got on the plane, they sacked me. I flew to London and the guy at the ĎCromwell Hospitalí took one look at me, and said Iím operating on you tonight. This is wrecked. But Iím lying in hospital, feeling really sorry for myself, and the phone rang. And it was Sean Bean. And heís saying Ďwhats going on? Theyíve just rang me. Basically offered me the earth to get on a plane tonightí. I said yeah. Go on. Take sandwiches. (laughter). Has anyone ever been to the Ukraine? Wooo. The food is vile. The people are fantastic. Whatís supposed to be a market garden? Where the serve up soup. But itís glop. You know, like mauve soup. Things like that. Bread that looks like moon rock. You know. Matter. Matter sauce. You know, they all got sick. So it was a horrible thing to be on. Anyway, he made the best of it didnít he. Old Sean. It was a case of what could have been. You know. Matter and matter sauce. Must find a Ukraine cook book some time. It was really weird being there. You know. It was about 1991; the Berlin wall had come down the year before. It was the Soviet Union was breaking up, or just broke up. The people there were pretty wrecked. You know, they didnít know what was happening. The kids seemed ok you know. The younger people. Anyone over 40, or grown up under communalism. I felt sorry for Ďem. You know. Imagine. You know, everything youíve ever believed in, the whole system, suddenly over night they were going, Ď sorry. It was all pants. Youíre on ya tod. Youíre on your own now. No-body new what to do. No one knew how to open a bank account, no-body knew how to order a telephone, or shop. There wasnít a clue. You know. It was a hoot though. But not an experience I liked to repeat. And we all ended up sewing them. That was the real drama. All of us. I had to sew Ďem for all of my wages Ďcos theyíd refused to pay me. And all these sick actors. Theyíd had enough of this mauve soup! It took 5 years! The goings on in showbiz. McGann lifts the lid. On the dark side of TV drama. As usual the real drama happened off screen. As is normally the case. It was good. Or it would have been good. Do you know what was really weird? Is Iíd shot so much of it. Weíd done big battle sequences, and big set pieces. Where theyíd blown stuff up, bridges houses. Spent a lot of money already, you know. In these scenes. So when Sean arrives, and I was lying in hospital. They simply couldnít afford to go back and re shoot with him in it. And they did something, which I swear, to this day, Iíve never heard before or since. They simply dropped him into close ups that had once contained me! Yeah! If you know what I mean. Iíd never herd of it before. So, I was very curious. So I watched the first couple of films. Because I knew, for example. That, that actress was playing the love scene with me. Right. But when you reverse it was Sean Bean goingÖisnít that weird?
and Sean's like...
So sheís looking longingly at me. I could tell it was me, Ďcos Seanís quite tall, and Iím not. So sheís looking somewhere around his collarbone.
Sean's collar bone.
And sheís staring into my eyes. If you know what I mean! (Laughter.) Oh well, what larks.
I find it ironic that you lost Sharpe because of a dodgy leg. And Sean Bean spends most of the films limping!
I know. Whatís that about? I never thought about that, but itís true isnít it. He drags that leg all around the Ukraine. Hmm.
Itís a sympathy limp!
I think it probably is. Yeah. Yeah. What else did I nearly get? Thatís gotta be the actors nightmare. What else was I nearly in but wasnít good enough to be in? Donít know. Someone else ask me a question before I start crying.
Do you have any idea if and when were going to get to see Poppies?
Poppies is this full-length feature that I was in, made with some mates. Over the last couple of years you know. Basically we just made it on credit cards to shot this thing. Since doing the Monocled Mutineer Iíve always, 20 years, itís got me really interested in the period in the First World War. So much so, Iíve always gone back to the battlefields, and itís the only really anoraky thing I do you know. Thatís my thing. Go over there and walk across the fields of the Somme. So we shot a film over the last 2 years. Based on this experience. I donít know. You see. Shooting a film, particularly now you know, with modern cameras. I mean only one can go out and shoot a film, for peanuts really. Gettingí it seen is another matter. Firstly getting the thing postproduction. Getting it paid for. Making it look nice. That costs money. And getting it distributed is the big thing. Poppies is like 1 of 10,000 other British pictures at the moment. Theyíre kinda laying in cold storage, you know. Nobody waits to give it that funding, that means itís going to be exhibited, you know. Itís tough. So, you know, we take it around the festivals, try and chat people up, into finishing it off. First and for most, you could make a film on that camera there..
