“And That Fresh Blood”
~ Shakespeare, Sonnet XI
June 28, 2013
Chatting with Geraint Wyn Davies was probably the most fun I’ve had in quite a while. I guess I knew it would be entertaining when he welcomed me to the interview. What class! Working with actors is nothing new for me. I’m a theatrical director. Having taught theatre in both high school and college and having worked with professional and amateur directors, I’m very used to being in control. If you aren’t, the high school actors will eat you and the college actors will tie you up and have pagan rituals on the stage. The professional actors will either make life heaven or make you want to hire a hit man. However, I’ve never chatted with a television or movie actor before, so this was a new experience. Thank you, Geraint, for making the interview delightful.
The first thing that I discovered was that Mr. Wyn Davies is very patient. It took me a couple of tries to get his name right and then I promptly mispronounced it again. His response was a laughing, “It’s a hard ‘G’ but it’s been many years that I’ve been used to this so it’s okay.”
Geraint has a great sense of humor. We laughed a lot during the interview. One of those moments was while we discussed his role in Cube 2: Hypercube. If you haven’t seen it, let me warn you – there are no vampires. The monster is a cube. Mwhahahaha. The movie creeped me out entirely although I thought Geraint’s performance was spot on. With much laughter Geraint replied, “Well sometimes we do things for different reasons and that was one of them. We had fun doing it I must say.”
We talked for a while before starting the interview, but I will mix some of that into the interview because it was very interesting. The impression that I got from Geraint was that he is an actor who enjoys his craft, loves to laugh, takes pride in his children, and loves a challenge. Join me for a peek into the life of an actor, director, and storyteller of television, film, and most especially theatre.
The title of the interview is in honor of Mr. Wyn Davies’ love of theatre and Shakespeare. It comes from what I love to call, the “Vampire Sonnet,” XI. I’ve used it in my play Which? and it applies to this wonderfully fresh look at Mr. Wyn Davies and Forever Knight.
This is Jeannie Musick with actor and director Geraint Wyn Davies of television, film, and theatre.
“From his Endless, Forever Night”
~ Forever Knight
JEANNIE: You originated the name “Forever Knight,” correct?
JEANNIE: Please tell me about the process of coming up with the series name and what other possible titles were proposed?
GERAINT: Well it was interesting because it was going to be called Nick Knight and Nickelodeon had this show “Nick at Night.” CBS was uncomfortable with that so Jim Parriott, who was the creator of the series, was saying “Darn, we have to come up with a new name.” Jim was trying to figure it out and I said “Well, I’ll try to come up with something.” He wanted something to do with eternity and we wanted to keep the name Knight it in because that was sort of a catchy hook kind of thing. So driving in the car to and from set I would come up with every variation. We had Knight Moves, we had… oh gosh, I can’t even remember. There were some funny ones but they all looked at me and said, “What?” Certainly, Knight Moves was one of them and well Dark Knight – that of course was going to be one of them. But Forever Knight seemed to be the one. As it turned out though, it’s an interesting title but it’s not as catchy as I thought it was at the time.
JEANNIE: Well I know that there was the movie Nick Knight, the predecessor to it. The spelling of “Knight” was the same, but I don’t recall in the movie that there was anything said about Nick being a knight.
GERAINT: Well it’s that whole part in France – that whole Sir Nicholas de Brabant section. It’s not so specific but that was the allusion.
JEANNIE: At what point did his being a knight become an integral part of the story?
GERAINT: Well, I don’t know if it did live as such a part of the story. It touches upon it just because of the backstory in 1228. And it’s just because Nigel was from the darker side as Lacroix. Well actually yes, it touches upon it in the Joan of Arc story. If I recall correctly, that’s when we got to know about it. Didn’t it say that knights were going on quests and those things in medieval times? Then the idea of becoming a police officer is sort of taking up that mantle in modern times. So maybe that’s what that was all about. I don’t recall too much more going on about it other than it was cool to have a guy named Nick Knight.
JEANNIE: For a theatre actor, there is a symbiosis between director, playwright, and actor that determines your character – your history and life. For a television actor, who has a different director and a variety of scriptwriters, do you find it difficult to maintain control of your character’s life and history?
