Patrick McGoohan died in Los Angeles on January 13, aged 80.
I had the pleasure of working with Mr. McGoohan on TREASURE PLANET. He was the voice of Billy Bones, the dying, pathetic alien character I'd been assigned.
As was usual with Disney recording sessions, the supervising animator was invited to hear the actor record the lines.
I'd last seen Mr. McGoohan as King Edward Longshanks in BRAVEHEART, but also recalled his scary television show THE PRISONER whose simple, yet terrifying, balloonlike Rovers frightened and fascinated me as a child.
I was apprehensive about meeting Mr. McGoohan since I'd heard he could be 'difficult' to work with. Actors are sometimes temperamental, or so I was told.
It turned out that Mr. McGoohan and I were the first people to arrive at the studio. I could think of nothing else to do but show him some of the sketches of Billy Bones-- a twisted, tortoiselike creature in high cocked hat and cloak with glowing eyes that I carefully designed to 'read' even in black and white sketches.
No, it wasn't a caricature of Mr. McGoohan, nor did I use any pictures of him as reference for the design. But it occurred to me that he might think that I had. He definitely had aged quite a bit since his PRISONER days. Would he be insulted by the drawings?
I needn't have worried.
"But these are excellent!" Mr. McGoohan said. "And", he added, scrutinizing me carefully, "I've seen you before."
I explained that other than a few documentaries on Disney DVDs, it was unlikely that Mr. McGoohan could have seen me on film since I was usually behind the camera; there was a slight possibility that he could have seen me visiting my friend who lived in Pacific Palisades, where his home was. He continued to insist that he'd seen me. I didn't contest the point. In Hollywood, actors go everywhere, possibly even where animators go.
We then had a very friendly conversation that I have to paraphrase, though I have never forgotten the main points Mr. McGoohan made.
"I am a journalist," he said. "I wrote for Irish papers...acting was not my main interest. The best thing acting ever did for me was to introduce me to my wife."
"I got tired of the 5 a.m. shoots and decided to concentrate on producing rather than acting." (His performance as Longshanks in BRAVEHEART was done as a favor to filmmaker Mel Gibson.)
"I was also offered the part of James Bond, I was the first actor they asked. I turned it down. It would have destroyed me."
He had no regrets for doing this. How many people would have done the same thing?
We met again for pickup sessions on Bones in early 2000, which was after my auto accident. While Mr. McGoohan had been on a cane for the first session, I was using one for the second, and he was horrified.
I would like to offer my small tribute to this kindhearted and highly intelligent actor.
He was quite the looker as a young man but there was a brain behind the good looks. Apparently Mr. McGoohan wrote and produced many COLUMBO shows for his friend Peter Falk, and he also created THE PRISONER and wrote some of the more disturbing episodes of that series.
Patrick McGoohan was also one of the few successful actors who remained faithful to their first wives for their entire working lives!
Farewell, Mr. McGoohan, and thank you for your kindness and your wonderful acting.