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Old July 18 2013, 02:32 AM   #1
Dream
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Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashir

SPOILERS for the entire show

Alexander Siddig: But it arrived, I didn’t know about it on Tuesday, and on Thursday the script arrived – we started shooting on Friday. I was so shocked. You know you get the impression that maybe the producers sit down and talk about strategies and character arcs with actors but this thing came out of the blue and pissed me off so royally. It was a reaction to the fact that the character was genuinely unpopular in the early days. Because he was not fancy; I mean this is a time where 90210 was at the top of the charts in American TV and this guy was so not the hunk, he was the anti-hunk. He was the -

Jordan Hoffman: He was a man of science! That’s what he was!

Alexander Siddig: He was a man of science; he was like half good looking, rubbish at pulling girls. I mean it was all the wrong kind of archetypes. And so they kept trying to do things to make it happen. Eventually they did the Bond thing (reference to Our Man Bashir) – they did the Bond thing before that actually. And that kicked it off. I have to say that I’m still pretty angry. Well, not angry . . .

Jordan Hoffman: You have a craft, and you fill out a back-story of the character and you work at it for three years, four years and one day they walk in and say "guess what, you have this secret you’ve been keeping from everybody".

Alexander Siddig: Exactly. And everything you’ve done could have been completely different had I known.

Jordan Hoffman: So did you go to the producers and voice your displeasure or just roll with it?

Alexander Siddig: I did it the only way that an actor can. I completely destroyed the lines that they gave me regarding the situation. Every time something came up that was to do with being kind of Data-esque - I mean, I couldn’t get away from the fact – I thought I was being a Data, which is what they wanted to do, they wanted to switch the characters from all the shows, which they ended up doing with Voyager -

Jordan Hoffman: Which may have been a problem for that show. . .

Alexander Siddig: Well, it was a bit cynical at the end of the day. But I just fluffed the lines; well I didn’t fluff them completely I literally pinned the lines on the back of someone’s shoulder once, reading them. I wasn’t bothered even to learn them. I just pinned them around the office as if they were lines needed for daily modification. And they got the message and dropped it kind of.
http://www.ugo.com/movies/alexander-siddig-interview

Wow, talk about an interesting interview. I agree with Siddig that the new information about Bishar's background came out of nowhere. I'm still uncertain if it turned out to be a good thing or not. It was certainly lazy of the writers, a random plot pulled out of nowhere that VOY writers might come up with. I had the same problem with Sisko finding out that he was half Prophet near the end of the series, which was even worst.

I am really glad Siddig resisted the writer's attempts to turn him into a Data clone. The last character they created to ripoff another was Pulaski, and we all know how THAT turned out.

How did you feel about Bashir's genetically-engineered storyline?
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Old July 18 2013, 02:37 AM   #2
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

^I don't blame him. Were I playing a TV character, I'd want to know what the producers have in store for him. Maybe I wouldn't be able to know every detail until we started shooting, but I'd want a general idea of what my character's like and what's going to happen to him.

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Old July 18 2013, 02:52 AM   #3
dub
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

I had heard that before, but I was not aware that he had a friendship with Colm offscreen that was similar to their onscreen relationship! That's pretty awesome!

Jordan Hoffman: Who from the old days that you don’t get to see do you like to hang out with the most at conventions?

Alexander Siddig: You know I love hanging out with Nicky deBoer.

Jordan Hoffman: I see.

Alexander Siddig: She is just hilarious; great, great girl. And um if I see Colm Meaney we’ll have a drink and bitch at each other. That’s all we do. I realize looking back at my history with him, I went out with him twice a week every week for seven years – drinking. Boy, he can pack em away.

Jordan Hoffman: I would imagine.

Alexander Siddig: And all we did was fight. And I guess that’s what they did on the show too. But we fought in real life all the time. He would set me up, he’d take me to Irish bars where they hated English people. I would think they were being racist about the fact that I’m black and they weren’t. The just hated the English people, they would just hear my accent and they’d – and he just laughed his head off.

Jordan Hoffman: Did you ever actually play darts, though, is the real question.

Alexander Siddig: No. No. That would be very weird.

Jordan Hoffman: There needs to be a separation between art and life.

Alexander Siddig: Yes, because that was the only separation, the dart game.
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Old July 18 2013, 02:56 AM   #4
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

dub wrote: View Post
I had heard that before, but I was not aware that he had a friendship with Colm offscreen that was similar to their onscreen relationship! That's pretty awesome!
The DS9 cast was like that. Avery and Cirroc were close to the point that Cirroc became almost like another of Avery's children even off the set.

