Hey Rebecca Riggs fans,
MeaganSue and I were, sadly, late in arriving at the Los Angeles Farscape Farewell 2009 panel for Ms. Rebecca Riggs. Unfortunately we only have a partial report for it, which is sad, since we found her to be incredibly entertaining. She is a very funny woman! Her panel took place Saturday November 7, 2009 at the Marriott hotel near Los Angeles International Airport.
As is standard WHR practice the report is quoted as much as possible in paraphrase format due to crowd noise and the virtually impossible but achievable task of capturing and transcribing all the notes from the panel appearance of Rebecca Riggs. These areas of the transcription will contain in brackets the phrase [inaudible] to denote such sections where transcription was not possible. As mentioned previously WHR suffered a camera failure (mine) during this panel.We compensated as much as was possible. Unfortunately photographs of the actual panel appearance of Rebecca Riggs are limited. We have substituted some LA convention poster and stock photos of Rebecca to supplement this report.
Rebecca: To show people? Not so much, actually, to be quite honest. The funny thing about being pregnant is people assume once you start to move out this way, that’s your personal space. You’ve lost it. You’re entering their world and they’re allowed to touch. So, no. But I liked it for her. I thought she would share. She would definitely share.
Q: How did you keep yourself in place?
R: What are you talking about? I stood up very tall, and there were some tape issues and there actually was tape-continuity. I would have people coming up and going, “I am sorry, but that has to go a little bit farther apart for continuity.” And I’m going, “Oh, yay.” So, tape and posture.
Q: Last time you were here, you said that the character of Grayza was, in part, based on Napoleon. I’m curious how you, or the Farscape people or the collaborated effort ended up with Napoleon as opposed to Julius Caesar, or [Queen] Elizabeth the First or any of those kinds of people?
R: I can’t really answer that. It wasn’t my idea, so I can not answer that. I think that came from the costume designer. He was looking at dictators and what sort of dictator she’d be. I guess you could have had ‘[Queen] Elizabeth the First’ kind of rough thing, but I think he probably felt the Napoleonic look fit in with the Peacekeeper look. He was probably inspired to go that way. Then when I found out that the costume had a kind of Napoleonic layer, I started to do some research into Napoleon, a completely impressive person, who broke many, many rules of war. People kept saying, “He can not do that! He can not attack at that time of day. He can not attack in that way with those people. You don’t do it.” And I’m fairly sure his response at the time was, “Yes, but I won.” For that reason, I thought he was very much like Grayza; that was kind of an inspiration to me. It doesn’t really matter what the rules of war are, you go with the art of war. I also did read Sun Tzu for Grayza, so it was kind of an interesting cultural mix of how to win a war. Is that a good enough answer for that question?
Q: Certainly. Now, if it wasn’t, would I get another one?
R: Yeah! I’m cool with that.
Q: Were you a comic book or a sci-fi fan before you started Farscape?
Q: Who are some of your favorite female characters either in comic books or sci-fi? Or who are your favorite female characters to play?
R: I’m not a whole hearted [committed] fan of comic books. I haven’t really read that many. When I was at university, a friend got me into the X-Men, so I was always pretty into Storm. I watched Doctor Who, but I liked the Doctors, not the girls. Although, I did like…the one in the middle, the savage girl. (Someone calls out Leela.) Leela! Leela was my girl! And one of the Romanas…the dark-haired one, of course! I told you I wasn’t a fully-fledged fan. I did a lot of reading of sci-fi, so I watched sci-fi, but I read sci-fi more. In terms of favorite characters to play…Shakespeare! Lady Macbeth! I haven’t played Cleopatra, but I would really like to. It’s not a very good play, but it’s a really good part! In Shakespeare, it is my favorite. Another real favorite of mine is a Spanish playwright called Lorca, who writes incredible, dense, passionate plays. There is this concept in Spanish drama that there’s a spirit who rises up and takes you over and drives you to tell the story, and that’s very fun. I feel like I don’t know anything about what I’m talking about but I am babbling.
[Rebecca disappears behind the curtain on the stage. She pokes her head back out to say, “Excuse me, I have a wardrobe malfunction,” then disappears again.]
I came to share with you, but this is ridiculous! Anyway…
Q: In your opinion, the oil on your oh-so malevolent breasts, did it only work on the opposite sex?
R: I would say no. Why would you limit your weapon? How dumb would that be? I will have a gun, but I will only use it on boys. No, no, quite sexist.
Q: How did that work out nursing?
R: Well I guess she could get the babies to sleep whenever she wanted to. Actually, I am jealous. I would say those sort of things were under her control. She did not exude it all the time, it was just when she chose to, so if she wanted conscious babies, she would not do it, and I think for bedtime, definitely we would go with the goo. I do not know what it is called officially.
