On interviewing Craig Horner

So Xenite.Org was asked to interview Craig Horner, star of Legend of the Seeker. The invitation caused quite a stir among our volunteer staff as several of them are fans of the show, Sam Raimi, and almost all things coming out of New Zealand film and television. You can read the interview with Craig Horner here but I wanted to write about the experience here, rather than just make an announcement.

You cannot imagine how many things managed to go wrong until this all came out right. Isn’t that always the story, though? Craig’s publicist contacted us in December and asked if we would be interested in interviewing him. We had just added a Legend of the Seeker Forum to SF-Fandom but I was in the process of moving and had not done much to promote it. Still, I know an online press push when I see one so I agreed to do the article.

Fortunately, scheduling conflicts prevented us from setting up the interview until the end of January. The Seattle winter months are usually pretty hard on my health and I’ve been feeling under that weather for almost the whole time. Coming home from work and collapsing in exhaustion doesn’t help much with planning Website updates. Those of you who follow this blog know it was dry for several weeks, and that is why.

Nonetheless, I persevered with the interview knowing it would force me to take action on several fronts. For one thing, Xenite.Org did not have a LOTS fan site. That was always something I had meant to do but just never got around to it. And to be honest we don’t need a fan site to include an interview or feature article on our site because we have an extensive features section where all sorts of loose articles go. (Actually, most of Xenite.Org’s content falls into the “loose” category, as each section has grown by accretion.)

Knowing that Craig was in New Zealand and being too sick to use my cell phone or the Internet to find out how many hours difference there are between us (about four, as I found out while talking with Craig), I kept asking what sort of time of day they thought he might be available. I never got an answer — but then, given that Craig is still filming Seeker episodes, I have to admit that it all depended entirely on his schedule and energy.

My worst fear was that I would have to conduct the interview on my cell phone in a car with no way to record anything. I’ve done interviews by hand. When I wrote a series of articles about Salsa dancing a few years ago many of my interviewees were skeptical as I confronted them with a steno pad in hand and asked questions. One interviewee, after seeing the article series, said he was really, really impressed with the quality of my work. My Web design skills are minimal, so he was not referring to the way the site looked (but you can check it out at for yourself: Hot Magic Nights: Houston’s Westside Salsa Scene. Those articles were published about 5 years ago and they still attract a lot of visitors).

I had also been very busy with a special project at work. I was afraid I would have to cancel the interview because of some last-minute meeting. Fortunately, that project wound down and left me with some more flexible time so when the day came to set up the call I was able to reserve a conference room all to myself. I planned to call in on Skype and record the call (with everyone’s permission) in order to make sure I got a good transcript.

Alas! As so often happens at work, someone needed the conference room so I grabbed my boss’ office while he was at an offsite meeting. There I was, surrounded by his computer equipment and struggling to get my laptop powered up and connected to the Internet. The wireless didn’t work so I grabbed his hard line from his docking station. You have no idea of the chaos those wires can cause when you need them in a pinch. I sent stuff flying everywhere.

As the clock was ticking I decided to abandon Skype and just called Craig’s publicist over a land line. “I can type fast,” I thought. “I should be able to take pretty good notes.” Yeah, right.

Craig sounds like a really nice, laid-back guy. He’s got that Aussie accent we Americans think is so cool (which is why the GEICO Gekko is so popular, I think). At work I sit next to a guy who is from Australia. I sometimes listen to his phone calls just to get a fix of Aussie for the day. I cannot even begin to mimic all the terrific jargon he can fling out. I’m sure his clients love talking with him as he can be colorful in an inoffensive way. He frequently cracks up people around the office with his own laid-back comments.

So Craig is laid-back…and energetic. He talks so fast I almost had to say, “Slow down, son! I’m not a spring chicken any more.” Of course, being an aging fanguy I had more questions thrumming through my head than could ever be asked. And the SF-Fandom staff had passed me a list of questions ask as well. I had put together some interview questions but also intended to scan down the “raw” list during the call. I had forgotten I’d already culled the most concise questions.

But the call went great despite the occasional flub on my part. Craig comes across as a down-to-earth guy who loves his work. He just wants to do as good a job as he can, providing quality entertainment regardless of the genre he’s working in. In fact, the way he talks about some of his co-stars on Legend of the Seeker and other projects, I had the sneaking suspicion Craig is a bit of a fanboy at heart. But aren’t we all? He’s very respectful of his peers and mentors and quite professional in his comments. At 26 he’s still polite enough to be interesting and engaging and not yet old enough to care less about who he might offend with an offhand remark. Some people would simply say that Craig is not yet jaded — he’s still kind of wowed by the whole experience, even after being an actor for 10 years.

Nonetheless, I managed to NOT type about half of what he said. The notes for the interview look like a long string of “and then he said … something about Jenna? Denna? … Geoffrey Rush…Judy Davis…Great actors….Had a fun time…we talked about….”

Tolkien fans have teased me for years that I have an encyclopedic memory. I knew that would be put to the test when I wrote the article because I was having to figure out what “something-dada-doodoo-diditritery” meant and having to piece together a chronological sense of presentation.

Although the interview was ostensibly to promote Craig’s work in Legend of the Seeker I wanted to get down to brass tacks about him. He’s been giving out a lot of interviews lately and I’m sure he’s been asked everything under the sun. I wanted to know what he thinks about the world he is in, the life he is leading. I wanted to know what people don’t normally ask Craig. So I didn’t get into his romantic life or how much fun they have on the set.

Maybe I’m jaded, but after decades of being a fan I pretty much understand that a good cast and crew have fun times. And some bad times. But mostly they just work and work hard. You could tell from Craig’s voice that despite his high energy level he was looking at the end of the shooting schedule with a little anticipation.

When I finally had a rough draft put together I shared it with the SF-Fandom moderators. They made some suggestions (mostly “cut this”, “fix that”) but loved it. The article tightened up. And then I sent it to the publicist for some fact-checking. She asked me to modify a couple of sections that seemed a bit smoky but was otherwise satisfied.

So now we were down to graphics or images. I don’t like “doing the fannish thing” and grabbing images off the Web. I know every one does it and that the studios rarely make an issue of cracking down on fannish use any more, but I really wanted to get some new material with explicit permission to use. Unfortunately, that’s not always easy to arrange. So as time passed and more people began to press me about the article I finally decide to publish it with fannish image work.

And I also greased the wheels by dropping some hints in advance of what people can expect. The Seeker fans lit up like a room full of candles when I let drop that John Rhys-Davies will be guest-starring on an as-yet unaired episode. I sent a message to Xoanon at TheOneRing.Net and they usually carry my news tips but the site hasn’t updated in a couple of days. I hope nothing is wrong there.

So that’s the story behind the story. I’m sure people will enjoy the article as it is. I hope so. Let me know what you think.

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