On July 17 2003, at the annual ComicCon convention in San Diego, California, a number of cast and crew members appeared on a Farscape panel (listed alphabetically):
- Ben Browder (John Crichton)
- Francesca Buller (Guest Star)
- David Franklin (Braca)
- Jonathan Hardy (Voice of Rygel)
- Virginia Hey (Zhaan)
- Richard Manning (Producer/Writer)
- Wayne Pygram (Scorpius)
- Lani Tupu (Bialar Crais/Voice of Pilot)
This report was graciously and generously provided by catherine, who comments:
We took off last Friday and headed down to Comic Con for the Farscape Panel. It was great to see everyone after so long and it was especially nice to know that even after all this time the show is still near and dear to their hearts.
I tried very hard to capture all of what was said either verbatum or in paraphrase but when our guys get on a roll the dialog can be machine gun rapid. All of the mistakes contained herein are mine. Hope you enjoy-
[First off there are a lot of people here. The room is nearly full. Standing for the cast and crew as they come in. Ben in a California Scaper shirt. Fran, Ricky, Virginia, Lani, David, Wayne, and Jonathan.]
Ricky Manning: Hello Cleveland
[Much shuffling of name tags and seating.]
Wayne Pygram: Goodness what a surprise -- I thought we were going to have to say good morning to both of you.
[Much applause, Lots of pictures. And they were stunned by all of people in the audience.]
Lani Tupu: Do you all come from San Diego?
Francesca Buller: Say hello Ben
Ben Browder: Naw
Francesca Buller: He's shy
Wayne Pygram: Where is Kemper when you need him
Virginia Hey: do you guys want to ask questions?
Lani Tupu: before anyone asks the question -- we don't know
Jonathan Hardy: and we promise to tell hardly anyone.
[Everyone introduces themselves (as if we don't know who they are) but with a Farscapean twist.]
Wayne Pygram: regrettably the leathers don't fit anymore
David Franklin: my name is Virginia Hey, I'm very spiritually advanced and I've manifested myself in the form of David
Jonathan Hardy: Hi I'm Anth and the washing machine wouldn't start and I've come as Jonathan
Ben Browder: I'm Ben Browder and you aren't
Ricky Manning: I'm one of the writers
Audience: I'm suffering Farscape withdrawal -- can we hear a couple of lines of dialog for a quick fix
Ben Browder: from season 5.? "Aeryn what the hell is that?" [emoted as you would expect]
Ricky Manning: you aren't going to have any lines in season 5, man
Audience: what are you all going to do as individual projects now -- what are you doing?
Ben Browder: I'm doing a project for the History Channel. I'm going to Europe tomorrow to do a project on ancient battles Roman, Greek -- it will be a lot of fun. [Fran gives two thumbs up]
Audience: Anybody else?
Jonathan Hardy: [this was very tough to follow. He spooled off a litany of things that went on for ages] play -- a tree falling about a man who is disappearing down the track of Alzheimer's being made into a film with Greta Scacchi -- another film in which I'm playing King Lear. I have to learn to ride a horse. This will be my last job until we start Farscape again -- oops you don't know about that yet.
Audience: [this person either wasn't there or didn't pay any attention to the opening] So tell us about the IGN rumor of a 4 part miniseries
Ben Browder: it's a possibility. I called Brian [Henson] and asked him about that and what I should say -- could say, and he said "nothing". Henson is trying to find the avenue to get more money and Farscape will return because of an audience that wants to see it.
Ricky Manning: pat on the back from all the cast for the hard work from the Save Farscape people
Audience: is there any indication that Braca has a chip in his head? How does he hide his betrayal from Grayza
David Franklin: you should see what happens to Braca in season 5. he's no dummy. He knows what he's doing and what it takes to get ahead as a Peacekeeper.
Audience: favorite concept for the next season
Ricky Manning: Ice Capades -- Farscape-Capades -- only drawback is teaching all of these people to skate.
Ben Browder: I just got a mental picture of the puppeteers sliding across the ice on their ass.
