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Barry Fitzgerald and Kris Williams Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Barry and Kris

This is an interview with Barry Fitzgerald and Kris Williams of the television series Ghost Hunters International from July 5, 2011.

Question:
So, when you did the first two episodes that are upcoming in Trinidad, what did you find the biggest challenge you had with investigating in Trinidad was?

Kris Williams:
Just some locations there were huge. Chacachacare was very overgrown, thick, thick jungles. And I know it's not something we usually have a lot of experience with.

Barry Fitzgerald:
Well I certainly agree with you, Kris. Chacachacare certainly was something which was really new for us and really getting into some of that adventure side of ghost investigating. And the very fact that we were pushing ourselves to the limits in Trinidad was great for us to get out of that norm and really extend ourselves. And certainly for me, Trinidad will always be remembered by the huge centipedes that hiss at you. And just - Joe Chin and Scott Tepperman had it the hardest. And of course, I can't forget the roads either. They were petrifying.

Question:
Of the episodes that you filmed for the season already, which one are you each most excited about?

Kris Williams:
I'm excited for a few of them. I mean, some of them, for paranormal reasons, others for just the challenge of the location. We've been going to some bigger places. We've been going to some places that really require us to be very physical. We're also dealing with animals that we're not familiar with. So it does seem like there's quite a few cases where you aren't just focusing on the case and the paranormal aspects of it. But you're trying to deal with just the environment that you aren't used to. So, I mean, I definitely have a favorite in New Zealand. I also have a favorite in Trinidad. And then there's a location in Ireland that I loved, so, but I mean, for all different reasons.

Barry Fitzgerald:
I would tend to agree with Kris there, in that aspect. I really do have a place in my heart for Chacachacare in Trinidad, as well as Riccarton Racecourse down in New Zealand. For us it was an experience, and a humbling experience at that, to see the damage caused by the Christ Church earthquake and see what was happening during there. And our hearts really opened to what the residents down there are facing on a continual basis. It's just a nightmare as it unfolds.

Question:
Where is the one place that you haven't investigated yet for each of you that you most want to?

Kris Williams:
I've always wanted to investigate the Catacombs in France. But I think you guys have already done that before I came on, right, like a section of it?

Barry Fitzgerald:
That's right, that's right, yes.

Kris Williams:
I was just there last week. And it was crazy to walk around in. And I can't imagine actually investigating it.

Barry Fitzgerald:
For me I would have to say it would be the Titanic, right at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Question:
Can you both talk about Trinidad and the supernatural elements there as compared to North America or even Europe?

Kris Williams:
You know, it's funny because Barry and I have both been running into places where the belief systems are just different. And it's funny because it's been challenging us in a lot of ways, because there's certain that we tackle things that goes against the local culture and the local beliefs. And I know the big thing in Trinidad was the story of the Soucouyant which appears as a fireball. And they say that, basically, she'll appear as an old woman and peel her skin away and turn into this fireball. And the locals are afraid of this thing. It's something that they scare their kids with so they stay out of the jungle.

But it's just really interesting to see the differences and hear the differences in the cultures in all the different countries you go to. It's different because when I was in the states you're familiar with what people believe here. But once you start going outside of that and you get to see the world a little bit, it's interesting to see our differences. You learn - I feel I'm learning a lot more with the international show.

Barry Fitzgerald:
The differences, as Kris has pointed out, are varied. And we find ourselves both bringing solutions to some of those belief systems and alternatives. And at other times we're facing a learning curve as well from our perspective which takes us outside of our comfort zone. And sometimes we're faced with things that we've never experienced before. England, for example, we were told about this story that just seemed a way out there. And for us to film that and see it for ourselves was quite a remarkable experience.

But Trinidad, of course, has its own belief systems, very much similar to other island belief systems. But both Trinidad and Tobago, and of course the other islands, are steeped in myth and superstition. And it's a very vibrant place. And that vibrancy filters through into its legends and myths. And it was really a remarkable experience for us all.

Kris Williams:
It's funny, too, because a lot of times, like, the different belief systems are kind of putting the group in an interesting spot, because obviously there's six of us. We're all coming at it from different angles too. But then we're dealing with the local culture. And there's been a couple times we all are battling out - battling it out in a way, because it's so different than anything we're used to dealing with. I don't know. It's been fun. I think the last few cases we've done have really made us all kind of think of think outside the box.

