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FedCon 7

Bruce Boxleitner - first panel

source: The German Bruce Boxleitner Fanclub

BB: So, here I am on Star Trek, I love it. It's a very big thrill being here with Leonard Nimoy, who, when I was a young man was Mr. Spock to me. He's quite a wonderful gentleman and all the rest of the cast. I am, other than Robbie the lonely B5 Ranger. So what do we want to do? Do we want to talk about ... I don't know how the show is doing in Germany. Well, it's over for us, and I miss it very very much but then I keep doing conventions and I'll always be Sheridan. Any questions?

[The first question was about Bruce's name, sorry I don't have the exact words because somebody next to me was talking...]

BB: Several years ago my wife and I went skiing in Austria and two very --- men came to us and said "Hello, we are your cousins." So I think my ancestors came to the States in 1885, but I do have - I think - cousins - Boxleitners - in Bavaria and Austria.

Q: Much of what we see on Babylon 5 is computer generated and what I would like to know is how much of what we see of the interior of Babylon 5 is computer generated and do you think that there is danger that one day the actors will be replaced by animations.

an animated Bruce BB: I am a computer animation. There's e a Bruce Boxleitner at home in bed in Los Angeles and he sent me. Well, it could very well happen one day and I would go raise cattles somewhere if it would come to computer generated actors. You can have all the computer animation and special effects you want, you can have all that as sophisticated as possible but one needs the human heart, the human mind, the characters that people can identify with. It's not all about special effects.

[The next person was suprised that SiL focused on Sheridan and that there was no mention of the Keeper and what happened with the gift that Londo gave Sheridan and Delenn for David.]

Bruce: Television Network executives. They wanted it, wrap it up, wrap it up, finish it. Alot of things happened, I'm sure Mr. Strazcynski wanted to continue it but televison is a very difficult medium, you have many people making decisions. We finished the series in fourth season then after we were all convinced we were finished TNT came along and said: " We'll pick up the fifth season but we want to do some television movies as well. So we were back. We'd already shot the last episode. We we're all glad we got our fifth season and it's not my favorite season but I'm not in control of that. So some story-lines never got finished. We wanted it but it's a business.

Q: In Germany they showed the last episode two weeks ago and I want to know how do you feel making the last episode.

*big sniff* Bruce: How did we feel making the last episode? Those tears were real, we were very, very sad because at the time we shot that episode which was 422, the 22nd episode of the fourth season that was the end. We were all saying 'Good-bye' to each other as the characters and as actors. It was a couple of months later, three months later that we found out that TNT had picked up the fifth season. We were all convinced it was over. We were very sad, sad it was over.

Q: How did you become an actor?

Bruce: In my second year in High School I walked into an audition with many pretty girls. I had tried out for the basketball team, two days or so before and I was very disillusioned that I didn't make the basketball team, I always loved movies, television especially, and deep in my heart I thought I was going to be an actor. So I walked into this audition for a school play and I happened to be what they were looking for to play this young hero in an Agatha Christie mystery play. I think when I got upstage all those beautiful faces out there I said this is what I want to do. I didn't know how I was gonna do it but I persevered and decided it's what I want to do for a living. And it's been a great time, a very great time.

[The next person asked if the story of the keeper would be continued in Crusade. Bruce's answer was that there was only one B5 actor in Crusade and that Crusade were only 13 episodes and if they were going to show it the fans should enjoy it and if they were not going to show it they wouldn't miss anything.The same person asked about Melissa, said he was a big fan of her and that he was very surprised to find out Bruce was married to her.]

Mrs. Sheridan Bruce: Me too. She's the love of my life and I don't plan to get married again, if this one fails then that's it for me. She is what keeps me on the ground, does that make any sense? She keeps me grounded. She's 14 years younger than me but she is much older than me. She's an old soul. She's a wonderful, wonderful woman a wonderful mother and my best friend. I wish she was here because I wanted her to see your beautiful city but she's doing a movie right now, in Austin, TX. and I miss her very much.

Q: At the beginning of season 2 you came to the show. Was this planned by JMS to take a new, a younger character for the show, was this part the 5-year plan or was it because the television network said we must have a younger character?

