DOUG HERZOG: Okay, we are back and ready to continue. We are enormously excited and thrilled at FOX to have a brand new series from the multi-award winning producer Chris Carter. And this time he’s going to take FOX viewers into the world of virtual reality. So let’s take a look at “Harsh Realm.”
[CLIP SHOWN: "HARSH REALM"]
HERZOG: All right, it is now — [applause] Thank you. It is now my pleasure to introduce executive producer and creator of “Harsh Realm,” Chris Carter, along with some of the cast members: Rachel Hayward, Samantha Mathis, Scott Bairstow, and D.B. Sweeney.
QUESTION: Chris, did you pretty much know or feel “Millennium” had its day by the time this was really ready to go before the cameras? Or did you think “Millennium” might indeed have another year left in it?
CHRIS CARTER: I wish it had gone another year. Can you hear me? Am I miked?
CARTER: I wish “Millennium” could have gone another year, although I think this would have been a tougher year to produce the show. I think the climate is a little bit different, so I wasn’t sad about that. But I would love to have, of course, seen the show go to the millennium. So that would have been a bonus.
QUESTION: Chris, when you’re saying it’s a tough year, I assume you’re talking just about the atmosphere in Congress and society. This seems to combine two of the elements that have been particularly vilified: violent video games and violent television. What are your feelings about that?
CARTER: Well, it’s not a video game. It’s a simulated war game created by the military, so it’s not a game per se. And when it says “it’s just a game” at the end of the opening credits, that’s ironic, because it has big consequences. I think that this — what I wanted to do was to do a TV show that had elements of some of my favorite movies: “Paths of Glory,” “Platoon,” “Blade Runner,” a lot of really good early war movies. And this was my way of doing that, using a contemporary element, which was the virtual reality element.
QUESTION: Chris, I noticed in the pilot that you had Lance and you also had a voice-over of Gillian Anderson. And Stephen King does that a lot when he has his shows, putting “Christine” and some of the references to his other movies.
QUESTION: Is that going to be a recurring thing that you’ll be doing?
CARTER: Lance did the role as a favor to us. He was working and took a day off from “Millennium” to do it, and Gillian did it as a favor, too. I don’t know if Gillian’s voice is going to stay or not. I hope it does; it would be nice. There are a lot of actors I like working with now and I’ve met a lot of actors. It would be nice to be able to use some of the ensemble, as you will, on a regular basis, along with my regular cast.
QUESTION: Chris, can you talk a little bit about the situation here of, it’s basically a show where you could reach an end, but you can’t because the show’s got to keep going.
QUESTION: How do you address that in the writing process and keeping the audience from really getting tired and waiting for that end that theoretically can’t come?
CARTER: That’s the trick to series television is to figure out how to take an idea and string it out through a hundred-plus episodes. It’s really hard and there are very few ideas that I think actually are worthy of spawning a hundred hours plus of television. So you take one like this that I think has a tremendous romantic story and has a great mythology potential as well. There’s a conspiracy at work here. There is another world, a parallel world that people can go back and forth between. I think it’s a great chance to tell allegorical stories, which is I think one of the ways — one of the storytelling conventions that I think provides the best of series television.
QUESTION: Can I follow really quickly? It’s a world where you’re creating the rules, because it’s a world you’re creating. But is there a limit? Do you have to set up some sort of finite world that you can’t go too far with the changing of the rules?
CARTER: You have to know what the rules are and then you can break those rules, but you must establish the rules very early on. But I think the thing that I look forward — most forward — to in this show is taking — using our imaginations to take the world and cut it loose from physical properties. To take a godless world where there is no morality, where there is no standard or code of behavior and see what the world would be like if it were like that. That’s what “Harsh Realm” is and it really — it gives us a chance, I think, to comment on society and certainly on a lot of contemporary issues. So I think that that’s what is going to make this a lot richer.
QUESTION: Chris, how much say do you have in how a show is promoted? And when you spend an hour really setting up what looks to be a gripping closing shot, how do you feel to suddenly see it showing up in promos months before your show gets on the air?
