WE were THERE! – Celtic Blues Event, Cardiff, Wales

SPOILER WARNING – there are spoilers for Doctor Who Series 3 and Torchwood S2. They’re not major, but they’re there. Do not read if you’re spoilerphobic.

And the weekend is nearly over; but what a grand weekend it was.

This was the Cardiff getaway for the “Celtic Blues: The Event” followed by the concert. The day event was sold out, and the evening event was very well attended. Fabulous location … it’s The Point which is a gothic style, former church. There’s just something happily wrong with drinking beer under a vaulted arch while lovely boys are talking on stage where the altar would normally have been about kissing other boys. Fandom. Gotta love it.

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Gareth David-Lloyd, writer Catherine Treganna and James Marsters

 

The queue was opposite a pub and caused much puzzlement with the men gathered there for the rugby match. Eventually one of them came over to ask just what the hell we were all freezing our arses off for. We were duly mocked and laughed at when they realised it was a sci-fi geek thing, though mocked in a pleasant way. (Apparently one guess in the pub was that maybe we were all queuing for confession.) Not long after that, another chap came over to hand out his cards for his grave-tending business. Priceless.The day event was fab (few organizational hitches here and there, but no biggies). James and Gareth were both very snuggly during the photo shoot and there were no complaints by any of the attendees. And the evening concert was really enjoyable. I have to give Marsters huge kudos in particular; apparently he’d broken a finger six(?) weeks ago, which obviously impacted on his ability to play the guitar. Nonetheless, he had his assistant cut the bandage and he played his heart out last night. Bless.

So, let’s see: highlights.

*Gareth and James are obviously very good mates. The genuine affection and respect between the two is very clear, no doubt partly due to the similarities between them. They were both very articulate and there were clear glimpses that each is well spoken on more than merely the television and music industry. Philosophy and politics appear to be on the menu when the two meet up.

*Series Two of Torchwood will see a less naive, grown up Ianto. And hopefully more of the depths of his darkness and anguish.

*Yes, it sounds like there will be more Jack/Ianto.

 

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Gareth David-Lloyd

 

* At the beginning Gareth did used to try and keep up with what was online. Which, yes, included some ‘ rather dirty/naughty’ fanfic, and also meant he saw some of the criticisms of his character. Did he get hurt at all by it? Not in the least, so long as the criticism was done with a sense of humour. He particularly liked the comment mentioned above, and also an alternative Torchwood commentary he’d seen of Cyberwoman. (Ianto: I’m… Commenter: …rubbish!) It’s always good to see an actor who is happy to laugh at himself.* When asked whether he got into acting via drama school, Gareth replied, “I don’t see the reason to spend three months learning how to be a giraffe.” Seems he’s been in various youth groups since teenage-hood. By the time he got the offer to go to drama school for three years, he realised he’d done most of what the syllabus entailed, so he skipped it and took a shortened one year course. He was on stage a few times, with his first TV role being opposite Stephen Fry in Absolute Power, which he said was great (I mean, dude, Stephen Fry). He also thoroughly enjoyed filming his part in The Genius of Beethoven as period drama is a different experience, and also the filming took place in Poland so hey! Road trip. It might have also been this role which meant that he wasn’t able to take up a small role in a Doctor Who episode In any case, he went for the audition of Torchwood, told nothing other than the character was semi-recurring. After three weeks of hearing nothing he assumed he hadn’t got it, and then of course came the call. Was he happy? ‘Over the moon.’ Not only did Torchwood sound like an exciting project to get involved in, it also meant he could move back to Wales, closer to his home of Newport.

* Gareth was “flattered” when he learned that Ianto and Jack might have a thing going on. To go from semi-recurring, originally meant to only be in 80/90% of the series, to being a character the writers would consider as a possible love interest for the main male lead was ‘very flattering.’

* The episode that was most fun to film was Countrycide, as they got to go to the Breacon Becons which are gorgeous and stay in a fabulous hotel.

* The audience won’t find out what Ianto and Jack got up to with the stopwatch. It will make an appearance again, and other things may conspire between Jack and Ianto, but the exact events following that infamous scene will not be referred back to.

