Sunday, October 14, 2012

EXODUS CODE: Q & A with Carole Barrowman

John Barrowman's sister Carole Barrowman is the writing power behind the team's successful books. She talked to us about the sibling's novel EXODUS CODE and about writing in general.

Q: You are an English literature professor. Was it difficult to write about medical theories, geological and geophysiological science?

CB: I was trained as a journalist before I switched to the field of literature so I learned how to do research. I love that part of writing almost as much as the writing itself. When John and I decided on the basic plot, then I went off and did my homework. Also, I have a mild form of synesthesia and over the years I’ve read quite a bit on the subject… at least enough to find the spaces for fiction to fill.  

Q: I love your homage to Sarah Jane Smith and the classical Doctor Who episodes! Has "The Masque of Mandragora" special meanings to you and/or John?

CB: The Doctor Who family was devastated when Elisabeth Sladen passed away and so John and I decided to find a couple of places in ‘Exodus Code’ where we could pay homage to her work and her legacy. I’m not sure any particular episode has special meaning. We just felt that as much as we could we wanted to connect our story with the DW and TW canons. Sarah Jane was the assistant that I watched most when I was growing up.

Q: As with Hollow Earth did you put some Easter Eggs in Exodus Code? I thought I saw a few familiar names. Would you give us a hint?

CB: Most of the extra layers in ‘Exodus Code’ had to do with things we thought that fans of Torchwood would recognize and appreciate. Like the scene with the SUV…

Q: And a more random question. How did Jack get his Webley back? I thought it was destroyed in Children of Earth? And he didn't have it in Miracle Day.

CB: Never underestimate Jack’s hoarding abilities.

Q: With all the work you do outside of writing novels (teaching, writing reviews for the press, The Morning Blend, etc) when do you find the time to write?

CB: First of all, my children no longer live at home and that has allowed me to expand the time I can give to my writing. When they were young, I wrote less but I never allowed myself to feel guilty about the choices I made. I don’t do guilt. I’m also a very disciplined and focused writer and again and I think that comes from training as a journalist. I try to write every day even if it’s only taking notes or creating a paragraph or two. I also draft a lot in my head when I’m not actually writing. Finally, I make sure I carve out extended writing time at least 3 or 4 times during the week. I think you need to give your imagination some warm up time if you really want to let it loose.

Q: What would be the one piece of advice that you would give an aspiring writer wanting to get published?

CB: Learn the craft. Writing is an art and a craft and both parts of that definition must be nurtured. The literary gods may have blessed you with talent, but that may not be enough to be published so learn the craft. That may mean writing a practice novel and having it critiqued, taking classes, joining workshops, reading books about writing, or simply talking to other writers. Either way, learn the craft. 


A big Thank You to Carole for doing this Q&A with us. :-)

My review of EXODUS CODE can also be read on this blog:


Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: TORCHWOOD: EXODUS CODE by John and Carole E. Barrowman


General review without spoilers

I have to confess, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. While I've read and loved the authors' young adult adventure "Hollow Earth" and also their collaboration for John's autobiographies, I was more than curious to see what they would make of a story set in the Torchwood universe. And they didn't disappoint me. Exodus Code is a fast-paced, action-packed mystery adventure that you can barely put aside once you have started reading (I did an all-nighter to finish it). It has everything that makes Torchwood great: the action, the strange happenings, the quirky humour, the sexual innuendo and the... Welsh landscape. (Yes, a big part of it is set in Wales!) Without giving away who appears in the novel apart from Jack and Gwen, I can say that John & Carole have every known Torchwood character down to a T. These characters come very much alive on the page, and you can easily see them acting out the scenes in front of your eyes.

The novel is set a few months after the events of Miracle Day, which is fading fast from people's minds as they want their normal lives back, when new disturbing and strange occurences across the Earth are threatening mankind yet again. At the center of Exodus Code we have Captain Jack Harkness, the enigmatic time traveller who once travelled with the Doctor and ran the Torchwood Institute in Cardiff for a while. There still is no new official Torchwood, but Jack has a powerful ally in the British government. He also finds old and new collaborators - and after a moment it gives you the feeling that they are a team, at least for this adventure - to stop a global geological and geophysiological phenomenon of a mysterious (alien?) nature that could mean the end of our planet. With the capable help of these people and the Torchwood software, Jack is able to solve the mystery, one piece of the jigsaw after the other. Only until he realises that, once again, happenings from his far and recent past have set the current events in action and nothing but another personal sacrifice can stop it. This leads Jack back to a village in Peru where the action-packed showdown with man and nature will reveal if humanity can be saved and if the sacrifice is not too high.

A breathtaking rollercoaster of a read from beginning to end, Exodus Code sets a new standard for a Torchwood adventure. And I think every fan would be happy to see it come to life on the small or even a bigger screen.