And it could be a beautiful work of art. If one day you fondly hope that you see it at the flicks to get it blown up. You know. There would have to be a 35mil print of it. And it doesnít matter who you are. How little or much money you have. I know in Britain, there are two laboratories thatíll do that for you. And itíll be £100,000 say. If your Joe Soap or Ridley Scott. It doesnít matter. Thatís the going rate. So thatís a problem. Itís certainly a problem for us. So, you know, its just try to persist to find somebody rich to kinda back you, you know. Weíre takiní it around America at the moment. But itís a bit down beat for them.
Did you find the same thing with Gypo?
Gypoís doing quite well. Gypo I shot about this time last year. Again it is a full-length feature. The first, and probably the last UK Dogma film you know. For those of you who arenít familiar with Dogma95 you know, itís this really weird, aesthetic discipline. Pioneered amicably by Montrea and these Danish types. Who were tired, or so they said, of some much artifice in pictures, you know. Canít we get back to something raw you know? Isnít there away of achieving an emotional pinch in a picture without having to violin underscoring, and all manner of devises you know. Has anyone ever seen Festen?
Oh, you should see it. This was the first one they made. Itís probably the first one to see. And these are films, there are stories, and thereís a shooting script as such. But thereís no dialogue written down. Itís all improvised. Thereís no music, anywhere in the film. You know, when you watch a picture you almost donít notice the music anymore. But thereís all kind of aides to, the film maker would have it, to focus you in a particular direction, making you concentrate on a certain thing or heighten up the tension with this and that and the other. And these Dogma types say, ĎNo. We wonít have that. We just try and get back to simple story telling.í With no lighting, you know. We just use available lighting. Again, because of the digital cameras. And the modern format itís possible to do it. No lighting. No music. No costumes. You wear your own clothes. You turn up and shoot in you own clothes. That was weird.
Whatís it like on set, doing something like that. Is it stressful or is everyone more relaxed?
Itís really intense. First and foremost, to work on, particularly a cinema film. Cinema films tend to shoot for about 6/7 weeks on average. And youíll be aiming on a good day, to shoot 2-3 minutes of screen time. You know, a whole day 15-16 hours. And thatís what youíll achieve. Itís a slow process. So that means, the experience that actors tend to have is what. ĎHurry up and wait.í You hang around all the time. Chiefly for lighting. Your hanging 4, 5, 6, hours of the day waiting for the photographer to say Ď ok Iím ready.í Itís like, letís shoot it. So itís a case of, thatís your job. Keeping your powder dry. As they say. Until your needed. You might wait all day for just 2 or 3 minutes. But with these Dogma things, because thereís no lights. All you do is shoot. But because thereís no script, no lines to learn. Youíre making it up as you go along anyway. So itís exhausting! Just get to the end of the day, and weíd just. We just be sitting in the pub afterwards, and nobody could speak. Just staring at one another. It was fantastic really. I was really curious to do it. And I had this thing in my head that I couldnít improvise, you know. Not all actors are good at making stuff up. Itís not easy you know. Otherwise youíre a good actor.
Do you think you achieved more doing that? Than just doing an ordinary film?
Curious. I still am curious about the process. Dogma process. Iím glad I did it. But I think thereís some pretty extravagant claims. Perhaps, made for it. I think theyíre having a laugh actually. A little bit. I mean, what are films? Films are artifice. Films are stories you know. I saw this interview with Montrea. And he was talkiní about Festen. Because most of the action takes place in a big country house in Festen. They said that house is marvellous, why did you choose it? And he said the reason we chose this particular house, and not the other one, was because the fridge was full of food and drink, (Utopian ladies giggle.) Thatís another thing, on these Dogma things. You canít dress a set. You can only use whatís in the room. So when we were in Kent, doing this Gypo. There was this family, living on a housing estate. And they would get up in the morniní. They had 3 kids, Mum and Dad. And they would give us keys to their house, you know. There was no wardrobe department, no art department. So weíd go in the house and weíd shoot. One camera, hand held, there was no legs
And if there was a food scene, we had to eat their food that was in then fridge. Itís weird. They are haviní a laugh really. Itís taking it slightly too far. And I donít know. What is emotional truth anyway? Itís like, sometimes people say to actors, you know, Ďgod. It must be really difficult to leave that character behind and go home, and, and,í No actually! Iím telliní you a story. Iím not really that person, you know what I mean. Weíre playing emotions. Weíre telliní stories of emotions. What I mean is, itís unnecessary for us to feel those things in order to tell you the story. All we have to do is act the story out. Thatís what we do. Iím not so sure that simply by, you know, creating privations, and making the thing more kinda Ďmonkí like is going to make the story anymore truthful. I donít quite understand what that means. But Iím glad I did it. You know. It had a real edge to it. And I quickly found away as well. ĎCos we play a family. In this thing you know. I played my first Grandad (Me-oohh). That was a shock. Took me a few weeks to get over it. You know. Weíd do these scenes. Quite a few dinner scenes. And itís a bit like this now. If thereís a silence, somebody feels compelled to speak. So it turned into a bit of a mad house, you know. ĎCos weíre supposed to be improvising. And there might be 6 actors in the room goiní
Waiting to say something. But thatís not how families live. Well, not my family anyway. That was interesting to find a way of getting through that. Actually, I found, the less you said, actually the better. Anyway. Although I was meant to be playing some mouthy beget.