I do not know if you guys have seen the movie Galaxy Quest… I saw that before I started Farscape and I thought it was a very funny movie, but having seen it subsequently, she said, “If I ever get asked another question about my breasts, I’m gonna scream!” and I’m going, “Oh, I’m with you baby!” There are these parts of your body that, you know, have been with you for quite a long time, you don’t really pay a lot of attention to them day-to-day, you just make sure they’re in control if at all possible, and then they become this public thing! You know, there’s funny malevolent stories about them. I do not know if this was true or if someone was just screwing with me, but I got a message from the producers asking if they were real! Why would the producers care? I had no idea what that was about! “We just need to know, are your breasts real?” “Yes.” “Okay, we’ll take that back!” Maybe they thought we could make them to deflate or inflate if they were fake? I have no idea. Very, very surreal. Imagine if all of the sudden, in a room of several hundred people, people started saying, “About your knees… Are they real? Are they even?” Like I said, I came here to share…
Q: You created this fantastic character. I do not know how actors work, or how you work… Does she have a history? Where did she come from? Did you make that up, or was it just “those words, this way”?
R: I made a history. I actually wrote quite a lot. I have no idea where it is. I read The Art of War, I researched into Napoleon, I did a little research into psychopathic behavior, because I sensed that she wasn’t exactly like me. I saw the character breakdown and went, “Not entirely like me… So I might have to find out some things about that sort of person.” Then I wrote a story that was possibly completely relevant. I know the writers saw it, but I have no idea if it had any impact on them. It was just about her childhood. For me, she comes from a very powerful family in the regime but she has been raised to rule. She has been very good at it from a very early age and she’s bored. I think for me that was a really core thing. So she is looking for the next challenge. She is so good at what she does that she needs to find some other way – once you’ve taken over the world, what do you do next? I’m fairly sure that’s it. You hear interviews with people who are gobsmackingly powerful, it’s not like they’re going, “I’m so happy to be in this place. I feel at ease. I feel calm. I no longer need to control people.” They’re onto the next victory and the next victory and the next victory. So I wrote stuff about that and in writing it myself, I kind of processed it into myself and then the script comes and you go, “Oh, that’s nothing like I expected. Oh and my breasts are showing!” You’ve got to run with what you’ve got. David and I had a lot of – our sets were built. The ships that we were on were always built. So we used to have our scenes shots probably before anybody else.
In the wonderful world of Farscape, in the wonderful, chaotic, melting pot of ideas, things were sometimes slightly behind schedule. So often we would get scripts very late in the day and we would look at each other and go, “I don’t really understand this, but we’re going to go for it.” “What am I putting on his head? Why are we on the floor? Okay, sure! Let’s do that David [Franklin]! Get down!” You do all the background stuff, you work out as much about your character as you can, you do your research, you watch a bunch of episodes so you know what world it is you’re about to jump into. So I’d seen a few episodes because I’m a sci-fi girl, I’d started to watch it on Australian television, but I’d only seen about four episodes because that was all Australian television showed me. So I said, “Okay, I need to see much, much more.” But then, when you got on set, you just went with it. That is one of the things I’m sure you know about Farscape, it’s a fantastic sense of “we’ll dive in and see what happens.” I think that’s one of the things that made it kind of unusual; not like a lot of other things. That was part of the Farscape way.
Q: You may have just made that up, but it’s so believable.
R: Yeah, yeah, it’s what I do.
Q: That character you just described, we really see that.
R: Cool. Thanks. Like I said, you guys are very generous.
Q: To bring it back to last night and the performance, you talked a little bit about the sources, but how did you come up with the idea?
R: I guess it was…you know, “What have you been doing for the last six years Beck?” That’s what I’ve been doing, I’ve been being a mum, and it’s this extraordinarily complicated thing. I thought, “If I’m going to do a show that I write, it’s pretty much going to b about this because this is big!” That’s why it was about that. You’re right; I could have done ‘Women Who Ruled the World’. Maybe that will be next year. Actually, David and I want to do some duets next year. I’m lobbying for ‘Grayza and Bracca: The Untold Love Story’. I feel she did have a little bit of love in her heart. That could’ve been me, but I’m transferring it to her. So that’s next year. But this year, that’s such a big thing in my life. I was a bit nervous because I was thinking, “Okay, there are mums in the audience, I know that, but there are also people with penises and what are they going to think?”
Q: And they make babies too, it’s shocking.
