Britt Ekland talks about “The Wicker Man” and playing Bond Girl in “The Man with the Golden Gun”

Britt Ekland is known best for her roles in 1973’s “The Wicker Man” and playing Bond girl in “The Man with the Golden Gun”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Britt about her film work and her experiences working with Christopher Lee and Roger Moore.

Mike Gencarelli: How was the experience working on the film “The Wicker Man”?
Britt Ekland: It was very difficult as I discovered during shooting that I was pregnant. I couldn’t understand why my dress suddenly felt so tight. So, took the night train to London on my day off and went to the doctor for a test. He confirmed that I was pregnant. We had a lot of exterior shooting and, of course, it always had to look sunny and warm, but we worked in October and November so it was quite cold and windy in Scotland. There were a lot of exterior shooting and a lot of walking!

MG: Can you reflect on the cult status the film has developed over the years?
BE: I don’t think any of us, at the time, thought about it, for me it was just another movie and one I hadn’t been very happy doing. But I guess it was the first time, on screen, someonewasn’t saved in the end and I think that had a big impact on the audience.

MG: What did you like most about playing a Bond girl in “The Man with the Golden Gun”?

BE: I so wanted to be a Bond Girl after seeing Ursula Andress in Dr. No and those beautiful locations, that I read the book “The Man with The Golden Gun” and called Cubby Broccoli’s office to see him. I was already an established actressthen. I had dressed as a secretary (this was early 70’s) in a plain skirt, a white blouse and my hair in twist. Cubby said that the script wasn’t finished yet and they based the story more on the title. As I was leaving, Roger More came in and said hello. Very handsome. I had to go to the States to do a movie for 6 weeks and on the plane back to Britain, I read that another Swedish girl had been cast in the new Bond film. I was devastated! As soon as I got home my agent called and said Cubby Broccoli wanted to see me, I naively thought he was going to apologize for me not getting the part. As I waited in his office he suddenly walked in and said you are “Mary Goodnight!” I asked about that other Swedish girl and he said that is Christopher Lee’s girlfriend. I couldn’t have beenhappier meeting and working with Maud Adams, we have been the closest of friends ever since.

MG: How was it working with Roger Moore and Christopher Lee (again)?
BE: When I did the “Wicker Man”, I always found Christopher Lee very quiet and distant, but when we did the Bond Film, I met his Danish wife and we all got on very well together. But he is a very serious man. Roger on the other hand was very friendly and open and great fun to be with, always looking for ways to make us laugh. Roger had his wife and children with him on location. I also had my 2 children, Victoria and Nicholai, with me.

MG: How did you feel being dubbed in the role?
BE: Yes I was dubbed in the “Wicker Man”n even though I did my own dubbing in a Scottish accent, obviously they didn’t like it. As an actress I think that is probably the worst thing that can happen to you and I was very unhappy about it.

MG: Can you reflect on your experience in the show “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!”?
BE: I was asked 2 years earlier to do the show but I wasn’t mentally ready to do it. It takes a lot of strength to “just be yourself” and not act. I also have a one-woman show and I wanted the exposure that a show like Get Me Out… gives. Even young boys on their bikes knew who I was, when I came out, amazing! To actually be in the show was quite boring as there is nothing to do all day, unless you have a task, and the rainforest set is quite small and you weren’t allowed to go outside it!

MG: You’ve done quite a bit of theatre, how can you feel it differs? Do you prefer?
BE: I went to drama school as a young woman and my first engagement was touring Sweden with a Variety show for many month, but then i was discovered by 20th Century Fox and my stage career ended. I went back to stage work in the early 90’s and had to learn all over again what it’s like being on stage. I had horrid stage fright in the beginning but slowly over the years, it doesn’t seem so frightening anymore. I very much enjoy being on stage and I love the interaction with the audience. I think you come to a certain age where your choices are limited and I now feel comfortable on stage.


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Robin Hardy talks about his return to directing with “The Wicker Tree”

Robin Hardy is probably best known for his directing of the classic 1973 film “The Wicker Man”. Robin is back directing and is set to release the second film in the Wicker series titled “The Wicker Tree”. Media Mikes was very fortunate to be able to talk with Robin recently about the film.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your return to directed?
Robin Hardy: Over the years I have been directing everything from documentaries to television commercials. I think I have made over 1000 commercials and have been very successful with those. Directing is something that I really enjoy doing. Having been trained as an artist I am able to illustrate everything I want. As a writer I like to introduce music whenever I can. I suppose that comes from commercials. Music is such an important part for those. These things have tended to blend leading me to use them in the features I have made.

AL: What was it like returning to the Wicker series some 40 years after the first one being made?
RH: It was good. I even had some actors in the new film who were in the first one. The little girl who is watching the beetle go around and around the nail in the first film reappears as a cook in the new film. There are some others who returned as well. It was really fun returning to the genre. To revive this genre is what really drew me to this project. It was great fun working on the songs.