CARTER: Yeah, you always want to preserve that element of surprise. It’s really all you have, but it’s so hard these days to do because it’s so competitive, certainly in primetime. And so you have to sacrifice some things to get people to come to the show. So it’s disappointing to have to do that, but I think everyone can understand why you have to do it when it is such a rough and tumble, if you will, season — a fall season — everybody trying to grab their viewers.
QUESTION: Chris, there have been reports that the show might be toned down in the wake of the Columbine shootings. Can you talk about the process of when you conceived the show and the level of violence that might have been in it? And how that might have changed and what the discussions were about that?
CARTER: Right. Well, I’ll just speak to what my approach is to violence and it’s the approach I’ve taken on “The X-Files,” now going into the seventh year. It’s the approach I tried to take on “Millennium,” and I was on that show and off that show for a short while, so I think sometimes my approach was not taken. But I’ve always — I’m not interested in blood, guts, gore, and/or gratuitous gunfire. So I would like to treat this show the same way I’ve treated “The X-Files,” which we’ve actually been commended on for our treatment of violence. It’s to suggest a lot, to see the effects of violence, not the violence itself, to not see blood when you don’t have to see blood, to tell good human stories using war as a backdrop. And it’s not a glorification of war; it is the opposite. It is talking about the horror of war, and I think that we can all appreciate that certainly with what we read in the paper every day about Kosovo, et cetera.
QUESTION: Yeah, but I’m asking you specifically, could you tell us how this may have changed from before Columbine and after? Is this pilot that we’re seeing that same one that was originally shot?
QUESTION: Could you address that?
CARTER: This pilot was shot before Columbine, but my approach is still the same. I’m going to treat every episode and every scene, every element, as I’ve always treated it, which is responsibly. I’ve always been sensitive. This is just a — I think it’s heightened the sensitivity to violence on television. But I think the issues are as they’ve always been.
QUESTION: Chris, could you maybe back up for a minute and just tell us how the idea first started? Was there any other source thing?
QUESTION: At one point, someone talked about a comic book or something. What was the source of it and what was it from there that made you think, “Yeah, this is what I want to do for my next project”?
CARTER: There was a comic book that was given to me by Dan Sackheim, who produced with me the original “X-Files” pilot who produced “The X-Files” movie, who’s directed some of the best episodes of “X-Files.” He came and brought this comic book. There were elements in it that I really liked a lot and I thought it was a great vehicle for telling a series of stories. No one had ever tackled virtual reality in a satisfactory way on network television. I think parallel worlds are great ways to tell stories. This is really what I was shooting for, was a way to tell stories about the human condition, using war as a backdrop. I was affected, as I’m sure a lot of people were, by “Saving Private Ryan,” and also “The Thin Red Line” recently. It was an opportunity to take some of the things I liked best about those movies — which I think have struck some kind of contemporary chord in everyone — and use some of the elements of virtual reality to create a really good science fiction show.
QUESTION: Chris, now that you’ve set up this rather harsh vision, is there any room in this show for humor?
CARTER: For humor? Oh, yeah, I think this show, of the three shows that I’ve done over the last seven years, I think this show may be the most varied in terms of the kind of stories you can tell. I can tell you, the first episode past the pilot has a lot of humor in it. It will be a show, I think, that hopefully once it gets going can parody itself much like “The X-Files” has done. I think that I’ve got terrific comedic actors. That’s a very important reason — or a necessity — for telling good comedic stories.
QUESTION: Will we see any of those episodes before we have to review?
CARTER: I hope so.
QUESTION: Any chance of seeing a second or third episode?
CARTER: Yeah, um-hmm. But this show is a dramatic show.
QUESTION: Chris, did you see “The Matrix”? And what did you think of the — do you think the response to that will — how do you think that will affect your show?
