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Marc Singer's Re"V"lections, Part 3

In the concluding part of our look back at "V" with Marc Singer, the actor and Visitors Among Us editor Edward Gross discuss "V": The Series and the character of Mike Donovan.

V - Marc Singer 4 VISITORS AMONG US: What did you think when the decision was made to turn "V" into a TV series?

MARC SINGER: One is always hopeful. You hope for the best. You say it has certain elements that can withstand the pressures of series production and hopefully those will enable the series to survive long enough to find its voice and focus and you just go ahead with the best of intentions. Everybody does, everybody did, everybody at the executive office and everybody on the filming end did so with the best intentions possible.

VISITORS AMONG US: Did you think the early episodes worked?

MARC SINGER: My feeling is we were a little unfocused and it's decidedly difficult to be focused when you're carrying such a load of main characters. I forget how many we brought forward, but to try and keep all of those stories alive in every episode was, I think, a real burden. I think we began to find, a little belatedly I'm afraid, in the later episodes that the best story formula was to focus an episode or two or three at a time on a specific contingent of resistance fighters and carry them through an arc of situations and problems and then return them to home base. We began to find that that was going to be the way to be more successful at it, but I think the wiritng was on the wall that we were going to be canceled.

V - Marc and Frank Ashmore VISITORS AMONG US: It seemed like they were finally honing in on what worked. Bringing back Frank Ashmore was a great move, because there was a real spark between you two.

MARC SINGER: I'm a big fan of Frank's. He was extremely committed to the project. He was an actor who could keep in focus at all times the big picture. He was very successful at presenting himself on screen as the representative of a large force. I feel that I was to some degree equally successful on screen in portraying a counter force to him, so when we stood on the set and played out scenes together, each of us had a very clear understanding that what we were promoting were two massive movements in contradiction to each other. If you look back to the original premise of Independence Day, 'V', Alien Nation and other science fiction entities sharing a common heritage, if you look at anything like The Maltese Falcon or Blade Runner or Stage Coach, all three of those scripts basically deal with the same concept: human interaction. The setting is what causes the humans to act as they do, but the way humans act and how they exchange information, that's what the story is about. Science fiction very often places less emphasis on special effects and production than people might suppose. The more money you can spend on special effects or production, the more exciting and the more enriched is going to be the background of the story.

VISITORS AMONG US: What appealed to you about Mike Donovan as a character?

MARC SINGER: The selection of roles to an actor is so important. A role is not simply a wardrobe and a hairstyle and a figure of speech. A role is an aspect of intellect and personality that you live, that you inhabit. When the filming is over, you have explored something of that state of mind, and the residue that is left with you finds a place of significance in your soul and in your psyche. And the role of Mike Donovan was an extraordinary opportunity for me to explore that part of the spirit that says, 'I may be cornered, I may be outnumbered and doom may appear to be certain, but it is not certain to me. i will succeed. I will, at the very least, take the struggle off your mind for a while. i will make you less beligerent, because I am not going quietly into the good night.' The power of a performance and the power of a characterization lives, first of all, in its creator's original intent and, secondly, it lies in the individual actor's attraction to some aspect  of the characterization that is meaningful to him. Someone else essaying the role of Mike Donovan may see some another quality in him that appeals to them, but that's the part that spoke to me.

VISITORS AMONG US: Did you take any of that home with you?

MARC SINGER: Absolutely. First of all, it is imperative no matter what line of work we're in, that we take our work seriously. If the line of work hapens to be what an actor does, the actor is going to take that work seriously. Since a lot of acting is conceptual work, it is the concept that the actor is left with when the project is all over.

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