A Bafta-nominated actor who terrified a barmaid with a fake gun thought she resembled Katharine Hepburn and only wanted to give her career advice, a court heard on Thursday.
John McEnery, 75, of Marine Parade, Sheerness, Kent, left Melissa Green screaming for help when he brandished the black water pistol at The Leading Light in Faversham, Kent, on August 8 last year.
He denies intending to cause her to fear violence and on Thursday told a Maidstone Crown Court jury he wanted to support her career in events.
He and Steven Majewski, 43, of Canal Road, Strood, also deny a similar charge after they allegedly produced the same fake weapon at the binElla Wine and Champagne Bar at Standard Quay, Faversham, between July 1 and August 2017.
Staff claim one of the defendants threatened to shoot them if they were not served, before Majewski briefly pulled out the imitation gun.
McEnery on Thursday admitted in court he was a recovering alcoholic and last acted four or five years ago.
In August 2017 he had relapsed, become homeless and ended up living with Majewski on a ship owned by Finbarr O’Brien.
On the fishing trawler, which had been converted into a “galleon”, McEnery said the men played around with the water pistol “shooting flying insects” and “having a bit of pranky fun”.
He admitted carrying the fake gun in a borrowed jacket on August 8, but it had only crossed his mind to use it to trick a friend who owned a Faversham music shop.
“I thought I might have a little prank with it and do a spoof ‘your money or your life’ and then squirt water at him,” he said.
The film and TV actor was barred from The Leading Light pub, but went to try to arrange a meeting between Ms Green and Mr O’Brien, who had worked in events.
He said he had spoken to Ms Green once before and wanted to help her.
“She put me in mind of a young Katharine Hepburn,” he said.
“I told her that, I said ‘Katharine Hepburn eat your heart out’, but she didn’t know who I was talking about.”
McEnery said it had been “thoughtless and stupid” to produce the fake gun from his pocket, but that he had only been looking for a pen.
The actor also said he could not remember much about turning up drunk and being refused a drink at the binElla bar on an earlier date.
In a police interview he said if he had made the threat to shoot someone, it would have been in “parody”.
Speaking in court on Thursday he speculated it might be because he had previously met with two “pirates” on Mr O’Brien’s ship.
“One of them was called Pirate Jim,” he explained.
“He was half Calabrian and half Welsh and we had a conversation about the ‘Ndrangheta mafia.”
Asked by his lawyer Ms Pippa Woodrow whether he had ever deliberately tried to make someone fear he would shoot them, McEnery said: “Never.”
McEnery, who was nominated for a Bafta for his portrayal of Mercutio in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, was once married to Dynasty actress Stephanie Beacham.
His television credits include The Bill, Silent Witness and the Scarlet Pimpernel.
The trial continues.