This event is one we did attend, but we decided to take a break and just enjoy the experience, rather than filing a report on it. The cast and crew in attendance were, as always, friendly and extremely generous with their time; in particular, it was lovely to meet the delightful Francesca Buller and have a chance to express how much we've enjoyed her work.
While we were goofing off, though, stlscape picked up another interesting comment to share:
Raelee told one table of fans that a "blanket hold" had been put on all the actors, and that she didn't know which characters would be back; it might only be some of them.
I'd forgotten how damn exciting this was. Was...is...will be...
I said everything I needed to say yesterday, except it's Sunday, and we all need to be in church.
I had an interview with the SaveFarscape.com people yesterday, and it got me thinking about Farscape. I ask myself, why the heck is this going on? Why am I standing here, and why are you sitting there? Why is this show - maybe they're having these for THE BACHELOR right now - why is it that otherwise intelligent people would care about this crazy show?
My experience with the people who watch Farscape... After 9/11, I had to catch a train out of New York. I tried to take the first plane, and they took away my nail clippers. I took the first train that could get out; it became a 24-hour journey to get to North Carolina. We stopped in Washington D.C., and this old gentleman got on with extraordinary gray hair - an incredible raconteur from Louisiana. Gus is working at the White House on Fullbright Commission, selecting presidential scholars. Gus is a really smart guy!
After about two hours of sitting there, Gus is looking at me kinda strange, and he says "Farscape". "Yeah." "Goddammit, I love that show! Virginia Hey, is she that good looking? I love Claudia Black." He went on for two hours about the girls. He's asking specific questions, and my mind is totally blown: this is a guy who was picking Fullbright Scholars! It struck me at that moment that there must be something about Farscape that is vaguely intelligent and/or vaguely relevant.
A couple years later, after Farscape was cancelled, a friend from childhood - he grew up across the street - came to visit me in Oz. He's doing his PhD in Mythology. He tells me he watches each show, at least twice. Why are you watching this show? He said that what he found interesting about the show was the mythology, and how it related to the modern audience.
Having studied myths and the stories we tell, America today is in a fractured state; we don't have a common myth. The idea of America has changed, we are now faced with a world bombarding us with different cultures, races, ideals, images. When we examine selves in relation to America and the world, we don't know who we are anymore. What's amazing is that through Farscape, and John Crichton, what we're doing is examining how we're surviving in the world with changing cultures, changing ideals.
In my interaction with you guys, the Internet, all the different things people see in Farscape - one person keys into Zhaan, or Gigi or Claud, or Scorpius (god help me, people are into Scorpius). In Farscape, we create a family in a fractured universe. In America, we deal with creating a family in a fractured world. Given all my interactions with you guys, that critical element we try to speak to, seems to me, for my Sunday sermon [makes Zhaan's praying motion], it's what draws otherwise different intelligent people into watching Farscape.
We'll start over here, and my question is, what is your favorite episode and why?
Audience Member: The pilot, because it establishes everything and you're damn gorgeous.
Ben: That's the correct answer!
Audience Member: What was your favorite Crichtonism?
Ben: Ohh....oddly enough, Noqh vau tukh, which means [in Klingon] "get the hell out of here!" Kudos to Ricky Manning for looking that up.
Ben: Okay, my question for you is, who is your favorite character and why?
Audience Member: John Crichton is, and I think 'why' I better not answer.
Ben: We now have two correct answers!
Audience Member: You spoke about fear yesterday. Does John Crichton still fear Scorpius?
Ben: Ben Browder does! Yes, I would say that there's good reason to fear Scorpius....yeah, Scorpius isn't the kind of guy you stop being afraid of. That doesn't mean that you're in terror of him, but you don't stop being afraid. He's the kind of character that loses his power if the audience stops being afraid of him. If the audience does stop being afraid of him, it's our job to make them afraid of him again.
Brad Keller asked for a mention; he's directing A KILLER WITHIN.
Ben: How many episodes have you seen, and how often?
Audience Member: I have all of them on tape, and I couldn't tell you how many times!
Ben: Another good answer!
[missed question here, but it was evidently something about Ben's current projects]
Ben: We're shooting a movie in Texas starting Monday.
Ben: How many cons have you been to and which is your favorite?
Audience Member: This is my fourth, and this is my favorite.
Ben: That is the correct answer. God, you guys are good!
Audience Member: You've done movies, tv, stage. Putting aside the grinding schedule of a show, do you have a preference? What kind of things would you like to do as an artist?
