Tessa Alvarado The Queen of Swords Anthony De Longis

Behind The Scenes And on The Set With Anthony De Longis

"The Witness" - Page Two

Comes Some Horsemen

The Rancheros in the town At left - the gang of Rancheros wait in front of the Cantina for their leader, "Mary Rose." All these riders are members of Ricardo's team of horse specialists.

The next shot in the episode shows an ominous group of masked horsemen riding in line across the plain. Ricardo was joined by Hernan, Domingo, Juan Miguel, Joachim, Alejandro and Chencho. Anna Ardura, the daughter of our very famous wrangler, Paco Ardura, was riding second unit double for Bo Derek, who was busy with dialogue in the town. Brian Gedge directed and shot and I stood braced in the speeding camera car, the two of us shouting directions to the driver and riders. Since all of the riders were experienced horsemen, this probably seems like an easy shot. The horses, mostly stallions, mostly young, all very spirited, had ideas of their own about how the shot should go. None of them had ever ridden in a group formation before and every one of them responded as if this were a race and their survival depending on winning it. Everyone had their hands full trying to keep order in the ranks. It took us several passes to get the shots you enjoyed onscreen.

Mary Rose with Geraldo & Ranchero At right - Mary Rose (Bo Derek), her foreman Geraldo (Ricardo Cruz), and two of her Rancheros pause in front of the Cantina. The Ranchero between Bo and Ricardo is Alejandro, the riding double for "Anton." Notice the hat? It is the same one Anthony wore when called in to ride in Alejandro's place.

That is indeed Bo Derek behind the mask riding into town at the head of her Vaqueros. She is very easy to spot. She sits deep and solid in the saddle and seems to be part of the horse. Dave Baker, who designed the Queen's sword and all the other blades on the show had created and rushed us the pirate's cutlass that hangs at her side.

Last One There is a...

Road leading to canyon At left - The road for part of the carriage chase narrowed into the canyon where the jumps occur. This road is also the only access road for a commune back in the canyon.

The carriage chase was a favorite sequence of mine. They shot most of it in second unit with Ricardo while I was working in town with the actors. But I'd discussed an idea with Ricardo during our location scout with Peter Ellis and Ken Gord that would help add a little more to the sequence than was on the page. The sequence started on the upper plains that had served as our battle field locations for "Vengeance." We planned a move across the highway and up a rapidly narrowing canyon that would afford us some interesting visuals - a sense of our heroes being trapped and a natural chute to help with a horse gag I had in mind. I'd spoken to Ricardo earlier and he'd tested some of his horses jumping over a log jump set up on the back streets of the poblado.

the wagon jump At right - Natalia and Roberta, doubling for Tessa and Marta, drive towards the jump. A ramp was prepared under the branch to lift the wagon and actually let it fall over the branch - a fall of about 8 inches.

My idea was simple. Set up cameras at ground level showing a branch across the road. Build a ramp on the side away from camera so the buggy with Tessa and Marta could easily clear a small obstruction of perhaps ten inches and drop cleanly to the other side. We would then cut and raise the branch to about eighteen inches or so for the horses to jump. By careful camera positioning and editing, we could get a much more exciting sequence with very little extra time or risk.

One of the unlooked-for complications was the fact that we couldn't prep the location until right before we shot because this back road was the only entrance for a commune located at the base of the cliffs. One of the members, an ex-pat Brit later ended up as one of my merry band of cutthroats in "The Hanged Man."

They shot the main unit with Tessie and Paulina and the carriage attached to the camera car. Then they harnessed the horses and Natalia and Roberta doubled the actresses with Natalia driving as Tessa. Ricardo plays the handsome vaquero in the western looking hat and the short jacket aboard the chestnut with the blaze on his forehead. He led the group on the chase sequences across the plains and into the canyon.

Jump for the horses At left - After the wagon gag was filmed, the branch was raised for the Rancheros' pursuit. Here, Curro and Joachim jump the raised obstacle.

We prepped our ground and set up the jump between the canyon walls and a huge boulder that acted as a natural funnel for the horses. We built our short ramp so the carriage would have a smooth approach and Luis-Miguel drove the carriage in a rehearsal for both the horses and camera. It went off without a hitch, Luis-Miguel rising gently to his feet to absorb the impact of the landing in his legs. I wanted to be sure the risks were minimal before giving the OK to Natalia and Roberta. The ladies took over and Natalia drove the horses through the sequence like a champ.

