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Andreas Katsulas
at
Toronto Trek,
July 21, 2001

[Transcribed by Karen Bennett.]

[Andreas comes onstage carrying a cooler. He dumps it upstage, opens the lid, says, "Stay there and shut up," and slams the lid.]

I brought Londo with me. When I chopped off his head I never realized it would keep talking and talking.

I was so pleased when I was doing autographs earlier. Everybody was so—sane. I'm not used to it any more.

I never prepare anything unless it's something a little silly like that [cooler skit]. We just did [the TV-movie] The Rangers [Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers: To Live and Die in Starlight]. Have you heard about that? You want me to say a few words about it?

What's interesting about it is how I got involved with it. I live in Los Angeles. I went out to dinner with my son on a Thursday evening, which is our tradition. I'm sitting in a booth across from my son. He says, "Dad, a couple in the booth behind you keep staring at you and whispering and looking and whispering." I turn around, and who's there but Joe Straczynski and his wife, Kathryn. I really didn't want to get up and say hello, but I did. The next thing I know, Joe comes over to where we were sitting, and he says, "The universe is speaking to me," or something mysterious like that, "and I have to respond," or "trust the universe"—something esoteric like that. He said he'd just gotten word that day that The Rangers was a go; the green light for The Rangers. I didn't know what The Rangers was. He said it was a two-hour TV-movie for the Sci Fi Channel that he'd just written, based on the world of B5, and that nobody in the original cast from the first show was invited in it, but the fact that he met me—he could run into this thing over here [the cooler], and he would have been in it. That's how it happened. He said, "Do you want to be in this?" I said, "Sure, why not? Let me finish my dessert; go away now." I guess he went back to his computer and just ripped some other poor character out of the show and threw me in there. He really wrote G'Kar well for this, I gotta say, because I had said yes without even seeing it. Then when I got the script I said, "Thank God I said yes. It's the best G'Kar yet."

I think the [movie] went very well. I think he's done a really great job in connecting the newness of what he's proposing in this two-hour movie with enough references related to the world it's coming from that fans of the former show will be delighted to see all the references and they'll feel right at home, including seeing G'Kar there. The average age of the new cast is 25 years old. We were an average of 35. Peter [Jurasik] brought up the average, because he's about 90 or something about that. You guys met Peter Jurasik, huh? [At Toronto Trek 1999] I have to say, he's the best. I've got my fingers crossed, but I said it.

[He moves the cooler downstage.] Let me get him a little closer, because occasionally he likes to make a comment. I'm going to do an auction later; that's why I'm—it's not just his head. He had six other similar appendages. So, ladies, if you're interested, see me privately.

What's your room number?

What's yours?

I'll tell you later.

OK. Now it's up to you folks, because I've said everything I've got to say. Fire away.

We had Patricia Tallman [in 2000]. She said something about the interaction between your two characters in the last scene the two of you were together. We just wanted to know what your side of the story was.

What was her side of the story?

Her side of the story was that you reached down and firmly, with your large hand, grabbed her posterior.

"Posterior." That's what she said?

[From another member of the audience] Way to go.

I never grabbed Pat Tallman's ass, but I swear to God she was grabbing mine every five minutes. It's true. And not only that, but whenever I wore the G'Kar chestpiece—the famous chestpiece with all the rippling muscles; give me a break—Peter Jurasik would come over and start doing this [pinching] to my nipples. And not just one; both of them. It hurt. So one day I fixed him. I came out, and he came rushing over, his fingers twitching, and I had put Band-Aids on there. It didn't stop him. [To the cooler] You see where it got you, old friend?

I don't know what she's talking about. The last episode that Patricia and I did—I don't know if I should tell this. It's one of the strangest things that ever happened to me in my life and certainly on the five years of Babylon 5. The director of that episode was Janet Greek, a beautiful woman with long black hair—just a beautiful woman, inside and out. She was directing the show, and Pat and I had a scene in my quarters. Pat had to slowly approach me. There was no touchy-feely or anything; it was just that the move that the director wanted was for Pat to come a little closer. Well, Pat came very close. The director was trying to say, "No, not like that; not that far. Just to here." Then Janet, when she was telling her that, was standing right here next to me. All I remember is that Janet looked up at me and I looked down at her and we started kissing—this is in the middle of 200 people there on the set. I was in full makeup; I was G'Kar. When I'm Andreas she never said hello to me. She didn't even know who the hell I was.

This went on for a minute, two minutes, maybe three. The guys on the set are going, "Whoa." You never heard such a breathy silence in your life. Pat Tallman, I think, was jealous. It was the strangest thing. And please, if you ever see Janet Greek, don't mention it to her, because I'm sure she's embarrassed by it. I'm not. I'm kinda proud, because she's beautiful.

