Saturday, March 17, 2012

My TSP Movie Trivia Trove...Or I Beg to Put Before You...

...literally the only scraps of interviews concerning The Scarlet Pimpernel (for future reference, we'll call it TSP1982, K? Because I'm lazy like that.) on the internet. And believe me, I've looked. These were posted on Blakeney Manor and on a few costume-drama-review sites. I tried to find the original Anthony Andrews interview these came from, but alas, alas, no where to be found (Ally runs off and sobs). I'm not going to go into my 30th Anniversary DVD rant again.

(I think I'm going to call my role on The Daydream "Official TSP1982 Walking Encyclopedia". My specialty. :-))

So! Without further ado...the interview snippets. And my comments in scarlet. Because it's only appropriate, no?

Blakeney Manor, Sir Percy Blakeney's house in the film, is an actual house called Milton Manor, which is located only a few miles from Abingdon in England. The duel scene at the end of the film was shot on location in Broughton Castle. Other footage came from Blenheim Palace near Oxford.

Making "The Scarlet Pimpernel" was a "real holiday" for Andrews, because the film took a mere six weeks to complete. During the shoot, actor Anthony Andrews sought to develop a close working relationship with the other actors and his director. To Andrews, it was important to "look at the overall production, to understand what everyone is doing." 

(Six weeks!!!! Wowza. I wish there was  mooooooooore on this...Ally, be thankful.) 

Although the filming of the movie went smoothly for the most part, Andrews barely escaped a serious injury when a cart he was driving in a chase sequence overturned. Andrews recalls: "I had been complaining about that antique all day. During the second take of that sequence, I was going full tilt down the road and the wheel came off the cart. In a funny sort of way, I had foreseen that happening because I was worried about it all day. So as the wheel came off, I made my exit by doing a forward roll on the ground, nearly giving the producer a heart attack. The wheel, which was made of steel, and the cart went on both sides of me and crashed into the camera car. Then twelve horses that had followed us, nearly trampled me. It was a mess." 

(I'm intrigued. Which cart scene is he talking about? Because as everyone knows, the one cart chase scene (aka The Epic Rescue) has him crashing the cart...which makes me wonder if that was an accident or intentional or what? Verrrrry interesting. Clip attached for study and observation...please comment and give your opinion!)       

Anthony Andrews and Ian McKellan learned to work well together, especially in their fencing scenes. Although the final edits made the sequences look masterful and smooth, the actual filming was sometimes dangerous. Andrews had done fencing previously, but he was still worried that he might injure McKellen with his sword because of the high speed movements they were required to make: "We had our backs to the wall in the fencing scene because we had little time to film it -- only one afternoon. It really needed a week. It was hair-raising because when you fence at high speed, you have to be well-rehearsed and really understand the moves you are going to make ahead of time. Since we were so unrehearsed, every once in a while we'd forget a move, putting each other's life in danger. You had to remember to duck quickly. Ian McKellen and I developed a rule that if we forgot what we were doing, we would both scream to give the other person a chance to get out of the way."

(Amazing what goes into the scenes. Such an epic scene, ya know? Sigh...Ally, get with it.)

On playing the elusive Sir Percy Blakeney, actor Anthony Andrews remarks: "The Scarlet Pimpernel was such a temptation. I defy any actor not to want to play the Pimpernel if it´s offered to him! [It was] tremendous fun playing someone of dual character with all those disguises."

It was not all fun and play, however. Andrews spent hours walking around his London house, practicing accents and dialects: "The difficulty in playing 'The Pimpernel' is in keeping abreast of the different characters you are playing, not just the disguises. What you have to do is go through the script in tremendous detail, plotting who you are at any given point. It could get very confusing."

(I've always wondered about those different accents...especially the hag! Hahahaha. He sounds so...hehehe. Different.)

Andrews was able to bring a part of his own creativity to the many disguises Sir Percy Blakeney wore. While the disguises were detailed in the actual script, he was able to develop the characters to his liking: "They were basically my own interpretation, especially Sir Percy the fop." Of all the characters, Sarron the Hunchback gave him the most trouble, but in the end, he was brought the disguise to life: "Having gotten the makeup on, I felt there was something missing. I really didn't believe in him. Although the audience knew he was the Pimpernel dressed up in disguise, he had to really be believable to the characters around him. The first way I did it was to stuff handkerchiefs in my mouth. He really worried me until I discovered that the trick was to change the shape of his face. So to change the contours of his jaw, I had plastic gum shields and molds made up. Suddenly, the character began to come alive. It's extraordinary how you could put on makeup and wear costumes and you still may need one small element to bring it all together." 

(Absoutely fascinating. I did get a kick out of the fact that Sir Percy the fop was "his own interpretation"...since it is exactly the book's Percy to a T. Ha. And the whole Sarron the Hunchback neat. I love that character, BTW.)

In a scene of the movie, one of Andrews' disguises involved a plastic gum device [for Sarron the Hunchback], which caused the actor some degree of discomfort: "It was very difficult for me to speak. And that could be a big problem for an actor. But I managed to do this character in bits and pieces. I fell in love with him mostly because he was difficult to achieve and because he was supposed to be terribly sick." 

