A Snurcher's Guide to Farscape

Burbank 2001: Day 2

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Event Schedule:

Wayne Pygram

Writers Panel

Francesca Buller

"Stump the Experts" Trivia

Lani Tupu

Charity Auction

Making of "Revenging Angel" (panel)

Full Weekend Schedule

1. Wayne Pygram:

On Infinite Possibilities: "I did eight takes on the roller-coaster, then things got...colorful."

He uses a slightly different voice for his character. Scorpius is a higher status/rank character -- he would have been diminished if Wayne used his own natural voice. "If someone's challenging me, with an Ozzie accent, they don't stand a chance." Purely a matter of Scorpius maintaining his power, with his accent.

Wayne gave folks coming up to ask questions a "fill in the line" quiz -- he gave them a line from the show and they had to finish it. If they got it right, he gave them a t-shirt. However, he himself had to read his part of the line from a piece of paper. "I've got to look at my notes; this is how long I retain my lines."

He tosses his script after each scene so as to move on to the next bit without carrying the baggage of the previous scene with him.

Scorpius is not winning John's trust, but John is seeing that Scorpius is a singleminded person, and he doesn't lie. Scorpius and John have a shared goal. John is like a precious jewel to Scorpy, a "one-off" piece of jewelry -- unique. They have a regard for one another's intelligence. As a character, Scorpius is not as black and white as "evil" vs "good side" -- but if he makes a contract, he keeps it. Scorpy doesn't share; he's a single entity. He's been tortured into existence. He's not defensive, but he's always on guard. He knows when you've been false or in fear. He would have been put down at birth, normally. "The ugly duckling turns into an ugly swan." He's had to do it on his own; he's very self-sufficient. Scorpy likes to bluff, distract you with the right hand while the left hand does something else.

Is there any chance of Natira coming back? "Oh, yes, please!" Claudia Karvan had a hard time with the prosthetics, and is now starring on another show in Oz. He and Claudia knew each other well prior to working on Farscape together.

On doing intimate scenes with Claudia Karvan (Natira): "Some scenes need more work than others. " Actually, he finds it harder to do an intimate scene with someone he knows well, "it can be a bit icky".

Last year a fan on the web, after seeing him at the con, called him "Patrick Stewart on Crack".

Wayne (and several other crew folks) were wearing FarPark Scorpius t-shirts. Dave Elsey apparently had them made (for crewmates only, not for sale).

There was originall some concern that Scorpius and Harvey would be confused by viewers. The production team used the opportunity to dress Harvey up, to address this. The clone thing has developed to the point where Harvey is like a mirror to John's thoughts. Harvey is totally truthful, totally innocent. Harvey is like an actor without a role; Crichton gives him a job to keep him occupied. An allegorical thing, a mirror; John can bounce ideas off of Harvey without fear of pain or injury. Harvey is now working for John.

He's "just done some scenes of heading off to war, heading off to battle," for Harvey and John.

On 'What rank is Scorpius?': Scorpius is a special operative. He doesn't have a rank/serial number etc. He's treated as a special case by the PK. He is a pariah; he breaks the rules. He just ignores rules. He keeps them in fear, but he also gets results. He's out of control now. He's a lone wolf, even with his support team (like Braca); still, his team has sufficient regard for him, to follow him instead of their PK value system.

Wayne did his screen test with Prowse; two days later he got the job. The audition didn't go well, at least from how Prowse looked to Wayne, but apparently Prowse went straight to Kemper et al and said "found him!".

Thursday night Wayne finished shooting on a telefilm in Oz at 3 am, went home, got his suitcase, and headed to the US -- his voice is shot, so he couldn't really do the Scorpius accent.

"We're just about to see some stuff driving through to the end of S3. We're going to see him in trouble, really angry, for the first time."

Wayne never wanted to be an actor, but used to play drums in theater musicals as a kid. One year the artistic director of the theater asked him to do a reading; he was talked into it, and got the job. Pretty much fell into it. Training was practical, rather than academic.

When you're on a show, you have a family. Has no doubt that when this show is over, these people will still be in his life; Wayne considers Farscape a particularly strong family.

"The roller coaster was pretty memorable, let me tell you."

Wayne has no fear of heights, and thought the rollercoaster shooting would be fun. He might have been okay, but he made the mistake between the sixth and seventh take of drinking some lemonade; he got back on the coaster, did final two takes, and that was it -- he ran for the bucket. In Australian productions, if you're physically ill, you can't go back to work the same day, so the stand-in had to get into the coaster, with a script, to finish the day's shooting with Ben.

On his costars: Anthony is a standup comic, full of energy and very fast. Ben is a mine of cultural references.

