In the here! movie Tides of War, actor Adrian Paul—who is probably best known for his lead role as Duncan MacLeod on the '90s TV series Highlander and subsequent Highlander movies—plays Commander Frank Habley, a gay Navy veteran who leads the crew of a submarine that is being stalked by another ship. However, Habley also has to deal with the sudden death of his partner, fellow officer Tom Palatonio ( played by Mike Doyle ) .
Paul recently talked with Windy City Times and shared his views on nude scenes, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and Charlton Heston.
Windy City Times: How did you find out about Tides of War? What interested you about the script?
Adrian Paul: This was a different type of story, and I liked that. I first heard about it in Budapest; my manager called me and said, 'There's a script and they're interested in you. They're shooting in Hawaii in a few weeks. Let me know what you think.'
WCT: So it was shooting in Hawaii that [ attracted ] you. [ Laughs ]
AP: [ Laughs ] Yeah, it was shooting there. No, I really liked that material.
WCT: Did you have much military knowledge or training before filming?
AP: No, I didn't. I did go on a nuclear sub and [ conducted ] some research. Being on the sub was an eye-opener; we shot on a set that was bigger that an actual submarine. There is usually only about 6ƈ' [ height ] clearance, and bathrooms for 110 men are about 9 by 10 feet square.
There was a guy about 6ƌ', and he walked around bent over the whole time. Why would you do a job where you're constantly in pain because you're constantly bent over?
WCT: I have to say that Matt Battaglia [ who plays Chief of the Boat 'Dizzy' Malone ] seemed to have the most thankless job in the movie, because he had to repeat everything your character said.
AP: [ Laughs ] We actually cut out a lot of stuff, but that's what happens: The commander says something and it's repeated over and over again.
WCT: What are your thoughts about Don't Ask, Don't Tell?
AP: That was one of the reasons I did the movie. It's the same thing with immigrants; they're [ vital ] to any country and do a service, but they're [ sometimes ] not allowed to have political, sexual or religious beliefs—and I believe that's wrong. Discharging people because of their sexual beliefs is an archaic system; that [ policy ] interested me because now there are commanders who have come out after being under scrutiny for many years. I think that things will change, eventually. In some other countries, [ officers ] just care about you doing the job correctly.
WCT: Getting back to the movie, Hal Sparks of TV's Queer As Folk told Windy City Times that love scenes are like 'simulating sex with a cousin on a dining room table at Thanksgiving.' [ Paul laughs. ] How comfortable were you with your nude scene and with same-sex kissing?
AP: I'll be honest because it was the first time I'd ever done that: It is much like he described, but it's a role you play. We did that scene in a couple of hours, and then it was over. It was strange to do because I had never filmed a sequence like that.
WCT: And when you know you have a nude scene coming up, I imagine you work out more.
AP: Actually, I'm in better shape now than I was then. I work out using martial arts every day because I've gone back into studying. I rarely go to the gym; I do martial arts—it's more spiritual for me. [ When doing martial arts, ] you do a lot of calisthenics, cardio and strength exercises that work different muscles. I like being in shape, so I don't want to go, 'Oh, God. I have to go to the gym for the next three weeks.'
Right now, I'm taking Shaolin kung fu, with Shaolin priests. This is rather drastic; we beat up trees and walk on our hands down steep steps—things like that.
WCT: How often do people recognize you from Highlander?
AP: It depends where I am. I just shot a movie in the South, and a lot of people recognized me; in California, not so much. It depends on where it aired and how long it was on. In France, Russia and eastern Europe, it's very, very big.
WCT: In the '80s, you were on [ the Dynasty spin-off ] the Colbys. You met people like Charlton Heston and Barbara Stanwyck.
AP: I met Barbara once or twice, and I met Charlton, Stephanie Beacham, Ricardo Montalban...there were a lot of people on that show. That was pretty much my entry into Hollywood, and I was very star-struck at the time. I still get star-struck on occasion; I'm relatively shy when it comes to things like that.
WCT: What do you have going on now?
AP: I've got a couple of movies coming up, including The Heavy, with Christopher Lee. There are also a lot of projects I'm working on right now, because I'm also writing and producing.
The here! movie Tides of War co-stars Matt Battaglia ( Queer As Folk ) , Matthew St. Patrick ( Six Feet Under ) and Catherine Dent ( The Shield ) . Check local listings for dates and times.