News Collection: In Memoriam - Cast Members

Goodbye David McCallum Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

There's sad news for the Wing Commander family of performers tonight: veteran actor David McCallum passed away earlier today. McCallum, 90, started his career as a leading man on television shows like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and went on to serve as a jack-of-all-trades who could pop up anywhere and everywhere. His nearly endless resume included a variety of guest appearances on cult genre shows including The Outer Limits, seaQuest DSV and Babylon 5. He joined the Wing Commander universe in 1996 in a short but memorable appearance in Privateer 2: The Darkening. You can find an obituary with a more complete retrospective of his career at Variety. McCallum appeared in Privateer 2's opening scene as the captain of the doomed freighter Canera. He commands Don Warrington's Helmsman, Nichola Cordey's Second Officer and stuntman Riky Ash's Communications Officer through the game's opening that ends in all of their fiery deaths. In the short, dramatic sequence he bravely attempts to command the Canera's crew to save the transport after it is ambushed before finally realizing the futility and resigning to his fate and crashing into the planet below.
For those that have trouble following Privateer 2's largely British-accented dialogue, the transcript follows:
HELSMAN: Crius planet control, this is cargo 1-0-4-6 Canera. On plan and requesting ejection marker 1-1-5.
CRIUS PLANET CONTROL: Very well, Canera. You are cleared for re-entry. Proceed to Mendra spaceport. Good day.
CAPTAIN: Who are those clowns?
SECOND OFFICER: We're in unequivocal commit! We can't even manage a skip out!
HELSMAN: So much for staying hypersonic. And we're too big for them to tractor in...
CAPTAIN: ... and keep us from bouncing. Range to Mendra?
CAPTAIN: Hit it now!
HELSMAN: Nothing left but altitude dials.
CAPTAIN: Launch all communications. Tell them to scramble all emergency equipment to Mendra. Nice try, Rog, nice try.
Although he has only four lines in a two minute segment his involvement in the project cast a long shadow and the fact that 'the Man from U.N.C.L.E.' was included in the game's all star cast was frequently cited in the game's marketing. He was included in Electronic Arts' press junket for the game, charming interviewers with his honesty about his single day of shooting. As a result, his involvement was recorded heavily in the press. British gaming magazine PC Zone attended McCallum's day on set and included a gonzo-style description of the work in their October 1996 supplement on the game:
In Studio Two they've already started shooting one of the spaceship crash scenes. David McCallum is rigged up to a complicated pulley system and six burly looking blokes are clutching the rope at the other end, tug-o-war style. The director screams for total silence and everyone holds their breath.

BANG! WHOOSH! The six blokes holding the rope tear across the studio and David McCallum flies into the air, landing a few seconds later in a heap on the floor.

Debris and smoke fill the set. The director screams "CUT!" and a flurry of make-up and costume people dash, coughing, through the smoke to swiftly patch up Mr McCallum's face and intergalactic apparel. The rest of the crew stare expectantly at the director, who just shakes his head. Shoulders slump and the crew automatically begin to set up the shot once again with an air robotic precision which, if you didn't know better, could easily be mistaken for abject boredom. David McCallum pulls himself to his feet and prepares himself for another re-take. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was a very long time ago.

Approximately one hour later they are still shooting the same scene. Incredibly, once it's been edited and re-edited this small part of footage will last for no longer than a few seconds in the final game. It's already taken a whole morning to get this far and time is running out. Tension is understandably high and everyone's keen to move onto the next scene.
Electronic Arts also produced a number of interviews with Privateer 2's cast for interested outlets. This jovial video with McCallum was included in the January 1996 issue of EQ Magazine:
The Wing Commander CIC team is very sorry to hear about Mr. McCallum's passing; we'd like to send our condolences to anyone that loved him. He helped create a lot of timeless art in his career and we're honored that we can share so much detail about the one small part of that that we're responsible for remembering.

