Paull is no stranger to playing supporting but meaningful characters
in films that delve deep in the social consciousness. Since
his debut as Captain Richard N. Jenson in 1970's Academy award
winning film Patton, Morgan Paull has played in several powerful
and poignant films. Though he has all but left the big screen,
he is far from forgotten. And, as you will see in this close-up
interview, he has never, by any means, been a small part of
the over all big picture.
PR & News Editor
what a turtle is?
Interview by Gary
Willoughy, BladeZone Editorial Manager
When I called Morgan Paull I was kind of nervous, he was quite disarming
in the fact that he was just a normal guy. He put me at ease, I
told him that I wanted to interview him for BladeZone a Blade Runner
web fan magazine. He seems surprised that I wanted to drive to Lake
Arrow head to interview him about the part he played in Blade Runner,
the part being Dave Holden. Although he was shot in the first scene,
he was supposed to have had another scene in the hospital. So he
should have his opinions and insight into this movie.
We arranged a day and a time to meet at his house, condo in Lake
Arrowhead. The meeting time was on Saturday January 15th at 1:00.
Lake Arrowhead is nestled in the mountains northeast of Los Angeles
in the San Bernardino National Forest about 90 miles from Hollywood.
Saturday arrived and I was nervous about meeting a character/ actor
from my favorite movie Blade Runner. I left in what I thought would
be more than enough time so if I had problems finding it I wouldn't
Several freeways later I arrived in San Bernardino, stopped at a
restaurant for a bite, then started up the mountains taking the
"rim of the world highway". I case you hadn't guessed
it was named for a reason. You look down and you certainly look
like you are on the rim of the world, climbing up and up above seven
Lake Arrowhead is actually said to be at 5,300 feet, but the signs
said seven thousand on the way up. I meandered around the highway
going ever further up till you felt like saying, "Come on now,
does this end". Finally I arrived at a small town of Blue Jay,
a beautiful town, you could see why they called Lake Arrowhead "the
Alps of Southern California" normally there would be snow there
they have four seasons a year unlike Los Angeles.
I found Morgan Paull's condominium complex, he had given me excellent
instructions, I nervously knocked on the door to his condo, and
was greeted cordially by the actor himself. He ushered me into his
living room, not a thing out of place. I introduced myself and we
chatted briefly, before I turned on the tape recorder. I had many
prepared questions, but the interview was much more like a conversation.
After many questions, both he and I had dry throats and he asked
me if I wanted something to drink and I replied that I would like
some ice water if it wasn't too much trouble. While he got the ice
water from the kitchen I looked around in the dining room adjacent
to the kitchen. I did notice a greeting card sitting on a table,
with a movie theater on the front , he noticed my interest and handed
to me, I opened it to find the words "Merry Christmas 2000"
from Chuck" it was from Charleton Heston. The use of "Chuck"
I thought that was great. Mr. Paull was friends with many other
actors of course.
I pressed record and so our conversation began...
Gary Willoughby: It's a pleasure to have this moment with you Mr.
Paull. It means a lot to BladeZone readers that you are alive and
well. And thank you for having us to your house.
Morgan Paull: My pleasure.
GW: Though it isn't Blade Runner related, I have to ask about your
experience in Patton, back in 1971. I know Gerry, the creator of
BladeZone, is a huge fan of this film, as am I, and we wanted to
know, what was it like working with the late George C. Scott?
MP: my working experience with George C. Scott was terrific. He's
a very giving actor
A wonderful actor. My working experience
GW: (laughs) So, your off camera experience with him was something
MP: I would call it unmentionable.
GW: (laughing more) Ok. So he was a professional in front of the
MP: Yes. When he was there.
GW: When he was there?
MP: Which was most of the time. Yes, he was wonderful on camera.
(he ponders for a moment) He resisted doing the opening speech because
he thought it ruined the character. They just started fighting him
until he agreed to do it.
MP: Well, it won him the Oscar ®.
GW: The scene where he's standing in front of the giant flag.
MP: yes. Which was a compilation of several real Patton speeches.