While Harvey has to deliver some cheeky ends to scenes, Wayne pretty much just says what he's given in the script, rearranging the punctuation to get the character's special cadence. He rearranges and reassembles.

On ad libbing: His role with Ben doesn't need embellishment; it's very straight-forward. It's appropriate for Crichton to toss in cultural jokes, but not Scorpy/Harvey.

On keeping in shape: he swims and body-surfs. The suit causes him to lose a lot of weight (water loss), and he also loves Rugby. Used to be much heftier -- 20 kg heavier than now.

He could still see Ben through the Ben/Scorpy makeup, even if others on set did double-takes. Ben did a great job of interpreting how Wayne does the dialog; Wayne likened it to having a twin brother.

In Season of Death, the stunt-double did the bungee falling into the dumpster. Wayne did the rest of the fight scene up to that point. He loves doing bungee and wire work - thinks it's fun.

He's currently doing a musical project (rock/pop) with Anthony. Anthony writes songs, and they have 11 songs ready. He and Anthony are also working up a show.


2. Writers Panel (Kemper, Manning, Carleton Eastlake, & Andrew Prowse, with Ben Browder crashing the party)

On Ben (and others) ad libbing: they don't really care where an improvement comes from, as long as it improves the show.

PyeCat asked them what the correct spelling is for the name of John's pulse pistol. They all claimed ignorance -- "Ben did that, you'll have to ask him." At which point, Ben came out from behind the curtain, carrying a chair, and crashed the panel. (But we still didn't get an answer to the spelling question, dangit.)

Someone asked whether there might someday be a pregnancy for one of the characters on the show (other than Moya). Kemper replied, "I think on our show, you might have Stark get pregnant." There are lots of females on the show, including Moya. Kemper: "We're not adverse to children, or pregnancies." Manning: "We like children, when prepared right."

Carlton Eastlake (writer on Infinite Possibilities) was down in Oz for a couple of months, on two different occasions, working with them and getting to really know the characters and dynamic.

Browder, commenting on the number of producer credits on the show: "There are producers on the show we haven't seen in three years."

Prowse: "The producers define the playing field, the directors play in it."

Kemper says he doesn't know if Jack Crichton was a Marine -- probably a Navy flier. Regarding John's military background, he turned to Ben with the microphone. Browder: "Don't pass it on to me, man!" Kemper: "You brought your chair out here!" (we didn't get a specific answer)

Paul Goddard is in a play at the Sydney Opera House right now; he was precontracted for that role, so they sent him off to look for Zhaan to cover for his absence.

Prowse: "How do you guys know which lines are ad libs? [turns to rest of panel and points at Ben] They think all the good ones are his. They're probably right."

Browder: the two most difficult tasks for writing Green Eyed Monster were that (1) the most critical character (Talyn) has no voice, no face, and he had to bring him to life, and (2) Aeryn was finally on the fence. He had to find some way to get them together for the first time in 2.5 years, and there was so much resistance to that built up in the storyline, that it was very difficult to finally write the episode.

Infinite Possibilities was originally a single episode; they expanded it to two parts during the story-breaking/scripting process.

Kemper: "Those Crichtons were absolutely equal and identical. There was no Crichton 2.0. They were exactly the same guy."

Manning gave Zhaan a temper in Throne for a Loss; she hadn't been conceived of that way, prior to that point.

Jool's character kind of recaptures the "clueless Crichton" from the first season.


3. Francesca Buller (3-time Farscape guest star, as well as being Mrs. Ben Browder)

"You know that gorgeous, leather-clad spaceman who was out here earlier? He parks his space shuttle in *my* bed."

In Bone to be Wild, she was in a costume that zipped up completely, head to toe -- the biggest problem was that she couldn't pee all day. But she was also concerned that the team running the appliances on her head (controlling the red and blue glow, etc.) were going to electrocute themselves.

Her inspiration for her character's voice in Look at the Princess was Beatrix Potter's Mrs. Tiggywinkle.

When Kemper was describing her character for Scratch 'N Sniff, he told her, "I want you to be Joe Pesche."

Working on the show is "absolute playtime". She loves the prosthetics, but is not so wild about the removal process.

Regarding the three roles she's already played: "I've got a feeling that we might see a character back again."

Ben snores, and she wakes up to makeup on his side of the pillow.

Back in drama school in London, in dance class, Ben offered to teach everyone a dance called The Shag -- which of course means something completely different in the UK...

Ben was really nervous about her flying in Look at the Princess; she did one take on the wires, and he was calling for the stunt double.

Working together on the show with her husband is "very sexy".

Regarding Ben appearing in fishnet stockings on an internationally airing show: "He comes from good Southern stock; go there, baby, go there!"

Farscape is Ben's joyride, "the train of our lives".

