Talking to Anthony DeLongis
By Jan Lopreste
JL: How long have you been a student of the sword yourself, and what
techniques did you learn first?
AD: I was a drama major in college and pretty uncomfortable with
my physical instrument. I thought fencing would be a good thing for an
actor to know. I took a gym class from Coach Muriel Bower, an Olympic Team
thought I had potential and invited me to join the fencing team. I became
a sabre fencer and competed in the Collegiate National Championships three
times, winning the Western Intercollegiate Sabre Team title my senior
It was during this time that I met one of the two great teachers in my
life, Master Ralph Faulkner, known affectionately to his students as
"The Boss." I had the pleasure to study with Ralph and his
assistant Nick Evangelista, author of "The Encyclopedia of the
Sword" and "The Art and Science of Fencing," for about
twelve years. Nick did me the great honor of asking me to write the
forward to "The Art and Science of Fencing" and dedicated his
third book, "Stick-fighting," to me. Master Faulkner continues
to be an inspiration. He made a profound difference both in what I teach
and in how I
teach. He taught three days a week until two weeks before he died at the
age of ninety-four!
JL: What are your favorites?
AD: My favorite sword forms are western sabre, rapier and
broadsword as well as the art of the Japanese katana. It was the precision
and beauty of the katana work in Kurosawa's "Yojimbo" and
"Sanjuro" as well as other Japanese
samurai films that first attracted me to choreography.
JL: Did you choose to be the "best" bad guy, or is this
something that just sort of developed as you went along?
AD: What a lovely thing to say. I'm delighted you've enjoyed my
efforts. I try to be the best actor/storyteller I can, they just seem to
like to cast me in the role of the bad guy. It's a mantle I relish because
without a strong adversary to oppose him or her, you can't have a strong
or interesting hero. A hero rises to the level of challenge he must face.
I enjoy making the hero work for it. The villain also offers the
opportunity for more
freedom and style than us ordinary folks usually get in our day to day
lives. However misguided, they have the confidence to make their own rules
and that kind of freedom is attractive to an audience.
JL: The role of Consone in HL - "Duende" was created
especially for you. Tell us how that came to be.
AD: I had hoped to be Sword Master for "The Mask of Zorro." I
had auditioned for the job when Mikael Solomon was to direct and Walter
Scott, who I worked for in "Masters of the Universe," "Bad
Girls," and "The Magnificent Seven," was
to coordinate. Walter told me I was on the team but the production stalled
with the tragic death of acting great Raul Julia. Solomon left the project
and the production team changed. It was back to square one.
I decided to do some more homework and try again. I felt a new style of
fighting would be an exciting addition to the Zorro story. Batman has
gadgets, Zorro must have style. Some friends and I played around with
ideas based on what I'd read about the Spanish training style, "The
Circle." My own studies with the sword and with the Filipino Martial
Arts gave me the keys to translate ideas into action. Spain occupied the
Philippines for nearly four hundred years and the sharing of martial
techniques was inevitable and fascinating. I presented my ideas to
Director Robert Rodriguez and he seemed interested. When asked who my
choreographer was, I responded that I was a great fan of Bob Anderson.
Unfortunately, Robert Rodriguez left the project three days later, but I
was only a little disappointed to see Bob Anderson get the nod as sword
master. I knew I'd have something to look forward to.
But I was determined my ideas shouldn't go to waste. I'd spoken with
David Abramowitz about a second appearance on "Highlander, the
Series." David had been very complimentary about Lyman Kurlow and
"Blackmail." He said if I came up with another story idea, he'd
be willing to listen. I offered him
the distinctive sword stylings of the Mysterious Circle I'd come up with
and wrote a scene about the duel MacLeod loses to a Spanish sword master.
We evolved the back story about the woman who saves him by sacrificing
herself and he gave the ideas to his writing team. Just before I left to
film in Jordan, David called and asked if I'd like to fly to Paris to
guest star on
an episode written especially for me.
I love a happy ending.
JL: Did you think that it would become one of the "Best
AD: As for "Duende" being selected as one of the "best
of --," that was an unlooked-for bonus.
JL: The final fight sequence of "Duende" started in the
daylight and finished in darkness, and rain. Tell us about that ordeal!
AD: Here is an excerpt from an article from the magazine TV Zone
entitled "Parisian Memories" that tells the story pretty well.
FRIDAY (NOV 29) - It rained like hell all day. Director Richard Martin,
Braun and I had traveled to the location the day before. It was a
beautiful park with a mansion on a hilltop overlooking the entire city of
Paris. We picked a spot in front of the fountain but were overruled by the
special effects guys who had chosen a location that better suited their
"the quickening", an essential effect whenever an immortal dies.
So they covered the cobblestones with a platform enclosing the advanced
"Circle" from the training salon. With all the twisting and
turning and the intricate footwork and body torque we were doing we needed
a smooth surface or someone would get hurt. We also emphatically requested
that the platform's surface be texture treated because any dampness would
turn it into an ice rink.
