0:50 Keith: Hello, and welcome to Highlander Rewatched! And today we've got a very special Chronicle episode for you!
In our normal show, Highlander Rewatched, we always take a look at another facet of the Highlander Universe, whether it be the TV or the movie series. In our Chronicle series, we sit down with the people behind the scenes, in the cast and the crew that have brought Highlander to you throughout the years. Today it's actually just going to be me. I'm one of your Rewatchers, Keith. It's just me today because the person we're talking to lives thousands and thousands of miles away, so it is in the very wee hours of the morning here in Philadelphia, where we record. So, who is our guest today? You may know her from Channel Four's "Dressing For Breakfast", a very, very funny sitcom from the late 90s; "The Coroner" drama on BBC, and also BBC's period drama, "Poldark" where she plays Prudie! But of course, our listeners are, I bet, most familiar with our guest as Heather MacLeod, from Highlander, and the sequel, Highlander: Endgame!
1:50 So, please join me in welcoming to the show Beatie Edney!
Keith: Hi, Beatie! How are you? Welcome to Highlander Rewatched!
Beatie: Hi, guys!
Keith: Thank you so much for joining us this morning! Uh, actually, it's just me this morning, because due to the time difference, it's in the wee hours of the morning here in Philadelphia, so...
Beatie: Oh, I'm sorry about that!
Keith: Oh no, it's not your fault at all. Hahah, thank you very much, though, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. Um, so we thought we'd jump right in, actually. And it's especially great to talk to you now, especially this time of the year, because it was just the 30th anniversary of the original Highlander film, so we wanted to start off by asking: How did you get involved in the initial production? I know it was one of your actually very first projects.
Beatie: Yes. Well, I just left university and I think I'd done one television, and there was an open audition. You used to have things in film which you don't really have any more, where just loads of people turn up to audition... and there were a few hundred of us there, and you had to do a piece to camera. I think I heard pretty much the next day. It was a very, very quick process. They whisked me off to curl my hair, and make me taller and thinner and... goodness knows what. And then I was filming.
3:03 Keith: Hahah, wow! Was this all a new experience for you, or... how did you get into acting in the first place? I know your mother's an actress, correct?
Beatie: My mother's an actress. She was a very successful actress in films, and my parents didn't really want me to take that route. I made a film when I was six years old, with... uh, Roman Polanski was producing it, (A Day at the Beach, 1970) It was such a Euro-printing film, and then I wasn't allowed to do any more. I got a lot of offers to do films as a child actor, but my parents wanted me to have a proper education and just be a normal kid and go to school. Um, so I did that. And then I went to university, and got into Drama at university a bit. We have a thing in the U.K. called the Edinburgh Festival, which is a big theatre festival in the U.K., and I did a play there, a student play there, and we won a prize. And that play came to London and I got an agent, and all my friends from university knew what they were gonna do, and I didn't know what I was gonna do, so I sort of fell into acting. Because I got a job. And that's how it was. But in those days you used to have to get a Union card to work, so I had to get my union card before I could do any work. And then I got a television, and then I got Highlander.
Keith: Wow! Uh, so, what was the... what was the shoot like? How long were you filming, uh, in Scotland?
4:26 Beatie: Okay, um, what was quite interesting about that, as far as I remember, is that the studio--so, a lot of the stuff was done in studio--the studio stuff was in... in the east end of London, in this... it was called Jacob Street Studios. And I think they used to do a lot of pop videos there. It wasn't like one of our big studios, or like the studios you have in the States, it was a smaller studio. And so, we went on location in Scotland... for a few weeks, I think. It wasn't, you know, excessive. But it was the whole film unit went to Scotland. And what was really fantastic about that film, was that they recruited all these guys to do... uh, the battle scenes. So, they had loads of bikers; and people... people had to have really long hair, the people who were in the battles, and so, on the way to the set every morning, you'd be driving past all these guys with swords fighting each other cos they were training how to fight with swords. For a few weeks, you'd drive past loads and loads of people having lots and lots of fun pretending to be fighting in a battle. And then it rained. The night before the big battle, it rained, and they filmed the battle, I think in a place called Glencoe, which is actually the site of a very famous battle in Scotland. The whole battlefield turned into a... um, how would you say it in American? I don't know. We'd call it a bog, here, or a marsh.
