Hgeocities.com/Hollywood/Theater/5331/prevue.htmlgeocities.com/Hollywood/Theater/5331/prevue.htmldelayedx,J ;OKtext/html(k ;b.HMon, 24 May 1999 22:00:57 GMTMozilla/4.5 (compatible; HTTrack 3.0x; Windows 98)en, *,J ; Prevue Interview

...Talks With Prevue

by Lisa Coleman
He may be new to Highlander fans, but Paul Johansson is an old hand at both TV and film. He's appeared in Showtime's Dead Man's Gun, Beverly Hills, 90210, and the telefilms Ed McBain's 87th Precinct - Ice and Ed McBain's 87th Precinct - Heat, among others. His film credits include Wes Craven's recently completed Carnival of Souls, and the soon-to-be released Evil Never Dies, She's So Lovely and played Sally Field's soap opera husband in Soapdish.
Born in Spokane, Washington and raised in Vancouver, BC, he is the son of legendary hockey star, Ching Johnson, who was a member of the 1954 Stanley Cup-winning Detroit Red Wings. Inheriting his father's athletic prowess, Paul was named an All-Canadian Basketball Player in 1987, while a student at the University of British Columbia, and was offered a berth with the Atlanta Hawks. He segued into acting when a talent scout offered him the role of Greg Hughes on Santa Barbara. The rest, as they say, is history. We caught Paul before he left for Highlander: The Raven's Paris location.

Prevue: I just watched the first episode and absolutely loved it.

PJ: Apparently you are not alone, the response has been very positive.

Prevue: Tell us about the Highlander: The Raven.

PJ: This is the first time they have taken the Highlander genre and put it on its head, twisted the point of view, and seeing the immortal realm through a human's eyes for a different perspective. My character Nick, an ex-cop has befriended Amanda, this mischievous immortal, which is the best way to describe her. Here you have a man with a strong moral, ethical code, and who hasn't necessarily done very well financially or emotionally but as a man, is very strong for what he stands for. He meets up with Amanda who has everything diamonds, money, an apartment and a life of thievery an immoral immortal, someone who has questionable ethical values. There is this juxtaposition between these two characters, which has created a moonlighting effect between the two some tension and some sparring, but an incredible draw between the two. So we find a fun way to tell this story. We do find a lot of fun as well as serious moments. We have something new to play with, a slicker more contemporary way to tell the story of the old Highlander.

Prevue: It was great! Do you want to give us a little more insight on Nick?

PJ: I'm learning more and more about him. Amanda is a spin-off character from the original show, therefore well established in the minds of the fans. They know where she's coming from. Nick is new; therefore, the writers and I are discovering him as we go. We have to uncover him slowly as he has been thrust into this strange world and reveals himself a little more in each episode. We do find out that he has a failed marriage, he was a very good detective on the force for 12 years and quit over a very strong conviction that he believed in, the inability to lie about something. It is a very Serpico-ish reasoning that he has. He's off on his own now. He does a little bounty work, a little cloak and dagger work with an old friend who appears in various episodes, Meyers, who gets him into a lot of trouble. The relationship blooms between him and Amanda in many ways; yet, at the same time is strained in different areas. Just as good things are happening, other things are falling apart. A lot of cat and mouse going on. Nick has a lot of difficulty with the way she runs her life so it is hard for him to get close to her.

Prevue: Nick seems to be pretty philosophical in the way he runs his life.

PJ: It's quite a coincidence that over the past two years I have played various spiritual, self help roles: a priest in Wishmaster II, a self-help guru like Tony Robbins, Leonard, on Dharma and Greg, a guru back from a year-long trek in Tibet who went to "find himself", a protestant minister, etc. I have been playing the spiritual realm for 2 years. This has influenced all of my work for some reason. I think there is a big spiritual cry-out across this country right now to fill a void as we are being exposed to all sorts of moral questions.

Prevue: What's your favorite aspect of the series so far?

PJ: I love the little things. The whole immortal idea which is the hook for the show that makes people tune in. The idea that there are people who can live forever. It's huge and it's very sweeping and encompasses a lot of things. But for me I like the little moments, a look between Amanda and Nick where they just catch each other's eye in an elevator. I fall in love with just the tiny moments. They may not even be things that are in the script; maybe just an improv'd word or line between the two of us. That type of spontaneity that just happens makes the show magical.