CARTER: I had not — I didn’t know about “The Matrix” until our show was shot, so — I saw it and there were elements that I think you’re going to find in any kind of parallel world idea. So I think there were some similarities. I was impressed by a lot of what they did in that movie. I was super impressed by the special effects in that movie. I think that “Harsh Realm,” even though it is a virtual reality idea, I think it is much different than “The Matrix.” And I think that what we’ve done, too, is we’ve set the stage for many episodes of this show, where a show like “The Matrix” I think might have to change its concept a little bit in order to do the same thing.
QUESTION: Also, Samantha’s character looked like she was — you know, disappeared.
CARTER: Yes. She’s right here.
QUESTION: [laughs] How is she going to — what’s the future hold for her? And also, are we going to visit — I mean the V.R. world obviously is the focus. Are we also going to see what’s going on in the coma world?
CARTER: Yes, you’ll see reality and virtual reality together. And juxtaposing those two things, Samantha’s character disappears in “Harsh Realm” when she is shot in that hallway and she can no longer occupy Harsh Realm, so Hobbes needs to get back to reality in order to get back to his beloved and that becomes a big part of the journey for both characters for Sophie and Tom Hobbes.
QUESTION: For D. B. and Scott. First, D. B., you’re playing the sarcastic, reluctant sidekick. Did you try out for the Lt. Hobbes role? Certainly the show would take a different flavor with you with role reversal.
D. B. SWEENEY: My agent said Chris Carter wanted to meet me so I jumped in my boxers and ran over there. I didn’t really care which part it was and I’m thrilled to be working with Scott. I think he’s really a fine actor and he’s a good guy. Maybe if it was just a regular TV show and it wasn’t from Chris, I would have been more particular about which part, but I was actually sort of disappointed I didn’t get to read for Samantha’s part. [laughter] I wanted to show my range.
QUESTION: And for Scott, and D. B., if you would answer it as well. Are you into virtual reality games? Have you played any? What do you think of them?
SCOTT BAIRSTOW: You know I haven’t really played any. Am I into them? Not so much, to answer honestly. It’s — I guess this show is probably my first, sort of, experience with them.
QUESTION: To put it a little more directly, D.B., would you enjoy rather taking a walk or seeing a movie rather than playing a virtual reality game?
SWEENEY: I don’t play any virtual reality games, I don’t have — I’m barely online, so I’m not very computer literate. I am concerned, like I watch my friends’ kids when they play Sega and stuff, and they get a little obsessed about that. And so, I mean maybe — I understand the whole debate that’s going on about — if that’s where you’re going, with the effect of these games on people, especially kids. And I think that’s an important thing to address, but I’ve noticed this whole sort of tidal wave of momentum sort of focusing on Hollywood’s responsibility in the after-math of Columbine and everything like that. And I think it’s important that the media not become inadvertently a stooge for the gun lobby, because we film in Canada and there’s never 25 people getting killed at a McDonald’s because they don’t allow automatic weapons. So, there’s only so many people you can kill by hitting them over the head with a video box. [laughter]
QUESTION: Chris, a question about the format of the show. You talked about how there was some room for flexibility in the concept. I’m wondering how much flexibility you’re talking about. Is the kind of the paramilitary “Road Warrior” sort of vibe that we see, is that going to be the dominant tone of the show? Or are we going to see very different worlds within this world that don’t have that vibe?
CARTER: Yes, you’ll see different worlds within the world but they will all be based around the world that you saw, which is a world where there is no government besides the government that Santiago is creating, and there is no morality or no God. These people don’t know of the real world. They may be hearing about it but they were created — they are concepts in this world who see themselves disappear. When someone dies, they evaporate, so there is no reverence for the dead, if you will.
QUESTION: Chris –
QUESTION: For all the actors, besides Chris’s name being involved in the project, is there any other part after you read the first script that made you just say, “I’ve got to do this”?
SAMANTHA MATHIS: It’s the most exciting script that I had read. Certainly the possibility within the world of “Harsh Realm” and the directions, the many directions that it could go was very exciting. I was literally like, flipping through the pages so quickly. I think what was attractive for me at the center of the story was this love story, that’s quite passionate and heartfelt and full. And these two people who love each other so much and are at the beginning of the promise of their lives and are torn from each other, and how these two people will deal with that, that was certainly what attracted it to me was this beautiful love story and this man who clearly loves his wife so much.
