In the good old days when Turhan was still emperor of the Centauri Republic, ambassador Londo Mollari fell in love with a beautiful dancer named Adira Tyree. For a very short time, they were happy together, and then Adira went away. She was killed by a thoroughly nasty piece work named Morden and Londo was beside himslef with grief. Many years later, during a Brakiri religious ceremony called The Day of the Dead, Adira came back to Londo and they were happy one last time....
When Fabiana Udenio appeared as Adira Tyree in the Babylon 5 first season episode 'Born to the Purple', she had no idea that her character would become a romantic icon for Londo, nor that her death (which occurs off-camera in 'Interludes and Examinations') pushes him further in a path of self-destruction. For that matter, the actress never suspected she'd be asked back after Adira's death, giving Londo one last moment of happiness in the episode, 'The Day of the Dead'.
Back to 'life'
"They had used some of my stuff in another episode," says Udenio, when asked about reprising her role in Neil Gaiman's sensitively written story. "I guess it's the one where I get killed, so they had to ask permission to use scenes from the original episode in that one, and maybe a couple of weeks ago, my agent said there might be this thing going on, and I said, 'Oh, how neat!' Of course you're never sure until it really happens, but it happened, and that was very flattering."
The actress still has fond memories of her first appearance in the series, in which the look of the Centauri, particularly Centauri women, was still being established. "What was really interesting was not knowing what this species the Centauri were all about, and being the first Centauri woman, they were trying to figure out a look. It was actually very exciting, to be the first and to be considered important, because it was establishing something important.
"I didn't know what I was getting into, but they had a very specific look in mind. I think they already knew that they wanted the women to be bald, and then the rest of the look developed from there, with the hair and the pony tail. I had very long hair, so they thought it would look flattering to have a little hair to come out, and it was also easier to put the bald cap on because they didn't have to hide all the hair. The look continued to develop, but I think they had a specific idea to start with, of being bald, and the neo-classic look of their fashion."
One of the major differences between Centauri men and women is their hair-- or more accurately, their lack of it. As Udenio quickly discovered, her character was to be bald, which for the long-haired actress meant a great deal of time in the make-up chair every morning.
"I liked it as soon as they started putting the bald cap on and pulling my hair back. The only problem was the ears, I had to pull my ears back, but otherwise I liked it immediately. You feel something happening to you that you just can't make up, and it helps you get into another mode. My character played off the natural qualities of females, being soft and very feminine, and that definitely gives you something to work with."
Although several years would pass between 'Born to the Purple' and 'The Day of the Dead'. Udenio found that she and Peter Jurasik still had the same natural chemistry, that made their on-screen romance much more convincing.
Building the part
"I remember sitting with Peter the first time I came in and we rehearsed our scenes together. By reading those scenes, we established that kind of relationship right away, actor to actor before we got on the set, and that really helped. I'm sure that came from all the experience he's had on stage and TV, so that helped, being with a member of the cast that was so confident, even though it was the beginning of the season for them too, so maybe they weren't as confident as they are now. Everybody was saying how lucky I was to be working with Peter; everybody loves him; how could you not?"
Like many actors who have worked with Jurasik on Babylon 5, Udenio was amused at how quickly he could slip in and out of character when the cameras stopped rolling.
"I'm sure part of it is experience, but there are different ways of working. For me, it changes depending on the character I'm playing. This character is closer to who I am, so I don't have to hold on to it as tightly as you do when it's a character that you work hard to find and that stretches you as an actor."
Reflecting on her recent return in 'The Day of the Dead', Udenio was pleased to come back and finally close a small but special chapter in her career.
It doesn't happen very often, especially after such a long time. I knew the first episode went really well, and as Peter was telling me, my character remained a soft spot in Londo's life.
"Of course I thought if something was going to happen, it would have happened before I died, but I'm glad this is happening, and it's a very good story. I always remembered that very first episode fondly, it was a very sweet episode.
"I knew it was the first season, and that was only the third or fourth episode of the show, but apparently, he hasn't loved anyone as much as he loved me, so hey, I must have hit a spot with the emperor!"
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