GERAINT: Well you do get a symbiotic relationship with the writers and certainly, in our instance, we had Jim Parriott; and James Parriott is one of the great guys. You’d have lots of conversations with Jim about where the show was going, where the character was going. and then the writers who were brought on staff to do the day to day stuff would be in the loop. And so you would have conversations quite often as to what was going on. We didn’t always agree. The further it went on, of course, then you take more ownership, and you’re basically the caretaker of the role. And in my particular case because I was there all the time, I sort of became a caretaker of the show. And because I directed a number of episodes, I really wanted to sort of keep it intact, and it wasn’t until the last couple of episodes that it fell off the rails for me. We wanted to explore lots of different ideas too, so we would sometimes change the folklore. There was a solid folklore going in and we’d find because of this story, oh we can’t do that if we stick to the bible. So the bible changed. There was a new testament added, and things like that. So it was pretty flexible. And also because what people are interested in – certain themes and relationships – were appreciated more so they would be fleshed out.
JEANNIE: Can you give me an example of when your bible changed?
GERAINT: Certainly yeah, well when we first started he was doing sunbeds and eating hamburger meat to try to become human and that was sort of going for them. And then, for example, then that would just be dropped. And I liked all those things and the sunlight stuff that was carried on. The first season was much more, I’d say, true to what the original idea was. And then, because we kept on changing networks, if we were going to be aired, what the people wanted, what the network wanted, changed. So that would also be an influence on it. So in the last season they wanted to have more youth and stuff so they brought Ben (Javier Vachon) on the show and Lisa (Det. Tracy Vetter) and stuff like that and you think, “Oh, okay.” Cause I think it was on USA I guess. And Johnny Kapelos (Det. Don Schanke) wasn’t there anymore which was way… which was horrible. And we kept on changing police captains as per… I don’t know… as per somebody… “No, let’s try this, this year.” So there were a lot of influences from up-up the ladder that came into the show because it kept on moving around… because it didn’t have one home with one sort of champion.
JEANNIE: That sort of goes with my next question only it wasn’t the scriptwriters. Did you sometimes feel like the networks threw you under the bus?
GERAINT: No, and some things were crazy and we balked at it but mostly, we certainly had conversations about all of it. It would be an executive from a network who would have ideas and they would be translated into the text. But yes, you do have to work quite hard to maintain the integrity of a character on television.
JEANNIE: Near the end of season two in “Near Death” you learn that if you die now, the balance is still in the negative, and you will be damned.
GERAINT: You’ve got me on that one. I’m going to say yes just to go along with you. Yes of course, Jeannie. (I don’t remember. But I’m going to say I do.) Yes, I remember that Jeannie.
JEANNIE: When you are talking to your guide that happens to look a lot like Lacroix, you say:
“And my soul?”
“Will be judged.”
“Then I am damned.”
“Tell me Nicholas, after 800 years of torment, what is the one thing you value above all else?”
“And what is Humanity? Merely a race of peoples?”
“No. A state of being… of grace.”
GERAINT: Oh, I like that.
“And is that not the way to the forgiveness that you seek?”
“I’ve waited centuries.”
“I know. But there is much left undone for you. Your debt to humanity has not been repaid.”
GERAINT: Ah good, I like it.
JEANNIE: “I have to go back. That’s what you’ve been telling me isn’t it. If I die here now my soul will be damned. I have to atone. I have to go back.”
And so you accept you have to go back and then poor Natalie has to bring you back because as a vampire you can’t get back on your own. So you make it back and then at the end of season three you decide, “Oh chuck it all, I’m going to kill myself.” Were you sort of being thrown under the bus in that?
GERAINT: Well, the final episode… because what you just read seems to be pretty much the tone of the show, from “Near Death.” And I remember that one now, now that I am thinking. I had long hair; it was sort of a Christ-like thing wasn’t it, in the middle of a quarry-pit or something. Gown yes. And actually, I had maggots on my body. That was disgusting. Yes, I wasn’t happy about that. But yes, so the final episode was… we didn’t know what we were doing until the very end because you can’t kill your leading character because of syndication yet that was the intention because it was going to be the final episode. It was a mess and it was constantly rewritten. And thank God for Jim again who tried to make some kind of sense out of it but we had a really, really tough go as to trying to wrap it up. So I was directing it and I had to leave it ambiguous which was really unsatisfactory. But we weren’t allowed to do… so I think the last frame is just Nigel lifting the sword behind his neck. Is that right?