QUESTION: Chris, one of the disconnects for me in the pilot was, I understood sort of the issues within the Harsh Realm game, but what’s the impact of the game on the real world? Why should we care –
QUESTION: What impact does it have on the real world?
CARTER: That will be explained in the second and third episodes. We actually put it in the pilot but it was too much information. But you’ll understand what the consequences are to the real world and what Santiago has up his sleeve, which makes it, I think, a giant concept when you realize in fact how this virtual, imaginary world will affect reality if he’s successful.
QUESTION: Chris, in yesterday’s comments by Doug Herzog, he mentioned that he allocated more production budget for your pilot and I wanted to ask: how will that affect this series when obviously you will not have that large extra amount of money to do the pilot?
CARTER: Right. Well, you fight to the death for these budgets, whether you’re doing a pilot or the series. And with a pilot you’re establishing character and it takes a little bit longer to do, so you need a little bit more time. You’re setting the tone and look, you’re setting the model for the show, so you need that extra time and time equals money. In the series, you cut that back. You shoot it in eight days plus a few extra second unit days, it’s just the way you have to do it. So you’ve got to tailor your stories to those exigencies. So you wish you had more money, you don’t, you make do with what you have. I have to say I’m happy with — right now — with the budget we have to shoot the series and I think we can do a really great job.
QUESTION: So when you’re writing, you have to keep this in mind, that you’re not –
QUESTION: — writing for the pilot, you’re writing for the 12th episode.
CARTER: And when you’re rewriting, too, you’ve got to learn to — I say write with your cash register, taking money out all the time.
QUESTION: And I had a follow-up for Samantha. Samantha, Chris was talking about how on “The X-Files” and “Millennium” he maintains a control over the violence, although it may sometimes be criticized. You’re starring in “American Psycho,” a novel that was heavily criticized. What was the feeling when your agent told you you’re going to be starring in “American Psycho” and what was your take on that novel and all of the flak it received?
MATHIS: Well, I was initially very excited to be a part of what I think is a very interesting cast. Mr. Bale and — Christian Bale and Reese Witherspoon and Chloe Sevigny and Jared Leto, Willem Dafoe — it was a very exciting group of people to be working with. I think, to me, what Mary Harron had to say in the meeting when I met her was what made me so interested in being a part of it. Although the central character in the story is a serial killer, it’s a device, it’s a creative device to show the madness of that period. Most specifically I think what she was interested in examining is the insanity of that time, the late 80s in New York, within that world of Wall Street and very privileged people who did disconnect from morals and values and themselves, and ultimately that’s what the central character does, is he loses all sense of himself. So, I think what she was interested in doing was doing a social satire. I you’ll find the movie to be much more darkly humorous than the book was. The book was clearly very disturbing, but I do think — that was at the heart of what Bret Easton Ellis was trying to do with it. So, I was very excited to be a part of the film and I’m very excited to see it, I haven’t seen it yet, but …
QUESTION: Scott, can you talk a little bit about the transition from playing one of primetime’s real legitimate bastards last year on “Party of Five” to playing a very heroic character in this show, and whether one is more fun or preferable to the other.
BAIRSTOW: Right, well, going onto a show that’s already created and has an audience was interesting for me because people are watching your work and it was a lot of fun to find the complexities of that character. I thought that people on “Party of Five” handled that issue very well, took time with it. In comparison to what I’m doing now, it’s kind of like a breath of fresh air for me as a person. Lt. Hobbes is the moral center of this piece and he’s got old-fashioned values and he’s a good guy. He fights for what’s right.
QUESTION: Chris can you talk — oh, I’m sorry.
QUESTION: [overlapping] Is playing a bad guy more fun or less fun than playing a good guy?
BAIRSTOW: You know, when it comes to creating a character, I enjoy everything I do. I couldn’t say that one’s more fun than the other, it’s just the chance to play act is enjoyable in itself.
