Who is Corwin? | the Eps | Analysis | Josh Cox | Con report | Interviews | Pics
The Corwin Page | Lynne's home page
An interview by David Bassom with Josh Cox in the TV Zone Winter Special #24.
When Joshua Cox was hired to play an unnamed Command and Control technician in Babylon 5's first season episode Signs and Portents, the actor held little hope for his character's future. During the course of the following three years, however, Cox reprised the role in more than 25 episodes, and earned the previously anonymous Earth Alliance officer a name, a promotion and a small but distinct place in the space station saga.
"It's kind of exciting," Cox tells TV Zone. "I started off by doing the last three episodes of the first season, and it was just a day-player sort of thing. I don't think [series creator/executive producer] Joe Straczynski or any of the producers had any real plans for this particular guy - I think he was there just to impart the information the main characters needed to hear.
"But I kept coming back until finally I had Claudia Christian [who plays Commander Ivanova] and Bruce Boxleitner [Captain Sheridan] asking, 'When are we going to give Josh's character a name?' The cast has been very supportive of me, and kept joking about the fact that I was always being billed as either 'Tech 1' or 'Tech 2'. As a result, my character was sort of developed a little more than was ever planned. I guess that being a professional and delivering my lines with some aplomb, they took a liking to me, and I'm very grateful to the cast and crew for their support and encouragement.
The first sign of the actor's growing prominence in Babylon 5 came with his 14th appearance of the show, in Season Two's And Now for a Word. Presented as a spoof documentary, the episode included a brief but amusing scene in which Cox's character is interviewed about life on the Command and Control deck, and asked if his ultra-militaristic commanding officer, Susan Ivanova, ever becomes difficult to work with. In the process, he is revealed to have a name and a rank - Lieutenant (Junior Grade) David Corwin.
"That episode brought me to the fore in that it acknowledged that, by being on the deck, I know my commander," the actor remarks. "When my character is asked those questions, he can either lie to cover his ass, or tell the truth. In the end, he lied! I was given a name in that episode, but it wasn't acknowledged amongst the cast; no one actually called me by my name, David Corwin, until later in the series."
Babylon 5's third season continued to give Corwin a greater role in proceedings, and also provided him with his finest hour to date, in the form of Exogenesis. Exogenesis opens with Corwin being promoted to the rank of full Lieutenant, and follows Commander Ivanova's attempts to test his loyalty to the Earth Alliance - an unofficial investigation which leaves Corwin wondering whether his superior officer has romantic feelings for him!
"In Corwin's mind, there's a question of what exactly is going on," says Cox. "He's a little naive and doesn't really know what to think! Exogenesis was a cute little show, and they aired it here [in the States] close to Valentine's Day. It was a lot of fun to do. Claudia's great to work with; she's got a great sense of humour and is a real on-set jokester."
Although Exogenesis was an effective showcase for Lt Corwin, the young Lieutenant seems to have been somewhat overlooked since that episode. While Joshua Cox admits to being disappointed that his character hasn't become a bigger part in Babylon 5, he remains extremely grateful to have been involved with the show in the first place.
"I find the work on Babylon 5 - with that cast and crew and producers - to be entirely enjoyable," he explains. "There's a certain air of camaraderie and professionalism on the set, and everyone has a lot of fun there. So it's been great to have a place to go, say a few lines and earn a little money.
"I would love to be a bigger part of the show and it is a bit frustrating to secretly want to have a large role in the scripts. But at the same time, I'm still happy to be a small part of the show - it's better than not being in it at all!"
Despite the relatively small size of his role, Cox regularly receives mail from Babylon 5 fans, and has also been invited to attend several Science Fiction conventions. "I'm really eager to do conventions because it's just great fun to travel around and meet people who watch the show," he says. "I'm looking forward to meeting the fans and finding out why they like the show so much.
"I'm especially excited about travelling to England for the first time, for the Wolf 359 convention in July ['The Alliance']. I have a great love for shows like Monty Python's Flying Circus, Fry and Laurie and Black Adder with Rowan Atkinson. I have always had a great appreciation for English humour and I guess I've always been a bit of an Anglophile - certainly my attempts to produce English accents over the years have given my family and friends a lot of amusement! So to go to England and be part of something that has taken place in the States is certainly an earmark of my professional journey. To take a vacation and do a job at the same time is going to be fabulous."
