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Feature: Farscape

Man About Space

Ben Browder as John Crichton

In three years, the far flung reaches of Space have never felt so much like home for John Crichton.

Sydney is the modern Australian town rising up from a natural harbour, famous for its Opera House and Harbour Bridge and, for the last four years, home of Farscape. For American actor and star of the series Ben Browder, it’s meant four years away from home. While some actors might have been living out of a suitcase and jetting back to the States during breaks, Ben made the decision to base himself in Sydney. “Like I would commute from Los Angeles!” he quips. He and his immediate family live for 10 months of the year in a house about half an hour’s drive from the studios. “Life is where you are,” he explains. “I go back to the States for a period of time [in breaks between seasons], catch up with my brothers, my mum, nephews, uncles and aunts and all that jazz. But Sydney’s just a fantastic city, a beautiful place. I love living here. Having said that, they will be kicking me out as soon as we wrap shooting. The Australian government will be getting rid of the Yank!”

During Farscape’s four seasons, the story of John Crichton has grown from that of a Human astronaut trying to survive in an alien landscape, into something much grander. He has faced battles running the gamut of love, death, sanity and the fate of the galaxy. “The man has been going through the mill from the very beginning,” says Ben. “If you think about it realistically, if you end up on a spaceship full of escaping prisoners, where’s it going to go? It doesn’t inherently go to some warm happy place. The thing about creating a Science Fiction universe is you’re inherently in a fantasy and the more you can ground that fantasy in reality, the better it is. It makes it more real for the audience, it puts the hooks in deeper and it’s more interesting to play as an actor.”

What could have been more real than the death of John Crichton? During Season Three, executive producer David Kemper and his writing team cloned their lead character, putting one version of Crichton in a position where he would make the supreme sacrifice. He died to stop the Skarrans acquiring wormhole technology and gaining a weapon with which to conquer the galaxy. It meant one Crichton was still alive to pick up the pieces and Ben was never in danger of losing his job. “Isn’t it fantastic? It’s a great conceit that Kemper came up with to actually be able to play out the death of John Crichton. The beautiful thing about Science Fiction is you get to play all the scenes you’re told in drama school ‘Well you probably won’t get to do this’. To actually put down the death scene, have it mean something, then come back next week!

“The audience reaction to it was amazing. They were devastated by the death of this guy. In fact, they didn’t like the guy that was left for a while and some of them still don’t! They like the guy who had the relationship with Aeryn. It creates such a tortured relationship between Aeryn and Crichton, trying to put the pieces of Humpty Dumpty back together again.”

by Jane Killick

There's more from Ben Browder, an interview with Aeryn Sun (aka Claudia Black) and much more about what's coming up in:
TV Zone Special #47

© Jim Henson Productions
Feature © Visual Imagination 2002. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone Special #47
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