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Old July 18 2013, 05:34 AM   #5
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

Dream wrote: View Post
SPOILERS for the entire show

Alexander Siddig: But it arrived, I didn’t know about it on Tuesday, and on Thursday the script arrived – we started shooting on Friday. I was so shocked. You know you get the impression that maybe the producers sit down and talk about strategies and character arcs with actors but this thing came out of the blue and pissed me off so royally. It was a reaction to the fact that the character was genuinely unpopular in the early days. Because he was not fancy; I mean this is a time where 90210 was at the top of the charts in American TV and this guy was so not the hunk, he was the anti-hunk. He was the -

Jordan Hoffman: He was a man of science! That’s what he was!

Alexander Siddig: He was a man of science; he was like half good looking, rubbish at pulling girls. I mean it was all the wrong kind of archetypes. And so they kept trying to do things to make it happen. Eventually they did the Bond thing (reference to Our Man Bashir) – they did the Bond thing before that actually. And that kicked it off. I have to say that I’m still pretty angry. Well, not angry . . .

Jordan Hoffman: You have a craft, and you fill out a back-story of the character and you work at it for three years, four years and one day they walk in and say "guess what, you have this secret you’ve been keeping from everybody".

Alexander Siddig: Exactly. And everything you’ve done could have been completely different had I known.

Jordan Hoffman: So did you go to the producers and voice your displeasure or just roll with it?

Alexander Siddig: I did it the only way that an actor can. I completely destroyed the lines that they gave me regarding the situation. Every time something came up that was to do with being kind of Data-esque - I mean, I couldn’t get away from the fact – I thought I was being a Data, which is what they wanted to do, they wanted to switch the characters from all the shows, which they ended up doing with Voyager -

Jordan Hoffman: Which may have been a problem for that show. . .

Alexander Siddig: Well, it was a bit cynical at the end of the day. But I just fluffed the lines; well I didn’t fluff them completely I literally pinned the lines on the back of someone’s shoulder once, reading them. I wasn’t bothered even to learn them. I just pinned them around the office as if they were lines needed for daily modification. And they got the message and dropped it kind of.
http://www.ugo.com/movies/alexander-siddig-interview

Wow, talk about an interesting interview. I agree with Siddig that the new information about Bishar's background came out of nowhere. I'm still uncertain if it turned out to be a good thing or not. It was certainly lazy of the writers, a random plot pulled out of nowhere that VOY writers might come up with. I had the same problem with Sisko finding out that he was half Prophet near the end of the series, which was even worst.

I am really glad Siddig resisted the writer's attempts to turn him into a Data clone. The last character they created to ripoff another was Pulaski, and we all know how THAT turned out.

How did you feel about Bashir's genetically-engineered storyline?
I agree with him. The producers just pulled that out of nowhere without any forewarning or consulting him. That is a terrible thing to do to an actor.

I've mentioned several times that I noticed a change in Bashir's personality since that episode. Not just because of being genetically modified, but obviously now we know for sure that his passion went down a lot since then. As would anyones...

For my disagreement...I did not see it as creating another Data. Being an android and being genetically modified to be more intelligent are two totally different things. I did not see him as a Data-clone after the revelation.

Love his real-life relationship with Colm Meaney!
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Last edited by Queen Arachnia; July 18 2013 at 05:47 AM.
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Old July 18 2013, 09:25 AM   #6
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

I think it's naive to expect the writers to have planned everything out in advance for a five-to-seven year show. Of course they only came up with it at the last minute - that's what they do with ALL their ideas, every episode was basically come up with at the last minute, because that's how TV works. (Or at least it did at the time, in the 90s. Nowadays there tends to be more planning ahead, but still not generally more than a season at a time with any specificity.)

I also think it's rather childish to throw a tantrum over being asked to do what a TV actor is hired to do - act the words the writer wrote. An actor has no right to expect to be consulted over the words that are written for him, because that's not his job. He's the actor, not the writer - let them write.

Yes, it might have been courteous to give him some notice - if they had known themselves, which they didn't - but it is in no way required. And it's rather petulant of him to imply they treated him badly by giving him an interesting script to work with.

