As usual, when it comes to interviews, I only want to say a few words before we move on to the interesting parts. I discovered Robert Carlyle Universe, a group on facebook, by accident not long ago. It’s lovely! And, more importantly, it’s proof that great artists have equally great fans (another topic for another time, when I’m going to speak of fandoms). Nancy G. Pedersen agreed to answer my questions about the group, about Robert Carlyle and about her own experiences and thoughts. Her answers came together like bits and pieces of a story, really. One that I’m sure you will enjoy reading as much as I did.
Before anything else, how did you discover fandoms? When – and why – did you join the family?
Nancy: I have been actively involved in various fandoms all my life, starting when I was 12 years old and my parents let me join The Official Beatles Fan Club in 1968. Because I’m a fan, in 1975 I became a professional photographer, photographing the big musical acts who came to Detroit venues, but in the mid-80s the music industry changed and you needed agents and magazine backing and the like. I am also a mega sci fi/fantasy fan and was involved in many different fandoms in the1980s and 1990s. I got lucky. I started photographing science fiction conventions after meeting Patrick Stewart (then Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation) through my work with Amnesty International. Patrick was instrumental in my meeting other popular actors of the day, and, because of that, several of the science fiction and fantasy convention organizers had me photograph their events. I did that from 1988 to the end of 1999. As I got to know more actors, I started helping them with their fan clubs and their first web pages. Mostly, I love fans. I love their passion, sincerity and creativity. Most of the fans with whom I have had contact are wonderful, intelligent, talented, caring and very funny people – and I love to be associated with them. I met many of my closest personal friends through various fandoms.
Since you are one of the admins of the group Robert Carlyle Universe, I have to ask: how did you learn about Robert Carlyle and his work? What’s the story of you becoming a fan?
Nancy: I have been a fan of Robert Carlyle’s since The Full Monty came out in the late 1990s. I saw the film and he was just amazing! That was it, right then. When I got pregnant with my daughter in late 1999, I had to retire because I was having a difficult pregnancy. I spent most of the next 10 years away from active fandom, but still enjoying it. I started getting the urge to become active again when Robert Carlyle joined the cast of the third series in the Stargate franchise, Stargate Universe. My husband and I had been fans since the original Stargate film came out and we had really enjoyed the first two Stargate TV series.
Robert Carlyle fandom is my first completely online fandom. I spent my time in SGU fandom mostly lurking and downloading photos because I wasn’t quite ready to become active again. I was devastated when SGU was cancelled, but then I started hearing about Once Upon A Time. When I saw the first promo photos of Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin, I knew that something very special was about to happen.
What is the story behind RCU? Who came with the idea? Why did they choose to open a group and not a fan page, for instance?
Nancy: Lotte Jensen is the owner of Robert Carlyle Universe. She wanted a group where Robert Carlyle fans all over the world could get together and discuss his work in a safe and comfortable environment. She specifically wanted it to be a group just for Robert Carlyle, so that his earlier projects could be equally discussed by fans, and so that new fans would be introduced to his previous work. The group premiered on Facebook on March 17, 2013, so it will be celebrating its second anniversary very soon.
How do you see the group now, compared to the way it was when you joined?
Nancy: Robert Carlyle Universe has over 1,500 members now, and is still growing – which we didn’t foresee. It started out as a fan group mostly posting photos and clips, but we have matured into a group that celebrates Robert Carlyle’s immense talent in a more serious and creative vein. We have some incredibly talented artists, a couple of whom work exclusively with Robert Carlyle Universe and our sister groups, who have created some amazing artwork and we have more serious discussions on all of his various projects. It’s become a very loving and caring family, considering the large number of members. We do have stricter rules than a lot of other fan groups and we take them very seriously because we don’t tolerate anyone being attacked or put down for having an opinion. But we also put things to a vote so the members do have a say in what happens in RCU. We also understand that RCU isn’t a group for everyone. We just want the fans to be happy and feel safe and protected. Whenever someone finds a group that makes them happy, that’s wonderful! We always try to do the best we can for all our members and are always looking for ways to make the group fun for everyone.
Are there any other groups/fan pages you own?
Nancy: Right now I own Oncers United, a small Facebook Once Upon A Time fan group and sister group to Robert Carlyle Universe. I also own Affirmations, a Facebook page showcasing my jewellery, and two very tiny private groups where good friends get together to chat and catch up with each other periodically.
What is the most beautiful memory you have when it comes to Robert Carlyle himself and/or RCU?
Nancy: When my daughter was 11/12 years old, she was in a school where she was bullied for having a different accent and a different philosophy on life than most of the other kids. Robert Carlyle was brand new to Twitter and he used to do a weekly Twitter chat session. My daughter adored his SGU character, Dr. Nicholas Rush, who was her first conscious introduction to Robert Carlyle, and we were also watching Once Upon a Time and she loved Rumplestiltskin and Mr. Gold.
