This interview was carried out with Simon on the 10th February at the London Palladium. There is a video message that was filmed at the same time and audio can be found on the forum – in Simon’s Secret Society. This is Simon in his own words (i.e. typed word for word what he said)
001 – What’s next
I really don’t know is the answer. I’m doing a couple of things, there are a number of things being talked about, but nothing that’s absolutely carved in granite. I’m gonna do another day on another movie, literally next week, for a friend, the same sort of set up as that other one, who’s title I think is the one you saw. When I made it, it was called Blind Man’s Bluff or something then they went back to the original title which is the one you got – A Closed Book. I’m also planning on doing a short movie as a director possibly acting in it but I’m not sure about that yet, that’s hopefully going to be in April for a week or so. I’m also working on other things with my production company on so therefore in physical terms I’m going to be very, very involved on a day to day basis with what I’m doing from a production point of view. But in terms of acting at the moment, one of the things I was working on, they put that on hold, there are a couple of theatre things that are being talked about for spring. I’ve been offered a play for the summer which I turned down. I need time at home ‘cos I’ve been on the road for 13 months , so at the moment I’m not particularly worried about it, I’m not in the least bit worried about it. I don’t actually have something specific to g to which is actually the first time about 8 years, that I haven’t known where exactly I’m going to next.
002 – Me – If you were in the Harry Potter universe, what house would you be in and why?
Do you know, I know so little about Harry Potter, I have absolutely no idea how to answer that question what so ever. I think the answer is I’m not in the Harry Potter universe period.
003 – Bob Vincent – Why wasn’t Queen of Swords promoted more in the UK?
Well it’s nothing to do with me because that’s just the nature of the beast. I think, did it get screened in the UK? I think what happens very often with these shows from American/Canadian co productions is if they don’t sell well in their home territory, they don’t do an awful lot with them, because 22 hours of a program is sometimes not enough to warrant going out and spending a lot of time on. I think it was quite a good little series, it could have done fine.
004 – During Casualty I(she) noticed you hair stopped having the blonde highlights in your hair, I’d like to know whose decision that was and why.
It was my decision, because I was getting fed up of doing it and also because I noticed with the very heavy top lighting coming from the fluorescents there were times when it was inconsistent it seems to me in terms of colour, and it didn’t look right and it was a lot to do with the lighting
005 – Jackie – If granted three wishes what would you wish for?
Health, Wealth and time off (chuckle)
006 – Celeste – Recently a person on IMDb has been denigrating Michael Praed’s career because he’s gone back to theatre rather than doing film or television. It’s her contention that theatre is the venue for failed film actors to put on old tired “classics” for ignorant tourists. I’m assuming Simon would disagree with that conclusion. Why would an actor quit a successful television show to do tours with a theatre company? What does Simon think live theatre contribute to the world these days?
I think a number of things, first of all, live theatre is for an actor is absolutely 100% essential, to be directly in contact with an audience live is essential for the development of their craft. You can do so much in a bubble of television, where you can literally and in some cases it happens, people get one take after another wrong, they don’t know how to put it together. Then the work is take away by 3rd parties who cut it around and do all sorts of things with it, they put music on, this that and the other and actually it’s got nothing to do with the performer themselves at all what the end product is. The one things is when you’re telling a story on stage in front of an audience you start at the beginning you finish at the end and they see the whole process, and if you can’t string all that together then you get exposed in the theatre. By being able to do that when you come to work in television and film you’re able to do that on a film set, which means you have much more control over what each scene is because you start to dictate the rhythm because you create the rhythm, not having it created around you. Therefore the chances are that what you see from an actor who has worked in theatre, when you see their television and film work you know it’s their work and not the work of 3rd parties. Actually an awful lot of people who’s movie careers might have gone backwards or sideways or whatever if changed, end up going back to theatre, they don’t go back because there’s nothing else to do or ‘cos it’s a cheap form of whatever or any of those things it’s a way of re-kindling the passion for entertaining with an audience right there and frequently it leads them back into the field they want to be in as well as that work. And it’s not for nothing that some of the best film actors in the world right now keep ducking in and out of small films and doing theatre and whatever, they all want the contact with the audience. Because if you can make an audience laugh and cry and move around with you for real when you’re doing a television studio, you know that what you’re doing from timing perspective probably going to get them in the film/cinema as well, without relying on the editor getting the timing right
007 – Kathryn – If you could play any other Captain, which would you choose?
