As anyone who was a fan of HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES can tell you, there’s only one Adrian Paul. The London-born actor, who starred as the Immortal Duncan MacLeod for six HIGHLANDER seasons and two follow-up feature films, has added considerably to his resume since then on both sides of the camera.
Currently, Paul has started a production company and is starring in EYEBORGS, a combination science-fiction actioner/political thriller, as R.J. “Gunner” Reynolds. The film (currently available on DVD and Blu-ray) will have its television premiere tonight at 6:30 PM EST on Syfy.
ASSIGNMENT X: What is EYEBORGS about?
ADRIAN PAUL: EYEBORGS is about a time when the United States government has implemented the use of cameras everywhere. They’re robotic cameras that can give you a ticket if you’re jaywalking, if you’re doing any type of misdemeanor, but then suddenly something goes wrong, and people start dying, and [no one knows] why and there’s an agent [Reynolds, played by Paul] who basically tries to look into it, and everything points to the Eyeborgs not doing anything wrong, but he doesn’t believe it. And he uncovers something that is not to the security of the nation’s liking, shall we say.
AX: How do you feel about the political thriller aspect of the story? Is lack of privacy something that you’re concerned about?
PAUL: Well, that’s a very interesting thing. The story came about because of the advent of [surveillance] cameras being placed everywhere. For instance, at one time, eighty-five percent of the streets of London were covered by cameras, and they were going to implement this in the United States, same type of thing. And from what I understand, in England, they stopped some of it, they’ve reduced it, because there was a public outcry saying, “This is not right that it’s every single place that we go, we’re being watched. It’s like Big Brother.” So this issue came up and [the filmmakers] thought it would be an interesting thing to make a movie about it, but make it science fiction as well. It is strange that you’re having somebody watching everything that you do, that you don’t really know [what they’re doing with the information].
AX: What attracted you to the project?
PAUL: I think it was the idea of it. I hadn’t seen it done before and I knew the director was going to want me to work with him on creating the character. I mean, they did a very good job in the script, but we worked on it some more and I liked the way the story worked and I thought the character had potential, so I wanted to do it.
AX: Danny Trejo is also in EYEBORGS. Had you worked with him before?
PAUL: No, I hadn’t. I love Danny. He came in and did his work – he’s a professional.
AX: Was EYEBORGS made and then sold to Syfy, or was it commissioned by Syfy?
PAUL: Yes [to the former]. Syfy didn’t commission the film prior.
AX: EYEBORGS was made in North Carolina. Had you ever worked there before?
PAUL: No, I never had done. The film was actually crewed by university students. There’s a film university in North Carolina that they actually put money into the film, and they got the entire crew of [students] in all the departments. And I feel like they did a fantastic job. What’s great about seeing people that are just out of school – they had the energy and the willingness to work, whereas people who have been on the job a long time tend to sometimes be very nonchalant and like, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll do it …” type of thing. There was a great young excitement [among the EYEBORG crew] that they were making a movie and they were very professional. They did a very good job. So it was fun to work there.
AX: And are the Eyeborgs CGI or are they practical objects that existed on set?
PAUL: Some are practical, [but] mostly CGI. So if I was in the middle of fighting one, I had to do it imagining it. I actually choreographed a couple of the fights – I storyboarded it and gave it to the director [Richard Clabaugh], we worked it out. I worked with the director and worked with the CGI specialist, so that I would know exactly what these things looked like and what I was supposed to be up against.
AX: So you were essentially fighting around a tennis ball on a stick for an amount of it?
PAUL: No, nothing. Basically just air, just as if there was something in front of me. I had to imagine what was in front of me. I got nothing [laughs].
AX: Had you worked with director Richard Clabaugh before?
PAUL: Yes, we’d worked on a very small picture called LITTLE CHICAGO, and in actual fact [Richard and Fran Clabaugh] wrote the role [in EYEBORGS] for me, but they couldn’t find me for some reason. [They made contact] through my ex-assistant, who had a contact number for me. She called me and literally it was about two weeks before they were going to start principal photography that they got hold of me. I was actually shooting a film in London at the time, and they arranged it so that I could fly from London, come back to North Carolina, shoot a week on EYEBORGS, then go back to London and come back to North Carolina again [laughs]. So I was running between the two.
AX: Did you have to do anything special to keep your energy up with all the going back and forth?
PAUL: No, I just kept the vitamins going and that helps. I’m so used to flying, I do a lot of it, so it was kind of exciting doing that. The big thing was making sure that you were playing the right character every day.
AX: Do you do EYEBORGS with your normal English accent or do you play it with an American accent?
PAUL: American. I don’t know how successful I was at the time, because I was actually doing a full English accent at the same time [for the other film], so to suddenly switch it to an American, there may have been some slips.
AX: What were you shooting in London?
