|Anthony Simcoe - SciFi Stream Interview|
Conducted on May 2001
From: SciFi Stream
This is a transcript of both parts of the streaming video interview with Anthony Simcoe (D'Argo) on SciFi.com's SciFi Stream. It gives a great insight into Anthony, and is worth watching of only to see the hilarious battle between the doll and the can at the end!
The transcript was written was written by Dani Moure and should not be reproduced without permission.
What was interesting was I'd been auditioning for what was then called Space Chase, which became Farscape. For months and months and months I didn't realise I'd be wearing all these prosthetics, and it was only at the second-last audition I think Rockne O'Bannon flew down to Australia to show us some sketches of the characters and it was like "Whoa! Okay... I'm gonna be looking like that!" That's not what I wanted to, uh, do with the rest of my life. And then just looking at it, and then finding out that the Jim Henson Company were going to be doing it, I got really psyched about it, and, just fantastic because a career is a long time; I've been in this game a long time and it's just great to have this period in my life where I'm looking like this amazing creature. So I'm absolutely psyched to wear the make-up. Now that I am at work and looking at all these people around me, I'm thinking "Man, I'd rather be D'Argo than anyone else," 'cause it just looks cool and it's fun to put on the voice, and the physicality and so I just, no I absolutely love wearing the make-up.
It used to take four hours initially, and the gradually over time we refined the make-up process, and now we're down to about an hour and a half, which is really fast. And, it's brilliant when it's only an hour and a half, so now I can get up after five in the morning, which is fantastic! So yeah, an hour and a half for make-up, and then I put on the rest of the costume and that part of my head on, on set, so not very long at all. What takes the longest? The painting. Initially these two pieces get glued down and they're partially pre-painted, but then they have to do a lot of air brushing and painting in the morning to get the edges and blends looking right.
It's like working in theatre, there's an amazing amount of technical control that you need to be able to get emotion through the mask and be able to make the character read as anything but wooden, which was the problem that we had when the show first started; the make-up was so locked down I couldn't move at all, so it meant that the performance really couldn't get through because I was physically restrained. But now that the design is better and I'm more able to move freely that it's much easier to perform it. So I really enjoy working in the prosthetics, especially in this part of my life, I think "Wow, I'd much rather be an alien here on Farscape, than a Sebacean or a human looking character," because I'll look back on this time and go "Wow! That rocks!" [Laughs]
Except the heat – the heat kills me. The problem with shooting Farscape is that we shoot it in the Australian summer cycle. We would love to shoot it in the winter cycle but the release dates in America don't allow it. So we're in absolutely the upper forties, which in American speak is like 110 or something like that! [Laughs] And so I'm wearing all this rubber and everything, and I'm sweating like a madman. In fact, during season 2 I got taken to hospital with a heat attack that happened; blood sugar levels and during episode nine of season 2 ["Out of Their Minds"] I collapsed and ambulances came in and rushed me off to hospital and things like that! So because of the heat, I can't have any of my costume on during takes. So we have this term on set that is just normal to us which is called "D'Argo-ing up" and "D'Argo-ing down," so we'll rehearse the scene, I'll be in boxer shorts and my make-up just to try and stay cool, which doesn't really work, but anyway it's a very funny sight to see this tall skinny white boy [laughs] in boxers; half Luxan and half Simcoe, and then when everyone's set that the, you know, everyone's happy that the shot is set, they'll say "D'Argo up!" and there's the echo through the studio; "D'Argo-ing up!", "D'Argo-ing up!", "D'Argo-ing up!", "D'Argo-ing up!" and then people flock on me; take me away and that's when we'll put the back of my head on, put my costume on. We'll go in, do the take, when everyone's happy, "yep," "yep," "yep," then "D'Argo down!" Bang! Swarm of people come on, take my head off, take my costume off down to the boxers and there we are again. I think it's a bit confronting for people walking onto the sets to see me, not only as D'Argo, but also in boxer shorts. So dealing with stuff like that isn't fun, and there's a point in every single day where I just get to the point where I say "I can't do it anymore, I can't make it," but the cast and the crew get me through – it's such a funny, fun-loving set, that someone will crack a joke [clicks his finger] and I'm through that wall of pain and going onto the next scene.
Yeah, the whole cast are really great friends, which is fantastic because this show consumes so much of our time, that it's been really wonderful to land inside a cast where all the people are just so gorgeous and beautiful, and Ben really immersed himself in Sydney culture so quickly that it was wonderful. Yeah, I love Ben, and he loves to surf, and he loves the environment here and he loves the school that his kids are going to, and so it's great to see him arrive here with such a positive energy towards Australia and towards Sydney because often the experience is that things are always bigger and better somewhere else [laughs], and so it's great to see him come here and say "Wow! It's a great town, great city, great people." And we felt the same way when we went to L.A. and New York for the convention, I was just revelling in how wonderful these towns were, and how friendly all the people were, and the 'Scapers were just so fantastic to me, so it's a really close-knit family that we've got going on here.