I was wondering if we could look forward to seeing you on television or in the movies in anything other than The Rangers, which I'm sure we're all going to be watching anyway. What else are you doing?

I'm not an actor any more. Nobody's called in a long time, and I haven't been looking in a long time. I've gotten interested in ceramics and pottery and painting, and I love it more than I ever liked acting. Acting's fine, and if anyone calls, sure, I'll do it. But I did so much of it. I did enough of it, and I'm interested in something else now. When I bumped into Joe and something just happened to fall in my lap, I said yes. This is an out-of-work actor saying that he ain't got a job; that's all.

In the first season of B5, did the tone of the show or even the working relationship of the actors affect anything?

I think things are strained in the first season for lots of reasons: it's the first season; everybody's nervous [about] "What's the outcome going to be? What's my character? Am I playing him right?" Everybody was obsessed with seeing the dailies every day to see how they're coming across. So there was tension in the air the first year anyway. We were getting to know each other for the first time, finding that we like each other; that was good. In addition to that, I think the biggest case of the jitters in the whole cast was Michael O'Hare's, because it was his first time to be in such a position of star of the show. It's too bad that he took it that way, because there is no star of the show; it's just that one guy has more words to say. You can't look at it that way, because what does it mean, ""You're a star"? What are you going to do with that? And he didn't know what to do with it. I think psychologically he had difficulty with that or wasn't ready for it. I don't know.

The difference was that Bruce [Boxleitner] walked in, and to Bruce it was nothing. He'd played lead roles on television and in TV-movies. He was very much at home with whatever his responsibility was. As soon as Bruce came in, that tension disappeared. I don't think I've ever talked that way before, and enough years have gone by that I don't mind sharing a little more of a personal thing. People panic, especially when they're executives and they're making million-dollar deals or whatever they're doing. They start worrying if someone's a little jittery. They don't think, "Well, in season 2 he'll smooth out." [O'Hare] might have found something really interesting, but he never got the chance.

My favourite role of yours is the One-Armed Man in The Fugitive [1993]. I wanted to know, what was it like smacking around Indiana Jones—with one arm, no less?

Harrison's one of the best guys I ever worked with. He was so down to earth. It was just what I was trying to explain about Bruce Boxleitner. They're at home with who they are and what they do, and it's no big deal. And Harrison's even on another echelon higher, being in feature movies and having a bigger fan base. He's totally down to earth, so you didn't mind smacking him around.

We had a couple of accidents. In the struggle after he finds me in the apartment and he rips off the prosthetic arm, we fall to the floor. One time I actually fell on his head with my hip. He must have a hard head. Immediately we stopped, but he said, "No, don't worry about it; I'm OK." Then when we were in the L train and we had a fist-fight going, in the rehearsal he went a little too far and he got me right in the nose. So it was an even score in the end.

He's a gem. Some people last a long time. It's not just what they put on the screen; it's their behaviour to all the people around them and how they act as human beings, and Harrison's just the very best in that regard.

Some of the other actors that I've had a chance to ask questions of usually have a favourite scene or a favourite episode where they personally felt that they truly got to shine. Does G'Kar have that kind of episode for you?

Nah.

So basically each one was the same?

It was during Babylon 5 that I started getting in touch with my feelings, and it was through G'Kar. Somewhere around the third year, I started connecting with that character emotionally, so I started to really enjoy when the challenge of some scene—I remember one with Mira that all the time, secretly, her [people] and Kosh's people, the Vorlons, have been in cahoots, and that the war that destroyed Narn could have been avoided. G'Kar tells her, "Do you realize that I could snap your neck right now?" Every time there was a scene where he overcame his weakness or turned his cheek in some inner way—I loved scenes like that. I don't know that they played better than comic scenes or anything else, but for me, this was the next thing I had to work on as an actor. There it was; it presented itself. It had a new flavour, because in my past I had always approximated this emotion or approximated that feeling, but with G'Kar I began to feel it, right there in my G'Kar shoes.

So you feel that G'Kar is the most three-dimensional of the characters that you've been able to play?

I think he was the fullest, but [only] because I had five years to fill it out, five years to get material from Joe that expanded me this way, expanded me that way, brought me inside, brought me outside. It just stretched me, playing that character.

At the end of the day, when you're finished doing what you need to do, what are the little things that make you feel better about your day?

I don't even wait for them. I have a cup of coffee, a nice smoke. I enjoy my girlfriend; I enjoy cooking; I enjoy painting. Pottery—I could leave here right now and go throw pots and be as happy as a pig in clay. I don't enjoy sexuality. I enjoy hearing about it. Could you tell me anything?

Sadly, no.

You sound a lot like another friend of mine. There's room in here [the cooler] for you too.

