Interview: Ben Browder (COMMANDER JOHN CRICHTON) conducted by Tony
(audio version available at www.scifitalk.com)
Tony Tellado: I've got a plea for John Crichton...Please stop torturing this guy. It seems like every season, he is in the clutches of some villain being either physically or mentally tortured.
Ben Browder: John's had a rough go..Hasn't he ? (laughs) Yeah. It's a seasonal motif. We try to up the ante and see how much worse we can make life for John. Season One, he just got beaten up by women every chance they got. They tortured him towards the end of the year with the Aurora Chair. Season Two, he went insane slowly until he turned into his nemesis. Season three, they killed him, Man. They gave him the girl of his dreams and then they killed him. Left the guy that didn't get the girl of his dreams wondering what the hell happened. That was the worst torture yet. The end of season three was just horrible. (Continued...)
Tony Tellado: That sounds pretty bad. One of the things I learn to avoid now is to drink liquids in particular when John Crichton is in a scene after I practically spitted it out laughing when I heard his line from Blazing Saddles, Stop or the white boy gets it; Where did the Mel Brooks lines come from ?
Ben Browder: No drinking while Crichton is talking. It's dangerous for your furniture.
Tony: Did you introduce these lines or did the writers ?
Ben: It's a little bit of both. I love Mel Brooks. Particularly Blazing Saddles. I can't really remember where it started. There's a lot of them in the latter half of season two. There's a lot of Young Frankenstein and Frau Bleuker. That was me, Ok. Yeah. But some of the others were incorporated by David Kemper (Farscape Executive Producer) and some of the rest of the guys. If you don't know Mel Brooks, then you need to. We think of Farscape as an opportunity to reeducate.
Tony: I'm all for that especially Young Frankenstein.
Ben: That's Frankensteen (Laughter)
Tony: By the way, while you're here in New York, have you gotten the chance to see The Producers on Broadway ?
Ben: We're hoping to go see that in the next couple of days. I hear it's great.
Tony: Season four is on the on set or have you heard anything about where that is going ?
Ben: (Laughs) We're still waiting to hear exactly. But we started stories and breaking for season four and the rumblings of season five. At this point there's nothing signed and sealed. But it's looking positive.
Tony: I guess the season finale is in the can.
Ben: We have shot the season finale. We have four episodes that are in the can, that Sci-Fi will trot out sometime at the beginning of next year. We're finishing post production. I have to fly back to Australia to record additional dialogue in two weeks. Yeah we got stuff out there that you guys don't know about.
Tony: Obviously. Can you kind of dangle us any carrot?
Ben: I can't dangle anything Man..(Laughs) . Well I could dangle something but it wouldn't go off on the radio quite so well.
Tony: A lot of the episodes are being shown on Sci-Fi Channel five nights a week which is a great idea. I met the actor who played your dad, Kent McCord. What are your memories of working with him on the show ?
Ben: Kent's great. You kind of grow up with Kent McCord in your brain. He's always going to be Adam-12. He's a seasoned pro. There'a an interesting thing that I read early on. One of the internet sites was talking about this show called Farscape that was coming out. It had the Jim Henson Company. And basically, a cast of no-names but it had Kent McCord so it would probably be Ok. (Laughter) And they were right. It has Kent McCord so it's probably Ok.
Tony: Speaking of additions you have a new cast member this season in Joolushko Tunai Fenta Hovalis . Who actually has a bone to pick with Crichton because of death of her cousins. She blames him directly. What's it like to have a new member on Moya ?
Ben: We've added several new members over the course of time. We've added Chiana, Gigi Edgley in season one whose a tremendous addition to the cast and has been with us ever since. We added Paul Goodard..Stark for the bulk of season three. Well he came in at the end of season two and had appeared briefly in season one. We added Tammy (McIntosh) at the begining of season three, episode three. The cast grows and then it shrinks. We kill somebody then bring someone back. Then we kill someone again and then bring them back. So there's people coming and going all the time really. The interesting thing is when they come in, it's interesting to watch people getting accustomed to working because the show is so outrageous and different from week to week. You never really know what you are going to get when you tune into Farscape. (Laughs) We never know what we are going to get when arrive on the floor. So when new cast members come in it takes a while before they become accustomed to the chaos that surrounds them. Tammy has done a fantastic job. And she's lovely having her on set. She's a beautiful woman.
Tony: Earlier this year I had a chance to talk to Virginia Hey at a convention. She was really cool about not leaking her departure from the series. What was it like when she left because she was there from the beginning and had last longer than some of the characters that had come and gone ?
Ben: Virginia probably had the option to be with still. The make-up and the shaving of the head were very difficult for her. She's a very tactile person. When you're covered in blue, when you're at work, you can't touch anybody or anything because you leave little blue fingerprints every where. I think that was difficult for her. She had her head and her eyebrows shaved. That made her personal life difficult. In addition to long hours in the chair, and long hours working, she chose to move on and try other things. It was difficult when she left from the stand point that Zaan as much as any other character immediately jumped off the screen. She added a flavor to the show that is irreplaceable. We quite frankly haven't tried to replace it.
Tony: She told us that she was getting an apartment in Los Angeles.
Ben: (Laughs) She's gone LA. That's what happens. We make stars down in Australia and Hollywood takes them away. I hope it goes well for her.
Tony: You wrote one episode of the series. Is there anything else brewing depending on the future of the show is.
Ben: I'm slated to write another episode in the first half of season four. Hopefully I will have that written before. we go back to work as opposed to writing it as we work this year which just about killed me.
Tony: Who is the most difficult character to write for ?
Ben: The most difficult character I had to write for was Talon who doesn't talk. Doesn't have a face and was actually pivotal to the episode. Actually that was the most difficult thing to write. I feel that writing for Talon or Moya is the most difficult thing to write. I write stuff for Claudia and I can sort of guess with what she might do with it. When I wrote for her I expected that whatever I wrote for her she would make better which she always does. And she did. You could write the phone book for Claudia and she make it work, interesting and compelling. Writing Crais was fun for me because he was under written in a lot of areas. I had the first chance to flesh him out in a long time. So there was a whole wealth of stuff to draw from for Crais. Rigel is fun to write for, pompous git. And Paul Goddard, a beautiful theater and film actor as well. He'd come and say, I want to change this one word, How do you feel about that ? I'd say, That's great, change whatever you want.; (Laughs) ;As long as you make it better. He would literally come and say. I am thinking of saying the; here. Fantastic performances from everybody. That's one of the advantages of writing the show for people whom you know that you can pretty much guess that they'll take what you do and make it better.
Tony: Shows like this when they get popular, there's always talk of making a feature film. Would you be up for that ?
Ben: Well, they haven't offered me a feature films yet. They have to get it up and going. And they have to get Tom Cruise to play John Crichton and then it's a definite green. A green light man. As soon as Tom or Brad (Pitt) signs on or maybe those other guys from Friends or something. I'd be interested in doing it. I just keep thinking in the back of my head that when Hollywood does it, they're going to get John Travolta to play John Crichton.
Tony Tellado - Sci-Fi Talk
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