“Farscape” Season Three: Gigi Edgley as Chiana
Gigi Edgley, the youngest member of the FARSCAPE cast, goes through the ups and downs of making the show with as much calm as she can muster. Season three had highs and lows for her, both off screen and as Chiana. Edgley explained, “This season there’s been lots of unexpected choices, character choices and challenges. There has been a lot of intense stuff going on in my life which has definitely [affected] Chiana’s journey through it all.”
Chiana’s troubles reached the boiling point by the second episode, “Suns and Lovers,” when D’Argo discovered that she was sexually involved with his son Jothee (Matt Newton). It was difficult for Edgley play Chiana’s betrayal. She recalled, “It was a very challenging thing to accept, to let go and try and rediscover the old Chiana, what Chiana is like when she is scared out of her wits. She reverts back to those alien characteristics that we have known and loved, or known and feared of her in the early days. Once you trust that choice, there was a lot you could do with it.”
Edgley had both enjoyable and embarrassing moments working with Newton. Edgley recalled, “Matt Newton was extraordinarily fun to play with, and some really funny experiences popped up. In one of the love scenes, we were taking Chiana from just a normal face makeup to the whole body. We put this modesty patch on. We were doing the whole alien sex thing. Right in between takes the modesty patch just flew off, and there is Gigi in her glory. I am thinking, ‘What a glamorous job this is.’ It was so funny, but the worst thing was it was a really good take. I thought, ‘Just keep it together. You’ve only got a couple more moments. You’ll be fine.’ It was only really my embarrassment that I had to deal with, and Matt was fine. We had a good giggle afterwards, and it kind of loosened us up a lot.”
Jothee left Moya, and Chiana and D’Argo’s relationship ended. It took time for them even to speak to each other.
Edgley does have mixed feelings about Chiana’s darkness, but enjoyed getting into the strangeness of “Eat Me.” Edgley said, “When you get guest cast, and they don’t know where you have taken Chiana already, you can show them the deepest and the darkest characteristics of this alien that you are playing. I was having a very tense time in my life, as well, so that was coloring a lot of the choices I made. Right after she’s been cloned, she is hiding and saying, ‘Just one Chiana. Not two Chianas. No, this is me, isn’t it?’ How many times do we wake up and ask ourselves that? How many situations do we sit down and go, ‘Did I just say that? Was that me?’ It was a fantastic ep to go a bit nutty on, and to make sure you had really, really strong desires to take you there.”
Edgley added, “There was lovely stuff with D’Argo in there. We got to show a few connections between the two characters. It was beautiful playing with Anthony in the scene where she comes in and she thinks that this friend and the person that she has almost learned to love the most in her life, has disappeared. Then she walks in and there is this odd situation with this weird girl jumping all over him. All of a sudden we see a Chi that we haven’t quite often seen before.”
In “Eat Me,” Chiana and Jool got time to interact. Laughed Edgley, “We had a lot of fun playing around. I went, ‘Oh my goodness, we so fit into each others’ moves, we’ve got to really be careful.’ We are both quite high-pitched. It was really hard to try and maintain our own rhythm. Then half-way through the scenes, Tammy would start speaking in American, and then I’d sort of go to Aussie. Because they are quite similar in physique and also in voice quality, we were trying to maintain the tension between them but still maintain our own sense of identity. I loved working with Tam. She does a lot of method work as well, so it’s great to have a new playmate on the set that likes to be really prepared before scenes.”
Both Chiana and Jool got trapped on the pleasure planet in “Scratch ‘N Sniff.” Edgley got to show off one of her own skills in the scene where Chiana and Jool try to best each other. She explained, “Because you don’t have that much time, you bring a lot of [personal] stuff to set. I was fire twirling one afternoon, and [director] Tony [Tilse] came out. He goes, ‘That’s great. I didn’t know you could do that. We’ll put it in.’ All of a sudden, all the producers came down, and they said, ‘No way. These are the fire regulations.’ I said, ‘I literally supported myself for a year doing this stuff. So don’t worry, I can do it.’ Having every producer on set doesn’t help the nerves. It ended up being quite a fun day. By the end, it was cool.”
Edgley did regret that she and Ben Browder did not take the scene at the end with Fe’Tor (Tamblyn Lord) farther, when they gave him an overdose of his own drug. She recalled, “I just went, ‘Ben, with the amount of freslin floating around this room, we wouldn’t have been able to stay away. We should be on top of each other.’ You are thinking, ‘We could have had a play.’ That’s the kind of moment when you go home at night and you think, ‘Of course there was that.’ If you really thought through it, it would be okay, but you get the script a day before.”
After finishing work season three, Edgley tried to sum up her feelings about her character’s journey. She said, “When I look back at the bigger picture, that keeps reminding me to trust. At the convention last year, people said, ‘Where do you want your character to go?’ I said, ‘I want to trust the alien characteristics a bit more, and really go and dive into the darker zones of Chiana.’ I think, on the whole, I’ve tended to go there, but I could have gone a lot further. You’re never going to be totally, one hundred percent happy with yourself. I can’t wait for this break again to fool around with different ideas of Chiana, and have some peace out time to play with Gigi again.”
Copyright 2002 by Anna L. Kaplan. A shortened version of this article originally appeared in the June 2000 issue of Cinefantastique (Volume 34, Number 3-4). You can access other articles from this issue here.