Described in the Chicago Tribune as "A classic the whole family can watch: big entertainment, big production values, a lot of interesting moral story lines to deal with,” this version of ‘Frankenstein’ was based more closely on the original version of Mary Shelley’s classic horror story than previous efforts, and was said to have had a budget of about $4.5 million – high for a typical network movie at time.

Michael Gothard was cast as the Bosun of a ship trapped in Arctic ice. He and the rest of the crew are out walking on the ice, presumably hunting for food, when they see two combatants on sleds, chasing each other across the frozen waste.

Dr Victor Frankenstein is thrown from his sled and taken on board, where he tells the tale of how he created the monster which now pursues him, to the ship’s Captain.

Michael’s character, the Bosun, is the Captain’s right hand man, on whom the Captain relies for information, and to keep his motley crew in line.

Astonishingly, the scenes of ice and snow in which Michael features were filmed at Pinewood Studios.

Near the end of the Pinewood shoot, Patrick Bergin, who played Dr Frankenstein, sustained a broken arm when falling from a sled, and filming of his last scenes was delayed.

Director, David Wickes, had made use of Michael Gothard’s talents before, on 'Jack the Ripper.’

In correspondence, David Wickes says:

"Frankenstein was largely shot in Poland. It was the first mainstream movie to be shot there after the Iron Curtain came down . . . a wild place in those days. Ted Turner must have thought I was bonkers.

Anyway, before I cast each actor, I warned them about the problems — bad roads, worse food, you name it. (Ask Stephen Spielberg who followed us in with Schindler’s List !)

Most of the actors and crew just gulped and blinked — but Michael was different. He listened to all my warnings, then he smiled his famous smile and said 'Great ! Can’t wait !'

... Michael had a screen presence unlike that of any other actor with whom I have worked. He could frighten an audience with a glance. His soft, husky voice was electrifying and he knew how to use it to maximum effect.

Each time I welcomed Michael to the set, I knew that we were about to get something special in the can. There are very few actors in that category."

The stunt arranger on ‘Frankenstein’, Peter Brayham, would also have been well known to Michael, from ‘Arthur of the Britons’, ‘Stopover’, and 'Jack the Ripper.’

‘Frankenstein’ received good reviews, but was not released in the UK until 29 December 1992 – nearly a month after Michael’s death.
When released in the US in June 1993, it gained the highest ever audience ratings for TNT in the USA (72% cable audience share) and received 3 ACE nominations and 1 ACE Award.

More details on ‘Frankenstein’ from David Wickes Productions

Frankenstein is now available on DVD from WB Shop

IMDB entry
John Glen’s “Christopher Columbus: The Discovery” was one of two films about Columbus to be released in the same year, the other being Ridley Scott’s “1492: Conquest of Paradise.” In Glen’s film, Michael Gothard was cast as the Inquisitor’s spy, his scenes apparently being filmed in the UK and Spain.

Michael had worked for the film’s producers, Alexander and Ilya Salkind on “The Three/Four Musketeers” (1973), and John Glen had directed him as the villain, Emile Locque in “For Your Eyes Only” (1981).

In correspondence, John Glen had this to say:

‘I cast Michael Gothard in "For Your Eyes Only" and he contributed many ideas on this, my first effort as a Bond director … I remember him as a very pleasant person as well as a fine actor …

When Marlon Brando was cast in "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" I decided I would need a back up in the event Marlon decided not to turn up on the set. I thought of Michael to play his assistant. He would take Marlon's lines and I would shoot in such a way that I could isolate him and continue to shoot the scene with the other actors.

In fact, this happened on day one, much to Tom Selleck's displeasure. Fortunately Marlon decided to turn up on day 2 and I was able to complete the scene. Marlon was a very nice man and I think Tom Selleck's disappointment prompted him to co-operate ... or perhaps it was the thought of losing his lines to Michael Gothard. In any event it worked.

I was shocked to hear of Michael's untimely death.’

There is further detail on this incident in “From Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Brando, Hopper, Beatty, and Nicholson,” by Robert Sellers.

“When Glen began shooting Marlon's scenes there was an immediate problem. The great man didn't turn up. ‘I was anticipating trouble. When you're a director you have to box a little clever sometimes and I'd cast a very good actor called Michael Gothard as Brando's assistant, the idea being that if Marlon didn't turn up any time I would put Gothard in. And sure enough, on the first day, Marlon was a no-show, so I put Michael in and he took Marlon's lines.'

Marlon's invisibility on the set that first day caused ructions amongst the cast, notably with Tom Selleck, who approached Glen that evening.

'John,' he said, 'I admire your work, but really the only reason I did this film was because Marlon Brando was going to be in it. Now he's not turned up and he's not gonna play the thing, I'm not going to do it anymore, I'm off.'

A bit taken aback, Glen replied, 'I appreciate your honesty, Tom, and wish you all the best.' Obviously word filtered back to Marlon that Selleck had walked out and that another actor was delivering his dialogue. 'Because Brando turned up the next day,' says Glen. 'Actors being actors, they hate to lose their lines, and I just re-shot that section. Naturally Tom Selleck re-appeared, too.'"

The film had various release dates in 1992: 20 August in Germany, 21 August in the USA, and 11 September in the UK.

The reviews for “Christopher Columbus: The Discovery” were less than complimentary. One can only hope that Michael Gothard took some comfort in the fact that the critics’ scathing comments were reserved for Marlon Brando, Tom Selleck, George Corraface and Director, John Glen.

As Brando received the worst notices, it seems a shame that Gothard wasn’t given all his lines, but then, Brando was supposed to be the star.

IMDB entry
Jack the Ripper was a two-part TV dramatisation of the investigation of the infamous murders of London prostitutes. According to Television Heaven, the original transmission of the opening episode was among the top ten ratings for that week, being watched by 14.1 million viewers.

