I was reading an interview with Paul Daniels about eighteen months back and he always struck me as a really interesting guy. The interview went into his childhood and how his father was a cinema projectionist and this left him with a massive love of the Golden Age of Hollywood. He’d accomplished most of the things he’d set out to achieve in life, but his one unfulfilled ambition, he said, was to appear in even the tiniest role in big, old school Hollywood movie. Not a kitchen sink drama or a British gangster flick. His dream, as an older man, was a chance to appear in a big, American Hollywood picture like the ones he grew up with.
I’ve always felt that if you can do someone a good turn you should and since I really loved his shows as a kid, having the annuals and the Christmas magic sets, this seemed like a little karmic payback. So this stuck in my head and I got in touch with a pal of mine (now producing the Chrononauts movie) who was putting together The Mummy reboot for Universal. He’s a lovely dude and he appreciated the sentiment, confirming what I heard about the movie shooting in London a year or two down the line. So I got in touch with Paul Daniels and told him I’d set this up, which he was incredibly sweet and grateful about.
In the meantime, I dropped he and his lovely wife Debbie a note and invited them along to the Kingsman premiere last year (picture below), but never got a chance to speak to them as our London baby-sitter had an early start and we sadly weren’t able to make it along to the after-party. So Paul and I never properly met, except the weirdest thing when I walked off the stage from the big introduction before the movie in Leicester Square and in an audience of 2000 people there was Paul sitting with Debbie at the end of a row halfway up the cinema EXACTLY where I was being escorted. The whole place was in darkness as the lights had gone down, but the cinema lit up for a fraction of a second with a bright flash of light on-screen and there was Paul, looking around at me from his seat as I was briskly walking past and he put out my hand and shook it. Like a magic trick.
We kept in touch over email and Twitter afterwards and as Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella gear up for The Mummy shoot this Spring he was very much looking forward to his cameo role so I really was very sad to hear how ill he’d taken a few weeks back and of course to hear he passed away a couple of days ago. I got an email from Chris Morgan, the Mummy producer, late last night saying he’d just heard the news and it was such a shame. My condolences to Debbie and the rest of his family. I saw and loved the guy as a live performer and he seemed like a very nice, very funny person in private too.