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Starfury 2003: Wayne Pygram Interview
Conducted on 30th March 2003

At Starfury: Ascendant 2003 in London, UK on the 30th March, Dani and Angie had the wonderful opportunity to sit down and interview Wayne Pygram. While we were limited in time (obviously, since he had to go on stage after we spoke with him), we had far longer than we expected, and tried to cover as much as possible. Want to find out what Wayne thought of season 4, and much, much more? Read on...

FSW: OK, what did you think about the end of season 4? Personally, I had a few problems with it, especially the flowers. I didn't really buy that.

Wayne: Well I didn't buy it. It came out of a conversation about how I wanted to put something to bed, literally, and what was a nice moment. And it would have a nice relationship to the episode that we've seen [referring to the final shot of caressing the flower in "Incubator", Wayne had said the previous day he'd wanted to do a brief scene to crush one, or something, for closure]. I never had any thoughts or any intentions that it would grow, pardon the pun, into being what it became. I will buy the connection to the Scarrans and the flowers, but I didn't think it had the weight to sling the whole end of the season on it. I thought it was confusing, and to me, it diminished what we'd already set up.

FSW: Yeah, it just sort of changed directions.

Wayne: Yeah, it came from nowhere. I didn't buy it, so I had problems with it as well, so I fully understand that the audience would. It's a shame, because that's it. I think the last ep ["Bad Timing"] was pretty good, but I had major problems with it. And people fought against it. But anyway, we have to live with it now.

FSW: You got to work with Raelee Hill (Sikozu) a lot at the end of the season. What was that like?

Wayne: Raelee's great, we had lots of fun, and I'd have said it was going somewhere in the future.

FSW: What was it like playing that whole new relationship? Obviously Scorpius had Natira in the past, and that relationship was almost completely sexual whereas Sikozu actually cares.

Wayne: Well, she literally rebuilt his coolant rod. I'm sure what they had in mind was a bit of a partnership going into season 5. I know Raelee was really looking forward to that; I know we were both feeling a bit lost on Moya, thinking "What are they gonna do with us?" I know we were going to, well we did, we got off Moya, and I'm pretty sure we would've become partners to some degree. More like, I think, scientific partners, with an edge. But I think Raelee was looking forward to that, something really definitive to work on, to focus on. I think her character was beginning to get really successful, and she was getting really comfortable within her character. And you could see where she was in the mix of Farscape.

FSW: Can I ask about the scene in "Kansas" where Scorpius is reunited with Braca and kisses him. Was that scripted, or was it something you came up with on the day?

Wayne: That was Rowan Woods. Rowan was the director, telling us to play with it and jam it up. So I jammed it up. It wasn't on the page, but how do you say "Thank you," how do you say "Well done?" What's the most interesting way to say "well done?" So yeah, it was something that worked on the day. We tried licking, we tried all sorts of things, but we didn't want to make it sexual. You know, the kiss, is on the lips, is it on the cheek? It's a delicate thing because everything means something. So that's what we went with, and I think it was the right choice. And he was taken by surprise, you could see Braca was surprised, and it's a big nice moment, a "Scorpy moment" as Rowan would term them.

FSW: How did you actually get into acting, and what made you choose acting as a career?

Wayne: I fell in to acting, "it found me" is the short answer. I've had a varied career, I did nothing but theatre for nearly fifteen years. Then finally started to get bits and pieces in front of the camera, And I did a series called Fire. I think it played out here. And that was my first time where I really got my stripes. I hadn't trained. There's nowhere to really train for camerawork in Australia. There's some teachers you can go to, but whether they're equipped or not to teach you anything you don't know... So I earned my stripes by going to work everyday on this series called Fire, and it went for two seasons. It had a similar sort of journey to Farscape in that we were going on to season three, and on the Monday we're called into the office on the last week of shooting season two, and given thirteen episodes for season three. And the next week the network, Channel 7, was bought, and it was axed because the new head of drama came in with a new bunch of shows, so on the Friday we're giving the scripts back. Not dissimilar to Farscape's end.

FSW: Which brings us to how you felt about Farscape's cancellation.

Wayne: It was like they were chopping your legs off. It came as a shock, we had no time to prepare. Because when you know the end is coming, had we done season five, we would've known this is the end. We would've enjoyed every day. We would've been able to say goodbye to it in the right way, and goodbye to each other. It was like having a limb chopped off. It was pretty shocking, and it took some time to get over. And I'm still getting over it. Well, not getting over it but I haven't worked, I've been in LA looking for work, and I'm looking forward to going home because I know I'll get some work. I need to move on. I need to put someone else's shoes on and go to work, because it's still there. Here I am today, talking about it. It's still the main part of my professional life, and I need to move on. And I'm looking forward to moving on. This will always be a part of my life, but it's been on air in America, it finished two Fridays ago. I haven't watched them all but I've watched a couple, and it's still there. So I'm actually looking forward to moving forward. And that's been put on hold because of my move to LA. Because I haven't worked. I was offered some work back in Australia and I said no, I decided to go and do this.

