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 Message
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: JMS: Do the actors know?
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 7/3/1994 5:58:00 PM  

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Some of the actors know a bit of what will happen well down the
road; some know what will happen during any given season; some don't want
to know *anything*, just find it out during shooting. None of them knows
the full story. And none have asked. I think the concern there is that
they might begin playing the *result* rather than the process, that this
prior knowledge might color their current performance, rather than making
it a clean evolution.

Sometimes it gets wonky. We filmed "Chrysalis" twelfth in shooting
order, to air twenty-second. Part of the setup to "Chrysalis" is "Signs
and Portents," which shot 4 episodes later. Meaning the actors had to
act familiar with elements they hadn't performed yet, and hadn't seen yet
in script form. So in that case, I had to sit down and explain what the
various aspects of "Chrysalis" meant, and where we were going, for it all
to play. Later, when "Signs" was published in-house, they got to see in
more detail how the setup fit in with the payoff.

If asked, I would probably try to refrain from telling any of the
actors the full story. Let me rephrase: I simply wouldn't do it. If they
would ask where their individual character is going -- and some have --
what I do is give them the general arc, but leave out a lot of specifics.
For instance, Peter knows *in general* that his character is going in a
darker direction, but not how he's going to get there or what it means to
the overall story. And that, I think, is as it should be.

Thus far, only three people other than myself have read the synopsis
of the full five-year arc, which is 3 people more than I'm comfortable
with. (One of them is Larry DiTillio, whose response was simply, "You're
out of your fucking mind. You've *got* to be out of your fucking mind to
think you can even TRY and do this on TV." Which seemed a pretty fair
appraisal of the situation.)

jms

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