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FARSCAPE: Paul Goddard
The actor on playing the quirky Banik, Stark.
By Anna L. Kaplan
January 15, 2001
Actor Paul Goddard plays Stark, one of the many recurring characters on the Sci-Fi Channel's Farscape
. Stark figures prominently in the last four episodes of season two airing this month, appearing first in the three-part 'Liars, Guns and Money,' and then the finale, 'Die Me Dichotomy.'
Stark is a member of the Banik race, an incorporeal being who's taking on a humanoid form. He was imprisoned along with Crichton (Ben Browder) by Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), and tortured in the memory-draining Aurora chair, during the first season episodes 'Nerve' and 'The Hidden Memory.' Following those appearances, Stark disappeared until the middle of the second season, a time he says he spent looking for his people.
He returned to Moya in the episode 'The Locket' with information for D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe). Stark had learned that D'Argo's son, Jothee (Matt Newton), was being held as a slave. Stark later obtained more information that led the group aboard Moya to rob the shadow depository in 'Liars, Guns and Money' for the money needed to rescue him.Stark Beginnings
Goddard is probably best known to American audiences from his roles in Babe
(1995), in which he played the son-in-law, and The Matrix
(1999), in which he played Agent Smith. Goddard trained at the Australian dramatic academy, NIDA, like Farscape
's Anthony Simcoe, Gigi Edgley (Chiana) and writer Justin Monjo. Interestingly, Goddard never read for the part of Stark.
'I auditioned for Scorpius actually,' recalls Goddard. 'They were looking for a Scorpius, and I went along and auditioned for that. Later I found out I didn't get that. And then, a couple weeks later, I was offered this part called Stark. I didn't actually have to audition for it directly.'
Stark was originally envisioned as a two-part guest character. He first appeared in 'Nerve' briefly as Crichton's crazy cell-mate. 'Nerve' was written by Richard Manning and directed by Rowan Woods, and introduced both Stark and Scorpius. The next episode, 'The Hidden Memory,' was written by Justin Monjo and directed by Ian Watson. It was in this second hour that Stark really came to life.
'I am only briefly in the first one of that two-parter,' says Goddard. 'Most of the guts of what I have got is in the second one. Justin Monjo and I went through NIDA at the same time. He was a year behind me, so we knew each other a bit from that. I think when he was writing the character he thought of me. I remember having a meeting with Rowan, and we talked about the madness. He suggested getting a few videos to have a look at. I looked at One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
(1975), just to start looking at the craziness of the character. We took it from there.'
Stark at first appeared completely insane, repeating the phrase, 'My side, your side,' over and over to keep Crichton away. But he, like Crichton, was trying to escape, and keep his sanity a secret. After they got away, he revealed his ability to keep his memories private, and share them with people in need. He gave Gilina (Alyssa-Jane Cook) a memory before she died at the end of 'The Hidden Memory.'
'In that double episode, it was revealed pretty early on that the craziness was a defense mechanism, a way of diminishing the amount of torture he received from Scorpius,' explains Goddard. 'If they thought he was mad, then they wouldn't torture him as much, because they are not going to get much out of him. Then he had the wonderful, calm, spiritual side to him.'New Life
Goddard did not expect his character to return, but executive producer David Kemper wanted to bring him back. 'I had no idea that the character was going to come back,' says Goddard. 'I must have done [the two episodes] mid of 1999. Then I heard, when they were starting the new season, that they were wanting to bring me back. It was going to be in January, and then it kept getting put off. It took them awhile. I didn't come back until episode 16 of the second series.
'When they were bringing me back, I was keen that they didn't throw out all the madness, because it gave me such a wide range. I'd hate to end up with just one side to the character. We talked about that, and we thought that maybe he was a little mad to begin with. I figure that when he is stressed, really stressed, or he doesn't cope, the madness comes out then. When he is attacked, instead of pulling a gun or physically attacking, his way of trying to turn the situation around is to act mad again. That's where I consider him acting crazy in order to get what he wants, rather than actually having gone crazy in that moment.'
It is at those moments that Stark will repeat 'My side, your side,' perhaps to let the person who is upsetting him think that he is completely unbalanced and to stay away. Much of his action has purpose, although the audience does not always know what that purpose truly is. When he returned in 'The Locket,' he brought D'Argo the information about Jothee. Also during that episode he joined with Zhaan (Virginia Hey), and together they were able to sense an alteration in the flow of time. His spiritual side attracted Zhaan, and they started to grow close.
Then in 'The Ugly Truth,' someone causes the destruction of a Plokavian vessel. The Plokavians demand to know the guilty party. Stark is willing to take the blame, because the punishment is dispersal. As a being who is actually incorporeal, Stark believes he may be able to survive. No one except Zhaan really holds hope that he is still alive, until he rematerializes in Part I of 'Liars, Guns and Money: A Not So Simple Plan.' He makes himself come back together after being dispersed, and reconstitutes his body, which the group on board Moya rescues.
