I have known stubborn men and women, stubborn screws that won't turn, and stubborn stains that refuse to be moved. But that ain't nothing to a mule.
Matthew Vaughn was the director. I had read for him and his brother for "Layer Cake" a few years before. But nothing came of it. This time I was quizzed as to my proficiency on a horse when I went up for Stardust. I have ridden horses for years, and often ride for parts in various films and TV shows so I assumed.....
Next thing I know, I am in Buckinghamshire taking mule riding lessons. It seems that when a mule stops, he sticks his legs way forward, and since his neck is short unless you have perfected the technique the rider goes flying over the top.
With my mule talents now honed, I flew off to Reykjavik, Iceland . A long flight. An overnight stop, and an early call where I am picked up and driven a long long way up to the northern part of the land mass.
We passed mountains of snow and glaciers, the air filled with the sulfur from the smoldering volcanoes beneath the surface of the snow packed land. Amazing it doesn't all melt. Reykjavik homes are heated and the tap water hot from the thermal layer beneath the surface.
We arrived to do the scene on a pure dark black sand beach, Polished like jet and such an amazing contrast to the clean white snow. But a perfect color for the scene that would follow on the next day's shoot.
The next day was freezing cold as we stood on the winter shores of the Arctic Circle. The wind was harsh. I could never believe that people would swim in these waters. But I understand that in the summers there are some beaches whose waters are again heated by the volcanic action below the surface. But not on that day.
We shot all day in that howling wind, and between shots the crew had a special coat to put around me to stop some of the wind's effects. But they must have been absolutely freezing.
I worked with Mark Strong who played the wicked Septimus. He was a good looking guy, and I would marvel how his looks would radically change depending on which wig he had on.
His character suspected that the Soothsayer was working for his brother. He had me throw my runes into the air and had me tell his fortune. Septimus asked the Soothsayer various questions. I guess he did not like his fortune. He stabbed me . But I couldn't just die. I had to practice falling - not down but straight back in a fall. And there I lay, on that raven sand left to die on the beach.
I never got to use my mule riding talents or meet up with the rest of the principal actors Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro and all the others in Scotland . The film was running quite behind, and I was booked elsewhere. l thought to myself "Who is going to ride that mule .Oh well they will just stick a wig on someone else and film from the back. " And that's just what they did!
After the days shoot we went back to the hotel, then out for an Italian meal...I love Italian. I remember it was very expensive, but everything was very very expensive in Iceland. A couple of the crew and I went out for a drink in a local pub afterwards. We walked in, no one spoke English, they just stared at us. It turned out to be a gay bar, and they let us know we were intruding. We left and gave the heads up to a few of the other crew that we ran into as they were heading to the same night spot.
That evening before I returned to England, I saw the Aurora Borealis. It was magnificent, like the REAL stardust just hanging there in the sky, like twinkling rain.