AL: What do you think is the biggest difference between the two films?
RH: In many ways I don’t think they differ all that much. I think the second movie brings in some relative sub-plots that were not used in the first film. The question of being able to enlarge on the idea of the Sun as an object of worship turns up in this second film. I liked doing this in the second film because it brings the whole idea of the current state of religion down to us as a more understandable present day interest or preoccupation. In the first film there were a lot of pagan clues which were ultimately leading a Christian man to his death.

AL: How do you think your book “Cowboy’s for Christ” compares to the film?
RH: I think it’s pretty faithful to it. I made a much bigger deal of the police. It seemed to me when I read the book that in order to keep the sense of disbelief in the whole story and to believe in the police man was getting quite close to understanding what was going on we had to expand on that. This had to be the tail to the film because it was too much of a red hearing and it would have spoiled the flair of the story.

AL: Can you tell us about Christopher Lee’s involvement in the film?
RH: In the case of the first film we were all Hammer film fans. We thought that the Hammer films all though tongue and cheek in their way didn’t begin to do justice to the whole pagan background. We thought it would be a wonderful idea to take someone who was an icon of those films and turn the whole story on its head by making this guy the pagan lord.

AL: Can you tell us about your work on the third film in the series “The Wrath of Gods”?
RH: I wanted to make that film in Iceland because I thought it would be sort of fun to try and make this sort of saga theme park in Iceland. I couldn’t raise the money to make the film there because of the terrible economic shape that the country is in. I chose to shoot in the Shetland Island because originally they were Scandinavian. It was perfectly logical to set this saga there. They also have a most wonderful Fire festival there which is featured in the film. I would like to think this film will be out within the next four years.


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Brittania Nicol talks about her role in “The Wicker Tree”

Brittania Nicol stars in the film “The Wicker Tree” which is the sequel to the classic 1973 Robin Hardy film “The Wicker Man”. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Brittania recently about her work on the film.

Adam Lawton:  What can you tell us about the film?
Brittania Nicol: This film is the sister film to the 70’s film “the Wicker Man”. It is sort of in the same genre as the previous film and has the Christian vs. Pagan battle going on. The first film was more of a creepy film and this film is more of a comedy. It looks at the lighter side of things.

AL: What is your role in the film?
BN: I play Beth Boothby. She is a teenage pop star who has left the business to explore her faith as a born again Christian. She and her fiancé decide to give a year of their lives to the church in order to preach the message across the world.

AL: What was it that interested you about this role?
BN: When I read the script I really identified with this character. I knew her and grew up with girls that were like her. I knew I could play the part and was attracted to the role in that way.

AL: What was the audition process like?
BN: We had several auditions. I went in to read first and then they had to find out if I could sing. I had a singing audition with the composer to see if he could get the voice he wanted out of me. I then had a final audition with the guy who was going to play my fiancé just to see if there was any chemistry between us. It was during the final audition that they told us we had gotten the parts. It was a very exciting day.

AL: Was there anything difficult about the role?
BN: I found it difficult to make the character likeable. A lot of people are very turned off by religion. You need to love this character. I had to make sure that while the character was preaching and pushing religion on people that she was still someone that you wanted to win.

AL: Will the DVD/Blu-Ray release of the film include any bonus material?
BN: I know we did a lot of filming of on-set interviews and behind the scenes stuff. There were also some interviews done with the films composer as well as with Robin and the other actors. You will also get to see the Wicker Tree being built.

Blu-ray Review “The Wicker Tree”

Directed by: Robin Hardy
Starring: Brittania Nicol, Henry Garrett, Christopher Lee, Graham McTavish
MPAA Rating: R
Distributed by: Anchor Bay
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Running Time: 96 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Alright so let’s place this film where it belongs. It is not a sequel to the 2006 remake of “The Wicker Man” with Nicholas Cage. This is a direct follow-up to the 1973 cult classic, though it is more of a re-imagining.  It is even directed by the same person, Robin Hardy, who did the original. When it comes to classic film like “The Wicker Man”, it is hard to try and improve on it. I did enjoy this film overall just was missing the spark that the original laid out. Also it claims to have a special appearance from original “Wicker” star Christopher Lee, but don’t blink or you will miss it.

This film follows two young missionaries (Brittania Nicol, Henry Garrett), who head to Scotland to spread the good word.  They end up in the small town of Tressock, where the locals seems to have their own secrets.  The couple agrees to become the local Queen of the May and Laddie for the annual town festival. Of course they have no idea of what they are getting into and their stay in Tressock might have just been made permanent.

The Blu-ray presentation does not disappoint though. The video looks sharp and clear into 1080p transfer. The audio is also spot-on and delivers an impressive Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, which pops with the film’s music and effects. The special features are short and sweet overall. There is a brief behind-the-scenes featurette called “The Making of The Wicker Tree”. There are a few deleted scenes, nothing that would have saved the film. Lastly there is the theatrical trailer, though do not think this film has much of a theatrical release.


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