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Days of Future Past: Actors Michael Paré and Tanya Allen on Revisiting the World of ‘Starhunter’

September 3, 2018Ben MK

As the saying goes, everything old is new again. However, in the case of the Canadian-made sci-fi television series Starhunter, that literally couldn't be more true.

Originally broadcast in 2000 and spanning 44 episodes, Starhunter followed Dante Montana (Michael Paré, of The Greatest American Hero, Eddie and the Cruisers and Streets of Fire fame) and his niece Percy Montana (Toronto-born Tanya Allen, best known for her role on The Newsroom), and told of the galactic adventures of a group of bounty hunters in the late 23rd century. Now director, writer and co-creator Philip Jackson is bringing the show back in a big way, with Starhunter REDUX and Starhunter Transformation, the first being a new-and-improved version of the original show that has been re-cut with new footage and new visual effects, and the latter picking up where season two left off.

I caught up with the shows' lead actors, Michael Paré and Tanya Allen, after their panel at Fan Expo in Toronto, to chat about what it was like returning to these roles and what they hope viewers new and old alike will get out of this rebirth of the series.

What was it like revisiting the show and your characters 18 years after the fact, especially having the experience of seeing how fans have reacted to the original, and also seeing how far the sci-fi genre has come in that time?

Allen: It was a little threatening, because of course you worry, "Will the fans still like this older version of me? I was so precocious and adorable when I was younger." And then you remember, "No, I'm amazing." [laughs] And the fans are so accepting and tolerant that you just sort of let go and let God... that's an AA thing. [laughs]

Paré: Hey, I dig it, because you really put yourself out there every time you do a show. And that there's enough fan base to bring it back — that's cool, man, that's really cool.

Can you tell me how you approached your roles this time around?

Paré: Well, originally we didn't deal with the idea of the human race evolving into something new. So since Philip [Jackson] first approached us and told us he was bringing it back and that this was going to be a major component, my mind just goes with that. That evolution is the difference between Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal and modern human, and what's next?

But what's interesting to me is that people haven't changed. There was an archaeological dig in Greece where they didn't believe that metallurgy was a good idea. That's how far back people were resisting change. It's like, "Metallurgy, why? Why do we want to do this? Everything's working fine. These stone axes are just perfect."

So it's like, "Why do we want to evolve beyond biological?" Who knows, who knows what's going to happen. We could end up flying, you know?

Allen: Well, in season one, there was always kind of a confusion as to how old my character was. She was someone who was floating around in a tin can, going through different dimensions and not really sure, between various power outages, exactly how old she was. So I'm sure that later, it's a similar thing. Like, I know who I'm looking like, but on who's terms? Earth terms? Not our terms now, so it's less age and maturity and more what did she see? What horrors, what beauty, if any, what would have formed her and shaped her character.

You mentioned in the panel earlier that you're not a fan of green screen. Was that the most challenging part of reprising your roles?

Allen: Yes, I found my scenes with Michael much easier than my green screening by myself.

Paré: Yeah, it was for me the same. The dramatic interaction is really what actors have to hang onto. Even in movies and big productions, or in television or in theatre, it's when you're working with the other person that it becomes real. Although working with monsters, I'd rather it not be a real monster. They bite, they smell... [laughs]

Allen: I love real monsters. We get along. Distract them with jokes. Monsters got good senses of humor, everyone knows that. [laughs]

Paré: [laughs] Our chemistry is monster!

What do you hope viewers — both fans of the original and newcomers to the series — will get out of Starhunter REDUX?

Allen: Newcomers to the series will get to see a series that has themes that have been going on for a really long time, as well as characters that are gonna be able to cut back to what they were doing 20 years earlier, without it being a special effect in that direction, [which] will be pretty cool. And for the old fans, it would be just being able to hang out with people on a ship that you knew once.

Paré: I think, as an actor, [with] every performance you're hoping that you're gonna make people think about things in a different way than they did before or things they never thought of before. Yeah, I think sci-fi fans hang on, they come back, and if the show's doing what we hope it will do, there'll be a whole new group of fans. I hope it's an enormous hit, and they're demanding that we shoot [the next one] on a space station. On a moon base!

Allen: My agent would actually probably love that, cuz that would be a huge, huge increase. [laughs]

Starhunter REDUX airs Fridays on El Rey Network, and Starhunter Transformation is currently in production.

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