QUESTION: Chris, can you talk about how this cast came together? Did you have some of these people in mind for the roles? Did you have to sit through a gazillion –
QUESTION: — cast sessions?
CARTER: I sat through a gazillion actors. The truth is I had no one sitting up here in mind when I wrote those characters, although I knew everyone here, including Rachel. She’s from Vancouver and she does speak, I know she doesn’t speak in the pilot, but you should ask her a question because — [laughter] she’s very lovely and well-spoken. So, with “Millennium” I had Lance Henriksen and luckily I was able to cast him. In this case, I’d worked with Scott, he did something for us in the first season of “X-Files,” a terrific job. We’d seen each other over the years, said we should work together. D.B. I knew from Vancouver. He was up doing a show. We had played some basketball together and we sort of like had hung out a little bit, so that was familiarity. Samantha I knew from her work, I did not know her. And she was just in a terrific play, I hope people saw it, who live in this area, a play at the Geffen Theater I saw her in. So she’s a terrific actress both before the camera and on stage, I can say. Rachel won the part. She came in and sort of bowled us over and she’s very, very funny and here she is playing a character who does not speak, for reasons you’ll learn in the series and I think that we’re going to probably hear from Rachel about that characterization before long.
QUESTION: Rachel, to follow up, can you talk about being kind of a kick-ass chick? Is that fun?
RACHEL HAYWARD: I really am proud to be playing a kick-ass chick. I like being on the good side. I’m also fighting for what’s right and I think it’s really great to have the point of view of a really strong, self-reliant woman who can do anything that men can do because, I think, it’s the new dispensation to have a woman be able to do whatever a man can do. I don’t think any men can make a pie like I do but I just really enjoy presenting this character as a very strong person and I like the way Chris writes for strong women characters. He writes good parts for them, as you’ve seen in the past, so I like it. I feel comfortable.
QUESTION: Chris, is there going to be some kind of Internet component to this show that goes beyond the typical promotional Web site where there’s some kind of interaction and ideas for the TV show?
CARTER: Yeah, I have ideas. It’s just about creating them and incorporating them which takes a lot of work and a lot of interaction between the producers of the TV show and the producers of online media. So, while I have big ideas, I can’t promise anything, but I think the show is a natural for that kind of cross-over.
QUESTION: Can you talk about what some of those ideas are or is it too preliminary?
CARTER: It’s a little early and I don’t want to give away too much, but I think that we were approached by a company that had, I think, terrific ideas about how to make this show interactive.
QUESTION: And when is the video game coming out?
CARTER: I’m telling you, I’m working so hard writing these scripts right now that the last thing I can think of is any kind of life beyond the TV show.
QUESTION: For Chris and Samantha, you talked earlier about the love story and how important that was to you, but it seems to me that if Samantha’s character in “Harsh Realm” gets killed off and the wife is back in the real world and Hobbes can’t get there, are they ever going to act together in scenes and how do you get around that?
MATHIS: Within this device, the possibilities are endless and that’s certainly a question I had for Chris, when we met, was how can I potentially rendezvous with Scott’s character in that world –
CARTER: [overlapping] Right.
MATHIS: — and we’ve begun to discuss that, but I will be back in the real world, fighting the real fight, to find out what’s happened to him.
CARTER: There are tricks and devices. One of the things that interests me is a kind of Greek approach to this storytelling that you’ve got the Gods above in the real world, if you will, manipulating the characters down below and so I think you can plant visions in Hobbes’ head through computer programming, phantoms. You could, perhaps, bring Sophie back to that world as a phantom. Flashbacks, dreams, all these things present opportunities and devices to tell stories with them together. But I think the distance is what creates part of the power of the series.
QUESTION: Chris, it says in your bio that a second “X-Files” movie is in the planning stages. Are you thinking this probably is the last season for “The X-Files” series. And also, you kind of, I guess, drew the short straw in the Emmy nominations to make room for “The Sopranos.” Were you anticipating that in the voting?
