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Rare Footage - Donna Lettow & Gillian Horvath

Gillian & DonnaBefore they started the session, Donna told us that her novel Barricades was not going to be published, (a pity that, as I quite enjoyed the short extract she read at Chronicles '99). She said she had been ill for some time with what had eventually been diagnosed as a gluten allergy, but by the time she got on top of it, the deadline for publication had passed. Ginjer Buchanan, who was in the audience, said that the final Highlander novel would be published in December and that it would be entitled Eye Of The Dawn. It is an Amanda story, but is definitely Highlander and not Raven and has been written by Brad Sinor.

Gillian introduce the session proper by saying that she had been collecting scenes which had not appeared in the final show from the dailies for some time and this would provide the basis of the videos they were going to show us. They started with something which had been seen in Europe and constituted pretty much most of the Eurominutes from Sins Of The Father. For those of you who haven't seen it, when Duncan is on the barge and puts the sword in the chest, there is a long montage of scenes using the sword, culminating in his beheading of Richie. As the montage ended, Donna commented that they had some damn fine editors working on Highlander and Gillian said she felt it was a great explanation of Duncan's reluctance to use the sword in that episode.

They mentioned the Best Of Highlander and described it as being a "con-in-a-box". Maureen Russell, who wrote The Complete Watcher's Guide, interviewed Don Paonessa, Bill Panzer, David Abramowitz and Adrian Paul, amongst others, and their interviews follow each episode in the collection.

We then moved to what might have been but thankfully never was. They showed us the lost tag from Archangel, which was to have paved the way for a very different Season Six. When they were preparing Season Six, they were looking for a way it to re-energised the series for the buyers and for a brief period the show was cancelled altogether. David Abramowitz was looking for a way to inject new life and new ideas and was looking at taking the show 20 years into the future, (he can't have seen Highlander 2!). The clip opened with MacLeod, who had been on Holy Ground for 20 years, receiving a visitor - Methos - and he asks him, "did you bring it?" Methos replies that he's brought a friend and brings in Joe, who has MacLeod's katana with him. Duncan takes the sword and says; "now I'm ready". Gillian said that the world he would return to was a much darker place, as Ahriman has had free rein for 20 years. However, before Archangel aired, they knew that Season Six would have a limited run of episodes intended to generate a spin-off and would be on a reduced budget, hence the tag got cut before broadcast.

Donna said that, generally, a script might run to 52 or 54 pages and you could end up with extra footage, which was the case with Not To Be. She said she had always been disappointed that Fitzcairn and Methos had never met and, when she was writing the episode, she put in all things she wanted to see, including a fight between Methos and Duncan. In that fight, Duncan says he scene that trick before when Methos pulls a knife on him and they then showed us where he'd seen it. We started the Not To Be scenes with a little extra footage of Duncan and Fitz after Duncan has seen Tessa in the gallery. Fitz describes Tessa as a paragon of womanhood and Duncan asks him why she gave up sculpting. Fitz tells him that there were no buyers for her work and that she could not live on cold soup and dreams. We then moved to the bar scene, in what would have been Stephen Keane's nightclub in another life. Fitz tells MacLeod that destiny is like a river and expands on that theme a little more than he does in the broadcast version, about how destiny will always find a way around any obstacles it encounters. He then goes to chat up the barmaid, at which point we hear the gentle tones asking for her to "gimme a beer". When Methos goes up and accosts the barmaid, Fitz tells him to unhand her and Methos pulls a knife on him and hold it to his throat. Fitz buys Methos a beer, which Methos pours on the ground before turning around and looking at MacLeod, the point at which Fitz describes him as a delightful chap.

We then turned to a little extra footage of Richie and the Horsemen. Richie walks into the Horsemen hideout with the money and, when Kronos asks him if he had any problems, says "no, he's got his brat, we've got his cash". They then ask Richie to kill Joe Dawson, (which is in the European version), but when he expresses doubt, Kronos says he's not ready and Methos says that they wouldn't want to force him into anything that he's not ready for. Richie says he'll kill the bastard, but the Horsemen don't look convinced.

They then showed us something which created its own little buzz. They said that the flamenco scene in Duende was added in the knowledge that Adrian was learning flamenco in his own time. The scene was edited in a fast style to match the music, but they promised us that all the dancing was indeed Adrian and then showed us a longer shot so there we could see it for ourselves. They also showed us some more footage from the tango on the Tower, including Adrian fluffing his lines, (do you remember Duncan saying "the whole world is breaking down around our ears and I don't know my f**king lines?"). Donna said that this footage made Adrian and Elizabeth the two bravest people she knew, that when she caught sight of the sound man who was with them, added that he was the third. They showed us the dance footage and Gillian commented that this was an exercise in actor trust if there ever was one. Donna said that this wasn't actually filmed at the top of the tower but was filmed on the Deuxieme Etage. They also showed us the sequences where Adrian and Elizabeth separately danced with the camera. Donna said that she was present for the filming of the final fight in Indiscretions and she had some idea of what it was like to film the tango, as to stay out of camera shot for the final fight between Methos and Walker, they were literally hanging off scaffolding to stay out of the camera's way.