JEANNIE: Yes, and I have a very specific question from one of my readers about it.
GERAINT: And that’s how we decided to end it as opposed to having it come down and anything else going and seeing what happens to Nick, which was an idea at one point – to see if he actually did die. There were so many ideas that I can’t remember all of them. Yeah, but that last episode kind of went fizzle for me.
JEANNIE: Here is a question that I have to read to you. One of my readers says… well let me start. Being the director of “Last Knight” – the final episode – do you have an insight into the reasoning for the decisions that upset so many fans? Here is her question.
“Nick tried to turn Natalie & she fell as if dead but maybe she was still alive & able to be transformed. Nick asked Lacroix to kill him because she was dead but it was never SHOWN that Lacroix speared him because the scene faded to black before then.” “Jeanette became human and nearly died in a fire but it was hinted that she drank blood from one of the firemen and survived.”
So she wants to know basically why the show killed off Natalie, Nick, and Jeannette and IF the show killed off Natalie, Nick, and Jeannette OR if at the last minute Lacroix stopped and didn’t spear Nick who decided to turn Natalie after all. Then you have to still question how the human Jeannette could turn herself back by drinking blood when she wasn’t a vampire anymore. So basically enquiring minds want to know and since…
GERAINT: No, I believe Natalie was dead.
JEANNIE: So, she was dead.
GERAINT: Yes, I believe so. And Nick, we don’t know. No. He’s not dead because it didn’t happen. But the assumption would be that he would be, but he… in actuality what the network said: he can’t be killed on television, so there you go. So he is not dead for all intents and purposes but the assumption is that he would be. Jeanette…, what was the last thing that happened in that, cause Jeanette came back, she was…. My son was in that episode.
JEANNIE: Yes, I saw that.
GERAINT: He was a little guy. He was the little boy in that.
JEANNIE: He’s now a musician, is he?
GERAINT: Oh, Galen’s everything. Galen builds eco-adventure parks around the world. He is an adventurer. He’s a wonderful guy and my daughter’s an artist so they are full-bodied individuals who, I don’t know, in their mid-twenties are still exploring, so that’s…. no but they both, both of them actually write music and Piper’s married to a musician, so… Anyway, so walk me through this. She… how did she become human? I remember something to do with love. That was the thing – giving herself over to love. And now, if I remember that’s the last thing in “Last Knight”. That’s what Nick and Natalie are saying. Just love me… she said that, that’s what she said, isn’t it? You don’t love me enough, or something… to trust me. And she alludes to the Jeannette moment. Oh Gosh, I wish I could remember these details.
JEANNIE: Of course, this all goes back to that situation where the world was coming to an end because of the meteor coming that would block out the sun. Only the vampires are going to survive, and he tries to convince her that unfortunately the vampires will eventually starve to death because there won’t be any food. But she asks him to turn her back then.
GERAINT: How grim. We’ve talked about that stuff? Wow. Jeannette I also believe is gone. Oh no, no, no, at the end of that episode, she leaves. She just leaves. No. But I do, I think Jeanette has just left. I don’t think she is dead either. I’m not sure about that but I don’t think Jeannette is dead.
JEANNIE: What do you think of all the petitions that circulated trying to resurrect Forever Knight either as a television show or as a movie?
GERAINT: That was a lot of fun. The other gentleman who has a creation credit is Barney Cohen. I always get correspondence from Barney saying “would you like to play an older Nick Knight?” And we’ve tried to come up with stories as to how that would work and I’ve said, “Well, I’ll leave that to you Barney.” But it was great when they were trying to do that and they would’ve… there was talk of doing it actually pretty soon after because it was only… how did it work. We were going to go to Sci-Fi and something happened. Oh it’s because the heads changed. The folks who ran it changed, I believe. That often happens and certain programs get lost in the shuffle or “that’s not my thing so I’m not going to… I won’t be pursuing that” and stuff like that.
JEANNIE: Well that answers my next question regarding its popularity – why it didn’t get picked up?
GERAINT: Yeah. I don’t know, because it had a wonderful niche. It was like I always say, in the fridge in a store you have whole milk, you have skim milk, you have goat’s milk, you have yak’s milk, and we were sort of in the yak/goat’s milk kind of section. It was nice to have our own little thing. And you know we hadn’t been inundated with vampire stories at that time.
