On Sunday 10th July I attended the London Film and Comic Con 2011. You can read my full account of it here, but one of my absolute highlights from the weekend was meeting Erin Gray. With a background hum of R2D2 tweets and the crowd of avids milling about the Earl's Court 2 arena, a beacon of beauty in the form of Buck Rogers' very own starlet Willma Deering, kindly gave me a few minutes of her time to talk about the cult 80s TV classic as well as a web series exclusive that I cannot wait for! Here is my audio file, plus the transcript...enjoy!
Erin Gray interview at London Film & Comic Con 2011 by geekgirl
GG: I grew up watching Buck Rogers, and it really influenced me, just look at me now, reporting here from this very geeky place. Can you tell me what you grew up watching and how it influenced you?
Erin: Oh, that’s an interesting question. What I grew up watching? I guess a lot of Doris Day, Rock Hudson and Cary Grant movies, is what comes to mind, Hitchcock. I don’t know if they influenced me so much, other than the seed to be an actor was planted. I know I spent a lot of time as a child having a single mom who worked, so I spent a lot of time alone in front of the television and that was sort of my entertainment and my company many times.
GG: Colonel Wilma Deering, she’s a very strong lead character, the first female Colonel to be portrayed on screen. How much of her, as a strong character is actually from you, how much is actually you?
Erin: I’ve really thought about it over the years, with being asked about what I brought to the character, how I came to the character. There was an interesting dichotomy, one part of Colonel Wilma was very strong, from the bible that was given to me by the producers, she was in that position because she was the best at the job. It didn’t matter if you were male or female, it was who was best for the job. And I liked that. At the same time there was a side to her that because she was on a planet that was dealing with survival issues there wasn’t time to be frivolous and go on dates, have a boyfriend or whatever, so there was almost a virginal quality. To the other side to her, when she meets Buck Rogers, the knees buckle, and there’s a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach, and she just doesn’t know what this all about because she has never dealt with that, so there’s this soft vulnerable part of her.
In my own life, there was a similar dichotomy in that in my core is a very strong woman. And yet at that time in my life I was dealing with domestic violence issues, and having dealt with a lot of abuse as a child. So there were two side of my personality also. One of my girlfriend used to say ‘Erin, when you are with me and we are on a hiking trails and so on, you are full of energy and you are strong and you know you tell it like it is, and you’ve done incredible things, you know leaving for New York at the age of 17 and taking off for Japan at 19, just travelling around the world…and yet at home you are like a geisha girl, that strong woman disappears, and I don’t recognize you, I don’t know who you are, you’ve got this other personality’. And in many ways, when I was doing Buck Rogers , there was a part of me that would go ‘what would a Colonel be like, what would it be like to be strong and tell a man off?’. I used this phrase once and I would literally wear the cloak, I would leave home and but on this cloak of a strong woman, and let that image drive my character; and then I would go home and be somebody else. But at my core is that strength, and now I am married to a wooooonderful man who allowed me to be everything I want to be, and literally creates this platform for me to be strong, and actually in many ways he kind of muscles me a little bit. He creates a safe platform, and then he pushes me a little bit, so that I emotionally arm wrestle with him, and he loves it when I talk back to him. He says ‘come on girl, give it to me’; so he’s actually helped to bring her out more, and I kind of feel like I’m in the height of my development as a human being, in that I feel whole, now, not fragmented.
GG: That’s an incredible story. (Laughter from Erin)
Erin: Oh thank you, you didn’t know what you were going to get did you? (Laughter from Erin)
GG: No! What an answer!
GG: So being the strong female, tell me more about what you are up to at the moment, I believe you run a casting agency called ‘Heroes for Hire’?
Erin: It's not a casting agency, its more of a personal appearance agency, so I represent quite a few celebrities, and my company is called ‘Heroes for Hire’, and I book them in personal appearances so it can be anywhere from a speaking engagement to or a convention like this.
GG: Who have you got on your books?
Erin: Actually I represent quite a few of the main characters on Battlestar Galactica, so I am fortunate to have people like Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Tricia Helfer, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Michael Trucco, and these are all truly my heroes, in character, in life they truly are; the way they deal with life and making decision and doing business, I learn from them all the time. They are full of class and graciousness and style and I am honoured to work with them. Then I am also work, one of my absolute favorites is Bruce Campbell, my assistance and I everyday go ‘we want another Bruce in our life’ because he is just awesome to work with, very clear about his boundaries and what he wants and what he needs, no drama, very simple, and things get done very quickly. Again he is one of my heroes, just how he conducts his life and business and so on. (I move the mic to start asking another question) No, no wait a minute, and one of my most favourite is Felicia Day. And Felicia is interesting because I have a couple of actresses also Summer Glau, both of whom are home schooled, and what I have learnt about the two of them, is they are young women who are very successful, and I’ve sort of analysed ‘what is it about them that makes them unique’, and just the way they conduct themselves. And I think their home schooling in many ways, make them think outside the box. They’re their own individuals, very female, very soft, feminine in many ways, but another part of them mentally and who they are as a character are firmly established, as young women. They are very strong in knowing what they want, who they are, and how they conduct themselves. And they are much younger than, I was going to say Bruce Campbell or James Olmos who had more years to come to that decision; they have come to it at a young age. *SCOOP ALERT* And the great thing about Felicia, and I’m first to announce, Felicia called me up the other day and said ‘I wrote a part for you in the fifth season of ‘The Guild’!’
GG: Tell me more!
Erin: Yes, I can’t! Do you promise not to air this until after San Diego Comic Con?
GG: (Begrudgingly, but laughing) I promise.
Erin: Okay great, she wrote a character for me, and gosh, how much can I tell? There's a certain amount that is going to be revealed when you watch it...anyway she wrote this part and asked me to be part of it and I jumped at it, I said: ‘Are you kidding? I would love to! And just the fact that you wrote it for me'. It takes place in the convention world, so the whole fifth season is in one of these types of events.
GG: So it really is art imitating life right now, as we’re right in the middle of a convention now.
Erin: Exactly, exactly, and I play sort of myself a bit, a character, a woman who has been strong in a sci-fi series.
GG: So you’re not playing ‘Erin Gray’, you are actually a character?
Erin: Yes I am actually a character, I’m not playing Erin, but the character is very much based on, and you’ll know why when you see the show.
GG: I cannot wait, I am so excited by this because I love 'The Guild'; the web series of course by Felicia Day. It’s going into its fifth season now, when is it airing?
Erin: Y’know I don’t know, I’ll find out when I get to San Diego Comic Con when she makes the announcement on the panel.
GG: Oh how exciting. Well thank you so much for your time Erin, and what a scoop as well! Please enjoy the rest of your time here at London Film and Comic Con 2011.
NB: This interview must not be used anywhere without credit or my permission.
NB: This interview must not be used anywhere without credit or my permission.