There wasn't a word in the movie that wasn't approved by General
(Omar) Bradley and the Pentagon, there wasn't a word that Patton
didn't say. Although some were from a combination of three or four
speeches he made. But, he became Patton, and he suddenly felt that
the opening speech would make him look like some sort of fanatic,
which in many ways Patton was. So he got protective, and started
balking about doing it. Which he had to do it, they had an agreement.
And he did it brilliantly. When he finally agreed, he said "All
right, I'll do it once." So it was one of the first movies
where they had multiple cameras covering, because he might have
really meant he'd only do it once. And he did. Once he shot the
scene, he said, "There
You got your speech. Goodbye."
So, all the cuts in that one scene are based on all the cameras
GW: That's incredible. Of course I'll have to watch that scene again
when I get home now knowing how that happened. Patton was your first
film, let's move on up a decade to 1981 and your involvement in
Blade Runner playing replicant hunter Dave Holden. How did you get
the part of Holden? Did you have to read for the part?
MP: No. I didn't. There was this strange request from my agent,
and at this point I'd already starred in or co-starred in some 15
films already, and he said "Ridley Scott wants you to be Harrison
Ford, to read with ten girls," apparently for the Daryl Hannah
and Sean Young roles. And I said, "What? What do you mean read
as him?" And he said, "They're going to pay you a lot
of money. They just don't want to have Harrison Ford to have to
go through the experience nor actually be a part of the (final)
decision." Although he may have made a test scene later, but
I don't know. So, I tested five of them, while being Harrison Ford,
for the Sean Young and Darryl Hannah roles. And, at the end of the
day when they asked me my opinion of who read the best for Priss,
I said "Hands down, Darryl Hannah." And I actually had
another choice for the role Sean Young took, because I'd felt that
she might be difficult.
GW: Can you say who that other person was?
MP: Yes. A lady, Nina Axelrod, whom subsequently became a casting
director. And now lives, I think, in Colorado
running a theatre
company there. When she didn't get that role, which she'd dreamed
of and had studied for. It was such a disappointment (not getting
the role) that she quit the business as an actress there.
MP: She was actually my first choice for Rachael.
GW: So, you never had to read for the role of Holden then?
MP: Oh no, So what happened, Ridley... because it was such a long
process, I would WORK with each of these different girls two hours
each for two days, these were actually screen tests, with sets and
everything just like they were shooting the movie. Those screen
tests exsist someplace. Anyway I would work with them giving them
a fair shot. at the end of it Ridley decided he liked me around.
So, I'd been paid for this experience. When I wrapped on the second
day, and by the time I'd gotten home, he'd called my agent, David
Shapiro, and then Dave called me and said "he wants you in
the film, and it's a good role." I said fine and had a new
deal. So, that was a surprise. I'd thought I was simply being hired
to test with these girls. Which I would have balked at the offer
to read as Harrison, but Dave told me they pay really well to do
this. And what's ironic is that I'd worked with Harrison for years.
We'd competed for roles for forever. I had guest starred on TV shows
where he'd been just a small player. And, as fate would have it,
he lucked into Star Wars when I was actually busy elsewhere.
GW: Now you might not be aware of this, but many fans believe that
the reason why Ford's Deckard was a replicant was because of the
similarities between you as Holden, both facially, vocally and even
in your mannerisms.
MP: We had similar coloring, we had similar voice patterns
I can't do it right now, because I haven't heard him
recently, not right at the moment, but he was unavailable or whatever
at the time to do the voiceovers for the trailer so I did him.
GW: So, you did do the trailers?
GW: how long were you actually on the set then, for Blade Runner?
Were you on just for your scene
MP: No. Ridley kept me on the set for six weeks, about three after
which I'd finished everything I was involved with and he just asked
me to be there on days that I wasn't involved at all. He just liked
me around. I guess during that testing process
and he'd just
say, "what do you think?" Sometimes he didn't take my
suggestion, like for the girl, but sometimes he'd say, "I agree."