Barry Fitzgerald:
I think the next episodes coming up are going to make an impression on us as well.

Question:
What do you both make of that light source that was rising above the tree in Trinidad? How do you look at it as compared to the owners of the location?

Barry Fitzgerald:
I think for us, as Kris has pointed out we have mixed opinions on it. I think it would have been great from our perspective, outside of the show to go back, possibly, and investigate further. It was something extremely unusual. And as Kris has said, we have our differences in what possibly it could be. But what it truly was now for us to look back on, we just can't be sure.

Question:
Kris, can you talk about what you felt on the leg in the dark in Trinidad and what you think it was?

Kris Williams:
What I felt on my leg in Trinidad, the Lopinot. I'm trying to think. Yes, I honestly, I have no clue. I mean there's a few things that happened in Trinidad that I can't explain. I know I have seen this shadow, this human figure. I also got touched. I know Barry had things a few things happen to him that he couldn't explain. You know, it's just one of those cases where we have personal experiences. But then we also have some stuff to back it up. So it was just a weird case all around.

I think all of us were kind of either - I don't even know how to describe it honestly, like we're all split. For a while there it was three on one side and three on the other. And we're kind of battling it out over evidence. We're battling it out over personal experience. I enjoy cases like that because we're all kind of picking at each other. We're all working together to figure it out. It's not like just Barry and I, which is nice.

But I have no idea what the hell touched me. I have no idea what the hell I've seen at the location. I'm still trying to figure it out because everything in me has always been a skeptic. And I always question, even when I know I couldn't explain it when I was there. But I have no idea. I mean, I'm still confused by it.

Question:
Barry, do you have any new investigative techniques or technologies that you're going to introduce this season?

Barry Fitzgerald:
I have been working with Paul in development within the camera technology. We do want to see more. We don't want that technology to become stagnant. And so it's continually developing. We do have the fourth generation camera, a low light full spectrum camera which is coming out now. And it has been proving very critical for us on the investigations, especially in Castle Rising in England. There's going to be some staggering evidence coming from over there.

Question:
Can you tell me a little bit of the legend of the Count Lopinot?

Kris Williams:
As far as I know, he was a count that came from France and he just set up this cocoa plantation in the middle of Trinidad. And they said that he was very cruel to his slaves. And they had a hanging tree. That was one of the locations we were investigating. But basically, they say that he'd raise from his grave on a white horse and he would ride the horse over to this tree, along with several other reports. But he was known as a very cruel slave master.

Barry Fitzgerald:
As we find out from many other locations, of course, Brandon, sometimes legend isn't always what it seems. And then a historical aspect, sometimes, are very, very different. But for us, we try to remain balanced in our objectives, especially with Lopinot. And I haven't seen the episode myself yet. But it has come off pretty good.

Question:
Kris, this next question is for you. Can you tell us how much research time that you had to put in to study in the craft of paranormal hunting before you joined TAPS?

Kris Williams:
Honestly it was more of an on-the-job training as far as the investigating went. But when I first came into TAPS my job was as a researcher, as a historical researcher, researching locations and the people that could possibly be haunting them. That I had already done since I was about 11. I had started getting into genealogy, researching my ancestors, where they came from finding out what they died from, if they owned any land, where they lived. And I've just always been really hard on things. So that's pretty much the reason I'd been brought in originally. But, yes, it was just pretty much on-the-job training as far as the paranormal is concerned. And I've had my own experiences growing up. I wasn't completely new to it. It's just I was new to looking for it. I didn't think there was anybody out there doing it until I met Jay and Grant.

Question:
Can you tell me about any paranormal experiences you may have encountered in the last few years that didn't make the show?

Kris Williams:
Usually if we have one it makes the show. I can't think of any.

Barry Fitzgerald:
I know for me, and Joe Chin was part of this as well, that when investigating a French chateau down in the Bordeaux region. Whatever was in the chateau actually followed the cast back to the hotel and we were all woken up at the same time in the morning. I know that I had woken up and there was a guy standing inside my room. I jumped up to confront him and he just stepped back in the darkness and was gone. It was only when we discussed this the next day that we discovered what was actually going on. But that was a fantastic case. I loved it.

Question:
Besides Trinidad and Argentina, where else are you going to take us this summer? And what are some of the reports that you investigated?

