By Lyria Wollich
The Methos Mystique
He's Welsh, he's
handsome and he's vaulted into the hearts and minds of Highlander Fans
everywhere as Methos, the oldest living
immortal and as his alter ego - Watcher Adam Pierson;
He's enjoyed every minute of it. "Methos was fantastic to play
because he was a different guy every time I met him." Peter admits to
us during a recent interview. (which was forwarded to us by his wonderful
personal assistant Kelly Andrews.)
According to David
Abramowitz, the shows head writer, the Methos character was truly
original, "Well, Methos was great fun because we thought, rather than
playing him as the old sage, we thought about someone who had been through
the old sage moment and through the irony moment and through all those
moments in his life for every couple hundred years and now he comes to
this conclusion that - I have to say what Methos' philosophy was. It was
"Shit happens" - and deal with it, and survive. That's what
Methos was about. "
It took an actor who fully
understood this philosophy to be able to play it well and to really, fully
realize the part that Methos would become. Peter Wingfield did so,
so very, very well that he became an enduring presence on the
series. His ability to play the wise yet unpredictable 5000 year old
immortal brought this charming, charismatic actor to the forefront of
Hardly a newcomer to the genre, being a veteran actor on
British Television for over ten years (see
Peter's Bio), Peter found Methos to be a challenge and ever-changing.
"The thing I hate about TV, and playing the same character is that
actually you are basically playing the same story week in and week out.
All the fun and excitement is in episode one. So, for all the rest of the
season it just gets more and more boring. Methos was never like that. He
was someone else every time I met him and that was thrilling."
So who is Methos, really? Peter explains, "Some weeks it was comedy -
some weeks it was high drama. I think that is the enduring appeal of
Methos - his mercurial nature - you never knew who he was and the same was
true for me. I still don't know lots of stuff about him. You never know
who you are going to meet each time he appears - or each time the script
lands on your doormat!" And there were some moments he really
enjoyed. "Great Moments: Methuselah's Gift - the train station.
Indiscretions - road movie section with Jim. Comes A Horseman! It would be
easier to say where there any moments when you didn't enjoy playing him.
Yeah there were a couple - wallpaper episodes that were boring." But,
overall, Peter says "It was full of great moments and great one
liners!" One immediately comes to mind in his first episode
appropriately named "Methos" with Duncan MacLeod that has become
somewhat of a staple for Methos fans where he turns to Mac and says
"mi casa su casa"
So what about Peter? How did this Welsh actor, with a background in
Medicine - he dropped out to pursue his acting career; and training at the
Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London come to be associated with
Highlander? Peter replies in his self-depreciating way, "They offered
it to me and it was four days in Paris. It is fairly rare to turn a job
down - it would have to be pretty awful before an actor would turn down a
job. " Peter was initially only offered the one episode and was
signed as a "day player" . It wasn't until almost two years
later that he realized the significance of what Methos had become. "I
wasn't aware of it for the first two seasons. It was only at the end of
season four, when looking back at it; I realized that I'd done three in
season 3 and eight in season 4."
"When they approached me to take part in season 5, it actually
occurred to me that I was a recurring character. When I did realize
that Methos was clearly as important to the show at that stage as either
Amanda or Richie, I did push for some contractual changes - instead of
being contracted as a 'day player' I was contracted as a regular member of
the cast - with a recurring (regular) role."
And Peter reprised that role recently in Highlander:
Endgame, once again playing the 5000 year old immortal who saves his
friend Duncan's life when he's abducted by a band of rogue watchers.
Peter talked about Endgame and his role along with fellow cast mate Jim
Byrnes who played Joe Dawson. "Yes it's exactly the same character.
The significant thing about having me and Jim in the movie is that it
turns the world of the movies into the world of the TV series. It brings
in Adrian, who is the same guy he's been for the six years of the series,
and he brings his friends with him. They are the same people - it is the
But during the filming of the movie - which everyone agrees was difficult
at best; Peter and Jim got to share more than a spot in front of the
camera. It seems getting from one place to the next became somewhat
of an adventure. "Think it was my last day of filming, definitely
Jim's. Got up at some god-awful hour in the morning - down to the hotel
lobby; no one there to pick us up."
"No one there to pick anyone up. The camera crew were all
there, the camera equipment was all there, all the stuff to lug out
to the set. No one around, and like minus ten outside, December in
Romania! Freezing bloody cold and starting to snow. We all kind of
hang around looking for something to eat for about an hour, when they
finally decide 'OK we'll just order you guys a taxi'. "
"Jim and I get in the back of one of these cabs and drive out to the
location which is a cemetery. We've been driving for about twenty or
twenty-five minutes when we drive in to a cemetery which is completely
void of human life - a lot of ex humans, but no one around at all.
