Derek Lyons Interview - 40 Years Flash Gordon
Derek Lyons was born in London and from an early age was fascinated with film and TV. He would regularly entertain friends and family with his impersonations of famous actors of the day.
He played an Arborian Priest Assistant , AQUARIAN FISH MAN and MING'S MONGO MAN in Flash Gorden and also in many other films like Star Wars, James Bond , Shinning....
- Thank you Derek for your time for the "Flash Gorden 40 Years Anniversary" Interview Series.
- Derek, how did you get your role in Flash Gordon?
I was with an agency for actors,models,variety artist called Central Casting My agent was a guy called David who always gave me work. He said I was the perfect size 6ft tall, 32 inch chest and 32 inch waist. David called me up and said Michael Stevenson the 2nd Assistant director had asked for me. I had worked the year before on The Shining (1978) where I met Michael.
-After 40 years can you remember how do preparing for your role as Arborian Priest Assistantor, Mongo Man or Aquarian Fish Man?
I worked on Flash Gordon for almost 8 weeks at Shepperton studios and Michael kept me on and gave me these charaters over that time. I first played a Mongo man in the scene with Ming ( Max Von Sydow )I held Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) along with Alan Austin.(Mongo Man). Then I played the Aborian Priest in the scene with Peter Duncan, Timothy Dalton, Richard O' Brien and the late actor ans playwrite John Osborne. John was the main priest.
I got to know John and would chat with him in his caravan and drink wine with him. I also became friends with Richard O' Brien and even was invited into him dressingroom to smoke a joint LOL!! Great days !! For the role of an Aquarian who were humanoids that could only breath in water. We had moment lessons with William Hobbs RIP (co-ordinator of action and movement). We had to move as though we were in water ! Having studied Ballet I got it first time and Bill was so pleased with me. During this time as an Aquarian the shakespearean actor Peter Wyngarde RIP (General Klytus) told his stand-in 'Butch' ( Alan Meacham ) to pass a message to me which Butch did ! I can say no more than that LOL! Years later Peter and I dicussed this. The costume comprised of a tiny pair of silver pants, a plastic shower curtain and a plastic see-through helmet which fitted over the head to shoulders ! It was sweaty to wear !
- In a former Interview between us you told me that you work on set with Sam J.Jones and Ornella Muti. When you look back, what can you tell us about these times?
Sam was and still is a great guy and friend. He was very normal with all, just friendly and most days between takes would sit with the supporting Artist and play cards. I played cards once with Sam.
Now Ornella! One day I was sitting on Mings steps on the set and I looked to my left and Ornella joined me on the same step ! I was was wearing the Aquarian Fish man costume as the time. Looking at this very beautiful women with a super body and wondeful eyes, well I was in love . We started talking and asked her where she was from. Italy she told me. Then I started talking with her in my broken Italian/ Portugues. We liked each other and then our friendship began. Every morning I would visit her in make-up and chat. Then she invited me to her dressing room ! I will say no more about this ! That will be for my book !
Her personal Make-up man did not speak English so Ornella asked me to hepl him. I made phone calls on behalf of Ornella in her dressing room and drove at lunch times to the town centre to buy things for her with her make-up man. On Ornella's final day on set, I was sitting on the floor dressed as the Aquarian again, when I heard this voice and there was Ornalla dressed in her normal clothes. White shirt, blue sweater, trousers and Gucci shoes. Hello Derek I am going today and I have a gift for you. I stood up and she gave me a signed photo with a lovely message on it. I then kissed her twice and she also kissed me and hugged me too ! Most of my friends and other supporting Actors where freaked out when Ornella came and said goodbye to me ! LOL! I am still in contact with her to this day. She invited me in 2008 to Rome to met her. Sadly I was going through a divorce then.
- How much as Flash Gordon influenced your life or career? Well, I just kept working till now, but loved that I worked on it !
- Do you still have contact to some actor´s/actress of the Movie?
I have met Richard O'Brien and have been in contact with Orneall Muti. Then met Sam Jones and Melody Anderson at a few conventions . Am still in contact with my good and close friends Alan Austen and John Simpkin.
- 2017 you had the pleasure to work on the documentary "Life After Flash" directed by Lisa Downs. ( Released in October 2017) Is there something you can share with us?
I had the pleasure to met Lisa at a Convention I appeared at along with Sam Jones, Melody Anderson. Lisa aksed if she could interview me. So we did over many hours around the event called DALECON. Lisa was very pleased with my stories. There is a Blu Ray and DVD of LIFE AFTER FLASH. More of my interview is on the DVD than Blu Ray. While at the DALECON event dinner I challenged Sam Jones to an Arm Wrestle. It's on Youtube,take a look !
- Is there a funny or scary situation on set or behind the scene that you remeber and can share with us? The only thing I thought was very funny. Off set I asked Brian Blessed (Prince Vultan ) about his career and how he started? He told me he was working in a Warehouse and one day said ''Fuck this I'm off'' LOL!! ! He made me laugh all the time !
- Please finish the following sentence: “Looking back , 40 years later, at working on Flash Gordon.....
Looking back on my career over 40 years I have been blessed to have worked with some of the greats, Robert Mitchum, Julie Andrews,Jack Nicholson, Scatman Crothers,Laurence Olivier , Anthony Hopkins Harrison Ford, Peter Hunt ( Bond director), Jack Cardiff (DP,Director) and many more.
- At the last some words for the fans?
Watch this space and I shall return in 2020 in films and behind the scenes!
FOLLOW YOUR BLISS AND NEVER GIVE UP!
ARTISTE OF LIFE
- Thank you Derek for your time for your fans and the Flash Gordon fans.
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