Prevue: What's been your least favorite aspect of the show so far?

PJ: Falling out of moving car during a stunt, being punched in the jaw(laughing). Seriously, I don't like going over the same ground as an actor, performer, character, as a human being. There is so much to do in our story and in our lives that we don't need to step over the same ground again. I don't want to become repetitive.

Prevue: With the original series being as popular as it was, do you feel you have large shoes to fill?

PJ: I'm not in any way trying to attempt to fill any shoes. I made it very clear upon starting the show that I would never try and fill Adrian Paul's shoes. I am very adamant that my character is human, is a mortal, he can die. With that it gives me a little freedom to react impulsively, to maybe behave a little recklessly in their world. Because Adrian is such a huge powerful phenomenon, I think that immortality is Elizabeth's and Adrian's realm and my character is sort of tertiary value to the show. Really someone who is a narrator in some ways, someone by whom we can measure this experience.

Prevue: What is it like working with Elizabeth?

PJ: She's terrific, very professional, she's on time, she shows up, hits her mark, she says her line, she trains very hard with the swords. Even on her time off, she comes in to work out with the swordsmith experts. It's nice to work with someone so committed.

Prevue: What's been the funniest thing that's happened on the set so far?

PJ: Oh, there's been a lot! I remembered one time that I was completely soaked, and thinking that I was alone, I dropped my pants to change, and as I turned around, the whole crew was there with their mouths wide open, applauding!

Prevue: Is it tough being involved in a weekly series?

PJ: This is my 4th or 5th series, but it's my first leading role. I did a soap opera, Santa Barbara, back in the 80's. Then I did a series on Fox for a year called Parker Lewis Can't Lose. Then I went on Beverly Hills 90210 for a year as well as 2 years on Lonesome Dove. So I have spent a lot of time doing series but never have had a co-starring role as I am doing with Elizabeth now. The hardest part is the long hours. I love to work; I'm an A-type personality so I really enjoy it. Between the times that they say "action" and "cut" is my favorite time of the day. When I can fill up those moments, I am really happy.

Prevue: What do you want to tell us about Paul?

PJ: I am enjoying the results of a screening I did the other night in Los Angeles of my film, "Conversations in Limbo." It's a small art-house film that will go to festivals around the world. It went extremely well, a huge crowd, a very receptive audience that will open up a lot of doors to my directing career. In these few off weeks before we go to Paris I am polishing off a script which I'm writing to direct so when we go into our hiatus in late February, I'll either stay in Europe or I'll come back here and finish writing the script, get the financing together, and direct it. I have a lot of joys that are coming from having worked on the show.

Prevue: Any talk of you directing any episodes of Highlander: The Raven?

PJ: The producers and my agents have talked, so we'll see. They were at my screening and they were impressed. They all seem very receptive, so we'll see.

Prevue: How about writing, is that a part of your life too?

PJ: Absolutely that's my passion. When I'm on the set, I have my computer set up in my trailer and I spend a lot of time working on and hashing out scripts and other things that I love. I have a huge passion for writing and I think it is my favorite thing, even more than acting and directing.

Prevue: Anything else you want to tell your fans?

PJ: I have rules when I take on a job at this point in my life. I hope we are telling a story that people can relate to and that people can be moved by instead of just merely entertained by. I really have ideas about people who have moral dilemmas or people who have questions about deeper aspects of their own lives, but sometimes its very powerful, very important to me to try to put real moral issues in our work and have people ask questions about their own lives through the work that we're doing somehow. Possibly to have people re-evaluate or re-adjust or draw some conclusions. I hope it's more than just entertaining. Good story telling should make you think. It should provide introspection. So that is what I am trying to push for in my character in these showsto show that he is more complex than you presume him to be in the first episode or two, that he is more complex, not a heel, nor a simple character. That he has struggles and that he is constantly dealing with these issues. There are no good or bad people, just like us, only good and bad decisions and that's what's happening around this show. The complexity is all around and we will go through the troubles with him.

Check Prevue Online for airtimes in your area.

Reprinted with permission by Lisa Coleman.
December, 1998.

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