FSW: What do you think of the UK?

Wayne: Ah, look, I've just had three months in America. I haven't had a lot of time here. I shot a film here in '87, a tele-movie, The First Kangaroos, it was Channel 4 co-produced. And I got back last year to do the convention down the road [An Audience with Wayne Pygram and Claudia Black in December 2002]. I'd always thought I'd get back but I hadn't had the opportunity to get back. I really love England and London; I'd love to live here. And I say to people that coming into the town on Thursday, I booked into the hotel and went straight in to town, and I was walking through Hyde Park, the weather's beautiful at the moment, and it was like I could breathe for the first time. Not literally, but I could breathe for the first time just getting out of Los Angeles, and there's people on the streets, and it's much more like home in lots of ways. And even career-wise, I feel much more comfortable here.

FSW: Have you ever considered maybe coming here for work?

Wayne: Well I've thought about it, but there is less work here, that's the honest truth, there is less work here. My management in LA have connections here, like a co-deal here, and I was offered the chance to meet people and I said no, I haven't got the time. But next time I come back I'll take up that option and go and meet people, because look at me, I'm Celtic, it's obvious I'd probably stand as good a chance to get a job here as I would in LA. And I do, I just feel comfortable here. So yeah, I was just walking around on Thursday and Friday, through the park, but it was like I could breathe for the first time in months! So yeah, I actually have a little fondness for the place.

FSW: What are your overall thoughts on the whole story arc, playing Scorpius right from season one?

Wayne: Well it was made up as we went, it was one of those things. We don't know where we're going, and it could get us into a bit of trouble and I think we did, i.e. "flowers." {We all chuckle} Generally, I was very satisfied. It was a great journey. Harvey was a great invention. But we'll never know. I mean, his story's not finished, as the whole thing is unfinished. With John and Aeryn's journey, there is a sense of completion there, but with Scorpy, you just imagine him being this guy just out there, roaming, always lost and hungry. It will always be an unfinished story. Generally I was quite happy and content with the way it ended up in that sense. But there were problems coming onboard Moya, inherent problems. We didn't really know what to do with him once you get him onboard. So there was moments that were unsatisfying in season four, and I can understand, I mean what do you do with a character that you write for four episodes and he goes four years? You are inventing it as you go. There were little things like, I was always looking for what I call surprise, how can I surprise? Because it wasn't on the page for me a lot of the times. And you run out of steam, too. There're only so many tricks you can pull out of the bag, and I think to a degree I'd run out of tricks. So I was looking back at eps, I'd look back and I could see that we needed something solid to move forward. They had to give me something solid, and we hadn't found it. Like I was continually inventing stuff that wasn't on the page, to satisfy myself and to keep it interesting. That gets boring after a while, and you do, you run out of steam. So, you know, that moment with Raelee, Sikozu on my knee [in the fourth season finale, "Bad Timing"], I love it. That left that feeling of, "he just killed her."

FSW: With the makeup, you have to wear teeth, obviously. How is that to cope with, especially since the accent is very pronounced?

Wayne: I've got a reasonably lazy mouth, as a lot of Australians do. It takes a lot of articulation to get over, with the sibilance, and there is a little bit of sibilance with Scorpy, too, which becomes a character thing, which I quite like. I used to do all my ADR with my teeth in when I started, just so I could get it. Through season two I stopped doing that. But it's interesting - a lot of stuff is kept from the day, and if you're really listening in, you can hear the difference. And it's two things, one is that the teeth will have an impact, and the other is the actual prosthetic mask will affect the resonance of your face, and affect the pitch. But you just have to work extra hard, and my teeth were rebuilt maybe every eight weeks or so, I'd go through a set of teeth maybe three sets in a season, because the shape of your mouth and teeth are forever changing, so the mould they made in January would be a different mould in June. We'd keep a lot of my teeth if I had them, I used to break them, they're quite fragile they'd get a crack and then eventually one day they're gone. We made the call on the set of teeth that were made the year before, and they'd just bite into your gums, they were really uncomfortable, and almost impossible to work with. I never knew that the shape of your mouth is forever changing. So a great deal of work, and adults can put braces on and you always think that braces are for kids. But no, any age can put braces on and they'll have an impact on the shape of your teeth. But we just had to work them.