Goodbye, Earl Boen Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

We are sad to report the passing of a veteran Wing Commander actor. Earl Boen, who voiced two characters in the first episode of Wing Commander Academy, passed away on January 3 at age 81 after a battle with lung cancer. Mr. Boen is best known for his appearances in the first three Terminator films as psychologist Dr. Silberman who continually finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time with regards to futuristic android appearances. Gamers know him best as the voice of Ghost Pirate LeChuck through most of the storied Monkey Island series (he had retired from acting just prior to development of the recent Return to Monkey Island). He was beloved throughout the entertainment industry, appearing in dozens and dozens of roles in every medium imaginable. You can read more about his career in this Variety article.

Mr. Boen guest starred in the first episode of Wing Commander Academy, "Red and Blue", where he played two major roles: the Terran Confederation Space Force Flight School Commandant, a contemporary of Commodore Tolwyn, and the Kilrathi blockade runner commander who plots to steal the Academy's classified data. He was one of several Academy actors whose massively succesful acting careers overshadowed their Wing Commander parts; others include Dana Delany, Jessica Walter, Jennifer Hale and Ron Perlman.

More Memories of David Warner & Extended Wing Commander Scenes Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

I'm saddened to hear of the passing of David Warner. He may have had no more than 5.5 min of screen time in Wing Commander (if you count the disk audio), but it was memorable and added a touch of class. In his honor, enjoy a couple brief extended scenes...

First up, his call with Blair:

The additions there regarding Blair's mother are nice echos to the also-deleted credits voice-over. It helps to sell that Blair has a bit of a chip on his shoulder regarding his heritage. It also resonates a bit with the other scene below. Belegarde's objections are kind of left over from an earlier draft. There was a medal ceremony ending at one point they cut and never shot probably because making everyone wear dress uniforms (while awesome) for one scene would have been expensive.

Also, Tolwyn comes across as kind to Blair in the theatrical cut. The scripted ceremony would have had Tolwyn admit he had pretty much sent Blair and the Claw as sacrificial pawns and tell Blair he expected him to hate him, possibly setting up a rivalry for future sequels.

About Blair's parents: part of the main heart of the shooting script is Blair's accepting his heritage, and the realization that he's not fated to be terrorist simply because of who his ancestors were. It's a interesting thought exercise to imagine the reception of an uncut movie (hopefully with a better budget) being released two years later post 9/11.

Which brings us to the last scene of the movie. Blair returns Tolwyn's ring to him and their brief exchange is a nice little bow on Blair's journey through the movie, and again, note Tolwyn's mention of Blair's parents:

All in all, Warner probably wasn't on set for more than a day, and these are more or less the extent of his "deleted" scenes. There's one line of dialogue that shows up in a trailer that was leaked online in 1999, but it's really more of an alternate take than anything deleted. The final scene would have been the only one Freddie Prinze Jr. and David would have shared together on set. The comm message on the Diligent was done with someone reading the lines to FPJ off camera.

I'm not much of a poet, but I will add that while we knew David Warner from his work, his family knew him and loved his as a person, father and more. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Goodbye, David Warner Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

The BBC has reported that actor David Warner has passed away at age 80. To say that Mr. Warner was prolific would be an understatement; his stunning, sixty-year career had him effortlessly jump from lead roles to villains to supporting character roles. The genius of David Warner was not simply in his spectacular talent but in his willingness to apply that talent indiscriminately. He was as at home playing Lysander as he was ruling the Klingon Empire or acting in front of a CD-ROM's green screen. He brought the same deep dignity, respect and talent to every performance. Here was a man who could move effortlessly from a movie bound for Mystery Science Theater 3000 to the biggest, most acclaimed film of the decade (1993's Quest for the Delta Knights and 1997's Titanic, respectively). He elevated the material with every bow, impressing generations of genre fans who knew him best for the likes of Tron and Star Trek. Wing Commander fans knew him as one of a rare group who played multiple roles in our universe, with wonderful turns in both Privateer 2: The Darkening and the 1999 Wing Commander film. Privateer 2: The Darkening

"Remember, once a wolf always a wolf..."