There's an episode coming up in the final four of Season Three which blew her heart away; she was sitting there on the sofa crying her eyes out when she watched it.

She would love to do some film and theater work, but there's a little problem with the Australian Equity (actors' union), so she would have to go out of the country to work on a more regular basis. Right now, it's more important to her that she and Ben and the kids to be together as a family in Oz.

Her sister-in-law said she can always recog Francesca on Farscape by her nose.

On the character of Raxil: she's a saleswoman trying to con the guys into where she wants to go, a hustler. Francesca used ideas from LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS (which Tony Tilse directed) in creating her character.

On the character of Ro-NA: she's a sort of Geisha girl, someone who is always fiddling with you, but you would never suspect her in a million years.

The physical bits in her roles are often improvisations between Ben and herself.

She would love to do Broadway again, live performance, etc.

On the character of M'Lee: her voice came from Prowse, who told her to go for "a lovely young woman", then make it more intense as the character realizes she's dying.

She loved A Human Reaction, and the final four episodes of Season Two; there is one episode coming that "will just blow you away".

During her first role on the show, she was just in awe of the sets and everything else about the production. During the second, she started to just enjoy being with Ben and the Science Fiction world. By the third role, it was a party, "it's just joyous to be on the set."

Playing Ophelia to Tom Hulce's Hamlet was her favorite Shakespearian role.

She and Ben did a play together on Broadway. Ben was the understudy for all the male leads; he only had to go on one night, but it was opposite Francesca's character, and they loved playing it together. Ben was so good that he corrected Dustin Hoffman's approach during rehearsal, and even though he was only 23-24 at the time, Dustin agreed with him and used his suggestion.


4. Trivia

Richard Manning and two fans served as the experts on a trivia panel, taking challenges from the audience.


5. Lani Tupu

According to Kemper, Brian Henson saw Lani waving his arms about on set after being cast as Crais (the only role cast without open auditions, btw -- Tupu had auditioned for D'Argo), and said, "Hey! Pilot!" That's how Tupu wound up playing both roles.

He has to do Pilot's dialog before doing Crais' ADR; his voice drops two notes lower for Crais, and it's more difficult to do Pilot after that.

He started out by running the audience through some vocal warm-up exercises, and teaching them to scream like Crais in Infinite Possibilities. "If you're not getting what you need, screaming is another alternative." "If you haven't had a good scream lately, go for it!"

He generally starts the morning with a vocal warmup, humming, then heads to rehearsal, and has a talk with the director.

Regarding Won't Get Fooled Again and the infamous red pumps: Rowan Woods told him he was going to wear briefs (he called them "Y-Fronts") on the outside of his uniform for that scene. He was waiting by the car on set, at Homebush, feeling dubious about this. Rowan said don't worry about it, they were going to do something different. So, at the last moment, a white shoebox arrived, and Rowan said, "take a look at that". Lani looked, and slammed the box shut...and then asked if they were his size. They were, and that's how Crais wound up in red pumps.

His father is Samoan, and his New Zealander mother is of English background.

What does he think about having an 'all Crais, all the time' spinoff? "Oh, yeah, bring it on, baby!"

Although Kemper suggested the previous day that Lani's Peacekeeper ponytail was a clip-on, it really is all his own hair.

He never thought the scream he did with Tammy MacIntosh in the Boolite scene would wind up in the episode; it was just a mischievious thing he and Tammy did for fun.

Crais needs to be in control; he's a control freak. Then all of a sudden he's bonded with Talyn, and has to adapt to that. Lani plays it as a parent/child relationship. Since he's talking to the walls all day on the set, he visualizes talking to a child.

On Green Eyed Monster: Talyn is an adolescent out of control, who takes over; Crais realizes he cannot control the child, and must learn to work *With* him. Crais begins to learn something, by his experiences with Talyn. This was his favorite episode of the season.

Regarding the death of Tauvo Crais: Bialar Crais now knows that it was an accident, and he can't blame Crichton.

Comedy's one of the most difficult forms to work in, but you can have comic situations out of real intense drama. He likens Crais and Stark to Laurel and Hardy.

Pilot really isn't that innocent, once you've seen The Way We Weren't.

Regarding a lovelife for Pilot: "Anything can happen in space."

Tupu just shot a commercial in Oz; he was one of the four Riders of the Apocalypse (Fire).

His father is also an actor, so Tupu sometimes includes his middle name, John, to distinguish them from one another.

When asked about his recent signing to co-star in a new legal drama ("Leather and Silk") series in Oz: he plays a Queen's Counsel in the new show, but will be in both that and Farscape, so "don't worry".


