"Who is Number one? ... you are .. Marjorie Monaghan"
The 5 Times Magazine
Autumn 1997, 5x14, pages 6-7
Can you tell a little about how you see the character of Number One.
"She is the head of the Mars resistance. An intelligent woman who has had to become what is basically a street fighter in order to protect the people who she is trying to protect - these people who are being ground down into nothing by corporations and the whole situation. And she finds she can't live with that. Even though now she can't sleep two nights in the same place because she might get caught and killed. Adn she lives with the responsibility that, every day, people are being killed in an attempt to get to her and to wipe out the resistance. It's a very black and white kind of life."
Can you tell us a little about your background and what your interests are off-stage?
"I am of Irish-Celt ancestry and one of my fascinations is Celtic history and cosmology. I've an avid reader of anything to do with that. I am six feet tall. I sing. I enjoy riding horses. I'm trained in theatrical combat and I enjoy that. I started that in college and when I was in New York I took a course in rapier and dagger. When I came out to LA I went to fight class and we did hand-to-hand, sword, quarterstaff, all sorts of things. I have done an episode of The Sentinel where I get to beat a guy up..."
Your fellow B5 co-start Pat Tallman is trained in period sword technique as well as her stunt work...
"I know. Actually, I did an episode of Star Trek: Voyager over a year ago. Pat was over at my apartment recently, and she saw a picture that Bob Picardo had given me of myself in that episode. And Pat said, 'Wait a minute! I doubled you in that episode!'"
Is stunt work something that appeals to you?
"I haven't looked into stunt work, but I do enjoy doing the fighting. And I'm learning martial arts."
There seems to be an abundance of tall actors on Babylon 5. Has this caused you problems with being cast opposite certain leading men on other shows...
"It's like anything else. It works for and against you. There are times I've been told I'm too tall to work with the men, but also I have been taller than the men and nobody cares. But because of my height, my voice, and the particular kind of presence I have, I am asked to play these strong, interesting women. Which works in my favor in the SF genre, which I really enjoy. I'm sure I've lost roles because of it, but it cuts both ways."
How did you get into B5?
"I actually worked with Claudia years ago on a show I did called Space Rangers, which she guested on. So when I heard she was in Babylon 5, I watched the pilot - I always watch new science fiction - and I enjoyed it and have watched it, off and on, since.
"I was aware of Joe's remarkable strength in sticking to his original vision and also the mythological dimensions of the work, and the epic story telling which I really like and which science fiction can do really well, but often doesn't... But he does.
"So I had auditioned for it once or twice before. They asked me to come in to read for this part. Joe was there and what I learned, later, is that he knew my work from Space Rangers and actually offered me a job once before. I didn't know that it had come from him, but I did an episode of Murder, She Wrote. So I was very flattered to know tht he was that aware of my work.
"I went in, I had two scenes, which I read and we talked about other things. Then I went home. Then they called me and said I was hired."
How did work on B5 differ from what you've done before?
"It varies and it depends on the actors with whom you're acting. On Babylon 5 it was different because I did five episodes. As you play a character more, you get more settled into it and you also get to be friends with people you're working with. And that didn't happen so much on Quantum Leap or Voyager, thought I was a series regular on Space Rangers, which was different.
"The Babylon 5 cast is very much like a family and they were incredibly welcoming to me. First Jason and Rick in the first two episodes I did, and John Flinn who directed my second episode, and the crew, and Joe... and then I kept coming back. Third episode I met Pat, and it's just been really lovely. And fun - because as you get to play a character over a period of time and as they deal with different situations, you get to bring out more and more things in them...
"I've been very lucky, because when I worked on Space Rangers we were also very close. I'm still good friends with some of the people of the cast. And the same is true of Voyager, I spoke to Bob Picardo just the other day... And Quantum Leap - Scott Bakula is quite possibly the nicest human being on the planet. He was lovely and the director, Michael Zimberg, who more recently directed me in an episode of The Pretender.
"One thing with Babylon 5 is the crew are really well organised. I had no idea how they shoot a show that complicated that quickly. Usually science fiction shows regularly run over. Babylon 5 doesn't."
B5 comes in ahead of schedule and often under budget...
"I know! I cannot figure out how they do it!"
What other projects have you been working on recently?
"I just finished an episode of The Sentinel. Filming in Vancouver. It's a police show in which the lead man was lost in a jungle for a period after a war, and his senses have become extremely acute. The Sentinel is a figure from the jungle tribe's legend. So he uses his highly tuned senses to protect in the city. And I got to play a terrific character.
"I'm just about to film an episode of JAG. Which is another Don Bellisario show - so it's exciting to work with him again... It's a marvelous show and David Elliott is a wonderful actor. I'm really looking forward to it. I play a bad guy - I never play bad guys..."