More detailed review with some spoilers - but not giving the plot away ;-)

This novel gives us another glimpse into Jack's past on Earth, when in the opening chapter we see him and a male lover investigating a strange geological phenomenon occurring at the Peruvian coast in 1930. Jack soon becomes the center of an Incan tribe prophecy, which will have huge consequences for the whole planet.

The story then moves to Wales in the present time with Gwen, Rhys and Anwen trying to settle in to a "normal" life without Torchwood. Gwen is not happy, but this restlessness and her rage can't be normal. Is she loosing her mind? This isn't only happening to her but to other women too. She sends out a cry for help to Jack who rushes to Swansea. But it's not soon enough for Gwen, and she ends up in the psychiatric ward after having attacked her family and mutilated herself. Rhys is devastated, and Jack moves in with him and his family to find out what's going on with Gwen and all these other women, not only in Wales but all over the world.

Parallel to this sudden mental illness in women, something is going on with the planet. Earthquakes are happening in unusual places and geysers are shooting up in the oceans. Are these events and the women's illnesses linked? No scientist or government official would dare to say. But Jack, who seems to be the only man also affected by this attack on his senses, is on to something.

What's the strange sign of three interlinked circles that Gwen has carved into her arm? And who's the beautiful girl Jack can't get out of his peripheral vision? And what is the significance of the mountain puma? Jack tries hard to retrieve a memory back from his past that is nagging him, but it is difficult to pin down. He needs help with his research.

Help is on its way in the form of the team of the survey ship "Ice Maiden", whose captain's relationship with Jack has its roots way back in Torchwood's past. After reinforcing the ship's research abilities by linking them with the Torchwood software (and your mind will be blown away at the way that's done!), the newly constructed team heads to Peru where everything started and everything will end, one way or another.

The book is an adult novel, not shying away from describing gory details, using swear words and sexual language. Though sadly we won't "see" Jack's only explicit sexual encounter in the book with the Ice Maiden's cook. ;-) But it's a refreshing mix of sexual openness with Torchwood's (and certainly also John's & Carole's) usual unbiased approach to gender. We have gay and lesbian couples and sexual situations described with no fuss. Jack is his flirty self when he is not suffering too much, addressing his sexual innuendo to men and women alike.

As I said before, the authors had no problem with making the Torchwood characters real; not only Jack and Gwen, but also Rhys, Mary and Andy, as well as a certain recently promoted CIA agent showing up in a few short scenes. Gwen may be reduced to this madwoman in hospital for a while but she is strong and fights it, and her role becomes quite pivotal in the end. She is still this earthy woman, very much the descendant of Gwyneth who once sealed the rift in Cardiff (in Doctor Who).

Also, her relationship with Jack is coming across beautifully. It's a deeply loving one for both of them. While this is not romantic love, they are even closer than brother and sister. The former Torchwood members are acknowledged in Gwen and Jack's memories and you can feel that Jack is still mourning Ianto very much. The story is also a huge homage to Doctor Who and the person that John Barrowman describes as "the mother of all companions", Sarah Jane Smith.

There are some fan Easter Eggs hidden away: As with Hollow Earth, John & Carole use references to people and maybe places that have a meaning to them. While I was not actively searching for those, I came across some familiar names used for people in the novel. And I'll let you all find out for yourself. ;-)

What I also admired was the cultural, medical and scientific knowledge shown in the novel. Someone has done their research very well, and I suppose that this was Carole at work. I was Googling medical, geological, geophysiological, and marine biology terms left and right while reading Exodus Code. Don't get me wrong, it's not necessary to do that to understand the book. Everything is described very well and in a vivid manner with all the scientific facts packed into suspenseful human interaction. But I was just curious to see where science ends and science fiction starts, and can assure you that the transition is flawless and beautifully done.

The only thing I have to complain about was the end that seems a bit rushed. Yes, we have the big show down at the O.K. Corral or rather the Hacienda del Castenado with the conclusion at the mountain top, which is a satisfying ending to the story. But I would have loved to see a bit more of the fallout and aftermath, in general and in particular. A reunion of the Cooper-Williams family, for instance, would have been nice to witness.

All in all, Exodus Code is one of the most thrilling books I've read in a while. The novel will be out in the UK this Thursday, 13th September 2012.

Exodus Code is dedicated to all the Torchwood fans:

Review by Bettina Brauer

Monday, June 4, 2012

THE GREATEST SHOW IN THE GALAXY, Peterborough, 12th & 13th May 2012

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy was by far the best convention experience ever. Sadly it can never be repeated as the event company who was organising it went out of business shortly after. They needed to attract much more visitors to brake even with all the amazing celebrity guests they had. But that doesn't change the fact that it was a fantastic convention for us as it reunited the whole original TORCHWOOD team for one weekend, years after they had stopped filming the series together. We got to meet John Barrowman, Eve Myes, Gareth David-Lloyd, Burn Gorman, Naoko Mori, Indira Varma, Freema Agyeman and Lachlan Nieboer at the signing table and the photo shoot and had two Torchwood panels with them on Saturday and on Sunday.

