Season Four of Farscape was somewhat hectic for Wayne Pygram. He talks to Joe Nazzaro about the series' last days and life after Farscape.

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It’s not easy to create a master plan for the universe if you can't plan ahead. According to Pygram, it was often difficult to play Scorpius with a long-term character arc in Season Four when scripts were literally arriving the night before shooting.

"That was difficult, because we never knew what was ahead. I couldn't even begin to play some scenes, or some hints as to where I was going. Season Four was literally chaos. You got your pages the night before if you were lucky, so you couldn't even begin to plant the notion of a ruse or the seeds of these schemings because I 'didn't actually know where we were headed, so I found that very frustrating.

"I was also very dissatisfied with the flowers at the end. I didn't buy that way of tidying Season Four up around those flowers after spending 3.5 seasons talking about wormholes. When we got to the flower thing, it came so late and I thought it was clumsy. These are the little frustrations I suffered because I didn't know where I was headed. I have a sneaking suspicion that, in Season Five, Scorpius would have ended up more like the guy he was in Season One, but now we'll never know."

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With the unexpected end of Farscape, many fans were left wondering what happened to some of their favourite characters. Scorpius and Sikozu for example, are last seen in a passionate if somewhat ambiguous position, but no suggestion of what happens next. "I don't think we'll ever find out," insists Pygram. "I know that we were headed somewhere, but by bringing Scorpius aboard Moya posed some problems about what he is and who he serves.

"Somebody asked me at a convention recently about that final image with Sikozu on my knee. He said, 'Look, did you kill her with that thing around her neck?' and when I watched it, that's what I got, that I'd actually killed her. What we were playing was erotic asphyxiation or something around that, but in the final cut, it came across so beautifully and so cold

that as a viewer, I thought, 'Oh, I've actually killed her; that's fantastic!' I'll be happy for people to think that, because that's Scorpius: come here and sit on my knee; you're my girl -boom! I think we'd lost a bit of that coldness and his ability to surprise, so when that guy asked me that question, I thought, ‘Fantastic! If that's the last time we see him, that's him'."

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When most television shows wrap, the cast and crew generally split up very quickly, and to some extent, that's true of Farscape.

"The truth is that we're scattered right now," says Pygram, "but I'm still very close to the Browders and the Elseys. I speak to Ben every week, and we're very close and always will be. I have a lot of respect for Ben; was on the back of his commitment and energy and intelligence that we got to Season Four. Not every episode was great, but he'd do everything in his power I to make sure that we did the best possible work we I could. So he's an inspiration to me, and a good buddy.

"I also have a band with Anthony Simcoe, and although I haven't really spent any time with him since Christmas, I recently saw him at a convention in London, and we're booked to rehearse in the next fortnight, so I'm looking forward to that. I see Lani [Tupu] as well who's a mate. I bumped into Virginia Hey here in town and we're doing a convention together, so it's inevitable that we're going to see each other as the years go by."

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TVZ51Scorpy01.jpg (30553 bytes)What does the nastiest villain in the universe do when his schemes unexpectedly come to an end? Well, if you're Wayne Pygram, better known as Farscape's cadaverous, black-garbed baddie Scorpius, perhaps several weeks in Hollywood are in order. When the series was abruptly cancelled at the end of Season Four, Pygram packed his bags for LA, where job opportunities didn't necessarily involve several hours of prosthetic make-up.

"It's an acquired taste," chuckles the actor, enjoying a final pool-side chat before his upcoming return to Sydney. "I would wear prosthetics again, particularly if it was an ageing make-up or something like that, but I don't want to be known the 'Sci-Fi guy who always wears make-ups'. I just can't afford to do that. Not that anyone has offered me anything else in the genre, but I don't want to be known just as the guy who wears rubber heads. I really need to break out of what I've done for the last four years. It's been great and fantastic and it's brought me here and opened up a lot of doors for me, but what I've also discovered is they need to know my work without that make-up on."

Although Pygram's first foray into the Hollywood acting arena is fast coming to an end, it hasn't been without some success. "I've got good management," he reports, "which also happens to be Ben Browder's management. I also have a really good agent, which took a bit of work. It was like a three-month project to get them on board, but they're very supportive and love what I do. They're a very good agency. Outside of that, I've been for three jobs since I've been here and a call-back on one of them. That's not on the back of Farscape by any means; in fact, some people don't even know what Farscape was. It's on the back of people who have taken me on, but basically it's been a great invitation to this town, to get people interested in looking after me and managing my future.

TVZ51Scorpy02.jpg (30272 bytes)"As time goes by, I'm sure I'll meet people in this industry who are avid Farscape fans, and know my work on the show intimately, but as I say, I've only been for three jobs and haven't met anyone yet who actually knows the show. That came as a bit of a shock to me, because Farscape has been successful critically, and did well for the Sci-Fi Channel, but it's very much a boutique niche show. We were always told that we were the highest-rated show on the Sci-Fi Channel, but that's in a certain realm, in a certain box. It's not mainstream. I think I've got a better perspective on things since I've been here."