CARTER: Well, I said this the is the year for us to get knocked off, so I was disappointed, but I think David Chase deserves anything and everything he gets because I think that’s a terrific show and he’s really good at what he does, a terrific writer too. So, yes, I was disappointed. I always felt that we were sort of the novelty choice four years running for nominations. I thought that this would be the year where there wasn’t room for us and I was right. So, another “X-Files” movie will happen. We’ve spoken about it to FOX. It’s just a matter of when.
QUESTION: Chris, could we go back to Columbine?
QUESTION: Excuse me, how about the series, the life of the series of FOX? I think there was talk last summer you were thinking this might be the last year.
QUESTION: Are you any farther along the road on that?
CARTER: My contract expires at the end of the year. I know David Duchovny’s does. Gillian’s, I think, goes to an eighth year. Right now, I’m preparing in every way for this to be the final season. I’ve heard second and third-hand that FOX might approach us about taking the show past the seventh season, so I don’t know. But, right now, as I’m plotting the series, I’m looking at these next 22 episodes as a wrap-up. And I’m very excited about the way that is shaping up, but I’m staying tuned.
QUESTION: You talked about your approach to violence in the wake of the Columbine tragedy. Others in the industry would have us believe it’s time for a re-evaluation. Can you talk about that a little? How disingenuous is it? How sincere is it?
CARTER: My feeling about television and storytellers, generally, is that what storytellers do importantly, if you’re doing it well, is you actually can shed really interesting light on the issues, through your storytelling. So, to write about war, to write about violence, it is an element of what you do and that’s what I’m dealing with here too: how much to show in order to get a point across, to learn something, to change something. And I think storytellers are vitally important to change. So, I think people are sensitive. Certainly the networks and the censors are sensitive to what’s going on TV right now, but I would hate to see it be a backlash that affects the really good, responsible storytellers in trying to write relevant, big, important stories.
QUESTION: Chris, you came from this paranormal and extraterrestrial activities through this “Digital Nightmare.” Do you think that is a sign of times, or a sign of millennium? How do you think about that?
CARTER: I think that the millennium — I read about the previous century, so the end of 100 years — the end of a century — is a time of great reflection and fear, and I think Y2K has really helped to drive that up. But I think that “The X-Files” was a show that was right for its time. I think, if just for cell phones alone, it was important. [laughter] I think that “Harsh Realm,” in the same way, can tell stories that are — may not have been interesting to people, you know, as five years ago. So, I think that “Harsh Realm” is a show that feels, like, of its time.
QUESTION: Chris, going back up to Vancouver, which is busy with filming, as you know. Did you have any problems in lining up a class crew for this project?
CARTER: Well, it’s a very busy place. I had left a winning team — five years of a — with a great crew on “X-Files.” I was sorry to leave that winning team, as anyone can — as you — I hope anyone can imagine. I was looking forward to putting as much of that crew back together. I’ve done that, to some extent. I think that people know that I want to do quality work, and they gravitate toward that. I’m very happy with the crew that I put together, and the crew that I put together on the pilot. So, I think that these people would — who have done a tremendous amount of work — would tell you that we had a really good group up there. It’s led by a group of really fine producers, I think. So, I think we’re prepared to do good work in that way.
QUESTION: Chris, how much writing are you personally going to do on the show, and is your juggling act going to change compared to, say, the last couple years of “Millennium” and “X-Files”?
CARTER: I’d say this is going to be one of the hardest years of my life. I’m prepared to do whatever I can to make this show work, and to make “X-Files” as good as it’s always been. I thought the last season of the show was one of the best seasons, which is why the Emmy nominations were kind of a disappointment today because I think we did terrific work last year. I’m going to work night and day, though, to make sure that I service these actors. I give them material that keeps them excited, which is all-important to making a good show, because if the actors aren’t excited, if the scripts aren’t good, the crews not excited, you must, sort of — you must feed that process with good material, and that’s really one of the simple facts about producing a good TV show, is getting — keeping everyone excited about the work that they do because it’s very hard.
QUESTION: So, will you be doing most of the writing, then?
CARTER: I’ll do a lion’s share of writing on both shows, I’d say.