Ben: I've been thinking about doing a puppet extravaganza... I've never thought of myself as an artist. I lived in North Carolina. I played football. It's not okay to be an actor in North Carolina, you're not supposed to do that. Artists are people who have a message or something that they're trying to tell you. I never thought of it that way; I like to tell stories, and sometimes the story is mine, and sometimes it's Ricky Manning's, and sometimes it's Shakespeare. I have to throw that away. 'Artist' sounds pretentious to my redneck psyche. I'm not going to stop being a good ol' boy because I'm on TV.
I love being on stage, standing in front of an audience. I love shooting television. I love my job, I'm damn lucky. You guys are keeping me employed - that and my wife kicking me out the door. Any day I work is a good day, and today is a great day.
Ben: What was your favorite season and why?
Audience Member: Season two, because it's totally insane.
Ben: Okay, that's a good answer...
Audience Member: A CONSTELLATION OF DOUBT has my favorite tag scene; how far do you think John Crichton would have gone to find Aeryn?
Ben: At that juncture, that's as far as John can imagine, having resisted for that length of time. I think he would have done anything he had to, to protect Aeryn. It's an interesting question; it plays into the large mythology and the small mythology. Do you protect the ones you love, or protect the larger universe?
Ben is momentarily distracted by a member of the media taking his picture.
Ben: God, that's a big camera. Taking picture of nose hair... I'm talking ethics and worrying about how I look...
We can't ignore the world, and we can't ignore the people around us. Integrating them is very difficult. It's a difficult decision; you have to ask the character to make a choice, and at that point he has to choose Aeryn and hope that the rest of it will work out okay. Do I save my child, or do I save my country? It is a powerful scene that Kemper wrote. I watch it and god, what a terrible decision [to have to make]. Those are very difficult questions, and Farscape allowed them to be raised. If you don't like them, then don't watch Farscape.
Ben: What's different between Australian and American actors?
Audience Member: The answer is Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Chicago White Sox, 1919.
Ben: Now that is an answer!
Audience Member: You and your wife obviously enjoy working together. Have you ever thought someday you would put on a great Broadway production? Do you have some great plan you'd like to do together when you became rich and famous?
Ben: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, they were going into rehab. I do love my wife, all my life, but she does scare me. Sometimes the scripts... It's the hat, it's totally the hat. Before I ever met her, I saw her on the stage, there was this compelling figure in the corner that I couldn't take my eyes off. I don't know that I'd want to work with her onstage because she'd blow me away.
Ben: What do you think it's like working with puppets?
General Audience: Animatronics!
Audience Member: Probably very interesting.
Ben: That's a great answer, it is interesting.
Audience Member: Do you ever get stage fright?
Ben: Absolutely. The first time I came out here - how many years ago? 4 years ago? - I was petrified. Today I'm too tired to be petrified. I still get nervous. I come out going, I don't know what I want to talk about. It makes me a big enough idiot to get in front of a microphone and hope something comes out. [audience makes appreciative noises] Thank you, thank you. I'll talk about surfing, this will interest you. I went surfing in Canada two weeks ago...
The time I get most nervous is when something I've done goes to air, and I don't have any control over it any more. The minute I know someone else is watching it, I'm tucked into a corner and absolutely petrified, I have no control. That doesn't mean I don't do it again; unlike the rest of America I don't operate out of fear. Like the redneck's last words are: "Hey y'all, watch this!"
The times when I get most nervous are when something I've done that I no longer have control over, is airing. I hide. I can watch it in a room if no one else is there. The minute someone else is there, I'm tucked into a corner and absolutely petrified, I have no control. It doesn't change what I do when I go back out there, that's what an idiot I am... Unlike the rest of America, I don't operate out of fear. Like the redneck's last words are: "Hey y'all, watch this!"
Ben: How different do you think it is to wear prosthetics?
General Audience: Ask your wife!
Audience Member: Prosthetic what?
Ben: That is a great answer!
Audience Member: Was John Crichton in any way influenced by RED DWARF, "Better than Life"?
Ben: John Crichton was completely original and came from my mind... Actually, it's interesting when you do something that you think is original, and later that you discover all the parallels, it's always been done. The game [in JOHN QUIXOTE] let me steal like mad. Borrowing is homage, stealing gratuitously is art. JOHN QUIXOTE allowed me to do the references that I've always wanted to do, like THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.
When John Crichton takes the dive off the tower, then I sat there and saw the exact same beat in VANILLA SKY - damn! I thought everyone would think I was ripping it off. The minute you start telling a story you discover a commonality of thought, and that's why the audience gets it. There are things that are in common, even 1000 miles away, and there are other things that are complete theft.
Best advice for a writer: "Read everything. Forget where you read it."
Audience Member: What series are your brothers driving in?