One day he was doing his Twitter session when she came home from school all upset. I told her he was online and asked her if she had a question for him. She asked him how he handled mean kids at school because she was being bullied for being different and she knew that he had been, too, and his almost immediate response to her was, “Different = Unique = Cool”. It completely changed her life! Her favourite actor – her hero! – was actively and positively encouraging her to be herself!!! From then on he sent us a Tweet whenever he did a session until he got so many followers that it wasn’t feasible for him to continue. Unfortunately, the weekly Twitter chat only lasted from February, 2012 through April, 2012.
When we decided to make the trip to Steveston, I made Rumplestiltskin and young Baelfire dolls for him to thank him for his kindness and generosity toward my daughter. As it turned out, there was a filming on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. We got to see the filming of two Once Upon A Time scenes from the penultimate episode of Season 2, First Star to the Right… The first scene was between Jennifer Morrison and Michael Raymond James and was filmed on the pier. Emma and Neal are walking on the pier when Emma gets the phone call from Mary Margaret telling her that Regina had disappeared and they feared she was in trouble. The second scene was the second infamous “Kiss My Boot” scene with Mr. Gold, Lacey, Neal and Dr. Whale, which was filmed near the corner of Second Street and Moncton/Main Street. There were only about 25 fans there that day as it was cold, windy and wet. Although Michael Raymond James and Jennifer Morrison didn’t come out to visit the fans that day, Robert Carlyle, Emilie de Ravin, and David Anders did.
As soon as filming was over, Rick, the then security guard, brought Robert Carlyle over to us, introduced us to him, and we had a private conversation with him for about 15-20 minutes. Amazingly, he remembered us!!! He was shocked when he realized that was my daughter. When I started the quote, he finished it. He said, “That was YOU???” He was blown away that we had come all the way from Memphis, TN just to give him gifts.
Not only did he encourage my daughter to be herself and to be proud of herself, but he encouraged me as an artist. He said he loved the dolls and the bracelets I had made for his wife and daughter and the artwork I had made for him and told me to keep doing it. He told us that he had a very special place in his heart for children and artists and that he was going to show his family the dolls and jewellery as soon as he got home. When he spoke about his family, his face lit up with such a glow! He is such a friendly and affectionate man. He hugged my daughter and kissed her on the forehead several times and hugged me several times and kissed me on the cheek. He even hugged my husband!
He is a wonderful man. I have been around musicians and actors all my adult life, but I have never met anyone as self-aware as Robert Carlyle. He knows exactly who is he, where he came from, what he has and where he wants to go. He always follows his heart and he generously gave my daughter, a little girl he didn’t even know then, the gift of self confidence. Oddly enough, when we made that trip, we knew we had found our place in the world. We decided that within a year, we would be living in the Pacific Northwest, and this past June we moved to Kent, WA, near Seattle. We are very happy here. So we owe Robert Carlyle for our own personal happiness, too!
What is your favourite Robert Carlyle film/series?
Nancy: So very many!!! I tried to narrow it down once and honestly couldn’t get it under 15! The Full Monty, Go Now, Marooned, Hamish Macbeth, Formula 51/The 51st State, Black and White, Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School, The Mighty Celt, Monroe: Class of 76, Stone of Destiny, Summer, I Know You Know, Stargate Universe, California Solo and Once Upon A Time. And I’m immensely looking forward to The Legend of Barney Thomson, too, because I loved the books.
We love audio books, especially when the one who tells the story has a voice that can truly capture the essence of the plot and of the characters. If you could choose three novels to be read by Robert Carlyle, what titles would you pick? Why?
Nancy: Yikes! That is an amazingly difficult question! They wouldn’t all be novels. I would love for him to read The Complete Works of Robert Burns and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I would love for him to read the entire Barney Thomson series. And I would especially LOVE for him to read his own autobiography, if he decides to write it, because he did such an incredible job telling his story in Walk with Giants. I chose these because they would admirably suit the range and timber of his voice. Good question, that!
Having the possibility to interact with people coming from different cultures, from different backgrounds, but who share similar interests, how has that influenced you and the way you look at life?
Nancy: Oh, it’s been amazing! I’ve had international pen-pals since I was 9 years old. I love to learn about different cultures and now have very, very dear friends in Italy, Denmark, Croatia, Germany, Brazil, England, Scotland, India, Spain, and Russia. We spend almost as much time in Canada as we do Seattle. I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, MI. Windsor, Ontario, Canada is right across the river from Detroit so I spent a lot of time in Canada in the 40+ years I lived in Michigan. I was also able to visit Paris when I was in high school. So meeting people from all over the world, learning about them and sharing culture is a great passion of mine. Meeting people from all walks of life makes the world smaller and one stops thinking in terms of “them versus us”. Honest communication and bringing the world closer is the best and most positive thing that we can possibly do!!!
And finally, what drives you?
Nancy: Every day is a gift and every day brings changes. I am so different from the person I was even a year ago!!! Each day I strive to be the best person I can be. As a Spiritual Life Coach, I encourage people that we all CAN make our dreams come true. I am living proof of that. People just need to believe in themselves and be willing to work for what they want. Being alive drives me. Love, kindness, understanding and compassion drives me. Communication drives me. Art and music drive me. Being human drives me. My husband, daughter and friends drive me. Robert Carlyle drives me.
by Elena Atudosiei