It’s been fifteen years since Farscape first debuted and subsequent TV space operas still have a hard time topping it. Gigi Edgley, who played Chiana, helped fans celebrate and relive the magic on three panels at Dragon Con this year. Before the last day wound down she sat with us for a short interview on the Walk of Fame.
Daily Dragon (DD): Eternal question: CGI or Puppets?
Gigi Edgley (GE): Puppets.
DD: Defend your thesis!
GE: Because they have more soul. Puppetry is old school and magical and mystical. It’s just such a beautiful art. I know that there’s a time and place for computer graphics. But I also think that there’s something quite magical about everyone working together—you need, quite often, a whole team working together seamlessly to create a One. I really like that. Nowadays it’s so rare that you actually have a tribe or you have a ritual with people with everyone working together as a team. There’s something very beautiful about that collaboration.
DD: What was the most impressive thing that you saw working on Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge?
GE: The passion the creature designers have. I was a bit nervous about reality television because it’s putting a lot of us actors out of a job. I expressed that to Brian Henson and he said: “You wait until you meet these designers. They’re so humble and they’re not here to be rich and famous, they just want to create creatures.” He was right. Definitely impressed with their passion and commitment to what they love.
I had quite a hard time in elimination rounds because I’ve been on the receiving end so much that I totally can connect with their struggle and passion. They were so in love with their job that it was quite heartbreaking when you had to send someone home. I appreciate that they knew it was a competition—we all knew that—but the reality side of things is pretty intense when you have to look these people in the eyes and say: “Sorry. See you later.”
And the creatures were just second to none. They were working with amazing directors and fabricators. And working back with Brian Henson, whom I just love, love, love and adore, was great. My whole life I grew up watching the Henson’s work. I had a passionate affair with the Henson company before they even knew about me! My favorite movie before I ever knew anything about them was The Dark Crystal. When I auditioned for Farscape I thought, “I have to get this role!” I know that fairies exist and I know that aliens exist. This is me!
It was so cool to become part of the Henson’s family on Farscape and then to be re-invited back into the family—and it truly is like that. I’ve worked with a lot of different production companies in Australia and around the world, and Henson has a really beautiful heart energy about them. Working back with the Henson lot has been an absolute dream.
DD: Your character came in around the middle of the first season of Farscape. Did you know that you’d be part of the main cast at first?
GE: It was only supposed to be for one episode. The shot that grazed Chiana’s arm was meant to knock me off. I don’t know what I did but obviously the gods were smiling on me because, five years later, I was still dressed up in three hours of makeup every day and doing these crazy alien movements and living on a spaceship.
I was 23 at the time and it was my first long-term job and by far the highlight of my career. I’ve done lots of shows after that and films, television, theater, but there’s something really cool about playing an alien.
There’s no definition; you can just create something from the Uncharted Territories and people buy it! It’s awesome. And because I’ve grown up with the characters of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, and I looked at the Henson characters that are always so complex and so diverse and so unbelievably believable, I wanted to create a character like that. I didn’t want to be a human wearing alien makeup, I wanted to be an alien from outer space. Because it’s so rare—usually you’re a doctor or a nurse or a cop or the girl next door. But now you’re an alien in space—awesome!
DD: I have to say I think you did a fabulous job. I truly believed in that character from the moment you walked on screen. You really owned her.
GE: Thank you so much. It was an absolute dream playing Chiana. I love her.