Tessa Alvarado The Queen of Swords Anthony De Longis

Behind The Scenes And on The Set With Anthony De Longis

"The Witness" - Page Three

QoS Smackdown - Tessa vs. Geraldo

That's Ricardo riding hellbent for leather to deliver the fake note to Tessa. As you can see, that cowboy can ride. I'd suggested Ricardo specifically for the part of Geraldo because I knew we'd have a better and safer fight with Ricardo partnering our star during the knife fight. Ricardo is also very handsome, and the producers and director liked to insinuate a love interest between Bo and her vaquero foreman.

I'd discussed the story of the combat with Peter Ellis and we both agreed the death should be an accident. Tessa is defending herself as Tessa and has not clicked into Queen mode. The killing of Ricardo happens in the course of the action. I wanted the death to be abrupt and unexpected for both the characters and the audience.

Natalia, Mary-Jose and Hernan At left - Natalia, dressed as "Tessa," visits with Mary-Jose (in black) and Hernan (on horseback) before heading out to the knife fight location.

I also wanted Natalia to have a chance to perform a fight onscreen and offered her the chance to rehearse and double this fight. I already had Roberta doubling as MaryRose for the final sword fight and as Marta for the fight in the kitchen. This was Natalia's opportunity to step up to the plate and she worked very hard rehearsing at every opportunity with both Ricardo and I to be ready. I utilized Natalia for all the camera blocking and she did a terrific job in the rehearsals but never got on film. Tessie performed all her own action for the knife fight.

We started by dragging Tessa out of the carriage. We wanted it to look like a throw but Ricardo actually lifted Tessie and guided her onto her mark on the ground. EFX Carlos fashioned an aluminum blade for a navaja gypsy fighting knife I'd selected for us to use. We had a rubber blade for Ricardo to fall on for safety but I like to use a real metal blade when fighting onscreen. They catch the light and they don't go all floppy at inopportune moments in front of the camera.

Anthony rehearses Tessie and Ricardo At right -Anthony rehearses Tessie and Ricardo before filming the knife fight.

Tessie did a great job. Unfortunately the editors cut in so close you don't see that she traps Ricardo's legs to trip him and give her time to rise to her feet. That's all Tessie absorbing the energy of Ricardo's stab and deflecting his arm to open his belly for a sharp kick to the chest followed by a punch to the jaw. The wind blew Tessie's hair across her face and on one of the takes she brushed Ricardo's beard stubble with her fist. Too close. I built in the tension hold as an acting beat when Geraldo counters her next deflection and grabs her by the throat before trying to stab low with the knife. Tessa catches his wrist and it's a standoff.

Geraldo grabs Tessa by the neck At left - during the fight, Geraldo gets the upper hand, grabbing Tessa by the throat. At right, cameraman Colin Hoult captures the action on a handheld camera.

In a battle of strength she knows she must eventually lose. She breaks the grip on her throat and yanks the arm holding the knife behind his back, knees him in the gut, then sweeps his leg to break his balance. Simultaneously Tessa smashes her forearm across his chest to pound him to the earth. There is the acting moment where Tessa waits expectantly for Ricardo to rise. This is where he discovers what has happened and Tessa realizes she has killed him by accident. This gives Tessie the opportunity for a rich acting moment for her character. I was very pleased with both the performers and the story we told.

Tessa sees Geraldo die At right - At the end of the fight, Tessa stands stunned over the dead body of Geraldo. The fight had been choreographed to culminate in this emotional moment.

I think this scene was a crucial one in the development of the character of Tessa Alvarado. From the beginning I was told by David Abramowitz and Ken Gord that the Queen never kills arbitrarily and that this was the first time Tessa kills when she is not wearing the mask. The importance of this is played out in the next scene.

T: "One of her men is dead, he attacked me."
M: "And you defended yourself, thank god you know how."
T: "But I don't, not as Tessa."
M: "And now Tessa can no longer hide behind the mask."
T: "Only the Queen kills, this is not how it's supposed to be. Sometimes I watch myself as the Queen and I'm amazed at what she does, how confident she is."
M: "She kills. It's not easy."
T: "No."
M: "It shouldn't be."

Obviously this is a huge plot and character point. It is essential that the action support this revelation. Unless action drives story and articulates character, it is just a bunch of acrobatics that cheats the audience and cheapens the show. It is an interesting parallel that Tessie said almost the same thing when we were filming our second episode, "Vengeance" and she donned the Queen garb for our knife fight. She confessed to me that when wearing the mask, she lost her nervousness and felt like she was capable of almost anything.

Little Details You Probably Didn't Know

Pilar, the woman who plays Carmina, did a lovely job and the producers brought her back for another appearance in the "Hanged Man." In my guest star role I enjoy a nice dialogue with her in Montoya's office while drinking his brandy.

The scene in the hotel bedroom that Vera witnesses reflected in the windows of her own room was a nifty shot set up by Alwyn Kumst and his crew. It called for a tricky mirror reflection and very critical marks for the actors in a tiny room further dwarfed by the number of bodies and amount of equipment packed into the limited space. I worked out a gun switch so that the barrel turns back on her in the struggle and she accidently pulls the trigger herself. I crouched outside the window against the black drapes hung to conceal the light and waited to catch the actress as she smashed through the glass doors. Although they never used the shot, it would have tied us into the exterior action at the start of the show.

Someone's In The Kitchen With Marta

Anthony in the hacienda kitchen At left - Anthony (left foreground) discusses Marta's kitchen fight with director Peter Ellis (left) and line producer Gerard Croce (middle).

For Marta's fight in the kitchen I drove the hour to the hacienda location in San Jose to meet with the director and hear his thoughts. The space was bare but Fernando told Peter Ellis how he was going to dress the set and I made some tentative plans. I wanted a fight that the actress could perform, that we could shoot quickly and easily and that would utilize the weapons of opportunity the location provided.

Mary Rose and her Vaqueros surprised Marta pouring hot water into her wash tub. When Domingo moves to grab her she casually tosses him the scalding kettle which stops him in his tracks. Marta grabs her iron as the closest weapon at hand. M: "It's clear you've underestimated us both."

cooking area of the kitchen At right - The cooking area of the hacienda's kitchen was dressed with multiple pottery jars. One of these was smashed over Hernan's head.

Hernan charges and she kicks the tub of hot water into his shins. Domingo renews his attack and gets clobbered with the iron. Hernan ducks the next iron swing and grabs Marta's wrist to disarm her, driving her back towards the fireplace where she kicks him in the balls and smashes a breakaway bottle over his head to drop him to his knees. When we reversed the camera for coverage the second bottle didn't break and poor Hernan really got his lumps. Oww.

Roberta as Marta At left - Roberta, dressed as Marta, catches the "magic hour" light of an Almeria sunset.

Mary Rose draws her cutlass and starts forward. Marta searches for her next weapon of opportunity and grabs a ladle. Domingo grabs her shoulder from behind and she spins thrusting the ladle into his belly to double him over for an uppercut to the chin. I staged the next shot for the reverse so we'd see Mary Rose approach Marta from behind. Marta spins and slashes furiously with her ladle. Mary Rose handles her easily, parrying with her cutlass and twisting the edge to Marta's throat to subdue her.

Roberta Brown was a terrific double for Marta, even photo-doubling her in an earlier episode when the AD mistakenly sent the actress home early. She stood by ready to perform if needed, but Paulina was able to handle all of the action herself. I wanted a fight that looked logical and made Marta dangerous and effective without looking like a trained fighter. Thanks to a talented actress, I got exactly what I hoped to achieve from the scene, and we were able to shoot it in a couple of takes which made the director very happy.

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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