Na'Tiel's B5 con pages

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Jason Carter

Jason - the one you have been waiting for!

Con report - Best of Both Worlds 4 (November 20th - 22nd, 1998) and A Day with Jason Carter (Melbourne, 29th November 1998).

After the weekend con in Sydney, Jason showed up in Melbourne for a hastily prepared one day con. Of course I went to that as well - can't pass up the opportunity of seeing such a lovely chap when he's in my home city. This is a synthesis of both BOBW4 and Jason's Melbourne appearance.

Jason Brian Carter was born on the 23rd of September 1960. He grew up in Gainsborough, a small town in the north of England. His father (parents?) ran the local pub. He thought he would be an archaeologist when he was young - he used to go field walking and loved discovering old stuff like clay (smokers') pipes. Finding a 1930s newspaper under the lino was wonderful.

There was no cinema or theatre in the town but Jason somehow managed to discover acting via school plays. He played the Artful Dodger in "Oliver" and had a wonderful time. He thought he was great at the time, but recently heard a tape of his performance and suggests that he over-rated his own performance somewhat ;-)

He did his O levels and was best at the logical subjects - maths, physics, chemistry (!!!). At age 17, he did a school production of "Julius Caesar" in which he played Lucius. He couldn't stand studying Shakespeare, yet loved learning this work - after three weeks of rehearsals, he could do practically all the speeches for the entire play. During this time, he met his first love, Teresa. One scene required him to kiss the character played by Teresa. They didn't stop kissing when they were supposed to....and the director let them keep on going. After that, Jason ran around a party inviting everyone to the wedding.... :-)

When Jason was about 12 or 13, he had a little run in with a drinks cabinet. He and a mate took mixed a bit of everything they could and made themselves sick as dogs. He says that that acted as aversion therapy for quite some time. Doesn't seem to have had any particularly long term effects, however. He seems quite happy to frequent the pub these days. He certainly wasn't too impressed with the lack of availability of Aspros in central Sydney on a Sunday morning - he could find plenty of open pubs and bottleshops but no places that sold aspirin. (Down in Melbourne, there is no problem - my city's shops are open on Sundays. Melburnians love going to the city to shop and socialise and eat, but it doesn't seem to work that way in Sydney.)

Jason used to be somewhat of a socialist until things like marriage and mortgage and kids and the need for money got in the way. His first marriage failed, but he has two boys from it. They live in London and are members of Albert's Instant Circus. He has a 4yo daughter, Madeline, with his second wife, Susie and a stepdaughter, Joey. He jokes that he first got his Bachelor's and now is on his Master's (degree). Let's hope he doesn't move on to his PhD....

He has a severely practical side - he likes to be able to see what he has made (hence going to the gym doesn't work for him - what has he made at the end of the session? Can't see any change, therefore it's not worthwhile doing). He shares his home with his family, 3 cats, a Yorkshire Terrier and a workshop full of tools.

He has a great marketing idea - the inflatable Jason. You press a button and it never stops talking. "You'll never be lonely again!" He first learnt about the action figures when someone wanted one autographed at a con. "Ohmigod, I'm an action figure!" He thinks it is a quite good likeness. "There's effigies of me everywhere!" His sons ended up with a Marcus doll, which they enthusiastically ran over with their Mars Rover. Then they taped Marcus to the top of the rover and took him exploring. He says that his children have a healthy disrespect for his acting.

Jason's autobiography, if ever written, will be called "Excellent but too old," after his first (and only?) review from a theatre production where at the grand old age of 22 or 24, Jason played a king. The reviewer wrote that Jason Carter's King was "excellent but too old."

When asked about the Minbari language, he says that Joe is not a linguist and it was just random, sometimes made up syllables - unlike Tolkien, who made up all those Elvish languages with their grammars (Quenya and Sindarin). He thought that Tolkien was the only one to have made up such languages, but laughed when someone yelled that there is a Klingon language institute.

