Countdown to Armageddon: Jason Carter

Jason Carter as Marcus Cole in Babylon 5.
Jason Carter as Marcus Cole in Babylon 5.

The Armageddon Expo rolls back into Auckland this weekend, bringing with it dozens of actors who have had their moment as supporting stars in sci-fi and fantasy shows and movies.

Many of the guests are veterans of the international fan convention circuit, so we asked what it's like being involved in the events. Here's Jason Carter best known to sci-fi fans for his role as Ranger Marcus Cole on 1990s space series Babylon 5.

Before you were in the business would you have come to an event like this?

Until I joined the cast of Babylon 5 and was invited to be a guest at this kind of event, I was ignorant of their existence. Had I known - I would have come.

Are you much of an autograph hunter yourself and if so who's your most prized signature?
If I was an autograph hunter, I would be a bad one. I was 16 and part of The National Youth Theatre of Great Britain.

I met patron Elton John with Kiki Dee. I was so thrilled to get their signatures on a paper plate. I have since lost that plate.

I was once fortunate enough to guest star on an episode of Lois and Clark when Adam West and Frank Gorshin were also guest starring. So excited - I grew up with the original Batman and here he was with The Riddler. I just had to get their signatures. So I did.

Any theories on why sci-fi and fantasy and horror generates such passionate fandom?

There are no boundaries - at their best, these genres stretch reality to give people believable constructs and possibilities of existence, way beyond the humdrum and predictable. The limits of 'life' then are expanded to become the full scope of our imagination. It is addictive. It makes us all bigger.

What was your first experience of one of these events? And were you nervous or reluctant about it?

The first event I attended was in Britain with the entire cast of Babylon 5. Each of us were scheduled to talk for an hour - alone. I had done a lot of theatre in the UK and had I never suffered from stage fright. There is, however, a great difference between having a scripted role to play and walking out in front of 2000 people simply as oneself. How can I play Jason Carter? I have no lines! What can I possibly say?!

I was so scared. To top it off, I was to follow Peter Jurasik. I watched from the wings as this conssumate raconteur regaled the audience for a full 45 minutes before he fielded a single question.

When my turn came, my first words were: "Well I can't do that ... any questions?"

What was your funniest/ most bizarre/most memorable thing that has happened to you while out meeting the fans?

The stage lights were bright at one of my first conventions, and I could not see the fan asking the question from the mic at the back of the hall.

"Who do you least like on Babylon 5?"

"I'm sorry?" I said.

"Which actor or actress do you least like on Babylon 5?"

Being "green" I was thrown. To answer was political suicide but the questioner was insistent, demanding to know. I strained my eyes and peered through the darkness.

WTF - It was he who had persuaded me to go to conventions in the first place: my dear late friend Rick Biggs (Dr. Franklin on B5).

So I answered "Richard Biggs - I hate Rick Biggs!"

This led to a chase round the hall. The fans loved it and so did we. Both being attention hounds, we later reasoned "Why do an hour each, alone on stage, when we can do two hours together?". From that day we 'double acted' every convention we did.

Do you consider it work? And if not...what then?

These events attract so many creative, talented individuals amongst the guests and attendees. Being exposed to such a wonderful variety of humanity is never work for me. I love the people and I love the attention - I find it invigorating and often inspiring.


What: Armageddon Expo

When and where: ASB showgrounds, Labour Weekend

- NZ Herald

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