Ben: My brothers are driving late model stock, the last true bastion of stock car racing in America. I went to a race in California last week, expecting it to be different. It wasn't. The audience was exactly the same as in Carolina. They were eating hot dogs, going whoooo-hah, there was a truck beauty pageant...
There's this family there. All across America there are small tracks, and guys who work on their cars to race them around in circles. It's a remnant of small-town America. They love what they do. There's a certain similarity there, maybe we should get you guys out there to the track.
Let's take you to the races! If I get a Farscape car, we'll go down to the track and eat fried chicken in the bed of the truck.
Audience Member: What did "you know" in FRACTURES mean, when Moya-John got the message from Talyn-John? What did he have to know?
Ben: You know what you have to do. There are two things - probably a billion things ... do you all remember the tag?
General Audience: [enthusiastically] YES!
Ben: You have two John Crichtons for over twelve episodes. You have to put the pieces of Humpty Dumpty back together again in the end. You have to show the audience that they're the same guy in the end. The same person. Believe the same things. Love the same things. It's a way of passing the spirit from one John Crichton to the other. When you watch the tag, you see how they've changed, but what they care about, what's at the center of them, is the same. "You know what you have to do." And they play Rock-Paper-Scissors and they tie. It's a lot of stuff, and being Farscape we squeeze it all into one tiny scene and tell you "we hope you got that."
Ben: By the way, if I hear you weren't nice to my wife, I'm never coming back again! I'll see you back here next year, and we'll have something new to talk about.
This was a nice opportunity for convention-goers to simply talk directly to Paul and David, in a very casual gathering. They came out, hopped down to sit on the edge of the stage, and folks were free to wander up and share some conversation.
Who's the clever one who hacked into CNN? Let's not stop there!
They called and asked us, "Do you have Winona?" "Yes, we have her." So, just to let you know, everything's looking good!
[regarding her role as War Minister Ahkna]
I have to let you know about Lou Elsey, who made that costume. She took me to the House of Fetish [a purveyor of "fine fetish clothing" in Sydney], a place I know really well. I had boots up to here [mid-thigh], so when I was walking, I had to swing my leg out like a model. I had this incredible hat, and we weren't sure if it would go in, but I'm glad that it did.
Audience Member: Have you done any acting since moving back to LA? Would you like to have a convention of your own where Ben is introduced as "Mr. Buller"?
Fran: Getting into Australian Equity was very hard - it took three years - so thank God for David Kemper giving me everything he could.
I'll tell you a secret: often when Ben's away, I'll put in a Farscape tape just to watch him. He's awesome. I sort of dream about this John Crichton guy. I live with Ben Browder, who's a completely different person. So when this happened, I thought "this is his turn". Australia was his gig, and we're in this joy together, and it was important that I give him his due. That's why I'm not in a lot of Farscape. It's a spouse thing.
I just got a brilliant new agent, and I'm hoping to get out there and get busy.
Audience Member: All these different roles, and each time they called you. What was it like?
Fran: It was great to have the ability and joy to rush at this from one place to another. Joe Pesche was the model for Raxil; when we came up with this idea (have you seen Lethal Weapon?), I didn't know how I could do it. When I was cast as ro-NA ... we've all been there and it's easy to play someone evil. Ahkna - that was a joy for me, to play something completely evil.
Audience Member: Would you like to do a theater production with Ben?
Fran: I would love to work with Ben, we've had this dream about doing a theater production in our 70s in Wisconsin. It would be great. There was only one time when he was Mr Buller, when I was doing MERCHANT OF VENICE.
It's been a really huge year for us, as well as for you. You know how much we really, really appreciate you, and your support. Yesterday Ben came home and we both were just overwhelmed by these presents. Thank you, every one of you.
Audience Member: How do you differentiate the characters?
Fran: I know Farscape very well, so I would sort of think of what do they need, what do they really want. With Ahkna, they wanted someone on a par with Scorpius, trouble with a capital T. I've done a lot of voicework. I think the audience is smarter than me, and it's tricky. You're going to see my name and know it's me, but I need to take you on a ride. With Ahkna, the costume gave me so many answers [to interpreting the role]
Audience Member: Will Raxil come back?
Fran: I hope so. The plan for season four was that Raxil and Ahkna would both come on, and they'd be together in this little game and have a lot of fun with it. So let's hope, we can write to David, you and me both.
Audience Member: How hard has moving back and forth been?
Fran: It's very hard. You have to go to Australia, everybody. One of the reasons is the people: what you see, is what you get. It's more slow-paced, it's great. The landscape is gorgeous.