'He's incorporeal in this corporeal body,' says Goddard. 'Why he's chosen that body, I'm not sure, or why he comes back in the same body each time. I think that it's not as simple as just being able to create a body. I think that somehow he is linked to this body. This is his spiritual vessel.'Motivating Factors
Stark now knows that Jothee is part of a lot of 10,000 slaves about to be sold. In this group are thousands of other Baniks, who Stark wants to free. D'Argo wants to save Jothee. So Stark proposes his plan to rob a shadow depository, starting a series of events in motion that will not completely be unscrambled even by the end of the second season. At first it seems unclear what is motivating Starkthe desire to free his people or a wish to save Jothee.
'His main motivation was definitely his own people,' says Goddard. 'I don't think he would think, 'I can get my people back and I'll manipulate Ka D'Argo and those people into helping me.' I think it would be, 'I can get my people back, and these people can help me because I know they have an interest as well, and I can help them.' He's not just using them. He believed it would be beneficial.'
Unfortunately for Stark, the Banik slaves are all killed, while Jothee is set free by the end of Part II, 'With Friends Like These.' 'It worked out well for Ka D'Argo and terrible for Stark,' notes Goddard. 'I'm not sure whether the impact of that came across, because it's an awful lot of people to be killed in one fell swoop. There was another scene earlier, between him and Zhaan, when he reveals that, which was not used in the episode. I think in the episode now it's revealed by Rygel. Rygel says something about Stark having a vested interest because his people are part of the slave package.
'There was a whole scene just between Stark and Zhaan. He explains why she's got to get everybody else to help him, because his own people are on board. He talks about how he has failed them before. It was one of those tricky, emotional scenes. The main storyline needed to be pushed through, and that was kind of just an adjunct to the main storyline, the fact the Stark had people involved. It's amazing what gets truncated sometimes.'
Despite his several appearances, Stark remains an enigma. He is incorporeal, using a molecular creation of a body to live in the realm of the others. He is also attuned with death in some way, a trait with which both Scorpius and Zhaan apparently are familiar. His people, the Baniks, are mysterious in themselves. As with much on Farscape
, there is little attempt to explain everything.
'There's a lot more Baniks all over the Uncharted Territories,' notes Goddard. 'There is something about Stark, that he is quite a loner. There is a lot of history that's still there to create, really. For me, there is still a lot of mystery about him. There could be all kinds of things that are surprising that we don't know about him. You are not locked into something that will cut off those possibilities. You never know, there may be royal blood in him somewhere, or he could be completely lying about some of the stuff about him. He hasn't revealed that much. He may have a family somewhere, several families somewhere.'Other Realms
After NIDA and years of theater work, Goddard decided to get involved with feature films and television in Australia the mid 1990s. 'I was in Babe
, as a human, briefly,' laughs Goddard. 'The family kids and mum and dad come for Christmas dinner. The duck and somebody else are terrified that they are going to end up as Christmas lunch. We were the catalysts for their terror, and I got to carve the duck in the end.'
As Agent Brown in The Matrix
, Goddard worked with the lead bad guy, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). Dropping an insider's tip, he believes Weaving's character is coming back for the next two Matrix
'Because I did The Matrix
,' says Goddard, 'I was hoping to be involved in those [next] two. I was one of the agents with Hugo Weaving. There was nothing definite with The Matrix II
anyway at this stage. I don't even know if they are bringing my character back. I know Hugo's character is coming back, but I don't know about mine. But I think I'll be sticking to Farscape
. I loved The Matrix
and working on it, but this gives me a lot more to do and some weird places to go to.
'I can tell you I've got some weird places to go to emotionally, mentally. After The Matrix
, I decided that I was going to just say no to theater and try and establish a career in film and television here. Then Farscape
came along, which is very nice. I am going back to the theater in the middle of the year. Judy Davis is directing a play here for the Sydney Theatre Company, so I am going to go and do that, a bit of a classic comedy. That will have been two years since I have done any theater. But I am quite happy doing television for a bit, especially this stuff, because it's like film.'
Of course Stark will be in Part III of 'Liars, Guns and Money: Plan B,' which will air on the Sci-Fi Channel Jan. 19. He will also be in the finale, 'Die Me Dichotomy' to be shown on Jan. 26. As to season three, fans will have to wait to find out what role Stark will play.
'Here in Australia, the television, like most places, is cops and robbers,' says Goddard. 'Often you do guest spots where someone you know is dying, or you're dying, or in hospitals; it's rather mundane. You've got to bring some drama into what I suppose are dramatic situations, but they are not wild dramatic situations like Farscape
'Doing television is often quite dull, but this is quite theatrical and gives you plenty of scope to be a little outrageous and dramatic. Most of the actors here, that I know of, have either worked on it and loved it, or are keen to work on it, because it gives you an opportunity to do something a bit mad and crazy and weird and wonderful. It's a joy to do.'