The entire Farscape library has been on Amazon Prime for a little over a year now. There’s also been talk of a return of the show. We can only hope. For Comic-Con at Home, Gigi Edgley (Chiana), Ricky Manning (writer, Farscape), Rebecca Riggs (Commandant Grayza), David Franklin (Lieutenant Braca), Lani Tupu (Captain Crais), and Paul Goddard (Stark) gathered for the Farscape... To Be Continued panel to chat about the beloved epic science fiction television series. The panel was moderated by Kirk Thatcher (Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge).
Here are the panel highlights!
On when the they first realized that Farscape had become huge
-Most mentioned their first convention in Southern California as the moment they realize that Farscape was an international hit.
-A very funny thing happened next. At least, for me! Franklin mentioned being in Los Angeles at one time and having a waitress recognize him. That was me. I’m positive. I was handing him a coffee and said, “Are you Braca from Farscape?” and he just looked at me blankly for a moment and then said, “I’ve never been recognized here before.” If only we had smartphones back then! I would have the picture to prove it!
-All the tales of the cast being recognized for Farscape were lovely. Edgley then added on conventions, “We wouldn’t be here without the fans so we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts and souls… Thank you for letting us live our dreams and tell our stories.”
The next discussion was about acting in a science fiction series with green screens, make-up, aliens, etc. and making it identifiable
-Riggs said the work was made easier by the beautiful writing and she has a harder time being a psychopath than an alien.
-Edgley spent THREE AND A HALF HOURS in make-up for Chiana but that it was an absolute delight. To be part of the Farscape universe, with all the creatures, “you don’t have to act you just have to just surrender…”
-Tupu talks working with the Rygel puppet. “Rygel wasn’t a puppet. Rygel, to me, was a person I had to interact with… Going to work was playtime. And, you just become a kid where you just believe.”
-Tupu approached Farscape as Shakespearean. It was intense and you had to be in that mindset.
-Goddard remembered coming in for a make-up test on Farscape. After he was done, he watched a scene being filmed where Chrichton was frothing at the mouth in the Aurora Chair and being tortured by Scorpius. Goddard thought “Wow! You can shoot from the stars with this show.” That moment helped him create the my side/your side scene.
On working in Australia
-Manning was asked if, as a writer, was there internal guidance about themes – politically or conceptually. He said perhaps not politically but from the beginning Rock (Rockne S. O’Bannon) and David (Kemper) were clear that this show was going to go for it. They said Star Trek had been done and they wanted us to “push it, surprise us” and for a writer, it’s like being handed the keys to a Mercedes.” The writers were encouraged to push the limits and everyone jumped on board. Manning said it couldn’t have been done anywhere else but Australia.
-Franklin said Australia really flavored Farscape, Edgley said “spiced.” Franklin said one could see Australia imbued in the tone of the show.
-Goddard asked Manning if being so geographically removed from Hollywood gave the writers freedom. Manning replied, yes. Australia never did a show like this so they didn’t know it was impossible. It was new to everyone, including Henson. At production meetings, the Australian teams always said, “Can we do more?”
On getting pigeon-holed as a science fiction actor
-Edgley said he was pigeon holed when working in the states as a science fiction actor. She didn’t have that problem in Australia.
-Thatcher commented that it’s more marketing and brand driven in the States. Manning said the same thing happens to writers. He went on to say that presently, the lines are starting to blur a bit because genre has become more mainstream. Perhaps that started back when Farscape was on because at that time the network, Sci Fi (Syfy) was surprised that the demographic of the audience was split down the middle male/female.
Continuing the discussion on Farscape
Edgley said Farscape “didn’t feel like sci-fi, it felt like a crazy wild organic raw misfit family tumbling through the unchartered territories…It felt deeper and more and organic and more raw.”
-Goddard added, “It was so much much about the relationships” in Farscape. “All the relationships were fraught and tense and problematic.”
-Riggs made me a happy sci-fi fan by saying she read Asimov and Le Guin when she was younger. She said she always felt that science fiction was essentially and massively about humans so Farscape was a beautiful part of that for me. She went to say, “If you’re diving into a culture that only has one gender then what does that do to what it is to be human and that teaches you a lot.” The nerd in me believes she is talking about Left Hand of Darkness here.
-Goddard observed that actors with theatre experience fared better on the Farscape set. “They knew they could go huge…”
-Tupu continued on Goddard’s thought saying, initially it was difficult because the reference that actors had was Star Trek. They had to watch carefully and then realize that they could be more intense. “When they got it, it was fantastic.”
Where they see their characters if the show continues
At the end of the panel, Thatcher said since there are rumors that O’Bannon and Henson want the show to continue and O’Bannon did state at last years SDCC “We are not done with Farscape!”
-Riggs said Grayza is talking to her grown daughter. She surprisingly loves her but in the same way people love exquisite cars or horses that win races. Dark.
-Edgley give a good warrior cry
-Goddard is in some kind of dungeon area and he’s leading little children with half masks and escaping with these kids. Goddard’s other version is a lounge room with warm lighting where he sits up as psycho-therapist and he gets pissed off because a patient is taking a lot of time so he reveals his mask. Hilarious and, again, dark.
-Franklin says every night Braca goes into scorpius quarters and tampers with his calling rod so that Scorpius is in exquisite pain and almost dies but doesn’t. So many dark thoughts from this group!
Tupu – Says he thinks he comes to see Goddard in a therapy session. Also, nothing fits any more. As far as Pilot, Tupu thinks there are little Pilots running around
-Manning says it’s best not to have a plan with Farscape. Working on the original was like improv jazz rather than plotting out a symphony. They took side trips and improvised. Manning even commented that Scorpius’ cooling rod came about because Andrew Prowse “had a rod coming out of Scorpius head in dailies.” Many of their ideas came from seeing things in the creature shop.
-Riggs added to Manning’s comments by saying when she shared that she was going to be massively pregnant, Kemper said, ‘It’s science fiction and we can do anything”
This was truly a fun an inspiring conversation. Check out the full panel video below and a keep on ‘Scaping!
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