The El Escorial Conspiracy

Look out for Steve in the recent Jason (Luscious Malfoy from Harry Potter) Isaacs movie 'The El Escorial Conspiracy'. Steve plays an Inquisition Guard. During filming in Spain Steve was also lucky enough to meet Julia (First Knight, Sabrina) Ormond.

Steve has launched a podcast in which he talks all about what it was like getting a role as an Inquisition Guard in a Jason Isaacs film. 

Listen to Steve's podcast Inside The El Escorial Conspiracy (external site)


In October 2007 Steve filmed his scenes for the new Jason Isaacs movie The El Escorial Conspiracy (La Conjura del Escorial). We caught up with him in Spain and asked the radio host turned actor for his unique insight into what it's like working on the set of a big movie production with Hollywood and Pinewood megastar Jason Isaacs...

 

How did you end up in a Jason Isaacs film?

The whole thing's a bit fuzzy. I think I basically went for the audition (which I passed) and then I got the call back. Next day I went to the Palace where they were filming. When the casting guy found out I was from Liverpool he apparently told Jason in a meeting the first chance he got and so when I arrived on set for my first day he immediately offered to introduce me to Jason. That was very nice of him I thought.

What about working with Lucious from Harry Potter then?

I've had the time of my life meeting and working with (fellow Liverpool actor) Jason, who, I think, will forever be remembered for playing evil Lucious in the Harry Potter movies. Although he's known for playing the villains, I must say that Jason is the nicest guy you could meet.

He is a really nice bloke and he's really funny. When you think about it, he's a massive movie star, especially after The Patriot and Harry Potter, but he's very down-to-earth. Everybody I spoke to on the set said the same thing. He clearly hasn't lost his Liverpool sense of humour.

As with all major films, there is a lot of standing around waiting. He's very professional but he always keeps the cast and crew entertained inbetween scenes.

So, the big question. Are you now friends with Jason Isaacs?

(Steve smiles) Am I now friends with Jason Isaacs? I'd like to think so. We got on really well. It was great talking with him about Liverpool and everything and we chatted quite a bit whenever we met.

What's this about Doctor Who?

On one occasion, as I'm a life-long Doctor Who fan I couldn't resist asking Jason if he would ever consider a future role as the Doctor if the BBC asked him. After all he is friends with Christopher Eccleston, so he already has a good Doctor Who connection. Jason clearly has no shortage of work given his megastar status, but he hasn't (I'm happy to confirm) ruled out a future Doctor Who role. Just think how cool it would be if Jason were to become the next Doctor.

We talked about the way he wouldn't be the first bloke from Liverpool to play the Doctor as he'd be following in the footsteps of Paul McGann. (And Scotland Road's very own Tom Baker, don't forget about him!) So, never let it be said that a Scouser can't play the lead role in Doctor Who.

When is the film out?

The film is due out (I believe) in September (Spain) this year. That's probably the best time. The new James Bond film is out in November so it will be better to release our film before rather than after that.

Is this the start of a new career then?

I've really enjoyed making friends and working with Jason and all of these Hollywood movie stars but this was my first go at acting and I'm keeping both feet on the ground. I wouldn't hesitate to do it all again if I had the chance, but for now it's back to normal for me. I won't be giving up my day job just yet.

Did you meet any other stars?

During filming I had the chance to meet another English Hollywood star, (Surrey born) Julia Ormond (Sabrina, First Knight) who plays Princesa de Éboli and also starring in the film are the famous Spanish actors Jordi Mollà (from Philip ll of Spain in Elizabeth - The Golden Age) who plays Mateo Vázquez and William Miller who plays Captain Rodrigo de Villena. I met them both when they were having tapas in one of the local bars. That was cool!

Tell us about the plot of the film...

The film is directed by Antonio del Real and financed by lots of European film companies and institutions. It's a Spanish Renaissance period drama an tells the story of betrayal in the court of the 16th century ruler King Philip II of Spain.

John of Austria sends his personal secretary, Juan de Escobedo, to intercede with the King but witnesses the secret romance between Antonio Pérez (Isaacs) and Ana de Mendoza, the Princess of Éboli (Ormond). At this point the plot against the King is beginning to unfold. It's a true story and all the facts are well documented but I don't want to spoil it for you.

Did you recieve any personal instruction from the director?

We had personal instruction from the directors assistant on how to 'turn and march'. I've never had to march whilst wearing body armour before. Not as easy as it sounds believe me! So much effort by all of the production crew goes into making the scene look as authentic as possible. It's so impressive. Very educational for me too.

What's your role in the film? Are we going to be able to actually see you in the film?

One of my scenes takes place during a fancy-dress ball at the palace. I play the role of a Nobleman and later a Spanish Inquisition Guard. I can't wait until the film is released, but I'm being realistic too. It's a cruel world we live in and I know there's a chance that my scenes could end up on the cutting room floor, but that's showbiz I guess.

Whatever happens, getting an acting role in this film has meant a great deal to me. When I was on my way to the audition I had no idea I was about to meet Jason. It's not often I use the word cool, but in describing the whole adventure, that's the word I have to go with. Being a part of this movie has been the most amazing opportunity for me ever.

Suffice to say my biggest scene is when we have to march into a room. Basically I have to open the door and then we march in, with me in front. As I open the door (very big and heavy doors by the way) Jason (in the arms of his lover) has to turn and look at me. I never realised how much acting was required to 'march' into a room.

We all had our markers on the floor (the position where you had to walk up to and stop) but obviously you couldn't look at the marker whilst you were walking. Mine was yellow.

You had to look straight ahead (in my case, making eye contact with Jason the whole time) and if somebody stopped in the wrong place we had to do it all over again. So there's me walking in towards Jason, with him looking straight at me and I'm getting nearer and nearer and all I'm thinking is "Where on earth is that yellow thing?"

Then all of a sudden, out of the corner of your eye you see a yellow fuzzy blob and you think "Ah, thank goodness for that!" I tell you, the movie business - nothing beats it!

 

How do you feel now the filming is over?

All in all, this was literally a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn't miss and thankfully - I didn't. From Jason and the other actors I met to the director, his assistants and the guys who served the lunch, I'm very grateful to everyone who made me feel at home. Really gonna miss all those lovely cakes and hot sandwiches they served us every day too!

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