Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
By Bronwen Livingston and Captain Daniel Moreland (not much by me – DM) and others
One of our steady crew in this world wandering square-rigger, the Barque Picton Castle is Ollie – a great shipmate, natural seaman, capable rigger, qualified helmsman, brace hauling fool and all around good sailor and seaman. Good man aloft at sea, good man in Bounty Bay, Pitcairn Island, in the jungles of Vanuatu, good man ashore exploring a remote village or big new city. Just too bad the ladies don’t like being around him much… Always turns to for any job, no matter how dirty or unpleasant, with a will, a strong back and a smile. Ollie is something of a Zen knucklehead too, nothing seems to bother him or get him cranky, kinda weird really, if you think about it. Ollie has sailed over 50,000 deep-sea miles in this ship alone and has also served in the stunning Norwegian full-rigger Sorlandet out of Kristiansand, Norway on voyages all around the North Sea and Europe.
And he is a TV and film star. I did not know this when he first came to the Picton Castle but it turns out that Ollie, aka Billy Campbell, is a very well known and successful film and TV actor with a resume as long as a gangster’s rap sheet. My friend who was Captain of the Sorlandet told me to take him on the world voyage coming up because “he was not that bad…” Good to know. Just now, as it turns out, Ollie is off in Vancouver, Canada, taking a break from this voyage and his main way of life, seafaring, to shoot a really awesome cool TV show in which he is starring. And we want you to know about it. Hey, acting is his day job and we want him to stay on top so he can keep sailing, no? And he has bills to pay, know what I mean? In fact, he is building a big schooner – see www.twinschooners.blogspot.com – and needs to pay for it. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. And sometimes we wonder how smart he is so we want him to keep his ‘day job’, acting that is, you know, just in case?
So, here is the crew chiming in on their shipmate and with some photos too. Ok, yeah, sure, maybe he likes acting too. But we think it is pretty funny to see our buddy up on the screen making out with Sela Ward or Jennifer Lopez. Or pulling a Clint Eastwood kinda ‘make my day, punk’ moment. They have to kick us out of the theatre because we are cracking up so much… But truth to tell we miss his sorry self and want him to finish his show and come back to rejoin this incredible voyage we are all on, and of which he is so much an indelible part.
The rest of this piece on Ollie, aka Billy Campbell, is more than a bit gushy, appalling really and frankly kind of gross and sentimental about the guy – I was very tempted to edit it into something not so full of cooties, but figured, what the heck, they can say what they want. However, the message is this: check out the stunning new murder mystery, cop/buddy, political thriller, intense family drama called The Killing, coming soon on AMC – it is going to be simply outstanding television, maybe the best you have ever seen – those guys at AMC make TV they want to watch themselves, and so will we… we cannot wait to see the first episode, to be sure.
Regarding Billy Campbell: square-rigger mariner, thespian, bon vivant and Picton Castle shipmate
Now, normally we would not highlight a shipmate so boldly – privacy and all that, but this crewmember is a public figure anyway and loves this kind of nonsense so we have no such qualms…
“Billy Campbell is probably most famous for his portrayal of Rick Sammler on the ABC series Once and Again for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series. Among his other well-known roles are a gay gynaecologist, Dr. Jon Philip Fielding, in all three of the television miniseries adaptations of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City novels, and as Carter Buckley in seven episodes of the second season of television series The O.C. He had a recurring role as Jordan Collier on the USA Network original series The 4400. His film credits include The Rocketeer, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Enough and Ghost Town. He was also known for his recurring role as Detective Joey Infelli on the 1986-88 NBC series Crime Story….” Dynasty, Star Trek, Shark, Ted Bundy and on and on…
Billy Campbell is also our shipmate and pal in the Barque Picton Castle. But everybody in the ship knows him as Ollie. Just before the Picton Castle set sail from Lunenburg on her fourth world voyage in 2005, the mates, deckhands and engineer were sitting in the focsle getting to know one another. Billy Campbell told us that he would like to be called Ollie. He explained that his namesake, his grandfather William Oliver Campbell, had gone by Ollie and that he would very much like to honour the name. Danie, our young South African engineer at the time, started to laugh, “Do you know that ‘ollie’ means marbles in Afrikaans?” he grinned mischievously. “No,” Ollie glared at him, maybe good naturedly and somewhat pleadingly, “You will not call me marbles.” And Billy (Marbles) Campbell got his way. Whether that was because he was charming or because he was so imposing a figure we will never know. Indeed he towers over the rest of us. He has to stoop to get in and out of the cabins, charthouse and scullery and makes our gigantic rig look tiny when he climbs aloft – like a giant on a jungle gym. The cat, Chibley, likes Ollie too (ed. note: due to shameless pandering and sucking up with kitty treats for her favour on his part no doubt).
He certainly never pulled the movie star card onboard however (ed. note: whatever that is? What is the ‘movie star card’? And, as if that would work onboard anyway? I don’t think so). He was just one of the crew from day one. He rust-busted, osphoed, primed, painted, scrubbed the heads, steered, washed the dishes, stood lookout, sail-handled, tarred rigging and cleaned just like the rest of us (ed. note: movie stars are people too and put on their knickers one leg at a time, not that big a deal, don’t know why she is making such a fuss over this). Although he was not against a little good-natured teasing about his celebrity – taking it all in stride and teasing the crew just as mercilessly back (ed. note: in fact he would get mopey if NO ONE ever recognised him in a port… claims he does not care but really…). On the fifth world voyage Ollie rejoined the ship for his second long deep-sea voyage to the South Seas and around this oceanic world, he also made his debut as documentary film maker aboard. He wore his camera as faithfully as he wore his knife and marlinespike rig – capturing the voyage through the medium of film. In a way Ollie is torn between two completely different worlds and yet he is equally at home and equally in love with both of them. While on land he is Billy Campbell the movie and television star and while at sea he will always be Ollie – the sailor, stud muffin, shipmate and tortured artist (ed. note: oh, please!).