* Another reason why James loves Torchwood is the writers know they have actors and use them rather than relying on special effects “unlike some other shows *cough*SMALLVILLE*cough*”. Also, he said that there were very few shows where as an actor you feel like you are in a completely different world due to things just clicking and being so perfectly put together around you. He last felt it properly on Buffy, occasionally on Angel, and then he refound it when shooting Torchwood.

*Gareth had the perfect theory for how Jack ended up as the Face of Boe. Jack had a horrifying accident whereby he was decapitated (by a train if I recall correctly), and the body was destroyed completely. So the faithful and loving Ianto saves the head and puts it into a jar. And gives it Miracle Gro. Yep. That’s the secret. And as for Boe fathering children, again, the faithful and loving Ianto was more than happy to donate sperm 😀

*Gareth is perfectly happy working in Cardiff. London holds no particular appeal to him.

*Catherine Treganna wrote eps four and five of Series Two. James saw the final cut of ep 5 and was blown away by it. Utterly fabulous. We didn’t learn much more other than Owen’s character is one of the leads in the ep and it apparently deals with … alternate realities is probably the closest reference.

* There’s no show bible for Torchwood. Catherine said that is “part of what makes writing the show such fun. The writer has to pitch their idea, and it’s their opportunity to delve into a character’s past and reveal a little bit of something new.” Gareth added that he likes to have some backstory, but beyond being told he had a cyber girlfriend in the basement, he was told nothing about Ianto. So he came up with the idea that Ianto and Lisa worked at Torchwood 1, and after the battle Ianto smuggled Lisa to Cardiff. When he mentioned this to Russell T. Davies, he looked at him and said “I think that’s for me to decide.” James added that Joss’s reaction to actors voicing their ideas was “Yes. And then there’s me.”

* As mentioned before, writers basically pitch their ideas and if they’re lucky, their ideas get the go-ahead and off they go.

* The writers do not get any say in which actors play which characters. They write, and that’s it, it’s out of their hands. Which then also leaves a bit of leeway for the actors to change things a bit. So, fo
r example, as in Out of Time, the writer/script can have a character say ‘I know it’ in response to the name of mental health hospital. However then the actor can, for e.g., deliver the line so as it means “Oh yeah, I know where that is,” or “I know it, I’ve been there.” And then, in response, a few eps down the line, an actor might pick up a script and realise that, yes, the writers did pick up on the slight hint in their delivery and actually developed it hugely.

* Catherine got to do everything she wanted in the episode Captain Jack Harkness. She basically started off with the idea of that kiss, and then worked back from there, wanting to build a linear, believable love story so that when the kiss finally came it would really mean something. She was very, very happy with how the episode finally turned out, the moment Jack turned back she knew it had worked. (Incidentally, the whole audience, or at least those who knew the ep, were nodding and going ‘yeah’ in response to everything she was saying.)

* In her stories, she likes to take the characters and put them to extremes, make them see/realise parallels of themselves. (She phrased this better than I can, obviously). So in episode five, she gets to take two characters and show them/us just how different they could have turned out if their lives had gone different ways. James added that Burn (Gorman, who plays Owen Harper) just ate his scenes.

* Catherine actually started out as an actress. And then realised it wasn’t what she wanted to do. Back then the BBC used to run this scheme, sadly no longer existent, where you could get selected to go on this type of course with talks and advice about writing for TV given by well-known writers and other experience professionals. At the end you got to submit your ideas. Hers was one of those accepted, and consequently she was given a chance to write and ep or two of some TV series whose name I’m afraid I can’t remember. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

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James Marsters

 

* Gareth is apparently one of the few people who have managed to ‘get’ James whilst shooting a scene. As in say a line in character so that James doesn’t actually realise it is in character, he just thinks they’re talking as themselves. On camera.James: So I just said my lines, and then Gareth goes-
Gareth: Say that again.
James: And I think he can’t hear me, so I repeat myself, and he goes-
Gareth: Say that again.
James: And I just don’t realise that he’s actually just feeding me my next line.
Gareth: And three hours later the film crew goes, “Oh come on guys…”

*James first learned about Doctor Who and Torchwood through one of his professional team; they were suppposed to go out one evening, but she apparently said, “after Doctor Who” and dragged him into her room to watch the show. James turned up, watched the episode, and ‘the first 15 minutes had enough plot to run a whole US TV series’. And it was the same for the next 15 minutes, and the next. By the end, James was on his feet and banging on his agent’s door at some nasty hour of the night. ‘Get me on Doctor Who!’ Unfortunately there was no role for him on Doctor Who, however Russell T. Davies and co. did come back to him asking if he’d be interested in being in its spin-off; Torchwood. James’ reaction was that so long as Davies was producing, he’d be in anything. And voilà! He got the part of Captain John.