PAUL: A film called THE HEAVY, which was released in England last year. It was like LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, that type of English tough gangster [film]. I played a political candidate for the next Prime Minister of England. His brother was basically a thug, played by Gary Stretch, who [the politician] threw in jail to further his political [goals].
AX: Was the politician role a bit of a departure for you?
PAUL: Yeah, very much. It was very, very different than what I had done before. It was the guy that you did not expect to be the villain type of thing. He had to play a very political line and be very non-suspect, as if he was a nice guy – like most politicians are [laughs].
AX: And do you use your own accent for that, or do you have to do a more upper-class accent?
PAUL: Yeah, I did much a more English dialect. Christopher Lee was supposed to be our father, so [does Christopher Lee accent] Christopher’s very, very English. We had to adjust it slightly, especially since I was supposed to be running for political office, he had to be listened to and command, so this is what he was.
AX: It says on your IMDB page that you’re attached to two films in pre-production called DEAUVILLE and COLD FUSION. Are those credits accurate?
PAUL: COLD FUSION was a small movie that was shot. The other one is in limbo from what I understand. I think they’re still hoping to get their funding.
AX: Are you involved in any other projects?
PAUL: I actually launched my own production company. You can see my company site now, filmblips.com, and you’ll see the movies we’re actually putting forward to produce. I’m in the process of funding one of them right now and we have quite a few that we’re working on. I’m quite excited about it.
AX: Are these for you to direct?
PAUL: One is for me to direct. The others are for me to produce. There’s one I may also be involved in as an actor, but [primarily], it’s as a producer. The funny thing is, as you get older, you basically want to have another arm. Not literally – I have two now [laughs], but I like to have the ability to put forward projects that really interest me. I started a company with my partner [Zoltan Furedi], who’s Hungarian/Canadian, and we have a subsidiary company in Hungary, so we’re able to [make deals] in Canada and in Hungary and also in the United States. So it’s interesting for me as an actor to be able to put forward projects and be able to finance things and have another career, on the side, if you like, as well as my acting.
AX: Is there a common factor in the projects you’re developing?
PAUL: I think the concepts are interesting, and also the writing. I’m dealing with several different writers and we’re doing a rewrite on one of our projects.
AX: Is David Abramowitz, who was the show runner on HIGHLANDER, working on any of your producing projects?
PAUL: He did a rewrite for us on one of them and we’re looking at that now.
AX: Might HIGHLANDER ever resurface?
PAUL: They’re doing a film apparently, that is now being rewritten by [Melissa Rosenberg, who] wrote the TWILIGHT films. They already had two scripts that they threw out, from what I understand, for the film, and now they’re going to be rewriting that with her. I have absolutely nothing to do with it.
AX: So probably the TV version of HIGHLANDER as we know it is not going to go through any more incarnations …
PAUL: I doubt it, especially with the new film. Because the concept is very – what’s the word – immortal, in a sense, you can continue writing stories about this until you’re dead. Every generation has the same [interest in] that original idea, which is living forever. I don’t think that’s ever going to change. So when you think about that, twenty years goes by, and that new generation has no idea what that [original HIGHLANDER] film was about, so somebody suddenly revamps it and says, “Oh, it’s this new concept!” It’s already been done once, but nobody ever saw it, because [it came out before] when they were born. So that’s where I think it could go on and on and on.
AX: Would you want to do a television series again, or do you like doing a feature film it’s a more contained amount of time and then you’re done and you’re on to the next character?
PAUL: I do like doing that, but I wouldn’t mind doing a TV series again. I mean, I didn’t think I was actually going to do that, but the world has changed now with TV and film. Before, in the Eighties and Nineties, if you were a TV actor, you were never going to be a film actor. Now it’s totally the opposite. If you have a successful TV series, you get film offers. So it’s a whole different ballgame and there are some very well-written TV shows, which are a joy to work on, because the dialogue’s good, the story’s good. I think that some TV shows are much better than a lot of the low-budget films, because with low-budget films, you can make a low-budget film quite easily, put it out on DVD, someone’s going to buy it and you make your money back. Whereas you can’t get a show on TV unless it’s a good show, unless it has the right writers behind it, the right show runner behind it, the right actors behind it.
AX: And there isn’t the syndicated TV market that there was back in the Eighties and Nineties …
PAUL: No, not at all. That may change – from what I understand, there is a drive to bring back action hours again the way they were in the Nineties, like HIGHLANDER, THE QUEST and all of that. I think they’re coming back around now to the people to whip out that type of TV show again.
AX: Anything else we should know about what you’re doing?
PAUL: You’ll see on our site that we’ve got some very interesting films that we’re about to start pitching, plus we’re [pitching] a couple of others that aren’t on there. And I think it’s an interesting time for me. I’m back in Los Angeles, I’m going to have a new agent very shortly and we’ll see where that goes. I’m very happy. Life’s great.