Andreas Katsulas

G'Kar in 'Babylon 5'

Wednesday 01 April 2009 20:55

Andreas Katsulas, actor: born St Louis, Missouri 18 May 1946; twice married (one son, one daughter); died Los Angeles 13 February 2006.

Behind a reptilian mask that took two hours to apply in the make-up room every day, Andreas Katsulas played the Narn regime's ambassador, G'Kar, with humanity and humour in the sci-fi series Babylon 5, set in the 23rd century.

Over five years, he showed G'Kar's evolution from being a bitter and selfish character into one who embodied a new era of hope for inter-galactic peace. After the Narns' defeat by the Centauri, and as the only member of their ruling body not to be captured, G'Kar was granted asylum on the space station Babylon 5, a five-mile-long, 2.5m-tonne rotating colony built as a diplomatic meeting-place for different civilisations.

G'Kar helped to found the Interstellar Alliance and became regarded as a spiritual leader after his writings on religion were published as The Book of G'Kar. Although the Narn people came to him for guidance,he grew frustrated when they sought to interpret his words in their own way and eventually left Babylon 5 to explore the galaxy.

The pioneering American series (1994-98), shot in widescreen and one of the first to use computer technology to creat visual effects, became a cult favourite in Britain and other countries. Katsulas consolidated his own reputation with sci-fi fans by appearing in two Star Trek television sequels.

He took the role of the sneering Romulan Commander Tomalak, locked in a battle of wits with Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), in five episodes of Star Trek: the next generation (1994) and the Vissian captain Drennik taking Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) on a close encounter with a hypergiant sun in Enterprise (2003).

Born into a Greek-American family in St Louis, Missouri, in 1946, Andreas Katsulas gained a master's degree in theatre arts from Indiana University and, after acting in plays in St Louis, Boston and New York, spent 15 years from 1971 performing worldwide with Peter Brook's Paris-based International Theatre Company in conventional and improvised productions - even at venues such as prisons, mental institutions and sewage plants.

He made his film début in Série Noire (1979), about a door-to-door salesman who plans a murder. Then, he took a small role in Ragtime (directed by Milos Forman, 1981), a semi-fictional mosaic of 1906 America, alongside James Cagney in his final screen appearance, had a short run as Lucien Goff in the American daytime soap The Guiding Light (1982).

Most of his parts thereafter were on the small screen. He played G'Kar in the television pilot Babylon 5: the gathering (1993). When Babylon 5 resurfaced with a "next generation" crew in the television film Babylon 5: the legend of the rangers - to live and die in starlight (2002), Katsulas was brought back as a bridge between the old and new.

Anthony Hayward

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