Discussing the Bliss episode with Peter Wingfield
In 2004, the PWFC LFT Magazine editor
had a chance to speak with Peter Wingfield about his role in the Bliss
episode, “Tying Up Gerald.” Below are a few excerpts from that
Following a quick mention of the airdates, Peter commented that he had just received a copy of the episode and had seen it for the first time. And his reaction, Mon prompted. . .
With a bit of a chuckle, Peter replied, “You know it’s a strange thing. When I read the script, I thought it was a comedy. I think that’s kind of—that’s a common thread in Bliss. I read the scripts and I think they’re comedies. The first one that I did two years back now, when I saw it I was actually shocked by how bleak it looked and felt. And this one likewise.
I thought it was much funnier when we were doing it. Actually, there still is a lot of humour in this story. I don’t know how much has been revealed about what the story is but I don’t think it spoils anything to say it’s about a guy who’s into being tied up and spanked.”
Citing some of the comments that people have made about Peter doing this type of project, Mon asked if Peter considers it just a job or does he think about what people who see it are going to think. Immediately, Peter replied with, “Oh, certainly, certainly. Before I did the first one—My primary responsibility is to my family and before doing. . .any job, we sit and we talk about what the implications of doing the job may be. So we talked at great length about Bliss before I did it the first time.”
But he added, “In the final analysis, the thing that is most important, most significant for me, is the challenge of a job and the most interesting work is the stuff that you do really not sure whether you can pull it off. The stuff where you might fail really badly. I mean you can show up and phone in performances as bad guys in sci-fi genre TV series every day of the week and it’s a living and it’s entertaining and there’s nothing bad about doing that. Nothing fundamentally reprehensible but as an actor you don’t grow by doing that. You grow by doing things that are difficult and uncomfortable, going into territory that is not the place you normally inhabit.”
Peter noted that generally an actor doesn’t have a say in the final product as that is up to the director, the editor and others. So what you film is not always what you see on screen and the editing can change the whole take on the story, which prompted Mon to note that if he thought, when he read Bliss that it was more of a comedy and it doesn’t appear that way, then it probably says a lot to the whole editing and production process.” Peter agreed, but he added, “ Bliss is—I like the idea of it. I like the idea of telling stories that are sensual, that are erotic, but actually have some reality to them, have some depth to them, rather than just being something very superficially titillating, that really have no basis in reality. I like the concept of the series and I like the people that do it, who created it, that make the shows. I had a great time doing the first one, which is why I was happy to go back and do another.”
But one of the difficulties that Peter noted in doing a series of this sort, an anthology, was the lack of central characters that most shows have where a core of people kept the show flowing whereas with Bliss it was more a case of, “Every single episode is just people—they fly in, they work, then disappear so it’s very edgy stuff. It’s difficult to make that work again and again and again.”
While Peter admitted he didn’t know anything about domination going into the filming, he, himself, being the recipient, didn’t have to worry too much about research for the episode, but the director and his female co-stars did delve into the subject matter to bring as much authenticity to the project as possible. Peter explained that “they went to meet a dominatrix in her studio and had a long kind of research session with her. They were fascinated by the whole world of it. It really struck them, the power of this lady and her calmness. The domination was really interesting because it wasn’t about overpowering. It was about being at peace with yourself, being very calm, very centered, very solid, talking very quietly. . .and this lady was saying it’s not about causing pain to somebody. That’s a whole separate area where people want to have things stuck in them and made to bleed and to suffer pain to achieve a euphoric state by endorphin release.” Having read the script for the episode, the dominatrix noted that they were really talking about sensitivity. “. . .so it’s not about hitting somebody really hard, it’s about brushing the skin with different textures—with leather, with metal, with the thorn of a rose.”
Peter followed the Bliss filming up with another production with Mina Shaum, the same director. Mon asked how the two experiences compared. “They were very similar in some ways because they were both little Canadian-financed thirty-minute dramas, so shot very quickly with not very much money,” he replied, then added, “Both of them I spent a lot of time on phone calls and one of them I had my clothes on and the other I had my clothes off. Actually, I did, in the Bliss episode, because the character was so similar to the one I played in the previous Bliss episode—indeed they were almost called the same thing. One was called George and the other was called Gerald. In an attempt to make it clear that they weren’t actually the same guy, I did a—not exactly an American ac—but a mid-Atlantic. The idea was a guy, like me, who has lived in the country a long time but is not originally from there. Whereas in “Various Miracles” he was actually supposed to be British and I played him British. So they have a slightly different accent.”
Bliss aired on the Movie Network in Canada and the Oxygen Network in the USA. More of this interview and more of Peter’s comments on acting, Andromeda and other things can be read in issue #30 of LFT, the quarterly magazine of the PWFC. For information on joining the club, which includes a subscription to the magazine, please visit our membership information page by clicking this link or by purchasing a back issue from our store.
Article © 2004 PWFC—Please do not copy or re-post without written permission.
Image © 2004 BackAlley Productions & Gala Films.