The Interview with Mr. Nick Brimble
First, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to do an interview with you!
1. How did you first become involved with Crossbow? I had worked on various tv shows for Casting Director Beth Charkham and in September 1986 she offered me a job playing an unnamed Black Knight in a couple of episodes of William Tell (later known as Crossbow). I first did episodes 12 and 13 directed by Allan Goldstein and was then asked to do episodes 1 and 3 for George Milhalka.
2. Did you enjoy playing Horst and do you have anything in common with him? I got to wear black leather, gallop around on a big horse and be mean to people.... what’s not to like.?
3. Did you have any input on the scripting of your character? Not really…. Although I became good friends with Story Editor Steven Bawol and he created all sorts of great story lines. I guess he based some of it on what he thought I could do.
4. Did you know from the beginning that Horst's character would become more important and developed by the end of the first series or did you start off thinking he was going to stay as a more tertiary character? No idea. I started as an unnamed Black Knight and It just kind of grew organically. I think in my second block (episode 1, The Banquet) I became Horst and was working as the sidekick to the great Hans Meyer. They just kept on writing stuff for me to do.
5. Why did your character basically disappear during the last season? Were you busy with other projects or did the writers just decide to phase Horst out? I’m not sure. Probably everything was up in the air in series 3. Money was running short and ideas were becoming a little odd.
6. What did you think of the storyline of season 3, with a new direction for Horst as the Prince of the Wasteland? Which type of Horst did you like most and why? Prince of the Wasteland was a great idea and fun to play. But I remember doing the episode called “The Bridge” and all the guards on the bridge are “dead bodies”. There was really only Will, Dave Milner and me in the episode… a sure sign that money was getting tight. Think I prefered it when things were on a larger scale.
7 Did you like playing the bad guy? And what did you like or dislike about your role the most? Bad guys are usually the most interesting …. And fun to play. Sometimes it was a little hard to justify that, as the leader of the Black Knights, supposedly the most feared elite soldiers in the Empire , we let Tell slip through our fingers week after week. We always planned to “hang him in the morning”…. giving him time to escape! I always asked if we could just kill him straight away…. But, unsurprisingly, they wouldn’t let me.
8 Your last appearence in Crossbow was in the episode "The Bridge" and you even didn't appear as guest actor in "Moment of Truth" (only in flashbacks). Were you disappointed that there was no ending to the story of Horst? I was asked to do “Moment of Truth” but the terms were not acceptable. I think it’s best not to go into details. Will once told me that an Actor has very little power, all he has is the power of “No”. In this case I said No. But I prefer to remember the overwhelmingly large number of good memories.
9. How did your brother, Ian, get involved and did you enjoy filming the episode with him? (Episode the physisian) He was cast in the normal way. We have worked together on several occasions. We played brothers in “Smuggler“ and in the “Lock Stock“ TV series.
10. Did you perform your stunts yourself or was there a stunt double? There was a great Stunt Coordinator called Philippe Guegan. He made sure we were safe at all times. But we did our own riding and fighting I don’t think I had any major stunts that needed a double
11. You've done a lot of horse-riding and swordplay on camera, is this something you learned on the job, in your professional training, or did you learn it as a child? When you go to a casting session they ask if you can horse-ride, or whatever is required in the job. You just say “Yes”, and worry about it later. I picked everything up as I went along. Your job as an actor is to look like you know what you are doing – even if you don’t.
12. How about the sword in “The Bridge” is that one you chose yourself or was that in the script (provided by ‘George the Armeror”)? It was provided by the Armourer.
13. The episode “The Handmaiden” in Hellburg Castle (chateau Boulbon) was a particularly spectacular action episode. Do you remember filming this episode and if so how was your experience with all the action sequences: setting the door in the tower on fire, pushing two of your men of a wall to follow Tell, and many other stunts? I had never seen this episode. I have just now watched it on your site for the first time- so thank you for that! Really good episode. And good to see Guy Rolfe who is sadly no longer with us. In terms of action sequences I remember shooting the sequence with the Black Knights riding up, from the beginning of episode 1. Christian Duguay was shooting using a heavy Steadicam from the back of a galloping horse. I’d never seen anything like that, and it was really exciting to be part of. Christian is a one-off!
14 Did you choose your own Fresian horse? Gessler and others had Spanish Andalusian horses, how were the horses divided among the actors? I don’t remember how it came about but I expect the Horse Master chose a horse that suited the character. My horse was called Romeo and I had him all through the three series. I really liked him…. He was lively and spirited but not too difficult to control for a novice rider like me. Jeremy was a much better rider.