Barry Fitzgerald:
I'd say after Trinidad and Argentina we actually head up to England, to Castle Rising where we weren't quite sure going into it whether the client was actually haunting the place, or sorry, whether the client was being haunted or whether the castle itself was being haunted, and by some unusual claims of activity. And then we headed across to Isle of Man to the Rushen Castle. It was the last place that a witch was burned in the Isle of Man.

And then we went across to Ireland, one of Kris's favorite places, Spike Island. It was a prison. Its uses have changed over many years. But this is also the last port of call for the great Titanic before she set sail across the Atlantic. We also went to Roe Valley in Northern Ireland. It was a former workhouse. And some really weird, unusual claims were made to us there, down into New Zealand, Riccarton Racecourse Hotel and scene of a very dastardly murder. And so in that particular episode we turned into detectives more so than paranormal hunters. Napier Prison, of course there, down there in New Zealand as well. And American Samoa, we invested a former girl school which is now being swallowed up by the jungle.

Question:
Are there any surprises that this season has presented that you can tell us about?

Barry Fitzgerald:
I think there are quite a lot of surprises that's coming forward. Kris might agree with me here, in that the location themselves, because of the extensive travel we're doing, because of the way that we're having to travel to get to these locations, they in their own right are becoming stars of the show as well, which is fantastic.

Kris Williams:
It's just like nothing like how we've done in the states as far as you just kind of walk into the place and it's just falling apart. A lot of these places, it's just so hard to get to. We've got another one coming up that we're doing soon, and it's just like the hikes in, the hikes out, the animals that we're dealing with. Some of these jungles are so thick we're running around with machetes, which is a whole other challenge, a bunch of guys with machetes, scary now.

I'd say the biggest thing is, honestly, is the locations, the size of the locations, the challenges, they've given us as far as being, just, physical with them, but also still having to be aware of what we're looking for. I found myself on edge quite a few times, which is not like me. And a lot of it had to do with just the location itself. What kind of animals are in the woods? What can bite me? So I saw myself getting kind of freaked out by what I wasn't familiar with, rather than just the paranormal. So it's like the paranormal and the location and the animals and the, just, busting our asses to try to get it all done, just because of the size of the place. It's been a hard run. It's been a really hard run. But I know that all of us have enjoyed it for those reasons, you know. It's a whole new spin. It's just completely different than anything I've done up until this point.

Question:
Has there ever been a place where you really wanted to investigate but Ghost Hunters International has actually been denied investigation access?

Barry Fitzgerald:
Not really from my perspective. Sometimes we will put locations forward that we would like to investigate. But of course, financially that can become quite a large amount. And it simply won't pass. You know, there's been places down in South Africa who have contacted me and who I say myself, that I would love to have done. But we just simply can't do it because of the costs. I'm still trying for the Titanic. But I don't know how lucky I'm going to be with that.

Question:
What do you think are the biggest challenges versus Ghost Hunters and on Ghost Hunters International?

Kris Williams:
Oh, there are a lot. I spent a little over three years on Ghost Hunters. And you know, you just grew up knowing US history. Hopefully most people do. You're very aware of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War and the Trail of Tears, and just all the big events that we had back here in the states that started our country off. And you get used to the plains, and you're pretty familiar with the cultural beliefs and the religions that are here. For me, international has been quite a change because here it's like I know the language. I'm used the money. I'm used to the food. I'm used to all this stuff.

But then when you go over seas, you're dealing with different foods, different money, different languages, different cultures, different belief system. So all around it's a challenge. It's a good challenge, because I'm seeing things, experiencing new things. But it's not just the locations that we're up against once we leave the states.

The history alone I've absolutely loved, getting to go to these different countries getting a look at their cultural differences, getting an idea what their history was all about. And some of these places we've gone to are places that you read about in history books here in the states I never imagined every walking into. So it's very surreal in a lot of ways. I enjoy it. I really enjoy the difference in the two shows. But, yes, international is its own thing. It's completely different from anything I've experienced in the states.

Question:
With the original series, Kris you used to answer the phone and talk to regular folks. I'm wondering how is the criteria for choosing locations for international and do you miss getting that phone call from a worried mom or whatever?