For the family, it's difficult. The show is over, we have to move on. For the kids, it's been a tough year, since they've never been in American schools. And of course our hearts are with the show. When we told them [the kids] we might go back to Oz, it was like Christmas.
Audience Member: How is it being married to a good ol' boy? How did your family react?
Fran: I fell in love with Ben within 24 hours. I'm the youngest of four children, I have three older brothers. We were immediately madly in love, and I think when my family first met him they thought this was something new, something different. A week later, my mother rang me up at my apartment in London and said "I can't find you." "Oh, I'm living with Ben now." "Oh, that's all right. But what about AIDS?" "Oh, that's okay, he's Southern."
Audience Member: What actresses have influenced you? What drew you into acting?
Fran: I was very lucky - my father's a composer, my mother's an artist, so from a very early age I was surrounded by creativitiy. The artistic world was around me, and I was encouraged. I hope to do that with my children.
Actresses, hmmm. Helen Mirren. Cate Blanchett. Judy Dench. For Akna, I was thinking of Joanna from ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS. That haughty, don't-mess-with-me attitude. That's what I was thinking.
Audience Member: Who's idea was the action?
Fran: It was David's idea to have the action sequences. One day he came over when we were having a fight, and he loved it. He sort of sat down and watched and that was an inspiration.
It's fun working with Ben. He's surrounded by these stunt guys. They asked me if I knew how to throw a punch, and I said "oh, sure". They said, you've got to be careful, and not come anywhere near him, don't really hit him. I thought that was funny, since at home he's anybody's (i.e. fair game).
[missed a question or segue here]
Fran: I think about the last day. Ben got the call, and he comes downstairs and says "We're going home." Well, where's home? This is home. It's heartbreaking. A couple of days later, he comes downstairs and says, "Guess what, I'm going to be on CNN." The response was great. The power of all of you saying, "we want to see our show", tremendous, guys, really tremendous.
Audience Member: Why the makeup? Did you get a choice about the characters?
Fran: I didn't get a choice. These were the characters offered to me. The prosthetics aspect of it I absolutely loved. I talked to Wayne a lot about it for advice, how to do it long-term.
I only had one moment when playing Ahkna, when Ben's doing his big American "blue light specials" scene, and I was sitting thinking, "I've got to get out of this." It was the only time it owned me and I didn't own it. And that's the secret, you have to own the prosthetics.
Audience Member: What was it like in SCRATCH 'N SNIFF to say, "You're not very bright, are you?" to your husband?
Fran: On the set and in Australia, I was known as The Boss, I don't know why. It was great, it was a lot of fun.
He's amazing, he's just amazing. We did a scene in the bar where he's sucking his straw. "Honey, you going to do it like that?" "Yeah." "Okay..." It's wonderful the tapestry you have when you're working with him, because he knows the character so well. When you're on the set with him you're with John, not Ben. You have to respect his space, and I'm in love with this guy. That's why I watch the DVDs at night! And I miss those trousers, don't we miss those trousers?
Audience Member: Your character and John Crichton keep beating each other up. I hope this isn't method acting.
Fran: David literally would sit there going "This is great guys, this is great!", and it's just us paying the gas bill. No, we don't [beat up at home]. We're a very loving couple!
I did practice. I really wanted to do this giant leap as ro-NA, and I had to practice for it. Andrew [Prowse] said, "Go for it!" So, I did this huge leap ... and completely missed. And the stunt girl, who's 22 and amazing, just did it perfectly. Physically, he's very hard to get, Ben Browder.
Audience Member: Do you have another career? How do you pay the bills?
Fran: This is the only job we've ever had. We came right out of drama school. We've been very, very lucky. I have to touch some wood here, I'm superstitious. We're hopefully smart, when paychecks come in we bank it, we don't do big holidays. Ben is now writing, and I'm writing, so we have all these other facets of the same thing we do. We're players, we stay in the game, we do it.
There have been some tough times, but for some amazing reason we've always known we would come through it. Ben was out of work for almost two years at one point. We had some money saved up, a lot of lentils and rice. There are valleys and troughs. This is just the icing on the cake.
I think there's not enough artists, because we're all brought up to do something proper. Keep living your dream.
Audience Member: Film projects?
Fran: It would be really nice. I'm trying. I'm getting out there with this wonderful agent now, Hollywood is very cruel when you're over 25, and I'll be 40 next year [audience cheers], but I'm still doing it, it's what I do.
Audience Member: Would you do it all over again?
Fran: Absolutely, this is what we do, I wouldn't do anything else. It's 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, he's got a script in his head, and we'll talk about the possibilities.
Audience Member: What other things are you looking for?
