рHgeocities.com/Hollywood/Theater/5331/foil.htmlgeocities.com/Hollywood/Theater/5331/foil.htmldelayedxО‘J€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€»Ахд“-OKtext/htmlаяj“-€€€€bЙ.HMon, 24 May 1999 20:13:56 GMT∞Mozilla/4.5 (compatible; HTTrack 3.0x; Windows 98)en, *О‘J“-Mortal Foil

Paul Johansson Catches a Thief:
Highlander's Immortal Amanda

By Peter Bloch-Hansen
Starlog, January 1999, #258
"I haven't done an interview for this show before," says a grinning Paul Johansson. "I'm a virgin, so be gentle."

The show the actor refers to is Highlander: The Raven, a syndicated spin-off of Highlander starring Adrian Paul. Johansson plays Nick Wolfe, a disillusioned cop who, upon quitting the police force, is drawn into an uneasy partnership with the Immortal, high-society thief Amanda, made popular in the original series by Elizabeth Gracen.

In a corner of the crew's busy, on-location lunch room in Toronto, Johansson discusses his character's past. "He just didn't want to be among a bunch of hypocrites anymore." the actor explains. "The cover-ups, lies, dirty cops, warped honor system-you know, cover up one lie to save another. It's just too much for him. You start losing focus of what the real good is and what you're doing."
raven pic But this is only one side of Wolfe, and clearly the darker side. Asked about Wolfe and Amanda's ambiguous relationship, which forms the crux of the show, Johansson becomes more upbeat. "My character's back-story," he explains, "is that he has lost his wife. Amanda's a powerful woman. Her strength is something he misses. He's absolutely attracted to and empowered by her. He doesn't see her as a threat, she's someone who makes him stronger. I certainly sense that in our scenes.

"The other thing is this whole business of immortality. How could you not be fascinated with somebody who might live forever? Wouldn't you want to be next to them, to see how they deal with things, and how they talk to people? Maybe Nick's trying to learn secrets from Amanda. If I knew somebody who was an Immortal, I would certainly want to know everything about them. 'What knowledge do you have? What can I learn from you?'

There are still more turns to Amanda, however, twists that further confound Johansson's character. "Nick finds out she's just a thief, and that blows him away. Why would someone with all this vast knowledge and these great experiences resort to being a thief? In a way, that's her not taking responsibility. I can't say things for Elizabeth's character, but Nick has all these questions, all these assumptions about her."

Immortal Alliances

But thief or not, Wolfe appreciates his informal alliance with Amanda. "The fact that she can't die makes her an incredible asset as a partner," Johansson adds. "Not that he won't protect her if he can, but, ultimately, he's not responsible if she gets killed, because she'll live again, whereas a real partner would be dead. So that's what he gets out of the relationship."

Johansson leans back in his chair to speak to an assistant director about the busy afternoon ahead of him, then returns to Wolfe - namely, his agenda. "Nick is on this path. If he's struggling for righteousness and justice, then Amanda is the barometer by which he measures where he stands. Amanda has brought all kinds of weirdos and situations into his life that he can't in good conscience walk away from. He can't just sit back. He thinks, "I saw this guy shoot another guy, and I can't let the police bumble this one, too. I've got to make my stand.' Amanda is a thief, and by watching her he realizes - as I have realized as an actor working with this character-that good people sometimes do bad things. Nick has had to re-adjust his world view."

What does Johansson mean by this? "Imagine that somebody came to you and said that they came from another planet. You would have to make an adjustment inside your head to incorporate that into your daily experience. Well, knowing an Immortal also requires a psychological adjustment. I would never want to give up the great and wonderful joy of having a terminus. Knowing that I will die makes every single moment in between more important. If I didn't know it was ever going to end, I wouldn't sit down, for example, and enjoy a salad like I do. It would just go on forever.

"I think everybody's existence is terminal to themselves. It's all personal. Your world is yours and my world is mine, so if somebody comes along and really throws your world off-balance, it affects you forever. I would say my character is pretty much the show's moral center, but I fight it because I think everybody has their own morality. That's a judgment I can't make. But as far as what my character would or wouldn't do, we'll vary that as we go.

"Wolfe isn't about morality. Wolfe is an Ernest Hemmingway character. That's who I see him as sometimes - he'll get in a bar fight one day because he's pissed off, and the next day he'll do something good. It changes."

The actor jokes continuously with cast and crew, pausing to pose for a photograph with a crewperson pointing a prop pistol at him. But jokes are put aside when Johansson reveals that he's no stranger to his character's dangerous world. "I come from a street background, boxing, fighting, training. I've been in LA for about 12 years now, and I've sat out on my balcony and listened to the gunshots at night. I've been robbed and shot at. I've had guns put to my head in front of ATM machines and a knife pulled on me in New York.

Mortal Roles

That might partially explain why the actor won the role. He certainly liked what Highlander had to offer. "I was in LA," he recalls. "I'm not sure how they heard about me, but they called me into a meeting. I sat down with the head writer and Marla Ginsburg, the Gaumont representative, Bill Panzer and Peter Davis, and the heads of Rysher Entertainment. We talked about a new show with a new twist, but it wasn't until the end that they told me it was a Highlander spinoff. First, they pitched me the story - a man and a woman who are partners, and she happens to be Immortal.

"They explained the Immortal aspect to me because though I had seen the Highlander movies, I didn't know the series. I recognized Adrian Paul when I saw his picture, and I liked the people involved. They said that I was to play a cop like Deckard in Blade Runner - a little roguish, a little outside the system - a maverick. They also said that Nick and Amanda's relationship would not be a romantic one initially; that it was tenuous and utilitarian at first because they both need things from each other. But what grows out of it is far stronger than what they first realized.

"In the first episodes, it has just been this love-hate relationship. Amanda comes across a situation that winds up unjuring my partner. I'm trying to sort that out when I witness a beating and a killing I can't walk away from. In another story, Amanda comes to me for help and I help because it services me. Then I go to her and say, 'You need to do this thing for me because you owe me. You were there and you know how my partner was hurt.' We're simply flung into situations."

Like Johansson, Wolfe displays a kind of confidence with Amanda. "What Nick gives her," he suggests, "is some real guidance. She has finally met somebody who is her equal in many ways. He's obviously mortal, but he's willing to look her in the face and say, 'No, you're wrong,' which is not something she's used to. He can handle himself. You know that he's an adept fighter. He speaks fluent French and English. He's a traveler and he has seen things. Ultimately, it's the simple things he shares with her.

"He's a very simple guy," Johansson adds. "It's not about selfishness or self-importance; he can give Amanda something that she may not have had for a long, long time, and that's someone who can sit still and listen to her. I don't think he judges her. He just doesn't understand why she does things. She'll try to explain but he doesn't get it. There's great interaction with that stuff. I know I'm talking in metaphors, but it's only because there are so many examples that I wouldn't know where to start."

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