B5's Jerry Doyle Talks
by Lisa Coleman
Jerry Doyle took time out from doing a little trading to talk to us about Babylon 5 and what's in store for the future.
Prevue: What was your favorite aspect of Babylon 5?
JD: Cash flow.
Prevue: What was your least favorite aspect of Babylon 5?
JD: Lack of cash flow. We're done. (Laughs)
My serious answer to the best part and worst part of the show--Probably the energy and the fun factor, just going to work every day with people that you like, bouncing off each other. It was a very fun set to be on. There was no hierarchical structure, no above the line, no below the line. It was really a pleasure not working with that. That was the biggest upside of working there. I think the biggest downside is not having the opportunity to do that any more. You build up good friendships and relationships. You look forward to getting to see the people you've gotten to know over the last six years, you consider them extended family. You don't see them now and that's kind of bittersweet.
Prevue: What's the funniest thing that happened to you on the set?
JD: We have like 10 blooper reels, it's hard to boil it down to one thing. The outtakes are riotous. I think it points out how much fun we had on the show.
Prevue: Will you be going on to Crusade?
JD: No. They had put a couple of contracts in front of me that unfortunately just didn't mesh. I talked to Joe about it and said I can't get involved. On a personal level, I enjoy the show, the camaraderie and all that. So he and I worked out a deal informally where its going to be Garibaldi ala carte. If they come and I'm available and the script works, then I'll be there. If not, then I look forward to seeing what happens with the feature film and TNT. I'd like to be involved with the show at some point, but if I'm not involved with it, then I sincerely wish them all the best. I think they'll be very successful.
Prevue: How does the world of high finance compare with the world of show biz?
JD: In high finance if you make a mistake or pooch a trade it can really set you back, you can go bust. In show biz if you pooch a scene, you get to do it again. The process on Wall Street was not nearly as fun as the process of what I do on Babylon. The end result, the finished product, whether that is the show or your paycheck, or both, it has to equal to the process of making the show. On Wall Street it got to where the paycheck was the only thing that was kinda fun, I did not enjoy the process any more. If you're not enjoying the process, why bother?
Prevue: How have your different careers prepared you for acting?
JD: I think my first acting lesson was when 60 Minutes showed up in my office one day at Drexal. I had to take a quick course in improv. I think I said to them, "I guess you guys aren't here to open up an IRA account." In looking back at the different things I've done, my life experiences and things from my past have made the scenes and what I do on the set a little bit more believable. Babylon, for me, has been a wonderful experience to figure out how to be the best me that I can be in front of the camera.
I was blessed to be commissioned for one pilot and then to get it picked up for a series and then go to series and then to continually get optioned to stay on. It's really been a blessing. There are so many talented actors out there that don't get a chance to work; it's not because of the lack of talent, but because of the business side of show biz. I guess I had a little bit of an edge because of my business background in trying to get started. I approached it like a business. I knew who I had to know, I did my follow ups, made the phone calls. I think that really helped.
There are a lot of actors out there who could do Garibaldi. There are a lot of actors who would do him for free, just for the exposure. For whatever reason, I was fortunate enough to get it and to continue on with it. You are always sad to see something go that's working. We had a really tight cast.
Prevue: That tightness does show so much, it's very apparent when you watch B5.
JD: You know, I have mixed thoughts on the spin-off. I don't see why you have to change horses mid-stream when you've got something that's working, but those are business decisions made by business people for whatever reasons they come up with. So be it. I'll miss going to work and seeing Bruce, Jeff, Peter, Andreas, Tracy and I miss Claudia. It's just one of those kind of things that happens in the business. It's the unfortunate process of wrapping up a time-certain storyline.
Prevue: What's it been like to develop Garibaldi over these 5 years?
JD: It's been a lot of fun to know where you park, who the caterer is, where your trailer is and who all the players are. You don't have to concentrate on all that other stuff. For example, let's say you are going to guest star on ER. Where do they shoot it? What stage are they on? How long is it going to take me to get there in the morning? Well, I better get a good night's sleep. Who do I check in with? Just eliminating the uncertainties. When I read the script, I know exactly who I'm talking to, unless it's a new character or guest star. I know my physical environment, I know my co-stars, I know the day, I know the set and I know the crew. That allows you to just concentrate more on the work and not have to worry about the process of figuring out the business side of your day. It's been great. You can do things to try to stretch yourself out a little bit. If I have a heavy dialogue scene, typically if your juice is running, they want to try to get to your close-up right away. Sometimes you can say, " Nah, that's alright, shoot it around. Take me last." You do that to try to figure out can I sustain it? Can I take it to a higher level? Am I slipping? How do I get back up so we can get it on the next performance?
Prevue: What does the future hold for Jerry Doyle?
JD: Oh boy. I hope sunny days, good tennis and big fish. (Laughs) That's kind of what I'm working for. I would hope that I could get out there and find a new gig somewhere, whether it's a TV series, features or whatever. I don't know. I certainly haven't been that kid that was 15 years old that says, I want to be an actor or I want to be a doctor or I want to be a cop. I'm still not sure exactly what I want to do when I grow up. I'm not sure I ever want to figure that out. I like the uncertainty, the not knowing. I like turning the corner and seeing new opportunities and saying, "Wow, that looks pretty cool. That might be fun." I'm just trying to do what I can to maintain the fun factor in the job. Life is too short to put up with mediocrity. As long as I'm given an extra day, I'm going to use that to embrace as much as I can, to have as much fun as I can and hopefully to do a good job and make some kind of societal contribution along the way.
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