(Long clip of Crichton preparing to rescue D'Argo, talking with Pilot and Jothee, from "Suns and Lovers")
Well my take on Benny is that he's just a great captain. Everyone on set needs a captain, you know, and part of being a good captain is being responsible, keeping things moving, keeping everyone's spirits up, and Ben's just fantastic at caring about the show. Ben is the absolute driving force behind "Let's make this show great," and every single day he's in there with ideas, and with enthusiasm, and with leadership. And so Ben, he's just a fantastic leader, fantastic captain, that's my take on Ben. I love working with Ben, he's usually the first to come and shake me when he sees me hitting my wall of pain at three o'clock in the afternoon and getting me through. And he just lives and breathes Farscape, all the time.
(Clip of Aeryn and Crichton in the tunnel talking sex in "Suns and Lovers")
Ah, Claudia's just absolutely hilarious. Claudia's another absolute prankster and jokester on set, and always cracks me up and make's me laugh whenever I'm on set, which is cool. In fact I think Claudia's one of the very first people to really break the ice on set, in terms of bringing a lot of humour down onto the floor, so it's just wonderful. And the best thing about Claudia is she can run, she can punch and she can hold a gun [laughs], which every sci-fi lead needs! [More laughs]
(Clip of Aeryn hitting Jool in "...Different Destinations")
To shoot science fiction television with a ten day turn-around all the time, with the animatronics and all the CGI, you need a really proficient, fast working team of people, and this cast is that; they're all technically proficient, wonderful actors and that means that we are able to get through the day with great speed, and also not sacrificing any of the dramatic moments, which we're all really proud of. That's one of the achievements that you don't really see on screen, the fact that yes, we've created this, but we create it in this much time [makes small gap between hands].
It's been great because I've been doing other projects in between the breaks. I went up and did some "Lost World", and "Beastmaster." Also I've been directing some short films, and doing courses at Uni on the weekend. And all those type of things I think if you just consistently try and improve your skills as a person then that's going to feed into the work. I think the mistake would be to lock into the Farscape universe completely, every second of the day, because that's where you start to dry up. We're all great at searching for stimulus in other areas. We're all mad science fiction fans, and film fans, and buffs, and television fans so it's great to find stimulus from all these other places and literature and each other and friends and as long as you just keep yourself open to it. That's one of the dangers in working in long-term television is that you're just lost to the world. To a certain extent we are, but as much as we can we can try and get out, and be ourselves.
After you get home from work, going to the gym, then getting home, then things on the weekend and learning lines, it really just leaves you with sort of, I feel like the only free time I have is from Saturday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime, and the rest of it's all Farscape time. But it does make that time precious and you find out who your friends are, the people you really miss and really want to hang out with, spend time with. So it's quite precious.
Hobbies? I used to be in a band before I started Farscape, and that's all gone by the wayside, but Wayne Pygram and I were talking the other day and we're thinking about getting back into that, 'cause Wayne's a great drummer, and I write songs, and he loves my songs so, yeah things like that you just don't have time to do anymore. But that's okay because I'm really loving what I'm doing, I'm loving being at work, so it's almost like work is my hobby. I mean it's a science fiction show; I'm running around as an alien with a sword that turns into a laser gun [laughs], that's so Rock 'n Roll! [More laughs] Why would I want to be doing anything else? [Even more laughs] "Umm, do you want to come and do such and such?" "Hmm, but I'm running around in a spaceship with a laser gun. Yeah, I think I'll stay doing this, thanks very much!" Yeah, it's cool!
Within the context of my career I've done everything I've wanted to do with acting, in terms of the type of roles and the type of experiences I've had with either television or film or stage, or in academia. All these types of things have been fulfilling, and I think I've only got one life, and also I'd really love to move into directing, and I think all these skills that I've accumulated over the last twelve years of my professional life and my studies have really led me towards directing, so I'm pretty sure I'll direct some more shorts, and then hopefully a feature within the next year.
One of the great things about working on Farscape is all the high-end technology that we use to prepare for the show. And one of the things that I go through with the director in terms of the blocking and the performance is what we call the 3D simulation. And the 3D simulation involves one D'Argo doll [holds up a D'Argo figure], and one can, representing part of the set of Moya [holds up a can]. And then I and the other actors, and the director act out, with the 3D tools, how the scene will go. [Proceeds to act out a scene with the doll and the can, with hilarious results!] That's the detailed and technical work that we get up to on Farscape!