Four different endings were originally filmed, to keep the conclusion of the investigation a secret, until the show was broadcast.

The two one-and-a half-hour episodes were shown on 11 and 18 October 1988.

Michael Gothard played George Lusk, leader of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. In the film, Lusk is portrayed as a political rabble-rouser and Marxist revolutionary, and is one of the suspects.

In real life, the activities of Lusk’s organisation mainly consisted of putting up posters and offering reward money.

Casting

In correspondence, the Director, David Wickes says:


"On Ripper, I wrote Michael’s character George Lusk as a 19th century Marxist. One of Lusk’s lines (to Michael Caine) was 'You can’t even protect ordinary working people'.

Most actors would have used a sneering tone and left it at that. Not Michael Gothard. He took me aside on the set and said he wanted to speak the line as if it were something his character had repeated hundreds of times — a mantra for meetings and speeches ... 'ord’ry workin’ peep-ul!'

Brilliant. In one second, we knew that Lusk was a professional activist, a man of slogans and sayings instead of original thoughts. 'Great,' I said, 'Do it'.

Now, that’s what I call an actor.

... Michael had a screen presence unlike that of any other actor with whom I have worked. He could frighten an audience with a glance. His soft, husky voice was electrifying and he knew how to use it to maximum effect.

Each time I welcomed Michael to the set, I knew that we were about to get something special in the can. There are very few actors in that category."

More details on Jack the Ripper from David Wickes Productions

Per Digital Fix: “Though they had originally started to film on video with a different cast (with Barry Foster in the lead), a vast sum of money was put up by CBS on the condition they made it into a much bigger production with US recognisable stars in it thus the inclusion of Michael Caine, Jane Seymour and Lewis Collins ...”

Per IMDB: “Michael Caine was persuaded to return to TV for the first time in nearly 20 years because of David Wickes's powerful script. Caine later described Wickes as "the nicest, fastest Director I've worked for, and the master of filming Victorian London."’

This was the second film in which Michael Gothard had worked opposite Michael Caine, the first being “The Last Valley” in 1971.

In 1979 he had worked with Lewis Collins on an episode of “The Professionals”: “Stopover.”

More recently, in 1982, he had worked with Lysette Anthony, who had played Rowena, his unwilling betrothed, in Ivanhoe.

The stunt arranger on ‘Jack the Ripper’, Peter Brayham would also have been well known to Michael, from “Stopover” and “Arthur of the Britons.”

Cast photo

Jack the Ripper cast

IMDB entry
Background

On ‘80’s Movies Rewind, Steve Alsberg reports: ‘The film was made because Colgate-Stone (the Producer) who was a capitol equipment leasor (fleets of planes, ships, etc.) had made a large amount of money on a deal in Denmark, and the Danish government required him to spend a portion of his gains in Denmark.

He knew James Clarke, the Writer/Director, socially, and Stone asked if he (Clark) had a script that could be adapted to use Denmark as a location, Clark said he did, and the rest is history.

Myself and my partner did the set construction for the picture including 6 weeks in Copenhagen.’

80’s Movies Rewind

Synopsis by Sandra Brennan

A bungling gumshoe tries hard to affect a hard-boiled demeanor, despite the fact that his latest assignment is to protect the bratty young heiress to a fortune in this lively spoof of detective movies.

Henry Brilliant, Private Eye, is no stranger to the ways of the wealthy as he too comes from a blue-blooded family, but he tries to ignore that to become the classic Chandleresque detective as he heads for Europe to follow the girl on her tour and keep her from being kidnapped by her stepmother, who is really after her husband's secret formula for controlling the weather.

NY Times

Michael Gothard plays Strett, one of the evil stepmother Maxine De La Hunt’s motley crew of henchmen, and evidently the best of the bunch as he survives longer than any of the others, as well as outliving his employer.

Former girlfriend N.B. recalls: ‘For the film "Yellow Pages" we went to Copenhagen in September 1984. That's where Michael was filming for several weeks. I was accompanying him, and met the people on the set, i.e. Chris Lemmon and Lea Thompson. Lemmon flew in only shortly. Copenhagen was the only place he went to for this film. The parts in the USA were made without him.’

The film is generally considered poor, but is reasonably diverting. However, Michael has little to do; he helps kidnap Marigold on behalf of her stepmother, looks menacing, and later chases Henry and Marigold on a roller-coaster in the Tivoli Gardens, where his character – as so often – dies a gruesome death.

Reviews

Sian Thatcher on 80’s Movies Rewind

This film had potential and a talented cast. It’s a shame the script is so poor and they couldn’t just choose a genre and stick with it.

80’s Movies Rewind

~~

TV guide

An unsubtle spoof of detective films, GOING UNDERCOVER features Chris Lemmon as Henry Brilliant, a handsome blueblood who turns his back on high society and struggles mightily to make a living as a hard-boiled private eye.

Wealthy Maxine De La Hunt (Jean Simmons) offers him a tidy sum to guard her high-spirited stepdaughter, Marigold (Lea Thompson), from possible kidnapping on a European tour.

Marigold continually gives Brilliant the slip and makes his life a living hell. Eventually, she is indeed kidnapped, the plot gets twisty, and the formula becomes escape, pursuit, evasion.

Aimed at the Brat Packer audience, GOING UNDERCOVER clumsily grafts elements of a college sex comedy onto the private eye genre. The result is bound to bore audiences of all ages.

Establishing the proper combination of thrills and laughter for a light-hearted suspense film is tricky. GOING UNDERCOVER fails to achieve the difficult balance that distinguished FOUL PLAY or CHARADE, for example, and emerges as neither suspenseful nor amusing. Only veteran Jean Simmons, as the stepmother, lends any finesse to these second-rate spy shenanigans.

