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HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME - Lisa Barbuscia

Duncan's new love discusses the joys and sorrows of immortal romance.

By Matthew F. Saunders     August 31, 2000

Highlander is about more than just action and swordplay. Amidst the dueling immortals, decapitated heads and sweeping historical flashbacks, it's also about romance. But more often than not, it's the star-crossed kind, in which the mixed blessing of immortality condemns would-be lovers to tragic fates. Connor MacLeod lost his first love, the mortal Heather, to old age. Duncan MacLeod lost his long-time love, the also mortal Tessa, to a murderer's bullet. And Duncan's romance with his immortal sweetheart, Amanda, can never truly be, for in the end there can be only one.

In Highlander: Endgame, the fourth movie in the franchise, the tragic pattern continues with the introduction of Kate, an 18th century woman whose marriage to Duncan quickly sours, leading ultimately to her death. But unlike Heather or Tessa, Kate discovers she's also an immortal. When she resurrects, she adopts a new persona and name, becoming Faith, whose hatred for Duncan and alliance with the film's villain, Kell, drives much of the movie's story.

Faith/Kate is portrayed by newcomer Lisa Barbuscia, a singer-turned-actress who's starred in such movies as Almost Heroes and the genre film The Serpent's Lair. A graduate of New York's prestigious High School of Music and Performing Arts, Barbuscia began her early career as a model for Elle and Vogue before hitting the U.K. dance charts with such hit singles as 'Glam,' 'Fascinated' and 'You & Me.' Fandom recently caught up with Barbuscia to discuss her role as Faith/Kate, the trials of filming in Romania and what it's really like to be an immortal.

FANDOM: WHO IS FAITH/KATE?

Lisa Barbuscia: Well, I play two characters in one. You see her first as Faith in modern day. She is an immortal and, due to circumstances beyond her control, became an immortal and is not too pleased about it either. She's got a lot of anger and bitterness that she's been carrying for the last 300 years. You also see her when she wasn't an immortal, as Kate, and she's a lovely seamstress. She has an edge, but is still very meek and light, and loves life and everything. I can't tell you what the circumstances are that make her an immortal.

WHY DOES SHE CHANGE HER NAME?

She feels that she died as Kate. Everything about her is pretty much a new person. She created a new name for herself and a whole new persona.

WHAT'S THAT PERSONA LIKE?

She's quite sophisticated. She's very tough, very angry. She's a fashion designer, very modern day. She's probably one of very few who doesn't want to live forever. Most people, especially in our society today, love the idea of fighting time and being able to stay alive and look as young looking as possible forever. She feels quite opposite. Every relationship she ever had, anyone she falls in love with, of course grows old and dies. It makes life very mundane and monotonous. She's just not a very happy person. So you see her sided with the bad guy, which is Bruce Payne's character, Kell, only because the one quality that she has that's strong, she shares with him, which is hatred. It's what she knows best, so she's kind of paired up with him for that reason.

SO SHE DOESN'T NECESSARILY SHARE HIS GOALS?

She's pretty indifferent to his cause. She doesn't really care either way what he's going for. It makes no difference to her. She's still carrying on with this life she has, that she basically gets nothing out of.

DOES SHE WANT AN OUT? HOW DOES SHE SEE HIM, THEN?

I don't know so much as an out. I think that you never quite know their dynamic. You can never quite figure out if there's a sexual tension there even, if they've had some sort of relationship in that respect, or if it's just purely sort of a hate/deal with the world kind of issue that they share. He wants to of course conquer the world, and he is the only person that has the strong feeling that she has, that she kind of feels safe in that environment. There's a whole gang of them, and she is almost one of the leaders as well. She actually even styles them all, which is quite funny. Although she's teamed up with Kell, though, I think part of her also hates him, too, or feels indifferent. But she definitely knows that the person she hates most, which is the complete opposite to Kell, is Adrian Paul's character, Duncan MacLeod.

WHY DOES SHE HATE HIM?

Well, they get married when she's Kate in the 1700s. But the first time you see her in the movie, her first scene, is where she basically confronts Duncan and kicks his butt! [Laughs] It was a fun scene to shoot, actually. I loved leaping in the air and kicking Adrian Paul in the face and looking like I was good at it. And it's the first time they've seen each other since their wedding night. She's very angry. She hates him. I can't really explain why, because that would be giving away a lot of the story. But he still loves her, and basically was wrong in a situation.

Although they've never had any contact within 300 years, he's always lingered around and kept a close eye over her, but was never man enough to come up and say anything. So she kind of knows that, but still hates him for it anyway. And there comes a time where now Kell has to confront Connor and Duncan so that he can succeed in what he's trying to do. She has no problem when Kell says Duncan's next and we're gonna kick his ass. She's like, 'Okay,' because of course she hates him. She actually thought, well if there's any time, it might as well be now. And of course Duncan, who's in love with her, tries to get through to her.

WHAT KIND OF AN IMMORTAL IS FAITH?

Highly intelligent. She doesn't really use the sword, which they all use. She's even bigger than that, because she doesn't really need to do the dirty work. She's the leader of the gang, so she has lots of other people to fight for her. But for that one moment [against Duncan], she just can't hold back, because she's had 300 years of pent-up anger. And she's not someone who would normally fight anyone under any circumstances. She thinks it's so pathetic anyway. The only reason she lets loose that one time is because she's really pissed off.