He recited several pieces of poetry, some of his own efforts ("The Unfairness of Orgasm", "The License", "Grandma", "The Chat Up") and one anonymous piece ("That Portion of a Woman" - his warm up piece, being a working class oik, and something he can really get his mouth around ;-). He got "Modern Major General" out of the way early on in all his talks. Interestingly, up in Sydney, the crowd didn't join in with the chorus, whilst in Melbourne we did. When asked to repeat MMG by a young girl in the crowd in Melbourne, he said his voice was getting a little rough, so he did the Sid Vicious meets Gilbert and Sullivan verson.

On set, he says that Jerry was the biggest prankster, but because Jason's memory is bad, he can't remember specific details. Andreas Katsulas inspired the most awe in Jason - he thinks Andreas is brilliant. The work that Andreas did whilst being totally covered.... Jason was terribly nervous when he had to work with Andreas (in WHtMG presumably) - Jason was wandering around beforehand chattering to himself and could not relax. Andreas' work is "so real, so truthful", but you can't force that truth - the acting came from somewhere so deep within Andreas that Jason could not keep up. Jason enjoyed the scenes on "Mars" and liked working with Richard Biggs. He didn't like working with Kosh - "In walks the fridge [Kosh] and you're done" - Kosh steals every scene he is in ;-).

He doesn't mind seeing the dailies - they reassure him and tell him if he got the acting right. He's never satisfied with his acting, but somethings work pretty well, so he is pleased by them. His favourite director was John Flynn, III. John would get in amongst the actors with a hand-held camera and biff them with it. At the end of a take, he would encourage the actors with "too good for tv...."

Why do people watch B5? "People watch people". The special effects are very nice, but people like watching characters. B5 has great characters. Jason liked Marcus - he liked the silliness of the character combined with his apparent lack of attention to yet complete awareness of his surroundings. eg the scene before Marcus "captures" Captain Jack - one moment silly and apparently careless, the next moment he's gone, then he has Captain Jack.

Those scenes where Marcus had to use the fighting pike? He had to whip out the small pike as he dropped into his fighting stance, then he had to freeze, drop the small pike, wait until the extended pike was put in his hand and then he could fight on. Jason had to fight for the right to do the fight scenes himself - he thinks that there is nothing worse than far away shots of stuntmen fighting, then a close up of the actors grimacing, then a long shot again. The stuntguys don't look like they want to kill each other. Maybe the actors don't have the perfect techniques, but at least they have that glint in their eye.

There are insurance problems with allowing the actors to fight. Of course as soon as Jason won the right to do the stunts himself, Marcus had to jump up through a hatch and Jason smacked his head so hard that he had to bite his lip. He couldn't say anything cos then they would have taken away his hard-fought stunt rights. The only part of any fight scene that isn't Jason's work is when Marcus does a spin kick - Jason can't do them (he says that you can't have testicles and do kicks like them :).

Whenever Marcus is out of breath during a fight, Jason really was out of breath - if he was meant to be breathless, before the scene started, he would run around. He couldn't use Olivier's technique of acting breathless - Jason had to be breathless! And he really loved the fight scene with Neroon in G17iM. That particular script gave Jason a few worries.

I think we have all heard of Bill Mumy's trickery where he came up to Jason and persisted in saying that he was very sorry to hear that Marcus dies in the next episode (and Jason does a nice imitation of a quietly spoken Mumy). This went on all day, and Jason was getting rather annoyed cos it was going past a joke - there was no "ahhhh, gotcha! Had you fooled!" Jason was sure that he was far too valuable for Marcus to be killed, but Bill persisted. So eventually, Jason went and saw the script editor. She was editing the next ep, Grey 17, on the computer. "Scan forward!" Marcus is in a fight to the death with Neroon. They scanned further and further through the script and Marcus is slowly beaten into a pulp. Jason is getting extremely worried by this stage. Then there is a line that goes something like "Marcus turns his head, lets out a sigh.... (you can relax now Jason)." Of course when Mira heard about it, she had a fit. She yelled at Billy and jms - how can you do this to him - he's got a wife and kids and a mortgage and and and... so the next day, a basket full of a variety of beers shows up on Jason's doorstep. It's from Bill - Mira had sent him on a guilt trip. Then a basket of goodies, the sorts of things you never buy, shows up. It's from jms and has a little card on it, saying "I will never ever kill you again - J Michael Straczynski". Jason rang Joe up and asked him if he could treat that card as a contract. jms said "look at the card - I didn't sign it", and yup, it was typewritten. And we all know what happened to Marcus. The ever philosophical Jason says, well, when it comes to it, Marcus topped himself - he wasn't killed.