TV Guide

~~

Joanna Berry in the Radio Times

This uneven comedy was made in 1984, but for some odd reason (because it was a clunker, perhaps?) remained unseen for four years. Back to the Future star Lea Thompson is the spoilt brat on a trip to Europe who is kept under surveillance by Chris Lemmon, a private eye so unskilled that she gets kidnapped right under his nose. Incredibly silly stuff …

Full review

~~

rsoonsa on IMDB

Completed in 1984 but not released until four years after, this English production offers little of value. Apparently designed to be a pastiche of the hard boiled detective category of cinema, the work features Chris Lemmon as Henry Brilliant, ineffective private investigator who finds difficulty in obtaining employment other than locating lost pets.

His luck appears to improve when wealthy Maxine de la Hunt (Jean Simmons) allegedly selects him directly from his advertisement in telephone yellow pages and offers Henry $2000 per week plus expenses to serve as bodyguard for her stepdaughter Marigold (Lea Thompson) during a European travel junket for co-eds ...

Dangerous adventures lack meaning to a viewer when a production fails to provide a sense of purpose, as in this instance. A motif of scientific espionage involving Marigold's father appears but its connection to the remainder of the storyline is put to bed by heavy cutting.

Originally titled YELLOW PAGES, released with that name in the United Kingdom and upon the Continent, this weak effort is known as GOING UNDERCOVER in the United States, where it ostensibly has acquired a minor cult following, although one wonders why, as there is minimal wit or imagination to be found in it.

Simmons, billed first, is as polished as ever, but Lemmon and Thompson are given the greatest amount of screen time with Lemmon rather charismatic when he is able to avoid the mugging that tarnished his father Jack's performances.

Direction is largely pedestrian with no apparent point of view. The majority of the film's drawbacks follow from the director's own script that bounces about in a generally fatuous manner amid themes of comedy, suspense, satire, et alia.

Full review on IMDB

~~

The Mysterious Traveler

A bumbling Los Angeles Private Investigator is hired to be the bodyguard of the bratty yet attractive daughter of a famous scientist as she takes a cultural tour of Europe. Soon he finds himself entangled in a Soviet plot to control the weather.

A simply hideous "comedy" spy thriller that is wretched on every possible level save one. When 80s films went bad, they went bad in gruelling ways and this film is as good...bad example as any.

Over-lit, cheap-looking, badly edited, sub-literate script and just boring, the film also poorly acted by a resigned cast incapable of doing anything with the material and a lead whose talent is extremely suspect.

It is truly depressing to see Simmons, Gothard and [Adam] West trapped in this thing. West must have had his name taken off the credits since his appearance was a complete surprise.

The only ... and I do mean ONLY bright spot is Lea Thompson as the bratty scientist's daughter. Though why coming out of RED DAWN and in the middle of the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy, she agreed to appear in this horror, I cannot say but whenever she is on the screen, the dreary proceedings perk up considerably. Sexy, radiant and surprisingly well dressed … it is obvious that she is a star and going places. Meanwhile it is equally obvious that Chris Lemmon - Jack's son - is not.

Further reviews on Amazon

Watch Going Undercover/Yellow Pages on Youtube.

IMDB entry
Angharad 24 was lucky enough to hear from Xavier, a friend of Michael’s, who got to know him pretty well during the late eighties.

Xavier and the others in his group – all now professional musicians – were about 20 years younger than Michael. Michael was very happy to find a younger generation so interested in jazz and blues, and they became friends. He seemed to enjoy the company of younger people, and they enjoyed his.

Michael was a really very nice bloke, who was generous and open most of the time. He was not at all egotistical; rather Xavier thought him self-effacing, and burdened by self-doubt, which probably had a detrimental effect on his career.

When they first met, Xavier had never heard of him, and was only told that he had been in films such as “For Your Eyes Only” and “The Devils” by the others. Michael never spoke much about his films, and didn’t name-drop, though he had acted with some of the best-known actors of the century. He did express frustration at being offered ‘hit-man’ roles, and hoped he would be given a chance to get out of them, but said, ‘nobody wanted me.’

Xavier felt sure that playing a part well meant more to Michael than money or fame.

He loved music and just wanted to learn more. He played saxophone and drums well, but even in music, Mike would have moments where he would say “Oh, I’m no good at this.” Xavier thought he was self-taught, because he would ask for help with reading difficult music.

The whole group loved “Some Like it Hot”, and Michael thought that Marilyn Monroe was a great actress.

He had around three different girlfriends in the years 1989 – 92. He said he wouldn’t have minded marriage but did not want children. Unfortunately, most of the girls he’d been with had wanted them. He liked children, but had no ‘paternal feelings.’

Once, a young female punk walked into the bar where they were meeting, and drank out of a bottle. Michael asked why women thought they had to dress up and behave like men to get liberated, and said these young women didn’t know they were born! His grandmother and mother had lived very hard lives, but they came through it and bettered themselves while retaining their femininity. “My mother always made sure that she dressed nicely and kept her appearance and femininity throughout” (or words to that effect). Nevertheless, Xavier thought Michael was definitely in favour of equality.

Michael had a fierce hatred of Thatcher. He was a champion of the working classes, and Xavier thinks he would have voted Labour.

Xavier and the others knew of Michael’s depression. He told them he could go for weeks on end just not wanting to join the rest of the world, and that at one time he’d had to drop out of a project in the early stages, because he just couldn’t force himself to go to the studio. He also said that making and listening to music soothed him.

Xavier was out of the country and hadn’t seen Michael for about a year when he heard of his death. The whole group were very upset.
In this epic science fantasy drama, Michael Gothard was eventually cast as European Space Agency Director, Dr. Bukovsky.

Bukovsky appears in the first half of the film, directing investigations into three transparent caskets containing naked aliens, found on the burned-out remains of the joint US/European Shuttle, Churchill.

In trying to rescue a security guard who is having the lifeforce sucked out of him by a newly-awakened female alien, Bukovsky is also attacked, by “the most overwhelmingly feminine presence” he has ever experienced.