Let me give you some examples… Captain Jack Sparrow… Captain Hook… Captain “Long” John Silver… Captain Pugwash… Captain Scarlet… (and my addition Captain Picard) etc etc
[I’d like dramatic pauses between each name please, took me long enough to find them!]
Ironically I was offered, not Captain Picard, but whatever the Captain would have been, so before I did Casualty I made a choice of doing Casualty as opposed to whatever the Captain would have been on Star Trek (shelli – Jonathan Archer – played by the also lovely Scott Bakula) But I didn’t want to do that, I can’t do sci-fi., it just drives me up the wall, it’s all rubbish and spouting that gibberish every day, was no thank you very much. The thing I loved about Casualty was although there was a lot of gobbledygook at least it was all about real life and people and medical situations and that became the challenge. Actually talking about all the so called scientific stuff that really most of the time doesn’t make any sense to anybody what so ever, and looking at a whole bunch of silly people in makeup was just not what I wanted to do with my life so Captain Picard would not be a choice
Captain Pugwash might be rather appropriate. To be honest I’d love to have a crack at a Hook or a Long John Silver because it’s getting to that stage now where a really nice charater like that would be fun to get to grips with, a good character role. Trying to think if there is any particular Captains. I enjoy doing war films, I’ve always liked war films, any body in a military uniform and that kind of stuff. I don’t know, what other Captains are out there? I would love a good character go, Captain Hook, who knows pantomime next year
008 – Tracey – What is your favourite word? (I love this question)
009 – Debs – If you could meet any famous historical figure, who would it be and why?
So Many. I think probably Winston Churchill, he was just such a charismatic person, such a wide range of interests and knowledge.
010 – Laura – During your career you have played many different and varied roles, is there anything different you would like to sink your teeth into?
It’s a truly boring answer, I don’t actually have anything I’m sort of hankering to play. You kind of go with what’s ever there at any given time. I have never wasted much time thinking ‘Oh I really want to do this, or I really want to do that.’ I’m not sitting here going, I want to do a Coriolanus or a King Lear or whatever, but if one came up you’d seriously think about it. I’d like to do some more roles that’s got the meat of Andrew Wyke in but actually more contemporary
011 – Mel – If you could have a discussion with a political figure who would it be and why – what would you discuss
Well right now, I’d be very interested in having a discussion with the President, new President Obama. I would love to know what really makes him tick
012 – Last film you watched?
Absolutely the last film I watched was, I’m watching an awful lot right now. I think the very last film was the Baader Meinhof, the German film, which I thought was spectacular. One of the films I have watched that I really, really like and I think is an exceptional piece of work is a film called Milk
013 – Last book you read?
Last book I read, that’s really embarrassing as I’ve read so little recently, my reading has gone to pot. I think the last book I read was more of a textbook, was a book called the Macrobiotic Way, it’s a book about macrobiotics, macrobiotic diet, macrobiotic lifestyle.
014 – Last piece of music or song you listened to?
The very last piece of music I listened to was the duet from the Pearl Fishers (ironically that was the same as last year)
015 – Last series you watched
God! Don’t watch them anymore, the last thing I watched was an episode of ER
016 – Last play/musical you saw
That goes back some ‘cos I haven’t been out, the last play or musical? I think the last play I saw was the Agatha Christie in the circuit last year, ‘cos I’ve been on the road and not had the opportunity to go to the theatre, so that was ‘And Then There Were None’
017 – Last match/live sport you watched
Because I have not got Sky, I’m watching bits and pieces of everything. What did I see last that was complete?. I saw, I was watching in Dubai, I watched the Manchester United match against Wigan
018 – Any question that you think people should have asked but never had?