Keith: Yeah! That's what we'd say, yeah. We usually [call it] a marsh, yeah.
5:59 Beatie: And so they would be sinking. Literally they were sinking into the ground. And our amazing costume designer, he's won several Oscars, Jim Acheson, sent down to London for loads of Wellington boots and covered them in hessian, so that all the poor guys wouldn't be, you know, completely soaked. Yeah, that's what I remember about that. So we were there for quite a while, and we were there in March, which is not, um... I don't know what it's like in Philadelphia, the weather, but traditionally, in the U.K., it's wet weather. And I just remember it was absolutely amazing boiling hot weather in Scotland. So we had a very wonderful, sort of sunny time. It was absolutely joyous.
Keith: Wow! One of the most pivotal scenes in the movie is, of course, the montage with you and Christophe Lambert, set to Queen's 'Who Wants to Live Forever' uh, where, of course you're shown to age and he doesn't. There's a notorious story out there, and I wondered if you could confirm it that, at some point I guess, Russell Mulcahy, the director, was not happy with the makeup and shut down the production for a day to redo it? Is that true?
7:07 Beatie: The old-age makeup was--was a terrible--*Keith laughs*--um, nightmare for everybody. I basically, I think for about a week, I would get up--they... cos I was late coming to the production, um, I don't know whether somebody dropped out. I haven't ever found out the whole story behind it. I have a feeling that somebody else was playing my part, and they dropped out. And it might've been to do with work contracts or something, but I don't know who it was, and I don't know what happened. So they may even have been looking for a looky-likey. I have no idea how I got so lucky. But, basically they made all these molds of my face, and I've still got the... I've got a couple of polaroids. Basically I looked about a hundred years old and a man. *Keith laughs* And I'd have to get up at three o'clock--I hope--I'm sorry if I'm babbling here but I do--
Keith: No, no, no! This is great!
8:03 Beatie: --have a very good story. For about a week I used to have to get up at three o'clock in the morning, and sit in this trailer, and have ten hours of makeup, with these individual, sort of foam pieces were put on my face. It really wasn't pretty, and it was very, very strange, because when you've got all that foam on your face, you are you inside, but people come and look at you, and they're talking at you, and they might even sort of poke your face, and you can't feel it cos there's an inch of rubber between you and their finger. Um, but they don't seem to be knowing that you're inside, and you're kind of screaming inside--*both laugh*--and they're just sort of all looking at you, and prodding you. So what would happen was I'd have this ten hours, and then I'd be paraded outside to Christophe Lambert and Russel Mulcahy, and they'd sort of talk about me and, um, you know, discuss me, and go away and then come back. And I didn't really know what was going on, and eventually I just shouted at Russel, and said "You know, I am here!" And it was because I'd been ten hours, I'd been up for ten hours, sitting in a chair, unable to drink or eat, and no one was telling me what was going on. And eventually what we did was we... they just did a sort of hideous paint job. I think Nick Maley? had a heart attack. The makeup guy.
Keith: Oh, wow!
9:24 Beatie: Um, he was very, very ill. I mean, he was under such pressure. And I can't remember whether we shot the scene or not. I don't think we ever shot the scene. I mean, I did look like a witch. *Keith laughs* It was to do with...the scene, it is sort of a love scene, and--and it just didn't work, and so eventually they--at the end of the shoot I went back to... I was already doing another production, and I went to Jacob Street, and they did a sort of paint job on my face where they paint this sort of rubber stuff on your face, and it sort of blisters into wrinkles. And unfortunately, my skin was so young, that they couldn't get any wrinkles. I think at one point I suggested my mother did it. And really, we looked so alike at that point, that would have been a brilliant idea.
Keith: *amused* That's funny. We actually talk about that on the podcast at... we were always kind of surprised that they just didn't use an older actress in that scene, and you could just buy into that was the same person.
10:21 Beatie: I know. Look, look, I'm really embarrased about that scene. And, um, I did what I could. It was very... I... I knew that I didn't look old enough. But I also understood that they had to... make it look... you know, they couldn't have me looking like a witch.