He is later involved in the astronaut Carlsen’s debrief, but - having been drained of some of his lifeforce, and distressed by the loss of control - he never really recovers.

Having announced the arrival of the alien spaceship in earth orbit, he suggests that - like the vampires of legend - these space vampires are bringing their earth with them,
Bukovsky isn’t seen again.

He is later said to have died “like the rest”, though in the absence of evidence, it is tempting to think that he might have just gone for a quiet smoke and a lie down!

The film divides opinion, with reviews ranging from the “so bad it’s good” variety to “flawed genius”, with Jungian and Freudian readings, and suggestions that this was a parable about AIDS.

The film won the 1985 Caixa de Catalunya for Best Special Effects (John Dykstra), and was nominated for the 1986 Saturn Awards for Best Horror Film, and Best Special Effects.


Casting

Michael’s friend Sean McCormick tells of how, when he last saw Michael, “he had just lost the lead role in the Toby Hooper film 'Space Vampires' [released as 'Life Force' on June 21, 1985] to American actor Steve Railsback, and it crushed him. I think it was one of the straws on the camel's back that started his six or seven year darkness.”

Former girlfriend, N.B remembers, “I think there was talk about Michael getting another part in that film Lifeforce. I am pretty sure he talked about the crooked ways in which people (actors) got shuffled about and got made redundant or put to minor roles than was originally foreseen. He was angry, but didn't want to do anything about it. He hated going to places where you could socialise with directors and producers. He wasn't that kind of a person who wanted to ingratiate himself in order to get a job.”

Per an uncredited contributor to IMDB, Anthony Hopkins and Terence Stamp were the original choices to play Colonel Caine. Michael Gothard screen-tested for the role, but after meeting Peter Firth, director Tobe Hooper decided to give Firth the role, and gave Michael the role of Dr. Bukovsky instead.

A.S., the daughter of one of Michael’s close friends, confirms that both roles were supposed to have been on the cards for Michael.

"I don't remember if Michael talked to me about it, or to my father while I was around, but I remember that Michael was supposed to get the role of either the Commander of the mission [a role that went to Steve Railsback] or Colonel Caine [eventually played by Peter Firth], but was shuffled into the less important role of Dr Bukovsky.

He didn't blame the other actors at all, but ‘the business’: the producers, and the fact that actors had to play the political game - 'prostitute themselves', as he put it - to get on. He hated that actors had to go to parties, and stitch other actors up. Michael would NOT play the game. He felt actors should be cast on their merits, but that now they had become pawns, and talent didn't count for much.

I'm only surprised he didn't pull out, but perhaps his contract made that impossible, otherwise he would have no hesitation in telling a producer where to go. I’m sure the disappointment over that film helped push him further away from acting."

~~

Michael had worked with Peter Firth before, on "Arthur of the Britons", where Firth guest-starred as Corin in "The Pupil."

Personal statement

In correspondence with Belsizepark, Mathilda May, who played the alien vampire girl, (and was supposedly embarrassed by the film), says of Michael Gothard: "I remember him as a lovely person; a gentleman ..."

Watch on Youtube

IMDB entry
In ‘Lytton’s Diary’, Peter Bowles plays a London gossip columnist, investigating the lives of the rich and powerful.

This episode, 'Daddy’s Girls', was broadcast on 16 January 1985.

Per. DVD talk: "Neville Lytton is now the gossip Diary Editor of The Daily News. He spends the day with his estranged wife, Catherine, and Laura, his girlfriend, is not amused. Meanwhile, on the work front, Lytton aims to find out if a merchant banker who disapproves of his daughter's relationship with a record producer, has something in his past that he is trying to hide."

Michael Gothard plays the record producer - and, as it turns out, drug dealer - Jake Cutler, who is seeing little rich girl Belinda Phillips. However, Lytton ends up investigating Belinda’s father, so Jake very soon disappears from the story.

The episode was directed by Peter Sasdy, who also directed Michael in 'The Sweet Scent of Death', and the two pilot episodes of ‘Arthur of the Britons,’ ('Arthur is Dead' and 'Daughter of the King').

Peter Sasdy said of Michael Gothard: ‘I thought of him as a very interesting actor, with strong personality and in the right part he’d always give a good performance.’

Peter Bowles, creator and star of ‘Lytton’s Diary’, had appeared with Michael as greasy chieftain Hecklar in ‘Rowena’ (‘Arthur of the Britons’ episode).

Screencaps

Lytton's Diary (3) Lytton's Diary (5)

There is a scene where Jake and Belinda attend a society party.
Read more... )

Series review on DVD talk

Watch extracts, including Michael Gothard's scenes as Jake Cutler on Youtube.

IMDB entry
“Scarecrow and Mrs. King, which ran on CBS from 1983 to 1987 may well be the only bona fide hit spy show of the entire decade, making it a fairly important entry in the canon of spy TV. It’s taken a long time to appear on DVD, sought after by nostalgic fans and by curious viewers like me, who missed it in its day …it’s a lot of fun!”

full article at Double O section

Filming

The series often used unusual locations. Episode seven of series 2, “Our Man in Tegernsee”, is set in Munich, and in Tegernsee, a small ski and spa resort town near Munich, on the Germany/Austria border. Tegernsee is one of several small towns on the shore of Lake Tegernsee, amid the Bavarian Alps.

According to Michael’s former girlfriend, N.B., who accompanied him, this episode must have been filmed in late spring or early summer 1984, as it was quite soon after they first met.

Michael’s role

Michael Gothard once again plays a villain: a neo-Nazi from Paraguay, Karl Portillo.

Having found some old counterfeiting plates, Portillo intends to go through with an old Nazi plot to undermine the US currency, by flooding the market with fake US dollars. His neo-Nazi friends in Paraguay are hoping to come to power as a result of his activities.