[They are giving out autographed tees to anyone who asks an intelligent question. I think they will end up with many many left over ]
[Note: later when I saw one, and the Farscape caps that they were also giving away, I noticed Ben Browder was not signing them either. Looks like someone, his agent perhaps, has mentioned to him that he needs to stop signing everything in sight.]
Audience: I heard the sets were demolished and everything torn down. How will that impact the shows return.
Ben Browder: sets were due to be redone anyway, costumes, key props are stored. Bringing the show back is a question of money and creative availability -- sets need to be rebuilt anyway
Ricky Manning: we had the CGI guys do one extra shot of Moya sinking just to cover ourselves
Audience: how much of yourself went into the roll. Like Gigi said at another interview that she was nothing like her character.
Jonathan Hardy: Oh yes she is·
Virginia Hey: heaps. I've been mediating and looking into natural therapies for years. To have the role of a priest was kismet. She was a balance of spirituality and crazy. She suits me to a tee.
Ben Browder: asks Fran to answer
Francesca Buller: I loved Ahkana. I'm sure all of us will agree that there are things inside of us that come out into the rolls.
Audience: what are all of your favorite episodes?
Ben Browder: won't get fooled again -- just because Ricky is here
[I can't get all of this -- they don't know the names and I'm confused which episodes that they are talking about - something like, you know that one in the first season where Crichton gets hit by Aeryn - that's aways been my favorite.]
Wayne Pygram: That episode where I got to play the drums - Won't Get Fooled Again
Jonathan Hardy: The first episode Ben wrote - Green Eyed Monster. He wrote some wonderful things in there for all of us.
Lani Tupu: Won't Get Fooled Again
Audience: Were you surprised by the huge outpouring from the fans since the show as put on hold
Ben Browder: yes [this was said in a totally gob-smacked fashion as if there was nothing more that could possibly be said. The panel thanks the audience and applauds them.]
Jonathan Hardy: they are talking about a sequel called Rygel PI in which he carries around a gloved puppet.
Audience: On Zhaan coming back -- can she be hiding in the bowels of Moya and come back occasionally
Ricky Manning: Zhaan the suppository?
Virginia Hey: I'd like to come back on and off. You understand the restraints of make up, no hair. It's very difficult on my health, but I'd like to come back occasionally.
Wayne Pygram: the day we lost Zhaan was the beginning of the end. There have been attempts to fill for Zhaan but we've never quite achieved it. [He was very serious and adamant about this.]
Ben Browder: didn't Lani say it was when we lost Crais [Ben is nothing if not perceptive. He was trying to deflect Wayne's comment with a bit of humor.]
Lani Tupu: [Lani picks it up and runs with it] if Virginia comes back I'm going to have her hair and I'm going blonde [Virginia gets up and drapes her hair over Lani's head so we can all see what he will look like with her hair]
Audience: how much have our personalities changed in the 4 years [Ben repeats because we can't hear the question]
Virginia Hey: we all need psychiatric help.
Francesca Buller: My other half is now into DYI projects and such.
Ben Browder: we don't know if that has anything to do with Farscape
Lani Tupu: I didn't realize I was that cranky [as cranky as Crais]. Every third or forth episode, I was screaming. But I felt good afterward. [He says this almost apologetically, and thanks RM]
Wayne Pygram: for me it was like going to school. I learned a lot about green screen, prosthetics and that sort of thing. We all carry something into the future from Farscape
Audience: a hero is only as good as his villain and Scorpius one of the best -- what is your all time personal favorite evil moment
Wayne Pygram: with Sikozu on his knee at the end. I just killed her -- asphyxiated her, I killed her. That's the best way I could have left it. That's not what we were implying but a lot of people thought that was what happened and I loved it.
Jonathan Hardy: I'd like to defend Scorpy. He was just a man doing his job and was, probably apart from Rygel, the smartest person there.
Audience: what was your favorite moment filmed? Favorite on screen
Wayne Pygram: The water dance at the end of season 3
Virginia Hey: unity with Crichton
Ricky Manning: not Aeryn? [he means not unity with Aeryn]
Virginia Hey: Aeryn too, but it was more potent with Crichton
[This comment causes quite a bit of chortling and a few rather blue jokes as you can well imagine. Most of it was too fast to record.]