As we were getting ready to sail Ollie was chosen for a pilot of a not yet ‘green-lighted’ (ed. note: dig the hip Hollywood lingo) drama at AMC, the folks who brought us the super cool Mad Men. Turns out this was to be an electrifying North American version of a Danish TV drama called Forbrydelsen or The Killing. It had not been picked up yet but he said the show was awesome.
When he first suggested to the crew that we watch a subtitled Danish television series Forbrydelsen he was met by a bit of scepticism. Seafarers don’t tend to watch a lot of television – preferring instead to spend those hours spinning yarns with their crewmates or working on ship’s projects or pitching in on deck or writing letters to friends and families on land (ed. note: believe that and I got some swampland in Florida for sale, the fools always staring at their dumb computers, watching stupid DVDs… how many times can you watch Ghostbusters? Jackass 3?).
We were a bit more intrigued when he told us that the show had been picked by AMC in the US and would be produced by the same talented crew that had brought the world Mad Men. We were sold when he said that he would, in fact, have a starring role in the new show. We knew that in a few short months Ollie would be leaving us to film and promote this show – and silently we all thought, ‘This had better be good’ (ed. note: not so silently too, accusing Ollie of dodging the hot like hell Torres Strait, avoiding ex-girlfriends in Bali, chasing a thrilling new one…).
After watching one episode of Forbrydelsen we were all undeniably and shamelessly hooked – even watching in Danish. At least a dozen of us gathered in the focsle every night before dinner to watch an hour of this compelling drama on someone’s computer. I mean, the show really is brilliant. A young girl is murdered, a family is torn apart, an obsessive detective goes over the line, a mayoral election is tainted, anyone could have done it and every one of the characters is suspiciously innocent or innocently guilty. And it looked perfect and real in every scene, just amazing. You might shed a few tears as I did – as you will be drawn into the plot on an emotional level – or you might feel the need to shout at the screen during a suspenseful or climactic moment. Nightly we crowded around a laptop perched precariously on a sea chest in the focsle, the ship rolling under sail at sea, our faces aglow. The haunting and adrenaline infused music filled the room as we raucously vocalized our mixed emotions – “No, there is no way that he could have…”, “Did you see the way that he looked at her…?!”, “She seems so nonchalant… is she responsible?!” Then the inevitable and collective, “Nooooooo!!!!” as the hour ended and left us hanging in anticipation for the next episode. Yes, we were unabashedly addicted to Forbrydelsen. Who done it? Why? Will they be caught? You really have to tune in to find out. Night after night after night… and WOW!!! And we will be again!
A few months ago Ollie did leave us (although we all hope not for long!) flying out of Vanuatu to return to the world of Hollywood glitz and glamour, red carpets and cameras (ed. note: what knows this writer of Hollywood ‘glitz and glamour’? He probably dumpster dives…). We honestly did our best to make him feel at home onboard, although it is tough to compete with Hollywood (ed. note: we have no idea about Hollywood but what Hollywood would have us know, and Ollie? We have no idea what he does there so, and more to the point, we made no more attempt at making this wastrel feel at home then we do for any other crew). On his birthday the crew rigged up a red carpet of sorts, acting like fans, screaming his name in the breezeway from behind a barrier of manila line. He obligingly signed his autograph for his admirers. I don’t think that Davey washed his chest for months (ed. note: this was pretty good – anyone need any ‘extras’ out there in Tinsel Town?).
When I told the crew that the Captain and I were writing this log they wanted to include their favourite memories of Ollie, but I am afraid most of them are not appropriate for publishing on our website. Although I will say that one thing we all agree on is that Billy Campbell should never have to use a bum double in any of his film or TV work (ed. note: TMI… hey, Bronwen, kids look at this website).
When I was first introduced to Ollie my brother Logan said, “Billy, this is my sister Bronwen. She has had a crush on you since she was 10.” I was mortified, but it was true. All of us, my brother and sister and I, must have watched The Rocketeer hundreds of times. However his real life personality is even more crush-worthy than his dashing on-screen alter ego in The Rocketeer (ed. note: apparently others are worse, enough to make you gag).
I moved into his bunk in the foc’sle when he left and and he left me two ‘bunk warming’ presents. One was the gaudiest, ugliest Christmas sweater you have ever seen, which I wore with pride on Christmas Day, and the other was a poem written on the ceiling of the bunk – a poem which he claims is a work in progress – and might be – but I read it every night and sleep inspired (ed. note: oh, boy…).
Let your doubts
To leeward go
Fill your sails
With what you know
What you know
Is who you are
Your only fear
The leeward shore
All sail set
You’ll never fail
To windward get.
He will always have a home in the barque Picton Castle because he is a sailor. Not a man apart, not acting a part, but truly, a fellow sailor. When The Killing does air on AMC you had better believe that all of us – no matter where we are – will be gathered around a glowing TV screen, watching.
(ed. note: the show will be awesome, it will knock Lost out of the park and Ollie needs the steady work. So watch the show, tell your friends! Get another season or two for our lad!)