Lexx: Interviews

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"Taking time out from shooting Season 4, the Stars of Lexx recently met up with TV ZONE to talk about the past, present and future of SF' quirkiest series"

WITH THE WORLDS of fire and water behind them, the crew of the Lexx is now headed for earth. Between the arrival of the loser turned ship's captain, a cluster lizard/love slave hybrid, a centuries old dead assassin and a lovesick disembodied robot head, the Human race won't know what's hit it!

And that's basically the premise behind LEXX's fourth season, now in production. During a recent visit to London, cast members Brian (Stanley Tweedle) Downey and Michael (Kai) McManus sat down with TV ZONE to talk about the series...

TV Zone: Are you both happy with the way the current season is going?

MM: It's very satisfying, getting this season in, because it means that our journey has gone almost 65 hours, and it's really going to support what we've done before. I think people will watch the series backwards, so the cleverness of making Heaven and Hell [the season 3 finale] a turgid soap opera and making the entire expanse of the light universe into this character display operatic, slightly lyrical way, or laying out characters. And in the intro to the whole series, of doing dense historically interesting SF, where the light universe was laid out, the insect civilization, the Brunnen-G and rebel culture, and all of the events are played to their climax, so we have all these different textures. The Show does have a bit of that Swiftian spirit; it will never be middle class. It's always going to be LEXX, and people are going to know what LEXX means as a word. It might show up in OED in 10 years, that "LEXXic" means a situation or person who is negatively disposed to any do-gooding, and has no idea about contributing to the greater good, who thinks that the greater good is bullshit, and is basically reductionist and negative, following his appetite, prick, stomach, head, ego; whatever; it's a world of appetites.

TV Zone: So your characters are basically "LEXXic" then?

MM: Our Characters are the dysfunctional centre that the world of LEXX can be bounced off of. Under normal circumstances, they wouldn't survive a minute in the LEXX universe because at some level they are almost good, but only because good in the LEXX world is harmless. When they're powerful, intelligent or passionate, they're a terrible to disaster to the people around them, and because of certain accidents, the accident of us ending up on the most powerful spaceship in the two universes. There's the accident of Kai getting his memories back just before he slaughters them and becoming a little more self-conscious, Stanley doesn't give up all his limbs to the protein bank, and Xev doesn't get the brain transplant that makes her brain a love slave as well. So she's still got the old ugly woman brain, and a love slave body. Again I think the satirical aspects are going to be very clear this year, and very satisfying to people who have watched the show from the beginning. And then some other people will have to eat their hats about what they've said about LEXX, and their response to the first 8 hours, or the 20 or the 13.

BD: It's all a part of the continuum, so I don't fell any different about this season than I have about the previous seasons. In a sense, it's satisfying to know that we're coming to a conclusion to this aspect of the show. Aspects of the show may appear in another guise, but essentially it's satisfying on any number of levels. On of the really satisfying things is that we have practical input into what appears on the screen in terms of the way we display our characters, and the level of the control we have over the scripts and the voice we can have, so nothing has really changed significantly. It's satisfying to work on it, and that satisfaction hasn't diminished, nor has the level of energy that's required to accomplish what we're doing. I think the 3 of us have strong levels of energy as actors, and I don't think any of us would be able to sit around with our thumbs up asses.

TV Zone: Will Season Four episodes be as serialised as those Season 3?

MM: If I had to say anything about Season 4, I'd say it's a real pay-off year. We come to earth, and you have to earn the right to be there if you're whacked out characters like us. I think the groundwork has been done, so it would be a real shame not to do this season. It really is the end of this phase of our story, and doing it has been really satisfying.
BD: There's a mythology that's been developing, and what would Greek mythology be without Zeus and Hera? As Mike says, the mythology becomes more developed unit than a group of individual stories. There's a group of individual stories. There's a comprehensive cycle to it.

TV Zone: So is the Ship's arrival on Earth a key story point of the season?