Here are a few pictures and our videos from the Saturday panel.


And here are our pictures from the Sunday panel. (Sadly filming was not allowed on Sunday.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Meeting Daniele Favilli at the Hub 7 Torchwood convention

After doing the Q&A with Daniele Favilli (who played Jack's lover Angelo in Torchwood Miracle Day) in August, I stayed in touch with him and told him about the upcoming Hub 7 Torchwood convention in Heathrow this November. He was very curious about the convention and eager to come over to the UK and be a guest there. We fans started a campaign and it all worked out very well when Daniele was announced as a guest in October. I was really looking forward to meeting him in person and that finally happened last weekend. 

Daniele was so gracious to grant us another interview, this time in person during a free moment at the convention, and my friend Cathy filmed it all, so that we have now about 25 minutes of video clips of an amazingly interesting talk with Daniele.

But before doing the interview on Sunday, I went to an "Intimate Encounter" with Daniele, an occasion for 12 con-attending fans to get to know a bit more about him. Here's my compte rendu from this encounter, followed by the video interview.


At Hub 7 I was lucky enough to be part of an "Intimate Encounter" with Daniele Favilli. I was very interested in hearing what Daniele had to say, as he isn't so well known yet. And after the Q&A I had done with him as few months ago for Torchwood 4 Fans, I was really looking forward to meeting him personally.

Daniele told us that right now he is involved in two projects, one is a movie and the other a TV show. The movie is a modern western, co-producted by Daniele and they are in talks with Alfred Molina for one of the roles. It is an independant project, but with a budget of several million dollars and Daniele has meetings in London after the convention to see if they could win some well-known British actors for the film. His second project is a US/Italian co-produced TV show called "Magnificent", a Renaissance period piece that tells stories about the famous Italians from this time but in a kind of modern rock-star-like way.

Daniele explained that he wanted to act since he was 5, but was too shy as a teenager and young man to make a profession of it. He studied instead (as advised by his family who weren't happy with the acting ideas anyway), has a Psychology degree (he studied i.a. at the University of Kent) and became a member of a Rock Band. At a certain point in his life he realised that acting is his real passion and he just couldn't live any longer without making a serious go at it. He was dedicated to make a break-through and didn't take any other job, ready to "starve to death" to make his dreams come true. He said it was really hard but after a while his career took slowly off. One of his first jobs was a BBC documentary about the Italian Renaissance which was shot in Italy. His characters were often killed off and he "became very good at dying." He also played in a very unconventional Italian version of Macbeth (which is his favourite Shakespeare character), where the story had been set between Maori Warriors in New Zealand, and in a powerful scene at the end he is ripped apart.

Asked which was his favourite Torchwood episode, he said without any hesitation: Children of Earth. The whole 5-parter as it is just one very powerful and emotional story. He would love to know what happened to Jack between Children of Earth and Miracle Day, when he had left Earth (wouldn't we all? lol). He also loves episode 1 of Miracle Day a lot. He generally is a huge sci-fi fan and also loves movies where the characters are pushed, like "The Prestige", "Requiem for a Dream" and "Black Swan". But his all time favourite movie is "Back to the Future". Sci-fi fascinates him because it shows that to understand ordinary life you have to see the extraordinary, ordinary people pushed in extraordinary situations. Well written stories are about something that happens for the first or for the last time and how people cope. He likes the philosophy of Ancient Greece where the theatre was always halfway between the town and the temple on the hill, and was a kind of place where ordinary people met the Gods, so the actors are the messengers of the Gods.

He had known Torchwood before auditioning for the role of Angelo, mainly Series 1, and first thought that it was a kind of British version of The X-Files. But he was intrigued how openly the show treated sexuality and was impressed with it. He had some kind of intuition that he could one day be in this show. But when he was cast as Angelo he deliberately didn't go back to watch more of Torchwood because he wanted to play Angelo, who knows nothing about Jack, as authentic as possible. Once he had finished his shoot he watched all of Torchwood and thought it was brilliant.

Asked about the difference between the Jack/Angelo and Jack/Ianto relationship, he thought they were very different but that Ianto was definitely the better match for Jack. They worked both for Torchwood and Ianto could cope with Jack's uniqueness. Angelo and Jack wouldn't have worked because Angelo was too obsessed with Jack once he found out everything about him. For future Torchwood episodes he would love to see more flashbacks about Jack being involved in historical events.