At this point, we establish in appalling pigeon Romanian that there
are -of course; many cemeteries - Orthodox Christian Cemetery,
Roman Catholic Cemetery, Jewish Cemetery; the list goes on..."
"We of course have no idea - as we are just actors, picked up, taken
to the set, say our words and go home; which of these is our location. We
have numbers for the office and various people. none of those phones are
picking up, no one is answering their cell phones."
"The cab driver just gets out of the car, and walks of into the
distance - presumably to try and find out what is going on; leaving me and
Jim in the middle of a cemetery at seven o' clock in the morning, in the
middle of absolutely nowhere, with the snow starting to fall. This is not
one of the nice neat tarmacked cemeteries of the western world - this is
just a clearing in the forest. Absolutely no question of Jim getting
out and walking anywhere - even if we knew where to go; so we just sit
there for twenty minutes or half an hour. I call Vancouver because it's
still early enough there for people to be awake and enjoy the humor of the
situation - and also because I am hysterical! "
"Finally, somebody comes and finds us. The cab driver comes back with
another cab driver who appears to know what's going on. So we drive from
where we are, around a few trees down a few winding bits of pathway and
then we stop in the middle of another bit of nowhere. At which point he
enthusiastically waves us out of the car and we have to walk down a little
forest path, down a big steep slope and over a couple of
fences to where the location is."
"Jim was pretty happy I can tell you."
And Peter Wingfield fans will be thrilled to know that he has been filming
in Spain recently for a new show, Queen
of Swords in which he plays - oddly enough; a doctor called
Robert Helm. When I asked him about how he got the role, he was
quite frank. "It was the Highlander Cruise in November '99 (LA to
Mexico). David Abramowitz came on to just do a Q&A session and asked
if he could have a chat with me over lunch."
"In essence, he said that he was developing this new series. It was
at that stage fairly certain, although not guaranteed, that it would
happen and he said there were two possible roles in it that he was
considering me for. He very much wanted Valentine and me to be part of the
show because he is a big fan of ours, and he wanted strong reliable people
on his show to guide it through what was going to be clearly very
difficult filming conditions."
"At that time there were two possible characters, one was called
Grisham, who is kind of the bad guy's sidekick. Valentine is the bad guy
and Grisham is his underling who does his dirty work for
"There was very much the sense of that being Methos and Kronos to me.
The other character that he was thinking about for me was a doctor who had
done something terrible for which he could not forgive himself. He had
left the army to become a doctor to atone for his sins and run from his
past and the wars in Europe. He comes to the New World where he answers an
advert to become the doctor in a village in Southern California."
"We talked a lot about it. I was very much more attracted to that
role rather than the Grisham role and over the course of the next four or
five months, David, in essence, wrote the part for me. He wrote audition
scenes for me and we talked about them at great length. I put a couple on
tape, went down to LA and did a couple of scenes with the girl they had
cast as the Queen of Swords and over and over again the Producers of the
show said 'he's not really what we're after'."
"They were really looking for a show like Buffy and they were wanted
a young sensual couple - the girl who plays the lead is 24, I think, and
they wanted a guy of around 28. Which I ain't! "
"David refused to let them actually turn me down - he just let it
simmer. They kept seeing other people. Many, many people. I know of a
handful from England that they saw. But, also when I went to LA they had a
guy from Montreal testing and another guy from Canada. They saw just about
everyone available. Finally, they just ran out of time or were beaten down
by David's dutiful watching of all the tapes and all the people who came
to audition and pointing out all the things that the character needed that
these actors didn't have."
"Finally I got a call, just as I was heading for the airport to go to
England, and the call initially was from David saying 'you can't tell
anyone this but I think they are going to offer you the job. When they do,
don't let your agent f*** it up.' They did call, half an hour later and I
had to be in Spain, I think, a week after that, so I had to cut my trip to
England short. I arrived in England at the weekend."
"I had to leave again on the Monday, fly back to Canada to pack up
and leave, with my family, for Spain. Thus the long tenuous tale of
"Hey Pete I'm writing a show and I'm writing in a part for you"
finally unwound itself. I shall be eternally grateful to David for his
And Peter seems to be having fun and not without his fair share of
adventure. During a recent interview with Roberta
Brown - stunt double for Tessie Santiago, she related us that Peter
wasn't above doing his own stunts. "We were shooting a jump which Dr.
Helm needed to make off a rocky cliff face onto the Queen's horse.