WHAT'S THE STORY ABOUT AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO IT?

It has, although it's the genre it is, an element of a love story there, definitely. This is also what all of them touch upon. I have to confess I've only ever watched the first one, and I never really watched the series, because I live in England so I don't watch much television. But I think that the key thing for this movie, and I think the reason why it's so cult-like successful, is that it plays on immortality. More than not, most people would love the idea of living forever. And I think from Faith's point of view, it shows exactly the reason why realistically you wouldn't want to live forever.

That's the most crucial thing for what the viewers will get from her. It's truly my belief, too. I certainly would never want to live forever. In fact, if there's anything that could happen in this world, I love the idea of having a sort of time capsule box that you could enter every now and again, and just kind of press a century and go back to some particular moment and feel it and take in the environment and enjoy that, and then go back, you know. That would be fantastic.

HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH ADRIAN PAUL AND CHRISTOPHER LAMBERT?

It was wonderful. Christopher is just a lovely person. Completely professional. So is Adrian. You know, Adrian is very passionate about this project. He's lived it for so many years. And he's so helpful, especially for myself, who's quite new to it all. Any doubts I had on how I should portray the character, he was there and had his input, which was very helpful.

AS THE NEWCOMER, DID YOU GET TEASED A LOT?

Oh yeah. You know how they say, 'There can be only one'? Well, I was always going, 'There only can be one.' I would always get it wrong. [And they would say], 'What are you doing!?! Are you crazy? Do you know how important that line is to this movie?!?' And I was like, 'Okay. All right, all right. I'll get it better next time.'

But no, it was lot of fun. We shot this movie under very difficult circumstances. We shot it in Romania, a very poor country, and it was coming into winter. It was bloody freezing and so so cold. So that was tough. It's tough when you're in an ex-communist country and every day you're kind of having to do with certain things not being as they should be, really. Everything takes that much longer and you're fighting with the elements.

WAS THAT THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF THE SHOOT?

Yeah. A lot of the movie was filmed in this place called Radio Hall, which was a building Ceaucescu--who was the ex-communist leader there, who was this megalomaniac dictator nightmare--built. He was gonna build the biggest palacial building for him and his government that the world has ever seen. So all of the funds of that country were going into that rather than to the people. And of course, the government got overthrown and the building was never finished.

But the structure of it is still there today, and it's just amazing from a film shooting point of view, because it's kind of like this very grand, huge huge building with these amazing rooms. But it's also dilapidated as well. It's all wire, things just leaking water and things that make sets look pretty amazing when you're shooting a futuristic looking kind of scene. The problem is, it wasn't a finished building, so of course the wind and the rain and the cold are going through these huge drafty, enormous rooms. But they made for great sets. It was pretty amazing. But in order for us to shoot there, we had to put up with pretty unbearable weather.

CONVERSELY, WHAT WAS THE BEST PART OF THE SHOOT?

They were a great gang of people to work with. And I love doing films that have an element of period in them. I love doing 18th century stuff and dressing up, so that was certainly a bonus. I got to do both modern day and that.

IN THE ACTION SEQUENCES YOU DID HAVE, DID YOU DO YOUR OWN STUNTS?

Yeah, I did. They had elaborate sword scenes that I didn't do, which they'd have to rehearse for all the time. But none of that was mine. I only had one scene where I did any sort of fighting, and that's my opening scene.

DID YOU CHOREOGRAPH THAT WITH ADRIAN?

It was the stunt coordinator [Joe Dunne]. But as you know, Adrian is a martial artist as well, so he was very helpful. Anything, like even with my dying scene, when I'm Kate becoming Faith, he showed me how it was best to make that look realistic.

DID YOU HAVE TO APPROACH YOUR ACTING STYLE DIFFERENTLY WITH ALL THE SPECIAL EFFECTS?

Well, yeah, because the Quickening is something they add on, because that has a big special effect. When [an immortal] gets killed and you're taking in their power, you have to kind of react to something that's not there. And although the person taking the power will convulse and kind of look like he's doing something, he looks really silly. Of course something's happening, so you have to kind of look at him and have expressions of, 'Oh my god,' and there's nothing happening. And you'd rather laugh, because your friend is doing it and he looks like he's having an epileptic fit or something.

DID YOU DO ANYTHING TO PREPARE FOR THAT, TO GET UP TO SPEED?

I didn't have much time. It all happened so quickly. They were casting out of London and I met with the casting director there. We got off fantastically, and within about three weeks of it all happening, I was on a plane to Romania.

SO, WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOU?

There are two projects lingering in October, and right now I'm doing press junkets all over the place. So I'm waiting to hear at this point.

ARE YOU OPTIONED FOR A SEQUEL?

Well, I don't know. I'm signed for two pictures with Miramax, so whether that includes another one of the Highlander films, I don't know. I know that they have called this 'The Final Chapter.' I mean, they always say that. I think it will be based on the success of this movie. Because you now, like any film, they can kill you off and bring you back. If you make a few good million for a picture, they'll find a way.

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