Tessa Alvarado The Queen of Swords Anthony De Longis

Behind The Scenes And on The Set With Anthony De Longis

"The Witness"


Tessie Santiago - Tessa Alvarado / The Queen of Swords
Paulina Galvez - Marta
Valentine Pelka - Colonel Luis Montoya
Anthony Lemke - Captain Marcus Grisham
Elsa Pataky - Vera Hidalgo
Bo Derek - Mary Rose
Neil Newbon - Anton
Leo Medina- Crispin
Christopher De Andres - Arsenio
Ricardo Cruz - Geraldo
Miglen Michlew- Vlad
Pilar Abella D'arstegui - Carmina

Are You Ready to Rummmmble?

Monday, June 12 and the start of filming for a new episode, "The Witness." We worked nights for the first part of the week and I'd go in early to train the actors and stunt performers and work out new action ideas with Ricardo. The morning started out with a bang. Fighter jets were doing low level passes, clearing our house at the top of the mountain by only a few hundred feet before plunging into the valley and turning out over the ocean towards Mojacar. Our canyon walls vibrated with the roar of their jets and I thought this unusual omen must be a signal that today was going to be special. Sure enough, later that morning I met our newest guest star - Bo Derek.

Anthony and Bo At left - At left, Anthony and Bo Derek take a break from training. Bo very conscientiously spent her free time training with Anthony for the final fight. Because there was almost no shade, and the days were extremely hot, training took place in the saloon on the Western town set in Texas, Hollywood.

I must admit I was excited to meet the legend who had epitomized the feminine physical ideal, the perfect "10." Bo proved to be far more than easy on the eyes. Strong, professional, generous, extremely demanding of herself, she was a pleasure to work with and a star in the best sense of the word.

When Bo arrived she was accompanied by CeeCee Huston, a good friend and fellow horse breeder. I'd had the honor to meet and work with CeeCee's former husband, director/actor John Huston my last trip to Spain when I played the villain in the feature film, Jaguar Lives. For more details please read my behind the scenes comments on The Queen of Swords pilot episode, "Destiny" .

Bo on set with her Palomino. At right - Bo rides through the town on the horse she had chosen for "Mary Rose". An accomplished horsewoman, Bo could often be seen riding with her feet out of the stirrups, as seen here.

I'd met Bo briefly at the office when Mary and I stopped to do e-mail on the way to the set. She'd literally just arrived from the airport and hadn't even been to her hotel. I was a bit surprised to see her on the set immediately following her wardrobe fitting an hour later. Bo wanted to see what horses were available and take an active part in their selection. Ricardo was as excited about meeting Bo as I had been, largely because of her international reputation as a horsewoman. He had two magnificent palominos that he thought she would look great riding, both more spirited horses than he would ever offer to anyone but an expert rider. Bo hopped aboard, put each of them through their paces and made her selection.

Anthony and Ken Gord talk on set At left - Anthony and Ken Gord talk on the set. Working in the region that gave new life to the Western, it was no suprise that Ken got caught up in the mystique and bought a Colt replica (in the box he's holding) at the nearby Mini-Hollywood western theme park.

As soon as she dismounted Bo was eager to begin her sword training. Ken Gord wanted to see that his star got some rest but bowed to her wishes and we had an intensive first lesson for over an hour. Ken paid me a compliment, of sorts. He watched the entire lesson, a first for him in spite of all his years on Highlander: the Series, and said, "You're a very good teacher, how come you're so long-winded in life and so succinct when you teach?" I didn't point out that when I teach, I know that I'm being understood. When I'm talking to producers I sometimes feel the need to keep explaining until I'm sure they get the importance of the point under discussion.

Anthony and Escandalo At right -Anthony works with Escandalo at the trot to get the horse calm and attentive. Prior to any whip training session, it is important to get the horse's trust and respect.

The next day I was training Escandalo, another double for the Queen's horse, with the whip and Mary was aboard Chico. I had some longtime ideas to incorporate the whip into our horseback action. I outlined my thoughts to Ricardo and we mounted up to try them out. Ricardo rode towards me and I used the whip to clothesline him off the back of his horse. Next I chased him from behind and threw the whip around his neck to cue his horse fall. We did this from several angles to see which was going to be easiest for both horse and rider. Both of us were very pleased and we showed the action to Natalia as an incentive to practice even harder with the whip. As soon as she was ready we would incorporate these moves into our stories.