But Mueller, who originally led him to the plates, has been spending some of the counterfeit money before the time is right, and drawn the attention of the German authorities, as well as that of American agent, Scarecrow, whose partner, Mrs King, was passed some of the counterfeit notes.

Another of Portillo’s associates, US agent, Harry Hollinger, kills Mueller for his incompetence, but says he needs Portillo’s help to get rid of Scarecrow.

They lure Scarecrow to an isolated sawmill, intending to kill him. But Scarecrow has brought back-up in the form of local police Lt. Volkenauer, and Portillo is out-gunned, and gives himself up.

He tries to persuade Volkenhauer that they are both on the same side, because they are both German, but Volkenhauer says he has enjoyed foiling Portillo’s plot, and arresting him.

Lt. Volkenauer was played by Stuart Wilson, who had recently appeared with Michael in “Ivanhoe”, in which he played the Norman lord Maurice de Bracy, and Michael played Athelstane.

Trivia from IMDB

In Germany, this episode has not been aired on TV due to its plot around the Nazis and their WW2 treasure. It only has been made available with the German 2011 DVD edition of season 2, still with German subtitles only instead of the usual German audio synchronization.

Series background

“A housewife, Mrs. King, is handed a package by a secret agent, Lee Stetson, who is being pursued by bad guys. Mrs. King gets a job working for Mr. Stetson's agency, doing secretarial work, as needed, but ends up working with him on his cases. She is not really accepted by agent Francine Desmond, because she has no training and has a self-deprecating, ditsy style, which adds to the humor in the show. She is accepted by the other agents.”

full article at TV.com

Watch on Youtube

NB. Michael appears in parts 2 and 4.

part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4
part 5

IMDB entry
This production was filmed in 1984, though it was not released until 1988.

Per. Michael's former girlfriend N.B., they went to Copenhagen in September 1984.

"That's where Michael was filming for several weeks. I was accompanying him, and met the people on the set, i.e. Chris Lemmon and Lea Thompson. Lemmon flew in only shortly. Copenhagen was the only place he went to for this film. The parts in the USA were made without him."
Former girlfriend N.B. mentioned that during the time she was with him, 1984 - 87, Michael had jammed with fellow musicians, including Clive Bell.

In answer to my questions about these times, Clive had this to say:

"For about a year or so, Mike, myself, and a few others, used to meet for jam sessions, where we attempted to play jazz; it was very amateurish. We never played outside the
house.

Mike used to play the sax, and sometimes the flute, while I played the piano.

Later, Mike found other more experienced or professional musicians, and for a while even studied jazz with the bass player Peter Ind. But after our first brief moments we never played music together again, although we were friends, and remained so until his death."
N.B., a former girlfriend of Michael’s, was kind enough to talk to me, and answer some questions. Here is what she told me:

I was amazed at hearing about your project. I am sure Michael would have been even more surprised to find people still honouring his work as an actor some twenty years later. He wouldn't feel he was worth the trouble.

How/where did I meet Michael

I got to know Michael on a crisp spring Sunday morning in 1984 in the “brasserie Dome”1 in Hampstead. He sat there having his cappuccino and reading the Sunday paper. I was having breakfast with a friend of mine. I was living in London as an au-pair, and so was my friend; we cherished our fee day away from the family where we lived and worked.

My friend knew Michael, because he had taken her out for dinner some weeks previously and she said hello to him across the tables. She pointed out who he was and I immediately recognised him thanks to his glasses. They were the ones he wore in the Bond film “For Your Eyes Only.”
Read more... )
The following piece was added to ‘Wikipedia talk’ on 17 November 2011 at 13:53 by someone calling themselves The Runewriter - evidently a Swedish person, sex unknown.

A lot of what they say about Michael is accurate, and not widely known, so The Runewriter had clearly met him, and got to know him. Michael’s former girlfriend N.B. thinks the person might be a Swedish woman called Kerstin, who was living at Michael’s house in Shirlock Road in 1984.

However, some of what The Runewriter says cannot be confirmed.

“In the spring of 1984, Michael Gothard came to Stockholm to stage a minor role in a film called ‘Starman’, where he was originally cast for the title role. However, due to some intrigues, he was replaced by Jeff Bridges.

In the film you can see that the mechanical dolls, supposed to show the Starman taking the shape of a human being, are based on Michael Gothard’s traits. He would have been perfect to embody this alienated personality trying to survive by adapting to the life on earth.

Instead he was to stage a researcher in wheelchair. Anyway the film a year later was promoted with Michael Gothard’s name in capital letters, as if he still was playing one of the leading characters.1

So he had a lot of hours off in Stockholm and went to a performance of ‘King Lear’ staged by Ingmar Bergman at the Dramatic Theatre.2

Michael Gothard was an intellectual man who knew his Shakespeare by heart, and probably he was the only one in the film team who bothered to attend a theatre performance in Swedish. I happened to sit behind him and got the whole story about ‘Starman’, and it really astonished me.

I visited Michael Gothard in London, and learned to know him as a warm, intelligent and humorous character that made original remarks and comments about things going on.

I will never forget what he said about the centre of Stockholm, that used to be a place with old houses – among them palaces from the 17th and 18th centuries. When Michel saw the brutal city renewal from the 70s he would go: "I didn't think Sweden was in the war!" I had to inform him that the stupid Swedes had destroyed their city.

Talking about war, Michael told me he had suffered through the Blitz as many other Londoners, but during those – also to grown-ups scaringly dark years – he was parted from his parents.

Michael Gothard, although working for the commercial film industry, was a culturally critical person, he was a member of the peace movement, he was against nuclear power and politically leftist.

A film he recommended to me from those times was ‘My Dinner with Andre’, not interesting for its camerawork, but for its way of explaining the social situations of actors.

