Jerry Doyle

The go figure! Interview

By Kory Doyle

 

The pilot episode of Babylon 5 was shot during the Summer of 1992, was picked up for syndication in early 93. And in March of 1998 episode 110 completed shooting. The series had a predestined life span of five seasons and actor Jerry Doyle has been an integral part of the show since the beginning. As now former Security Chief Michael Garibaldi, we have seen his character battle obstacles ranging from alcoholism to ancient aliens. Doyle whoís extensive credits include roles in film, television, and theater, brought an unique accessibility to the character of an ordinary man thrust into extraordinary circumstances. J Michael Straczynski, which seemed at first to be about a kind of United Nations in space, actually turned out to be a Galactic, struggle between good and evil. Now in itís final day at TNT, the cast and crew are working on a series of TV movies to conclude the series, various plot lines and build a lead in the shows spin off: Crusade.

Kory Doyle: Now that the story arc is complete and the show is over, howís it feel after all this time to watch the production finish?

Jerry Doyle: This is family. Iíve watched people grow get married, have babies, and buy houses. You spend so much time with a group and they become part of your family. Towards the end of the fifth season it became bittersweet. It was like college. Weíve spent all this time together and now weíre scattering all over the globe with new lives. It was good and bad shooting those last episodes.

KD: I understand because of this show you became involved in flying?

JD: I went to NASA sat in the shuttle on the pad, suited up, had stuff brought up into space for me and returned. I was there when they stacked pathfinder on Delta Launch vehicle. I watched the launch and even touched the ship, which youíre not supposed to do. For seven months I was worried that if Pathfinder screwed up it would be my fault. I had touched it. Bruce Boxleitner and I were invited to Edwards AFB (Air force Base) and went flying in F16ís. It was a ballÖ.

Kick a** 9 g fun. Iíve now flown cesnaís chieftains and desalts falcons but I have the most respect for the pilots. Theyíre amazing people. A lot of people at NASA are big fans of the show. It was a big honor to be a part of their world for a while.

KD: You started off as an investment banker. Did you have any clue that you would end up doing any of this stuff?

JD: No. I had been on Wall Street for nine years and it was great for a time. I just got to the point where I wanted to do something that was fun. Where the process was to achieve an end result. On Wall Street you do what you do for the check. Whereas here I have fun coming to work, I enjoy the people I work with on B5. Iím energized by the banter, the camaraderie. Iíve gotten to travel to Germany, England, Canada, Ireland, and all over the US talking about the show. To me thereís been no downside tot he job. I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

KD: Youíre the only member of the original command staff left.

JD: Yeah, Iíve been in more episodes than anyone. Itís been a great run for me. Being relatively new tot he business, there are many actors who have worked and trained all their lives for something like this and they never get this opportunity. Itís not that Iím so talented, it was a lot of luck, timing and a certain degree of talent that Iíve developed overt the years.

KD: Do you have a favorite episode, or scene from B5?

JD: (Laughing) I sometimes say the 2nd season first episode when I was in a coma. I got paid full salary and the producers said it was some of my best work. But really itís hard to say there was one scene or one moment because there are so many. It all depends on the other actors in the scene - the content, the energy. I look forward to those moments, but they donít happen everyday. We get here at 6 am and leave at 7:30 at night, then go home and memorize tomorrowís lines. Once in a while Ė bang Ė you get hit by a moment and it gets inside you. It takes you some place and when the director says cut, you donít hear it as loudly. A lot of things tune out as others tune in. Those moments are very special.

KD: How much of Garibaldi is really you and how much is writen?

JD: I think the natural cynicism of the character, the general mistrust of authorityÖ. Heís his own worst enemy and can be a pain in the ass. Heís not subtle. Heís been fired from jobs and had relationships come apart. There is a piece of that in me and visa versa. Joe likes to write for us as the characters. He watches us on the set and sees how we talk and interact with other people. That starts to become the foundation for the relationships between the characters. Hopefully the parts of Garibaldi that you like are me and the parts that you donít like are what Joe writes.