*James was very open about his initial discomfort with John Barrowman during the first few days of filming. He didn’t quite know how to react to John’s normal antics — groping, sexual innuendos, et al. In fact, he started giving advice to some of the cast about how to fend off unwanted attention: hit him here, do this, yaddy, yaddy. John, being the consummate professional he is, quickly realized that he’d need to change his approach to James. So, he does what he does best — started putting James at ease. ‘How do you want to approach this scene? (which involved the kiss that we’ve heard about) and so on and so on. Suffice it to say that the Barrowman charm worked its magic because James is now a fanboy of the Barrowman. There’s no other way to put it. I can’t remember if he said “I’d do anything for that man,” or if “I’d go to hell for that man”, but you get the picture.

* About the importance of being word perfect with their lines, Gareth said that if it’s a big scene with a lot of dialogue, he’ll take the time to make sure he knows absolutely every word perfectly and stick to it. However, normally whilst he and the others will know their lines, for the more casual throwaway sentences, they’ll be happy to stray a little bit from what’s written or improvise a tad. James said that it’s tough because as a guest star/character, you get a lot of dialogue in comparison to the other actors. So, the sample was…

James: Blahblahblah blah blah, blad-di-blah-di-blahblah, blahblahblahblahblah. Blah.
Gareth: Yeah?
James: Blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah, blah-di-blah-di-blah-di-blah-di-blahblah, blah blaaah blah blah-di-blah.
Gareth: That’s cool.

 

imageGareth David-Lloyd

 

* When asked if James will come back to Torchwood, Gareth quipped, “I haven’t decided yet,” and James said he’d love to return if they’ll have him. Apparently the way things end Captain John returning is something that could definitely happen should the writers and Russell T. Davies will it.* James was asked to answer in Captain John’s accent, and we got treated to a Russian accent for a while, but I think (can’t remember very well) James either decided that he couldn’t pull the accent off, or that it just didn’t suit the character, Russian was too classy. So Captain John will have a low-class English accent. Rather like Spike in sound, but nothing like Spike in character.

James as John: Oh, what’s that- who’s she- who’s he- oh what’s THAT!
James as Gwen: That’s a poodle.

Spike was a romantic, a one-chick, monogamous guy. Whereas John would just laugh and go ‘Gay? Straight? Hah, you child!’ Captain John will do anything with a postcode, (boy/girl/poodle/tree/etc) and by the end of the shoot in fact James Marsters and John Barrowman were equalling each other in being able to say innuendos filthy enough to get the crew/cast rolling their eyes.

* At some point Captain John does call Ianto ‘eye-candy’. James also mentioned that he did regret not getting more screentime with Gareth and the rest of the cast. One scene they do have together apparently involves Ianto not at all happy with Captain John and attempting to threaten him.

*Yes, James joins the legions of individuals who have seen the Barrowman “jewels” — for lack of a better euphemism. It seems as though James was having some difficulty getting into the right mode during one of the last scenes in the (final?) ep of the series. He thinks he’s just killed Jack (in a rather horrifying mannner apparently), and then Jack walks in. So, what does John Barrowman do? He whips out his dick (and yes, James confirms it’s big), and whips it back in. Result: James was so touched by the show of John’s vulnerability that it did the trick and he was able to get into character and finish the scene. I’m not jesting.

