Playing a disembodied robot head takes a certain type of lunacy, and its nice to report that Jeffrey Hirschfield does not disappoint. He's as mad as a lorry. Top journalist Thomasina Gibson took him aside one afternoon to ask him about the genesis of LEXX how it all came about, character development, and why-oh-why is LEXX shaped like, well, you know.
TG: Tell me, how did you gel involved in this whole LEXX thing?
JH: It's one of those kinds of stories. I was in school studying acting with Michael McManus. Well, Mike was actually two years ahead of me in this acting programme at University in Alberta, but I got to know him anyway. Although acting was my major I was writing plays for various theatrical companies during the summer and wrote plays for the Edmonton Fringe. One of them back in 1985 was a big stinking hit as far as the Edmonton Fringe goes. And it wasvery rude.
TG: I'm surprised at that.
JH: Well, I do have this innocent-looking facade. Soto make a long story very short, I met this guy (whose name escapes me) at film school in Calgary who tried to make my fringe hit (whose name also escapes me) into a film for sevenyears. At one point he did the shotgun approach, which was to send it to every production house in the country. Which is when Paul Donovan readit and liked it. Between reading this very rudepiece - when he liked - and having a mutual friend in Michael McManus, Paul has directed him and met him whilst casting a movie of the week, we finally got together. Mind you It was a whole seven years later. I'd never met the man (Donovan) until then. I moved to Toronto after finishing up college and Michael Introduced us and Paul said. Well, I've got a couple of things going on. I've got a sitcom and a sci-fi show'. I said. 'Well that's very nice' and he said, 'Well, if I ever get it rolling I'll give you a call' and I said Thank you very much. Thank you (or buying my coffee' and a year-and-a-half later, as I was on my way out the door to get yet another walling job, Paul called. Thai was In 1994 and that was It. He had a litlle development money and a little bit more came in then a little bit more and It went on and on.
TG: So have you guys always been utterly bananas or is this something that's come on recently?
JH: Utterly! Utterly bananas. But in different ways. I mean Lex - Lex Gigeroff is a freak! He's just an animal. If someone really cared, they'd take him out behind the barn and put a couple In the back of his head because it'd just be mercy. And then I don't know if you've seen any of Paul's other movies but he's wacky in a different way, He'ssort ot satire/geek, He would very much gel into Canadiana in some of his stuff, which of course, LEXX is not. As for me - I've always been filthy, utterly filthy. I mean look at me - I'm short, I'm cute and I'm a dad. Damn! What else is there for me to be but filthy?
TG: When you and the Supreme Beans - as Messrs Donovan, Gigeroff and Hlrschlield have become known to fans - first began writing LEXX, was there a grand master plan or did the whole thing just evolve?
JH: Grand master plan? Well now that's a very interesting question. Paul had the basic stuff down. He had Zev (Eva Haberman) pretty much there. The whole Idea that she was half Cluster Lizard came later. That was something the three of us cooked up when we were looking for some more twists. Stan (Brian Downey) was pretty much Stan. But Kai (Michael McManus) changed a lot. He used lo be like a 'High Noon'-type character at one point - you know - the sheriff who hung up his guns and then he went through several metamorphoses until he became dead. Paul also had the basic idea of His Shadow, but the ship and all the rest of the weird stuff all of that came about when the three of us got together.
TG: Had you been drinking?
JH: Constantly. For days. Staggering down the street,swearing. We were foul. Like I said, Lex - well what can I tell you? Lex! Lex! Lex! But then when Lex wasn't drunk. Paul and I were. It was unbelievable.
TG: And the idea for the ship....
JH: ...Came out of large amounts of hash. It was supposed to be a dragonfly.
TG: Shochked gasp from journalist - "A dragonfly my auntie. Get out of herel"
JH: Wnat can I say? II was supposed to be a dragonfly with a huge cock. I swear to God It was meant to be a very well-hung dragonfly.
Ignoring comments from interviewer that suggest they couldn't gel more outrageous if they tried Hirschfield sighs.
JH: I don't know. I feel we can. I'm seriously thinking of consulting an analyst. I mean I'd like to be doing lots of stuff as well as LEXX and I've beenpeddling my stuff round Toronto but it's useless.Everywhere I go they say, 'We can't have it. We can't believe it. You don't look like the sort of person who should be writing this kind of thing' so that gives you a kind of licence. I mean, everyone in the entertainment business seems to take him or herself too seriously and we were determoned to swing the other way round and just went for it. LEXX turned out kind of debauched because of it.
TG: As well as co-writing LEXX, Hirschfleld alsoportrays the deleclable (his word) 790 Roborhead.How did he adapt from writing it to becoming a talking head?
JH: Blatant nepotism! It was getting up to the time of casting and - did I tell you I came up as an actor? I got my degree in acting which doesn't get you a bus ride downtown for an audition - and the writing was always what I did on the side. But then when the show was cast there was a robot head that needed a voice and I thought 'Why the Hell not me?' If the powers that be are stupid enough to give it to me I'm stupid enough to take it, so I asked for It. Who wouldn't want to be held under Zev's breasts or next to her thighs?
TG: I want you to cast your mind back...
JH: What mind?
TG: The one you had before sex and drugs and rock and roll. You do remember that far back?
JH: No I don't.
TG: Oh dear. What about the television movies Supernova and Eating Pattern?
JH: Oh Year! Year! Supernova - derected by Ron Oliver. Very sexy, very lascivious. Lots of naked torsos and dripping liquids.
TG: Yes - that would be one.
JH: Mmm - moist and scrummy! That's what Iremember - hot, moist and slippery smooth.
TG: Yes, Jeffrey - what about Eating Pattern
JH: Well, I Worship His Shadow was the first TV show that I'd worked on. I'd done some others that were never produced so the first one was really cool. As for the others - with the first few nobody had any idea about computer animation which incidentally has come on tremendously since even a few years ago - so essentially we were a whole bunch ofmind creative people who had no idea how to putthis thing together. We sort of knew what we wanted but we didn't know what we could accomplish with CGs. Certainly Lex Gigeroff had no clue so we just went at it - developing the characters and the situations as and when. We were with Showtime at the time and they were giving us a lot of grief so things were really tricky and Eating Pattern - then weren't going to buy at all. When then finally did, we were able to afford Rutger Hauer instead of some completely unknown Canadian. He was tremendous in it. Eating Pattern is not really the fan's favourite, but it certainly is mine. It was directed by some guy called Rainer Matsutani. Some German/Japanese mutant - which you can tell by the way it turned out.
We got a couple of good friends to work on that movie too but it was completely nuts. It was totalanarchy, Rutger was just mad and it was a totallyfantastic experience.
TG: What about 790's role?
JH: Never mind him, For my part, I was on the wrack because I was acting the head and was also operating 790. I don'l do that anymore, thank God. You have no idea how hard it was. I was trying to get an eyeline from the other end of the studio so strapped into this hockey helmet that I couldn't move and was still trying to look down and operate this eye whilst yelling out all these lines. To be honest It was so much trial and error in those flix that that's what I really remember. You know - how were we going to pull this thing off?
TG: Has the process changed since then?
JH: Actually not much has changed It's still trial and error although the advances in computer animation means that we managed to achieve some incredible results. The kinds of results we couldn't have thought possible when we started out. The job those guys did is wonderful. All hail to the CGI guys!
Jeffrey Hirschfield can currently be found in a box with whole music being played at him.
16 April 2001
© LEXX - LIGHT ZONE апрель 2006 HELEN & Trulyalyana