It's a good thing Adrian and I trusted each other and knew what we were
doing. Due to the unrelenting downpour, we spent the entire day
hydroplaning on the surface of the Mysterious Circle. The location had
been chosen because the Eiffel Tower showed in the distant skyline. Not
Visibility was reduced to about fifty feet. The crew looked like the tuna
fleet dressed in yellow slickers and rain hats. Adrian and I braved the
elements in slacks and dress shirts. You don't really see how hard it's
coming down until it's dark and the rain is backlit. It was like that all
day. Someone actually had the nerve to write in and complain that we'd
obviously faked the rain because Adrian and I looked dry. Believe me, we
Twice my feet skidded out from under me and down I went. Splash.
There's a shot in the dailies where I abruptly disappear from frame and a
geyser of water reappears in the space I just vacated. It looked like a
vaudeville routine. Adrian turns to camera and says, "See Bill
(Panzer), it's not raining!" At one point we broke out in a
spontaneous kick line with rapier
and dagger accompaniment to the tune of "Singing in the Rain."
We incorporated a challenging mixture of Renaissance rapier fighting
elements that included multiple intention attacks combining savage thrusts
with subtle withdrawing cuts. This fight has something for everyone, from
the experienced professional to the first time viewer. Braun and I were
very pleased because we put many elements into this fight that we just
hadn't dared to explore on other projects. Braun said our final duel was
the most complex 'one on one' fight in his three year involvement with the
series. It made me proud and very grateful to every member of the team. My
special thanks to Braun for his generosity and eagerness to welcome my
and build them into the fight. Kudos again to Adrian for his skill,
concern for his partner's safety and his unfailing demands for excellence
at every level.
JL: How did you first become associated with your student/partner
Robert Chapin and did you think you would be launching that young man into
his very own fandom?
AD: Robert Chapin is only a student of mine as much as I'm a student of
his. We have our own skills, accomplishments and experiences and we enjoy
sharing and swapping knowledge. That's the best kind of partnership.
Robert and I met over ten years ago when he was performing with his
brother Stuart (the director of the feature film "Deadlock." I
played an evil
television producer in the film) in an evening of stage fights and scenes
called "Ring of Steel" at the Mark Taper Forum. I was directing
scenes from "Rashomon" and "Carmen" and admired Bob's
work in the rest of the show but we didn't work together until the feature
"Sinbad and the Battle of the Dark
Knights," filmed in Jordan. It was quite the adventure and we both
worked our butts off. We had a lot of fun too on some wonderful locations
like Petra and Jerash and even shared a day of scuba diving in the Red Sea
Robert and I combined our skills to teach our "Acting Action"
classes at the world famous Inosanto Martial Arts Academy in Santa Monica.
I was especially honored to be teaching a class at the school of the
second great teacher in my life, Guro Dan Inosanto. He is a great man and
an extraordinary teacher
and I couldn't have taken advantage of the opportunity without Bob's
talent and commitment. Often when my schedule took me out of town, Bob
kept the class going.
Bob is one of the few people in the business whose skill and generosity
I trust enough to improvise sword demonstrations with. When I had an
appearance at a convention and knew Braun wasn't going to be there, Bob
was the natural choice. We've had great success together and he holds his
without me too. Although he was never able to perform on Highlander, the
Series, Braun knew of his talents and had tried to help him get on the
I had a pretty good idea he'd fit into the fan family. He's talented,
tall, good looking, very tall, looks good in a Speedo and he's tall.
What's not to like?
We still work together every chance we get. Bob kindly assisted me on
my latest teaching video, "Broadsword for the Stage and Screen,"
the intermediate to advanced level follow-up to "Rapier for the Stage
and Screen," on which he also appears.
I also had the pleasure of filming a scene with him for his latest
project, an internet action serial called, "The Hunted"
(www.thehunted.tv ). Check it out.
JL: Is there *any* possibility that you would consider hosting another
Sword Spectacular Weekend, maybe closer to the east coast?
AD: I learned from Sean Connery and the Eagles to never say never.
Producing the Sword Spectacular Weekend was the hardest thing I've ever
done. I had huge fun performing and hosting the instruction and the
entertainment. We had
wonderful guests both onstage and in the audience. But I'd need a lot more
help with the details to make it happen again. The work of producing an
event of this size and responsibility takes me away from my career. And of
course it would have to be bigger and better than the last Sword
Spectacular. Our first adventure was such a success, we could never settle
for less than a great time for everyone, could we?
JL: If you could say anything to your fans, what would it be?
AD: A very heart felt thank you! I love the work but it makes a huge
difference when people come up to you and tell you how much enjoyment your
efforts have given them. This can be a grueling lifestyle but having
people take their time to tell you how much your contribution to their
favorite stories has
meant -- well that's a treasure that's beyond price. Thank you.
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