R: I know, that’s true. I asked one of my friends who helped me, Adam – not only has he not had a child, he will never have a child, he doesn’t really know what they are… He’s very nice to Dante because he’s my child, but you can see it’s a real effort. So I asked him, “What do you think? Because you’re the person I know who is least-interested in children.” He said, “Well, to me the show’s about love instead of fear.” And I thought, “Yeah. That’s good for me.” So that’s why I did it.
Q: I have a question and a comment. Firstly, you have an amazing set of knockers.
R: You know, that’s the first time they’ve ever been knockers. My knockers thank you. They have actually, to be really honest, since we’re sharing, changed a bit in the last six years. When you breast feed two kids…Well I’m not sure I’d be wearing Grayza’s top anymore.
Q: My question is actually a request… Can you do something to remove all the heinous rumors that [John] Crichton somehow had a baby with Grayza?
R: No. Get over it. You know what? I reckon if you ask Ben, he will remove those rumors, but I will say that Grayza has control over that piece of fertility. So it’s my choice. And why would she have Bracca’s baby? Why would she have – who was that man? Who was I married to? Yeah, him, Maryk. Why would she bother to have his baby? Whose baby would she have? (The entire audience yelled out “Crichton” at that point.)
Q: But my feeling is… How could you do it to him?! How could you?!
R: I didn’t write it.
Q: But Grayza is far too evil for his seed to take root!
R: No. I’m right and you are wrong.
Q: Grayza as a mother scares the living bejesus out of me.
R: Me too, actually.
Q: Think about your kids as they’re teenagers. Are they going to look back and think Mom was more like Mary Poppins or more like Grayza? My other comment is that Grayza would never nurse anybody who was beneath her. She’d have someone else doing it.
R: I think she’s committed to this child. Very, very committed. Should be committed…
Q: You don’t have to answer the Mary Poppins or Grayza…
R: I don’t know, a bit of both. Probably a little too much Grayza. My son said to me the other day, “Charlie cries a lot, doesn’t she?” I said, “Oh well I don’t think she gets upset any more often than you do.” He said, “But I don’t cry very much.” I said, “Well you probably get angry more than you cry, and she cries more than she gets angry.” He said, “Yeah, but crying is for babies and getting angry is for grown-ups.” So, the answer is probably Grayza.
Q: How did you get the part of Grayza?
R: I auditioned. I said to David [Franklin] last night, because he was the reader for the audition, I said, “You know what? I think one of the reasons I got this role might be you.” Because, I mean, he was reading John, but you don’t really do a mega-acting thing, you just read the lines, look at the person and you can either be pretty bad at that job, in which case you’re kind of reading the lines, looking at the person, or you can be really open and generous and you’re not doing a big acting job, but you’re listening and you’re responding, and David did. It was a great scene; it was actually my favorite ever Grayza scene. Can you believe that? It’s the audition scene, so it doesn’t exist anywhere in the whole world! But it was beautifully written. Kemper wrote it and it was this intricate sort of game, like a game of chess. It was really beautifully written and it was so fun to play and David was so fun to do it with! So I said to him last night, “You know, I think I owe you a debt of thanks.” And he said, “Of course you do.” That’s my boy! So I did an audition and I did a call-back, just the way a normal actor would go for a job and you have no idea. I wore a polar neck skinny thing up to here and my hair pulled back in a ponytail and I’d seen a bit so I thought that was a bit Peacekeeper-y. Then things change. But yeah, just a normal gig.
Q: I thought your performance kicked ass last night! I did a little acting in my old days, and it seemed to me that the performance you gave was one you needed to give. Am I off-base by saying that?
R: Yeah, absolutely, I kind of thought, “I haven’t been acting much, if I’m going to tell a story, I might as well tell one that I really, really believe in.” So yeah, I mean, ‘need’ sounds a little bit, you know, needy. No, it was really, really important for me to do it. If I was going to tell a story, it had to be that one because that’s my story as a woman.
Q: I just want to let you know that Grayza was one of my favorite characters.
R: She was one of my favorites too. I think she was misunderstood, don’t you?
Q: I don’t think she was evil. She was like [Ivana] Trump, but a woman.
R: [Ivana] Trump, yeah. Or Margaret Thatcher, who is one of my favorite people.
Q: I loved her and I enjoyed every moment she was on the screen. I just wanted you to know that.
R: Even though that wasn’t a question, I’ll answer it. I think a lot of the things that Grayza did were judged more harshly because she didn’t have a penis. You know, men are very wonderful, I don’t want anybody to think I’m anti-guy, but I think she was judged very harshly because of her female-ness. It’s worse if a female tortures or does bad things and I think also there was element of sex there, that becomes even more challenging. And I think that’s it and I’m really sorry because I think you guys very special.