And I was very flattered, getting to watch him
and watch the
scenes. Like all the scenes with Joe Turkel. I didn't know if he'd
even remember me (Joe had called Morgan a couple weeks before this
interview). It was fascinating to get to watch Joe and Ridley work.
How Ridley had his hands in every thing...
GW: Every little detail?
MP: Yes, and enthusiasm. He had more energy
He could wear
out anybody. He'd be raring to go when people were ready to drop.
GW: In the book Future Noir, that I gave you a copy of, it speaks
about the people behind the scenes having problems with Ridley's
way of doing his job, and he would respond to this by sating how
he would never have these kinds of problems if I were in England.
MP: That's correct. It was basically a union problem. As I understand
a camera operator, or the cinematographer, could not be
displaced by the director so that he, Ridley, could run the camera.
And Ridley, in some shots, wanted to operate the camera himself.
So, they finally found Jordan Cronenweth who didn't care if he wanted
to operate the camera or not. So, initially the thing was that the
union protects those people, saying you can't just take their jobs
from them. And it wasn't that he didn't think they were qualified,
it was that he wanted a certain look and would want to get behind
the camera. In England he'd shot a lot of commercials and film and
though he had the monitor, it wasn't always enough, and if it came
up where he needed to get behind the lens of the camera they'd say
go ahead and jump in.
GW: I'd heard that the crew had made up T-shirts bearing derogatory
comments toward Ridley that you'll see in Future Noir
MP: I didn't see them on the set. They might have been around in
certain other groups.
GW: I though that was rather ballsy to do that right in front of
the person. And as you'll see in the book, he went out and had a
shirt made up in response. It was the T-shirt wars. Now, I had been
asked about Laurence Paull and the similarity of you last names.
Now, there's no relation between you two, distant or otherwise?
MP: I'd seen his name around and had finally met him on my third
day there on the set, and I'd been very curious. I'll tell you what
I said to him, which explains the whole story. I met him, as I said,
on the third day. I said, "My name's Paull
" He says
"Yes?" I say "Morgan Paull. And you either made up
your name within the last couple generations or we're cousins."
He says "We made it up. We added the extra L." Because,
when my family came to this country, we were descendents of John
Paul Jones, and he being a revolutionary, we'd changed our name
back in Scotland and added an L to make it look like a last name.
For the next couple hundred years, there were no (Paull's) with
two L's in America that were not related to him. That's why, when
I met him (Laurence) I had said that about making up his name, and
he answered, "Yeah, my father did it."
GW: So his name was just "Paul"?
MP: Yes, with one L.
GW: When I'd checked and saw his name, I thought there was more
than just a coincidence here having two Paull's.
MP: Well, I'd already checked with my family which is mostly been
in West Virginia, where we'd been since the 1700's. First it was
Maryland, then Virginia and eventually it became West Virginia,
the same land. I said to them. "You'd told me nobody in our
family works in film. Our family goes to movies, we don't work on
them." And a family member said, "nobody in our family
is in show business." Well, I told him, "Somebody thinks
MP: He's a great guy, Laurence, and he admitted right away that
it was added recently.
GW: How many films had you done before Blade Runner?
MP: well, I don't have a list here. What year was Blade Runner released?
MP: By '82, I had done
GW: BladeZone has a list. (pulls list out and shows it to Morgan)
it looks like about sixteen. No, eighteen.
MP: Yeah that sounds about right.
GW: Did you personally know any of the cast before you'd come onto
MP: Just Harrison.
GW: Harrison Ford?
MP: Yes. I knew him quite well. We met again there and we hadn't
seen each other in
Oh, about five or six years. I think the
last show we'd done together was a show called "Petrocelli"
we had shot in New Mexico.
GW: I remember that series.
MP: I was a guest star and Harrison was a (smiles) smaller part.
And, I remember our first table read through, for Blade Runner,
the whole cast was assembled, and Harrison walked in the room and
went around the table introducing himself, "Hi, I'm Harrison
Ford, welcome to
" He passed right by me, and I wondered
if he even remembered me. Then, he did this double back, it was
really a great double take, he walks over, leaned down and whispered
to me, "Morgan, I got top billing this time." (Laughs)
He was great, just great. He showed me his dressing room and told
me to use it. He had all these toys and was sharing. He was wonderful.