He told me that he in the beginning of his career had been offered a job at RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company), and I asked why he hadn't tried this, and I must say I never really understood his answer; it was something about not repeating yourself.
But I thought film actors had to repeat the scenes all the time ...

Before Michael Gothard chose to work with his language as an actor, he had also volunteered as journalist at local papers.3

He was a witty and funny letter writer.

Michael Gothard was a multi-talented person, he played the saxophone, he was also sketching what I remember as abstract pictures, and he closely followed his times, describing himself as a news addict.

Coming from a country famous for its suicides, I also want to add, that of course the cause of death throws its shadow on a person’s life, but it doesn't mean that the life itself was a very dark one. At least Michael and I had a lot of fun together, and I wish our friendship had lasted longer.

What also bothers me are some stories about the less serious parts of the film industry Michael told me. He said actors could sometimes get killed and their death then masked as a suicide or an accident, so they wouldn't have to pay the actor.

Anyway, if he took his life it wasn't an action against us that loved him, it was due to very sad and tragic circumstances. Depression is a disease with as big a risk of death as some severe forms of cancer, and it has to be treated by specialists, sometimes even in hospital. What a tragedy that there was no one there to take him by the hand and lead him to the hospital.”

~~

1 While the mechanical bodies could be said to look like Michael, there is no sign of him in the film. Either his role was cut completely, or there has been a misunderstanding or misremembering by The Runewriter. I can find no trace of Michael Gothard’s name on the Swedish poster for “Starman.”

However, Michael was said to have been in the frame for two other roles in “Lifeforce”: those of the hero, Col. Tom Carlsen (eventually played by Steve Railsback) and Col. Colin Caine (eventually played by Peter Firth) before he was eventually cast as Dr. Bukovsky.

As they posted this many years later, it seems possible that The Runewriter's memory is a little unreliable, and that he or she has got these two films mixed up.

Neither of the two productions were filmed in Sweden, so presumably Michael had gone there during a break in, or at the end of, the filming of his scenes in "Lifeforce."

2 The Ingmar Bergman production of King Lear mentioned by The Runewriter was first performed on 9 March 1984.

3 Childhood friend Baz encountered Michael working as a trainee reporter for the Kensington Post in 1961.
I managed to contact one of Michael's former tenants, Malcolm, who had this to say:

"Yes, I am that person who lived at Michael’s house in Hampstead. He was a landlord at that time and took people into his house on a rental basis. I was in the house for about a year. Michael didn’t interfere with his tenants except when the rent was required. He wasn’t overly concerned if you couldn’t pay the months rent, provided it was paid the next month.

I found him to be an intelligent man.

He had the top floor, and I remember he had a stunning looking girlfriend. I sometimes spoke to his girlfriend, [M.T.] but was in awe of her beauty and I recall her as a very nice person.

I seem to recall seeing into his flat on one occasion, and I think it featured a large bed under some skylights, with spectacular views of the British weather.

Michael had a female friend who lived up the road and who was into collecting magic mushrooms on Hampstead Heath.

I remember the house had a back garden that was accessed by the ground floor flat at the back. The house had 3 flats on the lower floor. Lots of the tenants were actors/actresses. The garden flat was occupied by a starlet on one of the soap operas, and the other room by a musician.

I had to leave, after Michael and I had a fight. One Sunday, I heard screaming from a woman in the house opposite the back garden in Shirlock Road. It sounded like she was being beaten by somebody.

I was leaving the house to see if she needed help, when I bumped into Michael who advised not getting involved. However, I ignored this advice and went round the corner, to find the police had already arrived.

I was returning to Shirlock Road when Michael approached me and was very upset I had ignored his advice. He pushed me, and I hit him and nearly knocked him out.

The next thing I knew, the police had arrested me for assault and asked Michael whether he wanted to proffer charges.

Although he had a swollen and cut lip, he declined, and I was freed.

He was a big man and somewhat intimidating; the reason I won the fight was that I was earning my living as a building labourer, and was extremely strong and tough – sadly no longer the case!

That evening, M.T. came to see me, and advised that I should leave the house.

The next morning, I packed.

This is a bizarre incident, and to this day I don’t know why Michael was so upset at me trying to help what sounded like a woman in distress."

~~

Michael had already amicably split up with M.T. by this point; she still lived in the same house, but N.B. was Michael's girlfriend at the time of this incident.

N.B. says: "I can recall this incident with Michael and Malcolm, as it happened when I was with him. I think this story about some people having fights in his neighbourhood was not new. I remember that there were incidents of a similar kind. And I think he had interfered once himself, and it hadn't been a very good idea.

That's probably why he was suggesting that this young guy should better not get involved. Maybe he was just concerned about the consequences for someone in his house and he probably was also a bit angry that the man in question didn't take his advice. It is typical for Michael that he didn't want to sue him afterwards.

I think he wasn't too upset, but thought of the young man as being a bit rash. But as you know, he always had a lot of patience with youngsters."
In 1981, American Cinematographer interviewed Arthur Wooster, Second Unit Director, and Director of Photography on ‘For Your Eyes Only.’ He told them about the second unit work, including how the stuntmen worked with Michael Gothard for the car chase in the tunnel. Some extracts from the interview appear below.

The Second Unit Has All the Fun
By ARTHUR WOOSTER, BSC.


In a film boasting "wall-to-wall action", much of that action - both in and under the water-took place in front of second unit cameras.

As Second Unit Director and Director of Photography on the latest James Bond movie, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, I constantly found myself in situations where much of the action was. Our Second Unit shot the following sequences: the three car chase, the climbing sequence, the underwater fight between Bond and Melina and JIM at a depth of 600 feet, the underwater fight between Bond's submarine and the Mantis (a small, one-man submarine), part of the keel-hauling sequence to cut in with Al Giddings' material shot in the Bahamas, the Front and End Title sequences (directed by Maurice Binder).

