Sci-Fi Stream Interview with Claudia Black part 2

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I'm enormously affected by the creatures that we have on Farscape. I didn't think I would be. And I'm lucky because, I've had a lot of scenes...I've, Aeryn has a beautiful relationship with Pilot. And when everyone comes on set, new make-up artists or visitors to set, when they see Pilot, they, really they're breath stops. They are really surprised to see this quite beautiful, but strange looking animal. I've done a lot of two-hander scenes with Pilot where I have found my self personally, and therefore becomes part of the character of Aeryn, very connected to the creature. And the eyes, the expression, the facial muscles are so articulated by the animatronics that you really feel you're working with a performer, rather than with something that is made of wires covered in latex.

In the last few scenes in The Way We Weren't, with pilot in the episode, I think we only did two takes. When we don't have much time, like I said it's obviously a very fast turnaround. But, emotionally, it's always a good barometer if all the girls, the make-up girls, who are watching a bit dewy-eyed behind the monitor and everyone was very emotional. I think that contextually that episode is very strong for fans who've watched all of season one and then watched the six episodes, or however many episodes in terms of screening, leading up to TWWW. It was just such an important episode that on set, shooting those scenes with Pilot, with all the history Aeryn has had with him, it had an enormous weight to it. The luxury of serial television is the history that your character has had, the journey leading up to those scenes, so that you, as an actor, don't have to do much work. You already feel connected to the scenes and there's, there's a big emotional weight to them.
And Rygel, of course, I mean I just think he's hysterical. He's not the exactly most likable character in the world. And yet there's something about him...there's been a few occasions, a few moments for Rygel where I have genuinely felt sorry for him as an audience member. Throne For A Loss, Crackers Don't Matter, that scene with D'Argo and he's stuffing Rygel's mouth with the crackers is so brutal. And I really responded to it I really felt for Rygel. And I think there's some beautiful things coming up for Rygel, with all of his crewmates, in the last few episodes of the season (two). Especially the last episode (Die Me Dichotomy), we see a much more "humane" side to Rygel.

I'd say we re-voice eighty-percent of our dialog nowadays, which is common for feature films, but not for television. So, that puts, places an enormous burden on us, emotionally, to recreate our sensibilities once we're in the sound booth. The difficulty with a show such as this is the high physical question of work the performers do. So, bringing back the sense of physical exertions is difficult.

 

I remember one of my favorite stories was in PK Tech Girl, when Aeryn lifts up the huge cells to carry them out, and says, "Sorry for interrupting." We genuinely needed the sense that Aeryn, when I was re-voicing it, was picking up a very heavy object. So, we had nothing in the room, so I picked up Tony Tilse, our director. I said, "All right, come here." I put him in front of me and I couldn't lift him off the ground. I tried, but that was obviously what I needed to help me do it. So, we'll use whatever we need to in the sound room to recreate it.

Crichton at the end of TWWW, "And you say you think you love this man?"

We sort of joke on set and call ourselves "Tags-R-Us" because we have such a great time. They're such a gift for us as performers and for the audience. I think, because they're so rich with character development. Most of the story leading up to it will be action-based and then we get this little gem at the end of the story to express something between characters. I've talked about it many times before, so I won't really elaborate on it now, but what my favorite tag probably was in The Flax. Where, which is a great episode anyway, but when Ben and I both turn simultaneously in the wide shot, that was...that was not planned. And there's something about the tags when we film them, they're really joyous.

 

And in season two, Mind The Baby, the tag where Crichton and Aeryn sitting in front of Pilot. You know, the director says. "Okay, what are we going to do with this one? How are we going to do this?" To allow them to have a connection, but not to bring them get too close. Because then it makes it difficult for the writers to pull them apart. In series television you can't have the two leads going steady, because that's incredibly boring. But, we felt we earned it. I said, the end of season one, Aeryn has been willing to give her self up in whatever ways to save the rest of the crew and to save Talyn. And by the end of MTB I think she's earned her stripes and I think they've earned the opportunity to be intimate in that way. And it's lovely; Ben obviously improvised that, that wasn't scripted, that he's playing with Aeryn's hair. And I think it's...I remember saying to Andrew Prowse (director) I think it's all right. Pilot's aware of them being there and I don't think they will get up to mischief I front of Pilot. So, I just think they've just allowed - Aeryn has allowed Crichton into the inner sanctum of her relationship with Pilot.

Look At The Princess, I mean the third episode of that, that's an outrageously important tag. And again, contextually, I think it has more weight for fans of the show. I think if we showed that scene to somebody in isolation they'd say, "Okay, so you two are probably on screen love interests. So What?" So What?! So What? We just found out that Aeryn and Crichton are...have taken an enormous leap in their relationship by Aeryn taking that risk and offering up the vial to him. We loved shooting it. We loved that scene, it's probably the longest, apart from Crichton speaking at the beginning of that scene, it's the longest non-dialog scene we've ever had.

I enjoyed working with Ian Watson (director) on The Locket. He's always very sensitive to the romantic arc, whoever, whichever character is carrying it in the episode. When we shot the tag we just wanted to keep it very simple. It was difficult, we tried, I don't know we haven't seen the final cut of the episode, because they were mixing around a lot between the Moya bound -the science- that was happening on Moya and this other reality, this other world and life for Crichton and Aeryn and my beautiful granddaughter, played by Allison Standen. And that was weird too; by the way, acting with someone who I think is chronologically older than me and having her play my granddaughter. That was really funny. She was delightful to work with and I just became a dirty old lady when I was in that make-up. It was great fun.

But, yeah, that tag was enormously, as you say, important. And we tried to do a shot where I open the locket and drop, when the grains of dust are in my hand. Dropping them in front of the camera to catch the grains as they fell. And that was very difficult to capture that, working out technically at what speed the camera had to be at and the timing of their count and when I should go and drop the grains. Ben and I love doing two-handers and I love doing what we would call a two-shot where you are just containing two performers at the same time in one shot. I love them because they are an opportunity, especially in the tags, as an actor to react. A lot of famous drama schools and a lot of books about acting, they say essentially acting is reacting. Rather than saying anything, it's listening, it's responding. If there's a physical proximity between the performers, the characters, no matter what their relationship, you get so much information in one frame contained with two performers interacting.
So, that one in The Locket, when we're held in the profile, is a lovely moment.

End

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