It's just a luck-of-the-draw.
GW: it just goes to show what happens when one actor isn't available
and another is. I watch AMC all the time, and they discuss before
each film how often a choice actor is wanted for a particular role,
but a second actor ends up with it because the one they wanted was
busy or contracted elsewhere at the time.
MP: I remember when my agent called me, I was shooting a film called
"The Last Hard Men", I don't know if that's on there (referring
to the film list Gary has), with Charelton Heston and James Coburn
and Barbara Hershey.
GW: (studies list) "Last Hard Men", 1976.
MP: Right. He said, "We need you back in Hollywood in a week..
two weeks at the most. They're interested in you for a movie called
"Star Wars." So I went to the director Andy McLaglen,
a legendary director, and I said "My agent thinks I ought to
come back for this thing..." He said "Well I could arrange
the schedule and get you out of here." Andy loved me, and he'd
put me in eight movies. I called my agent back and told him the
director could get me out, and my agent said "Look, Andy's
been good to you, so why ruin the ride.This other director's last
film was a turkey, a bomb, who knows what this sci-fi thing is going
to be at all." So I took my agent's advise and stuck with Andy.
When I got back to Hollywood and heard and found out more about
Star Wars, I met with my agent and said "Mike? Let me try and
explain this without going into any great detail. You're fired."
GW: (laughs) Oh, man!
MP: I mean, not that I actually knew I had the role. They (Star
Wars casting director) knew I was on location, it looked like I
pretty well had it. I enjoyed Star Wars anyway, and I enjoyed Harrison
in it. I enjoy his work today.
GW: You know, we feel that Dave Holden, the other RepDetective in
Blade Runner, was a pivotal character in the plot, especially when
reading the final draft of the screenplay. We know there were at
least two more scenes, hospital scenes, and I know we would like
to have those two scenes restored to the final cut
MP: (Laughs) So would I.
GW: As you know, Cinescape magazine recently quoted Ridley Scott
as saying he was re-editing the film for Warner in January and Ridley
has said he was adding 8 to 10 minutes back into the film. Even
after the Warner's release of the Director's Cut back in 1992, he's
thinking of re-cutting it again
MP: Well, because really I think that (the director's cut) was a
studio cut. I know that Ridley's actual first cut included those
two scenes. I also know he was very disappointed when I saw him
at the initial screening at the academy. He had tears in his eyes
because the studios had opted to use more special effects, that
they had paid a lot for, which gave more time for the effects and
that made the story suffer. And part of that was that I had suffered.
All of the exposition, which was covered by voice over, was all
done in those scenes between Harrison and me. This breather device
where I'm basically a vegetable, except I can read books on a screen
and shoot myself with dope whenever I wanted to, I was mentally
though none of the rest of me worked. It was there that
Harrison comes to visit me and asks "What happened?" That's
where all the voiceover exposition was actually exposed, during
the visits with me. Which then essentially made the voiceovers unnecessary.
GW: Then the scenes with you and Harrison would have explained everything
then. Tied up those proverbial loose ends and make the narration
MP: Yes. They in fact did explain.
GW: Now it was reported that in one scene in the hospital, in order
to enhance the paranoia within of the film, Bryant and Gaff were
watching from behind a two way mirror the conversations between
Deckard and Holden. Is this true?
MP: You know, I don't recall because I was in that device. All I
could see, other than certain camera shots, was Harrison leaning
down to talk to me, so what there was in a wider shot, there might
have been, I have no idea. I was in that thing all day long except
to get out occasionally to stretch, and we shot many, many, many,
GW: I know I can get hold of, through Hollywood Book & Poster,
some of the shots of you and Harrison in that scene.
MP: I'd like to see one. I don't know how good they could be and
the lighting was hard and it was critical how it was lit
be able to see me communicate with him and let you know I was actually
in a bubble.