Warner first joined the Wing Commander canon in 1996's Privateer 2: The Darkening, the series' third full motion video title. Warner played (code name) Rhinehart, one of Kronos' top consiglieres and a key leader of the evil Kindred. Much of the game's story is spent learning about and then ultimately capturing Rhinehart, who holds the secret to Lev Arris' lost identity. In a massive cast packed full of superstar character actors (and a future a-list of a lead), Warner manages to stand out not only for his performance but for the importance to the story for which his sheer presence is required. After a dozen missions spent learning his whereabouts, Rhinehart finally appears in the game's explosive climax. Here David Warner is tasked with what seemingly came so effortlessly to him: elevating material with his very presence. In a tense interrogation with with lead Clive Owen (Lev Arris) and Christopher Walken (CIS Commander David Hassan), Warner reveals everything the player has been seeking: his true identity, who is behind the evil Kindred and their ultimate plan for domination of the Tri-System. Who but Warner could effortlessly and believably reveal in just a few lines that you had been frozen by your previously unknown crime lord father to protect you from your similarly previously unknown twin brother who has become insane from an addiction to age-increasing drugs. Warner could make material that might have been best at home in a soap opera seem as natural and real as the setting required. Wing Commander

"We need a resounding victory, or this war is over..."

So begins David Warner in the first shot of the first trailer for Wing Commander (1999): "[Earth Command] don't believe they can withstand a Kilrathi battle group without the support of the fleet." Here, again, Warner was tapped to lend his grandeur to another intergalactic endeavor: the role of Admiral Sir Geoffrey Tolwyn in the film. As the august commander of the Terran Confederation's Fourteenth Fleet, it is Tolwyn who intercepts Pegasus' drone and dispatches Lieutenant Blair to save the galaxy. The character of Admiral Tolwyn was first introduced in 1991's The Secret Missions 2: Crusade and went on to become a key part of the WIng Commander world. Origin Systems' Vice President of Sales Marten Davies originally voiced the character in Wing Commander II and Malcolm McDowell performed the role in Wing Commander III, IV and for thirteen episodes of Wing Commander Academy. Malcolm McDowell was originally set to reprise the role in the film but was forced to drop out when his Fantasy Island reboot was picked up as a series. Warner, who had famously co-starred alongside McDowell in Time After Time (1979) stepped in and made the role his own. Warner's plays Tolwyn as a wise, stoic fighting commander who feels like he would be equally at the helm of an age of sail frigate, managing also to come across as something of a father figure to Freddie Prinze Jr.'s Blair despite sharing a set with him for only one concluding scene. As in The Darkening, Wing Commander relies on Warner to make sense of the story for the audience, featuring him in several essential cutaway scenes that serve as small pauses to properly establish the narrative. Primarily paired with John McGlynn's Commodore Richard Bellegarde ("I'm bloody well aware of that, Richard!"), Warner gives the film both purpose and pace. Perhaps the simplest tribute of all to his mastery of the role is the fact that though the film was notably ravaged by fans for recasting familiar characters, seemingly no one took issue with Warner's Tolwyn.

Last Words

To end with a short personal recollection: I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Warner at Dragon*Con 2013. I was working the convention to promote Star Citizen and opted to skip lunch for a rare chance to meet both Admirals Tolwyn who were both signing autographs in a hotel ballroom. The line for Malcolm McDowell was long and took about half an hour; he was friendly but clearly busy and had to move quickly to serve his considerable crowd. David Warner, sitting under a banner showing him in alien makeup from various Star Trek roles, had no line at all and I was nervous to approach him because there would be no one waiting behind me. I shouldn't have been: he was the kindest, most effervescent convention celebrity I ever met. It is absolutely no fun to sit in a sweltering room packed with thousands of autograph seekers in every direction and one can never fault celebrities for their willingness to make such an appearance, but Warner seemed genuinely interested to chat with me, which is either a tribute to his dignified patience or his ability to act. He explained to me that he had never seen the final cut of Wing Commander and did I like it? Did I remember his part? What did I think of how he'd played the Admiral? He recalled being so impressed with the sets and costumes, presumably recalling the Concordia's battleship bridge and his naval sweater and peacoat. While his old co-star had happily signed my copy of Action Stations (a fictional biography of the Tolwyn character) without question, Warner was seemingly fascinated and wanted to know what it was and what the connection to him was. It was a small, memorable encounter that I'm so happy to carry forward with me. To paraphrase that same book on the subject of that same character: kind soul, may you rest in peace.

