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Maureen Russell & Anthony De Longis - Duende

In mid discussionWhen Peter, the MC for the convention, introduced Anthony, he made reference to a shot in some of the video we had already seen where he was sparring with F Braun McAsh in Griffiths Park. At one point, Anthony raised his sword two-handed above his head in the manner of He-Man in the Masters Of The Universe cartoons. Anthony responded by saying that he had played Blade in the Masters Of The Universe film. He had been clad from head to toe in surgical rubber and his costume was completed with 50lbs of chain mail. His head was shaved for the role and, during a six week shoot in a small town in California for the night shots, he was driving out of Los Angeles against the commuter traffic morning and night. He said that he took great delight in shaving his head and leering at the queuing drivers going in the other direction.

We moved on to the dailies from "Duende" and the confrontation between Duncan and Consone in the courtyard. Anthony said that this was actually the courtyard of the School Of Arts. He and Adrian had had no time to rehearse beforehand, as Adrian was working a lot on his dancing for the flashback and the modern scenes, but one of the trucks broke down on the morning of the shoot, so that gave them ½ an hour to practise before filming started. The day on which they were filming at the School of Arts was the day on which the Beaujolais Nouveau arrived in Paris and the students there had been getting steadily blotto as the day wore on. When they moved inside to film the scene where Consone throws Theresa down the stairs, it was getting quite late. Anthony and Dolores Chaplin were stood at the top of the stairs and, when he pushes her, she falls forward onto a soft pad that had been placed to catch her. However, he said that the students gathered to watch, fuelled by the wine, let out a cry of "bātard!" when they filmed the shot!

The fencing school where Consone tutors Duncan was actually the hall of the International University and Anthony felt that they had done a great job in dressing the set. Moving to the modern day confrontation on the Quai, he said that he and Adrian thought the long shot that was used was actually a rehearsal. He said he was thrilled to work with the director, Richard Martin, as he had also worked with Richard's father, Dick Martin of "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" fame. He said the woman who played the demure chaperone used to turn up to make-up dressed in biker leathers and he always found the transformation humorous.

We then turned to the dailies from the sauna scene. Anthony said it might have looked hot, but was a corner of a hall and they were quite cold. He commented that Adrian's look in the scene was "a buff Jesus". Adrian looks taller in that scene because he is three steps closer to the camera. As they walked out at the end of one take, Adrian is following Anthony and quite audibly says, "nice underwear". Anthony said that he wanted to use that scene to imply a closeness between Consone and Duncan, so that the rift actually hurt Consone. In the next shot, the camera was tighter on Anthony and, as Adrian walked back and forth, Maureen told Anthony that he was being upstaged by Adrian's abs! She also said that Anthony had a strange effect on episode titles - "Blackmail" was originally called "Sex, Swords and Videotape" and "Duende" was originally entitled "The Mysterious Circle".

We then moved to the back of the limo and Anthony commented that this was probably his first ever love scene where the girl was not tied up or at the point of a gun. Maureen had all eight takes of the scene, to which Anthony commented, "8 takes - cool". He said that they were cramped in the car, as besides Anthony, Deborah Epstein and the driver, there was also Richard Martin, the cameraman and the soundman. As we watched the takes, Maureen asked us if we would trust that man, characterising Consone as "sleaze on wheels".

Shameless photo opportunityWe then moved to the climactic fight and Anthony said that they never truly got time to rehearse the fight together and that the fight would only have been possible with someone of Adrian's ability. He said that he and Braun had showed the fight to Adrian the night before, but that he (Anthony) had to adjust to the different rhythms of Braun and Adrian. He said that rehearsal creates a "muscle memory" of what you have to do, but without rehearsal they were walking a tightrope.

He explained a little about the background of the Mysterious Circle and the sword as a symbol of justice. He said that he had been reading the writings of Thibault of Antwerp and that, basically, the object is to control the centre line of the fight by occupying it. The lines and foot symbols are a template of openings and gambits. They show how the fighter can develop the centre line, taking control of it and thus moving his opponent out of the centre line, which opens him up and makes him vulnerable to attack, making it seem that the fighter has an almost prescient understanding of what the opponent will do next.

He said that the location was chosen because the Eiffel Tower was visible in the distance, but the rain brought visibility down to 60' on the night they shot. He said he and Adrian had no change of clothes and had to wear the same shirts no matter how wet it got. The fight was not without its problems - Adrian's sword, which was made of aluminium, broke at one point, and the slippery conditions led to Anthony going at one point. As he fell, he threw his swords away, one of which passed a little too close to Adrian for comfort, although it did miss him. Maureen showed the edited fight at the end.

Throughout the fight shots, Anthony kept saying "I won!" and commented that he shouldn't have stopped to gloat. Asked if two crossed daggers would be enough to behead a man, he said it would be difficult, but would be possible if you got it just right. He said that Adrian had had to work with several different styles of fighting and had to portray a seamless transition from the past to Duncan's modern style. In response to questions, he said that katanas are the best swords, being folded when forged and being well balanced. The fencing weapon was a weapon of delicacy and intricacy. He said that fencing arose, paradoxically, as a result of the gun becoming widespread. Once armour could be penetrated by a bullet, the hack and slay style of sword fighting was outmoded and swordsmanship developed. He said the original Spanish rapier could be as long as 5 feet, but the English passed a law prohibiting blades longer than 36" and would break the blade of any Spaniard who had a longer sword. He said the concept of the rapier and dagger was that the rapier was to keep the opponent at a distance, but the dagger was a fall back once they were inside the guard.

He said that the fight at the end of "Duende" had a dramatic pause in it, a necessary device to enable the audience to catch up with the fighters and one which makes the final scene more exciting.

Next... Elizabeth Gracen