Then came the fun part. We raised the log to almost two feet, and positioned our cameras low and to the side and one directly under the branch itself. It was a small jump but enough to give us an exciting angle of the horses stretched out over the obstacle as they gave chase to the speeding carriage. One of the stunt team, Alejandro, had doubled the actor playing Mary Rose's son and was again needed in that capacity for the final group ride. This gave me the opportunity to don his costume and double Alejandro as one of the vaqueros. Any day on a horse is a good day and since the stunt was all set up, I took advantage of the opportunity to ride in the sequence.

Anthony & horse take the jump At right - Anthony coaxes his young horse over the obstacle in the middle of the road.

The horse I was riding was very young and I hadn't had the chance to ride him before. As camera made final preparations I rode over to my partner and asked Ricardo whether my horse had ever jumped before. He replied, "Oh yes." Then he paused and added, "Well... not too much." I decided to let two horses proceed me so my pony could follow and make the jump with more confidence. I'm the number three rider with the bandana over my face in the approach shot and jump over the tree limb. We did two takes. On the first, I felt my horse hesitate but gave a squeeze with my legs and he gathered himself and over he went with lots of room to spare. The second time it was like he'd been doing it all his life.

None of the horses had much experience with jumping. Joachim, superb horseman that he is, guided his horse to the jump and felt him take off about ten feet early. His back feet clipped the limb and dropped it onto the camera but all - horse, rider and camera - were OK. I was a little disappointed that the editors selected a shot for the approaching carriage that revealed our ramp and the difference in heights between the two jumps, rather than an angle that hid it. It gave away the gag, and defeated what we'd worked so hard to accomplish.

Rancheros before final ride At left -Anthony, along with Joachim and Domingo, prepare for their ride into the sunset. Notice the hat? It's the same one worn by Alejandro in the photo at top of the page.

I also got to ride in the final formation when Mary Rose, her son and the Vaqueros ride into the sunset. It was a wonderful ride at the end of the day walking the horses back from the canyon and across the highway to the plateau. Juan Miguel sang gypsy songs all the way and it was great to enjoy the scenery and just feel the horse beneath me. By the time we arrived, everything was ready. We lined up behind camera and on "action" broke into a gallop, splitting camera with half the riders on each side. I'm the second rider from the far right in the galloping formation. I'd spent the summer two years before training with the Governor General's Horse Guards in Toronto riding in formations of four and eight for a musical ride. It's not easy. We did two takes and managed to convince the horses to hold the formation on only our second try.

When Tessa finds Mary Rose waiting for her in her own house we did our own variation of the candle cutting gag. It wasn't as much fun as the comic variation I came up with for "The Magnificent 7," but the vertical cut EFX Carlos had constructed was something different and it did the job.

Tessa in her carriage. At right - Tessie (as Tessa) waits to film her wagon arriving in town. Tessie learned how to drive a carriage for scenes with "Tessa" travelling by horse, since a woman of her class would not ride astride.

As you can see, Tessa is getting quite proficient at driving the two-horse carriage. Early on in the series, I argued for Tessa never riding astride the way the Queen does. It just wasn't done by ladies of quality and I thought a pronounced difference was essential in order to help preserve the deception that Tessa and the Queen aren't the same person. Indeed, I attended a festival while on a job in Mazatlan just two years ago and all the ladies rode sidesaddle with their full finery arranged fetchingly on the left side of the horse. Ricardo had a sidesaddle on the set but when we began, Tessie was still a new rider and had no time to train to adjust to the considerable differences of riding with both legs on the same side of the horse. The carriage was the logical compromise. Under Hernan's excellent tutelage Tessie quickly learned to control the horses and drive the carriage very well.

Elsa Pataky who plays Vera, who owns horses and is a jumper was up to the challenge. Later in the show Vera rides rides sidesaddle to the hacienda to speak with Tessa. Unfortunately, the drape of her dress almost completely obscures the fact. It's an opportunity missed to clearly illustrate how ladies "of quality" were expected to behave.


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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