Timothy's Internet Chat which was hosted on the Showtime website on the 22nd October 2000.
Showtime: Please welcome the talented actor Timothy Dalton who stars in Showtime's Original Picture, Possessed.
A scene from Possessed starring from left to right Michael McLachlan, Timothy Dalton and Henry Czerny.
Timothy Dalton portrays real life priest, Father William Bowdern, who must face both demonic powers and an authoritative Archbishop with a political agenda.Timothy Dalton, a multi-talented actor, has had success on stage, screen and television. He made his motion picture debut in the Academy Award-winning film 'The Lion in Winter,' starring Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn. After appearing in over 10 major films, he rose to international stardom in 1987 when he succeeded Roger Moore as James Bond. Dalton has also graced the stage, appearing with the world-renowned Royal Shakespeare Company in many of Shakespeare's masterpieces.
We are thrilled to have Mr Dalton with us.
Timothy Dalton: Good Evening everybody. It's a pleasure to be with you.
Ask Showtime: Cindy-guest says: Timothy, what drew you to this project?
Timothy Dalton: It's a true story of an exorcism, and I've never heard of a true story of an exorcism. When I read the material, I was fascinated because so much is inexplicable and disturbing, and had to have a rational explanation. But I'm not so sure it does, or at least there isn't one as yet.
Ask Showtime: Jen-guest says: "I am intrigued to know how you managed to learn so much dialogue. Did you get to see the Rituale Romanum?
Timothy Dalton: I did. We had some advice on the set. I was provided with the Rituale Romanum and as you obviously know it was incorporated into our script during the rites of exorcism.
Ask Showtime: A1-Judy-guest says: Mr Dalton, you are one of few actors who can successfully portray good and evil simultaneously, at least where the audience is not always quite sure (for instance Framed, Informant, Rocketeer, etc.). Is it done consciously, and is it difficult?
Timothy Dalton: "It's not done consciously but it is always a conscious choice of mind to bring complexity and the depth to people.
Ask Showtime: Ricardo-guest says: "I loved the bad guy you played in The Rocketeer"!! Do you find it harder or easier or more fun to be the villain?
Timothy Dalton: It's often more fun to be the villain. It's rare that a hero has bad or wicked traits and it is often those wicked traits that make somebody interesting. Generally I think writers prefer writing villains. They write great villains.
Ask Showtime: Jen-guest says: It is reported that you generally research a role very thoroughly. What research did you undertake for this role?
Timothy Dalton: The most important thing for me in Possessed was to understand why a man becomes a priest. Then one has to explore and understand the conflict between faith and doubt and then guilt.
Ask Showtime: JINNYKIN-guest says: Did you meet with the real life priest, Father William Bowdern, in order to prepare for your role in Showtime's' Possessed?
Timothy Dalton: No, I did not. Sadly, William Bowdern who I believe was a very good man and a very good priest died some years ago. However, I did have access to first hand interviews with people who knew him which proved to be extremely valuable. In fact one of the priests who took part in this exorcism is in fact still alive today.
Ask Showtime: Debra-guest says: Timothy, what would you have liked to have done if you could not have been an actor?
Timothy Dalton: Debra, Oh my ... An astronaut.
Ask Showtime: Cindy-guest says: Timothy, was there any particular scene is this movie that was hard to get through?
Timothy Dalton: I don't want to shortchange you on an answer. Every scene is hard. Even if it's apparently simple, you have to get it right. And this story is a very intense story. I don't think any scene particularly stood out as being hard. They were all challenging and I hope successfully accomplished.
Ask Showtime: Manolis_Varnasactor- says: Timothy, what was the most frightening scene you did in the movie Possessed and are you fan of these kind of movies, horror movies?
Timothy Dalton: I like horror movies. I thought the horror movie that was based on this same story 'The Exorcist' was a brilliant horror movie. What I like about our film is that it's the true story of 'The Exorcist.' Everything that happens to this boy is witnessed and sworn to by three or more people.
Ask Showtime: TDF007-guest says: Have you ever been affected by the role you play in a movie? If so, which movie?
Timothy Dalton: If you commit to your work, if you commit to the role you are playing research it well, you cannot help but be affected by everything you play.
Ask Showtime: JOHNNIEBGOODE-guest says: What were your feelings on exorcism and people being possessed before the movie? Have your feelings changed since portraying Father Bowdern?
