31 December 2008, 10:59
Richard Wilson’s curiosity was aroused when his agent called about the role of Father Simeon…
“My first thought was, ‘I’ve never played a zombie priest!’ laughs Richard. “And to be honest I never thought I would be offered the chance to play a zombie priest either. I suppose that’s the thing about acting - you never know what is going to come along. I read the script and thought it was rather intriguing; how do you approach playing someone who has been alive for possibly a thousand years? You just look very old and bedraggled, it turns out.”
But Father Simeon isn’t the traditional B-movie zombie, as Richard explains: “He is a good guy really, he sees that Luke is the last surviving Van Helsing and he wants to help him as much as he can. He has been very close to the Van Helsing family in the past and Luke represents that so he is quite happy to give him advice and lend him artefacts. The only sticking point is that he really doesn’t like Galvin, because of the circumstances of Jay Van Helsing’s death – but you will learn more about that as the series goes on.
“Simeon is pretty sinister really; he never leaves the ancient church where he has lived, surrounded by the dead, for hundreds of years. In fact the church where we filmed, St Bartholomew the Great, was a wonderful location; it is a really beautiful church hidden away by Smithfield’s market.”
Despite playing a zombie, Richard’s character did not end the series in the happiest way: “My character has been alive for a long time, and so he constantly has a fly swat on him - because he is basically dead skin and flesh. There is a lot of swatting; in one episode I seem to spend most of my time just swatting at bugs. Father Simeon does end up with a rather nasty death scene in which thousands of spiders come out of my mouth as I lie dead in the church. But, of course, being one of the ‘undead’ he could always find ways of coming back. I absolutely think Simeon would have means of reinventing himself and coming back.”
Richard continues: “In the finished programme I have to look very pale and emaciated so the make up was a key element to make me look gaunt and unwell. I also had a long wig again and a very dusty old cassock with spiders crawling all over – which the character doesn’t even realise are there!”
Richard’s role in Demons isn’t his only foray into the fantasy or sci-fi genre, he has also recently appeared in both Doctor Who and Merlin. So is the actor now a fan of the genre?
“Well I am certainly becoming one. The genre is obviously quite prevalent at the moment in film and on television, and it’s getting better and better. There’s a wonderful comic industry out there of sci-fi stuff, and the illustrations are brilliant. I have dabbled in buying science fiction books and there are also some science fiction comics I buy occasionally.”
Last updated: 31 December 2008, 10:59