We catch Scottish stage actor BILLY BOYD on his return from The Lord Of The Rings, to chat about his new Traverse production. And compare him tO a gecko. Words: Steve Cramer
n the way to the Traverse bar to meet Billy Boyd. I
run across an actress friend. On being informed of tny
mission she says. ‘oh. he’s kind of sexy'. I‘ve long since ceased attempting to fathom the enigmas of female sexual tastes. but on meeting him close up for the first time. I can sort of see what she means.
I interrupt him nibbling at a plate of kedgeree. and he very affany agrees to shift to a quiet table. A wee guy full of little. quick movements and great big eyes. he reminds me of a cute (gecko: the kind you can take home and pet. that doesn't abruptly change sex. lay eggs and get fierce. Oh. you don’t know what a gecko is‘.’ Boyd does. he‘s just back from eighteen months in New Zealand filming one of the biggest movies of the year.
'I loved it there.‘ he says. ‘And I was there long enough to have my own house. my own set of friends who were nothing to do with the movie. I had a whole life there.‘ As an Australian. I find pleasure in this latter prospect hard to
imagine and believe that the only good thing to come out of
New Zealand is the plane to Sydney. But then there's Peter Jackson. director of such splendid gross-out movies as Bad lime and Meet The l‘eebles. But how does a special-effects fiend direct such big budget films as Tolkien‘s Middle Earth trilogy'.’
Boyd surprises with his answer. ‘Certainly. he's really interested in things like prosthetics and special effects. but in The Lord ()f'l'lze Rings he wanted to make special effects part of the movie. but not so much that people would say “Wow. look at the special effects“ and come out of the story. He knows we're there to tell a story. and look into the emotions of the characters. My character. Pippin. has this great arc through the trilogy: he matures as it goes on. Peter saw things like character development as important.’
Boyd is here primarily to discuss The Ballad 0/ Crazy Paula. the first in a series of Traverse projects which will combine the talents of notable international writers with leading Scottish dramatists. This production brings us leading Flemish writer Arne Sierens. whose play is given an English language treatment by Stephen Greenhorn. who counts the tremendous Passing Places among his stage successes of the 90s.
Crazy Paula tells the story of Raymond (Boyd) whose half-brother Serge was once the hellraising drummer of an 80s cult band. Raymond is trying to emulate his brother’s achievements. but finds himself merely teaching drum skills to children. and playing with aspiring musicians nearly young enough to be his kids. The appearance of Serge's notorious free-spirited girlfriend. Paola (Kathryn Howden) — now a respectable middle class mother seeking a music teacher for her child. and unaware of Raymond‘s connection with Serge — sparks a row that involves varying accounts of the past.
‘lt becomes a confiict about who owns the memory most.‘ Boyd comments. ‘lt's hard to get your head around it. It‘s a really theatrical piece. both the original and the version by Stephen. Arne says it‘s like a boxing match. where there aren‘t so much scenes as rounds. and you‘re always trying to work out who's ahead on points.‘ Treat Boyd like a gecko: catch him while you can.
The Ballad Of Crazy Paola, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 5-Sat 20 Oct, then touring. The Lord Of The Rings is out in December.
16 THE LIST 11 ~18 Oct 2001
Ilw 3% 3.7, 5%,“
Billy Boyd is making a hobbit of success