GW: It was pretty sophisticated looking contraption.
GW: the whole room the way it looked.
MP: Yes. A very good effect. And it was an emotional one too. At
the end of the day I was completely drained.
GW: I know we, as well as you, want those scenes added back in.
MP: Yes. And for the careful watcher for the film, which I'm sure
the fans BladeZone are, know that I didn't die where as most audience
people say "Its too bad he got killed in that first scene."
Because there is the subsequent scene where Harrison is called back
where he asked what happened to me...
GW: Right, and Bryant says, "He's ok as long
as no one unplugs him." (both laugh) Very few
non-fans catch that, people still assume I died.
GW: later in the books by William Jeter, he has your character walking
around on new limbs and with a new spine.
MP: I never got to that. You know, what was clear was that I could
live forever in that bubble. It was state-of-the-art, which much
of what was in Blade Runner was, and so much of that is common now.
It could control my respiratory system and everything. And I was
so completely physically destroyed and it took every device that
are now really coming about, were at that time just in their imaginations.
GW: Yes. We didn't even have the PC in 1982. And in the film, Deckard
has this device called the ESPER. A detective device that interacts
with him by verbal commands. Now, thanks to a company called L&H
that designs programs that translate any language. Now they are
making something very similar to the ESPER, where the system follows
your verbal commands, and acts out what you need done.
MP: (Morgan lights up a cigarette) As you can see I am still smoking.
The one thing embedded in my mind from that role.
GW: Smoking that big cigarette.
MP: It was like a cigar, this fat cigarette.
GW: In the scene with the late Brion James
MP: Oh, sorry, I wanted to mention that I had worked with Brion
before, and after Blade Runner.
GW: He seemed like such a nice guy.
MP: He was.
GW: In your scene with Brion, your character is shot twice. The
first sends the character through the wall, the second is in the
back after your character comes to a stop. Did you perform your
own stunt in that scene?
MP: A portion of it. I think I did the first spin around, the chair
was rigged on a thing.
GW: Like a wire?
MP: It was more complicated than that. It had to spin it and then
propel it into the wall. Think of a railroad crossing where the
train can transfer from one tie to another tie.
GW: Oh, I get it.
MP: Anyway, I'm a coward and hate to do stunts anyway. Stuntmen
get paid well and you can't tell in the shot anyway. So I did just
a bare, little bit at the very beginning of the shot. (Gestures
with fingers showing and inch between his index finger and thumb)
They wanted it to go as quickly as possible, so they put a stuntman
in for me because they didn't know how the wall would crash or if
it would go through his neck or whatever because the chair was going,
that we knew.
GW: (laughs) I ask only because in Paul Sammon's book "Future
Noir" it mentions your stunt man doing the scene, but because
he never got a chance to speak with you for the final book, we wanted
to check with you now.
Now, you mentioned it earlier that you'd been at the premier with
Ridley. Could you expand a bit on yours and his reaction as you
MP: Well, I met him in the lobby of the Academy Theater , and he'd
seen it already. He came up to me, and he looked
he just shook his head and said, "Morgan that's not what I
" But the general audience reaction was good, it
just wasn't the movie he wanted. But the director's cut was slightly
an improvement, but it was studio hype, which I can say because
I am essentially retired.
For its time, Blade Runner was a very expensive movie, the expenses
kept growing. More and more studios kept getting their hands into
it, the Ladd Company and Warner as well as others
convinced, as were many of us at the end of it, that no one (backing
the film) had really read the script either in the first place,
carefully or understood it. So, consequently, that is why in the
end the cut Ridley had you had various gaping studio mouths saying,
"What is this about? What is this thing?" And its not
uncommon sometimes. To approve a concept, sort of peruse the script
liking the concept, and then suddenly be surprised when they see
what was actually intended, shot on film. Thus came all this late
criticism and re-cutting of what Ridley, who is the only one who
fully understood it, because we had all read it and were a little
confused, but he had the vision. Then they started mucking around
with it and its not an uncommon thing. I remember Ridley said, "I'll
never shoot again more than I want to use, because they're likely
to pick the wrong stuff to use." They'd experiment, he'd end
up giving them more by shooting so many times the same shots. So,
they'd say, "I like that, that's pretty, let's stick that in
somewhere." Of course that could have gone on for hours using
all the extra footage Ridley had shot to experiment with. He was
never shooting it as an "and/or" option. He was shooting
it because one might be better than the other. But what they did
was came in for more of the stuff they'd paid a lot for. I think
there are three shots of that blimp going over where there needed
to be only one. But, they'd paid so much for it that they wanted
to see more of it. So, if he hadn't given them so much footage,
as he was saying, they wouldn't have been able to do that and they
been able to keep some of the scenes in, like mine.