Bruce: People want to be very polite about this but it's important that the audience reacts to a character. First season B5 came on and WB at that time felt so-so about it. They felt that it needed or that it wasn't getting the exposure that they wanted and I'm not bragging about myself but they said they need to find someone in the lead that has somewhat of a name- value to the audience because many man, many actors were offered the role before it got to me. Stacy Keach to Michael York, Corbin Bernsen, people like that. There were a lot of fingerprints on the script before I got it. Michael O'Hare is a marvelous man, a marvelous actor, they just felt they needed a change to keep the show going. So I think the genius in JMS is that he adapted what he had to do, he adapted the storyline with another character. So here was Sinclair in another character, he had I don't mean to burst your bubble about the 5-year-arc, he had to do that or the show would not have continued. That's what I was told, I may not have all the facts but it takes somewhat of an audience to find a show, to get used to a show. Babylon 5 has a very different look to it than Star Trek and a very different feel to it. But it hasn't caught on yet, it hasn't got through to the organizations yet, they wanted to make a TV show, when it came to me the executive producer Doug Netter - I had done a western with him years earlier - and I read the script, I liked it, I actually saw the show several times and I liked it. I said yes, yes, I want to do it now. I was Doug Netter's choice. I'm just trying to clear up things, there's a lot of stories.

Q: Did you have any influence on the script?

Bruce: Influence on the script? To tell you the truth, in the whole 4 years that I've done the show twice I went to JMS and asked him about a line. Could I say it this way instead of the way he had it written and he said "No!". He was very open to any suggestions, actually I was a good little soldier and did it the way it was done. I didn't have a lot of influence on the script. I didn't need to, it was a good story, a good character.

Q: It seems as if the fans know more about the characters and the stories than the actors, what do you think about it?

Bruce: I think it's true. The fans know more about Babylon 5 than the people who made it. I agree. You guys know the story-lines, the titles all that. It's amazing, because I'm busy doing it, we're busy doing it and then on to the next thing. And it's like the fans sit there and know lines and dialogues and stuff like that. I have little memory of it.

Q: I have a question about John Sheridan and Susan Ivanova...

Never? Bruce: Oho, we never touched each other, I swear.

[The fan went on to ask about the "Knock, knock" scene. She was wondering why he used the German word "Gesundheit" in an American show. Bruce didn't get it, he asked her if that wasn't what they said over here.]

Bruce: Lady I don't write those words I just have to say them. If it's "Gesundheit", it's "Gesundheit".

Q: Is it true that the Babylon 5 sets wore torn apart?

Bruce: Yes, it's pretty much gone, 'cause when we did the CD Rom, I just recently completed a CD Rom of Babylon 5 for Sierra. It's a live action. If Babylon5 lives at all it may be through your computer and that's kind of the logical next step anyway, in cyberspace.

Q: What was the story about the beard you were wearing in 5th season? I heard you had problems with your wife?

Bruce: My wife? *laughs* Melissa is not fond of beards on her men and though they are very current popular now I have three letters for you to answer this: JMS. He had a beard and we all had to wear one eventually. He's the one who asked if I would wear one and I said "Well, no!" First of all, I don't like to wear them. If for a specific role, yes, I will wear them but in my everyday life I don't care to wear one. But JMS said "I'd like you to wear a beard." and I said *kid's voice* "OK." When we started with the episode Intersections in Real Time I started growing the beard from then on and about three weeks later I had a full beard. I didn't like it, I didn't want it, "I said Captain Kirk never wore a beard, why should I?" Growing a beard in space? It'll go jump in the air. There's no gravity in space, you want my beard up in my eyes? What is that? Astronauts don't wear beards. In space your moustache goes up in your eyes.

The next person asked about S&MK, I wish she would have stood closer to the microphone...

Bruce: Agentin mit Herz [that's the German title of the show; Nicky] I enjoyed the show, especially when we came over here in 1984 because the Olympics were being done in Los Angeles and so several shows in States came over to Europe to shoot, because we couldn't shoot around town in Los Angeles because of the Olympics. And we had a great time, that was my first time over here in Europe. It was just so much fun. I enjoyed that series. I really liked that Lee Stetson could be anything, he was a bore(?), he was funny, he was serious, he was romantic, I got to do every range of emotion and Kate Jackson was ... the best. She really was, tough but the best and we had a lot of chemistry together, we had a lot of fun and coming to Germany made it so different for us that it just made even a better show. I think it was some of our best shows when we were over here. I'm so old now, I look at that I have no grey hair. I have very fond memories of it.

I was the next person at the mike.

Bruce: Oh, you again.

Nicky: I'm sorry.

Bruce just laughed.

Nicky: I have two questions.

Bruce: Nicky, which questions haven't I answered for you over the last 4 years?

Nicky: Dozens?!

Bruce: Dozens? OK.

Nicky: You mentioned earlier that you tried out for your school's basketball team. I've seen you play basketball and man, you suck. At basketball.

Bruce: That's why I didn't make it. Thank you so much, Nicky.

Nicky: What made you think you could make it?

Bruce: I was tall, taller than Don Johnson *laughs* it doesn't make any sense but anyway. I'm taller than just about anybody in Hollywood. Why did I ... I wanted

Nicky: Chicks?