We had a funny moment when Daniele said he was usually straight (he talked about an ex-girlfriend in one of his bands) and people wanted to dig deeper why he was a bit hesitating. ;-) He said that he had his most emotional moments in gay roles which made him cry. The first was when he played on stage in "Four Weddings and a Funeral" in the church scene during the funeral. The second one was the Angelo/Jack rooftop scene. That made him question himself a bit, why especially the gay scenes had this effect on him. And then he had to admit that John Barrowman is a very handsome man. lol We reassured him that John has this effect on a lot of straight men. ;-)

Daniele plays guitar and writes his own songs. He hasn't been part of a band since he lives in Los Angeles but he plays in little events there (as you can see on YouTube). But he is an actor and music is only his hobby now. He is not as driven as for acting. He could live without music if necessary but never without acting.


Part 1: About the convention

Part 2: His next projet

Part 3: On playing bad guys

Part 4: On fans and friends reacting to his Torchwood role

Part 5: About the sex scenes controversy and the cuts on Italian TV

Part 6: Surprised by the positive fan reaction

Part 7: About time travel and meeting people from the past

Part 8: The place of music in his life

Part 9 : Would he sing with John Barrowman

A big THANK YOU goes to Daniele for doing this interview with us and to my friends Cathy and Claudine for filming and taking all the pictures.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Both guest stars appeared as workers in Maloney's office in the San Pedro Overflow Camp. Jonathan played the role of Tony Strauss in Episode 6: The Middle Men. And Liz played Rachel in Episodes 5 & 6: The Categories of Life & The Middle Men.

NOTE: As always, if someone wants to publish this elsewhere, it's fine with me. But please give credit to Torchwood 4 Fans and add a link to one of our sites (facebook, tumblr, twitter, blogger). Thanks !

And my special thanks goes to Jonathan who is a longtime member of the Torchwood 4 Fans group on facebook and has provided us with great information during the run of Miracle Day.

Q: How did you hear about the role of Tony Strauss in Torchwood and what drew you to the character?

Jonathan: Torchwood's Casting Directors, John Frank Levey and Melanie Burgess, had recently hired me on the American remake of Shameless starring William H. Macy. They're a very loyal office. Tony Strauss was actually the 3rd role that I had auditioned for in Miracle Day. 3rd time's the charm!

Q: Were you familiar with Torchwood prior to be in the show? If yes: As someone who was familiar with the series as well as the Welsh location, how well do you think the co-production went?

Liz: I had friends who either hadn't heard of it or were obsessed with it. Unfortunately I was in the clueless group. Now I follow the show and am hooked. I see what all the fuss was about.

Jonathan: Yes, I was familiar with the show. My Dad is a huge Dr. Who fan. I remember watching the reruns of the original series on American Public Television when I was a child in the 70s. My parents lived in London for 3 years, but I've never been to Wales. That opening sequence of Miracle Day, where Gwen and the baby are dodging the helicopter, makes me very much want to take a helicopter ride around the coast of Wales. Beautiful!

Q: You were in The Middle Men. From what we've seen, there seems to be multiple stories within stories in each episode - a lot of parallels. Even your character of Tony was a middle man in the office. Have you experienced that sort of storytelling before in other series you've worked on? How was working on Torchwood different (if at all?)

Jonathan: Yes indeed. I love to work on projects that have a mindset for rolodex thinking or tree branches that grow into never-ending story leaves, where one seed folds into a leaf into another. That is 100% the writers work grown from the concept and mind of the showrunner (RTD). I've felt similarities in Mad Men (for the unique style with words), Flash Forward (for the limitless story opportunities of modern sci-fi) and Shameless (for its fearless courage to "go there!")

Q: Your scenes were with Alexa Havins. How was it working with her? How difficult was it to film and maintain a certain level of seriousness in scenes that were surrounded by a great deal of tension?

Liz: I had am amazingly focused and great co-star who was just so aware of her character and that allowed me to just be serious in the world right with her. Alexa is amazing! She taught me everything I know (sort of), she was so supportive as a person and as an actress. It was my first recurring and she welcomed me into the Torchwood family like I was a series regular. She really is just great. I also met Arlene Tur she is beautiful and equally as kind.

Jonathan: Alexa was a joy to work with. Many series regular actors just want to get the work day done faster. That is often their first priority and you can feel it eat away at the scenes. Not Alexa. She was fully ready to riff and to play. We were laughing between takes and sparring / egging each other on. I was encouraging her to get under my nerves with her smarty-pants ways and she was encouraging me to be a misoyginist jerk. After the scene take would cut, we'd talk about babies, our families and our favorite places to eat on Ventura Blvd. It's refreshing to work with such a talented, generous actor who also happens to be a completely normal, well-adjusted person.

Q: Do you have any funny stories from the set?

Liz: Funny stories...We were doing a walking and talking scene (I don't know how those Entourage guys do it ALL THE TIME) and my mic fell off. I thought I was doing such a great job of being professional and not stopping the flow of production but I just said in between my lines "My Mic fell off" Like I was just announcing it. It was funny and tragic.