Bo arrived for her second sword lesson. The day before she'd told me that she enjoyed what she was learning and wanted to perform as much of her own fight as possible in the climactic duel. She promised to find time in her schedule every day and that's just what she did. No matter how long she worked on her other scenes, Bo always practiced her swordplay before calling it a day. The results resounded in her final scene. After her lesson, Bo, CeeCee, Mary, the Spanish lads and I all went for a riding tour of the town and the surrounding countryside. Then it was back to work for Ricardo and I to prepare the ground and the rooftop for Mary-Jose's fall, our first action of the new episode.

Getting Ready for a Fall

Fall location At left - the end of the Cantina building before being prepared for the fall in "Witness".

"The Witness" opens on yet another party in Montoya's garden, this time at night. The costumers did another extraordinary job outfitting a party full of extras to look like ladies and gentlemen in 1820's California at a gala affair. The boys and I were busy across the town square preparing the ground, literally. Our art director, Fernando and his crew did a teriffic job creating what didn't exist in the three days since Richardo and I prepped the show for incoming director, Peter Ellis. Beneath the widow where Peter wanted to shoot the girl flying through the glass doors to the street below, there only existed a cactus garden and a white picket fence.

The building adjacent had a flimsy thatch roof. The balcony outside of what had be our bedroom set in "Vengeance" and would appear again in "Duel with a Stranger" ended in an abrupt drop into the cactus garden, which we wanted to preserve. Ricardo and I felt we could provide a fall from roof to ground without having to cutaway to hide pads and boxes if Fernando's crew could construct a sloping roof that extended beyond the cactus and it's surrounding fence. This is more complex than it sounds since the structure needed to support weight and appear to be an extension of the adjacent structure.

Mary-Jose crashes through window At right - Frame from the opening action of Mary-Jose's fall. "Carmina" crashes through the doors onto the new roof covering the cactus garden (behind fence at lower right)

The crew used round branches for the beams and overlapping planks for the roof. Initially they attached the planks with nails but the shape of the branches made the surface uneven. During my inspection I noticed the heads of the nails protruded and screws were quickly substituted. The night we were to shoot we had two hours to prepare the earth below the roof and rehearse Mary-Jose. This was no small task since the ground in the square is as hard as rock. The boys and I all took turns with pick and shovel and soon we had dug a 10 ft by 12 ft hole about 14 inches deep. We placed thick stunt pads into the hole, smoothed them over with a black cloth and covered the whole thing with dirt so nothing showed. The challenge for Mary-Jose was to crash through the widows, clear the wall and roll in a straight line down the sloping roof in order to center herself over the pads for her eight-foot drop to the ground.

Mary-Jose at the end of fall At left - Mary-Jose, dressed as Carmina, lies on the buried pads at the end of her fall. The dark leggings cover the protective padding she wore under the costume.

Peter Ellis wanted to shoot all of the action as one piece so we built Mary-Jose a ramp at the base of the wall so she could more easily clear the first obstacle and concentrate on the roll and drop. We positioned two cameras for coverage and called, "Action!" Our first go round the costume tried to kill her by hanging up her feet as she flew backwards through the door and over the wall so we cut early. The second take we took Mary-Jose all the way to the ground, but wardrobe had failed to hide her pads and they showed when she hit the ground. A moments adjustment for wardrobe and clean-up of the surface and we got what we needed on our third go-around.


On to Page Two of "The Witness"

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Copyright 2000-2001 Anthony De Longis. All contents, unless otherwise noted, are the property of Anthony De Longis or used with permission of the copyright owner. All text and photos herein may not be reproduced or distributed without the express written consent of Anthony De Longis, his official representative, or the copyright owner.

The Queen of Swords is trademark of Fireworks Productions, Toronto, Canada, and is a production of Fireworks (Canada), Amy Productions (UK), Morena Films (Spain) and M6 (France), and is distributed in the United States by Paramount. The Official Queen of Swords Website can be found at


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This page last updated January 9, 2001