Goodbye, John Hurt Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

Sad news today as sources report that actor John Hurt has passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 77. To say that Hurt was best known for any single role is difficult, as his prolific filmography includes everything from the title role in The Elephant Man to the xenomorph’s first victim in Alien. Other genre favorites include multiple Harry Potter films, voice work on the animated Lord of the Rings and even a recent turn as Doctor Who.

When a great actor passes, the world tends to focus on one or two roles. John Hurt necessarily defies this convention due, if nothing else, to the sheer number of performances to which he lent his considerable talent. Visiting his IMDb you are struck first by the weight: it takes measurable minutes simply to scroll through his listed work. For every part you remember, he gave the same passion to a dozen others.

But one of the wonderful things about a dedicated, torch-carrying community such as ours is that we can keep alive the memory of just one of those lesser-known roles: John Hurt played Joseph Kane in Privateer 2: The Darkening, a unique part of the expansive Wing Commander universe.

Kane, best known as ‘Joe the Bartender,’ is the proprietor of The Sinner’s Inn, a ‘hive of scum and villainy’ located on the planet Hermes. Called alternatively “without a doubt the most dangerous place in the galaxy” and “the place to obtain the kind of things and services you wouldn't normally find in the Hermes telephone book,” Joe plays liege to a court of drunken oddballs, lowlifes and criminals, always acting the able fixer to protagonist Lev Arris.

Joe’s establishment is, not accidentally, the game’s starting location. After a ten-minute introductory cutscene that sees Arris rescued from a spacecraft crash that takes his memory and leaves him the muddled target of a failed assassination, the player is dropped to a gameflow screen showing a chaotic Hermes bar. With that, you gain agency and control of the distinctive P.A.D.D. cursor to start your Privateer adventure. And your first conscious task? Click on “TALK TO JOE THE BARTENDER.”

And so John Hurt introduces you to the weird and wonderful world of Privateer 2: The Darkening, literally. Who better to bridge your transit from reality to a Hitchhiker-inspired far future at the far edge of Wing Commander than a talent who could so capably exist simultaneously as both everyman and denizen of the fantastic? Someone who has so capably been both trucker and astronaut, statesman and time traveler, monster and human? Surely, the choice to open with John Hurt as one of the smartest, simplest design decisions the team made.

Or, as the entire YouTube description of a 2010 Let’s Play of Privateer 2 reads, simply: “Joe is the coolest bartender I’ve ever seen.”

Joe reappears through out the game to offer advice and to move along the story, most notably connecting Arris to black market microelectrician Dimitri Avignoni to unlock his mysterious capsule. A number of unused scenes were also shot with Joe for use with features that did not make it into the final game. Two of these brief scenes, both featuring Hurt, appear in the magazine cover disc demo for the game.

A collection of Privateer 2 cutscenes featuring Hurt are available here.

Privateer 2: The Darkening is available configured for modern PCs through GOG.

Joe’s Commerce & Communications Network booth system entry:

NAME: Kane, Joe

AGE: 56


PROFESSION: Proprietor of the "Sinner's Inn"

BACKGROUND: Ser Kane is suspected of dealings with the criminal classes; certainly he seems to be aware of criminal activity in his area. Despite his rather heavy handed culinary and cocktail mixing skills, Joe has earned a reputation for being a firm but fair licensee, providing a useful sounding board and 'Fixer' for his more favoured regulars.

Criminal Record: 36/G/2769 Possession with intent to supply of a class-3 prescribed substance (Dongleberries), 29/E/2778 Convicted of Gross Unhygiene in breach of 2694 Food and Safety Edict.

