Interview Rolf Kanies (Priest)

русский перевод интервью

Yulia Shcherbakova : Do you think Priest really deserved the love he received from his wife, a soul devoted to him, as well as the hatred and despise from Prince, who forced him to do his bidding? What do you think could have landed a guy like Priest on planet Fire, into Prince’s grasp.

Rolf Kanies:  These are really interesting questions……well, everybody deserves love, to my mind, but Priest knew, that he was only an alien, which the audience finds out very late, if they had not seen “The Battle”, ( in the “Starfighter “ aeroplane; I cannot remember the episode) and for that reason, he would love to be loved, but on the other hand side, he knew he could not give love back; a tragic conflict.- And the hate and despise from Prince were the result of Priests try to get in charge, to get the power of Prince and, if possible, to kill him. But, as we all know, Priest was not intelligent enough to do that (as, to some extent, a spoof of President W. Bush…..who wonders!) — If I remember right, Priest was a minor servant and Prince thought, it would be good to have one, but how he landed on planet fire I do not know (perhaps that just the writer wanted it….. LOL)

Zyf-G: From your public biography we recall that you started your performing career in theatre. Do you still do theatre work? And if yes, what are some of the recent plays you took part in?

Rolf Kanies: No, I do not work in theatre anymore. I did it for nearly 20 years and I was not interested in movies or TV at all.
But in 1997 my mind changed, because I disliked the way how upcoming directors interpreted the plays, it was too selfish, too vain and too much of a destroy of the original plays to my mind.
When I did theatre, I played a lot of Shakespearean main parts like “Hamlet”, “Macbeth”, Romeo and Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet” (in two different performances), etc.; German authors like Goethe (“Faust”), Schiller and Kleist, but as well Beckett, Chekhov, Mrozek, etc. and as well main parts in musicals.

Zyf-G: Is there a kind of role you’d never play, no matter how much compensation you were offered?

Rolf Kanies: I cannot think about a role, which I would not play.
As an actor I always had a huge range of parts in theatres as well as in movies.
And actually I have played all kind of murderers, child abusers and even Hitler. But I played as well family fathers, women,
tramps, priests, cardinals, lawyers.
For an actor there cannot be a taboo.


Konrad Knox: Looking back at your work in Lexx, well, to say the least, your role was pretty weird. I mean, let’s face it, everything about Lexx was weird, and Priest was a weird guy. What was more weird to you: doing the president parody in season 4, or the original Priest in season 3?

Rolf Kanies: “Weird” is a good word for Priest and for the show.
But I would disagree we you, if it means “nonsense” to you.
To my mind, especially the fourth season, was very political and in a way political theatre! It was trash, but at the same time art! When I played Priest in 2001, president George W. Bush was in charge and Priest behaved, partially, in the same way Bush did. But (!): all that shooting happened, bombing parts of the world to ground, before the Twin Towers felt and the war against Iraq began. We shot season four from February to that date 9/11 (and some episodes as well after that), so we shot it before Mr. Bush showed his real face! The writers knew beforehand what a dangerous guy he was. And when I gave an interview for one of Germanys most political newspapers in autumn 2001, about me spoofing W. Bush and playing Hitler for the Americans (“Joe and Max”) in the same year, the interview was not published, it was censored! No one dared to say something against this arsehole (which finally changed afterwards). Imagine to do such a story about Putin nowadays, I am sure you would be in trouble.
(But the character of Priest in season four was much richer in feelings and desires than the very simple character of G.W. Bush).
— The Priest in season 3 was a Shakespearian character, an ass-kisser, with the will to be in charge. As, in a way, all those characters in “LEXX” were, in a way, Shakespearian characters”: lonely souls, assassins, lovers of the most strange kind; lost children fighting an endless war between “good” and “bad”. And the spaceship itself had a soul, which was amazing, funny and sad.

Konrad Knox: And as a follow up question to that: when it comes to weirdness, Lexx actually got less weird and more grounded in reality as seasons progressed. Have you watched the 1st and 2nd seasons of Lexx, and did you ever wish you were in those seasons? Because things there were weirder.

Rolf Kanies: That “LEXX” became less weird in season four was the result of travelling to planet earth. It got closer to our lives, so it had to be more “realistic”, dealing with our world. I watched many episodes of the other seasons, but I was happy to start with “The Battle” and then doing season four. The authors did not know before season four, what they are going to do with Priest and even, when I started shooting in 2001, after seeing me playing, they changed the entire scripts for that season to make my part much, much bigger.

Mikhail(ГорЫн): In the most recent years there is a lot of fan fiction written for a hypothetical 5th season of Lexx. These fan stories have a wide range of potential plot lines and character development lines. After you were done with the Lexx’s finale, did you ever imagine your own version of what would happen to Priest, if there was an actual 5th season?

Rolf Kanies: I didn`t read the fan fiction for a hypothetical season 5. And I knew there would not be a 5th season, because I knew the producer very well. He wanted to do other things (as he did afterwards like: “The Conclave”, “Blissestrasse”, “Clay´s P.O.V.”).
To my mind all stories that had to be told were told and I never imagined, what would have happened to Priest, if there would have been a 5th season.

 Mikhail(ГорЫн): Do you still keep in touch with other members of the Lexx crew after ‘The Conclave’? Have you ever had a chance to work together with any of them again?