FSW: Can you tell us a little bit about the band (Number 96, of which Anthony Simcoe is also a member)?

Wayne: The band? Well, I play in another band as well as Anth's band. Well, we were working and Anthony had a band together like before he did Farscape, so five years ago and that didn't work out. We started Farscape; had no time for any music. And we were literally just kicking around at work one day and said "look, we should just get together and go down the sound level where we rehearse and y'know, plug in and have a little bit of fun." So we did that, and I met Steve, the guitar player, who did work with the band on the new songs, and we started with a bunch of songs that Anth had in his previous band, which I think he had a publishing contract and a recording deal and everything with, and he just said we should carry on because we'd been doing Farscape for some time, and as you go further down the track it's not as demanding with the time, so we had some time on the weekends. When it started, it was overwhelming; in the free time you've got you're studying up for the next week's work. So it just grew from there. We started with a bass player who wasn't a great bass player, and we all persisted because we hadn't done a show at that stage, and it was that pressure of anything coming up - we got offered to do a show in Burbank, with Creation, and all of a sudden it was like "oh, we're doing a show, with people, and they're going to pay us." Prior to that we'd organised a fundraiser out of Homebush Bay, where we record Farscape, and put bands on, because the crew were playing bands and everything, so we're on the list of bands to play. We did the show and it was fun, it was great, but it was obvious that the guy on bass was just not going to get there and we ran out of patience. So we decided we had to do something about this. And we'd tried for a long time to find a bass player, and Chris was the only guy that turned up. I mean, it was really difficult to find someone, a really great guy, but it was obvious we couldn't persist with him because it just wasn't working and it was beginning to get frustrating. So we let him go. And then, within a day, we found someone who was great - a nice guy and who could play. So we did Burbank, and that was really successful. We made the CD, which was the demo, and was made in two weeks; it was like breaking Jerry in, the new bass player, and recording in two weeks, and we did a really good job I think. We made 500, and we told the fans and everyone that was all that would be made, it's a limited edition, and we basically sold them all. It was very encouraging. We're not guaranteed, we haven't been booked, but I know they want us to go back and do Burbank and New York in November, through Creation. So we just have to knock that out. I go back to Sydney in two weeks, because I've been away. I've been living in L.A. for the last three months. Go back and we're both looking forward to going back to work. Anthony and Steven have been working on new songs, so there's half a dozen new songs. When we did Burbank we played for about an hour and fifteen minutes, so we'll have an hour and forty-five, which is really what you need to do a gig on your own, in a pub or a club or something. So we're going to go home and rehearse I think, for no more than two or three weeks, and then we go looking for some work and get out there. We've got a lot of what I'd call fine tuning to do. Harmonies, elements of the arrangements, and production, which we just haven't had the time to do. So we go back, and I haven't got a job at the moment, so I'll have plenty of time to actually focus on the band and get it up properly.

FSW: Sounds good.

Wayne: Well it does work, and we're all of an age where we haven't got any notions of having a big rock and roll career or anything, we just want to have fun, and they're original songs, which is satisfying, working on original songs.

FSW: Did you do any song writing yourself?

Wayne: Sort of. I have another band, and I have a song with that band, and I sing some songs. But I contribute in my way. I don't play any tuned instruments so I'm limited, but I have written songs in the past with other people, whether it's the guitar player or whoever I'm working with. But with my other band I have a song that I sing from behind the drumkit, and it's a jazz/blues/rock fusion sort of band, made up of guys who I used to play with when I was like 17, 18, when I first started. They're a bit older than me and we fell into it in a similar way. The bass player and I were walking along Bondi one day. "What are you doing?" "Not much," and we went and had a play, because I stopped playing for fifteen years, so I gave it all away, and only in the last five or six years I've slowly come back to it, and I'll never stop. But we've gone back and finished a song that they were writing in the seventies. It's already complete, it's finished, so that's been fun too. So I'll be going back to that too. They're looking forward to me coming back, and we've recorded with that band, we've got six or seven songs. When I go back home they should have that all mixed and ready to go, fingers crossed.

FSW: Excellent. Thank you very much for your time.

First, thank you to Wayne Pygram for being amazingly forthcoming with answers, and generally really making us feel comfortable. He was really, really nice. We'd also like to extend a huge, huge thanks to MissyKat, who runs Wayne Pygram's Official Website, for making this all possible. She organised it all, and told Wayne about us, so we owe her for this. Also, big thanks to Sean Harry, who runs Starfury Conventions, and was kind enough to be very accommodating and give us a nice amount of time, alone, no less.

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