6. Charity Auction

Actual props:

  • the gun used to shoot those "little yellow bolts of light" in Premiere
  • the Charrid knife from Infinite Possibilities
  • a pulse pistol (went for $3K)

Other items:

  • a small doodle by Justin Monjo, made during a story meeting for episode #407, signed on the back by Monjo, Kemper, Manning, & Browder (went for $1800)
  • two paintings (one of Zhaan, one of Aeryn)
  • David Kemper's personal copy of the TV Guide with Claudia on the cover, which had been sitting on his coffee table; he had almost the entire cast sign it
  • software package (over $1000 worth of graphics/video editing software)
  • Mambo t-shirt signed by almost everyone on the show
  • two Mambo "Lost Weekend" shirts signed by Ben, Gigi, & Tammy (one of which was donated in the middle of the auction by a fan)

7. Revenging Angel panel (Wayne Pygram, Gigi Edgley, Tammy MacIntosh, Prowse, Kemper)

Prowse: in one sense this ep was the biggest challenge he'd ever taken on, because the whole thing was outside his comfort zone. It wasn't until the very last minute that he knew they'd gotten away with it. He's "in love with this ep."

Tammy got up and danced at the suggestion (by Wayne) of 'Farscape, the Musical'.

The very first time Tammy worked with Prowse (long prior to Farscape), he sent her home in tears, and she hated his guts.

None of them knew what the animation would look like in the finished episode, but they're all used to working in non-reality, so filming really wasn't more difficult than normal in that regard. They recorded their lines in ADR first, to give to the animators to work from. Then, after the animation was done, they redid the lines in ADR for a perfect fit.

They did the original ADR during the shooting of episodes 10-11, way ahead of time, to give the animators time to work.

Aeryn was animated because she was on John's mind, Harvey because he was IN John's mind, and the rest of were real because they were really there with John on Moya. But Kemper says that if they did it again (don't hold your breath) there would be more women in it; he'd love to see Chiana and Jool as toons.

Kemper: "You could have stripped out the cartoons and still had a beautiful story about Chiana, Jool, and D'Argo." (They shot a lot more material than what was in the ep, as an insurance policy, in case the animation didn't work.) The animation idea was Kemper's. He knew it would be funny and look like this, but he had no idea of a single thing that would happen in the episode. The animation was packaging to get you to look at a really interesting story: Chiana is being forced to grow up, rather against her will -- she's supposed to be the kid, and all of a sudden she has to be the mommy; with Jool, all of a sudden you start to see relationships develop.

Wayne on seeing himself as a toon: "It's a wonderful image."

Tammy: "He'll give you a comfort zone in a format, and then next week smash it all to bits."

Tammy: "To me this episode was incredibly poignant." Jool recognizes a soulful spirit in D'Argo.

Tammy said to Andrew that Jool wanted to tell D'Argo the truth because she wanted to be honest and she wanted a friend.

Kemper: "Tammy is the only one who can tell Andrew what to do."

Kemper wrote the script, but Prowse worked out the transitions between toons and live action.

Revenging Angel was a small beginning of the crew getting together again, as well as to give some relief from the intense emotion of Infinite Possibilities part two.

Gigi was a little taken aback by the maternal aspect of Chiana's role in the episode, but rolled with it as a progression of the character.

Tammy: sudden changes in characters don't have to be explained -- sometimes people have real life, sudden personality shifts.

Tammy, Gigi and Andrew all met in DK's office, to work out the bickering scene -- they each had four paragraphs of dialog to be delivered in unison, and after each paragraph, they had to come to an abrupt stop at exactly the same instant, plus coordinate with lights, marks, etc. After the first take, Ben asked if he had to be on the trolley while they filmed, during all the loud yelling. When Kemper wrote that scene, he and Andrew Prowse sat there going "heh heh heh". Kemper considers the bickering scene spectacular.

Kemper: "My scripts are always late and always long." He had promised Tony Winley (the show's Line Producer) that it would be on his desk on January 3rd (2001). On Jan 3, he was sitting on Tony's desk, telling him he hadn't written it. The cartoon segments were written way ahead of time, but the rest came later, as Kemper wanted to see how Tammy and Gigi were working together by episode 13, and how Anthony was working with them.

Kemper: "She's [Chiana] not turning into a mom; Stark's the one who's pregnant, remember?"

Prowse: Fans thinking that Chiana is turning into a mom gives the production team complete freedom to make her totally irresponsible in the next episode.

Kemper: they didn't have to negotiate with Warner Brothers for permission to do the cartoons in the Roadrunner style -- doing something LIKE something is an homage, not copyright infringement.

DK and Prowse both think the live action cartoon sequence (D'Argo stepping on the rake, clomping in the pail, slipping on the banana peel, and getting chomped by the bear trap) is one of the funniest bits the show has ever done.