Rockne S. O'Bannon is the
creator of Farscape and when he first came on the stage, he had a piece of red tape
across his mouth so he wouldn't inadvertantly spill any news about Farscape returning.
He gave enough hints, though, like telling us he really should be at home writing hour
three and that there was a huge conference call coming up the next day with about 25
people. "Hang in there," he told us.
Rockne gave us a brief history of Farscape, which had
started about 10 years ago in the mind of Brian Henson, who wanted to do a ship-show
that would showcase The Jim Henson Company's talents but was a little darker than
Muppets. They pitched the show to FOX network, who liked it a lot but didn't want to
commit to more than a pilot. Since that was financially impossible, they began looking
around for a home for the show. After crunching some numbers they decided that they
needed to make at least eleven episodes.
At that point, David Kemper came in and they began
designing characters, particularly Pilot, who looks essentially the same now as he did
in the beginning. Zhaan began life as a male character, a sort of a Buddha-like
character. (Check out Karlsweb's
Behind the Scenes pages for more info.)
At that time, Rod Perth was running the SciFi Channel
and he was looking for something that would serve as a flagship show for them, so he
ordered a full season. Originally, Moya was supposed to be full of prisoners, a bit
like Star Trek, but that wasn't done because of the expense and at that point the
original group was decided on.
Rockne came clean in front of the audience and
admitted an addiction. An addiction to ChapStick! He asked if anyone else in the
audience had the same addiction - it looked to me like about half of us do. Anyway,
the point of that story was that in the original pilot script, when John and Aeryn
were escaping from Moya, they went down to a commerce planet and into a shop. Crichton
started bartering with the alien behind the counter and began offering various items
for trade - an IASA watch among other things. Everything was scoffed at until he
pulled out his ChapStick, which was immediately grabbed by the vendor, causing
Crichton to say, "85,000,000,000,000 miles from home! How am I gonna get another
Another thing that Rockne hoped to get into the first
script but that was again too expensive, was after Crichton and Aeryn got out of the
cell on Moya and were looking around the ship trying to find a way to escape, they
begin opening doors. Crichton pulls open a door and inside are two mechanical beings.
There's soft lighting and the two of them are working on a teeny version of
themselves. Crichton asks Aeryn what they're doing and she tells him that they're
making a little one like them. Crichton backs out the door and says to them, "I'm
sorry! Go back to screwing!"
Casting was the next step in the process. They looked
in Australia for all the roles and also in the US for all the roles. Because the show
was going to be an Australian co-production, a large number of the roles were going to
be cast from there. Rockne said that looking back, it's a "Thank God" type
of thing, but at the time they were uncertain. For Crichton, they brought in two
people to the President of SciFi so they could pretend to give them a choice. SciFi
said they wanted to see 50 more. Rockne and Kemper went down to the coffee shop and
talked it over and decided that they'd go back and fight for Ben Browder for the role.
We all know how that turned out. Looks like another "Thank God" type of
thing to me!
Once Ben was on board they began looking for an
Aeryn. They saw Claudia on tape and liked her so they flew Ben down to Australia to
audition with her. Before they even saw the tape, Ben called and said that she was the
Shortly after SciFi bought Farscape, Rod Perth left
and Steven Chao took over. He didn't really know what he was buying, but he kept
saying to make it darker, make it strange, which was exactly what Rockne, David and
Brian wanted to hear, and the rest is history!