Are you a fan of the SF genre?
"I really wasn't much a movie or television watcher as a child. I grew up reading Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey, the Mary Stewart Merlin books ...and Joseph Campell's work, which is not science ficiton but deals with mythology, allegory and story telling. Which is really a lot to do with why I am an actor. It's also a very Irish thing.
"When I saw Star Wars... All the girls my age thought Luke Skywalker was cute. I was saying, 'No! I wanna be Han Solo!' And it gave me the idea that it is possible to do something like that..."
I believe George Lucas and Joseph Campbell were friends - you can certainly apply Campbell's ideas to Star Wars...
"I knew they had worked together on The Power of Myth. And it's a magnificent way of story telling. It's an eternal way of story telling... making the archaetypes relevant. Especially now when we're in a period, globally when so much is changing and shifting and we've lost track of the myths. Mythology, I think, is incredibly helpful if people look at it as a means to understanding. As we're going through chaos and moving toward a new level and global society, with technological quantum leaps, we need something to guide us, to make archaetypes relevant to the sort of life that's happening now."
That is one of the strengths of science fiction - it is fiction, but it is able to take themes out of context and examine them from another angle. It also models the future...
"Absolutely - I agree completely and that is one of the reasons I love it."
What character would you really love to play from fiction, history or the classics?
You're too tall for that part!
"Yeah...[laughs] There are several Anne McCaffrey characters that I would love to play. When I was younger I wanted to be Lady Goladrial when I grew up... There are many.
"Someone asked me at a convention recently if I preferred playing bad guys because a lot of actors say the good guys are dull. I generally play good guys - I think JAG is the first bad guy I've played - but I usually play characters who are heroes. I prefer that because I think there is a lot of horror and negativity and gratuitous violence spewed into the world, that I want to see more heroes. We need more light, we have so much darkness.
"I am by no means a Pollyanna, forever cheerful person - but I think we are so aware of the darkness that we need balance. We need heroes who are also believeable people who, maybe, will help us to learn more about the heroic in the every day and the simple choices we make. This is important for kids - and also the sense that someone is there to protect them. So, I enjoy playing these sorts of people. I learn playing these sorts of women, who fight for other people and protect others, and themselves and stand for what is right. Just because it's right. I did a movie about 5 years ago called Nemesis..."
Albert Pyun direct that with Olivier Gruner?
"Yeah. Well my favorite line in that movie is when I'm warning Olivier about the evil cyborgs and he asks, 'Why are you doing this?' and I say, 'because they're wrong,' and says, 'Is that it?' and I say, 'Isn't that enough?' I think there are things that are clearly right and clearly wrong, and it means a lot to me to be able to play characters who will stand up and say, 'No! This is wrong and I won't stand for it.'"
How do you expect the future to be in 250 years?
"I will probably be dead. But if not, I expect to be ruling the earth from the side of light as a benevolent dictator...[laughs] That would be cool.
"It's so difficult to tell, because we at are such a time of transition. I would like to believe that we would continue toward a sense of enlightenment, and come to understand that we must exist in partnership with each other and all forms of life. I mean that's ancient Celtic Cosmology, it's Native American philosophy. I think we're at a point that if we don't understand that, we won't be around in 250 years. We will have poisoned ourselves. That planet will recover, but humans are far more fragile than we like to think we are... How long can a human being live without breathable air? Or drinkable water? And we have dedicated a lot of time and energy into poisoning those things.
"There's a lot of imbalance that needs to be corrected. I hope we can do that before we have some catastrophic meltdown and the people surviving have to put it together. I hope we won't go that far, that we'll learn sooner that we must connect and harmonise with the life forces on the planet other than human. We could even start with human - that would be a good start!"
Have you enjoyed your experience of conventions? You have done a few for Quantum Leap...
"They're all I had done until I started with the Babylon 5 conventions. It's really been quite fascinating, and the people have been so nice. One thing that's fun, as an actor, is when you're working on these characters and you're there in the studio with other actors, you're trying to create these characters - then you go out to conventions and you see these people who are vitally interested in the stories you're trying to tell and the characters you're trying to bring to life. You ask, 'Is what I'm doing making any sense to anyone?' It's quite wonderful to then go out and discover, yes it is. I feel very honored when people are touched and moved by the work we do. With Babylon 5, it's such a remarkable project that people have that reaction, which makes it very rewarding. I've had a wonderful time doing conventions."
The 5 Times Magazine belongs to The Babylon 5 UK Fan Club. All rights reserved. No copyright infringement is intended.
Also, thank you to Sealie who found and sent me the magazine.
| What's New | Biography
& Filmography | Articles | Appearances
| Gallery | Merchandise
| Quotes | Links
| FAQ | View Guestbook Entries