The following questions have been added since the interview was first posted.
JEANNIE: I have to ask this. Who came up with the idea of the green stripe across your eyes?
GERAINT: Oh, well, that was Bert, Bert Dunk who was the cinematographer. Bert always came up with some great ideas. And then I think their eyes changed. I think it was yellow and green at one point and then I think it became red at another point or something. It’s just that technology and things advanced. The first lenses were of a different kind and it required a lighting technique and we had plates at the side of our head and we couldn’t move our head so that they could get the shot and it was kind of crazy. And then we were able to move a little bit more. That’s the thing because technically some of the things we had to do… I mean we had to stand on a half apple, literally, with a plate next to your head so that you couldn’t move, while the lights were just being adjusted. But then you’d also have to then act as if you were talking to a person. It was crazy. It was crazy – technically crazy.
JEANNIE: What was hardest about playing a vampire – emotionally or physically?
GERAINT: Well the scheduling is so hard at those things and you are shooting at night. We were doing 18-hour days. The scheduling was really hard. Sometimes we felt as if the story got so overdramatic and we’d have to really, really put the blinders on and just go in whole hog because sometimes we found it really stupid. To be really honest, we found it ridiculous, occasionally, and we would have to hunker down and try to suspend our belief – and trust. That was really hard sometimes. At five in the morning you are going “I can’t think.”
JEANNIE: What was most seductive about playing a vampire?
GERAINT: The guest women.
JEANNIE: All the people you got to bite.
GERAINT: All the people I got to bite, yes. The bits and bites. I actually wanted to explore more of what the person’s mind would have gathered in 800 years – all the history and all that stuff. I thought we could have explored that more. I would have liked that.
Return to the previous posted questions
JEANNIE: What was your favorite episode of Forever Knight?
GERAINT: Oh favorite episode. I don’t know. Oh I enjoyed one early days where Schanke Kapelos moves in with Nick. I think it is “Partners of the Month?” I enjoyed that one. We laughed so much on Forever Knight – particularly in the serious moments – that what is on film is captured between people having the time of their lives. I think that came through in a way, particularly with Cath and myself. It was like butter working together – and Nige as well and John. I mean it was like that with everybody. We had so much fun. And then you end up saying incredible dialogue about, like you just read, you know, the soul and the damnation and recourse of humanity. But boy in between we had glorious, glorious times. But so, John. That one was fun. Oh I enjoyed the one…what was it? I didn’t enjoy the main story but the backstory was fun. I was able to bring in friends of mine from Stratford like Colm Feore, who’s a wonderful actor, and I’d say, “I want them to fence.” I basically want them to have a sword fight because Colm and I had been sword fighting in theatre together and so they built a set. I got the best fight director going, John Stead, to come in and he choreographed the fight. And so on a weekend you’d be there with a friend in a big studio sword fighting. It kind of was the most fun I’ve ever had. And I was able to bring other friends onto the show and give everyone an opportunity to be on the show and we were lucky that way. So yeah, John… “Partners of the Month.” The first two seasons for me were the ones that were the most true to the original idea – particularly the first season. Particularly the first. And then it just started changing.
“Hell is empty and all the Devils are Here”
~ William Shakespeare, The Tempest
JEANNIE: For thousands of years vampires were monsters. They were creatures to be feared. They were bad guys. They were descendants of Lilith placed on the earth as a plague. Mythology and literature are filled with vampires and other monsters. Why do you think man clings to their terrifying monsters?
GERAINT: Well, because it’s the part inside of ourselves that we want to keep under check so if we sort of, whatever, fantasize about the outer monster, maybe we can keep our inner monsters in check. That’s sort of what I always thought. And then playing the sort of the vampire with a heart like Nick, you know with the struggle, the demon, the addiction, the whatever, that’s what made the story interesting to me. When I first met Jim before I went down to Los Angeles to meet the rest of the gang, that’s what we were talking about. That’s why he wanted a theatre actor. That’s why he wanted a classical theatre actor to play Nick; to have that struggle really realized in a kind of Shakespearean way is what we were talking about originally. And you know then of course we have to tone it down for the little screen., and that’s why we were able to do back stories whereas when they did the film version there were no backstories, because Rick – who did a wonderful job – that wasn’t his thing, you know. He was a modern guy.