Jonathan: Brittnee Garza plays the blonde Worker whom Esther cleverly replaces on the night shift in our episode. This was her very first professional on-camera television acting job. Her energy and enthusiasm was infectious. Every cast and crew member who talked to her left smiling. She's been a costumed character actor at Disney Land for a few years, but the TV world was absolute magic for her. She wanted to know about every light, every monitor, who did what and how did they make that happen. It is so very difficult to get that first TV job. It was a blessing to be around someone who is just experiencing that joy for the first time. You can't help but to be reminded why you first got into this biz ... the magic and the joy.

Q: What do you think of shows that have such a devoted fandom? Are they unusual, or do you think all shows have fans that are the same? (and who often known your own character better than you do!)

Liz: I think those shows know how to treat their fans and thus a "devoted fandom" is born. Nothing unusual about that what so ever. It is like when you really LIKE a show just that next level is absorbing yourself in it. It's good fun!

Q: You've worked on Desperate Housewives. How would you compare that experience to working on Torchwood?

Jonathan: Completely different. Housewives is less stylized and moves at a different pace. This is mostly a function of the Dramadey/Comedy hybrid and the different voices of Marc Cherry (showrunner for DH) and RTD. Miracle Day pays much more attention to set decoration and lighting. Desperate Housewives is about a language of rhythm and timing. Both were equally fun to work-on though.

Q: You've worked on cult fan series like Mad Man before. What do you think of shows that have such a devoted fandom? Are they unusual, or do you think all shows have fans that are the same? (and who often known your own character better than you do!)

Jonathan: Great question. I couldn't help but to think about Mad Men while shooting Miracle Day. As I said before , the attention to detail is what they share: the costumes, the lighting, the props. A pen on the desk is not for writing down another actors email address, it's a prop. Somebody thought about which kind of pen to put in that jar. They probably tried-out a few different options, took some digital pics and emailed them to the showrunner. Sometimes it is THAT precise. The fans notice these things. If the shows care, the fans care.

A sidebar funny: At my first wardrobe fitting for Mad Men, the costume designer asked me, "which side do you dress on?" I had never heard that phrase. The first time I ever wore dress pants was in the early 80s. By that time pants were not worn so high that you had to worry about the placement of the middle seam, a-hem, err, "which side to dress on." When I realized the meaning, I was incredulous. Now I look for every opportunity to use that phrase that I can. LOL!

Q: What other projects are on the horizon for you?

Liz: I just did a romantic comedy with Jamie-Lynn Sigler that was a lot of fun, she is very talented.

Jonathan: I've got two features coming out in early 2012, a smaller cerebral comedy called Let Go starring David Denman, Gillian Jacobs and Ed Asner and a big, loud, gross-out, sketch movie called Underground Comedy starring Adrian Brody, Lindsay Lohan, Rob Schneider and Michelle Rodriguez. It was especially fun to film because I got to play 4 different roles in 4 different sketches. It's written and directed by the Shamwow guy, Vince Offer. Yes, you heard me right!

Q: What would your dream role or dream series/movie be?

Liz: I would love to work on a wacky improv comedy or a Quentin Tarantino movie, better yet a combo of the two!?!?

Jonathan: I learned a long time ago to never wish to trade places with someone because you never know what's really going on in their lives. However, I can't think of a single role that Phillip Seymour Hoffman has done that I wouldn't jump-on in a second. He's about ten years older than me, but we're shaped similarly and he can do it all: broad comedy, cerebral comedy, historical period pieces, heavy drama, child molester, gas huffer or priest. He's a terrific actor. So anything that he passes on, I would happily take!

Thanks so much for all the terrific questions Bettina!



    You can check out
    Jonathan's IMDB page

Photos: Jonathan Spencer & BBC Worldwide

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


(Angelo in MIRACLE DAY Ep. 7 'Immortal Sins')

Daniele Favilli played Angelo, Captain Jack's lover in the Torchwood: Miracle Day episode "Immortal Sins". He is a very talented Italian actor, and when I contacted him, he agreed immediately to do a Q&A with us. What a nice and friendly guy!

NOTE: As always, if someone wants to publish this elsewhere, it's fine with me. But please give credit to Torchwood 4 Fans and add a link to one of our sites (facebook, tumblr, twitter, blogger). Thanks !

Q: Were you familiar with Torchwood before you got the role? If not, how did you familiarize yourself with the character of Captain Jack?

A: I knew Torchwood. I watched the first episode long ago and I liked it a lot. I was very much fascinated by Jack Harkness and his team.

Anyway, I tried to approached it in the most naïve way in my work on the role since I did not want anything to affect Angelo's experience of getting to know Jack and be intrigued by him.

Q: How did you get the role of Angelo in Torchwood? Had you heard of or known any of the other cast members or production crew before you went for the job?