Fran: Ben is really rolling now, he's going somewhere, and we have these two children. I'm at this point in my life where I don't want to be without them, I want to be with them. I've had offers to do things in other cities. Right now, he [Ben] is in Texas, three weeks ago he was in Canada, with only 24 hours notice. This has always been my problem, how do we juggle this? Not many parents can do that. But this is what I have, and I love it. The two we have are the absolutely the priority.
Audience Member: Do you find accents easy?
Fran: No, I don't.
Audience Member: Do you realize you aren't wearing any shoes?
Fran: This is what I do. I like being grounded to the earth.
Audience Member: I heard Raxil creeped Ben out.
Fran: Ben hated Raxil. It was the whole androgynous thing, it really creeped him out. The androgynous thing really got to him after a while. The set was surrounded by models, and there was me. Some Brit would say, are you Ben's wife? and Ben would grimace.
Audience Member: Did the hat scare him?
Fran: Yeah, it did.
Audience Member: Did you use Monty Python as inspiration for Raxil? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge?
Fran: Yeah, that's part of my whole bag of tricks. That was something that I loved to do. I wanted to do this little nebbishy character when I got home: "Would you shut up?"
Audience Member: Ben's infamous for ad libbing. Was it scripted or an ad lib, when he told Ahkna, "see you later, honey"?
Fran: Yeah, he just made that up.
Audience Member: Why am I not surprised?
Audience Member: You have two talented actors in the household. When you want to tuck the kids in at night, who gets to be the storyteller?
Fran: The kids love Ben to do it, because if they ask him, he won't stop, he'll keep reading, and they know this. Then he'll get them out of bed, and take them to show them the NASCARs.
Audience Member: And you wonder why they call you the Boss!
Fran: When it's me, I do a lot of voices, which freaks out the little one.
Audience Member: How often is the finished product completely different than when you shot it?
Fran: It's always a surprise. It's always lovely when you work on the ADR (Angus Robertson was a genius, he really is). We'd always strive for more, always strive for better. There was never anybody who whined about, "It's Friday night, I'm going home." Everyone wanted to do the best job for the show that they could.
When you're doing the ADR, and you see the final version, you can often change it and add something.
[we missed this panel, but by all reports it was very well received]
Audience Member: How do you pronounce your name?
Bianca: Bee-ank-ah K-ih-mih-neh-loh
Audience Member: Was Jena a Peacekeeper idealist, or just good at knowing which buttons to push?
Bianca: How cool is the spy stuff? It's like the alien 007, and I'm lovin' it. I want the Astin Martin, though.
We always end up there, don't we? [the campsite in the woods, etc.] That was her want. You're questioning the heart of the character. Ultimately, you use whatever tool you have to get what you want, we all do. At the end of the day, I was there to save the planet.
Audience Member: Any discussion with Fran about Ben?
Bianca: God, you guys have got the most amazing imaginations. No, I'm not interested in Ben, I'm not the other woman, I'm an actress. I spoke to Fran yesterday, she's amazing, such an inspiring woman. Any woman who'll move to the other side of the world to support her husband. It took her years to get her papers. Any woman that has that amount of strength...
Audience Member: Which was more fun, Lost World or Farscape?
Bianca: Neither. I absolutely eat up what I do for breakfast, I love it so much. I don't know if you've seen my episode on THE LOST WORLD, I get to rule over about 40 blondes and that's gotta be fun for any brunette.
No preferences; absolutely beautiful moments in each. Farscape was my first job. Took first 45 minutes on set to remember I was human, let alone what my lines were.
Audience Member: What's it like being a figment of the viewers' imagination?
Bianca: I have no idea, because I don't exist. This internet is a whole world that I've only just tapped into, it just blows my mind. The fact that you guys have maintained this remarkable fiction that I don't exist for so long, I find it hilariously funny; I'm so glad you guys are connected to me.
Audience Member: Thank you for being unforgettable and yet forgettable.
Audience Member: Looking through the [campsite] netting at Ben, your face is framed, and you convey the conflict of trusting Crichton.
Bianca: I auditioned for the Princess. I think she was a little nice. They thought I had more edge to me, could be just my look, I don't know.
It was sort of a magic hour, that scene with our faces framed through the netting. You've buttered me up so nicely, you can ask me anything. Welcome to the world of the actor. Just get me all soft and cushy and then go for the kill.
Audience Member: Why didn't Jena come back?
Bianca: Honestly, it could be lack of experience. I haven't spoken to them about it. I was sooo green. I'm really glad you loved it, that you think I did a good job, but I was green.
