Hgeocities.com/Hollywood/Theater/5331/scifi.htmlgeocities.com/Hollywood/Theater/5331/scifi.htmldelayedx0J/OKtext/html(k/b.HMon, 24 May 1999 20:20:34 GMTMozilla/4.5 (compatible; HTTrack 3.0x; Windows 98)en, *0J/Hatching a New Highlander

Hatching a New Highlander

By James G. Boutilier

What happens when the boys have finished playing?

When antique swords are sheathed and ancient foes are dead? When the daily ritual of defending the damsel and decapitating the villain have lost their luster? Why, you call in a woman to reinvent the legend, of course, adding a wily, spicy and uniquely exotic flavor that only the millennuim old sultry "Queen of Thieves," herself, can!

For twelve years the Highlander legacy has spanned three feature films, with a fourth on the way, and a successful six year Highlander: The Series stint for television. We have watched the Connor men of the Clan MacLeod decapitate over a hundred and twenty immortals, die a couple dozen times and endure episode after episode of outrageous Quickening (lightning) strikes.
But this September, the gauntlet has been passed on...
it's time for a woman to kick some immortal butt!

Exploding on screen with the same dark attractiveness as the original 1986 feature film, Highlander, starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery, Highlander: Raven (whichis a Sci-Fi Channel exclusive in the U.K.) explores the mythology, intrigue and duality of being an immortal in a very mortal world in a truly original way which we haven't seen since the first film. In fact, Elizabeth Gracen , the immortal Amanda's multi-talented alter ego, expressed a similar feeling about the show's color: "I've seen the rushes for the first few episodes, and they don't even look like TV. They are much more polished."

In the premiere episode, "Reborn," the stage for this installment in the legacy is set. The action resembles a John Woo flick, while the atmosphere reminds one of Batman, and the provocative, dangerously exciting and playful Catwoman. "I was thrilled when I saw the first couple of scripts, that, here she goes, charging head on, not emotionally fighting, but like a warrior, and something obviously happened between maybe when LacLeod left and when this series starts that; it's part of her nature not to be a scared rabbit."
pj & elizabeth gracen
And rest assured, just like the big boys, this 5'10" femme fatale can dish it out just as good. With the responsibility of being a warrior comes the burden of training. But in Gracen's case, the added training is welcomed and different from what we've seen thus far. "We've done several good sword fights and I've been training in martial arts, Hap Kido, and I've just started training on a Chinese fighting fan-it's knives in a fan-and is very elegant, sort of Emma Peel, but it's oriental. That's my wish. I haven't been fighting in a couple of weeks now and I'm chomping at the bit because I love it. I was training before the show started and for lack of a better word, I think it's cool. I think people are really gonna love that, I love that...It creates magic, something that is different from our everyday lives, which is what we are trying to do."

In fact, after six seasons of downplaying Amanda's villainous strengths, the dark and secret lure of someone who stepped out of a 1200 year past, it is both refreshing and exciting to see the "Rebirth" of Amanda into a full woman, born of legend and shrouded in secrecy with a tough and whimsical interior. "What I'm very pleased with is she's a very more mature character who is making her way through the world and who is trying to become a better person instead of just getting into messes here and there and depending on a man or someone else to get her out of the mess.

"She's still a thief and still wily and still a wise cracker and all that, but really, I think she's blossomed into a better character, obviously a more fuller character because every episode is about her and the people around her. I'm very pleased...I think women will like that better - I certainly do...It's not that she's not wily, she's just been aged now. It's a maturity. And she's so unique, she's a fun character."

It is this desire to be a better person, to grow, along with her carthartic revelation that her immortal life so drastically affects the lives around her that defines Amanda's direction throughout the series. "I just did a scene today, a very intense episode called, 'The Unknown Soldier,' very dramatic, where Amanda is caught knowing she [had] done something in the past that she was unaware had caused the deaths of many people...and her solution, by doing it, required a lot of honor. I think she is trying to be a better person. It's like something clicks in her brain, 'Aw, you have all these gifts, all these talents, you have many different things about you that are good, why not use them to do something good for other people?'"

But, as one would imagine when Amanda is involved, the show wouldn't be complete if the crossroad didn't hold a few bumps and pits along the path. In fact, it is a botched robbery exchange and subsequent murder frame-up that introduces Amanda to one of those long term bumps, one suspicious detective named Nick Wolfe, played by accomplished dramatic actor Paul Johansson, who you'll remember from the series, Lonesome Dove: the Series and Lonesome Dove: the Outlaw Years. Of course, and unfortunately, Amanda falls for this very mortal cop who happens across her immortal secret, which further redefines the Highlander format, creating a new level of danger we haven't seen in the saga for a long while.

Also caught in the same introspective situation as Amanda, Nick decides to take the law into his own hands, but is completely unprepared when Amanda steps into his life and turns his ideology upside down; and being enthralled with an immortal intrinsically added a bunch of knots to the noose. In a nutshell, Amanda is "reluctantly developing a sense of responsibility," and Nick is along for the joyride of the millennium.
nick pic Finally, in Nick Wolfe we have a perfect unbalance of mortal and immortal partnering, clashing and romancing. "He's more like a Watcher. You can't have a show without mortals. He affects Amanda...because she's trying to be better and help people around her, and forge true relations because she's been such a gypsy - and I think he probably helps ground the character a little."

Alone you have one directionless immortal who desperately wants to make a change in her life, and an ex-cop who's become disenchanted with the legal system's due process. But together, "Nick and Amanda form an unlikely team in their war against injustice." With her prowess and immortal ace up the sleeve, teamed with his street-sense concept of justice and determination to stay alive, they take the Highlander's struggle against evil to a new and personal, action packed level.
"Nick Wolfe is a man with a past. I liken him to a character, one of my favorite characters in film noir, Blade Runner. He reminds me of Decker, the character Harrison Ford played. His isolated kind of lifestyle. He's somebody who has been in love and lost love. He's been married and lost his wife, she's not dead but she left him, and he's in a lot of ways the last sheriff before the badlands. He's trying to maintain a semblance of what he thinks law and order is in society. He leaves the force under very tenuous circumstances as a matter of pride rather than necessity. So, for him, it's the question of levels of not black and white, but levels of grey in what's good and what's evil. So when he comes into contact with the other character, Amanda Marshal, who's this immortal, which number one, if you can imagine if you met someone who could live forever you'd be fascinated by them, and number two, she's very attractive, and number three, she does all the wrong things. She's a thief, she's a liar and she's an antagonist. So he finds himself at odds with himself, you know, battling that side of himself he's never had to face before - that is, how can I justify being friends, being partners with somebody who doesn't have the same set of moral values as I have? And that's his inner conflict all the time...a lot of their verbal sparring," says the actor, who puts a lot of concentration into what makes a character tick:

"Internal conflicts, as an actor, are far more interesting to me than having a big monster to fight or bad guy with all the right words, or a bomb with a button to push to blow up the world...I mean, the guns and action, we have a lot of that and they are part of it, but hopefully the internal battles will be the strong storylines."
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