10:39 Beatie: It wouldn't have really sent the right message. You know, I think it was probably quite a good idea to have my mom do it, but, you know... you do what you can. Nowadays it would have been done with CGI or something brilliant, you know, they would probably have been able to do it. But, um, yeah it was awful, and also I think I remember that, the way they had me lying, I was--my eyes look like they're rolling in my head because I was lying down, I think, and Christophe was above me, so you can sort of see the whites of my eyes. It's not... not my finest hour.
Keith: *laughs* But we all think you did a fantastic job in the movie, of course. What was it like working with Sean Connery? Because it's predominantly a production that, it would seem a lot of--a young cast, it would seem the young director, he was kind of the Old Guard, it would seem on-set.
11:24 Beaties: Oh! Can I just tell you my other theory about all the women in the film?
Keith: Of course!
11:28 It's what my mom said. Sorry, I'll get back to Sean in a minute. My mom said: The same actress should have played all the women in the film. Which is quite an interesting take on it, I thought.
Keith: That would, I think make a lot of sense and would give it a nice poetic structure to the movie, I think.
11:44 Beatie: Yes, so the Sheila Gish character would have been, you know, the same person. The... I can't remember the name of the other actress--
Keith: It's Roxanne Hart, I guess is who I'm thinking of.
11:53 Beatie: Right. And, uh, you know all those people would have been the same. Which is quite an interesting thing. So he keeps meeting people, although he's immortal, he keeps meeting--she's not immortal, but she keeps meeting--he keeps meeting the same person throughout the centuries... which is quite an interesting sort of concept. But anyway... Sean Connery! Uh, Sean knew my mom.
Keith: Oh really?
12:16 Beatie: Oh yeah. So, this is the thing about being a child actor of somebody who's been quite successful in movies and stuff, especially in the U.K. where we have a much smaller population than you do, especially of actors. So, kind of, you know, those film stars of the fifties and sixties and seventies, they all knew each other. And so he knew my mom so, you know the first day of filming, he came up to me and said, you know, "Send my love to your mom." I was a bit... I don't know if I--I don't think I was intimidated by him at all. That is the other advantage of having met all these people over dinner in your house when you were a kid.
12:51 Beatie: Um, it's not um... you know it's like "Ugh, God! My parents' friends!" You know. You sort of feel a bit... annoyed at them. *laugh together.* But what was extraordinary was--I don't know how old he was when he made that film, but he's really sexy! And I sort of thought, Oh, I don't get it. You know, one goes on about Sean Connery being sexy... and then they had a scene where they were running along the beach... Sean and Christophe are running along the beach, barefoot? *mhm* His calves! It's Sean Connery's calves are really sexy! *Keith laughs* So I suddenly understood why people, you know, really raved over him. And he was a real laugh, he was lovely.
Keith: That's fantastic! So, a number of years later you actually got to return to the character of Heather in Highlander: Endgame. Can you tell us: How that production was different than the 1986 Highlander? And what your experiences were like on Endgame?
13:43 Beatie: Okay. So I didn't have a choice about that.
Keith: *surprised* Oh, really? Why is that? Was that a contractual thing?
13:48 Beatie: Um, no. Um, it was, you know, how many years later; it was many, many years later! Twenty years later, or something?
Keith: Yeah, about twenty years later.
13:57 Beatie: So, I was at film school in New York. I was at NYU. I'd decided to finally go to film school. And I hadn't worked for... you know, I was doing this course at NYU, and my agent phoned and said "They're making Highlander and your part's in it." And I just thought: "I don't want somebody else playing my part!" *Keith laughs* You know, I don't want somebody--the money was absolutely terrible. We filmed in Romania. My wig and my flight brought--no, my wig cost more than I did. It was basically: either you do it or you don't do it. So I just thought... "I really, for the fans, I don't really want somebody else to play that part!" I felt a duty to, um, you know, the people are all over the world! Guys, especially, all over the world, really identify me with that role. And although, for acting-wise, it's probably... it was probably the most fun I ever had on a movie, but it--you know, I have done many, many other things. Um, but I think it's a cheat to people who've invested their time and their love in you not to... to honor that. So I was absolutely furious that it was a sort of last-minute thought of theirs, and uh, yeah. It was sort of presented to me as a fait accompli. "Either you do this or we get someone else."