Cox isn't contractually bound to Babylon 5, and is hired to appear on the show on an episodic basis. Consequently, the actor has plenty of time to focus his attention on other activities. "There are lots of things going on behind the scenes other than Babylon 5," he remarks. "In my spare time, I like to surf, go snowboarding and do some other extreme sports. I also love playing the guitar - I hope to get to the point where I can play with a band one day."
Similarly, the actor is free to pursue roles in other projects, and recently guest-starred in another SF series, Sliders. "I was in an episode called The Electric Twister Acid Test," he says. "I played a sociopathic Amish guy in this kind of 'amish-gone-mad' world. The episode was all about this corrupt Amish leader who uses God and religion for his own ends, and I end up being his enforcer. I look very different than I do in Babylon 5 - I have a goatee, my hair is rather unkempt and I have overalls, and I look like something straight out of Deliverance! I got to beat up the star of the show [Jerry O'Connell, who plays Quinn Mallory], and then he beat me up at the end, and I go crawling off like a coward when I see I'm licked. It's actually quite amusing.
"Sliders was really nice to work on," he continues. "The people there were great. The director really knew his stuff about working with actors and John Rhys-Davies [Professor Atruo] was brilliant. I'd seen him in Raiders of the Lost Ark and plenty of other things when I was younger, and it's always nice to work with people you've seen over the years - it kinda gives you a great feeling like you're in the right place, making the right moves."
Another of Cox's recent credits was an episode of The Burning Zone entitled The St Michael's Nightmare "I played a guy who blows his brains out," the actor laughs. "We did a lot of work on that scene - it took an hour, an hour and a half to set it up and shoot it - but it happens really fast at the beginning of the episode. That's the nature of television - there's no room for embellishment, you knock out the beats really quickly. I had a nice time working on the show, but I wish I could have been on screen more so that the emotion of the scene could really have come out."
Cox firmly believes that his association withBabylon 5 has helped him win roles in such shows as Sliders and The Burning Zone. "It's nice to be able to walk into auditions and say, 'Yeah, I am working, I have a recurring role on a TV show.' I think that B5 might be the beginning of a definite run of good fortune for me. Acting is a tough business - there are a lot of people at it - and it's very difficult to get yourself in a niches and keep the ball rolling. Once you do, you hope it continues."
Born and raised in New York, Joshua Cox's first big break came in the soap opera One Life to Live, the sucess of which encouraged hom to move to Los Angeles. Ever since then, he has appeared in various stage plays, films and tv shows, including the Johnny Depp teen cop vehicle 21 Jump Street, Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs, The Runestone and Hideous Mutant Freeks.
The actor made his first foray into the Science Fiction genre in the fifth season Quantum Leap episode Star Light, Star Bright. As Officer Milardi, Cox briefly confronted Time-travelling Dr Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) after the scientist's close encounter with a UFO.
"That was a shorty - a one day job for me," recalls Cox. "I didn't get to meet Dean [Stockewell, Sam's holographic assistant Al] but I did meet Scott and he was a very nice guy. He made a point of coming up and introducing himself, saying 'Hi, how are you?' and that kind of thing, which I appreciated because it's always great when one of the show's regular actors reaches out to someone who's only there for a minute, and tries to make them feel welcome."
Thanks to his roles in Quantum Leap, Babylon 5, Sliders and The Burning Zone, Cox is fast becoming a regular face in US SF shows. It's not surprising, therefore, that one of his main amibitons right now is to guest star in an episode of the world's hottest SF series, The X-Files. "That would be a lot of fun," he remarks. "I've never auditioned, but I would definitely be interested in working on the show. It would be nice to travel up to Canada and shoot an episode."
With Babylon 5's fourth season currently in production, Cox is keeping his fingers crossed that the rise of David Corwin will continue. "I've been rewarded very well for my efforts, but working on Babylon 5 is still like a daily thing for me - I never know what's going to happen and there's no guarantee I'll even be in the show.
"It would be great is TV Zone readers could support young Corwin by sending in as much mail as they can. I don't know if there are any female readers who have a liking for his face, but he could use all the help he can get! The more interest there is in the character, I'm sure they'll keep me around and bring me in and use me more. But the fact that it has developed as far as it has is really quite nice."
Should the spotlight ever fall on Corwin again - be it in Babylon 5 or the proposed spin-off series, currently entitled The Babylon Project: Crusade - then Joshua Cox has two distinct ambitions for the future. "I would like him to be made a Captain and given a ship which could take him to a lot of places," he laughs. "That would be cool!"
Babylon 5 is copyright Warner Bros