Richie Ryan: Immortal trendsetter about to wear his head in the latest style...

This picture takes up a full page but he's looking the other way

Three lives and three deaths. Who'd be the protégé of an immortal? Highlander's Stan Kirsch aka Richie Ryan, talks about losing his head. By Grant Kempster and Judy Sloane.
Sine the dawn of genre TV every successful show has had one magic element in common. Ranging from Quantum Leap, Knight Rider, The Avengers to probably the most well known use of the medium, Batman, the sidekick has always been a prominent player. Highlander: the series is no exception.

Prior to beginning production on the spin-off show, several casting sessions were held for the character of Richie Ryan. He would be a streetwise kid, a wiseacre gag-spouting fall guy to play off leading man Adrian Paul's dark and brooding monologue.

"For the role I remember they said, young Johnny Depp." Kirsch quips modestly. "I don't think I have that look or demeanour. I did grow up in New York and I think I have maybe an Urban quality about me and they wanted that in the character, so I sort of played that and spoke in more of a New York street accent. What I was told is that they thought I brought some humour to it because I didn't appear to be as tough as my words."

From the age of four Kirsch has been in the acting business, beginning with a Campbell's soup commercial and graduating to guest appearances on the ABC daytime drama General Hospital, Fox's True Colors, the ABC pilot The Streets of Beverly Hills - not to mention the hit comedy Friends.

"As a young actor in Los Angeles one goes on a myriad of auditions on a hopefully daily basis for different projects," Kirsch reflects on his time pursuing the role of Richie, "and it was just another project that sort of came out of a shoot. Because it was a new series I had about four auditions but it wasn't many when you think back about the amount of commitment they needed from you. It wasn't all that pressure-packed, although it did go on for a long period of time; between my first audition and my last one was about two months."

The character of Richie Ryan went from strength to strength over his five year stint, growing with each passing season. However all was not plain sailing to begin with.

"I looked at the film at a certain point after Vancouver in the first season, I was very unhappy," reflects Kirsch. "I was unhappy with what I was doing, I was unhappy with what the character was. I went to Paris and at the time the producer was Gary Goodman and he was very influential to making the part closer to Kirsch and losing some of this perception of Richie, you know, the street kid. I think there was a bit of a change in the character at that point."

Looking at the 30-year-old actor now, it is hard to believe that prior to his work on a show which has amassed him a huge fan base, he lacked the confidence and the conviction he exudes today.

A hint of things to come

Okay, so the picture in the article was from the same sequence but with Duncan holding a sword to Richie's neck. But I can dream...

"He [Goodman] left after that season, but from the second season on I had the courage, the knowledge and the balls essentially, to put my foot down a lot of the time. I could say, you know, 'This is what I think, this is how I think it should be portrayed' and 'This is what I'm going to do'. There are certain parameters within which you can do that; I no longer operated based on fear or based on wanting to please the producers but operating on wanting to please myself as a character and as an actor."

In an ironic twist it was Kirsch's on screen mentor that tutored him in getting the best from his acting abilities and knowing when to make a stand.

Page two- which has a bunch of photos pasted together down the side titled 'Richie's career'. Most of them are cute, but the severed head in the pool of blood down the bottom is in questionable taste. Click on the picture to see the full version, if you really must.

The beginning of the end
"Adrian helped me in that I watched him do that. If you watch the first season, you can see that he's probably less in control of the show and his character and his acting. From the get-go he was very believable in the character and he taught me the phrase, 'Pick your battles,' but you've gotta be true to yourself as an actor."

Although in his first year Kirsch's abilities were by no means stretched, things were about to change. Richie Ryan would no longer be just a street kid, he would become Duncan's student and fellow immortal, something which had been on the cards since day one.

"There was a pilot script that was changing quite a bit, that had me becoming immortal in the pilot, so I knew that was a possibility. As we shot the pilot it was changed, I knew I was just mortal and that it wasn't going to happen at any time in the near future. I was informed at the end of the first season that it would happen somewhere close to the beginning of the second season."

In an act of random violence Richie and Tessa (MacLeod's love interest) were gunned down at the close of the second season episode The Darkness. This would be the first of the two most controversial decisions made in Highlander's six year history, funnily enough, both involving Richie. The second would be Kirsch's exit from the show. during the closing moments of the fifth season finale Archangel, Richie's immortal life comes to an end at the hand of none other than his friend and teacher Duncan MacLeod.

"I knew at that point before I got the script that it was going to happen," remarks Kirsch. "All of season five I knew it was a possibility that that would happen."

The decision to kill off Richie created probably the biggest uproar amongst the show's fan base, something of which until recently he wasn't aware of.

"I become more aware all the time and I would say I wasn't aware at all until the Anaheim Convention because I don't really keep up with what's on the internet about the show."

However, looking to the future, Kirsch is adamant that there is more to his career than just Highlander.

"I'm glad to have amassed this base of people," he enthuses," and I would like to get another show now and bring those other people on"


Xposé special #5

I typed this up as written. All views, questionable grammar, lack of capital letters and weird little spin are the original article. I wont comment even when it's tempting.

In case anyone is interested the original aritcle is in three columns with the text wrapping around the pictures and the little captions on the pictures themselves, but whilst this would be easy on my word processor it is not possible in HTML. I had a go and it just turned into a total mess.

The word Highlander written in gold is also in my Highladner font, available for download from the dojo.

Pictures are closest approximation in my folders, not exact versions.
23rd October- got a scanner and scanned in pics from the magazine. Copyright? I remember that word... sorry... Go visit and order this magazine from them. I typed it up completely without permission in violation of any number of copyright laws. Sue me, I might meet a cute lawyer.

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