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Thursday, 11 June 2015

Granite City Comic Con pt2: Interview with acting legend - Shane Rimmer

The Intrepid blogger sees the empty chair and with it...his chance!
So there I was, wandering around the various comic book delights of Granite City Comic Con having just returned from grabbing a quick lunch & finally getting my hands on some cash.....there were goodies a plenty to buy as well as me doing my Fifth Dimension shtick, you know. 

To be honest, I thought I’d missed my chance on interviewing the couple of guests that I dearly wanted to speak to. It was my own fault for becoming lost in the visual magnificence of the endless Cosplay and then taking time off to feed my face with food. The fact is that I had a craving for a double cheeseburger. I know, Stuart Andrerson, Renaissance man - that's me. It was now nearing 2pm and the queues of people waiting to get into GCCC still snaked around the Transition Extreme building. It seemed that the organisers had their hands as full as ever in keeping the event as well ordered as it had been so far. They were working tirelessly. This however was a problem for me.

I was kicking myself. The prospect of buying numerous comic related goodies and experiencing the Cosplay magnificence were always suitable enticements for the day’s enjoyment, the main focus for this here blogger had always been quite simple. I wanted to chat with a comic book writer who had unwittingly been one of the key influences in cementing my love of science fiction, Alan Grant. In addition to the Judge Dredd/Anderson maestro I also wanted desperately to talk to a character actor of stage, television and big screen who I have genuinely admired for many a year. I thought I had lost out on the chance to chat to these gents, but everyone was just too darned busy. To say I was slightly bereft and chastising myself for missing out would be something of an understatement.

Thankfully the day, and with it my ego, was saved at that moment as co-event organiser Morgan Black came passing by. “Did you get those interviews sorted” he asked, whilst simultaneously doing 178 other tasks that required his attention at that moment in time. “No, I havn’t” I sheepishly replied, thinking it best that I didn’t mention that I had been actually thinking of my stomach for the past three quarters of an hour. “Right, let’s get this done” he boomed as I led me upstairs to a room where fellow organiser Chris Robertson was hiding in a darkened corner talking to another press type person. This particular press type person actually seemed the genuine article (as opposed to me) as he spoke with an authority and used words like ‘my news deadline’……show off.

A few moments later the redoubtable Chris managed to get me some precious time with Alan Grant, who was taking a few moment away from his book signing responsibilities. That particular interview will follow in a future article, because in this piece I want to feature the other main target of my day. After speaking to Alan I realised I was getting the hang of this press intrusion lark and decided to badger Morgan for a few moments with Shane Rimmer. The problem was that Shane was sat at his signing desk having just spent some time with some very satisfied fans after having his picture taken with them. “Could he just to the interview here?” Morgan asked him and Shane, being the gentleman that he is, kindly agreed. So I plonked myself down next to him in Alan Grant’s empty chair and proceeded to chat with the legend himself.

"Shane Rimmer was born on May 28, 1932 in Toronto, Canada. He is an actor and writer, known for Dr. Strangelove (1964), Batman Begins (2005) and Dark Shadows (2012)

He Appeared in three different James Bond movies You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) as three different characters (two of them uncredited roles).

Has acted in both the Doctor Who Franchise and Eon James Bond Franchise.

He appeared in Superman (1978*, Superman II (1980) and Superman III (1983) but played a different character in each film.

As of 2015, has appeared in six films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Dr. Strangelove (1964), Star Wars : Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), Julia (1977), Reds (1981), Ghandi (1982) and Out of Africa (1985). Of those, the two latter are winners in the category." (IMDB)

I would recommend that you visit for yourself his IMDB page to get a proper taste of the man's quite remarkable career. For example, the above bio doesn't include perhaps his most iconic work in terms of science fiction, as the voice of Scott Tracey from Gerry Anderson's legendary Thunderbirds series. His body of work is frankly staggering.

What I hope comes from the interview below is a sense of warmth and humour from Shane as he gave me a few minutes out of his unbelievably busy day. The thing that won’t come across here,  simply because I’ve toned them down, is my lame attempt at questioning. Many of us don’t like seeing ourselves in photo’s and many actors (such as Shane, you will see) don’t like to watch themselves on screen. 

I have discovered since starting this blog over the last couple of years is that I hate with a passion listening to my voice and manner in my interviews and have come to the conclusion that I’m a bit rubbish at asking questions. I tend to ramble a little.....thank god I never do that in my blog eh? 
For once in my life I need to remember that it’s not all me, me, me……it nearly is, but not all.

Anyhoo, the interview....... 

FD) So events like this, do you find them overwhelming, a thrill?

SR) No, I love them....I tell you why. Because usually you're on the end of some sort of communication, an email, a letter or a photo and its just nice to get in and mix with the people who've actually taken the trouble and come in. No, No, I've never for a moment get fed up with the people who partake....and I tell you what, there's a helluva lot of people here......

FD) Yeah you've probably not seen but there are still queues all around the back to get in - it's great!

SR) Yeah I saw that, god and I mean for the organisers to keep a quite good sense of order is something.

FD) What do you think of all the uniforms, and Cosplay?

SR) (lAUGHS) Aww, it's hoot!