JEANNIE: Now in the last century, we began to embrace our monsters, to find their human side. The vampire seeking redemption, the werewolf fighting his curse, the immortal chopping off heads of the other immortals to become “the one” (that’s in reference to your one guest appearance on Highlander) and saving humans in the process: good monsters fighting evil monsters. Why do you think that we’ve turned to such monsters.
GERAINT: Well I supposed let’s go for the idea of the outer struggle as the world becomes more confusing and more challenging and smaller yet everything is so accessible now but it really isn’t. We’ve disengaged ourselves from each other, maybe. But I think that we are trying to find more connections. And I supposed finding a connection with the sensitive side, the human side, maybe that’s more interesting to us. Because we’ve sort of gone away from it. We’ve drifted apart from the global village, I think we’ve sort of become a lot of people in sort of isolation. You know, the classic two kids sitting in the back seat of a car and they’re texting each other, that kind of thing, where it used to be playing finger games or stuff.
JEANNIE: Okay, you have twice played a vampire now.
GERAINT: Yes, well the first one… They asked me to play Dracula on that series, the family drama, the children’s show. And I thought that would be not right at that time, so they said, “Would you come on the show?” and we sort of created this character of Klaus, the crazy son of Van Helsing. I loved doing it. It was so much fun.
JEANNIE: I could not find any of those episodes to watch. They are not available here in the states.
GERAINT: Well, it’s crazy. Let me just tell you, it’s a lot of fun. But it’s geared toward children… it’s not a children’s show but it’s a younger family show, so it was kind of high camp. It was almost like a Hardy Boys or that kind of thing. But we shot it in Luxembourg and we had way, way too much fun let’s just say.
JEANNIE: What did you gain from your vampires?
GERAINT: From the vampires? Well Klaus, just the ability to over-act on television. That’s what I got from that. And some good friends. But Nick, because we shot Forever Knight at night, it changed one’s life because you slept during the day and worked at night and we were the only people doing it so we were very close as a company. I don’t know I found that it’s interesting when you are in a cult show, particularly if you are not… I am a theatre guy, that’s sort of what I am, but I ended up doing a lot of television. But it’s a yin/yang thing. It’s good. It’s bad. It was wonderful to have the experience of those kinds of struggles… as I say, those Shakespearean, those Greek drama struggles that he had every week, because it is all about humanity and once you put humanity and life and death into the mix, well you’ve basically covered all the bases. So that was good. The scheduling was brutal. I’m not sure if that was something I’d do again. But the camaraderie was what I loved about it and the vampire… it was nice being a vampire before it was cool, because it was just different. Well actually the other thing we had fun with – and I haven’t seen an episode in a long time, but I’ve seen some snippets – is the filming style. We were actually trying new filming things at the time so that was fun. It was the trust that Jim Parriott had in me to say, “Come and talk some stories with us” and “Come and direct” and things like that, that allowed me to learn more about the technical aspects of storytelling. Oh, there’s a lot of things. I really enjoyed that. Nigel being here now at Stratford is fun because we’re reacquainted and we’re very fortunate and we actually have a few scenes together in this one play that it’s a good thing that we have some professionalism left because we’d be laughing the whole time if we didn’t. So that’s been great. I have unfortunately not been able to be in touch with all the folks but Natsuko Ohama who played the captain in the second season is a great pal, Nigel and Jim. But, yeah. I don’t know… what did I gain from playing a vampire? Well I got to explore a lot of the dark side of myself and that’s always good and hopefully it’s now on celluloid and not in me.
JEANNIE: Why do you think your fans love you because of your vampires?
GERAINT: I think it’s just that vampires in general, as we said, are very attractive. They’re sexy . They get to be us. Well I think particularly Nick, that character, because he was struggling – I think we all have to struggle. So we identify with people who have that. If he was the coolest guy on the block, then not so much. But he had his flaws and he had to… every day was a good day when he got to the end of it.
JEANNIE: Now, you’re an Anne Rice fan, right?
GERAINT: Anne and I did some book signings together. So I am indeed… well her books are fantastic. I’m not a big genre reader but my son would say he is.
JEANNIE: I saw a short interview with you at an Anne Rice signing, and you mentioned the sexuality of her books and the vampires. I’m curious. You just mentioned the sexuality of vampires and yet her vampires are asexual. They’re sensual but they’re asexual.