GW: In Future Noir, it discusses a lot of mistakes in the film,
and fans would like to see those mistakes, especially the gaping
mistakes, gotten rid of and the film Ridley wanted finally released.
Have you heard anything about the re-cutting that Ridley is doing
MP: No I haven't.
GW: What were some of your best, or favorite memories of being on
MP: Well, actually getting to work with Harry in that difficult
hospital scene was great. Not that working with him was difficult,
it was the bubble that was uncomfortable. Really just watching Ridley,
and I'm not just blowing steam, but his vision, his way of seeing
things through is just amazing. His understanding of a scene that
we might not understand. Many directors don't get that. They say,
"Well, what do you make out of it?" or "Do something."
You know? Seriously! Some really good directors. But Ridley knew
what he wanted to do.
He didn't mind climbing up to adjust a light. He didn't mind doing
stuff you normally don't see directors doing adjusting chairs. He
was on top of every single detail.
GW: Perhaps that's why his films live on the way they do.
MP: Yes. His attention to detail, the look and composition, he's
combination story teller, filmmaker and painter. He's got all the
GW: As some of the other cast or crew have brought up, as you'll
see in the book, do you have any negative memories that you can
recall from the film?
MP: No. Not really.
GW: For years there have been rumors of a sequel, as Gerry says
its sort of an urban myth in Hollywood now. Have you heard anything
or been contacted a sequel to reprise Dave Holden?
MP: No. Though I have heard rumors of a sequel for forever, none
from any source I thought would turn it legitimate. I mean turned
into a near reality. The only thing I was contacted for was a CD-ROM
GW: The Westwood Blade Runner game.
MP: Yes. But we couldn't come to terms on it. I was willing to do
it under what we call in the business "Favored Nations",
meaning whoever's in gets paid the same. For some reason that didn't
come together. That's all I can say about.
GW: Some people feel that Blade Runner is more than film, but is
a work of art. How do feel about Blade runner now nearly twenty
years later, do you think it has become antiquated?
MP: I think that is relevant, like so many period films that I have
worked on before. So many things in Blade Runner are now coming
true. It's futuristic, though part of that future has already been
realized. It's in no way an antique.
In a way, 2001 is more antique than Blade Runner is yet. I do think
that a completely untouched Ridley version would be a real turn
on, with digital sound.
GW: Are there any other Paull's getting into the business now? I
heard something about your daughter recently.
MP: Yes. She has just finished a GAP ad and is now playing a role
on a web based action series called the ERUPTOR GIRLS.
GW: Will she be with you at the Millennium Expo in March?
MP: Yes. She will be going with me. You know, if she'd been around
during the Blade Runner time, I certainly would have gotten her
tested for the Daryl Hannah role.
GW: I know all of us at BladeZone look forward to seeing you and
your daughter in Washington. Thanks again for allowing us into your
MP: Once again, my pleasure Gary.
After two hours of conversation ( I could have listened to his stories
into the evening) I stopped the recorder and we chatted a bit more
before I took my leave. I could not have asked for a more delightful
time, I'm sure he knew I was nervous, and did not talk to me as
a fan but more like a friend. Since then we have talked on the telephone
often. And recently he told me of his adventures on his boat sailing
towards South America.
But that's another story, and another interview.
Interview transcribed by Gerry Kissell
Edited by Shirley LeVasseur