Gil Gerard & Erin Grey
Buck Rogers & Wilma Deering  (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century)
Interview: September 2005

On September 23 2005 in a hotelroom in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands, I had an interview with Gil Gerard and Erin Gray, better known as Buck Rogers and Wilma Deering from the TV-series Buck Rogers.
Since I watched this show when I was a child it was an honor to have these two great people answering my questions. In fact, it was my very first interview ever! (over 230 followed since that day)


Hi Gil & Erin! What are you doing these days, 25 years after the series?

Erin Gray:
I have done a film called Siren and I also just finished a play called ‘Same time next year’. I also represent Gil and about fifty other actors, teach Tai-Chi, do some speaking and I wrote a book. So, I’m still busy.

Gil Gerard:
I just sold a show to the Discovery Health Channel. I can’t really talk about it too much now because we just started with it and are getting the crew together. I’m very excited about it!

It’s been 25 years since the series. Suppose Universal wants to do a remake with different actors, who would you pick to play your character, and why?

Gil Gerard:
I really have no idea…

Erin Gray:
Wow, never thought about that!

Gil Gerard:
I guess that it would depend on the script…but I haven’t got any influence on that. Besides, I can’t imagine anyone besides Erin doing it.

Erin Gray:
I like actresses like Jennifer Garner and Jennifer Connolly…I like Jennifers I guess.

Gil Gerard:
Erin had the tough part; she had the Dean Martin job, I had all the fun like Jerry Lewis. She was great, it’s hard to play someone who is stiff, but still has to be sympathetic and believable. She was able to do that. I don’t know who else could do this, although Jennifer Connolly is a good actress, but I don’t know if she could do this without looking silly.

Buck Rogers was originally a television serial, and had a full length movie made back in the 30’s. Did either of you watch the old series?

Gil Gerard:
Well, the only similarity was the name.

Erin Gray:
No, I never saw it before.

Gil Gerard:
I saw it as a child, in the USA I always went to the movies on Saturday. We had no television, so you went to the cinema for the whole afternoon and watched all these serials: TarzanFlash Gordon…and Buck Rogers! With all the other kids you saw all these serials before the motion picture you paid for started. So, I saw Buck Rogers there for the first time, as well as Flash Gordon which starred Buster Crabbe. You paid for the movie, popcorn and a coke 25 cents back then! Can you imagine that? When he guest-starred on the new show, I talked with Buster Crabbe, and he made a very interesting comment: he said that “people laugh at the special effects of the old Buck Rogers series now, but twenty-five years from now, they’ll be laughing at the special effects of the new series!” Recently, I saw some episodes of Buck Rogers on DVD, and I was thinking: well, they still hold up, but they are starting to get close to the edge.

Well, that’s the charm of the series, the whole retro-style!

Erin Gray:
We’re called retro now!

Gil Gerard:
Twenty-five years from now, we won’t be called retro, we’ll be called: “oh my god, did they look silly!” But, you know, with all the CGI now, they can do so much more than they where able to do with the models back then.

Models look way cooler in my opinion.

Gil Gerard:
Yeah, I actually have the model of my starfighter with my name on it!

Erin Gray:
I have mine too!

Erin, in the second season Hawk was introduced. It is said that due to his popularity they gave him your lines in some episodes to enlarge his role, at the cost of yours. Is this true and how did you feel about this?

Gil Gerard:
They did?

Erin Gray:
Let’s put it this way: I got less and less. He was an added character, my position on the show changed then. I became less commanding, was less in battle.

Gil Gerard:
And you got your dairy-queen outfit!

Erin Gray:
Dairy-queen in space! Hawk became more Gil’s sidekick, so there was less room for me. But I wouldn’t say that he took my lines.

Gil Gerard:
It’ll be hard to tell because we get the script and I can’t recall seeing a script where Erin’s lines where changed so they where Hawks lines, and I would remember that because I was very watchful of her character. I fought very hard for her character in the first season to be more of a presence.

Erin Gray:
It’s just a bad rumor.

Some people prefer the first season of Buck Rogers, because it is showing Buck out of place with the post apocalyptic Earth. He just doesn’t quite fit in, and everybody else is trying to figure out his speech and his customs. They also seem to be slaves to technology. With the second season, it seems more like Star Trek, where they are on a ship, out on exploration, and visiting new worlds. Whose idea was it to change the direction of the series?

Gil Gerard:
I hated that season, it was such a rip off of Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. I was thinking: why are we doing this? I always wanted Buck to stay on earth, but we got a new executive producer who had no respect for the audience and the show.

Erin Gray:
He had a big ego and he wanted to create something with his own look, so he could say ‘I created this’.

Is this the reason the show was cancelled?

Gil Gerard:
Yeah, when Time of the Hawk; which was the kick-off of the new season, was aired we lost a large percentage of our audience.

I recall you saying that Time of the Hawk was your favorite episode.

Gil Gerard:
I may have said that when the show was on the air. I guess I was being loyal to the show then. I actually liked Satyr; it reflected the feeling that I wanted Buck to have. He was having adventures and exploring on earth. It was almost a pilot of the things I’d wanted to see.

Erin Gray:
I thought we also lost some of our audience because cable was new?

Gil Gerard:
No, they just didn’t like the second season.

I heard that Universal was planning to do a spin-off series of Hawk back then.

Erin Gray:
They were?

Gil Gerard:
Never heard about that! There’s a lot of stuff on the internet, but this is not true. I tried for two years to go to the producers and writers with my ideas; to have Buck staying on earth, but I was told to forget it. Then I went to see the president of Universal and told him what I would like to see. The response after the meeting was that it was the best idea they ever heard in two years and why they didn’t hear this earlier. I said: because no-one would listen. They asked me to pitch the idea to the president of NBC, and I did. He told me that if the show would have a third season, that would be the direction they would go into. Unfortunately, the new producer had damaged the show so badly, the show was cancelled and didn’t get a third season. But, I felt vindicated because they liked my ideas. They should’ve gone back to Buck, Wilma and Twiki, because they were the main characters. We also lost Tim O’Connor, a fantastic actor in the second season. He was a line of strength, a father figure.

Erin Gray:
And a mentor

So, because the new producer he wasn’t in the second series?

Gil Gerard:
Yeah, all because of him. Time of the Hawk was actually a script that he wrote for Gunsmoke. Barbara Luna was actually cast in the same role! Hawk’s wife in Buck Rogers and the Apache-Chief’s wife in Gunsmoke. He thought that it was great that he ripped off his own script. This just shows his laziness…

Erin Gray:
…and lack of imagination.

I still like the second season!

Gil Gerard:
you did? I’m glad!

Erin Gray:
Oh, good!

Can you tell us your thoughts of these actors from the show in as few words as possible?

Felix Silla – Twiki

Erin Gray:
Short! Cute!

Gil Gerard:
Totally underappreciated.

Tim O’Connor – Dr. Huer

Erin Gray:
Wonderful actor to work with.

Gil Gerard:
Already said what I think of him.

Wilfrid Hyde-White – Dr. Goodfellow

Gil Gerard:
Oh…fabulous!

Erin Gray:
Always had a twinkle in his eyes.

Thom Christopher – Hawk

Gil Gerard:
Great actor, good friend.

Erin Gray:
Good friend, an angel in disguise.

Gil Gerard:
He has the feathers! They’re all good people…