MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: I am tremendously pleased to be interviewing Claudia Christian today. As you probably already know, Ms. Christian is an actress best known for playing Ivanova on one of my favorite TV shows of all time, Babylon 5! She’s done much more than that, of course, and her more detailed bio and filmography can be found here. Today, however, we’re here to discuss her new book!
Ms. Christian, I’ve just finished your new book BABYLON CONFIDENTIAL. This does not read like a typical Hollywood tell-all, but instead as a very personal diary of sorts. Do you feel you accomplished what you set out to do?
CLAUDIA CHRISTIAN: I wanted to spread the word about The Sinclair Method and save lives, so far I have accomplished both!
VENTRELLA: You’re very forthcoming about your alcohol addiction and quite candid about other parts of your life. Did you ever say “Nah, I’m not going to talk about that”?
CHRISTIAN: No, I did not. I don’t believe that you can expect people to buy into something unless you are 100% honest. besides, there is so much shame attached to addiction that I wanted other addicts to see the worst that I have been through so they could not only relate but also forgive themselves.
VENTRELLA: The title seems both a tribute to Babylon 5 but also the BABYLON HOLLYWOOD books that I used to read years ago. How did you choose the title?
CHRISTIAN: Morgan and I threw around titles for awhile then submitted them to the publisher, this one won.
VENTRELLA: The last few chapters of the book are almost a guide for those in a similar situation. Have you heard from readers who were inspired by your tale to change their lives?
CHRISTIAN: I have indeed! I have dozens of people on TSM and have helped support them, guide them and am thrilled to say that they have a nearly 100% success rate!
CHRISTIAN: I’m not one to sugar coat things though I did lighten a few experiences to save face for other people. No need to be cruel in a book. I tried to be honest, period.
VENTRELLA: Was writing the book painful or cathartic?
VENTRELLA: How did the writing cooperation work with Morgan Buchanan?
CHRISTIAN: Fantastic … thank God for Skype!
VENTRELLA: Are you happy with the reception the book has received (Reviews, sales, comments, etc.)?
CHRISTIAN: I am indeed though I wish more mainstream media would pick up on TSM.
VENTRELLA: I first became aware of your work through Babylon 5, one of the best science fiction shows on TV. Ivanova was everything we wanted in a strong leader, and many of us were tremendously disappointed when she didn’t appear in the final season (where she should have been captain!) Anyway, sorry, let me get on with this; I could gush about how well written, acted, and directed that series was for this entire interview.
At one point in the book, you make the comment that writer/producer J. Michael Straczynski (who you call “Joe!”) felt that if an actor was giving him trouble, he could always write a way to get rid of him – and in fact, that happened a few times. Is that what happened to Marcus Cole (who played Jason Carter)? ( I hope not, because that death was a great scene and deserved to be there!)
VENTRELLA: More importantly, do you think that happened to you? You did not date him as he apparently wanted … I know the 5th season was not close to that incident, but do you think that he might have fought more for your return otherwise?
CHRISTIAN: I had another job and we could not work out the schedule. It’s in the book very clearly stated how it went down.
VENTRELLA: There were a few follow-up B5 films and sequels after the 5th season. Have you ever been asked to be in any of them?
CHRISTIAN: No … I only did the two TNT Babylon 5 films after the series ended and those were both fun.
VENTRELLA: What is your one favorite scene or episode from B5? (I have a prediction but I want to see what you think…)
CHRISTIAN: Death incarnate!
VENTRELLA: Thought so. (Here’s a link for those of you who are unaware).
You’ve done voice-overs in commercials, Disney’s “Atlantis” and video games such as Skyrim. How does this kind of work compare to being in front of a camera?
CHRISTIAN: You don’t have to look good when you record!
VENTRELLA: Why do you think “Atlantis” wasn’t a bigger hit for Disney?
VENTRELLA: And what is it about the name “Sinclair”? There was Captain Sinclair in “Babylon 5”, and then your character in “Atlantis” was named Helga Sinclair, and then you were finally able to break your addiction with The Sinclair Method. Coincidence?
CHRISTIAN: Who knows?! Conspiracy theorists arise!
VENTRELLA: In BABYLON CONFIDENTIAL You spoke of some terrible experiences with crazed fans at conventions and the like. (I do a lot of conventions and sadly, there are indeed people like that who attend, although the vast majority are wonderful people.) Do the good experiences outweigh the bad enough to make attending the conventions worthwhile?
CHRISTIAN: Of course the good outweigh the bad …I love the fans.
VENTRELLA: You also wrote a small book called MY LIFE WITH GEEKS AND FREAKS which does not seem to be available any more. What was that about?
CHRISTIAN: My experiences at conventions. It was a love letter to the fans, really.
VENTRELLA: Will that become available again?
VENTRELLA: Did your publisher purposely use “Star Trek” font for the book cover as a kind of inside joke?
VENTRELLA: When I read about the avant garde film “Tale of Two Sisters” I thought it might be so-bad-it’s-good worth renting, but after reading the reviews on IMDB, all of which pan it completely, I’ve changed my mind. That must have been a very interesting experience. Do you feel that was the worst film you’ve been in or is there something else out there you dislike more?
CHRISTIAN: Thinking a film is bad is subjective; some people like that film … I have no idea what the worst film I have ever done is but I’m sure no two people would agree on that.
VENTRELLA: I had never heard of the British TV show “Starhyke” until reading your book and now I want to see it! It’s apparently never been released on DVD in America although I was able to find some clips on YouTube. That looks like it was a lot of fun. Why wasn’t there a second season?
CHRISTIAN: Lack of funds.
VENTRELLA: Then there’s “Taboo.” Tell me about that! How did that come about?
CHRISTIAN: I love making music…..
VENTRELLA: Do you plan on doing any more music?
CHRISTIAN: Not really, too busy with other projects and I am not a very good singer; I just did it for the fun of it.
VENTRELLA: You mention your huge personal library. What do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
CHRISTIAN: I love historical fiction and biographies. I love CJ Sansom, Peter Ackroyd, Bernard Cornwall, Neil Gamain, Edward Rutherfurd, etc. etc.
VENTRELLA: Have you ever read any of the Babylon 5 books? Do you ever go “Ivanova would never do that!”?
CHRISTIAN: No I have not, I’m not a sci fi fan.
VENTRELLA: What other projects are you working on? When will we see (or hear) you next?
CHRISTIAN: Tor is releasing “Wolf’s Empire” in 2014 ,another book by Christian-Buchanan
I am also still working on promoting TSM and will be doing so for the rest of my life, it’s my raison d’etre.