And when you are working on a production like Farscape, it's so big and fast, it's huge, and the demand on the actor is huge. They have to hold it together. The whole thing was sensory overload for me, and I was just learning. I was learning the difference between A camera and B camera, and Ben was pushing me out of the way so that I didn't cover his shot. Returning wasn't an option I discussed before hand, and we haven't discussed it since.
Audience Member: Have you worked with Felicity Price since?
Bianca: Felicity [Price] and I met on that job, and have remained remarkable friends ever since. We have not had the opportunity to work together since, but we have been strong advocates for each other's work. We've traveled the world since then, she's been studying in France for a while. We sit down and have tea and talk. You find there are moments and people you take with you. Same with Gigi, she's really special. Matt Day was one of our most famous actors, he's a really strong actor, that was amazing for me, my first gig I'm sitting with him, my god what do I do?
Audience Member: What's the exact spelling of your character's name?
Bianca: It was both J-e-n-a and J-e-n-a-v-i-a-n. Girlfriend got a nickname!
Audience Member: What inspired you to get into acting?
Bianca: At this point? I'm living my dream. I wanted to do this since I was six years old. I want to be an actress and travel the world. I used to watch old black and white movies with my grandmother on Sundays, doing Sunday roast. Mind you, I'm Italian, but there's Irish in the family. I fell in love with Marlena Dietrich ... I fell in love with the WIZARD OF OZ. I've watched everything. Every Sunday we'd just get the most amazing old movies. It was a time of remarkable women. Back in the 40s, they earned the big dollars. You didn't have action heros, you had Katherine Hepburn. It was smart and sassy and intellectual, and even as a kid it just filled my heart and imagination.
Audience Member: Anything soon?
Bianca: It will be soon. Do you guys know Cush? He runs my fanclub, the guy's a legend, everything I do I let him know and he puts on the site. Hopefully in January.
Audience Member: What do you think about having played a feminist character?
Bianca: I am honored to have been on that list. There were so many reasons I was interested in that role. Definitely I believe that the characters you choose, you are drawn to that. I like that she was a double edged sword. I liked that Peacekeepers had this dark, kill-all association to them, but that she was not; she was fighting for a cause, she was an altruist. I find that challenging: you have an ideal, you're going to manipulate somebody, how do you do that the right way, is there a right way? We don't get many opportunities to play those kind of characters.
Audience Member: What sort of training did you have?
Bianca: I started training when I was a child, started on the stage at the national theater's youth training program, did productions throughout my teens. It was the way I spent my school holidays. I was a dancer, 25-30 hours a week, classically trained since age seven, but then I grew too tall. I was always on the stage. From there I went into fashion, I modeled for about two or three years. Ended up in New York at age 15, and then I really missed being able to talk, I like being in front of a camera. I left the lights of the Big Apple to go to drama school in Melbourne...god, I'm mad. You never stop studying, you never stop training your voice, training your body. One thing always kind of manages to snowball into something else. I wanted to act forever, and anything else I did along the way added to that palette.
Audience Member: Can you tell us the story about the shark infested waters?
Bianca: Where we shot the infamous scene, it is in a suburb called Roseville, and Roseville is a shark feeding ground, and it was feeding time - not just for me - yeah, so, seriously we had I think two or three really brave, amazing stunt men in the water for a long time, clearing out broken bottles and checking for stingrays, and just doing as much as they could.
Audience Member: How many takes did you get lucky?
Bianca: That's a double-bladed sword, because the instinct is to say "never enough". Next question?
Audience Member: How long was the audition process? How did it work?
Bianca: I auditioned for the role of the princess with Andrew Prowse - amazing director - and he took me through the audition process. He's very hands on, you're in the audition room with the director and the casting agent, and he took the bull by the horns, got the script and just played with me. He actually just stared at me for a while. I was studying a French technique called "Le Coque". It's the basis for Cirque de Soleil, and is a very physical style. I came in from this class, and Prowse looked at me and said "Hmm, there's a bit more going on here, would you like to read for something else?" An actor never knows what to say, but I said "Okay". I was brought back about a week later, came back and that was it. Once you get the role, that's when you get to beat the character into breakfast, you sit around the table with the other actors and talk about the characters, and then I run away and sit on a rock and learn my lines.
Audience: Happy Birthday!
Gigi performs a little serenade for the audience.
Gigi: How ya doin'? I missed you guys a bit!
Gigi: The second show I worked on after Farscape was SECRET LIFE OF US, I played this character George, an industrial designer in Melbourne, and she went to find herself far away - method acting! On the first day, the thing I had to do was a rap, and I've never rapped in my whole life. So, I probably could show you my rap, if you want to hear it.
Gigi performs a very funny rap.
Gigi: Questions, who wants to come up and play? Okay, I'll go home then...