*James loves Torchwood. He really thinks it’s the best of its genre — histo
rical and current. ::cheers from the crowd::

* Yes, James repeated the statement that John Barrowman is a better kisser than Sarah Michelle Gellar

*When asked “who is ruder? John Barrowman or James?” James had a difficult time answering that question. It seems that as he’s become more involved with the TW team and John in particular, they’ve all relaxed to the point where ‘rudeness’ is par for the course. He did begin by saying, “Well I’ve dated a porn star …”

 

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James Marsters

 

* When asked about having to wear a dress in Chance, James said it was not a good experience. He was full of praise for the Torchwood production as a whole. He was very impressed with how professionally and how tightly run the departments were, particularly when it was all done for a dime. However as he mentioned earlier, as an actor you do leave yourself rather vulnerable at times, particularly to the crew. It was part of why he was so moved when John was prepared to expose himself in front of everyone. In any case, apparently for all other scenes the Chance filming crew were fine, but when James was in the dress they continually were teasing and making fun of him. Till in the end he was getting very annoyed and responding with “Look, do you think just because I’m in a dress I can’t kick your arse.”* About his experience in Andromeda, James said he really likes the lead guy (Kevin Sorbo), but in the end the show just wasn’t for him. Not to mention the fact he had to wear a purple costume. So he felt bad, but he didn’t want to go back even though they did ask him.

* James was asked whether he missed dyeing his hair blonde, and he replied with a resounding NO. There is no way to describe the pain that went with having to try and keep roots to a minimum. Part of the reason he went on TV and had it all shaved off was the sheer joy of being able to say to himself “Thank God that’s over,” though he did admit, he did like that ‘it looked very cool.’

*James truly appreciates his fans. He commented on the fact that during the four lean years when he had no film or tv work, it was his fans who kept him going. He has not forgotten that, and it’s obvious he’s sharing that mantra with Gareth; treat your fans well.

* About Dragonball, “the first rule about Dragonball is don’t talk about Dragonball.” James wasn’t allowed to talk about it bar the bare minimum due to legal contracts. He was rather annoyed by this, as he pointed out we could go out and get the comics/cartoons and find it all out anyway.He is absolutely thrilled to have got the part of Piccolo. He and his son love the cartoons, but they both see Piccolo as a very big, beefy character. So when he heard he got the part, he called his son…

James: The good news is they’re making a film of Dragonball, and I’m going to be in it.
Son: Yay, fantastic!
James: Yeah, but I’m going to be Piccolo.
Son: … Yeah, Dad… that’s not cool…

* James explained why his new album is called Like a Waterfall.” Originally it was going to be called ‘Girl with Feathers’ as a tribute to James’ current lass, who takes the view that people are like birds, with the pride and the strutting and the beauty, etc. James loves this take on how to see the world and so after much thinking rung up his manager with what he was convinced was a winner of a title – it meant something, it was pretty, it was deep.

Manager: Yeah… Tell you what, think about it, and call me back tomorrow.

Certain that he wasn’t going to change his mind in the space of just 24 hours, James rung up the lady in question to tell her what he was planning to do. She thought for a moment, and then asked him what the cover of the album was going to be. Wasn’t it going to be a close-up of his face? Yes, it was. Well, did he want a big picture of his face, with the large caption “Girl with Feathers”? James called back the manager to agree that, yes, they did need another title. In the end he went back over the lyrics of his songs, most of which were about or inspired by the same lady. He chose the line ‘Like a Waterfall’ as that is the way her hair falls around her face.

* James stressed once again how much he’d loved filming Torchwood, and was full of respect for the actors and crew. Apparently the actors nail their lines every time, they get a take every time, he’s never seen such professionalism. Again, he referred to the fight scene between Captain John and Captain Jack, in that he got to drag John Barrowman’s face through ‘glass’, and likewise John got to smash a bottle over James’ face, and it looked fantastic and there wasn’t a single injury. Unlike on Smallville where he’d already managed to break some fingers. (He held up the splintered digits for our inspection.) However the show doesn’t make it easy for itself, and the reason there are so many takes is down to the filming crew, not the actors. Apparently the norm on other shows is to have brilliant lighting, everything lit up, as it’ll give you a very deep/large field of view wherein things will be in focus for the camera. So the cameraman can effectively be asleep and still get a good shot. However, on Torchwood, they like to do really individual, atmospheric lighting, which has a very small/narrow field of view. The cameraman has to really be on his toes to make sure the shot stays in focus.

*In speaking with one of the James fans from the US, she said she’d never heard James speak so highly of another actor as he does of John. ::woot!::

And yes, as is obvious, although it was a Marsters/Lloyd Event, the Barrowman presence was nonetheless strongly felt.

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