Jason had a few things to say about the death of Marcus. One was that he didn't know if Marcus was really dead until the next script, and even then, Joe said that Marcus was in a freezer, like the Shadow technology adapted teeps (right next to Walt Disney's fabled head). He was a bit peeved that Marcus sacrificed his life for nothing, but thought it would be great if Marcus had been revived halfway through fifth season only to find that Ivanova had gone - what, it didn't work???? What a dilemma that would pose for Marcus. In a more lewd moment, he suggests Marcus should have "boffed" Ivanova after hooking himself up to the machine - imagine Ivanova waking up and there's Marcus on top of her, stiff as a board...

He had to come in to do some looping for an episode before Marcus' death. Rick Biggs was doing some looping for the scene where Ivanova is bawling her eyes out over stupid romantic Marcus. Jason asked if he could do some looping over a copy of that scene. Ivanova's crying "Marcus never asked for anything" - and Jason muffles his voice "Help, help, get me out of this box! I'm asking now!" Ivanova keeps grieving. "Help! let me out of this box!!!!!" ;-) BTW, Jason reckons that that was Claudia's best bit of acting on the whole series, and I can't disagree.

I get the impression that he is not really happy with some aspects of living in LA. "It is too full of people that are looking in mirrors all the time and trying to be noticed." Working on set in England - at lunchtime, the cast and crew pops down to the local pub and has a few beers over lunch. In the USA, the sheer thought of nipping down to the pub is unheard of. Alcohol!!!!! At lunchtime? But we're working! Very puritanical.

A little B5-related story. Jason and Bruce Boxleitner had a "discussion" whilst having dinner one night. To end the argument, Jason drew an imaginary sword from its scabbard by his side. BB promptly pulled an imaginary gun and shot him....

Jason talked a bit about his role on 3rd Rock - how he won the character of Sally's boyfriend and how intimidating it was to work with these amazingly tall people! Also, he had fun on the set of Roar - he and another guy, his sidekick in the ep, weirded out the cast and crew. At the moment, Jason is trying to gain weight and an American accent for a movie he will be shooting in the New Year. He has gained 20 lb and describes himself as a string bean now with love handles. He does look a little thicker around the middle, and oh no! His hair is starting to get a few grey strands. There are other snippets that I could put in, but that is exactly what they are - disconnected snippets.

Only one problem with Jason? He wouldn't take his shirt off, despite numerous requests ;-) He said that he has five nipples and no thank you, he wouldn't :-)

Jason is an absolute charmer and I would say that he is, at least as far as the fans are concerned, pretty much the perfect guest. He is entertaining, though a bit scatterbrained - in answering questions he frequently digressed and then forgot what he was talking about. His wife Susie must have the patience of a saint if he is really that forgetful. He has time for everyone and seems to like talking to the fans. Pictures and autographs weren't a problem. He posed with anyone who asked and I got a couple of great shots with him up in Sydney. I got them scanned and enlarged to be signed at his Melbourne appearance. He was suitably impressed by the quality of the printing, so I gave him my spare copy of the one of me pecking him on the cheek. Oh, yes, I dared smooch him on the cheek - he just doesn't inspire terror in the fans and is what we Aussies term a "good sport" in our older tongue.

Jason says that he is a social vampire - he steals everyone's energy. There were plenty of victims willing to offer their necks - he had us eating out of the palm of his hand (if I can mix both metaphors). He seems to love being the centre of attention but does it in such a way that you don't think he thinks far too well of himself. He bounced around the stage in Melbourne telling us that what he was really asking was to be loved - that is why he expends so much energy. I have the feeling that we were very happy to love him - he certainly won me over and my (female) friends were happily drooling at him.

He's a Good Bloke. If you ever get a chance to see him, run, I repeat run!, to get your ticket. You won't be disappointed. I certainly wasn't :-) And Marcus is not even one of my very favourites from B5! What better recommendation do you need?

I reckon you might want to see some pics, so try here!

Natiel's B5 con pages/last modified 20th September 2001

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