Some thoughts with special thanks to Crystal Moon for editing!
Ben Browder on stage at a fan convention is something to experience. Fans have a myriad of expectations, often totally unrealistic. One that is shared by all fans, me included, is that the actor shares their love of the character(s) and story. The versions of Ben seen by fans include amazing actor, devoted husband and father, sexy leading man (who can carry off a 70’s ’stache), funny raconteur, father confessor, and the guy we want to write episodes of our show because he “gets” the characters.
I first saw Ben on stage at the first Farscape convention in 2000. I had been to other conventions and had never been disappointed because I usually was only hoping for some “how did the story get from script to screen” bits. Plus, most of my life, especially as an adult, has been spent in southern California where many people work in the entertainment industry, so I grew up knowing that acting is work and that actors are people. I was especially curious about Farscape as it was filmed in Australia and had incredible production values and a great cast.
The enthusiasm of the cast blew most of us away, and over the years, Ben’s enthusiasm when speaking about Farscape has not diminished. This tells me that that he has real love and pride for his work on this project. I’ve heard or read many of the same Farscape facts before, but Ben talks about them with subtle variations, allowing that what he says is the truth. But his performance keeps it from becoming stale. The difference with Farscape as compared to other shows is that many fans just want Ben to be a friend, a fellow fan. Not surprisingly he accomplishes this as well.
This past weekend at FedCon Ben demonstrated this by ensuring that he had adequate time to not just sign his autograph and collect his Euros, but actually look up and “connect” with each fan. And there were hundreds of fans over two days. I always enjoy asking people if the experience was what they hoped. When it is Ben we are talking about the answer is, “YES!”
Most fans I hang out with understand how grueling the con schedule can be for an actor and they cut guests the necessary slack. This past Sunday, Ben made fans out of some who were in line because he was a guest and they like to “meet” all the actors so they get the autographs. There are many new Ben Browder, Claudia Black, and Farscape fans this week.
One of the downsides to the instant access world of the Internet and convention appearances is that actors are constantly being queried about what they are working on, what’s next for them. Rumors abound and most fans are unaware that at any time only about 5 percent of professional actors are working as actors at any given time. The grace with which most of the guests handle this question while onstage always impresses me. Ben is especially good at explaining the development process — reminding fans that it took Farscape seven years to get on the air. I hope that producers begin to see that there is more to acting than a great set of abs and an emo haircut. Mark Harmon is much older than Ben and his show draws fans of both sexes and from all age groups, from teenagers to seniors. Nathan Fillion is another older actor who draws fans of all ages.
After Ben and Claudia Black’s panel the consensus was: Give these two a show of any genre and they could sell it. People who had never seen Farscape were ordering it as soon as they returned home.
The highlight of FedCon was Ben Browder and John Barrowman. They stole the show all weekend long. Both had young girls swooning, boys laughing, and the whole crowd wanting more. I think Ben and John Barrowman gave FedCon a show that won’t soon be forgotten!