Rolf Kanies: Yes, I still keep in touch with members of “LEXX” as well as with the members of “The Conclave”. On one hand side it is all about Mr. Donovan, the producer, writer and director, who keep his “sheep” together and on the other hand side we got so close to each other doing “LEXX”, that with some of the members I am still in contact.
I just came from a shooting of “Clay´s P.O.V.”, in Prague for weeks ago, which again is a weird TV mini-series, written, produced and directed by Paul Donovan, for Super Channel Canada. We were shooting the second season already (we shot the first season two years ago), where I played a main part in one episode (in season 1 and the same character in season 2). So, for example, I saw James Faulkner many times again and lots of the crew members, who worked on “LEXX” as well as they worked on “The Conlave”, as well as they worked on “Blissestrasse”. But this time, on “Clay´s P.O.V.”, the main character was played by the son of James Faulkner, whose name is Guy Faulkner.

Anna: «If you have watched the second season of Lexx, in particular the 2.18 episode, «Brigadoom», where they do a stage play for the whole 40 minutes, do you think if that play was extended, filled with more detail, that it could have hope in theatre as a feature performance?»

Rolf Kanies: Dear Anna, I am sorry, but I have to admit, that I cannot answer your question, because I have forgotten, what the story was about in “Brigadoom”. But in general I can tell you, that the producer Paul Donovan was many times thinking, if shows could be good for a theatre performance as well. Once, I know, he was quite seriously thinking about getting “The Conclave” on stage in Rome and in London, but that didn`t came out in the end or, lets see, it might be a possibility for the future.

Konrad Knox: I mean, being a balloon flying cursed soul forever bound to serve the ruler of Hell — is pretty weird, but you could have had worms living in your neck, have a robot body, or a device for sucking out fluids out of other people. Do you think you’d enjoy that? Good times, eh?

Rolf Kanies: LOL……..well, I can imagine quite a lot of things, but I think, how they created the character of Priest, it was fine. You surely can do too much, if even worms are coming out of your neck or what so ever. It has always to be in relation to the story you want to tell. And when the carrot went into Mr. Presidents` asshole is was very funny and very intelligent too and it kept the story going.
Konrad Knox:   «There are different types of actors out there, right? Some are method actors, who have to lock themselves in a dressing room and meditate for a time on the role. Then there are the strict do-the-job professionals, you know the type, the lady who is having a phone conversation up to 60 seconds before action is called on the set, then she does the job perfectly, and right away, snap!; and she can redial her friend and go right back to the conversation. Some actors read the entire script and the original screenplay, or the book source material (good example are the young cast members of Game of Thrones, who are actually fans of the books themselves); others (like, again, Game of Thrones’ example Charles Dance) do not read the entire story, and only work on their part. If it’s not too personal of a question, what kind of actor would you consider yourself to be? Do you have to research the material in its entirety, or just the part you need to do, do you easily snap in and out of it? Is it on case by case basis? Would you consider yourself to be a follower of the Lexx series? And, if not Lexx, are there any other projects in your history that you could honestly consider yourself to be a true fan of?»

Rolf Kanies: LOL…….you must be an actor or a director or what so ever, that you know so many things about our work on set.
Well, I studied a lot of different ways of acting like: the school of Brecht, Michael Chekhov (Михаил Александрович Чехов), Stanislavski (Константин Сергеевич Станиславский), Jerzy Grotowski, J.W. von Goethe, Peter Brook and Lee Strasberg.
When I am starting to play a new part, I always decide which way of school I want to follow. So I have different possibilities to act. The audience will not mention it, they see or they do not see, if it is good acting or not.
On set I am always very much concentrated being in my thoughts and dealing with the part, meditating. “The lady with the cell phone” I hate as much as anything else on earth and my only wish is “to play here against the wall”, as we say in Germany, which I do!
Nothing is more powerful than concentration on the job you are doing, to my mind. The other way can be “good”, but never excellent!
No, I am not an actor who easily snaps in or out.
(Even on “LEXX” there was an actress, I will not tell her name, who signed her autographs during my close up…..disgusting! Of course, I imagined another human being, not playing with her at all…and it worked out very fine, for me! But I have to admit, that acting is better and more beautiful, if your partner is a good actor!)
I know the entire script beforehand (of course only my lines and the lines of the others I have to react on). If there is the necessity of doing a research I am very much into that (for example I did a research of the Hitler regime and my part as General Krebs in “The Downfall” for more than three months).
So, I am an actor, who is always well prepared, who does, before shooting, at least one hour of exercises concerning voice, body and soul. Before the take I am always reminding me that I have to be a “white piece of paper” (school of Peter Brook), trusting my body and my brain that they are going to do, what they have learned. And in the moment I am acting, I try to play, as if those words were my last words for ever. And I consider myself not as an artist. I am a craftsman, who is doing his job like a carpenter.
And to answer your last questions: I am a huge fan of “LEXX” especially of the fourth season. I admire the way it was written, played and most of the times how it was directed!
Well, to say that I am “a fan” of some projects is hard to tell. I like very much fantasy movies like “The Lord Of The Rings” trilogy or “Star Wars”. I like the films of Stephen Frears (“Prick Up Your Ears” for example or “The Queen” with adorable actress Helen Mirren). My favourite films are created by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci, Luchino Visconti and lots of films more.

Sincerely, Jan

Dear fans,

Thank you very much for your interesting questions. It was an honour for me to answer them and hopefully I answered them in a way that it is interesting for you.
Especially I have to say “thank you” to Yana Polyakova (Zyf G) who kept the contact with me and who got those questions translated.

C глубо́ким почте́нием

Rolf Kanies


Translated questions - Konrad Knox
Translated answers Rolf Canico - Rjess Mayya
Prepare a publication - Zyf G