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1997-05-18 00:00:00 - Rhys-Davies on Sliders' writers - (ez041349@boris.ucdavis.edu)


This has probably been posted here on the newsgroup before, but I haven't seen it, so I'll type this up in case. This is an article on John Rhys-Davies' upcoming role on Star Trek: Voyager, and has some interesting info on his leaving Sliders. It's from Ian Spelling's syndicated newspaper column "Inside Trek and Sci-Fi," from May 3rd. ACTOR JOHN RHYS-DAVIES SLIDES INTO 'VOYAGER' By Ian Spelling (New York Times Feature Syndicate) John Rhys-Davies slid out of "Sliders" earlier this year and is now voyaging over to "Voyager." Look for the burly British actor to portray none other than Leonardo Da Vinci in "Scorpion," "Voyager's" third-season finale, which airs May 21. "I thought it was a great idea," Rhys-Davies says enthusiastically in a telephone interview from a Los Angeles hotel. "I'd been taking flying lessons, trying to get a pilot's license, and was turning down work left, right and center. "I was waiting for something that stirred the actor's juices again, and then my agent called about 'Voyager.' The part was very well written, and I wasn't immediately sure how to play this man. That combination made me say 'Yes.'" The cliff-hanger episode finds the Voyager in Borg space, where the crew watches the virtual destruction of a Borg aramada by an alien life-form. Surrounded by enemies old and new, and with Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) near death, Capt. Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) -- who considers a risky Voyager-Borg alliance as the sole means of survival -- heads to the holodeck and da Vinci for advice. "I think the Janeway-da Vinci scenes reveal a different kind of Janeway than we usually see," says Rhys-Davies, a longtime Trekker and veteran actor best known for his performances as Sallah in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989). "She's not the hard-driving captain, the boss in charge and all that. "She talks to da Vinci about creativity and how one gets around the failure of the imagination when we can't quite see a solution for a problem. Da Vinci offers a solution, and it's enough to make Janeway turn his suggestion on its head and leave da Vinci's workshop with a possible solution in mind. "The Scenes were well written and sensitive. I loved working with Kate. I think we managed to make a marvelous couple of scenes together." A dearth of marvelous scenes compelled the long-displeased Rhys-Davies to depart FOX's "Sliders" before the end of his third season as Professor Maximilian Arturo. The actor "adored" his co-stars -- Jerry O'Connell, Sabrina Lloyd and Cleavant Derricks as Arturo's fellow time-trippers -- but felt the sci-fi show never matched its potential. "I miss the people immensely," says the 52-year-old father of two grown sons. "'Sliders' could have been great, but very few of the writers had any interest in science fiction, so they never investigated the possibilities of the show's premise. "Waitresses in restaurants would come up to me with good starting places for good episodes. Kids from college sent in scripts that, frankly, you could put into production tomorrow and they'd be better than what we were doing." So it was good-bye "Sliders," hello "Voyager." Since completing "Scorpion," Rhys-Davies moved onto a small role in a TV pilot that he can't yet discuss, and he's keeping his eyes open for other finely crafted scripts with characters that pique his interest. One such role might be Sallah, if the character is included in the next Indiana Jones adventure. And another such role? Leonardo da Vinci. "Oh, yes," Rhys-Davies says. "I think the character was designed as a recurring part. I loved the role, the writing and Kate." "I can't imagine that you won't be seeing me again at some point. I'd very much welcome the opportunity." Well, now that Rhys-Davies is no longer involved with Sliders, it seems he can discuss his true feelings about the show and its current state! If we didn't know better, his opinions could be interpreted as merely being induced by his being kicked off the show, but I'm sure most of us will agree that he's right on about the show's writing. Interesting that he says fans of the show have better ideas than the writers! Perhaps we should storm FOX and take over! :) Though the article, not surprisingly, seems to say that Rhys-Davies left of his own accord. Kari Wuhrer, in her online chat, said that his departure was a mutual decision by him and the producers. Granted, Wuhrer is very likely not the person who would know about the conditions behind his leaving the show, but I'm starting to wonder if this wasn't true. I'm sure FOX still fired him, but chances are he wasn't too disappointed. Also, Ian Spelling refers to the Sliders as "Time-trippers." This isn't the first time a TV reporter thought the show was about time travel. Though I thought this Spelling guy knew his sci-fi facts. Perhaps he couldn't think of any other way to describe them quickly. --Alex