News Collection: Wing Commander IV Continuity Photographs

WC4 Polaroids: Moose Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

This is part of a series analyzing newly discovered Wing Commander IV continuity photographs. You can find the previous posts collected here.

Our Polaroid research continues to produce surprising stories: this time, we've found a justified star. Or at least... the star of Justified! While the label on the photograph reads "BW Pilot Garret 'Moose'", the actor in question is none other than Walton Goggins (credited as Walt Goggins). Moose appears in the Peleus jamming scene, one of the three Border Worlds Banshee pilots that are ambushed and shot down by a flight of Excaliburs. The Polaroid gives us a great look at a Border Worlds flight suit, which the production dyed grey from the original tan Confederation suits with some minor alterations (like the Union of Border Worlds patch on his left shoulder).

Credited as Border Worlds Pilot #3, Mr. Goggins would quickly go from nearly faceless tertiary character to major star, one of the more recognizable actors working today. In the last decade he has conquered both television with lead roles in Justified, Vice Principals and others and film with appearances in movies like Predators, The Hateful Eight and the recent Tomb Raider. While his face is never seen in Wing Commander IV, his distinct ice blue eyes are easy to pick out!

So why haven't you noticed Walton Goggins before? It's not because of his blink-and-you-miss-it, visually obscured role... it's because the game and it's associated media have told you to think of the person beneath the Moose helmet as a large bald man! Unlike the other two 'jammer' victims, Hacker and Bob-O-Matte, Moose appears as an option on the Intrepid's roster of wingmen up until his scripted death which means you can pick him from the screen below where he is clearly not Walton Goggins.

That's because the 'redshirt' pilot portraits on the selection screen aren't from the film production at all... in fact, they're the Origin developers identified in the listed names. Here, Moose's face is Wing Commander IV's assistant product manager Patrick Bradshaw. Mr. Bradshaw worked in Origin's marketing group and served as product manager for Wing Commander IV, Kilrathi Saga, Privateer 2, Prophecy and other familiar titles. He may be best known to players, though, as the model for the four-page Christmas-themed Origin advertisement which appeared in magazines around December 1995. Origin held an open casting call for this campaign at the office and several developers appeared in related ads. Talk about putting everything into the job!

If you're a veteran of the Playstation version of the game then you may be confused by all this; the Playstation team kept the original portraits but used the names as an opportunity to tuckerize their own team members... Patrick "Moose" Bradshaw becomes Brian "Moose" Adams, credited as PlayStation Data Manager on the title. It's also interesting that Moose's canonical biography from Origin's Official Guide to Wing Commander IV further reinforces the idea implied by his callsign that he's an imposing, tall man despite this never being visible in any way in the game:

Moose is a big, quiet nice guy, although most people find his size intimidating. In terms of combat experience, he's logged thousands of hours of combat time, but most of the actual combat was of the "hot and heavy" variety. He became a fighter because he wanted to see the galaxy first hand, but also "wants to make a difference". He was the first in his family to enter service rather than work in an industrial field.

You also don't hear Goggins voice when you fly with Moose. That's because most (but not all - more on that in a future update!) of the redshirts don't have unique videos and their voiceover work was done by local voice talent in Austin rather than actors from the film shoot. Instead, the second unit shoot recorded loops of a pilot with an unlabeled helmet. Since the clips don't show the characters' mouths, any set of responses could be played over these clips. That's why Moose has a helmet in the film clip above but when you fly with him you simply see this:

You may recall that we've previously covered Border Worlds Pilot #1, "Bob-O-Matte", who was played by Mauricio Mendoza. That leaves one more credited Border Worlds pilot from the jammer scene... and we'll learn more about his surprising life next!

WC4 Polaroids: Generic Caps Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

This is part of a series analyzing newly discovered Wing Commander IV continuity photographs. You can find the previous posts collected here.

Today's polaroid led us to several interesting stories. Pictured here as "Confed Cap #3" is actor Charles "Chip" Esten. Since appearing as a featured extra in Wing Commander IV, Esten has gone on to a considerable amount of success including appearing as a series regular on ABC drama Nashville, playing Josh Porter on The Office and on multiple iterations of Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Mr. Esten is very active today and even retweeted our request to help identify his polaroid!

The polaroid gives you a good look at a Terran Confederation Navy jacket complete with a name and rank that aren't visible on screen (JARVIS and Lieutenant Commander, respectively). Wing Commander Prophecy would later establish a different canonical rank for Lieutenant Commander (three squares). As a featured extra, Esten is credited in the game as "Generic Cap #1". While there are multiple claims online that these credits belong to the voice actors responsible for capital ship comms, that is incorrect. The 'Generic Cap' characters are the background Navy and Space Force officers who appear throughout the TCS Lexington scenes, mostly in the briefing room, rec room and during the game's series of elaborate transition videos. While it's difficult to be absolutely sure, we believe Esten is most visible as a communications officer who appears in several of the briefing scenes and in the initial ready room meeting with Captain Eisen. The numbering of the polaroid itself indicates that it was taken during a second unit shoot of transition scenes (where multiple Navy officers are visible though none clearly enough to confirm their identity).

