SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Ian Case: My name is Ian Case. I’m an actor, director, producer and arts administrator. My day job is as Director for the Farquhar Auditorium and Ceremonies and Events at the University of Victoria. I run my own theatre company called Giggling Iguana Productions which is probably best known for its site-specific work at Craigdarroch Castle for 15 years. I do a lot less work with Giggling Iguana Productions these days and tend to take on projects with friends. I just finished a run of Twelfth Night with Launch Pad Productions where I played Malvolio which was a lot of fun. I’m going to be directing two shows going on a Canadian Fringe tour as well as a new adaptation of Frankenstein for Theatre Inconnu, the theatre company where I started my professional career in 1991.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actor?
Ian Case: To be honest, I probably should have realized that the theatre was going to play a major role in my life a lot earlier than I did. I was obsessed with puppetry as a kid and in high school I was similarly obsessed with Shakespeare. But it wasn’t until 1984 when I saw Anthony Sher play Richard III in Stratford on Avon. He was so hypnotic. I still remember his opening monologue clearly. Here was one man standing on a dark stage in a cone of light and with his words alone he held the hearts of each and every person in that audience in the palm of his hand. When I stepped dazed out of the theatre that afternoon I turned to my mother and said, “That’s what I want to do with the rest of my life.”
SKSM: How did you become involved in The doctor’s case Dollar Baby film?
Ian Case: James Douglas, the director and mastermind behind The Doctor’s Case is an old university pal and our paths have crossed many times over the years. We have a lot of mutual friends and have worked with a lot of the same people. When I was General Manager at Theatre Inconnu in the early 1990s, I gave James his first professional acting gig and I guess James remembered that and wanted to return the favour. When our paths crossed a couple of years ago he was super excited about this project and asked me if I’d consider play Inspector Lestrade. I was thrilled and immediately said yes.
SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?
Ian Case: I think The Doctor’s Case has two major draws – Sherlock Holmes and Stephen King. Those are pretty heavy hitters. Holmes of course has gone through a real resurgence of late with the whole Sherlock thing with Benedict Cumberbatch. And Stephen King never really seems to go out of style. It probably didn’t hurt that the recent adaptation of “It” came out recently and put King’s work on the top of the Cinema world again.
But beyond that, this is a really fun story. For Holmesians, it’s fun because it’s a new story about their favourite characters not to mention the twist that this is Doctor Watson’s Case, a case that he solves, rather than yet another one of Holmes’ triumphs. King is a great writer so he’s not only captured the feel of Conan Doyle, but also created a fun and incredibly vivid tableau for this story to unfold.
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Ian Case: Nope. James knows my stage work pretty well. He did ask me a little about my film and tv work before asking me to participate but once he heard that I was pretty familiar with working on camera he just asked me straight out if I’d play Lestrade. I said “yes” immediately.
SKSM: You worked with James Douglas on this film, how was that?
Ian Case: Working with James was very satisfying. James is a problem solver and incredibly ambitious in the scope of the projects he tackles. He wanted to create something far beyond what we should have been able to pull off given the meagre resources and funds at his disposal. But James knows how to pull together a first-rate team and the team working on The Doctor’s Case was second to none. Plus, James has this uncanny ability to inspire both trust and loyalty to his vision.
At the same time, James is very open to hearing what other people think and open to contributions from others if he sees that it will make a positive contribution to the end result. James was incredibly gracious in taking ideas, suggestions and changes from the people he was working with. He did it without a trace of insecurity or ill-will. He embraced other people’s good ideas which I think is the mark of a really mature and confident artist.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Ian Case: There were lots of fun moments. I don’t think there are likely a lot of bloopers. JP, Michael and I spent a lot of time in front of the camera together and a lot of time together waiting for the cameras to role. This made for a lot of time for us to get very comfortable with each other and similarly to have a lot of fun together.
During the filming of the Baker Street scenes, we had to do the scenes over and over again to achieve all the camera shots that James and our DP, Ian, wanted. But the Baker Street set was a really small drawing room in Carr House so the angles were sometimes really challenging. At one point they had trouble getting the right angle on a Lestrade shot because I’m about 6ft tall and they couldn’t get the camera far enough back to make it look like I wasn’t a giant. In the end they told me the only way they could get the shot was if I could squat down. As a result, I ended up in a squat for about 20-30 minutes while we shot all of my dialogue! I hope no one can see me straining in the final cut of the picture.
Things got pretty crazy on the last day of shooting in Craigdarroch Castle when we knew we still had about three vital shots to capture and we were already well past the time when we were supposed to be out of the venue so that it could be ready to open to the public the next morning. We all got a bit giddy in that last hour but I have to say, when James called action, we all straightened up and got the job done.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Ian Case: I already knew a few of the cast and crew before the shoot and I’ve kept those contacts going. Michael who played young Watson and JP who played Holmes are now my pals and I’ve staying in touch with them. A great many of the cast and crew who live in Wells, BC were friends of a dear friend of mine who passed away a few years ago and it was lovely to meet so many of them and to talk about our mutual friend. James and I seem to touch base every few months or so as well. It was a really special group of people and I enjoyed our time together.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Ian Case: I’m directing a couple of shows gong on Fringe tour in July and I’ll be directing a new adaptation of Frankenstein in the fall.
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Ian Case: Yes. I’ve read quite a bit of King’s work. I think he’s a great, and prolific, writer. I love his short horror fiction and his “On Writing” is a bit of a bible for me.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Ian Case: To be honest, I’m not really sure. Probably that I took up kickboxing in the fall after finishing the filming of The Doctor’s Case. I go two or three times a week. I dropped 20+ pounds after filming the Doctor’s Case which felt pretty good. Beyond that, I’m not sure I’m all that surprising.
I suppose the other thing that might surprise people is that I am usually incredibly uncomfortable watching my acting on film. Until The Doctor’s Case, I’ve never been able to watch my own work on screen without cringing. But when I watched The Doctor’s Case the first time, I thought to myself, “wow, that’s pretty good.” I’ve now seen it a few times more and every time I watch it I think to myself that I’m actually pretty good in it. I’m quite proud of my work in The Doctor’s Case and a lot of folks who have seen it have said a lot of really nice things about my work in it.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Ian Case: I hope that folks get a chance to see The Doctor’s Case. I think it’s a pretty special film.
SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?
Ian Case: Nope. I think that’s about it. Thanks for interviewing me about my work and about The Doctor’s Case.