We recently got the opportunity to interview Adrian Paul, who you might know from Highlander about his project The Sword Experience, his charity The Peace Fund and more.
Nerds and Beyond: Where did you first learn how to sword fight?
Adrian Paul: I had done martial arts before [Highlander] for about a year. I took martial arts when I went out to LA because I was feeling that I needed to control some of that energy. I got into it, worked out a lot, did a lot of sports and then when I got Highlander, I started doing sword fighting. I picked up my martial arts from that point on and really just sort of studied and studied and studied.
Nerds and Beyond: So it was more martial arts led you into sword fighting?
Adrian Paul: Yeah, I mean I started sword fighting on the show. I had a fantastic teacher, Bob Anderson, who passed away a couple years ago who was a more European-style fencing instructor. He did a bit with Katana style, which I then studied after the first season. I then went and took Chinese martial arts and weapons. So it was a bit of a mixed bag in a sense, which is actually perfect for the character that I was playing.
Nerds and Beyond: Can you give us more detail on what someone would expect if they attend The Sword Experience?
Adrian Paul: Well the great thing about The Sword Experience is that it changes every one that we do. My idea on this is to give people an experience; to make them feel like they’re on a movie set or some place that they wouldn’t necessarily be on and to teach them a few things about sword work that is what happens in the movies and the difference between movie fighting, between real fighting and we would put them in a space where they might have seen one of their favorite fights on TV or in film. So, for instance, the first one we did in Temecula was taken from one of the Highlander episodes which was outside on a dock actually and I put it in a venue. Then for Houston, we’re going to be building a set. So each one is totally different and therefore the style of the sword fight is going to be different. So every time somebody goes to one, it’s going to be a different experience for them. What they get during the sword fight is a different experience as well because Temecula for instance was an entire day. Starting in the morning was breakfast, then there was The Sword Experience, then they get the photograph and the certificate. Then they’ve got the lunch and then they had wine tasting as well as live music, so there’s a whole day.
Nerds and Beyond: So it almost gives someone a reason to travel around and see all of the different ones.
Adrian Paul: Eventually what I hope is to be able to show corporate America that these things can be taken to interesting locations and we can take all of their employees to a space where we can show them a great time as well as learning team work. Yes, you’re learning sword work but you’re also learning to fight or deal with somebody that you might not be comfortable with or somebody that might not be as experienced as you. So, that’s why it’s called an experience, not a sword demo or a teaching session, it’s more than that.
Nerds and Beyond: It seemed like in 2015 you ran The Sword Experience the first time to raise money for The Peace Fund. Was there anything particular about that experience that made you want to continue on and continue all of these other shows?
Adrian Paul: Well, you know for years people had asked me about doing a sword video. I didn’t have time and I like to really research a lot of stuff before I do things. I got to the point now with all of the different types of things that are on TV and movies, that I thought it’s a great time to put something like this out there because there are so many genres that it can touch rather than just Highlander. It can touch the cosplay, it can touch sword reenactment, there’s Game of Thrones. There’s all these different types of sword fights and I thought it’s a great way to give people an experience and to create a business around it.
Nerds and Beyond: Would you be able to tell us a little bit more about The Peace Fund?
Adrian Paul: The Peace Fund stands for protect educate aid children everywhere. I started it in 1997. It started off with our program which was School Makes a Difference taking celebrities and corporate America into schools, putting kids into different types of programs, rotating them through different programs like interactive storytelling or peer pressure, martial arts and all different types of things the school might want. Eventually, we then morphed into, after the 2002 tsunami, helping other organizations with logistics or raising money that they might need. Over the past 15 years, we’ve been trying to partner with different organizations to have a network of charities that we can help protect in different ways or educate in different ways or aid children in different ways. All of those partners in our network have grown in the past three or four years because of Peace Fund Radio. Peace Fund Radio actually is a radio station that we have once a week. It just recently did it from the Allstate headquarters in Chicago. It has about approximately 1.7 to 2 million listeners a month. We have a lot of great partnerships and it’s allowed us to bring other people into The Peace Fund’s family in a sense, because we’re associated now with a lot very small underfunded charities and my feeling is that there’s got to be a hub somewhere to actually be able to focus a lot of the charities together. I was just recently in Chicago at WE Day. WE Day was a fantastic example of that, with Craig Kielburger who created Free the Children and WE Day is a great event where all these kids from different walks are inspired to do something for their communities whether it is with the hospitals, regarding homelessness and it’s exactly where I want to take it. It’s great to see that there are other like-minded individuals doing the same or similar stuff and I think putting it all together is a strength in numbers.
Nerds and Beyond: What would you say would be your most memorable experience with sword fighting?
Adrian Paul: I’ve worked with a lot of different people. If you want to talk about a novelty, I’m probably the only actor/martial artist/sword person/whatever you want to call it that has actually done a tango and a sword fight on the Eiffel Tower on the same day. I mean, that’s memorable I would imagine, I don’t think many people have actually had the opportunity to sword fight on the Eiffel Tower.
Nerds and Beyond: Are you still surprised at all of the success Highlander still has, even though it’s been completed for years?
Adrian Paul: It really is something where it constantly surprises me. I still do conventions and there’s still a very large following out there of people that remember, they’re getting older now, but with the help of social media and things like Hulu and Netflix, people are able to catch it again and they become fans of the series. The interesting thing is they’re trying to bring out a new series perhaps or another film, which will then reinvigorate the franchise.
Nerds and Beyond: Do you think we’ll ever get the series remastered and put on blu-ray?
Adrian Paul: Well they did three of the episodes on blu-ray, the only way that will happen is if it’s profitable for them. I think if they revamp the actual franchise itself, that’s definitely a possibility because they’re going to want to get as much reach for it as possible.
Nerds and Beyond: If they were to redo it, would you want them to redo the special effects like the quickenings?
Adrian Paul: They need to revamp it for today’s age. You definitely have to do it, there’s so much more they can do today. We were using live effects, really I think the effects of today would give it something very different.
Nerds and Beyond: In the show you got to dress in many different styles of clothing to represent different periods of history. Which was your favorite?
Adrian Paul: I got to dress up so often it was fun to dress up in all of these different costumes. For me, as a character, going back to the highlands of Scotland was always very interesting because you got back to the characters roots. 18th century France was always fun to do, but each time – it wasn’t like a regular procedural show – I was able to change every week and become somebody else which was very helpful as an actor.
Nerds and Beyond: Two of my favorite episodes were “Homeland” and “Double Eagle” – which episode was your favorite?
Adrian Paul: The one I loved filming was – because I directed it – was “Revelation 6.8”. That was the 100th episode that we did. I loved doing “Homeland”, it was fantastic, it was my first directing episode and I really liked it because I thought you saw who the man was and where the roots were. It was a heartfelt one.
Nerds and Beyond: There were three main loves of your character, Duncan, throughout the series. Which one do you feel you had the best chemistry with?
Adrian Paul: The gave different things to [Duncan] McLeod, Tessa was his heart and that was a very interesting chemistry to start with and everybody always remembers Tessa. They really do remember Amanda because Amanda got McLeod in trouble. Ann, was the mother. We actually had a reunion on May 21st, with all proceeds going to The Peace Fund.
Nerds and Beyond: When the show ended, was there anything you would have changed? Would you have wished for another season?
Adrian Paul: The season finale it could have been different, I think they wanted to wrap it up. It was different originally in the script. I was done at the series at that point, I wanted to move on to something else, it had been six seasons. I had been beaten up, bruised, stitched up and eventually it’s very raring when you have that much action and involvement in a series.
You can check out The Sword Experience by visiting the website – HERE! – The Sword Experience