A: Well...the old-fashioned way...I got the role out of two auditions. I did not know anybody in the cast or the production. I think they liked my performance and wanted me to be in the show. Well, actually, when I met Russel T. Davies and Julie Gardner they were very excited to meet me (probably not as much as I was to meet them!)

Q: What was the audition process like? Did you have a screen test with John Barrowman or did you first meet him on the set when you came in to record the episode?

A: The audition was at Warner Brothers Studios in L.A.. I read with an assistant of the casting director. I met John the very first day of shooting. Everything was fast: I auditioned a Friday, the next Tuesday I had the second audition, then Wednesday they called me to tell me I got the part, Thursday I went to Warner Brothers to do wardrobe and make up and the very next day we started shooting. All in a week! And then I was in bed with Captain Jack! :-)

The first scene we shot was the one in bed after sex. Think of the intimacy we had to create from scratch!! John was a real gentleman from the very first moment I met him at the make-up. We created a beautiful professional relationship. And John had the idea to mention the burst blood vessel in my eye and include it in the script. The line “what happened to your eye?” was not in the script...

Q: What drew you specifically to the character of Angelo? Are there any insights into your character that we might not have gotten from the episode itself?

A: I loved the character from the very casting call!! Even reading the script for the audition thrilled me. I think Angelo is so passionate and yet so tragic. I felt for him immediately. I loved to play him.

A couple of curiosities: When I tell Jack that I was born in a small village of 200 people and now look at me where I am now, I was actually thinking of my own life. It was hard to get into an acting career and very hard in Italy, but despite all the obstacles I was in Hollywood, at Warner Brothers, acting opposite "Jack Harkness"!!! WOW!

Also, I made a back-story for Angelo that helped me with his struggle and his scars. It doesn't show on screen but in 1927 Italy was ruled by Fascism and being homosexual could easily mean being beaten to death. That's what Angelo talks about when he says “sometimes you have to defend yourself...people say ...things”. I imagined that he went through very hard times in the fascist Italy where he comes from. That was also my idea for his deep motivation to move to the US.

Q: What was your first impression about the character of Angelo when you first read the script? Do you think it changed during the course of production?

A: I loved him from the very beginning. I love to play characters with so many layers and that are conflicted and torn. I love to get emotional living their lives and feel empathy for them. The character did not change much from what was on the script. I think I made him more vulnerable shifting his emotions from shyness to tragic, aggressive desperation.

Q: How do you see Jack and Angelo's relationship? And based on what Angelo did, do you think that Jack could have forgiven him after what had happened? How do you play scenes like that which are so emotionally charged and which have so many levels?

A: Jack and Angelo are a more interesting version of Batman and Robin. A tragic and passionate one! :-)

Well, truth is I feel more like they are like Jesus and Judas. A story of love, betrayal and attempt to redemption. Which I love by the way. The scene on the rooftop is my favourite one. It really moved me. The tears you see are real.

I played the whole arc as a love story and I went into Angelo's point of view that in love we can make errors but we forgive each other. That's what he thinks it's love. The tears and the tragedy come from the realization that Jack is right and it's hard to accept what is inevitable. Angelo cries because he knows there's no future for the two of them.

Jack and Angelo in "Immortal Sins"

Q: We received some information in 'End of the Road' about Angelo's life after Jack. Does it fit with your concept of Angelo - do you believe that's how the man would have lived out his life after Jack?

A: Definitely Angelo being obsessed with immortality and Jack is perfectly in line with who he is in 1927-1928. I did not know what was going to happen in episode 8. I loved that they included the red eye in the story. (that's how Jack recognizes Angelo). I think Angelo is a very interesting character and it would be nice to explore his long life. Luckily this is a sci-fi show and there are time travels and aliens and all kinds of things that can bring a character back to life. So, we'll see...

Q: What was your favorite thing about playing the role of Angelo? How do you see Angelo,as a villain or as a confused man?

A: I loved him being so torn and conflicted. His struggle between his love for God and his sexuality makes him a real human character and that creates a lot of layers for an actor to explore. One of my favourite lines are “I always hoped. If God is love...maybe he loves me too”.

I don't think he is a villain. A villain has an intention to hurt others. Angelo was just in love and thought he had found his paradise (think of how happy he is after Jack laughs and says “I really don't care what people thinks” or after they kill the alien) but he is taken into an hurricane when everything falls apart. I feel like he is very unlucky. And sometimes when things are bigger than us, we make mistakes.

Q: Angelo delivers Jack to the mob who kills him again and again. Was it hard to watch the torture scenes being filmed?

A: I did not see the torture. When the camera was on me, John was just giving me his look 'cause the camera was in his spot (the cellar is quite small). So what you see is what I imagined to see in front of me and I have a very fertile imagination. :-)

I felt like Judas when Pilate has Jesus being whipped and tortured. The horror and the guilt is unbearable.