Bruce: Chicks, baby. Yeah.

Nicky: on to my next question...

Bruce: Oh, this should be good.

[I need to explain something here. According to Brian, who was at Fedcon to help Bruce, Bruce wanted to sign autographs but they wouldn't let him. Fedcon had him sign 1500 photos which they were trying to sell. Since I knew that and I wanted Bruce to have an autograph session because of all the fans who wouldn't get to see him again I asked the next question. I wanted him to say that it wasn't his doing but Fedcon's. ]

Nicky: You've never been to Germany, now you're finally here and you don't sign autographs. How come?

Bruce: I don't know why that is, and, of course, you want to make me look like a bad guy now, don't you?

Nicky: Nonononono...not you...everybody else.

Bruce: I'm about to give one thing here and maybe this is a good time, Nicky, thank you, to answer this question for you. I have a question and a present for the person who can answer it. It can only be one person who I will have to pick that person.

Bruce: What was the only episode in Babylon 5 that JMS actually made an appearance in?

[Several dozen fans answered the question.]

Bruce: Oh my...second question... I'm gonna try and figure out some kind of contest because I happen to have brought with me, one of the only know photos in Germany from Sleeping in Light, signed and I would love to personalize it for somebody. How do we go about that? ... Just drop it?... This is very good one and there is that terrible beard... You want it Nicky?

Nicky: Sure.

Bruce: You already have my autograph! Let's see. How much can I get here for this photo? Sleeping in Light. How much? Anyone have a Cuban cigar in the house? I'm a whore for Cuban and Monica Lewinsky.

*much laughter*

Bruce: Six Vodca? Ok, I'm going to have a number of these, I whish I could get to everybody but I have about 200 of them and they will be on Robin Atkin Downes' table when he has his autograph signings. That's the only way I can do it. For some reason I'm not signing autographs and I don't know why. It's not anything I did ...agents... Anyway, maybe I can change that. I think I'm just gonna have to give this away to someone right now. I'm just going to point.

[He pointed with his eyes closed to someone in the audience. ]

Q: What about TRON?

Bruce: TRON? My pants were a lot tighter then. TRON was sort of the father of Babylon 5 in a way, because it was, I believe, the first computer animated, hm, generated animation done on film. The only reason I did it was I wanted to work with Jeff Bridges who I think is a fantastic actor. I had no idea what TRON was about. When I got the script I was sitting on a horse in Arizona, playing Wyatt Earp with Mary Osmond as my girlfriend. I looked at the script and I said "What the hell is a TRON?" I had no idea and I turned it down. Then it came back again and they said Jeff Bridges is in it, David Warner, then I said "Jeff Bridges is in it?" I better read it again and I did it and I loved it after that. I think it was a marvelous picture and it was way ahead of its time. It didn't do well at the theaters when it came out and that was the end of my movie career.

Q: Do you have a favorite movie that you're not in?

Cowboy John Bruce: Favorite movie that I'm not in? Many, many many. I'm a movie friend, I have a huge collection of classic movies, two weeks ago I attended every night for 8 days a classic film festival, a film-noir festival, films that were made in the 40's/50's. I have many many favorite films, westerns, I like the genre movies, detectives, westerns, science-fictions especially. I have many films, Casablanca, I'm a Humphrey Bogart fan, so many I couldn't even name one.

Q: Do you have a favorite book?

Bruce: Yes, it's a science-fiction novel, an alternate history novel, it's called "The Guns of the South" by Harry Turtledove (?). He's one of the best in alternate history and I love history. If you read it it's very very good.

Q: What are your plans after Babylon 5?

Bruce: Does anyone have a movie they could hire me for? I am just like any other actor, I'm out of work. I have been auditioning for some films, I have a book coming out in December in the States. A science-fiction/western and I hope to be doing a book-tour with that and hopefully it will get over to England. There hasn't been a deal that I know of set in Europe, yet but that could come soon. I go auditioning for films and other television shows and my wife is working so...

*laughter* Bruce: Hey, I worked 4 years straight, I can take a little time off. I'm just enjoying my fatherhood with my little 3-year-old boy Mickey and my older sons and I don't feel the pressure to constantly have to work at this time in my life. I'm appreciating the time away from work.

Q: In Sleeping in Light Lennier is mentioned with other characters who died. Do you know what happened to him?

Traitor! Bruce: He was killed in battle as a ranger, he became a ranger then he was killed. Sacrificed himself, I forget what it was, but he was killed in action... (?) Marcus, you know, he died. That was the thing about Babylon 5, characters were introduced, they lived and they died. Like real life.

Q: Was it maybe a hidden suicide because he loved Sheridan's wife.