Andrews admits that he has at least one thing in common with Sir Percy: "I've been accused of hiding behind faces and disguises." 

Ian McKellen originally wanted to play the role of Sir Percy Blakeney. He admits: "When Clive Donner invited me to work with him again I was a little disappointed that it was not to play the eponymous Scarlet Pimpernel, one of the great romantic roles of popular cinema. The foppish aristocrat who rescues victims of the French Revolution is a master of disguise transforming himself, years before Clark Kent or James Bond, into a dashing action hero. Anthony Andrews, fresh from his startling screen debut in 'Brideshead Revisited' was the luckier man, but I was pleased to play his principal opponent in love and war, the steely politician Chauvelin." 
(Um. I can so not see Ian McKellan as Percy. Of course that's probably partially because he was such a perfect Chauvelin...but looks-wise...I mean, the whole physical description of Percy is completely Anthony Andrews. Naw, the casting was definitly better how it was. :-))

Andrews and Seymour gained so much recognition for their roles as Sir Percy Blakeney and Marguerite that they were cast six years later to star opposite each other in "The Woman He Loved," a television miniseries about the relationship between the Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson.

(I've only seen a clip from this (The Woman He Loved), and it's a shame that these two films are the only films they were in together. They're my favorite screen couple and I would so watch them do anything together, even now in their sixties! Casting people wherever you are, take note - put them in a romantic role together again. Thank you.)  

So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed this bit as much as I did sharing it. Sigh, sigh, sigh...everyone is always so focused on the other roles that the principle actors have played (Anthony Andrews in particular) that we never hear anything about this role, which in my opinion (and I've seen a lot of Anthony Andrews films) was his best.

So! What do you think?


Abby said...

There just isn't enough out there about TSP1982...this is the perfect remedy for all us Pimpernel fans! I love that Anthony Andrews played a part in coming up with the Sarron disguise...I always thought it was rather ingenious!


Maria Elisabeth said...

The cart scene does look like it could have been that accident. Although in the glimpse I think I see of Sir Percy/Anthony Andrews he seems to be falling on his side. If I could only see a teensy, weensy little bit more.

And oh yes, do you want to be shocked? Here it is: my mom thinks Ian McKellan should have played Percy. I can not believe how she could have gotten such an odd idea. Trying to get her to watch TSP1982. I've gotten her to watch the 1934 one and that's a start. Maybe sometime...

And it's such a pity they didn't go in more films together. I found one thing here(, about halfway down the page.)

Does anyone remember the entertaining TV movie remake of "Phantom" in the 1980’s with Jane Seymour as an unscrupulous, calculating Christine who’ll do just about anything for a good part and Anthony Andrews as the skeptical young conductor who falls in love with her and her voice in spite of himself? In an early scene, Christine sucks up to the handsome conductor, telling him how much she loves the opera Faust and how much she’d love to sing it under his direction. Andrews replies that she must either be insincere or have deplorable taste in music.

I haven't heard about Anthony Andrews' role in here anywhere else, so maybe it's just a typo, but we can always hope, can't we?

Alexandra said...

Abby - I know! I thought it was so fascinating, too!!! Very neat.

Maria - I know, it's confusing. See, there's something that would be awesome to find out. :-)

I am shocked. How could she betray Percy that way. :-D Ian McKellan as Percy is...a horrible thought. I can't even think it. :-D

Ok, so the Phantom thing is intriguing!!! I knew she was in a version of POTO, but I don't remember reading that Anthony Andrews was in it. If I remember right it was Maximillian Schell playing the Phantom...I saw a picture of the two of them together (Jane and Maximillian) in a book about the different POTO adaptations. So IDK if Anthony plays a different character (the Raoul role, maybe?). DEFINITELY have to find out!

(trots off to find out. :-P)

Miss Dashwood said...

Haha, the title of this post wouldn't be an obscure The King and I reference, would it? "Small House of Uncle Thomas, written by a woman, Harriet Beecher Stooo-oooowe!" Heehee.

That is SO funny about the carriage wheel thing! I always thought that scene looked incredibly realistic... I wonder if that really was the accident? Or maybe the accident happened while they were shooting that scene, and then they had to re-shoot it, but they decided to recreate the accident?

We may never know, of course, unless the MoviePowers That Be decide to release a nice DVD with lots of special features and interviews and deleted scenes...

Alexandra said...

You know me so well, darling. :-P Yes, that was a King and I reference. :-)

I know. Hellooooo, movie powers, be niiiiiiice...

Victoria said...

That is so interesting ... you know, that COULD have been an accident. Because if you watch him closely right as it happens, he looks a little surprised. Not much, but almost as if he wasn't expecting it.

And I love how he made up a lot of his disguises. It just goes to show he's as clever as the real Sir Percy :-)

Alexandra said...

Tori - right, I know! I was thinking the same thing.

And as for Anthony Andrews' cleverness...I think you know better than just about anyone else my views on that subject. :-P