Hurt is one of several Privateer 2 cast members who have passed away in recent years, including John Boswell (Jan Mitorr) in 2011 and Mary Tamm (Auntie Maria Gabriel) and Stephen Jenn (Hugo’s Assailant) in 2012. The BBC has published an obituary available online here. Our thoughts and those of the entire Wing Commander community are with Mr. Hurt’s family and other loved ones. And to Mr. Hurt, wherever he may be: thank you, truly, for helping make our universe all the more special.

Together Again for the First Time Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

Klavs spotted a fun pairing in the 1983 film Blue Thunder. Jason Bernard plays "The Mayor" while Malcolm McDowell is Colonel F.E. Cochrane in the film. You can watch them together on YouTube. This mirrors the episode of Beauty and the Beast where Mr. Bernard acted alongside Chris "Hawk" Mulkey. These guys really got around!

Malcolm McDowell & Jason Bernard in 'Blue Thunder' also staring Roy Scheider! It's probably been posted before, but it just tickled me pink. :)

Goodbye, Simon MacCorkindale Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

Actor Simon MacCorkindale, known for his starring role in the British series Casualty, passed away on Thursday. He was 58. Wing Commander fans knew him best as Flight Boss Raznick in the Wing Commander film, the man responsible for flight operations on the Tiger Claw (credited only as FLIGHT BOSS). Appropriately, MacCorkindale dreamed in his youth of flying jet fighters like the Lightnings used to make the film before poor eyesight lead to a career in acting. Though his role in Wing Commander was limited, he still managed to steal a scene in which he orders a hot-dogging Maniac to abort his landing approach. Novelist Peter Telep expanded Raznick's role in his trilogy of Wing Commander-based novels.

Rest in peace, Mr. MacCorkindale. Our sympathies go out to his fans, family and friends. He will be well remembered as a skilled actor who helped bring nuance and depth to the Wing Commander canon. has published an obituary, available here.

Goodbye, John Spencer Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

Actor John Spencer, best known for his starring role on The West Wing, passed away on Friday. He was 58 years old. Wing Commander fans knew him best for his role in Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom. Spencer played Captain Hugh Paulson, the Third Fleet bureaucrat/tool of the conspiracy who relieves Captain Eisen as commander of the TCS Lexington. Paulson gives Colonel Blair orders for several missions before meeting an unfortunate fate at the end of Seether's laser knife. Spencer played the unlikable character perfectly - fans to this day continue to despise the slimy, sycophantic Paulson.

Rest in peace, Mr. Spencer. Our sympathies go out to his fans, family and friends. He will be well remembered as one of cinematic Wing Commander's brightest stars, if not one of its favorite characters. Yahoo has published an obituary, available here.

Spencer is the second Wing Commander actor to pass away this year - Privateer 2's John Vernon died in February. He is also the second Wing Commander Captain to die: the TCS Lexington's previous commander, actor Jason Bernard (Captain William Eisen), died tragically in 1996.

Goodbye, John Vernon Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

Actor John Vernon, best remembered for his role as the evil Dean Wormer in "Animal House," passed away on Tuesday. He was 72 years old. Wing Commander fans, however, knew him best for his role in Privateer 2: The Darkening. Vernon played Errendi "Fark" Farquharson, the assistant to Xavier Shondi. Fark spurs one of the game's cinematic missions, contacting the player to report that Shondi is under attack by the Kindred. Afterwards, he joins Arris and Shondi for a well deserved beaker of Cobalt Blue at the Surgeon's Blunder Bar.

Rest in peace, Mr. Vernon. Our sympathies go out to his friends and family. We will certainly remember him as one of the high caliber stars who made Privateer 2's cinematics an amazing success. The Washington Post has published an article on his career, available online here.

Letter From Jason Bernard's Widow Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

Worlds of Origin recently received a letter from the wife of late Jason Bernard, who played Captain Eisen in Wing Commander 3 and 4. Eisen passed away in October of 1996 and several large memorials went up. The two remaining are WOO's and Cie Sharp's. If anyone has a copy of Origin's memorial, let us know. Anyhow, it was nice to let out our feelings of Bernard in 1996, and it's nice to know Mrs. Debra Bernard feels better because of what we said. You can find her note at WOO here. The CIC has its own Memorials section here.

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