of publishing: 7th February 2008
Lani John Tupu is a New Zealand actor, best known for his
portrayal of Bialar Crais on the hit TV series Farscape
(he also provided the voice of the Pilot in that show; hence,
he was featured in nearly every episode). He trained as
a teacher at the Teachers’ Training College in Wellington,
New Zealand, but had had a long interest in acting. He originally
became well known in New Zealand as the lead, Dr Miller,
in the prime-time soap Country GP (1984–5), which
replaced a popular, long-running series, Close to Home.
He remained on the show for two seasons, before shifting
to Australia to continue his career there.
This interview has been conducted by Renee Burl during
Renee Burl: You
had two roles on Farscape, as Captain Bialar Crais and the
voice of Moya's Pilot, how did you come about getting on
Lani Tupu: I tested like every body else
over 2 1/2 months, and I was testing for D'Argo at the same
time, that was the role I was going for, and when Anthony
Simcoe got D'Argo, I was asked a few days later to play
this character called Crais. And after I landed Crais, they
asked me to test for Pilot, so I was blessed to have two
Burl: The puppet characters
on Farscape played a hugely important role on the show,
and the voice actors played a vital role in bringing them
to life, did you have any idea of how important Pilot would
become and how intense his role would be?
Lani Tupu: When I did the first few episodes,
I knew that Pilot was an integral part of Moya, but it wasn't
until the story arc, of where they wanted to have Pilot,
that I realised it was going to go all the way to the end.
Renee Burl: What
is the best memory you have of Farscape?
Lani Tupu: I think it was starting on the
first day, and the last day of working when I wrapped up
on Talyn, and a whole host of memories in the middle that
I adored, and I think just to be a part of the Farscape
family and crew, still is a great thing.
Renee Burl: What
do you think of the Science Fiction genre in general?
Lani Tupu: What I love about Science Fiction
is the world of imagination, thing that impresses me about
the Sci Fi culture, is the ability to just imagine things
way beyond the envelope, the possibilities of other worlds,
that is so far away from Earth bound conventions and that's
not too bad.
Renee Burl: What
did you like the most and least about your Farscape experience?
Lani Tupu: I think the least was actually
finishing with Crais, however the character went out in
a great great note, and I really have nothing to complain
about that, and I think the most was that every day I worked
on Farscape was a blessing. So even though I had stopped
with Crais, I still had Pilot to play, so I'm very happy
Burl: What do you miss
Lani Tupu: I think I miss the ability to
get up and play as an actor on the sets.
Renee Burl: Let's
talk about conventions, how often do you actually do conventions?
Lani Tupu: When I'm invited by the organizers.
For example this summer, I started in San Diego for Comic
Con and here, and it's been a great opportunity to see America,
and I think I've seen more of America than most Americans
over the years doing conventions. It's a great opportunity
to reconnect with the fans, and to see America.
Renee Burl: Do
you have any crazy fan experiences?
Lani Tupu: Not really, I've been very lucky
with the fans, they have been very respective of what I
do as an actor. We did the show for the fans, and thanking
them, if it wasn't for the fans we wouldn't be here.
Renee Burl: You've
also done theatre, and have you had any plays recently,
or in America?
Lani Tupu: I was working on a show recently
in Sydney called Anna in the Tropics, and was written by
a Cuban playwright called Nilo Cruez, and it won the Pulitzer
play in America in 2003. They performed it in New York and
Jimmy Smits played one of the roles, so it was a great play.
Renee Burl: Will
you be playing any part in the Farscape webisodes?
Lani Tupu: I don't know if I will be playing
any part yet. I think it's still in pre production phase,
so I don't know what format the webisodes will be in. Hopefully
if they ask me I will say yes.
Burl: Wonderful. What
do we expect in the future, do you have any film or TV projects?
Lani Tupu: Besides film and TV and stage
projects, I am concentrating on my artwork, and I have a
website which is under construction, www.redsticker.net,
and that will be up and running in a few days time, and
we are looking at it now and the web people are doing some
tweaking, and then it will be out there.
Renee Burl: And
will that have your artwork for purchase, or is it on display?
Lani Tupu: Both, both what I do, and it
will be available to purchase as well.
Renee Burl: Wonderful,
thank you for your time, I really appreciate it.
Lani Tupu: Thank you.