Kris Williams:
Susie is our case manager. So she's usually setting up the cases. But they kind of come in from all over the place. We have either our clients contacting Susie, or there's places we've always wanted to go so we'll look into them, or places that the production company's heard of, or people contacting them directly. So it's kind of coming from all over. And as far as missing it, I enjoy a new challenge, you know. I've done that for three years. I felt that I learned everything I could in that spot. And now I've gotten the chance to get moved over and promoted. And it's been nice because when I started with TAPS I had the history and research background, but I didn't really have a background in the paranormal, even though it was something that always interested me. So it's nice to be able to come into another team with actual experience behind me. I feel like I have more to offer this time around. And it's been fun being paired up with Barry, because, one, we pick on each other a lot, which is fun. You know, he just looks at things completely different than Amy did. Amy and I were alike in a lot of ways.

But I find that with Barry and I, we're constantly challenging each other, and sometimes it's even a bit of a tennis match because our - the angles that we both take our complete opposites. And it's fun because I'm being forced to look at things a little differently. I'm forced to think about things a little differently. And I enjoy the challenge. Life's all about moving forward and learning new things. And I felt I really enjoyed Ghost Hunters. I learned everything I know now there. And I just feel that I'm now being able to bring it somewhere else and help out my new team. So I enjoy it.

Barry Fitzgerald:
First, Joe, it's about as well as a challenges as Kris has pointed out with different cultures, belief systems, and everything else, you also have the challenges of bureaucracy. And those themselves can play a big part within GHI. And getting into specific countries, the paper work that you need, and sometimes your equipment being seized and having to work through to get those things lifted can really affect scheduling and our home times. Because a lot of the times we're away from our families quite a bit.

And whenever we get equipment seized and things like that, then of course, then our stay is extended, and so we can get that shoot done. But GHI has its challenges, it really does. But from those challenges we grow. And that's an important thing. As an entire team, we grew immensely. And I absolutely adore working with Kris and her approach is great. I know that we come at things from totally different angles. But from that particular point, we find our middle ground. And it works very, very well.

Question:
Could you share with us some of the essential items that you pack with you in your travel bag when you head out for a trip?

Kris Williams:
I pack my iPod, yes, iPod for sanity.

Barry Fitzgerald:
iPod?

Kris Williams:
iPod, yes. I am a music person. I will not lie. It is hard. International travel is hard. It's harder than anything I've dealt with in the States. Like he said, different foods. You know, your body is thrown off within your diet. Your body is thrown off with time zone changes. The language barrier, it can be difficult. Not being able to call home because everybody's in bed while you're just waking up. It's difficult in a lot of ways. It's funny because after a while you start knowing your coworkers better than you do your family. Like, Barry I see as my brother. You know? Susie, she's like another little sister.

We, luckily, all get along really well. You know, it's a good thing because there's really no going home at the end of the day. There's no restart or refresh button. And I don't know, I just enjoy everybody but the big thing with the iPod for me is that when I do get that chance to kind of be by myself in my room, it's just more of a chill out because you kind of forget how to relax and that's usually the one way I'm able to do that, so music is a huge thing.

Barry Fitzgerald:
And for me, I am packing my snorkel and fins and sunscreen. Being Irish of course, we don't travel too well without sunscreen.

Question:
When you investigated a leper colony, how is that different than other locations in terms of energy?

Barry Fitzgerald:
Of course, for us and that leper colony in Trinidad, for us it was a challenge in itself trying to get there, Troy, because off screen we were faced with rising water conditions. The swell had grew that much. And the tide had retreated, that trying to actually get onto the pier itself was a challenge and a half. And you were lifting things over your head.

And only when the boat lifted up were the people up in the pier able to grab the equipment. So those particular conditions of course, you're facing straight off. It reminds me of a survival thing. You're put into a situation. And you really are. You're watching out for everyone else as well as yourself. And then of course, you've got your mind set. Okay, you're here to do a job. And you're focusing on the possible spirit activity there as well. So within that you do find your balance. But for us, I have to say it was enjoyable.

Question:
Can you talk about what it was like for you guys inside that cave? Like, was there a different type of energy in there?

Kris Williams:
Oh my gosh, the spiders. It was funny because we'd be in there. And we'd hear stuff and we were like, what is that? What is that? And all of a sudden you'd feel a breeze. What? What is going on? And then you realized there's just that everywhere. There's that, there's spiders the size of your hand. And Barry and I, neither one of us are a fan of spiders. But like I said, a lot times it's just the places that we're being put into are so overgrown and taken over by the jungle. It's just, you have no idea what the heck you're going to run into. We're running into giant crabs and shellfish acari and giant centipedes that were insane. Spiders were disgusting.

