`Ivanhoe' Coming to Small Screen Not Easy Bringing Scott Novel to TV

By Susan King 1997, Los Angeles Times | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), April 20, 1997 | Go to article overview

`Ivanhoe' Coming to Small Screen Not Easy Bringing Scott Novel to TV


Susan King 1997, Los Angeles Times, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


IT WAS no easy task bringing Sir Walter Scott's sweeping 1819 novel "Ivanhoe" to the small screen.

The ambitious six-hour miniseries, premiering at 7 p.m. Sunday on cable's A&E and continuing Monday and Tuesday, was a mammoth undertaking. "It was like making three movies," says producer Jeremy Gwilt.

"Ivanhoe" was shot over five months last year in numerous locations in England and Scotland. Not only did the cast and crew battle the elements, the actors also had to learn to ride, joust and handle a sword convincingly. "It was grueling," says Steven Waddington ("The Last of the Mohicans," "Carrington"), who plays the title role. The actors, quips Gwilt, "really suffered for their art. But they were all terrific people. They really pulled together." Produced by A&E and the BBC, which scored a great success last year with the Jane Austen miniseries "Pride and Prejudice," the swashbuckling epic is set during 12th century England and focuses on Richard the Lionheart's return from the Crusades to fight against factions who are loyal to his treacherous brother, John. Waddington's Wilfred of Ivanhoe is a gallant, honorable Saxon knight who is loyal to Richard (Rory Edwards). He is trying to regain his honor after having been unjustly accused of betraying Richard during the Crusades. Ciaran Hinds ("Persuasion") also stars as the powerful, arrogant knight templar Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert, who actually betrayed Richard and is now aligned with John (Ralph Brown). Ivanhoe and de Bois-Guilbert fall under the spell of the beautiful and kind Jewish healer Rebecca (Susan Lynch). Ivanhoe, though, is betrothed to his childhood sweetheart, the radiant Rowena (Victoria Smurfit). Robert Taylor, Joan Fontaine and Elizabeth Taylor starred in the Oscar-nominated 1952 film version, and Anthony Andrews headlined CBS' three-hour adaptation in 1982. The extreme weather conditions caused havoc with the production. Last May, shooting had to be canceled in a remote valley in Northumberland, England, because of a sudden snowstorm. "We had to reschedule and came back to it three weeks later," Gwilt says. "That day we got rained off. A couple of days later, there was too much mist around. …

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