That need for perspective was largely due to the way Farscape had ended without much in the way of resolution. "We were all contracted to do one more season and finish it in the way writers and producers had intended from Day One, so there's a certain level of frustration. We couldn't finish the story as it was intended after being promised a fifth season, and no time to prepare for the end, because the curtain dropped on the very last day of shooting. 

"All of a sudden, some people's visas were running out, so they were packing up and going home never to be seen again. It was dividing the family, because the majority of the crew had been on Farscape for the long haul. Some of them had been together for four seasons, and there was no grieving for the break-up of the family.

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I do hope for the day when we can finish the story, but I know full well that the chances of that happening are very slim. It's quite likely never going to happen. And I need to work; that's why I'm going home earlier than I had intended. I need to work and put it behind me. I need to work with a new bunch of people and go on to somebody else's set and put on some new shoes."

As any actor will tell you, losing a character often involves the same kind of grieving process that it would for a real flesh and blood person. Hard to believe that anyone would mourn the loss of Scorpius, but it's a loss that Pygram definitely felt. "For the first weeks after we finished and for along time after that, I found the thought of not putting my costume and mask on was very upsetting, because there was no time to prepare for the end. It's like being kidnapped or someone passing away in a car accident or something. There's no time, and it feels like everything is out of your control, so it was very upsetting. But I'm through it. I finally watched the last episode a couple of weeks ago, and there's finally a distance from it, because until recently, I wasn't able to watch Farscape without getting a little bit upset. 

TVZ51Scorpy13.jpg (26323 bytes)"Part of the reason for that is the end came so cold and unexpectedly. On my last day, which was the scene with the bunny suits, I knew that something was happening because there was an ill wind blowing. I said to Colin [Ware] and Dave [Elsey, Pygram's make-up artist], 'Remember today, this could be the very last time spent to do this make-up!' They just laughed and said, 'That's ridiculous!' Three days later, I got the call. 

"And the way things happened, I walked away without anything, like my helmets. When we finished work, my helmets would last six to eight weeks and were then thrown in the bin. I have one helmet only because in the last weeks, somehow one was kept and I got it. It would've been nice to have a few bits and pieces from my time on the show but I really have nothing. I was promised my boots, and I went to get them and the wardrobe department said, 'We can't give them to you'. Our security literally tripled overnight and people from Hensons were walking around putting numbers on everything: bits of set, costume and itemizing everything. So it was very upsetting for people, these things that were yours, that you had on your physical body for a long time were physically removed from you and you couldn't touch them."

TVZ51Scorpy08.jpg (19644 bytes)There was a much more challenging physical problem that Pygram had to deal with during the production of Farscape, now thankfully resolved. The actor had been dealing with a mysterious ailment for many years, which was ultimately diagnosed as a series of food allergies that could be treated with a change of diet. "I'm much better," he happily announces. "1 used to have these leather trousers that I used to wear to conventions but I can't wear them anymore because they don't fit. It's been just over 12 months now, so that's been a big breakthrough. When I brought my show reel to my managers, they said, 'We can't show this to anyone!' because I looked so gaunt and skinny and sick. "What I discovered after being diagnosed was that casting agents were having conversations with my agents in Sydney like, 'We love Wayne, we'd like to use him, but he's just too skinny!' I was starting to get paranoid and thinking, 'It's the make-up!' because by January of last year I got very sick and was skinny as a rake. I actually thought I had the big 'C' and was on the way out, but it seems I'm going to be around a bit longer."

TVZ51Scorpy09.jpg (21480 bytes)Although Pygram's time on Farscape didn't go on as long as he'd hoped, the experience has still left him with a number of valuable lessons that he'll take with him onto future projects. Availability to the performers is also very important to me," he notes. "Coming to Farscape could be quite intimidating for some people, so the joy of being generous and available to the other actor was essential because it made you better without trying to be better. And also 'enjoy' is the big message, because it might be your last one. Every day is precious, particularly as a performer in Australia, because opportunities like Farscape are very rare indeed. A few people couldn't wait until we finished, but they can now see what they had, but it's a bit late now, but I could see what I had.

"So I think the message for every performer is if you accept the job, your responsibility is to enjoy. I'm through the grieving stage. I know full well that it's not going to be resurrected. At the end of the day, our ratings just didn't go up, and that's the truth. I think the Sci-Fi Channel had expectations about the show growing and it didn't. That's probably not the sole reason, but it did stop, so it's as simple as that. But I would also say that we are the litmus test for the future of SF television. We raised the bar, so I'll always be very proud of it."

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