Jonathan Hardy: Aeryn coming face to face with the fact that she destroyed the original pilot. I'd like to pay tribute to BB because he was in there day and night and making sure the show was homogenous and a lot of the greatness of the show is his work as an actor. [he went on at length. I wasn't able to capture it all]
Ben Browder: so whatever is wrong was my fault.
David Franklin: I was watching the dailies when Aeryn comes back in the coolant suit and then when it went back to the relationship with Crichton and I got hooked on the show again. I forgot all about me. Wow the emotional connection...
Lani Tupu: end of the 3rd season [cell phone in the audience] there's a slab there.
Ben Browder: A slab is a case of beer. On set whenever a cell phone rang that person had to buy the cast and crew a slab of beer. [it has been mentioned in the past that David Kemper might have spent a good portion of his salary buying beer for the cast and crew]
Lani Tupu: the end of the third season when I was inside Talyn and said 'Starburst', because I knew it was the end of all of the work I'd done on the show. And as I explained to Aeryn, Crichton realizes I'm going to blow myself up. Also there was a moment in the first season in which Crichton is sitting outside the bars of a cell talking to Crais and it was a wonderful moment and got a great connection-- that was a great moment
Ben Browder: I'm incapable of picking a moment [Lani's phone rings] SLAB -- for the entire audience. [general merriment while it comes to everyone what has happened]
Wayne Pygram: a shot for everyone [the audience as well as the panel] and Lani has to buy.
Ben Browder: I could almost go through every single episode and say I love this, I hate that -- there are moments for me when the entire show changed, when Talyn/Crichton died, when they swap bodies. I find it interesting how the audience relates to the show. I think everyone finds something different and the writers did a phenomenal job creating that sort of depth.
Francesca Buller: we were doing the cave scene with Prousie [Andrew Prouse who directed Bone to be Wild], it was the first time Ben and I had worked together in 10 years -- it was wonderful. The next was with Wayne. I had heard so much about him and there was just this incredible power and presence. It was amazing
Audience: are we going to have any trouble getting all of you back when the show comes back
Ricky Manning: the longer it goes the less money you'll have to come up with, because we'll all be desperate.
Ben Browder: we aren't going to take another job until they bring farscape back.[he's joking of course] It depends on how long it goes. We have to pay bills. I would imagine it's possible. Just a matter of time and money
Audience: did you get to keep Winona and are you still obsessed with letting anyone else touch her?
Ben Browder: yes and yes.
Audience: Ben how do you keep up the humor? Was it written that way?
Ben Browder: it was written that way - the situation was inherently funny. Life is funny. The writers didn't shy away from the humor. There are times when we got a bit heavy. Life is that way but funny.
Virginia Hey: and you would ad lib a bit
Ben Browder: that's not true, that's not true. [looking at RM] Someone will post that on the Internet and it's just not true.
Ricky Manning: and we were in Australia and it rubbed off on us seppos
Ben Browder: Seppos are Americans - septic tank yank -- seppos
Jonathan Hardy: tragedy only works if you see the humor. Part of the fleeing from terror is humor and if you deny that then you are making a soap
Audience: were you disappointed that your characters didn't come back [this is to Fran] and that you were not a part of the regular cast or did you enjoy doing different characters?
Francesca Buller: As an actor it was fun doing different characters. Minister Akhna was going to come back and Raxil was talked about coming back. I was sometimes disappointed that we didn't see more of them.
Audience: we miss everyone and wish they were all here and please tell Claudia how much we love her and wish she was here -- [Ben tries to call Claude as the Audience keeps talking, but there is no answer]
Ricky Manning: we were planning on bringing back all of the characters in a composite character called Cram, to give them all their due.
Audience: We would love to see Zhaan and Crais back
[Ben gets Claudes Voice mail and has the audience say Hello. He stands and hold the phone to the audience so they can scream hello while he encourages them to be louder.]
Audience: Will you do a bit of Pilots voice for us?
Lani Tupu: [As Pilot] "Commander Crichton, get up here right away." Actually I would have to schedule Pilot early in the day because after a day of voicing Crais screaming and yelling I had trouble getting my voice back up in a high enough register to voice Pilot.