People have asked me whether I’d like to have been a politician, the answer is no I wouldn’t. Actually, no one has ever really asked me as to whether I’m satisfied with what I have achieved and the answer is I’m not, yet.
019 – Any funny stories/slip ups/bloopers to share. Involving your mistakes would best
Not really, the only one that comes to mind was we did an evening here, in the trio in the second act, something distracted me just as I got going in my little section that I have literally 2 line section that I have on my own and I just completely blanked what the second line was and I just had the presence of mind to mouth it or to make mouth gestures as I was going across the stage and actually make it look like the sound had gone down. Which almost had my co-stars in complete hysterics that they couldn’t believe I had dried and had the presence of mind to keep my mouth moving.
020 — Tartan Waistcoat? Family tartan (though already guessed it wasn’t)
That is not a family tartan, that is just a tartan waistcoat. I’ve had it for 10 years, it was a period when I bought 2 or 3 from a man called Thomas Kilby who made very unique waistcoats, they were all one off’s I think. That one was made for me by him and that would have been about that sort of time. I don’t wear it very often but unfortunately the times I where I of course it’s with a dinner suit and dinner suits are the times I get photographed.
021 – Do you have iPod/mp3 player? First 3 tracks on shuffle (must do this one again when he gets an iPod)
The ipod is something I keep meaning to do
022 – Favourite line from Sleuth
I’ve forgotten the whole bloody thing, I’ve completely blanked. I’m sure I could do it all again if I had to, but it’s gone – wiped.
023 – Favourite line from Sound of Music
That’s gone too, hopefully it will be back at 7 o’clock tonight. Well actually the one I enjoy doing every night is the line ‘when god shuts a door’ I go ‘I know he opens a window’ it’s a lovely laugh line and I enjoy playing that, and also I quite like the sentiment.
024 – Do you prefer the show QI or Mock the Week
025 – Sound of Music – Favourite song (doesn’t have to be one you’re in)
No, well it wouldn’t be really. Actually though having said that ‘Something Good’ is one of my favorites. I think actually ‘Climb Every Mountain’ because again I like the sentiment
026 – Have you watched some of your very early stuff back recently, thoughts on it?
Not that I’m aware of no. I think the oldest thing I watched was Riddle, it’s a good little piece, I like it, a little bit weird but that’s all
027 – What was your reasoning behind Harry not drinking till it was revealed?
I’m trying to think what came first. I think I just made the choice very early on when looking at various options about choices, because they would have said there’s a bar scene what’s Harry gonna drink, I went ‘You know what I think it will be quiet interesting if we create the fact he doesn’t drink and at some point we’ll work out why
028 – What are you currently working towards?
I’m working towards a very big deal with my production company, financial deal and I am working to actually get back into features.
029 – What’s your answer to life, the universe and everything
Maybe it’s just basically the old Irish proverb which is ‘May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows your dead’
030 – What was the last scene you filmed for Casualty
I don’t entirely remember to be honest, all I know it was in resus and it would have been the episode before my last episode, because that was one of the complications that had come out with this new ridiculous scheduling thing that had. I don’t actually remember very specifically what it was, but it was in resus, it was definitely in the episode before I left because all the goodbye stuff I’d done before Christmas. And I done the scene with Charlie when I’m out in the thing and I bang the car and all that I did before Christmas so it must have been some piece of something in resus, in the episode before which is one of the reasons why I probably don’t remember what it was.
031 – Any scenes you wished were cut from a film/series.