If an actor wants to influence the direction of the story, he does it through his acting. That way the writers can pick up on what the actor is doing and work it into the character. But he does not doing it by refusing to learn his lines, standing in the corner with his arms folded and pouting his lips.

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Old July 18 2013, 11:10 AM   #7
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

^actors do that all the time
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Old July 18 2013, 11:53 AM   #8
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

Bashir's awkwardness and smarm made him one of my favourites from day one. They didn't have to give him a jarring backstory for me to enjoy him better.
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Old July 18 2013, 01:27 PM   #9
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

I liked him in the beginning when he was a wanker and I liked him in the middle when he was a genetically modified wanker and he was okay in the end when they forgot about the wanker part or maybe he just grew up and I very much liked him and Ezri getting together. One of the few Trek romances that really worked.
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Old July 18 2013, 02:07 PM   #10
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

While it was an interesting twist and revelation, I don't believe the genetic engineering bit was difficult to believe from an audience perspective (to me anyway). He was clearly incredibly intelligent. This was an interesting way to not only give Bashir a bit of a backstory, but also introduce his parents and create some drama/conflict between him and his father, and within himself. It also made for some interesting moments between Bashir and O'Brien as their relationship grew.

But it's not a unique situation for an actor to disagree with writers. Nana didn't like the idea of Kira and Odo getting together at first. She also talked about getting in a screaming match with Ira about a potential affair between Kira and Dukat. Avery said in an interview that he would have done things differently if he was a writer/producer for the show. Rene said he didn't want to do the tux bit before joining the great link in the last episode. I think Terry Farrell said she wanted things to end differently for her character. I'm sure those are just a few examples of plenty of instances over the years when actors battled writers, probably directors as well and more. There are lots of opinionated people who worked on the show and were heavily invested in the characters. Disagreements like that are not surprising.
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Old July 18 2013, 05:25 PM   #11
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

I never thought it was that difficult a plotline to reconcile with the character. Actually I thought it explained a lot, his forced over-the-top behavior and awkwardness early on can be seen as him trying to play a "normal" human and failing miserably because he's isolated himself and become anti-social to keep his secret.

It also gave the writers an inroads to create the whole Section 31 thing. It would've been difficult to pull off without some good reason why 31 would want him.

I suppose I can see the actor's agitation, but at the same time, it's a sci-fi series. You should probably expect a weird development or two every once in a while. Siddig comes off as whiny here, IMO.
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Old July 18 2013, 05:34 PM   #12
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

I suppose I can see the actor's agitation, but at the same time, it's a sci-fi series. You should probably expect a weird development or two every once in a while. Siddig comes off as whiny here, IMO.
Good point. I can understand the annoyance at having to make acting changes on short notice, and disagreement on how the narrative should affect character development, but I felt the character was more interesting latter seasons.
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Old July 18 2013, 07:30 PM   #13
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

Roboturner913 wrote: View Post
I suppose I can see the actor's agitation, but at the same time, it's a sci-fi series. You should probably expect a weird development or two every once in a while. Siddig comes off as whiny here, IMO.
Agreed.

I guess s**t happens, and everybody has a right to air their opinions. But, I must say, I'm really starting to get bored with assorted Trek actors bitching and moaning about their artistic integrity being compromised, stirring up old feuds and just generally coming off as petulant and damn ungrateful.

I find it particularly annoying when commentary is given reference deliberately turning in substandard performances and the like. I dare say those of us with "ordinary" jobs would be booted out on our arses for doing the same. I've lost count of the times I've had to "suck it up" and complete tasks I vehemently disagreed with in the office - that's life.
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Old July 18 2013, 08:12 PM   #14
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

I liked the revelation; it made the super-doctor thing Trek does actually make sense for a character so young.

Of course, I almost watched the show backwards (starting in S6) so of course a lot of things fans (myself included) would have complained about don't really bother me.
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Old July 18 2013, 09:40 PM   #15
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Re: Alexander Siddig Interview: He reveals anger over changes to Bashi

Yeah...I really get his point. You don't give that kind of change to a character without talking to the actor about it.

Had I been the one in charge of that storyline, I'd personally have made it so that Bashir DIDN'T know he was enhanced, so that it was REVEALED to him--and he'd become furious with his parents for keeping that secret from him...but then come to realize that he's truly angry at himself, as well--as he's afraid that all this means that everything he's done, all the intelligence and skill he's trusted in--was all based on a lie.

Side note: I LOVE how he and Nikki are hanging out in real life, too!
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