15:13 Beatie: So I had this ridiculous flight from New York to London to get my wig, which cost a lot of money; which I carried... lovingly carried on the plane--*Keith laughs*--on my lap, because it was so much more expensive than I was, and they flew me on a fantastic flight to Romania, where we filmed. And I wasn't there for very long, maybe a couple of weeks, and I hadn't seen Christophe for a very long time, so it was lovely to see him again, and meet... is it Aaron... Paul?
Keith: Uh, Adrian. Adrian Paul.
15:44 Beatie: I'm so sorry, Adrian. *Keith laughs* You know it was very very sweet that everyone was there, like that. I haven't seen the film, I'm afraid...
Keith: *laughing* That's okay.
15:55 Beatie: My thing about Highlander, my joke about Highlander... please forgive me, everyone, is that... the tagline for our film was "There can be only one." So, if there can be only one, why were there: one, two, three, four, and a series?
Keith: *laughing* Yes! This is a question we talk about a lot on our show!
16:13 Beatie: That's my sort of thing about it. And I've never... you know, the... apparently the fanbase is great and loyal, and there used to be sort of press-things. People would sign autographs and stuff, and I was never invited to any of those--
16:27 Beatie: --things ever, and then I finally did one in... we had a... like a Comicon, yeah? I did one, and it was just absolutely fantastic to do that! And then, a few years ago in London, Christophe and I did one together, which was great, because I don't think the fans had ever seen us there together. So it was a really lovely experience.
Keith: That's great! We ask this of all our guests: Why do you think Highlander has endured. Especially now 30th Year Anniversary. What part of the story do you think connects with people?
16:59 Beatie: It's run a lot on the TV here. Is it run there on the television?
Keith: It is. That's kind of when it became popular. It wasn't very popular in its initial theatrical release, but eventually it made its way to cable, and that's when it got a, you know, huge cult following. It's still kind of revered as a classic 80s movie, a midnight movie... a lot of people still love the movie to this day.
17:20 Beatie: For the time... I mean, I know when you look at it now--also, CGI has moved on SO much now, um... but for the time, it was incredibly innovative. I mean, Russel was really brilliant--he's a really brilliant editor. There were things in that movie that had never been seen before. You know, cuts that he did. I think there's one where he go--he's looking at a fishtank and it goes up into Scotland, 'n... you know, it's just sort of extraordinary film-making. The Camera Gerry Fisher, the DP, won awards for his camera-work. They used stuff that they'd only--cos pop videos in the 80s were very innovative; all our film directors made pop videos, and um advertising. So that's where all the innovations were made. So I think, for that reason, I don't know if it DOES stand the test of time now, because we're so used to having dragons appearing regularly on our TV screens, but I think it was very innovative, at the time. Also, I think the fanbase: There is a particular sort of... it hit adolescent young men at a certain time, and so--I think they've endured. I think you know your first... it's like your first love; there's always your... you always have a special feeling for that. It did better in England, probably, than America. I mean, I didn't do any press in America when it came out, cos I was working. I guess maybe when it went... and the TV series, I think really helped popularize it.
18:49 Beatie: I think the TV series was incredibly popular. Then people start looking into it, and they find the original film. So, probably the Highlander TV series contributed to it. But also, you know, for a certain generation of men, specifically I think, you know, it's like their first love. Does that make sense?
Keith: Definitely! Definitely! And the other question we always ask all our guests is: Would you like to be immortal? And if you were, what would you do, if you were?
19:14 Beatie: Well! Obviously, as I'm a very serious actress, *delighted* I did a lot of research--*laughter with Keith*--when I did the film, and I did ask that question and... no. I wouldn't like to be immortal. What was the second bit of that question?
Keith: Oh, if you were, what would you do? But the followup to your answer would then be: Why would you not like to be immortal, then?
19:34 Beatie: *thoughtfully* I think that you need to die. I think that human beings... I think death is part of life's journey, and not dying is a terrible thing. You know, we need to kill our gods. Gods are immortal. It's not a natural part of life. Part of life is dying. ... It would be like Groundhog Day.
Keith: Right! *laughs*
19:56 Beatie: Uh, he goes mad! Does anyone want to be immortal?
Keith: I know myself and my cohosts, I think, would love to have a little extra time on this planet--*Beatie: Briefly.*--to travel. Um, but yes, of course the--the downsides to it are, you know, enormous. And there's a lot of pain and loss and--
20:11 Beatie: The other thing about being in movies is you are immortal.