I’m sure there are, but actually most of the time I’ve managed to get to somewhere in a scene where it’s been kinda OK. Oh actually there was one I do remember it was in Counterstrike, so on-one will have seen it, in England anyway. It was one of the very last episodes. It was a moment when, as I remember, something happened and a gun went off which I was holding and it shot somebody and it wasn’t supposed to – it was an accident. I remember playing it that I was completely in catatonic shock that this had happened and I remember looking back at it afterwards thinking it wasn’t the right choice. In light of the fact that I’m very critical of my work, there are always thing where I go ‘Oh God we could have done that better’ but most of the time on finishing a shot or scene I go ok we’ve got that. I think it’s partly I’m just so used to the idea in television that would work as hard as you can till the moment you shoot it, then you shoot it and you go ok we haven’t had any more time to develop it so I can’t regret the fact that we haven’t had 3 days to prepare and all of that kind of thing so you know you’ve done the best job you can under the circumstances. But that was one where I made a choice and I went along with a choice and I began to second guess it and in the end when I looked at it I thought ‘no that was not a right choice’ and I had to then stick with it.
032 – Who have you met that has made you most ‘star struck’?
033 – What’s been your favourite Wright Stuff discussion
You know what, this stuff come as me so fast that I don’t remember anything. Sometimes I think I’ve got no brain left, I don’t remember anything. It is also,, it’s all about stuff, I love doing it, it’s all day to day stuff. The one thing is I’m very tired on the road all this time and I go out and do these things and even by the time I come back from doing it and go ‘What did we talk about today?’ I’m kinda living for the moment a lot of the time so it’s been and gone, if you reminded me of a couple of the subjects, you probably have the same problem, I love it all actually
034 – What would you most like to discuss on The Wright Stuff?
Strangely enough I would have loved to have been on the show when we had this whole nonsense with this nurse who got in trouble about prayer. ‘Cos I thought it was a load of old cobblers. Since particularly prayer is something that every religion does and if someone says to me, and indeed some people at various times have, ‘I’ll pray for you’ the last thing I would think of for one minute is ‘what religion are you, are you trying to force some religion down my throat.’ I would just think it’s the most human kind thing to offer and it doesn’t matter which God you prey to it’s a fantastic gesture to somebody. All this political correctness is just going bonkers, that is a subject I would have loved to have been in the chair for.
(Simon goes back to the previous question)
I suppose to some extent, as an answer, though it’s probably not the right answer completely but I love the fact that I was on television the day Obama got it, was inaugurated, because it was a moment in history and I felt that was a great privilege to actually be invited to be commentator of any sort on that particular day
035 – Worst scene you’ve filmed or performed on stage?
It’s funny that isn’t it, ‘cos some of the ones that are physically incredibly demanding and so forth they become great fun because of the challenge. Being stuck underwater doing the tunnel episode, the cave episodes in Casualty which were so uncomfortable and you were wet and cold and miserable but actually you just know you were doing some quiet interesting work at the same time I’ve done some stunts that were horribly uncomfortable but actually that’s part of the job. Strangely enough one of the bits I really didn’t like ‘cos it was about a lie that was being perpetrated effectively by the play and by the circumstances, which was the very, very opening sequence of The Unexpected Guest. Coming on the stage and finding the dead body and trying to pretend like he was alive. I think it was badly written and very difficult to play. In the early stages till towards the end of my 5, my 3 months, they had the dummy which was just bloody awful and I did find that very difficult to come on as the first image knowing there was a horrible thing there, that to me wasn’t working. It just looked cheap and nasty. Also I felt the speech its self was a device and not entirely truthful. That opening moment in The Unexpected Guest I didn’t like at all, never enjoyed that moment until Laura Warwick came on stage, kind of appeared and after that it was fine. But that first moment of coming on I didn’t like, never liked it, never thought it was honest never really comfortable, although I felt a lot more comfortable when at least I knew it was a real person and we weren’t dealing with a dummy
036 – Is there anything you’ve watched recently that really stands out as a good piece of work
I’ve watched so little on television, I like the period dramas I’ve seen I did think there was a lot of really good work in the Tudors and I’ve enjoyed Larkrise and Cranford those are the things that if I get the chance to watch I enjoy and I think there has been some very good stuff done there and I want to see more of that
037 – Most memorable role to date
They’re all memorable, it’s a crazy answer I’ve always pitched into every job I’ve done in a manner, that is it, that is the one I’m doing what I’m nursing. There isn’t a character I haven’t enjoyed playing. I suppose Harry has to be sitting up there because he was such a completely rounded character and because of that had a bit more impact perhaps. The character you play on sometime is just a character but Harry because of the position, the authority I think a lot of people in the country responded to him in a particular kind of way so I think he had probably as a character a little bit more influence maybe on people’s lives a little bit, so probably Harry is the one I have to answer to that.