Audience: Where did you get the dress you wore last night?
Gigi: The Logies are this thing in Australia, it's a bit of a renowned event for television awards [sort of a cross between Golden Globe Awards and the Emmies]. It was my first Logie, and I was so excited. I was going through my closet, thinking what I could wear, and wings are coming out, and tutus, and I won't tell you what else.
A friend asked, "What designer is dressing you?" "Designer? Odd concept..." So, I went to the House of Fetish... [laughs] No, I went to a lot of places. I went to this beautiful friend, very lovely, very camp, he'd be the best boyfriend ever because you wouldn't have to do anything. He's my stylist, my everything, this lovely fairy. He said "Right, let's go out."
We went around to the stores, and stopped for lunch, and decided to have one glass of wine (...or slab...). I'm trying on all these clothes, tits and ass going everywhere, and we finally found a dress at Quentin. I saw this lovely dress on a mannequin. It had this lovely deep V going down to the belly, high slits in the sides, a low back. I asked the designer for it, and she said, "We don't usually lend that out", but eventually she said okay, just this one time. It was see-thru at the time, but we sewed a small slip into it.
Audience: Upcoming projects?
Gigi: I have a small announcement to make: time will tell. [grins wickedly] Right now I'm working on BLACKJACK, an amazing Australian telly series. I shot one right after Farscape, and it got picked up for a few more bits. The girl I'm playing is Liz Campson. It's another fantastic, really juicy role. I've been working on that, I shot a little short film in between, and playing on this amazing sort of soundscape, recording this song POISON. I have this song, and I didn't want to hand-feed you a mainstream sort of musical shenanigans. It has a lot of heart and soul put into it. It just needs a couple of nights jamming, tunes, and funky smiles.
We hope to shoot in a couple of days at this funpark, under the Harbor Bridge on the water. It has quite a few weird stories involved with it, there was a messy fire in the early days and a lot of people lost their lives, so they're trying to get the place up and going again, and we thought to go in and shoot for a couple days. Then a lot of flying and fluttering in between.
Audience: When will we get some more POISON?
Gigi: We're fooling around with a bit of a trilogy, we want to attach a little movie to it, put the performance art back into music.
I finished THE SECRET LIFE OF US and had a month off work, and I woke up in the middle of the night feeling down, wondering what I was going to do to keep my creativity going. I looked over the side, and there's my beautiful book that I've been writing things in for five years, with thoughts and dreams and bits of lyrics.
I visited a friend and his family who has a backyard studio; we were messing around, and he said hey, wanna do something? Let's do a single. Hey, cool. Four days later after lots of cigarettes and bottles of wine, POISON came out of it. The neighbors would pop by and bring us food, and the kids were in the background too.
We hit a bit of a writer's block, and then I got a call that this magpie had started singing along in the backyard. They managed to duplicate it, and that was the bit we'd been missing. The song is about duality, this other girl in this guy's life; it starts as a lovesong and as it goes on you realize it's about duality of self. It turned into a six minute soundscape. It was too short to be a story, and too long to be a song. There's more coming on that as well.
Audience Member: What would Chiana have as the message on her answering machine?
Gigi: Ohhh ... ask me tomorrow. I know! "Have you ever been stung by a Watrucca plant? Bye! Beep!"
By audience member request, Gigi gives a demonstration of twirling.
Audience Member: Did the photos in BLACK & WHITE help or hurt your career? Motivation for doing it?
Gigi: I see what I do in life. I fall into a million amazing dreams. I have two sisters and one and a half brothers, and they used to collect these magazines. I used to collect BLACK & WHITE, and paint out of them. They asked me to do the shoot, and I thought "should I pay them?" I was really ... I just thought it was a beautiful thing.
I never thought of it as harmful until David Kemper came on set one day and asked "What are you going to do next? PLAYBOY?" I'd never thought about it that way. We used to run around naked more than dressed, and it feels weird dressed like this. It's not porn, it's art!
Audience Member: Chi is the one character that plays with fire. Is there some training in your background, or something about Chiana?
Gigi: This is something really interesting. I don't know if even the writers are aware. I don't know if it was a conscious thing; I never thought about it. Fight fire with fire, maybe?
Ricky Manning: You were the only one who had makeup that probably wouldn't burn.
Gigi: I was on the set this day, we were shooting Talyn's birth scene, and they said they were going to shoot this fireball. I said "Okay, cool." Then they said if I caught on fire I should lay down with my hands over my head. I said, "What's that for?" "To protect the wig."
Audience Member: Trust me, I never want to extinguish that flame.
Audience Member: Are you aware that Chi and the Croc Hunter's movements are similar?