Warlords of Atlantis 
FD) I came across quite by accident the other night on TV 'Warlords of Atlantis' - I don't know why I was so surprised but despite the rubber monsters it's held up pretty well, hugely enjoyable. What are your memories of filming that?

SR) I remember damn near drowning on it. The wardrobe people put the wrong suit on me....we had to come out of a diving bell and swim back to the schooner and they put a canvas type thing on me. It was a fine outfit - but for only on dry land (laughs) and I started to sink! It was just too heavy and the special effects crew were down on the bottom doing some camera work of some of us going along on the surface and they rescued me!....I just could not keep myself afloat. That was the only bit of heavy stuff in that film (laughs).

FD) Do you ever watch your own work?
SR) I see them maybe once (smiles)……but I don’t like to make a habit of it

FD) Is it a case that you don’t like to see yourself on screen?
SR) I like to check the performance and see what I’m doing, if it fits the character etc

FD) So you’re the biggest critic of your own performances?
SR) Yep, well somebody has to be and I think you really need to keep tack on how you’re coping with these things. Every job is different , so making sure you’re not repeating. Unless you get yourself into some Thunderbirds stuff! (laughs).

The Real Alan Grant - looks NOTHING like me
Now at this point the interview took a slight turn for the surreal. I was just about to ask my next piercing and inciteful question when I heard someone beside me say “Excuse me, Alan…….. Alan Grant, would it be possible to have  a few minutes with you for an interview ?" At first I ignored it and tried to press on with my question for Mr Rimmer. However, the voice was polite yet insistant and this time the same request was accompanied by a gentle prod to my arm. It was the same self press type guy I had seen earlier talking about news deadlines.

To say I was a little bemused would be an undertstatement. That was until I suddenly realised that I was sat in Mr Grants chair, with Mr Grant’s table in front of me with a bloody great big advertisement poster saying ALAN GRANT on it. Now I will readily admit that for a brief moment I was tempted, almost painfully and severely tempted, to say “OK, yes you can interview me”. After all, the press type guy had obviously no real idea what Alan Grant actually looked like…..believe me, there is no resemblance. However I resisted the idea to pass myself off as the writer of Judge Dredd et al…… oh the fun I could have had!

After admitting that I wasn’t Alan Grant and had merely stolen his signing station for a few moments I managed to restart my line of piercing questioning to an equally bemused and rather amused, Shane Rimmer

FD) Thunderbirds, it weird because it must have been just another job at the time….but why has it held such a huge level of interest to this day?

SR) I don’t know….it had a mix. Ya know, it was a sort of family entertainment on the one hand it had all this Space hi-tech on the other hand and somehow they managed to meld it into one big product.

FD) And your still clearly associated with it as much as anything you’ve ever done?
A) I wouldn’t be here without it – very thankful.

FD) You had this amazingly varied career  over the years – any regrets?
SR) Nah, I’m quite happy. There’s enough variation to keep you interested and you never get the part 100% right so it all has worked out. While some of the edge has gone, I’m doing more voice work and things just all work out. Nowadays  I don’t think I could face doing something like a stage production now…….(smiles)…..’what the bloody hell is the next line??!!’ (laughs). So I think you find  your niche, so I’ve been through a lot of films, a lot of theatre and television so I think you end up doing what, you know, truly think is your best sort of work. There’s no use in trying to achieve something when you’re not the same as you were 20 years ago (laughs)

Shane with the best Bond ever....yes he was.
FD) In regard to James Bond, The Spy who loved me is actually my favourite Bond film. Why do you think generally Roger Moore has never seemed to get the same level of respect that, say Connery had?

SR) Well I think each one takes his place, Connery you can’t diminish his performances, he created the role and that’s tough! When you’re second or third in line you’ve been able to watch those performances and choose to do it very differently. Roger was very clever, he knew he couldn’t compete with Connery and his very tough exterior so he became very charming and articulate…which he was anyway, in fact I don’t think he Is acting for one bloody word (laughs).

FD) Can I ask you very quickly, you worked under Stanley Kubrick in Dr, Stranglove. What was he like as a director….everything we’ve heard about him?

SR) Yeah, a strange multi-personal personality. He loved to take chances and in Hollywood he finally went because every time they’d figure ‘Oh now what’s he gonna do?’ Because he stirred up the border but still made them a lot of money, a helluva lot of money so were loathe to say ‘Ok that’s enough’. They were happy to do a lot with that with the kind of money he was bringing in.

On the other hand he was a photographer, that’s what he started up as, with the American Look magazine or life, or  something. He was meticulous with about that, he knew exactly to the nth degree how far to go with that camera…when to call it a stop and when to continue for a few more seconds. But he was available to everybody on that floor though the only person that he had a little bit of trouble with was Peter Sellers. They got into such a violent argument on the flight deck which was open for the cameraman, and he fell and kept on going. It was 10 ft to the floor, cement and that’s why he finished the picture in a wheelchair.

FD) Thank you for your time, Shane. Its been a major thrill to meet you, it really has.
SR) Thank you. Well it’s a nice situation here with the people and most of them having fun. Its been a pleasure.

I would once again like to thanks - to Chris Robertson and Morgan Black for manfully facilitating the interview and to Shane Rimmer himself for putting up with me for 10 minutes.

Shane Rimmer's website can be found at

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