Michael Ironside was born Fred Ironside on 12 February
1950 in Toronto, Canada. He is best known for playing villains
or "tough guy" heroes. His breakthrough role was as Ham Tyler
in the television miniseries V:
The Final Battle. He is also known for his roles
in Top Gun, Total
Recall and Starship Troopers. He has
recently become a star in the realm of video games, voicing
Tom Clancy's character of Sam Fisher in the Splinter Cell
games and plays the Global Defense Initiative's General
Jack Granger in the upcoming Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium
Wars. Ironside has recently signed a 5 year deal to portray
Captain Jonas Trager in the Spaceworks Television sci-fi series,
Ice Planet. As
well as being an actor he has also worked as a producer, film
director, and screenwriter in movie and television series.
Darren Rea caught up with Ironside as Reeker
was released on DVD...
Rea: What was it about your character in Reeker that
attracted you to the project?
Ironside: It actually wasn't the character. It was both David
Payne [writer/director] and Tina [Illman - who produced the
movie and played the part of Gretchen]. From the first time
I met them they just seemed bright and enthusiastic and they
were trying to do an independent film completely on their
own without any kind of studio involvement at the start.
I was introduced to them through a friend - whose opinion
of people I respect. David said: "Have a look at this
character." And I thought it was rather interesting.
I liked the script itself - it was a very clever, low budget
kind of new twist on an old idea. I really wanted to work
with David and Tina to see how they do their business.
one of those guys who believes that you've got to give it
away to keep it - whether it's a talent, an influence or any
kind of power. I thought I'd work with them and if they screw
up I wouldn't work with them again, and if they follow through
I would. I think they did a brilliant job.
Whenever you appear on the screen an audience is instantly
suspicious of your character. Are you ever worried about typecasting
and is it something you are keen to distance yourself from.
No, I don't think you should distance yourself from anything
- at least I don't. Over the year's I've basically just stepped
around it by choosing the best that's offered me, embrace
it and do the best I can with it, and then move on to the
next project afterwards.
frankly, I've played a few leads over the years and I was
shocked at how many times they get beat up, thrown of horses,
jump of bridges, smacked by everyone in the film, only to
win the last fight in the film and walk away covered in bandages
and bruises. The bad guy walks through whistling a tune and
smacking people around and he only gets beat up once - when
he dies at the end.
You must have died on film more than any other actor.
I think Vic McLaglen probably has me beat there [laughs].
Growing up I always remember saying to my dad: "God,
he dies a lot." You know. I remember in The Informer
where he's in that crucifix position at the end where
they shot him.
yeah. I do. I die a lot. I get paid quite a bit of money to
make the lead a good lead.
When your time comes, how would you like to go?
When I die? Hopefully it won't be for another twenty five
years as I've got a seven year old.
grandfather always said that he wanted to die in bed with
another man's woman, a cigar in his mouth, and his boots on.
And he got two out of those... but I won't tell you which
two [laughs]. I'm not sure. I know I don't want to go by fire
and I don't want to be trapped when I go.
have no fear of death. That sounds kind of corny, but being
from a very large family - I have like 97 first cousins and
my mum had 18 brothers and sisters and they all had at least
five kids - I've been around it all my life. My father was
very gentle with me. He said: "If death is wrong, then
being born is wrong, because everyone goes that way. It's
the nature of how you spend your time - not how you go."
I don't think I have any preference - I just wouldn't want
to burn. I've seen that a couple of times.
have this thing about being trapped in small spaces. As a
kid I got trapped a couple of times and I think there's an
organic panic in there that I don't really want to be a part
of. I remember seeing that film Buried Alive and I
pretty much sat there and couldn't eat popcorn or do anything
through the whole thing. I kinda just went: "Jesus! Why
am I paying money for this?"
father passed on in his sleep, which seemed to be very quiet
when we found the body. He was in bed and he had a questioning,
perturbed look on his face [laughs] and he had half a cup
of tea on the night stand. If I had my choice I'd probably
go like that. I
just don't want to hedge my situation by asking. Be careful
what you pray and ask for.
I know a lot of people, who have expressed a preference for
the way they want to depart this earth, do actually bow out
they way they wish.
The great Rod Serling once told a story about an English guy
that they hung twice and the rope broke broke both times.
The story was that once you do it twice you've got to let
the guy go, and he was being interviewed and they asked him
how he would like to go and he said: "I'd like to die
at the feet of roaring lions." Sure as sh*t he gets hit
by a cab in front of City Hall where there are two cement
that's why I don't really want to mess the hair of the Almighty
[laughs]. Whatever you chose is alright with me - just no
suffering please and make it comfortable for people around
me so that they don't have to deal with any sh*t.
You're also well known for providing the voice for Sam Fisher
in the Splinter Cell video games. How difficult was
it to adjust to a medium where the only thing that sells your
character is your voice?
It was very difficult for me at first. I'm not one that likes
acting in a glass booth. When it was offered to me it was
kind of a unique situation because they hadn't even started
work on the game - they hadn't even created any of the characters.
got them to hire four or five other people to work with me.
We worked up the characters and they brought in this brilliant
actor in Montreal, where we recorded it, who did all the other
parts for me while I was in the booth so I had somebody to
act with. If you're acting by yourself it's basically masturbation
- you know what I mean? It's unreal and it's a let down every
time something comes up. So, I wanted somebody to have that
relationship with - to bounce the stuff back and forth with.
And I think we did a fairly good job - we created a fairly
realistic character who isn't just a killing machine with
a two-dimensional voice and attitude. There's a kind of resistance
wanted to create someone who questions the authority - doesn't
openly but you know that, given the right opportunity, he
would question the authority that sends him where he goes
- which I thought would work well with the game player. Being
a pacifist [laughs] I wanted people to basically be responsible
on some level - either emotionally or spiritually - for what
they were doing in the game.
What are you doing at the moment?
I've been doing a lot of small projects on the side because
we've been on hold, and are getting ready to go with this
project called Ice Planet. This is a TV series that's
a Canadian/German/UK co-production. The problem was we were
set to go in the spring, but our executive producer had a
heart attack during his stress test for the bonding company
and that kind of screwed everything up. We had to find a new
executive producer to replace him. I start that in about a
did one of those Masters of Horror episodes, which
was fun. The episode was directed by Ernest Dickerson and
it was a lot of fun. I've never played a vampire ghoul. They
sent me the script and we made some changes. I made him a
high school teacher - sort of a predator of adolescent boys
- which was fun to do, because it was sending it right over
the top. Hopefully people can take a look at that and again
question authority figures.
Thank you for your time.
thanks to Victoria Lowe at DSA
is available to buy and rent on DVD from Pathe Distribution
Ltd from 13 November 2006.
to buy this DVD for £10.99 (RRP: £15.99)
interview was conducted on 06 November 2006