Q: John Barrowman and Eve Myles have often been asked how different it was to work in the US instead of the UK. We want to ask you now: How was working at the Warner Brothers' studio different from working in Italy?

A: Working at Warner Bros was fantastic! Nothing like that in Italy ever! They make you feel like a star and there's wonderful team work. Also there's enough time to do everything beautifully. It's really a dream. Nowadays Italy's TV and movie business is not even comparable.

Q: How long did you spend working on Torchwood? And how does the Torchwood experience compare to other shows you have worked on?

A: I worked for eight days. Angelo has been the most challenging and deep role I have ever done. It will be in my heart and memory forever. It is a new step up in my learning about human beings and acting. Also this was the best set I've worked in. Especially because of the beautiful attitude of Gwyneth, the director, and John. I hope there will be an opportunity to explore this role in the future. His very long life seems like having a lot to offer.

Q: Jane Espenson mentioned on Twitter that while your scenes with John were being filmed, the director didn't say cut much. How much did you shoot that we didn't get to see in the final version? Were there any bits which you wish they had kept in?

A: Well, me and John had very good chemistry and we felt very confident with each other. It's very rare especially when you are supposed to shoot such intimate and heartfelt scenes. So Gwyneth let us go to see what happened. You actually see almost everything we shot. They just cut out a couple of lines in the window/seduction scene. Nothing major. Those lines probably slowed down the pace of the scene since Angelo originally moved from the window to the bed and then to the window again. Also the sex scene is shorter then what we filmed. ;-)

Q: Were there any outtakes or bloopers that might end up on the DVD release? Could you share any funny stories or jokes that may have happened on set with John Barrowman?

A: Once I couldn't stop laughing when the “Italian” wife of the butcher shows us the room. She is an American actress and she speaks Italian very well but because of her accent, that time she sounded so funny...

The day after I booked the part, I had a blood vessel burst in my eye. (So that's not special effect!) The producers liked it and wrote it into the story. The incredible thing is that it went away right after we finished filming. Maybe I was possessed by the spirit of Angelo!

Q: And the question you'll always be asked if you end up going to a science fiction convention: What was it like to kiss John Barrowman? How does it feel to have played a character that has a bedroom scene with the infamous Captain Jack? ;-)

A: John has beautiful lips. And he is very handsome so I was lucky. ;-) I am not gay but I feel like I am responsible towards my role and I have to do all my best to respect it. So if Angelo is attracted by Jack, I am as well. Then in my real life...

Also, John is a great professional and he has this beautiful quality that makes everybody comfortable on set especially when filming sexy scenes. It helped me a lot, because, of course, I was quite nervous!

Q: Have you shot any gay scenes before? How did you feel about filming these intimate scenes with John Barrowman? 

A: I  once was in a sex scene with a girl and we were completely naked making love in the shower. I had a hard-on, I have to admit! :-) but the Angelo/Jack one was my first gay sex/seduction scene ever! (Well, I had to kiss a guy in another show but nothing compared to this). As I said, the set was very protective and I felt very comfortable with the nudity. Also, I see myself as an eclectic actor and I always love to do new things in my career.

John Barrowman and Daniele Favilli with their stunt doubles

Q: Which part of Italy did you grow up in? Will you be going back or staying in the USA? How long have you been in the US and do you have any plans to come to the UK?

A: I was born and raised in Florence, the beautiful Renaissance city of Leonardo, Michelangelo and all those incredible artists. I love my town. Although I travelled a lot, I lived in Florence the most. I moved to Rome in 2004 and lived there for 4 years before moving to Los Angeles. I love the vibe of L.A. It's a world of opportunities that I never experienced before. I'm planning to stay and work here but I sometimes go back to Italy to see my family and work a little.

I also lived in Canterbury and London for a while back in the '90s. England is in my heart. I really feel very close to that country. I don't know why but every time I go back to London I feel at home. More than I ever felt in Rome for instance. And I'm probably the only Italian who likes British food! I love it! I think it's interesting! ;-)

Q: What would be your dream role to play and do you have any interesting projects coming up in the near future?

A: My dream role is a conflicted role. Like Angelo! I'd love to play the devil, Mephistopheles, Iago in Shakespeare's Othello or Richard III and explore the vulnerability of these characters that are considered usually just villains. I also like very passionate heroes that would do everything they can, against all odds to save the girl or the world!

I have a modern western feature film coming up called SWELTER in which I play one of the bad guys. I love it! It's a great script and it will be a very intriguing film to shoot and to watch. It is directed by Keith Parmer, the writer/director who also cast me in MOB RULES, my first American film. Then later this year I'll be in a science-fiction film with an Italian director who works internationally. I'm also working on a future TV show about the artists of the Renaissance in Florence.

Thank you for the wonderful questions. A big hug to all of you.


