Talking Giants

Interview with Deanna Lund

Deanna Lund and Don Matheson

"I was doing a film for Twentieth Century Fox called 'Tony Rome', and my agent submitted me for the part of Valerie. They were interested and since Fox had me under contract, they sent for the dailies from 'Tony Rome' and they looked at those and at the Chrysler Theatre that I'd done, and they hired me on that basis. I dyed my hair red to play a lesbian stripper (in 'Tony Rome'), so when he (Irwin) saw it, he said "Oh yeh, good, I like it". So, what I would do was every time we'd have a hiatus or some time, I would whip in a few little blonde streaks trying to get it back to my natural colour. He, of course, would catch on and say it didn't match. It looked better, but he didn't care - not taking into account that my hair was also growing and the style changing - the colour had to be the same."

"Irwin is a larger than life character. He was a wonderful director. He was meticulous with details. He knew exactly what he wanted. After we finished shooting, he went back and shot some more. He did things that nobody else was doing, and spent more time and more money on special effects, and of course that's what finally sank the show."

"The pilot took longer than the others. I can't remember exactly, but it seemed like we were on it two weeks and then maybe another week later, maybe even longer. Irwin reshot a lot of it.

Generally an episode would take 8 days which was very long for an hour show, but there were so many special shots, and that didn't even include sometimes a lot of extra bicycling to do shots later on that they'd squeeze in. So it was very complicated. A lot of long hours. I'd get there at 6 in the morning and never get home before 8 or 9 o'clock at night. It was a long week." "Generally what we would do is shoot a show, and then we would run to another set and pick up shots from another show - either blue screen or some special effects, and do them all at one time. That happened a lot so you'd be dazed, wondering which show you were doing.

"I didn't think much of Valerie's character when she started out. She was a sort of spoiled jet-set, sort of brat, who was really self-centred and very self-involved, and didn't really think about anyone else's welfare or well-being. As the show progressed I had her become more of a loving character, more rounded, more group involved and caring of her fellow passengers. She began to reach out and became less selfish. Sometimes her gutsiness would get her in trouble, or usually did, but I think that underneath that rock hard exterior that she started with, there was a big heart, a soft heart and that she did care about, and learn to love everybody that was there, even Fitzhugh. I don't know if Valerie and I had anything in common - I guess to a certain degree - but I'm not going to admit to being a brat or cold hearted! I think the part about caring about the people she was with, certainly was easy, because I did care about all of them, and there was a lot of close camaraderie amongst all of us. Hopefully that came across."

"The shows could have been a lot better if there had been some more character development than there was, but Irwin would 'cut out' anything that wasn't in his view, good for the show. All the shows relied only on special effects. Irwin had little time for any of that emotional stuff."

"Any suggestions that we had, so long as we didn't bring them up on the set, they were very amenable to working with. You can't hold up production at the last minute and say that Valerie wouldn't say that, and then have a script writer run down and have to rewrite it. At first, there were a lot of things the actors didn't want to do or say, and they made the rule for us to do it ahead of time and then that was fine. I can't remember making any great changes. Mostly my development was in the way I handled certain lines, with the attitudes I thought she should have."

"Our characters stayed pretty much the same. First the giants didn't speak English, in fact, I don't think they spoke at all in some episodes. That in my mind was a little confusing because sometimes they didn't, and sometimes they did, then they spoke slower, and they walked slower. That was not consistent, and that I think was due to whatever director was involved at the time. Each writer had their own style and of course their own favourites to work with - some were better than others."

"Gary (Conway) would act as our 'spokesman'. He was very good like that. He was the only one who would go up against Irwin, but in such a way as to be diplomatic."

"I think there was a time, yes, it was when Irwin was entertaining some people the night before a shoot, and the following morning, I had to do a scene in a giant bird cage, and (grimacing) I felt so ill... I had to sit in this cage and do things like dancing and boy I felt so nauseous... I had to leave the set several times during that scene! The dancing was awful, I mean in such a confined space. It was very difficult to choreograph it (laughing), the choreographer had such a difficult time with me. I think she got quite mad! I was so glad when that part was over (shaking her head)."

"We did most of our stunts. We had stunt people there, but because the show was about special effects, just to kill the boredom a lot of times, we'd enjoy doing them to keep ourselves alive and awake. Sometimes they got a little bit tough. That rope climbing was really difficult, and of course nobody wants to look an idiot when they're doing those athletic things. The guys, of course, were very athletic, but for some reason they always had me doing all these stunt things, and because my character was supposed to be such an athlete, I wanted her to look like she knew what she was doing. I have always been athletic. I used to ride the rodeo circuit, so it wasn't intimidating at all for me, but there were some things that I'd never done, like being thrown in the air by gorillas! Of it was too dangerous they wouldn't let us do it. They insisted on the stunt people. Things that we'd do, you could break a leg, but you couldn't get killed! They just didn't want to have to stop shooting and have to write out one of the characters."

"Paul Zastupnevich was the designer and he was also Irwin's right hand man. He was a wonderful designer and he made the costumes very appropriate for what they were. That they should be a little bit advanced in age, futuristic, and yet contemporary enough that they weren't outlandish and of course he tried to make them as interesting as he could, or as sexy as he could. I would have liked more order of changes, but they didn't because they wanted to intercut as much as possible. We would go and do blue screen all in one day and they didn't want to have to waste time worrying about the wardrobe. But, being women, that was not a primary consideration. We wanted more clothes, especially when Valerie was a jet- setter and I figured she would have loads of clothes onboard. I didn't really with that battle, though I did get a few changes."

"We would be there very early. We would get breakfast served to us; usually we were in the trailer which was where they had the makeup and hair done. Heather and I would generally be in half an hour before the guys because we took more time in makeup. Then we would generally wait around while they set up the first shot - a lot of sitting around and waiting! Two of us, Don, I or Kurt would generally get into a chess game. We did a lot of knitting, handwork etc. and generally just stayed focused until we did the shot, then they'd have to do the master shot, then close-ups. There were a lot of camera changes. The special look they had to have with the giant props. It took a while. Patience was one of the things we had to have a lot of and most of us did. We told jokes, and as we got to know each other better, we'd start playing practical jokes on one another. Generally drove everybody crazy. We got on well with the crew, terrific people, and it was a lot of fun."

"Had the show gone on, Irwin knew that Don Matheson and I were going to get married and he asked us if we would get married on the show, because they could have used the publicity. We finally said we would. Then, he wanted me to get pregnant right away and that wasn't in the cards as we weren't planning that, but of course, as it turned out, we did have Michele. Guess, knowing Irwin, he would have used that had the show gone on."