Timothy Dalton: Good question. I'm aware that many very strange and disturbing events happen in the world that appear to take place without rational explanation and have been witnessed and sworn to, as in this instance as in the film Possessed, by many critical people. I am personally a believer in or at least I have a personal faith in the fact that is a great deal presently unknown that will one day be open to explanation.
I do not believe in the Devil. I don't believe therefore in any diabolical possession. But I do believe as I started this answer that there are many strange and often terrible deeply disturbing events that do take place. Since researching this event and playing in this movie it certainly became clear to me that the rite of exorcism is in fact a forceful and sometimes brutal form of psychotherapy.
Ask Showtime: JohnnyB-guest says: What are some of the pros and/or cons when portraying someone's life, especially a priest?
Timothy Dalton: I don't suppose one wishes to run up against God. I think if a person is famous there are more cons than pros. The only pro is that you get to be challenged by a powerful personality. The cons would be that everybody knows this person or has heard of them and you're bound to fail to live up to the original.
On the other hand if the person is not known and has a truly fascinating story to be told then I think there are more pros than cons. You're dealing with real life people in real life events and often bringing wonderful stories to an audience who have never heard of these people before and that can be very uplifting.
Ask Showtime: Karen-guest says: How do you think the ideas of organized religion have changed regarding exorcism?
Timothy Dalton: I don't know. I can only guess. I have no direct line into the hierarchy of the church. My guess would be, as in this particular case, it would seem to be a throwback to an earlier more medieval way of thinking, and therefore not welcomed. On the other hand, it does seem clear that in certain circumstances if the patient is convinced by the exorcist he can be cured. So perhaps there is some value. However I think the church would probably, and again I'm guessing, make sure that every avenue of modern medical psychological science had been explored before sanctioning this rite.
Ask Showtime: donnandsteve-guest says: Did you or any other cast or crew experience strange phenomena while filming the movie?
Timothy Dalton: I don't think any of us experienced anything strange or at least supernaturally strange while filming. I think probably all of us have been aware of events in our own or other people's lives that have been strange or inexplicable.
As I myself journeyed to North America I passed through an island in the Caribbean and the two local newspapers were proclaiming on their front pages the story of a young boy who was apparently possessed. Witnesses to a very obvious poltergism included a high ranking policeman. Were they victims of mass hysteria or hypnosis? Who knows.
Ask Showtime: Debra-guest says: Timothy, Posssessed is getting excellent reviews, which is wonderful and your part in particular. Do you ever read any of your reviews?
Timothy Dalton: I don't read them all. I'm pleased that it is getting some very good reviews and I have read some of them. I believe it has also had a couple of reviews from reviewers who it appears thought we were trying to remake 'The Exorcist' and rather missed the point of this docudrama.
I'm always pleased with a good review because it means that my work and the work of all my colleagues who always work truly hard, have delivered an interesting project to the viewing audience. Because it means we've succeeded and an audience has truly enjoyed our work, which is the point of the exercise.
Ask Showtime: MysteryGirl-guest says: I've just seen your new movie "Possessed" and wondered what it was like to do a film set in the 50's?
Timothy Dalton: It wasn't essentially any different from doing a film set in any other time. The things that matter are the human relationships, the storyline and the way the story works it's way to it's conclusion. The costumes are different. The human qualities are the same.
Ask Showtime: Sir says: Is playing a real person harder than playing a fictional character?
Timothy Dalton: I think we touched on that earlier. I think the fictional character is easier.
Ask Showtime: Paula-guest says: You have played kings from Caesar to The Kings Whore, from priests to law men, from doctors to patients. Which part are you most fond of?
Timothy Dalton: I love them all! Every single role is like a part of my body. One of my favorite movies is The Kings Whore and I also take great pleasure in the movie I made with Jim Belushi called Made Men.
Ask Showtime: A1-Judy-guest says: Mr Dalton, I would love to see you play MacBeth, either on stage or screen. Is there any chance you would do such a project? Please - before Branagh inevitably foists his upon us (joking of course)
Timothy Dalton: It's a great role and a very challenging role. Many fine actors have come to grief having a go at Macbeth. Years ago for a short while I was an associate professor at the University of Hawaii and worked with the students on a production of Macbeth. It is a great play. I wonder how many years it will take Kenneth Branagh to get around to that.
Ask Showtime: Sandy-guest says: What is your favorite Shakespearian character and what is the one Shakespeare part you would love to play?
Timothy Dalton: If I was thinking of characters I've not played, and there are a significant number that I haven't, I would be very fascinated by the notion of King Lear. At this moment in time I truly have no burning passion to do any Shakespeare. But that will change.