Is that what kind of added the edge to it? That kind of awkward silence?
I think so. Yeah. I think so. Anyway, wait and see it. ĎCos Ďem, itís actually picking up awards. Itís doing really really well.
It has the distribution, and they're gonna send it out. And it stars, amongst others, Pauline McLynn who is Mrs Doyle in Father Ted. (Audience shout out Ďgo on, go on.)
Go on. Yeah. Playing this Kentish fishwife. Who falls in love with another woman. This Romanian asylum seeker. Itís cool. Itís so incongruous. You know. And seeing her doing this particular turn. And sheís fantastic. Yeah. Fantastic. Iím just crap. I play Alf Garnet in it. (shouts-) More!
Which film has been the most difficult for you to play or research?
To play or research. Thatís easy. I never research. Because thereís just never the time. Thereís simply never the time. Itís a nice idea. Be lovely actually, for one day for them to say : weíre gonna make this film in 4 months time, and youíre in it. Do you wanna go away and bone up on the subject? Thatíd be lovely. But it never happens, because you always get the gig and then you start shooting the Monday after. So thereís never any time.
I suppose you could read up on a real character?
I suppose, yeah. I mean, you could always read stuff as you go along. But, you know, yeah. Research is easy Ďcos thereís never the time. As for the most difficult to play? Thereís been a few actually. Thatís just too hard. You know. ĎCos sometimes you just do things that are a little bit beyond ya. I do anyway. Stuff that doesnít quite come off. But itís like anything you know. You learn from them, you learn about your limitations. Itís getting philosophical all of a sudden!
Would you ever consider playing another sci-fi role?
Another sci-fi role. Yeah. Yeah. ĎCos thereís obvious intelligence at work in Ďem. Iím not , I men, Iím sure you well know. Iím not a sci-fi buff in the slightest, you know. Iím not one of these people who have read all the books. I mean, Iíve read a few books, you know. Theyíre going for something, the stories, by there very nature, they tend to be suggestive of other worlds, and fantastical. There completely artifice of some say, not disbaraging Ďem but. I kinda like it, more and more. Has anyone ever seen ĎAlphaville?
Lady replies yes.
Isnít that just a great film! Thatís one of my all time favourite films. That just came into my head. And itís this guy, this police detective. Whoís the actor? 1960ís. Goddard film. Most of the action takes place in a Paris hotel. And even without special effects. No effects. You know, that this is a film about Aliens. And extra-terrestrials. On the face of it, itís just this guy investigating a crime. Itís a fantastic film though. Thatís what I mean you know. Thereís an intelligence at work in that. Thatís just good story telliní. I like that. (Paul does strange, husky voice-) I like that one.
Paul: Is there anyone in that Dalek?
Paul: Oh, thank goodness.
Paul: Hello. Oh, I think we established heís not the crooner, is he, from yesterday.
Dalek: No. Totally tone deaf I am.
Paul: Are you?
Paul: just sing a little bit of something. Go on. Sing a little bit of Ďem.. the first verse of God Save the Queen. Or any oldÖÖ.
Dalek: Happy birthday to you.. (etc)
Paul : (laughs and claps). Tone deaf, my arse! That was positively mellifluous.
Dalek: Apparently itís your turn to get off the stage.
Paul: Oh, is it?
Paul: I was just getting warmed up!
Dalek: The program has been Ďexterminated!í
Paul and audience laugh.
Paul: Anyway. Until we meet again. (sings-) And now, the end is nearÖ. Do you remember Mike Yarward? He always used to go at the end Ďand this is me.í And something cheesy.
Audience cheers and claps.
Paul: Thank you.
Heather (the convention organizer): If you can hang around for a bit. We need to do the auction.
Paul: Mmmm. What am I gonna auction?
Paul: What can I auction?
Lotís of shouting from audience. Some folks start shouting Ďjumper.í
Dalek: Apparently somebody just shouted your body!!!
Paul: Oh, I do that about 10 times a dayÖFingers sweater. No I canít. this was a present. I canít.
Heather: Arhh, he canít do that.
Heather: Have you got a scarf?
Paul: Yes, I have. Thatís not a bad idea, is it?
Heather: Give us two secs, and weíll come and sort it out.