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Interview with Lani Tupu

Date of publishing: 7th February 2008

Interview with Lani Tupu 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 Dragon*Con 2007

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 Farscape?
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 roles.

Renee 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 with that.

Renee Burl: What do you miss the most?
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.

Renee 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.


© 2007 - 2008 - Interview by Renee Burl for The Scifi World
Contributions by Gilles Nuytens, Samantha Nelson, Eva Porter, Katarzyna Godycka - Transcript by Mark Allen (Sydney, Australia)


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