KD: How about Captain Simian (from the animated "Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys" Ė Doyle did the voice for the title character) How much of yourself did you get to throw in?

JD: That was an interesting set up. I combined Captain Kirk and Cliff from "Cheers" and I came up with Captain Cliff Ė the man who has been all over the universe. Heís a babe magnet, knows everything, but still lives at home with mom. I had a great time doing that show. We had a great cast. You would play to see what these people would do and I got paid to do it with them.

KD: How do you feel about seeing your face of T-shirts?

JD: The fans should have fun with it, but to me, there are people more important than a character of a TV show that I think should have fan clubs. Cops and firemen and teachers...the guy that landed that DC-10 in Sioux City Ė he should have a fan club. A teacher that teaches 35 kids a day has a much greater societal impact than a character on a TV show. We have things a little bit backwards in this country. We put people on a pedestal who make believe Ė that lie for a living. Actors wear someone elseís clothes. We say someone elseís words. We stand on someone elseís stage and if we screw up, we get to do it again. I donít understand the hierarchial proportions given to actors and athletes. You got some crybaby athlete making 12 million a year punching people out and acting like an idiot. Thereís no place for that. The normal person doing the day to day is much more important than some guy hitting a baseball.

KD: Having an action figure of yourself is considered a mark of achievement in this biz. What do you think of this plastic miniature of yourself?

JD: (examining his figure) Iím an action figure. Wow. My head spins around. Thatís good. Itís kind of a trip. Is my head really that big? Somebody will probably stick pins in it...

KD: In three words or less describe the following people: Bruce Boxleitner.

JD: A Great friend

KD: Mira Furlan,

JO: A talent.

KD: J. Michael Straczynski.

JD: A great boss.

KD: Bill Mumy

JD: Too hip.

KD: Walter Koenig.

JD: Great bad guy.

KD: Where do you want your career to go alter this? Are you going to take some time off?

JD: I'll do that when the doors all close and I can't crawl through a window to get in! In this business if you have the opportunity to work, you work, Work begets work. I donít consider what I do work. I come to the set to play I work at home when I memorize lines I want to come in and tell jokes and trade energies and mess around with the crew. Some days are tong and tedious but its an awesome job. I can't believe that I get paid to do it. Actors who cop attitude are clue-less; we are not curing cancer. We are not rocket scientists. While there are actors whose work I greatly respect, when you're done with the job. Itís just a movie. It's just a TV show. We're going into another realm with 'Crusade' (the spin-~ show)~ I don't know where my character may fit in with that. We're talking. But ultimately it will come down to business- Hopefully we can come to a decision at some point because I would like to continue on with this. Maybe I could go somewhere else and get more money. But if you're miserable, there's no trade oft. It's been a blessing to do this and to get picked up every year.

Alter it's over, I am open to anything out there. I'm excited about what the future holds, whether it's the new show, another series features - whatever. Ultimately, I have some ideas about what I want to do after the acting thing is done. I would like to get into politics. It's something I've always been intrigued by and follow closely. I would like to maybe put a little emphasis back on the Middle. Left and Right extremes have exploited the moderate middle. Someone needs to put the focus back on the common folks that do the day-to-day and I think that

would be rewarding. I would like to do something that enriches society more than a TV show. People don't think we have a common bond but we cancer and AIDS and poverty and hunger. It people would just put aside their differences and work towards a common goal. there could be no stopping us.

KD: There are a lot of BS fans who look up to and admire your character. Who would you say your hero is?

JD: My dad. He was a New York cop- He was a wonderful man- Unfortunately, he died too young at 41. I was 11 when he died and 41 seemed really old. Now I'm 41 and it seems really young. And there were always things he planned on doing when he retired that he never got a chance to do because someone punched his ticket- My philosophy is you don't know when someone is going to say. 'Game over. Ticket punched. Turn in your card: So I start each day like it is going to be the last one so I'm already ahead of the game. You have two options: you can make it a bad day or a good day. Why not make it a good day?

----interviewed by Kory Dean Doyle (no relation)