We turned to Season Five's The Messenger. They showed us that the "standard response" scene from Methos' angle and him telling the story of the guy who got tortured by the Inquisition. Joe tells him he's a calculating SOB, to which Methos says thank you. Joe tells him to have one on him and throws his drink over Peter, who asks what he did that for and gets the reply that it is an unforeseen dilemma, eliciting the response "f**k you". Donna said it was all scripted, apart from the "f**k you" part!

Donna said it was during the filming of The Messenger that rumours of Richie's death started and she wasn't going to say which tall pony-tailed actor was responsible. They showed us the scene in Joe's bar, where Duncan is trying to convince Richie that Methos is the real Methos and his Methos is a fake. The scene has a longer start than in the broadcast version and ends with Methos deciding to go and buy some socks. Only, the next time round, he's going to grow a beard and the final time, he looks round the empty bar and says, "that just leaves me and the crew". Donna said that the line about the socks was scripted, which Peter did right the first time, but then he changed it on subsequent takes. Gillian said that her favourite thing about that scene is that it has all four of "our guys" in Joe's bar at one time, which is the only time that it ever happened, so that they decided to get a photographer on set that dates thought they could have photographs of the four of them together. They had a 15-minute window while the set was relit, but that was the day that Adrian decided to play a practical joke on Stan and spilled ink on his jumper. Whilst Stan and the wardrobe mistress were off freaking, the other three had their photo taken, which added fuel to the fire that they were going to kill Richie and that they wanted him out of the photo so they could use it next year, which was not true, or least was not the intention. The photographer also took some pictures on the set, which are the only ones with all four of the main actors in a single shot.

They said that when actors are being cast, they get a part of a scene and have to portray it in a tiny room. They said that they never saw Peter's audition for Methos, but they did have the Kronos auditions. They said that they could learn from the tapes as writers, because it every actor stumbles on the same line, you change the line. Donna said that they only got to see the top candidates, which makes you wonder a bit about the quality of the rest. They then showed the Kronos audition tapes, with actors whose faces are probably more familiar to the British than the Americans, although Andrew Bicknell, (Devon Marek in Black Tower), read a version of Kronos that owed a lot to the Tim Curry school of acting and would have got him a degree in advanced moustache twirling and Charles Daish, (Grant Thomas in Sins Of The Father), was simply not menacing enough, coming across as the "rugby player of the Apocalypse". Then they showed us Valentine's audition. They said they thought he would never work, he was too pretty, and then the camera panned away to Valentine's name card and panned back to him. What a transformation - where the inoffensive looking Mr. Pelka had been, there was a homicidal maniac in his place. Donna said that Valentine was clearly the best, but they had still felt he was too pretty and too tiny. Bill Panzer said he would be OK if he cut his hair, but Ken Gord felt he was still too pretty and gave Kronos the scar. They said they passed Valentine in a hall in full Kronos make-up, at which point they had to admit it worked.

They showed us Stan Kirsch's auditioned for the role of Richie, or Sammy as he was originally called. This said that there was once a chance that Highlander would have starred Derek De Lint as Duncan/Connor and Martin Cummings as Richie/Sammy. They showed us the boys auditioning the store break-in scene and a scene from the end of the first episode where Richie comes looking for Duncan after the quickening. They also showed us another guy who auditioned, called Kansas something-or-other, who was auditioning a scene where Richie was realising that he should be dead but had come back to life. They showed us Stan auditioning a scene from what was obviously Free Fall, in which Richie is arguing with Tessa about Felicia and what they should do before *Connor* comes home - this is obviously an early draft, before they had made the decision to go with Duncan rather than the original Highlander. Stan also the auditioned another scene from Free Fall, which was him and Felicia talking about her painting and she said that she burned all of her paintings.

They say you should always finish on a laugh and Donna and Gillian had obviously decided to follow that rule. They showed us how post-production can sometimes save some very bizarre decisions on set from ruining an episode. In the original script of Prophecy, Roland tries to elicit the information about Duncan's whereabouts from Mary inside her cottage and she is saved from his mesmerism when she looks at the crucifix on the wall and draws strength from it. When the footage arrived in Los Angeles from Vancouver, it wasn't quite as expected. David Abramowitz was greeted by Gillian and Donna, who were less than happy with the footage. He took it into his office and they said that, five minutes later, they clearly heard him scream, "oh my God!" You don't see it in the final episode, because the frame in question was blown up in post-production. Because of the expense of building in interior set of the cottage, the scene was shifted to outdoors and the washing line, but they had a crucifix and it was of the scale suitable for putting on a wall. When Roland is talking to Mary, she grabs this outsize crucifix on from her washing basket and holds it in his face, as if she was warding off a vampire, and the whole scene looks like it would not be out of place in Forever Knight, or even Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but it would have looked ridiculous in Highlander. Gillian finished by saying that at least now we know which side of the family Duncan get his magic pocket from!

Next, The Pen vs. The Sword