Keith: That's true!
20:15 Beatie: And I think what's happening... I'm getting really profound here... but what's part of the thing that's happening to, sort of everybody, you know Andy Warhol said everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame, but now we've all got our iPhones and can film every second of our day, and take photos of what we eat, and put it on the Internet.... Everybody is sort of immortalizing themselves. *Keith: Right, right.* You know, it used to be a province of the very few, who were in movies, but you know, before television this is. And now, it's um... you know, when people... when people have a family member that dies, they want those photographs of them. My family members are actors, lots of my friends are actors, lots of them have died. And the thing that's amazing for me; it'll be so for everybody now. Everybody in the world but, I've often thought: when my mom dies, I have hundreds of films of her walking and talking. So I can see that person moving around. Other people would only have photographs, but now they can see their family members. They can hear the sound of their voice! *Keith: Right.* So, you know, you are--to a degree--immortal, in that way.
Keith: That's true. Before we move on and kind of close up, are there any other stories you'd like to share from the set of either of the Highlander movies? Anything that sticks out as a... a particular amazing moment, or a nightmare on the set, or just any stories you haven't shared with anyone, or would like to?
21:39 Beatie: I never told anyone about the 10 hours of makeup and the getting up at three o'clock in the morning.... That was an extraordinary thing. I mean, I think the thing that was so fantastic was filming in Scotland. I mean it was just absolutely extraordinary. Oooh, I could tell a naughty story...!
Keith: Oh, that sounds good!
21:59 Beatie: We... we were staying in a hotel. All the actors stayed in a hotel, which had this incredible bar, in Fort William, of all these whiskeys. So every night we would try out a different hundred-year-old whiskey, or whatever. And the last night of the shoot, we had a party, and the producers got so drunk--everyone got really, really, really drunk--we were doing tequila shots, which I... I was a young twenty-three-year old, twenty-two-year old person. I'd never done anything like that. And we were all doing tequila shots, and the producers passed out and had to be picked up by helicopter and taken to the airport, otherwise they were going to miss the flight. *Keith laughs* Um, and the whole crew... we were taken in coaches to the airport, and the entire crew... and they'd arranged this incredible lunch for us, in Glasgow at this amazing restaurant. The entire bus, everyone was in dark glasses. Every single person on the bus was in sunglasses because they couldn't bear to look at the light, cos everyone had the most appalling hangover.
Keith: That's fantastic! *laughs* What are you working on now? I know you do a ton of TV work. You also do a lot of voice-work, which I think is really interesting. What are you up to these days?
23:14 Beatie: Uh, well I'm employed all year, now. So I haven't been doing, really, enough voice-overs. I used to do loads of voice-overs, but um.... Basically I'm in a big TV series here called Poldark, which has got Aidan Turner, who was in the Hobbit movies, and it's a massive hit here. It's shown on PBS America. I also do another TV series here called The Coroner, which is a modern day thing, about a coroner. So, for half the year I do Poldark, and for half the year I do The Coroner. And hopefully I will make it out to the States when Poldark airs... the next series of Poldark airs there.
Keith: Fantastic! I'm actually... I still haven't seen the new Poldark. I remember watching um... I guess it was made into a series back in 1975, or 6?
24:04 Beatie: Yep, that's right.
Keith: And I remember watching that with my mom, all the time. She loved that. Yeah, so I'm sure she's also very excited to see the updated version. Um, and how can fans connect with you? Can you talk about maybe your social media presence and where they can look you up?
24:18 Beatie: I'm beatieedney, all lowercase, all one word on Twitter. And I love to... I live-Tweet when we show Poldark. So, um, that is really good fun.
Keith: Awesome! Well, Beatie, thank you so much for joining us, and for the listeners out there, make sure definitely to follow Beatie Edney on twitter! And that's @beatieedney and check out the two shows she's in: Poldark and The Coroner!
Thank you again so much for joining us, and it's really a treat to have you share your stories with us and the whole Highlander community out there that has still been loving this movie after thirty years, so....
24:57 Beatie: I had the best time. I'll do it again. Thank you so much!
Keith: Thank you so much! You have a great day! Bye!
Thanks again for joining us on this episode! I've been one of your Rewatchers, Keith! Bye!
Keith: You can do it in whatever accent you want! *Beatie laughs*