"Who is Number One?" by Lou Anders
Babylon 5 Magazine
September 1998, Vol. 2, Issue 2, page 38
When it comes to describing the beautiful but deadly Martian Resistance Leader introduced in Racing Mars, Marjorie Monaghan says Number One is intelligent, passionate, and committed. "It's hard to articulate what went into it," says Monaghan of her character as she appeared in season four, "but one of the most important things for me about this woman is that she is a protector. Things keeps coming up where she is very decisive, and some of the things have to be very clearly black-and-white because of the circumstances. If she hesitates she will die. People are killed everyday trying to find out who she is, and that's a tremendous responsibility to the people that she must protect, the people in the Resistance -- to try and keep them all alive and keep it organized and keep it going for the good of everyone."
Monaghan says that the core of Number One is this sense of responsibility that comes with leadership, "which makes it easier to be decisive about difficult quandaries. When something comes up and you have to decide, are we going to let this person get away with something or are we not, and if you let this people get away something and more people die, then you've been wrong. She can't afford to make those kinds of errors."
Although she quickly made friends among the cast and crew, Monaghan already knew one familiar face when she came aboard: Claudia Christian. "I was a series regular a couple a years ago on a show called Space Rangers on CBS, and she did one of the episodes." This connection had led her to follow Babylon 5 in its early days. "I had watched it early on, because I have worked with Claudia, and I liked her and I have respected her work. So when I first turned it on, I was interested in seeing her work." But Monaghan is also a fan of the genre. "I love science fiction. I always have. I grew up reading it. I wasn't much of a television person as a kid, but I was an avid reader, particularly science fiction and epic fantasy, but intelligent epic fantasy, which this is. So I was interested and I watched it awhile."
It seems that Mars, of all the planets, holds a special place in the hears of fans of science fiction. Did this, or for that matter the recent media attention the Red Planet is receiving, inform Monaghan on her role? "That's interesting," she says, considering the question, "although I think because of the level of quote-unquote life on Mars that they are discussing is on such a simple, biological level, I don't see the two as correlating particularly. But it was kind of interesting, because I read a lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter books when I was a kid. Also, it was interesting getting a sense of the physical world that they had created there. What would it really be like to live on a planet that was essentially a frozen desert? To never have sunlight, because you live all your life in a man-made environment? You would never breathe unprocessed air. Everything is a man-made and climate controlled facility."
Looking back on her early experiences on Babylon 5, Monaghan says it was marvelous. "The writing is wonderful. I love the complexity, and I love Straczynski's storytelling -- the involvement of all these different elements that sort of weave in and out of each other. And the people were terrific and helpful, and everybody wants you to do good work. The crew is incredibly efficient. It's definitely one of the most organized sets I've been on. The crew knows exactly what they're doing, and yet they're very nice. The director of photography, John Flinn, was just one of the nicest people. And Richard Biggs [Doctor Franklin] and Jason Carter [Marcus Cole] were a delight to work with. Everybody's having a good time, so it was very warm and welcoming. I had a wonderful time."
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