The hectic car chase sequence involved a tiny Citroen 2CV being chased by two powerful Peugeots. Bond and Melina, the leading lady, are in the 2VC and the two Peugeots are much faster. Therefore, the only way they can get away and survive is by being very clever and very "Bondish".

We had Remy Julienne, who was the French stunt-car coordinator, with his team and two sons driving the stunt-cars …

The whole sequence was shot on Corfu, and John Glen and I went on a recce and planned the sequence, which was storyboarded when we got back to England. This is what happened on all of the sequences we shot …

Towards the end of the sequence the 2CV has to jump one of the Peugeots, hit the roof and then carry on down. Remy built a very long ramp and actually started on the hill side, working out very, very carefully, almost to the millimetre, exactly where the car would land and from where it would take off. Every car stunt he arranged was planned to such a degree of accuracy that we never had any problems about choosing camera positions, as he could tell us to an inch where everything was going to happen.

… As far as camera speeds were concerned, we varied the camera speeds all the time, but not very much-the cars were going fast enough not to have to under-crank much to make them look fast.

We had another car chase sequence which takes place after Bond and his party have raided a warehouse at night and the "baddie" gets away in a car with Bond chasing on foot up steps to try to cut him off in a maze of zig-zag bends ...

One of the problems with this particular sequence was that the tunnels through which the car had to drive were extremely narrow and the driver, Michael Gothard, who is the actor, drove the car himself. This was necessary because we were shooting at night and I was lighting it so that we could clearly see the actor.

He had to drive very fast through these tunnels – he was terrified and we were terrified – but he did it marvellously and only scraped the sides of the car occasionally. Remy Julienne practiced with him driving and I think Remy was quite scared being driven by Michael. They slowly got faster and faster going through these tunnels and Remy built up some of the corners of the edges of the tunnels, so that as he went round the corners the wheels went up on the bits of concrete and helped him to get round the corners faster.

Finally they all arrive at the top and Bond shoots at the car hitting Michael in the shoulder. The car goes into a brick wall and finally Bond kicks him over into the sea.

We had a lot of bad weather shooting this sequence-it rained constantly so we had to try and shoot the material inside the tunnel when it was raining and when it stopped we would rush outside and shoot the exteriors.

The sequence was supposed to happen just before dawn and Alan Hume had lit the main part of the sequence down below in the warehouse, where they have the shoot-out, for night. I lit with Brutes and Sun-Guns and odd bits of lighting to try and make it progress, so that as they got to the top of the steps it was dawn and there was enough light to be able to show the car going over the cliff …
The quotation is from Roger Moore's autobiography, "My Word is my Bond."

"… perhaps the most important henchman, as far as my portrayal of Bond is concerned, was Michael Gothard. He played Locque and his demise changed the way I played Bond.

In the story, Locque had killed my ally, Ferrara, leaving his calling card of a pin badge in the shape of a white dove. Bond later chased Locque’s car on foot, and after a few well-aimed shots from my faithful Walther PPK, forced the car off the road and into a cliff-top wall. There, delicately balanced on the edge of the cliff, Locque looked to Bond for help.

The script said Bond was to ‘toss the dove pin at Locque and then kick the car hard to force it over the cliff.’ I said that my Bond wouldn’t do that. It would be far better, I reasoned, if in tossing the badge in I caused Locque to move, thus unsettling the balance of the car, and sending him over that way.

John Glen was adamant that this man had killed my friend and now I should show my anger and a more ruthless side to my character. It didn’t sit happily with me, so we compromised – I tossed the badge in and gave the car a not-so-hard kick to topple it.

Many critics and Bond-experts have highlighted that scene as being an important one in the evolution of Bond on film. So maybe I was wrong?"
Memory from Michael's friend Sean McCormick.

I saw Oliver Reed's (one of my favorite British actors) name, and it immediately brought back to mind an amusing and inebriated lunch with Michael Gothard in the Executive dining room at E.M.I. Studios.

Michael had us in stitches with his description of a typical luncheon with his friend and co-star Oliver Reed, and Reed’s at-the-time co-star, Klaus Kinski. Reed and Kinski were shooting ‘Venom’1 and Michael was wrapping the Bond film2 at Pinewood.

Michael spoke of the absolute hatred Reed and Kinski had for one another: the war, pure and simple. Kinski would order his meat (beef) raw, because he ate it that way, and – mostly – because he knew Reed hated it. Sorry for the profanity, but the following exchange, which Michael recounted, is word for word.

Reed: You absolutely disgust me, you heathen.
Kinski: Shut up you English pig! I hate you!
Reed: You vile Nazi!
Kinski: I hate you, you English sheeet!
Reed: I thought we had killed all of your kind in the war.
Kinski: [smacking his full mouth of raw meat] Fuck you English! I hate all of you Engliiiish pigs!
Reed: Then why don't you just fucking go home, you Nazi c**t!

According to Michael, this was not an isolated event, in fact it was daily, and on the set of ‘Venom.’ Things were so bad that they had to change the script and schedule so Reed and Kinski had as little time together as possible.

Michael's telling of the tale was the best, and one that should have been filmed for sure! Michael got a big kick out of telling that story; he would look at you over the top of his glasses and get the funniest look on his face!

~~

1 ‘Venom’ was released in November 1981. Klaus Kinski played a hostage-taker Jacques Müller and Oliver Reed played his accomplice Dave Averconnelly.

2 ‘For Your Eyes Only’, in which Michael Gothard played Emile Leopold Locque, released June 1981.
John Glen in “For My Eyes Only – My Life with James Bond.”

“Debbie [McWilliams – the casting director] found Michael Gothard, whom we cast as the assassin, Locque. Michael was a captivating actor, perfect to play an inscrutable and ruthless killer. He suggested that Locque should wear the thick octagonal glasses that somehow made him appear even more sinister.”

Profiles of the character Michael Gothard played, Emile Leopold Locque can be found here.