15. Did you enjoy filming on location in France and what were some of your favourite spots? Which ones do you remember? I loved every minute of it. We would start in the summer in the mountains. (I was based in Chambery to begin with) and gradually work our way south so that we were around Avignon by Christmas. We were always in spectacular locations.
16. Was there spare time to enjoy the country and visit other areas or was all your time spent on the different set locations? There was time to visit nearby sites. I particularly remember walking over the top of the Pont du Gard with my son who was about 13 years old at that time. He happily ran over but it scared the life out of me….. Beautiful though. We also went to the Carmargue to see the white horses and bull running where young men try to pull a cockade from between the bull’s horns (without hurting them) – very memorable!
17. Do you have any fond memories or funny stories from your time filming? I particularly remember the lunches. Everything stops and you sit at large tables with white table-cloths to have a three or four course meal brought to the table to enjoy with wine and great conversation. All the actors and crew mixed up together. Very civilised. It’s not like that on a British film set.
18. Was there any experience you had, or skill that you learned, while working on Crossbow that was important or useful in your career later on? Just to get on with all different people and enjoy yourself. Filming is meant to be fun
19. After Crossbow, you appeared in other medieval adventures: "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and "A Knight's Tale" movies and "Robin of Sherwood". Did your experience in Crossbow help you to get these roles? Did you like acting in stories set in that time period? I doubt it helped as the show was hardly seen in England. I don’t mind if it’s period, present day or science fiction – I enjoy it all.
20. Do you ever see or are you in contact with anyone from Crossbow? I have visited Will and his family in America and he has been over here. We are still in touch. I also keep in touch with Conrad who I knew before Crossbow, as I had worked with him several times. Guy Rolfe used to summon me to take tea at the Ritz. Guy was old school! He had worked in Hollywood in the old days and when I was going out to LA he advised me to get a good suit and an overcoat to wear when meeting producers. When I got there I found they all wore shorts and short-sleeved shirts! As I say, Guy was from a different era.
21. What are your favorite episodes and why? I haven’t seen them all, but I did enjoy watching The Handmaiden for the first time on your site.
22. Did you view the episodes after they were made to see your own acting? There was only a very limited showing in UK. There was some controvosy because Crossbows could be easily bought, whereas Guns are tightly regulated here. The authorities were worried the show might encourage people to buy Crossbows…. So we never got a chance to see much of it.
23 a When you did not play in a specific episode, did you go home or did you stay in France? If you aren’t needed the company send you back home…. And of course an actor also has a home life to try and maintain.
23 b. Isn’t it hard to follow the whole storyline if you play bits and pieces in a different order? You read the script first so you know where you are. It’s all part of the job.
24. You played in many movies but did anyone recognize you from Crossbow? I got letters from America and France but it wasn’t much seen in England.
25. According to the internet, your father worked as an actor sometimes when you were a child. Did he or anyone else influence you in becoming an actor? My father was a keen amateur actor. As a child I would help him learn his lines, go to rehearsals with him and sometimes appear in plays with him. I was given a season ticket to Bristol Old Vic Theatre when I was eleven and went to every play they did there until I went to University (watching actors like Peter O’Toole). My parents also took me to Stratford several times to see Shakespeare plays. So I was always interested in Theatre. I don’t think it occured to me that I could earn a living at it though. And I never considered films and television as anything I could work in. I set off on a different path after University…. And then decided that I needed to give it a try.
26. Are you working fulltime at the moment or are you semi-retired? Actors don’t really retire unless health issues force them to. But there are less opportunities for older people. I am very fortunate to still be active. I do a lot of voice work, have done some “motion capture” work in video games, and have just completed filming a guest part in a new tv series called “Grantchester”
27. In which movie would you like to have played and why? One of my early favourite films was “On the Waterfront”. Playing any kind of part with Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger, Lee J Cobb and Eva Marie Saint would have been marvellous. Another dream would have to have been to have had a small part in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”. I could have watched James Stewart, John Wayne, Lee Marvin work. That sounds like heaven to me.
Is there something else you like to share with us fans? Just that it’s a pleasure to know that something we all enjoyed doing all those years ago is still remembered and enjoyed today. Thanks for taking the time to run the website.
Thank you for the interview, Mr. Brimble!
Nick Brimble's personal website which includes a Showreel and some photographs.
There is also a fan website containing many photographs (including some from Crossbow). You need to sign in to use this one.