In San Diego during Comic Con, I caught up with actor, director, producer, and founder of PEACE (Protect Educate Aid Children Everywhere) charity organization, Adrian Paul. He was notably known for his role in the fantasy adventure TV series Highlander (1992-1998).
Loud dance music played amidst the party atmosphere, the sun shining on the rooftop lounge as people conversed, drank, and munched on appetizers. Sitting in an isolated area I tried to calm my nerves in anticipation; after all, he was the Scottish Highlander Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I half expected him to show up in a long coat with a sword underneath, ready to fight an immortal.
He walked towards my table with an overwhelming smile, his dark features matching his outfit. “Manly” is the word that came to mind; he epitomized the phrase, “Tall, dark, and handsome.” Even without the Duncan ponytail, he exuded warmth and vitality, definite immortal qualities. As he speaks, his eyes light up and you are instantly drawn into his presence.
MP: Out of all your current projects, which one are you most excited about?
Adrian: Well I’ve got a film I’m gonna be doing called At 2:15 which is with Nick Nolte, Melanie Griffith, and Angela Molina and another – some are in negotiations as well – and I’m acting in that one and also producing that one so that’s really cool. I also have a film company called Filmblips and I’ve got three other projects I’m in the process of making, one I’m probably going to direct called Basil’s Legacy which I’m really excited about ‘cause it’s a real old love story, romantic fairytale type … it’s about a little town in Italy. It’s set in Italy in the 1970s about a small town that’s about to die, being taken over by the industrialists and the mayor of the town tries to save it from being obliterated and the way he does that is by making wine, by turning the whole fields there and getting the village behind him to create a new industry. It’s similar to Paradiso / Chocolat; it’s a real interesting little movie.
MP: I love Chocolat.
Adrian: Yeah, it’s that type of movie so if you like that then you’ll love this one. We are just about to start casting, in the process of that.
MP: Of these three movies that are coming out, can you summarize each character from each one: Deauville, At 2:15, and Miracle Underground?
Adrian: Ok Deauville is actually mistake because IMDB had me on there, and they kept it on there. I was supposed to do that two years ago, a year and a half ago and they haven’t taken it off yet. So it’s still showing as about to happen but it’s not.
I have another one, At 2:15; it’s basically about four or five strangers that constantly meet at a crossroads. It’s a drama about these lives that intermingle and how their relationships – actually it’s six degrees of separation – so they’re constantly meeting. You see all these different lives all meet at the same day at 2:15 at this crossroads whether it’s going in for a newspaper, whether it’s crossing across town to go to work, whatever it is they kind of cross paths. I play a journalist (laughs) who’s a little obsessed with this one woman, so he’s in love, but that’s his character; he’s a bit obsessive.
The other one I can’t really talk about because I haven’t seen the script yet. It’s about the Chilean miners. I’ve been talking to them about doing it; it’s about the true story about the Chilean miners that were trapped underground, and it’s a spiritual type of story; it’s a real story.
I might be playing in another movie but I can’t tell you about that because I haven’t signed yet; I’m in negotiations on that one right now.
MP: What is your best Highlander moment?
Adrian: Are we talking about as the character or as Adrian Paul? It’s different.
MP: Either one.
Adrian: As Duncan MacLeod most memorable I would say would be killing Richie. That would be the most memorable because, I mean, we worked together for five years and then we had to sever that relationship literally, so it was a very hard moment. It’s a very memorable moment in a sense for me.
One of the greatest moments for me was actually Highlander doing 100 episodes and being plastered all over the Hollywood Reporter. We had 26 pages I think inside the Hollywood Reporter on Highlander because it was the first European American co-production to ever reach 100 episodes. So that was a really cool first real achievement for me in a sense.
MP: If the Highlander series were to be remade would you be interested in the project, if they made another TV series or just one big movie again?
Adrian: It depends on what capacity. Well they’re gonna make a new movie. Summit Entertainment is in the process of writing a script of remaking the first. I don’t think I’m involved in it in any way because my character wasn’t around – well he wasn’t in presence but I don’t know if they’re going to actually introduce him or not. As series or film, it’s always interesting to revisit but then again he’s immortal so he should look exactly the same and I’m feeling a little bit weathered these days. Yeah, if the opportunity came up it’s always interesting to see what’s going on to take time to revisit.
MP: Are there any actors or directors you’d like to work with in the future?
Adrian: Well there’s a lot of actors I’d like to work with. I’m actually going to work with one of the ones I’ve always liked – Nick Nolte so he has to be really cool. Antonio Banderas would be cool to work with. Hugh Jackman is always a favorite, I kind of like him as an actor. There’s a lot of actors I really like. It’s funny because I know the process all actors go through. A lot of them become famous and there’s a reason why. Who else would it be? Anthony Hopkins would be another one. Females? Angelina Jolie would be a great actress to work with … she’s interesting. When you look at her there’s a great presence about her.
MP: A little about your PEACE organization: what inspired you the most to create it?
Adrian: I tell you, very simple. It was actually when I was doing Highlander, seeing all the kids, because when I was doing Highlander it was at the height of its fame, I would have thirty kids running after me even in the Vatican. I was in the Vatican and I’d have all these girls screaming and I went, ‘Wow. Whoa – wait a minute.’ If a celebrity can have this type of affect on children I think there is something that you can give back to try and help the kids that don’t necessarily have the opportunity or what’s the word – inspiration – they don’t have the belief they can actually do something, and that goes around the board with whether they believe they can be Superman or they can believe they can be an executive or they believe they can be an actor or they believe they can be whatever they want to do.
So I started PEACE which is Protect Educate Aid Children Everywhere on that assumption. Our first program was called School Makes a Difference taking celebrities into schools rotating kids through classes and having each of the celebrities head into the different classes: one was peer pressure, another was interactive reading, another one was martial arts … there was a variety of different classes which would gear towards whatever that school needed. If they needed more about peer pressure because their kids were in gangs we would gear classes towards that. If it was more towards learning we would gear towards that. We did South Central, we did New York, we did Denver, and it was really successful. So that’s what started it off and now it’s grown into something totally different.
I have a new thing I’m working with … called Celebs for Peace and it’s a new drive I’m putting in the PEACE fund to raise donations for all the charities we now support. I know I’ve babbled on a bit.
MP: I noticed that you live sometimes in Budapest. What is it like to live there?
Adrian: Fabulous. It’s a beautiful city. I think Budapest will grow. I think it still has a way to go in reaching western standards to a degree but Budapest is a beautiful city. They’re working hard to actually bring it up. To be honest, politics and having certain regimes that were there before are now changing, and it’s always going to take time for the whole society to change certain ways they’ve been accustomed to for fifty years.
MP: To date, what do you think your greatest achievement has been?
Adrian: The PEACE fund. To me personally that’s something that’s dear to me. And my daughter. (laughs) That one would be number one, really.
MP: Any random thoughts?
Adrian: No, I mean the thing is now I’m in the process of – I’m still acting but I’m also developing projects of what I actually produce and direct. I’m also involved in the first green studio … in Los Angeles. I’ve got a lot of things I’m working on but I thought I’d mention it.