Dirk Blackpool in Night of Terror (4_71)

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Zekas, Rita:  "Renaissance Man Has Gift for Swash 'n' Buckle:  Poetry, Painting Second Nature to Action Hero Duncan Regehr."  The Toronto Star 6 August 1995:  B1.


Renaissance Man has Gift for Swash 'n' Buckle:  Poetry, Painting Second Nature to Action Hero Duncan Regehr


by Rita Zekas


The idea was to pose actor Duncan Regehr on the rooftop balcony of the Park Plaza Hotel with the cityscape in the background.

But it was too overcast.

Besides, argued The Star's photographer, Regehr would be too short for any skyline to register anyway. Everyone knows all actors are smaller than life. They're munchkins.

Not this one.

Regehr walked in, grazing the clouds at 6-foot-4.

In black suit and white shirt, his body buffed by Bally's, he looks like a Calvin Klein model. He screams to be in an ad with Kate Moss.

He's suave. He played swashbuckling Errol Flynn in My Wicked, Wicked Ways and Zorro, the bladerunner, in 88 episodes of a syndicated series filmed outside of Madrid.

He's also a published poet and a painter. A book of his paintings, The Dragon's Eye, An Artist's View, is in its second printing.

He is in Metro co-starring with Cheryl Ladd in The Lady, a movie of the week for American specialty network Lifetime TV to be released as a feature in Europe.

It's a psychic thriller.

"I won't tell you whether I'm a good or bad guy. I play a cop trying to solve the murder of a little girl. He may be the killer - another small child's body is discovered through visions that Cheryl has. She has that ability; so does her little girl."

Regehr started out in the biz doing radio lunch-hour theatre in his home town, Victoria, B.C. The swashbuckling dates back to 1974 when he was in Stratford.

"I just used it for every subsequent swashbuckling role. By the time Zorro came along (in 1991), it was second nature."

He's physical. He works out two hours a day and he's recently taken up mountain climbing.

"I ride, I fence and I usually choreograph the stuff, certainly for Zorro. It was a particular style, different fencing than (Douglas) Fairbanks worked with. I worked with Peter Diamond, who did The Princess Bride fencing scene and is the absolute best fencer in the world in terms of theatrical. He's like a rapier himself.

"We had the Spanish Olympic team on set and they asked, 'How do you fight?' Peter and I had thousands of routines in our brain so I winked at Peter, we'd do number 25.

"There we were fencing on tables, the whole shtick. They said that we were blindingly fast, that we should be on the Olympic team."

During the '70s, Regehr did the series Matt And Jenny and The Newcomers, eventually moving to the U.S. in 1980.

His credits include The Blue And The Grey, Goliath Awaits, Last Days Of Pompeii and Danielle Steel's Once In A Lifetime. He played Pat Garrett in Gore Vidal's Billy The Kid and Dracula in the movie Monster Squad.

His theatre work encompasses everything from Pericles to Two For The Seesaw.

Regehr says his breakthrough was the TV-movie My Wicked Wicked Ways, filmed 10 years ago.

"It was as exciting as hell," he recalled. "I was in England at the time doing The Last Days Of Pompeii with Laurence Olivier. The producers came over from Hollywood to interview me. I was probably the last one on their list."

In 1989, Regehr moved from California to Washington state, where he has a Pacific Ocean retreat in which he paints 16 hours a day between acting projects. He also retains digs in Santa Monica.

Regehr has been painting since he was a child, inspired partly by his father.

"My father was a practicing Mennonite. It was a very structured world in terms of art. They wear dark colors but are fascinated by quilts, dyes are rich but contained in geometric patterns. The colors are suppressed, waiting to burst the seams. My father became a painter - farm animals, prairies where he settled. I don't paint animals, I paint people. I painted when I was a little boy; there were always brushes and pencils around. When I was about 11 or 12, I made a decision to act and write poetry."

His poetry has been published in magazines and university quarterlies. He will be having a one-man show in New York on Nov. 28 and his work is on display at the Valerie Miller Gallery in Palm Springs.

Regehr was a precocious painter. He drew nudes as a boy, specifically a rather innocuous sketch of Rhonda that proved to be controversial.

"Rhonda was the prettiest girl in class. My dad was painting nudes, so I thought it would be cool, too. I got caned across the backside for that." His nudes these days tend to be of his wife, Catherine Campion, a Toronto woman he met at an art gallery.

"She'd given up her acting career two weeks before we met. She writes scripts."

They've been together for 18 years, he said, pointing out a drawing of her from his book.

She has red, flowing, pre-Raphaelite hair. The sort of woman Zorro would fancy.


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