QUESTION: Chris, in talking to people who’ve been doing some other science fiction-related shows earlier in the tour, they talk about balancing sort of the human side of the relationship between the characters with sort of the “gee whiz” aspect of science fiction and the fantasy that they’re exploring. Can you talk a little bit about how you’ll do that in “Harsh Realm.” Is that what’s necessary to sort of bring science fiction to TV in the 90s?
CARTER: I was not a science fiction fan as a kid — as a younger man. So, I didn’t really — I don’t like some of the elements of science fiction because they were not relevant, or I could not relate to them as a reader. So, I come to science fiction from, “How does it affect my life? How does it — how is it pertinent to my experience?” So, that’s really the way I always approach it. But the science fiction elements, of course, now, especially with special effects — these are the bonus to storytelling. But if you don’t tell that good, human story, the effects will never carry you through.
QUESTION: Chris, how come there haven’t been successful virtual reality concepts on television in the past? And has the audience needed to become more comfortable with computers to accept it?
CARTER: Maybe, but I think that, even though you don’t have virtual reality, you’ve had time travel shows. You’ve had shows that take place in parallel worlds, different dimensions, other universes. “Twilight Zone” — you know, as far back as “Twilight Zone,” you have these allegorical sort of shows. I think that there is an appetite for them, in that people can understand them if they’re told right. The idea of a digital universe — a digital world — is still a, I think a difficult concept to grasp, and that’s one of the tricks, I think, in making this show good and popular, is in making it understandable — how one world and another world co-exist.
QUESTION: Rachel, in your bio, it mentions many of your television credits are science fiction, like “Sliders” and “Stargate” and “Millennium” and “Highlander.” Is this something that you seek out, or is this more of an indication that what the Canadian and American television industry is, or do you ever just want to lighten up and guest star on “Spin City”?
HAYWARD: Well, I know you can’t tell, I’m a comedian.
QUESTION: So you would like to guest star on “Spin City”?
HAYWARD: I would like to just work. I like to do comedy, I like to do science fiction, I like to do — you know, I think I — first like to keep busy. I like to do fun stuff, and I don’t — I have to admit, I haven’t had an awfully big chance to do a lot of comedy up in Vancouver, but the jobs that I have been able to do up there have been fairly exciting. I think, like Chris says, I think that perhaps there’ll be some room for some comedy with “Harsh Realm,” and some laughs there. But I think I don’t know. I’m just — I think I’m just happy keeping busy in whatever it is that I’m doing.
QUESTION: Scott, Samantha, you already told us how excited you were in reading the pilot script, but your three co-stars have a lot more exposure in television than you do. Why, at this point, did you, even with a number of feature films, past and present, did you decide to go to the series route?
MATHIS: Am I on? Oh yes, I am. Excellent. Well, I think — it’s a very exciting time in television. I think, with the expanding of networks, and the variety of what’s out there, I think — all networks, and people within the television world are looking to strive to do something new. To mix it up. To find new ways to inspire audiences. So, I think there’s a lot of exciting work out there happening in television. And certainly Chris was at the forefront of doing something that was completely different within the television world.
QUESTION: Are you disillusioned with the state of the motion pictures that are offered you?
MATHIS: No. I mean, I’m generally not a disillusioned person, and I try to keep positive. I mean, I think — I mean, it’s a — certainly a strange time. I think there are less movies being made right now, and people are confused about what’s going to sell out there in that world. But I try to just stay focused on the work, and find things that are exciting to me, be it in theatre, films or television, it’s about the material. And so, when I looked at this material, I didn’t look at it as a TV show, I just looked at it as the material, and would it be challenging and inspiring for me, and that was the case, as I think Scott was probably going to — if you want to speak to that as well.
BAIRSTOW: Well, I just — when I read the pilot, having done a lot of television, and having read a lot of television, I looked at this pilot and I went, “You know what? This is a show I couldn’t direct,” and therefore, I wanted to be an actor on it. Simple as that.