Barry Fitzgerald:
We shouldn't forget about the shadow as well and having been seen by several of the team there. And whatever it was, it was pretty much in your face.

Question:
What has been the most life-threatening paranormal encounter you've experienced?

Barry Fitzgerald:
It would be the biggest one for me, would have been off the show. And it nearly drowned me in Snagov in Romania, just a little Transylvania. And whatever that was that was in the water, it's not good. And that was the most challenging thing I have come up against to date.

Kris Williams:
Honestly I haven't run into anything paranormal yet that's been that physical with me. I think that's why I'm still kind of ballsy with the provoking. Once I learn my lesson I might reconsider it. But as far as life-threatening, a lot of times it's just the places we're in. I mean, we've been in old, empty buildings with open elevator shafts or just floors that you could fall through. We had one of our camera guys almost go through the floor in American Samoa. We were told that the floor was safe, the cement was safe and his foot went through. So you just really never know what you're going to run into, whether it's the building falling apart, a cliff that you didn't know was there.

Like the island we went to, Spike Island in Ireland, they kept having to warn us about this wall. It just looked like flat ground. But if you went so far out there is a 40-foot drop. And we're running around in the dark with this stuff. So it's just, you always have to be very aware. And when things do happen you have to really keep calm because you can't just go running off in any direction because you could seriously get hurt or killed if you're not smart about it.

Barry Fitzgerald:
Now, we shouldn't forget about Joe's driving either. That could kill people.

Kris Williams:
Joe's driving, yes. Could be worse. It could be Paul driving.

Barry Fitzgerald:
Yes. That's for sure.

Question:
Now, of the two of you've always been reaching to the backstories of what you're going out to investigate. Which one of these stories personally resonates with both of you?

Barry Fitzgerald:
I think for me, Brandon, it would have to be Spike Island in Ireland. I am a big history buff in Irish affairs. And as I have said before, knowing that Cobh Harbour was the last place, port of call for the Titanic was amazing to be at. I lived 13 miles from Belfast where she was built. And to go there and see that and understand that data and that amount of people got onto the ship at that particular port, the last port was just amazing. And that case really resonated with me, I find.

Kris Williams:
I actually had a couple this run. One was in Ireland, it was Roe Valley, right, Bar, that we did.

Barry Fitzgerald:
Roe Valley, the hospital? Yes.

Kris Williams:
Yes, it was an old union workhouse. And for me it's like, I know my family's history here in the States, but I didn't really know what was going on in Ireland at the time that my family came over. So to kind of see the conditions of some of the people who are living there were forced into gave me an idea of what times were like when my family left. That was interesting. And then Rising Castle in England I just love because part of the story was this princess.

She was there, it was her castle. She was married to the king of England. And basically she overthrew him with her lover. And she just took England. She took control of it for a good four years until her son was old enough to take power. And he actually killed off her lover. So it was just this whole story of this strong woman who was missing romance in her life. And it was just kind of sad to see her be pushed away by her husband, fight back against him, win control and then find somebody she did fall in love with who was then killed by her son. It is just a wild story. I've always loved history. So I think that's the thing I really enjoy the most about the cases is the idea that history could somehow still be living in the places we were going to.

Question:
Kris, why do you still consider yourself to be a skeptic?

Kris Williams:
Because I believe in the paranormal and that I've had a lot of strange experiences that I still can't explain. But I don't believe that every place that we go to is haunted. And it's our job to kind of try to figure out what's going on there. And, I think, in a lot of cases you can figure out from the claims. Maybe not all of them, but you can figure out a good majority of them.

And I've always been one of those people where I'm still kind of like, is what's going on what we're labeling it? A ghost, a person who has passed on or is it just a matter of something our science hasn't caught up to yet that's completely rational and explainable? But I'm constantly fighting myself because I know the experiences I've had, but even the big ones I've had - you don't have huge experiences every day, you just don't. We might go to a location and maybe two or three people will have an experience there and the rest of us won't or one person will and the rest of us won't.

So you'll go so long in between without a big, in your face experience and you really start to kind of question yourself and what you saw. But it's just constantly battling with myself. And poor Barry has having to deal with it. But, no, I enjoy what we do. I enjoy the history of it. And I'm kind of hoping I can prove the skeptic in me wrong, I guess. You know, I'm still at it for that reason. And it seems like every experience you have, you might leave with a couple of answers but you're left with a whole batch of new questions. It's kind of addictive.

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