Gigi: Aware? I'm excited!
Audience Member: Thinking about musical ep - what kind would have been exciting for you?
Gigi: They're gonna have to, now! I really like the essence of, like, Metallica, but I don't know that I could do it. I love blues and jazzy and smoky and kind of dribbly music.
Audience Member: When you get the script and see Chi in a bikini, was it more makeup and time?
Gigi: It was funny. They just dipped me in the stuff! David was telling me that at the end of the scene, when she's dancing, she's going to jump in the pool. Except that when they scheduled it for the beginning of the day, and it took four and a half hours to do the full body makeup.
The hardest part of being painted from head to toe is weeing, you kind of have to stand with arms and legs outstretched. The bikini one was a weird one. You realize when it's airbrushed on, you have some really amazing features, it just looks unbelievable. But it makes it hard to eat!
Audience Member: What have you missed?
Gigi: I really miss waking up at 3:00 in the morning. No, I miss my family, because you do grow so much together. It's a weird thing when you finish a production because you've seen every side of each other from highs to lows. Your hopes, your fears, your co-workers naked. I just miss the gang. I haven't seen some of these guys since the end of Farscape, so it's been a massive, fantastic reunion - thank you!
Audience Member: Are there differences between when you shoot the scene and the finished product?
Gigi: I didn't realize it was sci-fi ... It's amazing, fantastic, especially the computer graphics on the show. It's very funny, in a scene you're running from giant snakes. There's this one scene with Mary, when she appears and sees me for the first time. If you look closely, there's me pointing. There's a scene in DREAM A LITTLE DREAM where we're sitting in archway, then go across the street; they show us this picture, and then you watch it in ADR, it's fantastic. I love doing ADR, you get to watch it on the big screen. It's absolutely the best.
Audience Member: How did you come up with the body language? And what's the special relationship with John, did you play it as being in love all along, even though he's in love with Aeryn?
Gigi: Cause I'm the fluffer on the set! Movements, you must have heard this story. I was sort of practicing at home, and I got this letter of eviction a week later, because of the strange noises coming from the backyard at 4:00 a.m.
My first day on the show, we did the whole [makeup] shebang, and then went to this room, and a couple hours passed, had lunch and a makeup check, and went back to my room and waited more. Finally this guy came and said "Miss Edgley, we won't need you today, because we've blown up the set you're going to be working on."
I asked them if it was okay if I stayed in the makeup for a while, and I fooled around in front of a mirror to see what it was like from the outside, because you're very nervous on the inside. It was just surrendering to her [Chiana], and a lot of breath work.
The deal with John was that he was the first person to put his heart out to her, I think that will always be an amazing thing for Chi. That was always an amazing part of her heart, that she's always falling in love with things. She's in this adventure, and trying to figure out how she's going to get out.
Audience Member: What's the deal with the big rope in JOHN QUIXOTE?
Gigi: What rope? You've got to get off the drugs, mate!
[a few moments of confused discussion results in narrowing the scene in question to the parking garage, where Chiana slid into Rygel with her sword]
When Chi's doing the lunge, I'm doing this flip, and before the shot I have to run up and land on a skateboard, and you have to do it the right way or you stack it. I might have been wearing padding. There was a rope to pull it.
Audience Member: In THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, the screaming anxiety you were performing [in the version of Moya where Chi was screaming in discomfort from the incessant sounds], how did you do it? And how did Ben ever get over that headache?
Gigi: When I get a bit of magic in a script, I just love diving into it as much as possible. It was literally me going nuts. I think we did one take, and then Ben was like, get off my shoulders!
Audience Member: When you read Kansas and found out you would be John's first, how did that affect you and Aeryn?
Gigi: Ohhhh, this is the moment when I've just got to go, it's Chi not Gi. That was very special in my relation with Chi, and John, that was kind of magic and Jamie Croft was just amazing on the set on the day. What do you do? "Hi, I'm Chiana, I'm going to make love to you, and I'm going to put my hand on your crotch and hip thrust and sometimes I go ahhh and it's not that I don't like you, it's just that I'm an alien."
Audience Member: Was that laugh part of you, or what was inspired by you?
Gigi: It's like the hiccups from the bottom of a frog. I think the first time I got in tune with it, was the time we brought back the Vorc [BEWARE OF DOG]. It was this kind of slapstick thing we were fooling about with, sort of a baby hiccup. I'm the new kid, I got bored. It's doing this amazing thing that you love, and you don't know where it came from or was birthed, but it's amazing.
Audience Member: Will you come back to Farscape?
Gigi: Put in a good word for me with Farscape. Oh, I don't even know.
Audience Member: Would you be free?