GERAINT: Well I suppose the problem with the sexual vampire is you can’t have sex because you’re going to kill the person. So essentially the idea of climax or whatever is one of death. That’s what Shakespeare always said. So I guess, yeah, sexual is the wrong thing. Sensual, umm, yeah. How would one say this properly? Things I hadn’t thought about in years. I’m just balking at this answer. Okay. I’m gonna say… the sensual I think is the individual and the sexual is the struggle. And so that’s another thing that the vampire constantly is hitting the wall with. So love becomes very difficult in kind of a physical manner because he can’t fully realize it without killing the person. So we’ve got Nick in bed with all these people but it ends up with them getting the biggest hickey of their lives.
“All the World’s a Stage”
~ William Shakespeare, As You Like It
JEANNIE: Where does your heart lie: in television, film, or theatre?
GERAINT: Theatre. First of all, the writing is better. There is no question. Particularly in the classical theatre, we are dealing with the best writing ever. So you go into work knowing that you are going to have to struggle to get up to the level of whatever the writer is sharing. And in television often you are struggling to make it work.
JEANNIE: As I look at your credits, I see a whole lot of Shakespeare, which is one of my first loves.
GERAINT: Well, it is what I started with and it’s what I am doing right now. Don’t get me wrong. Television – the exposure, and film – the time you get to work things… Someone said it and I’m not sure if it is true, but I sort of liked it at the time: Television is the professional’s medium on film, and film is more of a kind of luxurious thing because you get time – particularly on big films – you experiment, you get takes. We’ll shoot two pages a day, three pages a day and of course we are shooting nine, ten pages a day in television. And so you have to really know your stuff. And it’s great because you do get compensation for that. And that’s all good business-wise but I think that as a person who loves storytelling, you can’t beat classical theatre.
JEANNIE: I’ve talked to actors who say they do television or film to pay for their love of doing theatre.
GERAINT: Oh, yeah. I’m working with Brian Dennehy right now and Brian is a perfect example of that. There’s some good stuff too, you know. I did a series up here called Slings and Arrows, which was about the theatre; and that was just a joy. And then it was very smartly written and well-acted and that was fun and you thought “oh okay, this is the kind of thing you want to do.” But again, it was six episodes. So it wasn’t as if it was trying to churn out product. It was telling the story that the guys wanted to tell. That’s more like it. I think I would do more of that. You know, you get a good idea, you create it and you want to do it for a certain medium, be it film or television. And then, then you do it. I also like filming plays, which I have done a number of times. I enjoy that.
JEANNIE: I notice that Canadian series and British series tend to have only a few episodes in the season.
GERAINT: Yes, well I must say for the writers that’s so much healthier because then they can flush out the season before it starts and have their arcs, where sometimes on the twenty-two episode series, they’re trying to figure it out the show is going and it’s not as strong I don’t think.
JEANNIE: I agree with you there so much. I find that the British series are so much stronger with character and everything else.
GERAINT: Yes. And it’s much more satisfying as an actor to be part of that too.
JEANNIE: Do you ever get frustrated because you are better known for Forever Knight than for your theatre work?
GERAINT: Oh, it’s sheer numbers. If a million people can see something that you do, there is no way that a couple of hundred thousand is going to match that so… that’s fine.
JEANNIE: Deep down, which do you enjoy playing most: supernatural, villain, romantic, hero, or comic?
GERAINT: When I play something, all three are in the thing – all involved. If I’m a villain, he’s got to have a sense of humor and some romance and vice versa. A romantic has to have a little bit of villainy to make him somewhat interesting, and a sense of humor. So I’d say all three are involved in each role.
JEANNIE: Your Fan Club lists The Vagina Monologues in 2003 among your theatre credits.
GERAINT: What it was, was a production of The Vagina Monologues in Santa Barbara. It was a charity event and myself and Héctor Elizondo came aboard and what we did was: I read an Eminem poem and did some song. It was added. It wasn’t necessarily only The Vagina Monologues. Katharine Ross was doing a monologue but they would make it too someone. So it would be to me or Héctor would be with somebody else. So we just fleshed it out. We didn’t read any of the pieces that were slated for the women.
JEANNIE: Now you have triple citizenship: British, Canadian, and American, correct?
GERAINT: I was born in Wales, came to Canada, and then I became a US citizen in 2006.