038 – If not actor/director/producer or forces what do you think you could have done?
Well I was always heading for the diplomatic corp., that’s what I felt and that when people ask would I have liked to have been a politician the answer is no, but I would like to have influenced things and that’s what I could have gone down the road to be, in the diplomatic corp. and perhaps been an ambassador somewhere.
039 – We’ve discussed work, and rest – so now play. What do you do for fun and exercise?
Well I do yoga for exercise principally. Play I don’t do very well, partly because I never have enough time but I’m looking forward to going back spending time on the farm and doing things. I love the DIY and generally just mucking about on the farm and doing all that, I get quiet into it. I think that’s probably what I’ll be doing.
040 – Probably been asked this before but – if you could be any animal what would it be and why?
I don’t know whether I have been asked before and I don’t really know what the answer is. I’ve often been, on 2 or 3 different occasions, people have said of things I’m doing, if they played this game what character would be, every time they come up with the same answer which is the lion. It happened on Casualty, they did that actually as a brief – all the characters and they put an animal as what they felt the individual characters were. They felt Harry was the lion and they did that here (SOM) about 4 times in my career it’s come up the same, so it’s the one that goes all the way through.
041 – What is the most difficult aspect of the acting profession in your opinion?
Telling the truth. Constantly telling the truth, very often with poor material.
042 – Favourite guest role 90’s/00’s? i.e. Earth: Final Conflict, Relic Hunter, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Mentors, Le Femme Nikita
I loved doing the poltergeist, I loved playing poltergeist, I loved playing Horton ‘cos he was bonkers.
043 – If you were stranded on a desert island what and or who would you like to have with you.
It may seem a very trite answer but because we have so little time together I would just love to be stranded on there with my wife
044 – Sound of Music – Favourite moment
I don’t really have a favourite moment. Actually my favourite moment in the Sound of Music is playing the moment with the kids, hugging the kids. I like the effect it has on the audience and I like playing it as it’s a very honest moment.
045 – Why do all your characters get maimed or killed?
I think by the time I’ve worked with people for a little while they’re ready to see me go . . . It’s just the way it’s been, I think it’s just the nature of the beast.
046 – A choice for Simon between favourite scene from Casualty or most challenging Falcon Crest episode
There were so many scene from Casualty to be honest, there were some really good resus scenes and I do remember, trying to think which episode, it was one of the big specials we did and I’ve got a feeling it was the one where the hose collapsed on the housing estate. There were some very, very good resus scenes that the director and I we worked really closely together and I kinda designed them and had them really moving, lots of really hard work. A good many really good scenes in Casualty would go down as some of my favourite work. Falcon Crest, different kind of show and demanding in a different kind of way. I think some of the stuff I did with Morgan Fairchild when she was on the edge a bit was quiet fun to do, but actually it’s the resus work in Casualty. Of the work that I did, I’m really very proud of the work I did in that, and trying to tell the truth and the movement and learning medical procedures on the hoof in a few minutes to try and do things and moving around and keeping the whole room moving, in the big drama sequences we a lot of very, very good work. That I loves and that’s the one thing I’d go back to Casualty for I just love that whole area of, they called me the King of resus and I loved all that