Respectful Insolence

G’Kar is dead

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Sad news on the Babylon 5 front.

Andreas Katsulas died on February 13 of lung cancer at the age of 59. Besides playing the One-Armed Man in the movie The Fugitive and making frequent appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Katsulas was best known for playing the Narn Ambassador G’Kar on what was, in my opinion, one of the best SF television shows of all time, Babylon 5.

G’Kar was my second favorite character on the show after his nemesis, Londo Mollari. Whereas Londo’s character arc saw him starting out as a decadent and buffoonish oaf and then becoming a very dark and cunning character before finally acquiring wisdom and then sacrificing himself for the good of his people, G’Kar started out as an angry, violent, and arrogant character, out for vengeance for the Centauri occupation of his homeworld and, over the course of five seasons, evolved into a revered religious leader who had learned to put aside his hatred of his enemies. Through it all, G’Kar showed a wry sense of humor (and also got some of the best lines in the series). The central conflict between these representatives of two races at war, although not the primary plot, was always lurking right under the surface and drove many of the story arcs. How G’Kar and Londo finally came to a mutual respect, understanding, and something that bordered on being friendship produced some of the very best drama of the series. It wouldn’t have worked if Andreas Katsulas and Peter Jurasik (who played Londo) weren’t such accomplished actors. Katsulas, in particular, had to manage to pull this off under layers of makeup and prosthetics.

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What is it with the cast of this series? First Richard Biggs (who played Dr. Stephen Franklin) died suddenly in 2004 at the young age of 44, and now Andreas Katsulas.

They live on only on DVD now.

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Comments

  1. #1 BronzeDog
    February 15, 2006

    Primarily being a Trekkie (and having B5 show up at inconvenient times, if ever, thanks to my cable company), I never got that deep into the series, but I liked that guy. I saw just enough of him to see the character changes going on.

  2. #2 drarcane
    February 16, 2006

    The Londo-G’Kar plotline was one of the best storylines on TV ever. The character transformations were astonishing yet believable, because of the skill of the actors. He will be missed.

    B5 fun fact: Londo’s distinctive accent was purely imaginary, created by Peter Jurasik specifically for the character. Which is why none of the other Centauri sound quite like him!

  3. #3 Bob
    February 16, 2006

    That’s a bummer. I always liked G’Kar. B5 wasn’t usually really upbeat, with the Shadows and conflict and whatnot, but I think the heft of the series was beautfifully distilled (in the Revelations episode, if I recall correctly) with G’Kar’s line, “Weep for us all, Natoff” (and that’s going from memory so it may not be 100%). Mr Katskulas’s delivery was just right. “Things fall apart, the center cannot hold…”

    Did B5 ever do a Narn funeral? I don’t think it would have been as spectacular as the Vorlon tradition of the deceased’s spacecraft flying itself into the nearest star.

  4. #4 Skeptyk
    February 16, 2006

    I loved B5, and G’Kar was my favorite character. For anyone else missing B5, all of the JMS scripts for the show, along with his journal notes and photos and notes about script changes, are being released in nice books by cafepress. This weekend, maybe we will break out one of the G’Kar-heavy episodes on the DVD and raise a glass of whatever Narns drink to Andreas. (The only B5 foods that come to mind just now are flarn and spoo, which, IIRC, looked like tofu and blue mousse.) What did Narns drink?