.
Warrior Queen was a short historical drama series about Queen Boudicca’s struggle against the Roman occupation. Michael Gothard plays her tribe’s Druid priest Volthan. The Romans have been trying to wipe out the Druids, who were a major thorn in their side, so Volthan has his own reasons for encouraging Boudicca not to give in to their increasingly unreasonable demands for tribute.

Michael is once again cast as a religious leader – some might say ‘fanatic.’ His physical abilities are under-used in this series, where most of the fight scenes are portrayed by still photography. However, he does have some poignant scenes, notably one where he learns of a massacre of his fellow Druids.

The first of the six half-hour episodes aired on Monday 20 Feb 1978.

Patti Love also stars as one of Boudicca’s daughters, Tasca. She had earlier appeared in the minor role of Gladwyn in the ‘Arthur of the Britons’ episode, ‘Rolf the Preacher.’

Researcher Aileen McClintock wrote to some of Michael Gothard’s fellow actors, including Siân Phillips, who played Boudicca, but they could not really tell her anything on the grounds that Michael kept ‘himself to himself’ and didn’t really mix with fellow actors.

Another actor from that series, Darien Angadi, who played Kuno, hanged himself, in 1984.


Reviews:

Greg Jameson on Entertainment Focus


Warrior Queen is shot almost entirely on location, which benefits the production in providing a sense of realism and space … Especially commendable is the innovative use of still photography to depict battle scenes – though they should have gone the whole hog as the choreographed fight sequences are woefully unconvincing.

Interestingly, there’s plenty of blood and direct violence that ends up on screen, including a Druid sacrifice of a bird. Burnt skulls and nightmarish sequences suggest Warrior Queen was aimed at an adult audience.

… The costumes for the tribe of Iceni and the druid Volthan (the late Michael Gothard, probably best remembered as a sidekick baddie in the Bond movie For Your Eyes Only) make a good fist at historical accuracy, though they are predictably far too clean …
In visuals and performances, Warrior Queen is very close to open-air theatre, and completely alien to any drama that may appear contemporarily on the airwaves. Whilst it may not be slick and entirely convincing, Warrior Queen nevertheless unravels a good yarn over two and a half hours of television without patronising the viewer, and assuming a basic working knowledge of Roman history …

The overall verdict is that Warrior Queen is a solid if slightly overambitious serial. What it loses in production values it makes up for in the stellar cast. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable curiosity from the late 1970s, and a decent if flawed stab at bringing a Roman historical drama to the screen.

Full review.


Movie Mail

A spectacular six-part series that brings to life the valiant yet doomed attempt by Boudicca, the widowed Queen of the Iceni tribe of East Anglia, to wrest power from the Romans in first-century Britain. Produced by Ruth Boswell (Timeslip, Tightrope, Shadows), Warrior Queen stars Siân Phillips as the fearless Celtic queen, Nigel Hawthorne as Catus Decianus, the rapacious Roman Procurator, and Michael Gothard as Druid priest Volthan.

Full review.


IMDB entry
Walking along Shirlock Road, I had a chance meeting with a lady who turned out to be a friend, and former neighbour of Michael Gothard’s. I introduced myself as a fan.

She said Michael was “a really nice guy”, and that she'd had no idea, until after his death, that he’d suffered from depression.

She remembered when he and M.T. got married, though she did not think any official ceremony had taken place.

In correspondence, she said:

“As far as I remember (and please be aware that my memories are vague, and may not be accurate!) he moved in shortly after us, in 1978.

One certain memory I have is of him telling me that psychotherapy was not a science, and that made it inexact; he appeared to have little time for it.

This conversation was held next door, when he was briefly seeing my (now late) great friend, Ann Sachs.

He did always appear morose, although courteous and pleasant. He was nice to my two children … they were very young at the time.

He definitely became much happier and more communicative after he got together with M.T. She was a beautiful person in every way. We all liked her. In fact, he asked me to a sort-of post-wedding party in his house, and it was very jolly.

Then I'm afraid my memory goes blank.

I became aware that they split up, and M.T. moved away.1 Shortly after (I really don't know how long), he committed suicide. I only found out some time (weeks) later, and felt very sad. I had no idea he was so unhappy."


1 From the electoral rolls, this would seem to have been around 1990.
See entry on "The Three Musketeers" for background information.

In "The Four Musketeers", Michael Gothard's character, Felton, is charged by the Duke of Buckingham (Simon Ward) with guarding Milady de Winter (Faye Dunaway), because Buckingham mistakenly believes Felton to be impervious to beauty.

Milady convinces Felton that Buckingham is secretly a Catholic, and therefore his enemy, and that she, on the other hand, is of his persuasion; then she seduces him, and persuades him to help her escape.

Still under Milady’s spell, Felton then kills Buckingham, and is immediately apprehended.

Michael Gothard’s performance here, as a righteous man, being gradually lured to his destruction by a manipulative woman, is subtle and compelling.

Asked what Michael considered his best performance, his friend from the 1980s, Sean McCormick, said “I think [Michael] thought that his best work was the ‘Three Musketeers’ or at least it was the best film he had done.” [Presumably he was still thinking of the two films as if they were one.]

Reviews

DVD Savant – Glenn Erickson


“As D'Artagnan's sidekick, Lester brought along faithful stalwart Roy Kinnear. A blinkered producing decision might have signed up someone like Benny Hill, and thrown the picture off balance. Even a 2nd string role was filled by Michael Gothard (Scream and Scream Again), another clever choice instead of a commercial one.”

Full review

Krell Laboratories

“Dunaway gets the showiest role in the film as the most fatal of femme fatales. She gets an entire sequence to herself to corrupt the puritan gaoler [Felton, played by Michael Gothard] provided her by Buckingham and, boy howdy, does she make the most of it.”
Full review


Review on “Audio Video Revolution”

IMDB entry

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October 2013

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