Ask Showtime: skooter-guest says: You've starred in so many films I've loved! Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Timothy Dalton: Probably dead. I don't know. I have no idea! I don't know where I'm going to be next week.
Ask Showtime: A1-Judy-guest says: Have you ever been asked to work with Emma Thompson, or does the idea appeal to you? I would think you and she would have strong chemistry on screen (or stage).
Timothy Dalton: I never have been asked to work with her. I'm sure that we would.
Ask Showtime: LivingDLites-guest says: Can you tell what happened to the little boy after the exorcism was performed?
Timothy Dalton: Apparently he's still alive, he married and had children. As far as I know has lived a life with no public reference to this life. He's lived a life of great privacy to this event. As far as anyone can to this sort of thing, he has lived a perfectly normal life.
Ask Showtime: Laverene-guest says: What similarities do you have in real life to Ian Fleming's James Bond? Any?
Timothy Dalton: I don't want to shortchange you on an answer but the word that keeps springing into the forefront of my mind is ... none, none, none. I think we all identify with heroes and would like to be action adventure heroes. When one thinks objectively about the kind of life a James Bond would live always being chased by people who want to kill him and killing an awful amount of people trying to stay alive, you realize the truth is they're miles away from any of our lives.
Ask Showtime: ScubaGirl-guest says: I live on the west coast and haven't seen Possessed yet. What do you think is the best reason to see Possessed?
Timothy Dalton: First of all it doesn't matter what coast you live on. It is airing on Showtime as we speak. It is a unique opportunity to see a really disturbing event in modern American history. A fascinating event. And make up your own mind about the events that happened. Everything you will see about the boys story was witnessed by at least 3 people. You may never get another chance to see a story of such a well documented event.
Ask Showtime: The_Maker-guest says: You have a reputation for studying very deeply for the roles you take. Having looked into this subject to some depth, how would you attempt to describe what happened?
Timothy Dalton: Good question. It's a question I'm finding difficult to answer.
It seems to me that the events surrounding this boy's life at the moment in history when these events happened created a circumstance that were right for potential of real emotional and psychological disturbance. The family was German, shortly after the second world war. The mother and her relatives did practice black magic, the child was pubescent. There are other factors at work which I don't particularly don't care to go into because they're still alive. A lot of things would extend that would lead to psychological and emotional disturbance. My information is that there is no such thing as possession by an external force. I should make it clear that the story in Possessed probably covered 2 or 3 years and the exorcisms went on for many months. There would be those who would say that the child was maliciously mischievous and those who would say he was deeply psychologically disturbed and those who would say he was possessed by a demon or devil. In any event it does appear that his soul was saved.
Ask Showtime: corpse-guest says: In researching this role, I'm sure you studied the long-term effects of exorcisms on the priests themselves. Do you learn anything interesting?
Timothy Dalton: Yes. I'd always thought that an exorcism was a difficult but reasonably straightforward event in which a good man of faith spoke the prescribed words on behalf of his God and cast out the Devil and it was over. I've learned in this case as I touched on in my last answer that exorcism is not an event, it's a process. These priests exorcized this boy night after night, week after week after week, month after month to the point of complete physical exhaustion. And I would guess that with every day and with every failure their faith and their doubt was severely questioned. It is easy to see how a man of faith would not only lose his faith but become psychologically destroyed himself.
Ask Showtime: Jen-guest says: What projects have you got lined up and will you be doing any live theatre in the near future?
Timothy Dalton: I'm just finishing up on a movie called American Outlaws It started it's life being called Jesse James. We've been filming in Texas and stars Colin Farrell who is playing so wonderfully in the movie 'Tigerland' as Jesse James. And I play the Scot - Alan Pinkerton who founded the Pinkerton Detective Agency, who was hired by the railroad office to hunt down and catch our hero. It's a Morgan Creek/Warner Brothers movie and it should be out in the cinemas next summer.
Showtime: Unfortunately, we've come to the end of our chat. Thank you, Mr Dalton. Any final comments to our audience before we close?
Timothy Dalton: I'd just like to say thank you all for your interest and it's been a pleasure talking to you. I'd especially like to thank Mary, who typed like a rocket and without whom this interview wouldn't have been possible.
Showtime: Thank you for joining our chat with Timothy Dalton.
(c) Copyright 2000 Showtime All Rights Reserved.
The above was typed up by Debra Best in November 2000, from an audio tape which was very kindly done by Jenny on the night of the Showtime Internet Chat.