Monday, 16 November 2009
Hero: a tribute to the late Edward Woodward
This post probably doesn't belong here. It is an entry concerned with neither the technical aspects of writing, or the grind, or advice from illustrious peers. It is a tribute to a hero who passed away today.
From Moorcock and Williams Blake's bat-shit unity of vision, to the lyrical narratives of Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Tom Waites, and Barry Adamson, many men have influenced the type of writing I do, but very few have influenced the type of characters I use. Edward Woodward was one such man.
Pretty much every project I've conceived has had one archetype in there somewhere. He may or may not be a major character, but somewhere amongst all the lunatics, thieves, deviants, murderers and rapists there'll always be The Decent Man. Sure, his name is always different, but he's easy to spot once you know who you're looking for. He'll have a shot of Harry Morant's barely contained outrage, a dash of David Callan's social disposition, and a healthy dose of Robert McCall's wearied inability to escape his 'trade'. He'll always be over the hill, have few friends, and maybe even have something of the pathetic about him, but he'll always pursue what's right...or fight tooth and claw against the powers that make him do otherwise. Compared to most of the other self-serving freaks and schemers that litter my work, that makes him a rarity.
And why does this Decent Man occupy my work? Well, words like 'Towering' and 'Masterful' are often misused when applied to actors, but not in Edward Woodward's case. When I first saw him in Breaker Morant, he blew me away. I was so used to laconic, laid-back American actors like Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford, that this British man--with his gravitas and authority--was unlike anything I'd seen with the possible exception of Bond or Obi Wan. Woodward was so much more intense. Morant was intense. Callan was intense. McCall was...well, The Equalizer was the first TV series I became truly hooked on, and all because of the boiling rage of Robert McCall. This wasn't some cool-hand rogue or vigilante who kissed the girls and killed the baddies with a yanky drawl and a sense of boredom. This was a man who railed at the world and kicked against it with a British accent and a scathing fury. This was my type of hero.
The Morant/Callan/McCall hybrid will always be there in my work, but sadly Edward Woodward is no longer with us. All I can do is thank him, because he shaped a unique aspect of my output, and occupies a unique place amongst the pantheon of men who will always be an influence to me. I only hope I can do that influence some justice.
Edward Woodward, I salute you, and, more then that, I thank you.