QUESTION: Chris, I have a question about a detail of dialogue. Yours is one of two FOX pilots that has a variation on the line, “I get to eat your dog.” [laughter] I mean, I don’t know. I’m from Toronto, and nobody there is saying this, so it made me kind of curious how that happens. Is everybody in L.A. saying, “I’m going to eat your dog” this year?
CARTER: No. You know, there’s — there is some language in the show, generally, and I wanted to distinguish the Pinocchio and Hobbes characters from one another. I wanted Pinocchio to be a very, sort of, saucy character in terms of dialogue, and to make him — differentiate him from the Hobbes character, who I felt is an idealized hero who doesn’t want men speaking poorly to women, who would always be chivalrous and gentlemanly. So, you want Pinocchio to sound different, and to be a character of some dangerous consequence, and I think that’s why you have a place like Harsh Realm where things like animals are commodities, and might in fact be eaten if let off their leash.
QUESTION: Chris, this year, fantasy shows have been imposing celibacy on their lead characters. Both “Angel” and “GvsE” have said they have to be celibate. And you’ve at least made it damn difficult for him not to be celibate because his wife’s usually in another realm. Is there a reason for that? Is that good, interesting storytelling to do that?
CARTER: I think so. You know, it works on “The X-Files,” or it has for a long time. [laughter] You know, he’s not married. He is — in fact, he has not taken a vow, but he, I think, will live up to the unspoken vow that he has taken to be true to his wife-to-be, and I think that’s going to be an interesting thing to play for the character of Hobbes. Pinocchio, on the other hand, I think, has taken no vows, nor plans to. [laughter] And will, I think add another different kind of element to the show.
QUESTION: For D.B. and Scott, earlier you had mentioned that you’re really not into the virtual reality games, nor the Internet and that kind of thing. Was it difficult, then, to understand where the script was going? That the concept of the virtual reality — is there someone — or do you have little meetings with Chris and saying, “What the heck do you mean by this,” if you’re not into that type of virtual reality mindset?
BAIRSTOW: Well, I think I understand — I understood the concept, and with the show, it’s — as an actor, I’m playing human elements, human emotions, and so when it came to jumping into it, it was fairly easy.
QUESTION: And D.B.?
SWEENEY: Well, I think it feels more complicated than it is, I think. I don’t know if you’ve — have you seen the whole show or just –
QUESTION: Oh yes.
SWEENEY: Yeah, well I think — the first subsequent episodes are going to sort of reprise some of the ideas of how you get in and out of the world, who controls it, and how you, you know, can control those portals, or get access to them. But I think when you get right down to it, it’s pretty simple. You have these two worlds. You know, you have the worlds, you know. You have the world where you’re actual flesh and blood people, and then you have the world where you’re a digital representation of that person, or completely created, virtual character. So, those three different states are all you’re dealing with and then some people can go back into the real, and obviously the virtual characters can’t, or at this time, they can’t. I don’t know — whatever Chris is going to cook up. But I think part of the fun of a series is like, “All right, I think I understand about 87% of this, and I really want to find out the other 13%.” So, I think as much as the audience, hopefully, has that reaction, I think as an actor, you like to be intrigued like that. You don’t necessarily, you know, want to have — if it’s pat, if everything is answered for you, like the way it was in the “Dharma & Greg” pilot, I don’t know why you’d want to watch the show. [laughter]
QUESTION: Mr. Carter, if I could follow up on that. You said you were going to start giving people an understanding in the second and third episode of why all this matters in the real world. But it’s a very competitive TV world out there, these days. Do you have any fear that people are going to watch the first one and think, you know, “I don’t know why they’re playing this game. I don’t know why it matters and I don’t care”?
CARTER: Yeah. Well, you worry about that, but hopefully, you’ve made something compelling enough that people come back. But I’m not interested in, and I think that sort of shows with “X-Files” and “Millennium,” in doing sort of traditional franchise shows. So hopefully, the difference in this show, the unique quality will be enough to bring people back, and the good storytelling and the terrific acting.
CINDY RONZONI: All right, thank you very much.