Bruce: He loved Delenn so much that he committed suicide? I don't care. I got her in the end so... I do care but not that much.

Q: Can you tell us something about your new science-fiction/western novel? How is it called and what is it about?

Read it! Bruce: It is called Frontier Earth and I was approached by a publishing company. Of course you know William Shatner has books, Tek-War and so on and many of the Star Trek people did. Peter Jurassik has a book out as well, a comedy and my love for history and science-fiction I got to bring together. I love the old West, stories about men of the old West and I asked is there a way we can combine this story? They were very interested in it. It's about ...well, I don't want to tell you the plot or what's really going to happen. I think it will be here next year. It's basically about a very lost individual from another world who finds himself in the Southwest in 1800. There you have it, I told the whole plot.

Q: I saw pictures of you on horses. Do you have horses, do you love riding?

Bruce: Yes, I do. I have horses. I've had horses for 20 years. I find them better than people sometimes. They don't talk back. They are beautiful animals and to me they are the most beautiful animals on our earth.

Q: Bruce I've heard that you are a supporter of the space programme?

Bruce: I'm on the board of Governors and I'm very proud to be, the board of Governors of the National Space Society which has quite a membership, many former astronauts, many current astronauts, John Glenn, he is on the BoG, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, I'm very honored and humbled to be in their company. Basically, many science-fiction writers, Arthur C. Clarke, Ben Boulder (?), Majel Roddenberry, Tom Hanks...from all walks of life who have an interest in space exploration because I truly believe that it's us people of the world not necessarily NASA because NASA is a government beaurocracy that has limitations. Space is going to be explored by the private sector. Do you know what I mean by that? Industries, human beings have always explored because there is a possible drop at the other end. That's one of our basic motives, not just to explore but there's got to be some riches, something to be found, knowledge or minerals. So we the International Space Society are trying to promote the further exploration of Space and isn't necessarily with NASA but NASA loves the organization and people in NASA are members of it as well. I have been able to ... because the people of NASA are big fans of Star Trek, Babylon 5, Science-Fiction. They invited us and I was up in the Shuttle Atlantis the morning it took off to take Michael Foale up to the Mir Space Station. Very exiting, in my youth I remember watching all the moon flights, running outside in July of 1969 staring up in this full moon from Peoria, IL and I stood in amazement that we - in my lifetime - had made it. We need to go back there, now, the next generation needs to go back there. The Vietnam war screwed up the Apollo program but we should have been there 25 year ago and more and I'm a big advocate of space. They are talking about Mars but we need to go back to the Moon. That's the best space station we've got. It's there, sitting there waiting with fuel and everything. They discovered water which can be used for rocket fuel, all that stuff. There's a tremendous future and I hope my 3-year-old, I know that one day we will be going up there. I wish, I hope that I can but I don't think I will live that long. We keep being brought down by these earthly things but we need to keep our - like Sheridan says - our eyes to the horizon instead of looking down. They are wonderful people, very bright people, I'm sure the European space station citziens will all get there, and hopefully we'll all realize that we are one people. Space is the only place that we can do that.

Q: Could you tell us something about practical jokes on Babylon 5?

Bruce: The room is full of ladies...There were many many jokes. Claudia Christian, most of the humor on the set of Babylon 5 left when she left. She was the clown princess of Babylon 5, she really was. She had the energy, the jokes, the fun. I can't really think of anything. Oh , my gosh, yes. Do you remember the scene when Claudia and I were looking out the window of the observation dome? There was something coming, we were trying to communicate to them but they weren't communicating back and it was a plucked chicken hanging from a fishing rod, coming at us. We never broke, we never laughed, they tried to break us up, it never happened. I opened up a box and I looked inside, I can't tell you what was in there... I don't want to embarass the women in the room... It had to do with plumbing, someone used it already... You don't understand what I'm saying do you?... Once a month, the female...- Bruce stopped talking and just gesticulated - ...but... well at least you thought it was funny... Things like that, there were a lot of dirty jokes played, the humor around there we got a lot of sexy jokes. cheers!That's not bad either.
I still see Jerry Doyle all the time and I still beat him at tennis all the time. Last year we had a tennis tournament at Wolf 359 and he's a bad sport and I brag to much.

Q: I have a question for you, I'm sure you know the song "I was born under a wandering star"? (Sung by Lee Marvin -I believe it was a big hit over here in the 70's; Nicky) I would like you to sing it.

[much cheering in the audience, applause ]

Bruce - obviously didn't know the song.---: Can I sing "Happy Trails" to you?
Happy trails to you until we meet again
happy trails to you keep smiling on till then...


Transcript taken from The German Bruce Boxleitner fanclub. Thanks!