Audience: was becoming a sex symbol a conscious decision [for Wayne]
Wayne Pygram: I'd never worn leather and latex. The minute I stepped into the costume there was sense of power. I took a girl out from the creature shop and it wasn't happening. It turned out she was infatuated with the guy in the costume, not me.
Ben Browder: my experience in the costume was entirely different.
Ricky Manning: they don't call it hot flesh for nothing, you know.
Audience: are there any plans to have another chat?
Ben Browder: well I'm not sure it would be entirely appropriate to crash SciFi's server again, but if the time comes to let the fans know the show is going forward it will happen on the internet.
Audience: what do you think about how the show ended if it never goes on?
Ricky Manning: we got our 3rd Saturn -- David was asked about the season 4 cliffhanger and he said what cliff hanger -- I mean they are together and they are closer than they have ever been. That's what you wanted wasn't it?
Audience: do you see any problems with the writing maintaining the high quality when the show comes back
Ricky Manning: we hope to get them [the writers] back. The rest will be good. We'll see what happens when we get the show back. It's good to have a break since doing a show week after week for 4 years saps some of your creativity. A break is good.
Wayne Pygram: I'll be better for it for having a break. I haven't have much chance to watch my work until now.
[the room is so full people are sitting on the floor right now and all along the walls. The room holds 650 people, I have been told but it looks much larger - Perhaps 3 times the size of the official convention. There are perhaps 20 to 25 people lined up at each microphone to ask question and the 1.5 hours are almost over.]
Ricky Manning: We were like a family
Ben Browder: it was a very happy set
Lani Tupu: for me it was like jazz where musicians know the tune so well they don't have to rehearse together. It just happens.
Ben Browder: for a guest cast it was a nightmare. We used to pull them aside and tell them to stop us if they didn't know what is going on. It's was like shorthand and the guest cast is going, yeah, what? 'Frell' what does that mean? There was a tremendous creative energy but that doesn't not always translate to being happy. But it was something special -- a creative atmosphere that made guests want to come back. It wasn't happy sort of lovey dovey but we all love each other. Ben talks about Wayne slamming his head into the table in ITLD and says the bruises are real bruises.
Jonathan Hardy: the ranking Australian actors wanted to be on the show and that was very impressive. My only regret was that every time Ben came up with a new name it was too late to come back at him since I was on ADR.
Audience: did you like the fact that Crais died as a hero or would you have preferred he went out as a villain.
Lani Tupu: my promise to myself was that he was never going to be a one dimensional character. I kept that and I was proud of myself. In terms of hero he was a man always searching for something and I'm not sure he ever found it but he found some kind of honor. I never saw him as a villain. He was a simple passionate man.
Audience: would you do the show if it were shot in Hollywood?
Ben Browder: we'd lose the synergy we had in Australia but we can do it in Hollywood. The pay scale is better.
Audience: Can you tell us how the cloning of Crichton affected your work life as well as your personal life
Ben Browder: Our marriage councilor is still trying to work that part out. It was a struggle to keep them straight. I'm glad they had different coloured shirts. It was a challenge. At the end of it I was exhausted. It was a great thing that the writers gave me. Actors on series are always getting bored. They gave me this great stuff to do. It's a gift to get something like that and I'm grateful for it.
Audience: [There was general gushing and out-pouring of Ben-love. The guy who was gushing was a bit embarrassing to everyone including Ben. There wasn't much he could say.]
Ben Browder: I missed the last con because I was working. I will do the Burbank con. I've missed you all. It's overwhelming to look out at all of you. It turns my brain around inside my head. I'll do the one this year and after that... well hopefully after that we'll be working.
Audience: Have frell and dren become part of your vocabulary off the set?
Ben Browder: we preferred the other ones. But those are easier on the kids.
Audience: What have you seen on the internet that surprised you the most?
[Everyone looks confused except Ben]
Ben Browder: I saw a picture of D'argo and Crichton... the things you people do with Photoshop... Put Photoshop down and step away from the machine. And I assure you if D'argo was doing that to Crichton, I would not be smiling...
[The audience breaks into general laughter and applause and the session closes with the actors and writer throwing out the remaining tees and hats then leaving to thunderous applause.]