Wait, come back. What do you do?

I sit; I like reading; I like tea—caffeine-free. I like taking a moment, going for a walk late at night, when no-one else is out.

Everybody, check this guy out, because if you take a walk tonight...No, just kidding. Thank you very much for asking an unusual question.

Many years ago I went to Stratford, Ontario to see a production of Waiting for Godot. I remember a certain younger actor in the role. Do you think you'll ever get back to Stratford or to doing theatre again?

Like I say, if somebody asks me tomorrow to do something that interests me, I would, but I was really serious answering the previous question about how much I'm enjoying—in my life, I don't think I ever took time to enjoy it. Life was just the theatre. Life, apart from the theatre, was just resting so that I could go do more theatre. Now I'm starting to enjoy other things.

Peter Brook asked me to come back to do a part in Hamlet that he was doing in Paris a year ago. I would really have liked to do it, but with him it's a three-year commitment and it's picking up and going out of town, and what do you do with your son, what do you do with your girlfriend, your mother, and this and that. I can't say I'll never do it, but the time hasn't been right in a long time.

In "Dust to Dust" [season 3], when you and Peter had a big fight scene when you were trying to read his mind, did you have a lot of fun finally getting to take out your frustrations on Londo?

I think there was. I always had the impression that Londo was getting the best of G'Kar and he needed to be paid back in some way. Getting into his mind and making him uncomfortable was fun to do—watch him sweat for a while.

What I have is not a question but more of a suggestion. I think I can speak for most of your fans when I say we're very interested in any of the work that you do. I'd like to suggest that if you do any painting or pottery, you make some of it available on the website for those of us who are interested.

Oh, no. When I say I do pottery and I do painting, believe me, it's nothing you would be interested in seeing or getting anywhere near. It's a catastrophe. I have no talent for it at all. I have a great passion and a pleasure to do it, and it's a challenge, but—do you have any children?

No.

When you do have a child, they're going to do better work. Put their work on the website.

I'm from Montreal. When the series aired originally I didn't see it, and I regret it. Thanks to Space, a year ago I started taping all the episodes in order. Four months ago, my wife and I started to watch about two or three episodes a night. Today is the ultimate trek, to see you here. We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. For moving us, for doing the most fleshed-out character on television, thank you, Mr. Katsulas.

Thank you. I'm embarrassed. I appreciate that very much. I'm sure you said even better things to Peter, so the hell with you. No, I'm kidding. I don't think there's anywhere to go. What can we talk about after that?

You did a TV-movie with Bill Bixby about 10 years ago.

Yes, The Death of the Incredible Hulk [1990].

I was curious about what it was like working with him.

He was really an actor's director, because he was an actor so he really appreciated what that relationship should be because he'd probably worked with directors who snubbed him or didn't give him any direction. So he was like a kid. He wanted to see what the actor was going to do. So if you weren't comfortable, or if you needed [something] to be moved, he was just right there: "What do you need?" If you had any suggestions, he wanted to hear them; he wanted to try them. When I worked with him, I felt I was working. So many times everything is, "Let's go; we don't have time for creativity; just do it." Bill took the time to listen, and I think he got good results from doing that.

I understand he was kind of a joker on the set.

He did have a sense of humour, but I don't recall anything that I can repeat right now. God rest his soul, for those of you who don't know. [He died in 1993, aged 59.]

On Babylon 5, you and Londo bounced off each other for most of the series. Was there another character you would've liked to have had a relationship with, on the same level as with Londo?

I think any one of them. I did have some important scenes with Mira, with Jerry Doyle. I would've had enjoyed any development, but how many ways could [Joe] go with interesting developments? He had to keep things arranged right. I think it would've been interesting—at the end he sends G'Kar off with Lyta Alexander. That was a relationship that he began in "The Gathering," in the pilot, where there was something going on between the two of them and he's trying to seduce her, and then nothing. Five years go by, and then they're off going into the universe together. That would've been a place where he might have found some material: how G'Kar related to Lyta Alexander.

I'd like to get some feedback on your work with Michael York, when you were in the episode with him ["A Late Delivery from Avalon," season 3]. I enjoyed his work over the years.

That was the problem: I did too. I knew him from Romeo and Juliet [1968] and other things, and was in awe of him. I didn't want to work; I wanted to watch him. There he was, sitting at a table across from me. I'm supposed to be playing a scene with him. I did my best, but a part of me was saying, "God, that's Michael York." The same thing happened when I worked with Dick Van Dyke on Diagnosis Murder. I found it so hard to work because I'd watched the guy; I'd loved his work. It's difficult if you admire too much the person you're working with. And he was great; he lived up to my expectations. He was wonderful.

I'm sure that everyone here in this audience would say the same of you. Thank you.


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