MM: It's the key condition, but not really a story point. It's the location of the stories, like Fire and water were or the Light universe before that. This year, Earth is the serial connection in terms of story arc, but its not quite as intensely serialized as the Fire and Water arc. It's a combination. Once people have seen the 24 we're making this year, especially the last ones, they'll be able to watch season 2 and season 3 with much more satisfaction. Some people who haven't bothered to watch the show before might end up privately turning on their television and catching an episode in a while until they are no longer embarrassed about watching LEXX.

TV Zone: What surprises you when you pick up a script? When you've been doing this show for a few years, you don't want to be doing the same thing every week.

BD: That would be surprise, if we were doing the same old same old. There's nothing I can really point to and say. 'That's new', or, 'That's a surprise.
MM: My biggest surprises are not really a surprise, because you see them coming from far away, but the surprise is the things that Paul gets in his head. When we did the musical, there was a lot of resistance [Downey laughs]. We had a lot of discussion about it, and the director wanted to back off and turn it into a play within an episode, but there were a few people who said, 'It's got to be a fucking musical!' and it worked out tremendously. The meetings for what would be the basic music only took place nine days before the score was delivered and the script was written (because it was still theoretical) and 3 or 4 days after that we started shooting. We shot a one-hour musical, full score with the device of a narrator, which is a little bit more efficient, but still, it's an entire musical, written in nine days, shot in seven with one afternoon of rehearsal on a weekend and that's it. To me it cam together really nicely with the amount of time a resources available to us, and even though it had different kind of emotional punch, it fit right in. That extremity always surprises me, that people have these extreme ideas and get to execute them. I grew up in Ontario, and they don't believe in that in Ontario.
BD: I grew up in Newfoundland, so...
MM: To it's normal for him. He's been saying, 'Don't do the musical!' ever since he was 15. If you watch the episode, Stanley really isn't in it.
BD: I'm not a fan of musicals in general. I've played in rock and roll bands and jazz bands, but musical theatre is very different, and performing in it is very different, and performing in it; well we found a device to get Stanley off the stage, which was probably a blessing for our viewers.
MM: This year, there have been a couple of things like that, which have been very satisfying. There's a whole episode that is just a chess game, and it's going to be breathtaking. That was another episode where we were confused, and some people were upset about it, but that's the episode, and it's just brilliant.

TV Zone: Do either of you still have a mental wish list for your characters?

MM: One of the principles of LEXX is that people don't develop. You don't want to become expansive all of a sudden or making improvements.
BD: I want the LEXX toilets in my home. I don't want to deal with toilet paper anymore. I think everybody should have a tongue in their bathroom, we'd save a lot of trees.

TV Zone: But Michael if you say characters can't grow or develop-

MM: They can develop like a photograph develops, where we see more and more of them. In terms of events, they're always at that fixed point when their characters were defined. So when I got memory back after having been a divine assassin for 2000 years, that is the defining moment of my relationship to the world, the reality that's discovered on the Lexx and my attachment to theses guys. The love slave transformation fixes the love slave transformation fixes the love slave in her state.
BD: And then the control of the most powerful destructive force in the 2 universes.
MM: Just because of a couple of little dildos giving up the deep secrets of the rebel forces and causing the destruction of a huge number of planets and billions of people is the constant state of Stanley Tweedle. For 790, it was a love slave injection into his tiny human brain, is what defines him.

TV Zone: Some of our readers who haven't seen LEXX yet must be wondering what we're talking about here.

MM: Tell them to watch the show!

TV Zone: At the beginning of the conversation, you alluded to the fact that this may be the final season of Lexx. In an ideal world, how long would you like the show to go on?

BD: There's some talk of a spin-off series, but that's all it is at the moment.
MM: If they do more Lexx, it should be a spin-off. Personally, I think they should go back 12,000 years ago and journey to the light universe and take the Brunnen-G, this militant culture whose sun is threatening to go supernova and they've got to find a new place to live. They go into the light universe, where they have battle the insect civilization, so it could be a very interesting series, a journey to the light universe. There are endless possibilities. Lexx is so much more than a set of characters.

-Joe Nazzaro

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