JEANNIE: You were sworn in by Justice Ruth Ginsburg.
GERAINT: Yes, it was incredible. Yes, she is incredible. She is such an intelligent, bright, cheerful woman, and has gravitas to spare. It was an amazing thing. I’d played Cyrano there and she’d seen the Cyrano. I needed to be sworn in and she said she’d do it through a long interesting series of events. It was in the chamber of the Supreme Court and it was kind of amazing. And she allowed me to invite a dozen of my friends. The court photographer was taking photos and he leans over and he says, “Who the heck are you?” and I’m going, “I’m just an actor guy, down the street there, and Justice Ginsburg is a supporter of the theatre.” It was a magical moment.
JEANNIE: Of all the roles you have played so far, which role have you enjoyed the most?
GERAINT: Cyrano. Yeah, I’d say that absolutely.
JEANNIE: Currently you’re playing Duke Vincentio in Measure for Measure and Earl of Leicester in Mary Stuart. Although the Duke is a beneficent ruler and the Earl is a traitor, they both are playing roles within their characters: the friar gathering intelligence and the secret support of Mary. What is it like playing two very similar yet opposite characters on alternating days?
GERAINT: Going back to doing one show eight times a week would be… it’s just crazy after rep. Often we do three shows at the same time which is another thing. But it keeps both, or all three or whichever it was we’re doing interesting. It keeps all characters alive. It doesn’t give you the comfort zone that you have in doing one role over and over again, but it does give you a kind of energy. And you’re constantly re-exploring and re-introducing yourself to it. So there is a kind of a freshness and an immediacy that occurs in alternating roles. Both character’s inform each other for sure. And we do them on the same day. Yeah, one in the afternoon and one in the evening – not all the time but a number of times. And that’s interesting too. Actually they’re quite different. The similarity is the deception. But the men are completely different. One is much more open. I mean, the Earl of Leicester – we call him the Earl of Leisure or the Earl of Bluster. We’re not sure which. He is a full bodied, robust, arrogant… Well mind you the Duke is arrogant too. But when he becomes the friar, he manipulates and he almost take a kind of wild delight in this chaos that is happening and controlling it.
JEANNIE: I’ve noticed that even your more villainous characters have so much charm to them.
GERAINT: Well this year at Stratford here, I’m playing two completely devious fellows in different ways. But you try to find the spark that makes them human as opposed to what makes them evil. Well that’s what I’ve had to do anyway. Find what made them born as a good kid and then something happens to make them not so anymore.
JEANNIE: You are performing alongside Nigel Bennett (Lacroix). Are you good friends with him?
JEANNIE: Do you have the occasional Forever Knight joke that still pops out?
GERAINT: Oh, occasionally, yes. We actually do remember things together. One of us does and then the other goes, “Really, that happened?” And then we try to remember it together. So actually we keep our dementia away by helping each other remember things.
“The Future’s so Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”
~ Timbuk 3, “I Gotta Wear Shades” (used in My Best Friend is a Vampire)
JEANNIE: Do you have any plans for recording a new CD or audio book?
GERAINT: Well, actually I’m working on a musical CD right now. I’m writing, I’ve got most of the tunes. I’ll probably record it this winter.
JEANNIE: How soon will that be coming out?
GERAINT: Oh, I don’t know. I do this for myself. That’s my hobby.
JEANNIE: If you could pick one project right now – television, film, or theatre – any role, any script, what would it be?
GERAINT: Wow, that’s a tough one. Any role, any script. Oh I know, I know. I’m enjoying things like Game of Thrones and things like that these days. Something like that would be fun to do. What would I want to do? Well I’ve written a bunch of stories, that I wouldn’t mind doing – one of my own. They always involve history – historical dramas. Yes, I would say one of mine. They involve history and it’s normally families; something that splits them apart and then brings them back together again. And also actually what I would love to do is do a play here in Stratford and take it to New York in the winter. That would just be a lot of fun because I have so many friends down there and I really enjoy it. And of course, this is home now, and so to have a bit of home, go to New York, and film it. That actually is what I would do. New plays written by friends to do here in Stratford and then take to New York and then film it. That’s what I would do. Oddly enough, we are taking baby steps to get that done.
“Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow”
~ William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
JEANNIE: This has been a lot of fun. I appreciate you being here with us.
GERAINT: No worries, Jeannie. Thank you.