Chencho, a terrific and very experienced stunt man, jumped onto Natalie on
horseback to get the landing effect, but then director Brian Grant went
back to get the jump from below, which was done as a 15 foot or so jump
onto a big pad. Unfortunately, although Chencho is a great double for
Peter from behind, his face looks nothing like Peter, so they couldn't get
the shot Brian had hoped for. That's when Peter volunteered to do the jump
"Let me just point out that jumping off of cliff faces is one of
those stunts that actors never offer to do themselves!! But Peter climbed
up and startled us all not just by doing it, but by doing the move like a
professional stunt man, jumping face down into the pad and tucking at the
very last second - a very difficult thing to do!
And because the camera didn't catch it the first time, Peter climbed up
and did it again! - exactly the same. I asked him later - "OK, Peter,
when did you work as a stunt man? That was too good to be luck!" And
Peter's modest response was that he had 'done a little bit of
trampolining' in his past. What I found out later (not from Peter) was
that this 'little bit of trampolining' was actually championship
trampolining! Peter is a great guy, and even more talented than he lets
So what does Peter think about his work and his cast mates? That's a
pretty simple answer. He loves it! He enjoys the time he gets to spend
with his other Highlander Alumnist Valentine Pelka and new Cuban actress
Tessie Santiago. "Great to be working with Val again - he is a
terrific actor. He is very, very good in the show and he is exciting to
work with. He is always there. You play a scene with him, you look in his
eyes and he is alive and that is great."
"Tessie is one of those ephemeral tales of overnight success. She
decided she wanted to be an actress, went to acting school, she did an
audition at the end of acting school and this is it. She got the first job
straight out of drama school. She is suddenly going to be a huge star -
and to be perfectly frank she deserves it. She's got great presence!
(She's got really good eyes!) She's got a terrific attitude, she is not
fazed by any of it, totally down to earth, she has not become any kind of
prima donna - she is just a real good person and I have a lot of time for
her. This has been very demanding, she had a lot of things she had to
learn very quickly, she is working very hard at it. I think she is going
to be a huge star."
And Queen of Swords has even more Highlander Alumni...."Ken
(Gord) is a terrific Producer and it's lovely to be working with him
again, and also a lot of Highlander directors - Richard Martin, Paolo
Barzman, Dennis (Berry) is coming in to do some..."
Even Elizabeth Gracen has found her way to the set of Queen of Swords,
playing the "Counterfeit Queen". Peter was disappointed
when he missed her part of the filming. "I miss Lizzie - very,
very sad about that. She came into do an episode that I wasn't in so I
missed her. I have a lot of really good friends from Highlander and a lot
of really good memories."
But Peter has also had a lot of other changes occur in his life since he
started with Highlander, good changes including marrying his Highlander
makeup artist Carolyn. The couple just had a baby boy last February.
"He is a delight and his full name is Edan Stewart
Wingfield." The new father crows. "He is just a
really nice kid. I know every parent thinks that about their kid and so
they damn well should. But he is very easy and nice to have
around." And Peter and Carolyn have started a charity in his
name. "it's a UNICEF charity for kids without parents. They raise
funds for children anywhere in the world that don't have parents. Whether
they are orphaned by ill-health, war, famine - whatever. Give, give,
give!" Though the six month old is still to young to talk,
Peter is working on that. "He does have two bottom teeth and we are
just starting to teach him sign language so that we can hopefully
alleviate some of his frustrations in the 18 months or so before he is
really talking and enable him to express himself in words, so he will be
able to ask for stuff and communicate. We're just learning to sign for
milk at the moment."
But an actor's life is not always easy and the couple has found it hard to
be apart now that Papa has a new series far away from home.
"It's been really tough. For the first block of filming the family
came with me and it's hard work being a long way from home with (at the
time) a ten week old baby in a part of Spain that is really not the modern
western world. It's pretty barren down there and life is hard."
"The alternative is me being there and my family being six thousand
miles away which is also very hard. That is what I am doing at the moment.
We talked very seriously about it before I accepted the job, right from
the moment David approached me about the role. Carolyn and I were both at
that initial discussion and we discussed the implications of accepting it
from the outset, and ultimately you decide what you can live with and what
you can't. Some hardship is part of the job. When the hardship starts to
become detrimental to the family you say "OK well, I'd really like to
do this but it's not the most important thing in the world". At the
moment I am very happy to say that the balance is working out. But when I
accept a job it's not just me that accepts it, it's the whole family,
because it's the whole family that has to do the job."
So what else is in the works for Peter? Well, besides filming for
Queen of Swords, Peter has also just finished filming an upcoming
episode of First Wave in which he gets to play alien bad guy and he also
has a few more projects in the works so look for him in the future and
don't forget Queen of Swords premiere's the week of October 2
nationwide. For Complete listings see our Queen of Swords TV
schedule. I know that you will join us in wishing Peter well in
all that he does "...because the alternative is unthinkable."
More information about Peter's life check out his official fan club at PWFC.