Transcribed interview with Ben Browder and David Kemper from (08/01) - part 2

Question 7: Ben, have you ever received a script you didn't agree with? If so, what happened?

Ben: Well, occasionally we'll get this where we'll have a storyline, and I go 'Well, Crichton's gonna go through this and Crichton's gonna do that', and I'll go 'Woah, hang on, wai- wait, Crichton's gonna do that?!' And we'll talk about it, and you know, the thing is that, I have my opinions and I have my ideas...

David interjecting and pushing himself into the camera frame: Very strong opinions.

Ben (overlapping): nonono, I have my opinions and I have my ideas, and- but, you know , David and I have talked about this at lengths, and a lot of it is intuitive [in] that I know which lines are critical, I know- because I know David's mind, because we've talked so much, I know which ones not to touch and not to mess with, and, giving credit, there are lines which are poetry and you just look at them and you go 'I'm not gonna touch that line, that line is staying, I know David wants that line.' I usually get that right. If I'm in doubt, if there's an instance where we're breaking a paradigm that we haven't previously done, I'll go back to the writing department and I'll say 'What about this? Ah, how do you guys feel about that?' And I'll get a yes or a no. I try to tread-

David (overlapping): (sounds like:) You've done it two ways a lot of times (at the same time David is holding up to fingers at Ben)

Ben: Or a lot of times I'll just do it two ways, I'll say 'I'm not sure, let's make sure we leave them the option in the edit. So we, we'll do it two ways. Now, where we're searching for something extra and we're not convinced that we have it- and that's also the directors as well, you know, our directors are very good at keeping an eye on the structure and on the intent of the writing so that we're delivering what it is they intended. It's very seldom where we will attempt to go against the writing. Often when actors start to change lines and directors start maneuvering on the set to do that, they're doing it to subvert the writing, and we, I would say we never do that.

Question 8: David, with all of these last-minute changes, how do you keep control of the story?

David: What we got is- what Ben is saying is exactly right. We've said this a lot in the beginning and then everyone got it: You can change the words, don't change the intent. The intent of the scene is 'I'm upset with you.' If these lines aren't right and you got something that's compelling and the actors and director work it out, we're very good with that little bit of improv... but if you change the scene from 'I'm upset with you' to 'I don't think I wanna have dinner with you', then the whole script can fall apart, so nobody changes the intent, we get great work. I mean, that's why the show feels... it feels fun, I think, that what I always get, it feels fun and it a little bit feels spontaneous, because it is fun and it is spontanuous.

Question 9: This show is different from the usual sci-fi type show, tell us a little bit about that.

David: People go to the bathroom on our show, people, people have problems with each other, people steal from each other... It's real, it's like real life. Ben and I have had some wonderful arguments, but in a weird way you'll see a lot of people sit together, and I speak for both of us, and you'll see them playing chummy and buddy and they'll go 'Yeah, we have our arguments' and you know that they hate each other and these are vicious arguments. Our argmuents are always with humor and fun and they're never really arguments, they're philosophical debates about what the show should be. There's a real, real, genuine - well, he's my best friend of Australia, and one of my best friends here, anywhere...

Qer interjects: I thought the kangaroo was your best friend...

David: Oh, it's the koala, you got it wrong. It's the koala, cause the koala they can cling a little better, the kangaroo they can always get away, you know. They can get away (Ben interjects something intellegible) The bird's rough, yeah, yeah, you know, you get abrasions (both grin widely and chuckle).

Question 10: Ben, how do you feel about Crichton's character?

Ben: I think that there's a sort of difficulty there. It actually started in the audition process... I came into the room and I went 'here's a guy who just got catapulted across the other end of the Universe and he's confronted with this' and my first reaction was 'WOAHOH MAN (waves hands about)!!' you know, which I reckon is real. It's a real response to the Universe, and so when I'm tracking the character I'm- I track him in terms of season 2 is affected by season 1 as is: the opening sequences are all affected by his life previous to that. He doesn't come out full-stamp hero.

So he's not- he's a hero in an unusual sense for a Science Fiction series in that he is not as capable, he's not a Captain, he's not military, and I think, you know, there was a kind of disconnect when I first showed up in- not in the room with David, cause David got it. David and I think the same way about it, but with other people who don't- who didn't have this particular flavor of the show.

And when some audiences first went to it, they went 'Ben Browder didn't look like he knows what he's doing', and it's precisely John Crichton doesn't know what he's doing. And that element of surprise is to me, is real, and so how he acts in season 2 is affected by all the experiences. As much as he has been beaten, shot at, faced death, he's faced so many things that, you know, and we're still in a Scifi-Fantasy context, that he's faced things you and I don't face every day, and he's changed. And that change to me has to be realistic - you know they incorporated it, it's in the scripts, it's all there it's all there for the taking.

Question 11: So, what's it like working with puppets?

Ben: What starts as an archetype - which is by design, Rock designed archetype characters - rather quickly starts to spread off into something else, and it's ah- you know, I mean, in as much as I know the character, what I know is that I try to keep him... real to the situation, you know.

I mean if you're dealing- it's like you're dealing with a puppet. You got 6 guys laying on the floor and the CGI element is- there not a lot of real (makes "quotation marks" with his fingers) around, but you when you create the character, and you put him in a situation, if he doesn't respond in a real way then Rygel does become just a puppet and Pilot does just become a puppet.

And people are in tears in episode 7, The Way We Weren't, which is a beautiful episode, and one of the two pillars of that episode is Pilot who is a puppet. And when audiences make that leap, the way they make a leap to accept CGI ships. You know, you can tell if you look really close that it's not real. They accept the characters as real, and if you do that on the floor and do your most to make them real then the dramatic context works.

So, when approaching it, we have these incredible, whacked-out concepts and fantasies - it's come out of this brain over here most of the time (points to David next to him) - or from one of the other writers, Justin Monjo, Ricky Manning who are equally insane, but when we approach it, it's yeah, ok, we just take it on and run witht the reality of it.

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