Thomas Gladysz: When did you first get interested in silent film?
Paul McGann: About ten years ago after becoming a patron of Bristol Silents. I'd had a general interest since my student days in London, during which the restored Napoleon was premiered, Kevin Brownlow's Abel Gance and David Robinson's Chaplin were published, and Louise Brooks was being 're-discovered.'
Thomas Gladysz: Tell me more about your involvement with Bristol Silents. How did that relationship come about?
Paul McGann: I supported one of their early events, I think it was a screening of The Big Parade, and met Chris Daniels [a founder of the group]. He's kindly involved me in quite a few of their projects since, each bigger and better by the year.
Thomas Gladysz: Any favorite films? How about favorite directors or stars?
Paul McGann: The first director I worked with, Bruce Robinson, told me when we met that if I thought Jaws was the perfect movie I plainly hadn't seen The Gold Rush. So I did. He was right. I've been a fan of Louise Brooks since first seeing Pandora's Box on television. I remember thinking they must've had that girl playing Lulu parachuted in from the present.
Thomas Gladysz: You've written and spoken about Louise Brooks, and introduced her films. What is it about the actress that attracts you?
Paul McGann: She appeared to find, if only briefly, the perfect working spirit. Matchlessly beautiful, fully intelligent and a total natural; most screen actors would kill to be so blessed.
Thomas Gladysz: At this year's San Francisco Silent Film festival, you're narrating South, Frank Hurley's documentary of Ernest Shackleton's expedition to Antarctica. What can we expect?
|Paul McGann as Doctor Who|
Paul McGann: Musician Stephen Horne and myself will try to recreate at least a flavour of the public screenings Shackelton hosted at London's Philharmonic Hall in 1919 when he read from his memoir while Hurley's film played.
Thomas Gladysz: Have you narrated the film before?
Paul McGann: Twice, in Bristol and Pordenone, Italy.
Thomas Gladysz: Are there any films you're especially excited about at this year's Festival.
Paul McGann: Aside from the thrill of seeing a beautifully restored Pandora's Box, I'm really intrigued about Little Toys from China and Erotikon from Sweden.
Thomas Gladysz: You played a Time Lord in Doctor Who. Were you to travel back in time and return to the silent era and be cast in a film, which film would that be?
Paul McGann: That's easy, Murnau's Sunrise. I'd gladly (my wife might say naturally) take over George O'Brien's duties as the man caught between Janet Gaynor and Margaret Livingston.