Photos: Daniele Favilli & BBC Worldwide

Saturday, August 20, 2011


The very lovely and amazingly talented Shawna Trpcic, costume designer on Torchwood: Miracle Day and many other great TV shows agreed to do a Q&A with me for Torchwood 4 Fans (which was more than nice of her!). Here are our questions and her answers.

NOTE: If someone wants to publish this elsewhere, it's fine with me. But please give credit to Torchwood4Fans (NOT me personally but Torchwood4Fans !) and add a link to one of our sites (facebook, tumblr, twitter). Thanks !


Q: Did you always want to become a costume designer? And was it difficult to get a start in Hollywood?

A: I went to art school to study to be an artist, in my second year changed to fashion design and in my senior year worked with Bob Mackie on the senior project and fell in love with costume. I went over to American Film Institute and asked the student directors if I could design their student films - they said yes. When they graduated I started getting paid. :)

Q: It's safe to say that costumes provide as much flavor to the character as the actors and scripts. How do you begin the process of finding a look for a character such as Jilly?

A: I researched PR and women in media. I base the look in reality and then just push it a little - to bring a little dazzle. Even for Oswald I researched pedophiles and serial killers - not pleasant but I need to see the reality. It helps the actor find the character as well.

Q: Continuing with Jilly, you broke some classic rules there (ie, a redhead wearing red.) Do you deliberately go in that sort of a direction in order to help set the opinion of the audience, or is the process more organic than that?

A: Even the actress said "I don't wear red" - but look how powerful and iconic that coat is now. That's the goal - to push the envelope and not bend to what you are "supposed" to do.

Q: What do you think has been your biggest challenge in terms of designing a look for a character? And what was the most difficult thing to design for Miracle Day?

A: I don't really find designing difficult - there are challenges - budget, time, etc - but each character I have done is so rich and has so many layers to discover - I love the process of peeling back the layers and finding the look.

Q: What was your favorite outfit that you've designed in both Torchwood and any other series that you've worked on?

A: Oswald, Jilly, Vera, Rex, Jack - rediscovering his coat, Gwen - I loved them all. You can't really separate them - each is so unique. I loved Firefly series as well - so many new worlds to design every week.

Q: What are your influences when you design clothes in general and specifically for Torchwood?

A: I let the character influence me - the actor's body, the physical requirements - the way the actor moves - and most important the written character on the page. I want to make their vision a reality.

Q: You have a lot of experience with iconic science fiction type programs. Do you prefer working on those types of shows or would you like to do something different? What would be your ideal program or movie to do design for?

A: Fantasy and sci fi are definite favorites. Someone asked me if I would be bored on a lawyer show – no, not really - every written character is layered and discovering subtleties is fun, too.

Q: With Torchwood, Jack has a distinctive look and Gwen more or less too. Does that make it more difficult to come up with something new or is it easier because you already have an example?

A: It's fun to have a jumping off point. I really wanted to make my own mark with Jack and was so pleased that the fans were happy with the new coat. John loved it too and he knows the character best.

Q: Have you ever been intimidated with the thought of making changes, such as in the case of Captain Jack, a character whose fanbase has some rather strong opinions about his outfit? And did you go back and watch previous series of Torchwood to get a feel for any of the characters?

A: I watched all three seasons in a marathon to really absorb the characters. I wasn't intimidated - I have worked with a famous captain before. :) And I got Russell's and John's approval on my sketch before we made the actual coat, so I knew they liked it.

Q: How many variations of the RAF greatcoat did you create for Miracle Day? How long did it take to re-design the coat? Who is the Italian tailor who produced the coat?

A: Two variations, one with thick wool, one with thin cashmere - both the same cut. It took only moments to redraw the coat in the thinner silhouette. And a tailor named Il Stephano.

Q: Do you have a picture of JB wearing the coat for the first time? Why does the coat look more blue than grey compared to the former one which was more grey than blue? Is it correct that the coat is made from 70% of wool (non-allergic) and 30% of cashmere, with some rayon for the liner? Did you ask some advice from Ray Holman (the previous designer) to create a lighter coat?

A: Yes we have lots of fitting photos. I chose the fabric from swatches in a fabric book off of feel and weight. Not sure of % content; it's more like 50/50 cashmere - it is an iridescent rayon lines. And no. I have never met Ray.

Q: You flew out to the UK to do a costume measurement with John Barrowman. What was your first impression of John?

A: He was lovely and energetic but VERY serious about the changes I spoke to him about. I draped the old coat on him and pinned it a great deal to show him the silhouette. He respects his fans VERY much and wanted to be sure it was perfect.

Q: Over the course of the Torchwood production you tweeted about many a Fraterday night. What's a typical day for you when working on a show like Torchwood and how do you balance those long hours with your family?

A: I have a great team. I try not to work 12-15 hours every day but that is often the case in TV. My set crew - Alana and Joey - put in the longest hours.

Pictures: BBC Worldwide and Shawna Trpcic