We don't have any polaroids for the other three Generic Cap credits so we thought we'd go ahead and look them up for this story. Unfortunately, some of what we learned ended up being very tragic, but in a way that we thought it would be important to report.

Generic Cap #2 is credited to "Michael Haplin" which turned out to be a complete dead end; Haplin has no other credits and no picture available online... nor is there any other mention of him in public archives. As a credited extra, though, he would have been a Hollywood professional rather than someone stepping in for a background cameo. Further searching suggested that Haplin is actually a typo and that it should be Michael Halpin. Sure enough, Michael Halpin is a succesful actor on both stage and screen who has since gone into production. You can find his biography here at The Unusual Suspects, a theater group he manages.

Generic Cap #3 is Carolyn "Cookie" Carosella who is visible in the background of rec room scenes and during the Lexington transitions; she's the taller blonde pilot with her hair in a bun. Her character's nametag is not visible but she wears a Space Force pilot's uniform with a 2nd Lt.'s rank badge. Ms. Carosella went on to success not only as an actress but also a casting agent and producer. Unfortunately, her story ends very sadly: she battled cancer for several years and ultimately passed away in 2021. In her final years, she told her story through a now defunct website hoping to inspire others who were also battling the disease. You can find a video interview of her discussing her fight here. It's terribly sad to lose anyone to such a horrible disease, but there's also an added melancholy here knowing that someone that helped make our universe was publicly suffering and we didn't even know who she was. At least Wing Commander IV will keep a little part of her alive off in the Epsilon Sector... and we'll remember her here.

Generic Cap #4 is Jeffrey Arbaugh. He's visible in the background of briefing room scenes (see below) and transition videos. Like many of the other background performers we've researched, he's still working in film and on stage today, with a host of credits. You can find a recent newspaper profile about him here.

WC4 Polaroids: Bob-O-Matte Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

This is part of a series analyzing newly discovered Wing Commander IV continuity photographs. You can find the first post in the series' introduction here.

Our next continuity polaroid is a familiar face: it's Bob-O-Matte! Eagle-eyed Wing Commander players will recall that Bob-O-Matte is one of the three Border Worlds pilots who is ambushed and destroyed in the cutscene that opens the Peleus 'jammer' series of missions. Despite his apparent death at the hands of a Confederation Excalibur, Bob-O-Matte appears again in Wing Commander Prophecy reading a tarot deck in one of the game's most unusual transitions. Bob-O-Matte's flying scene takes place in the game's Banshee cockpit set which is a simple triangular backdrop (shots of the instrumentation are reused from the more elaborate Lance cockpit set). As you can see in the photograph, only the top portion of the flight suit was necessary since the shot did not go below the actor's waist. This polaroid is also a great look at both the helmet prop's often-ignored O2 connector and the dyed-grey Border Worlds flight suit costume.

Fans of behind the scenes trivia likely also know Bob-O-Matte's namesake: the FMV games' compositing was enabled by a system called Ultimatte which was operated by a company called BlueScreen LLC owned by Bob Kertesz. Ultimatte + Bob Kertesz = Bob-O-Matte! Although much of his face was obscured in Wing Commander IV, Bob-O-Matte was played by an actor named Mauricio Mendoza in both productions. Mr. Mendoza has had a very succesful career in the decades since Wing Commander, appearing constantly on both stage and screen. His agent has posted a detailed IMDb biography and you can find him on social media.

WC4 Polaroids: Bluepoint Traffic Control Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

We have purchased a little bit of Wing Commander history and are passing the information on to you! Artifacts from the Origin Museum are currently being auctioned on eBay which has the excellent effect of revealing some interesting Wing Commander material we did not know survived! In this case, a set of twenty seven polaroids from Wing Commander IV's Second Unit shoot which are full of fascinating behind the screens and lore information, including some better-than-ever looks at some of the game's different costumes and never-before-recorded identities of various background characters! We're studying each polaroid and collecting what we can about how it relates to the game and will be updating one at a time. Wing Commander IV's Second Unit shoot took care of things like shipboard transitions and comm videos. In the case of the latter, actors were typically filmed in front of a single small backdrop intended to imply a larger space station, military bunker or capital ship bridge. Our hope is to identify as many of the actors and roles as possible and then tell you all we can about them.

Our first snapshot was the easiest to identify: this is Todd Covert who the game credits as "Bluepoint Traffic Control". Players will immediately recognize him from one of the first comm videos where he welcomes you to Bluepoint and gives you permission to land at the end of the first mission. We can see from the polaroid that he is wearing a "Tiger" nametag, which is something we will find on a number of Wing Commander IV extras (the nametags could be easily swapped so that one costume could be used by multiple characters). Here's an in-game shot of his appearance:

In the polaroid he seems to be standing in front of a MIP, giving us a close look at that set. In the game itself, his backdrop seems to be one of the same 'computer walls' used in the Lexington's briefing room (a logical choice as the Lexington and Bluepoint would share similar systems and aesthetics). Where are they know? We were excited to learn that Mr. Covert is still acting! He has had a lengthy and well respected career, largely on stage rather than film. You can access an interview about his career here and you can find his official website here.

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