I must confess, it was a very odd moment confusion when we spotted Craig Parker. I could possibly blame the poor lighting of the venue, but reality is when I think of Craig Parker I either have the Elf Haldir from Lord of the Rings in mind (very serene, very aloof, very non smiley) or Claudius Glaber from Spartacus (very not Haldir in many respects but still not very smiley). It actually got a bit heated between Sulaimaane, Abz and I, with the other two saying “That’s him, that’s definitely him” and my knowledgeable retort of “No way, Haldir and Glaber are dead serious, that’s not him”. I am not lying or exaggerating that this went on for about three minutes, I was adamant that I was right, except after those three minutes when there was an epiphany, or a moment of being like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car (take your pick), because I think Craig had overheard our argument, thought it funny, and then shot a very serious look at me. “Damn it, you’re right, it is him”.
During our little argument it was nice to see Craig laughing and joking all the time, enjoying chatting to people, having fun, even standing in front of his table as opposed to sitting behind it. If we’re being honest, the venue was a bit depressing, but all of this was forgotten whilst chatting to Craig.
Lord of the Rings was a huge film to be a part of, how did you find the auditions and where were you when you found out you had the role?
The audition was a strange thing because I hadn’t read the books (laughs), I know!! I had worked on the run through of the script with several other actors (including Peter Vere-Jones), so we had done all the voices for the script (note – Craig provided the voice for Frodo in the cartoon versions of the story boards for Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings”), so I knew the story from that way, but I honestly didn’t realise how big the books were, how important they were, to a lot of people, well, a huge amount of people! So I was, “Alright, that thing we worked on a couple of years ago, oh that will be fun”. And it was a scene in a flat, so in my head, all the flats are trees, so you’re in a room pretending to be an Elf up a tree, I wasn’t quite sure what Elves were, so yes, it was like (pulls a confused look), I’m playing a pixie up a tree. So maybe a couple of weeks later Liz who was the Casting Director, and a friend of mine, called me and it was “Oh hi, I got the job”, casting. And later I was outside in the garden, gardening, and my phone went, and I went “Oh it’s Liz”. And she said “Guess what darling..”, and that was great news. So I knew about Lord of the Rings, I knew it’s potential, but I perhaps wasn’t aware of just how magnificent it was going to be. So it was a nice job, go to work, see some friends (laughs).
It seems the American Actors are suffering a bit these days with the British, Australian and New Zealand talent flourishing.
I think part of it is that we’re probably cheaper then the Americans (laughs). But really, if you grow up in the UK, Australia or New Zealand you have to do lots of different things, be it theatre, radio, TV, or if you work in comedy or drama, everyone is on “The Bill” or “Doctors” at some stage. So if you come from that world you have a great deal of different experience. You also learn a very practical craft underneath all of the other stuff, that’s not to say the Americans don’t have diversity too, but I think there’s more of an element of rising through the ranks there without those skills at times. On top of that, we’re really grateful for the job (laughs), so we turn up on time, we know our lines, we get on with people, because if you don’t do that in Britain, Australia or New Zealand, and you think you’re a little bit flash, you get slapped down really really fast. Misbehaviour isn’t tolerated at all.
It’s weird because I’ve become more aware of Brits and Australians playing American Roles, like Simon Baker and Owain Yeoman in The Mentalist who do what seems like to us, very convincing American accents etc.
America is the centre of the entertainment world though, so of course, we have to learn American accents. You have to be good at that, you have to learn how to do it. But long may it last I say! (laughs).
Which roles do you particularly enjoy developing?
There’s no specific type or genre of character that I sort of seek out but I do like the flawed characters, I’ve never been particularly interested in the hero who just does “GOOD WORK!!”, or there’s a lot of television stuff where it’s “He’s the cop, he’s the guy, he’s the this”, where it’s a bit one dimensional. I’m just not very good at playing those kinds of things. I don’t really get them. They’re not particularly human, I’m much more interested in getting the chance to play characters who are, for want of a better choice of words, broken in some way. Human beings are flawed. It’s fun when you get a script and you think “yes, this is a human being”. Spartacus was perhaps the most enjoyable for that because every single character in that was damaged. Every character was trying to do their best. The scripts were great on that, and the other actors were brilliant to work with, and we had a bit more freedom too, so that’s one that I really enjoyed.
Some of the scenes in that were brutal!
(laughs) Yeah, a lot of brutal fight scenes, and we were all injured at some point! Not through any lack of preparation from us or the stunt team, it’s just that when you’re shooting a fight scene that may be five minutes on screen, you’ve probably been doing that for two weeks to capture different aspects of it. But by the end of it, everybody was just sore, you know, you’re repeating the same actions over and over again, by the end of the series, well everyone is dying. At the end of the series, everyone dies! (laughs) Yeah, battles, script writers saying “one army comes over the hill there, one army comes from over there, and they fight”. Just constantly battles, by the end of the series it’s a wrap, and “thank god! I don’t have to do this anymore”.
How did the role of Glaber compare to Haldir, who’s very disciplined and aloof?
That’s the joy of having all these different roles having been created from either literature or script writers, you have to alter yourself to fit into that world. That’s the joy of this business. Whereas this is me, and this is the role that the script writer has created, let’s look at where those intersect, but the thing with the Elves, it’s just really odd. How do you play a thousand year old Silvan Elf!? No-one knows!! I didn’t think there was potential for a lot of laughs in that one, not much comedy (laughs)
Apart from the skateboarding Legolas who can seemingly never runs out of arrows despite having shot about 40 or 50 of them!
Ah yes, but those were magic Elf arrows!
Of course! They had to be didn’t they!
A big thank you to Craig for his time, wish we could have talked for longer! And of course thank you to the Showmasters Team.