Interview : John Barrowman on Torchwood : Miracle Day
In our final interview on the run up to the ‘Miracle Day’ finale we speak to John Barrowman about costume, Cardiff and Captain America.
EOS : How did you indoctrinate the newcomers into your particular way of working?
JB : I did the first scenes with everybody naked. No, I was really pleased when Mekhi (Pfifer) said to me yesterday that with Torchwood, you just have to go with it, we’re all individuals, we all bring our own thing to it but you just have to go with the flow and I loved that. It showed that everyone coming into it new felt really welcome and felt that they could jump on board. I like to create a family atmosphere where people can bring their kids and families on set. Why would I want to come to work and not have a good time?
EOS : You always seem so positive about the show but have you ever had to fight your corner with the producers or directors?
JB : Nope. That’s not my job. My job is to come in, hit my mark, say the dialogue and get the audience to watch it on screen. They trust that I will do that so I trust that the directors and producers know what they’re doing, I trust Russell and Julie (Davies and Tranter) implicitly. I might not agree sometimes with the things that I’m doing…and in fact a lot of the American directors came to us and said “Would your characters do this?” and we’d have a discussion. And I thought that if this was to be a new area for them then maybe they would change and do something different, so it was a learning experience for us. I have to be honest, we’ve never fought, we just basically do what we’re there to do.
EOS : Do you think that Torchwood in the US is more popular than Doctor Who?
JB : You know, I came from the mother ship and I love Who. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that I don’t. But it’s a great thrill to know that we have the little show that started out very small and that has become really big and that’s from the fans. They’ve stuck with us, remained on board, they’ve allowed us to progress, they’ve let changes happen and also we’ve landed on our feet with Starz, they’ve given us the budget to make it, and without them we wouldn’t be here today. I am humbled and grateful to the fans and to Starz.
EOS : Do you think Torchwood will ever return to its Cardiff home?
JB : Well we’ll always be a part of Wales, we’ll always continue to do stuff in Wales and the UK because we’ll always be a part of the BBC. It’s not like we’ve packed our bags and left – you can’t deny the roots, I mean Russell loves going to places like Rhosilli Beach and doing the big action sequences in South Wales so you know, we will never have vacated there. I don’t know if the rift will open back up, that might be an element that has finished because we’re moving into other territories. We always move forward, we put the Easter Eggs in from the past but we continue to change and develop which we hope keeps our core audience, because if we didn’t change we’d be dull, and we’d be cancelled.
EOS : You said at one stage that you’d like to play Captain America, now that part has gone is there another super hero you’d like to play?
JB : To be honest with you I’ve probably moved on from that. What I would like to play is Captain Jack Harkness on the big screen. After four seasons with Starz I think that’s our next progression. I would get my production company involved in it, I would get Russell and Julie involved in it and I think it would look phenomenal on the big screen.
EOS : This season your look has changed a little in the show, were you on board with that?
JB : The pants are not pleated, but that’s a design choice. And this is going to sound really silly but the idea of having the belt and the braces together was my idea because that’s a very Midwestern farm boy look which is what we had when we were in the UK. This season the shirts are more military looking, they have epaulettes themselves and I put the braces through the epaulettes which not many people would do. I would sit with our costume designer (Shawna Trpcic) and I would say the little things that I wanted. I kept the Rolex watch because that’s actually what they wore in the RAF, and there were two sets of cufflinks, one is an RAF Spitfire and the other one is just a generic RAF plane. Most people who time travel carry stopwatches and I said that if ever I wear a waistcoat again I will always have that stopwatch which is my grandfather’s, because I think it’s a beautiful piece. My boots have changed because Caterpillar don’t make those boots anymore, we had to go for a different brand.
EOS : As someone who takes pride in their appearance, what was it like to be dying and vomiting in episode 2?
JB : I loved the death and vomiting, I don’t take that much care of my appearance! I wash with soap and I put moisturiser on and I spray with regular deodorant like everybody else. Everyone else got up an hour and a half early to go to hair and make-up today, I woke up half an hour before we had to be out, showered, stuck some gel in my hair and off I went.
EOS : There was talk of an anniversary Doctor Who featuring multiple incarnations of the Doctor, how do you think Jack would react to that?
JB : I think he’d be very happy. (Laughs). The others might be too old to do anything but I think with a couple of them he’d be very happy. You never forget your first doctor, and I’ve had a few!
Additional reporting by Stephanie Gerk