PAX photo by Joseph Viles
Bruce Boxleitner
A January 2005 Interview
with Tony Bray

They gave him a sword to play with on the set. That's one of the big reasons the actor is thrilled to be starring in PAX's "Young Blades," which premieres Sunday (January 23) at 8pm.

When I was seven, I asked my mother to get me a sword for Christmas ... a real one. She didn't like it when I told her that the guys in the neighborhood who called me Tubby all the time would take me more seriously if I had one. That was decades ago, when Guy Williams kicked butt on the tube in my favorite series, "Zorro." Since I don't have a prison record, you can assume my dear mom did not grant my wish.

Cut to 2005. I still want a sword, but now my wife is the one who is wise enough to say "no" with a smile. So I settle for the next best thing by watching Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone do battle on my worn-out copy of "The Adventures of Robin Hood." A fellow can always dream, can't he?

When I interviewed Bruce about his new adventure series, "Young Blades," I found out that he also loved "Zorro," so much so that he carved a "Z" on a door in his house. The lure of future swordplay caught his attention when he was offered the part of Captain Duval, the man chosen to train future chivalrous swordsmen at the Musketeers Military Academy. One of Duval's students is the son (Tobias Mehler) of the legendary Musketeer D’Artagnan. Unfortunately, the son shares his father's love for the ladies and often gets distracted from the training he needs to be as good as the Academy's newest student, Jacques -- who happens to be a young lady in disguise. Jacques, or Jacqueline (Karen Cliche) to be more exact, is hiding from the evil Cardinal Mazarin's (Michael Ironside) men because she killed one of their comrades after he murdered her father. Jacques needs the Musketeers help if she ever plans to free her brother from Mazarin's dungeon.

I had a chance to watch the first "Young Blades" episode last week to get ready for my interview with Bruce. Is it is good as "Robin Hood" or "Zorro?" Not yet, but the series has potential and a solid cast. I didn't like a couple of scenes -- one featured bathroom humor that was not needed and the other had two Blades looking like Mick Jagger doing the chicken strut in an airborne gondola (you can't miss it), but when the swords were drawn for battle, I forgot my complaints.

The Bruce Boxleitner Interview

I interviewed Michael York and Nastassja Kinski recently for Hallmark Channel's "La Femme Musketeer."

I think that movie was sort of a precursor to this one. We're very similar to it. I think it germinated from that project. We do have a young musketeer who is a woman masquerading as a guy. The La Femme Musketeer joined because she always was a tomboy. Our girl joined to avenge her father's murder.
That's a brutal scene when they stick that sword into her dad.
Immediately after that, she started to kick some butt. That's exactly what my character, Captain Duval, recognizes at first in her. He is impressed by her when she comes into the Musketeer barracks.

Our story is sort of a pop take on the Musketeer saga. We're to 17th Century France what Hercules and Xena were to the ancient Greeks.

Your sets for that period are very authentic.
We tried. We maybe dressed a little more like Luke Skywalker than the actual musketeers of that period. I think for a younger audience, those kind of costumes might have been distracting. We were trying to give it a sense of history. The younger generation is not aware of the legacies of Dumas' characters. The original books were published in the 1840's. They've been popular in every form since. Movies, music - what have you.
Did you had to learn much sword play to be able to handle your role?
Yeah. I don't do as much as the Young Blades do. But when Captain Duval is called upon, he is certainly the master at it. He's more like Oliver Reed's character, Athos, in Richard Lester's "Three Musketeers." He was more of a brawler. Duval is an old school brawler.

I think all of the young guys have a personality to the way they fight. D'Artagnan (played by Tobias Mehler) has a sort of laid back style. Ramon (played by Zak Santiago) is much more of a Spanish hot-blooded fighter. Karen Cliche (plays Jacqueline) is probably our best of all. She's the kick ass one. She was quite amazing. I was a little apprehensive when she started. She more than surprised me. She's very good. She's our top fighter. She sets the bar for the boys to follow. She's very intense, and it really works. The whole relationship with her and D'Artagnan really starts to take hold in the next episode. They're a joy to watch.

You become her father figure.
I become sort of her father figure because she lost her father. There's something Duval feels for this young man he doesn't know is a woman yet.
I want to see you and Cardinal Mazarin (played by Michael Ironside) get it on.
Oh, we will. We've got an episode coming up where we constantly are having clashes over things. It becomes much more apparent that we're totally against each other.
When Mazarin conducts his experimental surgeries and throws the kid off the cliff to see if the poor lad can fly, it's obvious he's out of his gourd ... and quite dangerous.
He is out of his gourd. Things like that are in the first episode, so a lot more is to be revealed as we go further along. I thinks it's a good show. There's nothing else like it. It's very family friendly. PAX wouldn't have it any other way. I think it's suitable for kids at a certain age.
It doesn't show a bloody mess when Jacqueline's dad gets a sword in the gut.
The scene has enough impact to grip the audience without the blood.

I was cast literally three days before I starting working. I was doing another movie in eastern Canada that I could not get out of. For the first two episodes, I was commuting to Vancouver from Ottawa every two to three days, plane bouncing and it was horrible. I felt very unfocused on both projects because I was forever chasing an airplane in and out of blizzards. It was quite an experience.

You deserve credit for maintaining the Duval's limp. I surprised you didn't limp in the other movie too.
The limp is probably the one thing that I constantly have to keep in mind. It's become more and more natural now. Some actors will put a rock in their boot or shoe or something like that. I think my right leg is to be the weaker one because I had surgery on it twice, knee surgery. I'm used to limping around like that in recovery period after surgery.
Duval moves around pretty good when he's needed.
He has to, but he can't run the 100 yard dash. I'll leave that to the youngsters. Give me a horse.
You've worked on shows set in the wild west, in the future and now you're covering France in the 17th Century. Do you find any one of those periods to be better suited for story telling?
I just love history period. I've been a history buff all my life and it's kind of reflected in projects I've been in. There are certain eras that are fascinating to me. The old west ... our new series is kind of the early French version of the old west. To me, very little has changed in human history ... just the wardrobe.
We're still settling things with swords.
Exactly. "Young Blades" is very much like "Young Guns" to me. Alexandre Dumas' stories are wonderful adventures. The Three Musketeers were very much the sheriffs or the marshals or whatever in their time. It was a very wild time when dueling was common place. There was a lot of lawlessness in France and Europe at that time. That's where a lot of this came from. The Musketeers may be equivalent to the Texas Rangers in our own folklore.
Zorro would agree.
The character Zorro you and I both know from Disney's series with Guy Williams. I loved that show. My family told me that I once ran into the kitchen in our small little house in the 1950's and carved a "Z" in the door of my bedroom. Oh, did I get it.
I carved it inside our bathroom door. I caught hell for that.
If that's as wild as we got watching television in those days, we were alright.

Let's just hope "Young Blades" catches on. I really think we've got some superb young performers.

PAX has the patience to build an audience.
NBC really owns it. I'm hoping that will be a good thing too.
If nothing else, that should help with the production budget. They've got advertising power, so if they promote it a couple of times on the main network, it's not going to hurt a bit.
Exactly. You're right about that.
I do appreciate your time today. Thank you
Thank you too, Tony.

End of the Bruce Boxleitner Interview

For more information about "Young Blades," visit the official PAX Web Site for the new series.

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© 2005 Tony Bray/TVNow