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The series is very loosely based upon the highly successful 1982 film Poltergeist, where the Freeling family was menaced by supernatural forces which ultimately kidnap the youngest Freeling daughter into the spiritual para-universe. The family, understandably did not know how to deal with these problems, so experts were called in.
The call went to an organization called The Legacy. It is with this group that the series Poltergeist: The Legacy concerns itself. The Legacy is an international secret organization that has been fighting evil supernatural forces for centuries, with 'Houses' throughout the world.
The action of the series concerns itself with the activities of the San Francisco House, headed by Derek Rayne, played by de Lint. Derek de Lint has had a long journey towards becoming the star of one of tv's most successful syndicated genre programmes. Like most people who gain notoriety in the performing arts, it has been a long life of hard work leading up to his becoming an 'overnight success'.
He began acting over 20 years ago in his native Holland. "I started in the theatre in Holland, and my very first film, which I did about 19 years ago, was directed by Paul VerHoeven (Total Recall, RoboCop, and the current Starship Troopers) called Soldier of Orange. That was really one of the best films ever made in Holland and for me was a real stepping stone. It was a wonderful experience for me. It was the second year I was acting; I was doing the musical The Rocky Horror Show on stage when he [VerHoeven] asked me to audition. I had never really worked before a camera and acted, so I was really green; and he directed me really well. When the film was finished, I fell in love with film-making, from an actor's point of view.
"Since then, I worked both on stage, for television, and in features; in Holland for about 10 years. I did about 12 or 18 features, all in Dutch, and in 1985 or so I shot a film called The Assault, which [received] an Academy Award, [as well as] a Golden Globe for best foreign language film; which for me was a confirmation. It was not for me, of course; but for the film. The film was the first Dutch film to win an Academy award, and I thought it was a confirmation of what I was doing.
"I went abroad, and for about 5 years I worked in English in co-productions in Europe; and mini series, and then there was The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and again it was a confirmation that I was on the right path [personally] and I should continue.
"There was an English movie I shot in Bosnia called Stealing Heaven. It is the story of Heloise and Abelard and takes place in the 12th Century. It was released in America, but didn't play long. It had a wonderful, long release on video; I still receive letters on that movie, and I shot it 10 years ago. I played Abelard, and it was a nice stepping stone too, for me, internationally.
I did all kinds of guest appearances, a mini-series with Donna Mills, a guest starring role in NYPD Blue, and Perry Mason, those kinds of shows. I would go to Los Angeles for a few weeks; get a job, and stay a little longer; and go back to Amsterdam. So in the meantime, I was doing all kinds of features, because in Holland they ask you to do a role in all types of very interesting projects, which is where my heart goes. So I did wonderful features, but they're in Dutch, and kind of low budget [by American standards].
A couple years ago, a producer I had previously worked with called, and I did a feature for him in Holland, one of the first projects in Holland where they shot a feature all in English; with Lysette Anthony. [It was] about a Dutch diamond [merchant] who falls in love with an American girl; so we could get away with that. Then, when [Poltergeist: The Legacy producer/creator] Richard Lewis was interested in me for a reading, I decided to go to LA for a few days, to meet with him.
"I had one day. They flew me down for a fitting from Vancouver to Amsterdam to pack; right to Victoria, British Columbia, and I began shooting. The first season I did by myself; which was difficult; and now my whole family is with me. All my kids go to an English [language] school here, which is great. I still live in the centre of Amsterdam, I love Amsterdam. I would never want to move, but it was an incredible opportunity for my boys to be bilingual, because we speak a lot of languages in Holland."
Head of the House
Derek Rayne leads the San Francisco house, but he is not the first Rayne to be a Legacy House Precept. Derek's father had also been a Legacy House Precept, and Derek witnessed his father's death at the 'hands' of a demon; cementing his own destiny to join in the fight against Evil. Asked about how such a traumatic experience affects the adult Rayne, de Lint responds that, "he is very dedicated to the cause, but I really strongly believe he should be flesh and blood, and he should have a love interest, and is something that so far hasn't developed. All of the girlfriends he has were all 15-20 years ago, and he is still dealing with them [emotionally]. In the new season, there are some shows where a lover I had 15 years ago surfaces. My personal wish list is that Derek Rayne would have a little more personal relationships. When you think about it, it is kind of weird, all these people [of the San Francisco Legacy House] living together in this big mansion, and [they] have no [personal] life."
As with most television programs nowadays, Poltergeist has become popular on the Internet, having spawned several official, as well as unofficial sites on the World Wide Web. De Lint mentions his own experiences with the new communications medium by relating how he "hooked up lately, and was overwhelmed by what some fans have done. I felt like I had opened a room and there were a thousand people waiting for me. They're asking, 'Are you willing to read some questions?'. Finally, I was hooked up, and I was checking my page, and all the questions people asked about the show. It was nice and really positive and sweet.
Right now I am in the process of doing something [with one of the sites]. Trying to answer those questions for the fans that have made the pages themselves. My private life has always been very private, although I am not opposed to answering some personal questions. It is a whole different world there, and I was pleased when I saw such reactions out there."
Being the star of a show devoted to the Supernatural leads to the obvious question of how one's own beliefs are either in conflict or concert with the programís basic premise. De Lint is quick to point out that while he does not have any particular specific experience with the types of paranormal phenomena portrayed on the programme, neither does he discount the possibility of the existence of such phenomena. But he does mention that "I didn't have any real experiences like we have on the show, but I did meet with a clairvoyant, [and] I have definitely met people who are able to see and feel things. There are always little things in my life that I cannot explain myself. When I started the show I was also a little worried, because I had heard rumors about it; after doing the show for two years now, I am surprised how down to earth the work is." He adds that there have been no particular 'supernatural' events perhaps inspired by the show's subject matter.
One of the first season episodes, The Bones of Saint Anthony, was directed by Poltergeist: The Legacy co-star Helen Shaver, which leads to the obvious question of whether or not directing is in the cards for Derek de Lint.
Asked if he aspires to work behind the camera as well, he responds "Yes, but not [on] Poltergeist, I'd much more like to direct something like a low budget movie, or a short subject; but where I'm much more involved in the project, and also [have] more power... To do an hour show, in six-and-a-half or seven days is almost impossible. Even people who have 500 hours [experience directing] in tv drama have a difficult time completing it in time; and also for Helen it was almost impossible to do that because it is so hard to make a show that looks good, with lots of coverage [multiple shots of the same action, from different viewpoints], and everything; and special effects; and still do it within the time frame, so I think to answer [the] question, I'd love to direct, but then I would love to do something that I wrote, or was involved with creating, [but] just being on such a tight schedule, and deliver a show in six or seven days; remember acting in a different language is something I've done for 10 years, but it is a handicap of course.
"I really have to do my homework and I'd have to be totally focused. Directing would be something I would like to do, but to do it, and do it like Helen did; and acting in a show you have to finish [post production work] is a little bit too much."
As for his future plans, the second season of Poltergeist: The Legacy is about to start airing in syndication. This year, a new character is being introduced. His name is Sloane, and will be played by Daniel Travanti. Sloane will be Derek's superior in the hierarchy of The Legacy, and will be on hand to add a dramatic conflict on the program.
The second season has already finished shooting, and whether or not a third will be ordered yet remains to be seen. Would Derek de Lint welcome the chance to play Derek Rayne in a third season of Poltergeist: The Legacy? His response is an enthusiastic 'yes', as long as the writers can continue to come up with strongly written, interesting scripts.
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