The Catacombs Catacombs Credits Guide
Martin Landau

Comments from the SpaceCon convention, Columbus, Ohio, July 1978.

Martin Landau, July 1978

Q: I was curious about the relationship between Helena Russell and Commander Koenig.

We were often criticized in the first season for not having any overt displays of tremendous affection . But it was quite purposeful. What we did behind closed doors was our business. We felt very clear on the writing necessary to lend it to compliment the sensitivity at the start of the show. We related to each other, both on an open and professional level, at the time. More importantly, we felt that any older sentimentality would not bring strength to the show. Our relationship was above a kind of a 'like'. It was a logical thing to have happened, having been thrown together into outer space. No one knew what was happening. The accident had forced us together.

Q: On the set of Space: 1999, did Catherine Schell have a sense of fun?

Catherine, she's a great gal She's a lovely, lovely girl! Oh, yeah, we had a lot of fun. We had to keep on our toes. It was a long run.

Q: Which season did you like better?

I like the first season! I thought the shows had more style, clarity. What the hell! I liked it! Black Sun was one of my favourite shows. That was shot early on in the first season. We thought that was the direction the show was to take. We had relationships, humour, a bunch of it, and music ... beautiful! Unfortunately, you didn't see the version I liked. It was jazzed up because some people said it was slow. That was a period of finding out. That was the direction Barbara and I wanted the show to go in. Gerry also. We watched Black Sun and said it was really marvellous and it's what Space needed. It's the direction the rest of the show should have.

Q: Concerning dialogue in Space. Is it hard to speak lines when the action is not before you?

Well, you know, we go pretty much by direction. Some kinds of things you can talk through. The size of Eagles and various space data you can't talk through that, so after the dialogue, we would see some of the effects in the rushes after we'd see the live-action stuff. We'd see better stuff, sometimes we didn't. Sometimes I'd be asked to be more talkative. Sometimes it was difficult. I remember a show we did which had a ship on the viewscreen. We had already shot our reactions to it without seeing it. It was a painting and was supposed to be serious. The thing looked like a flower! It had discs and round circles in front of it. I said 'That's ridiculous! Look at that. We can't react to a flower! Fortunately, It was eventually changed to a giant war-ship to achieve the effect to the reactions of everybody.

Q: Did you miss Main Mission?

I probably wound up walking about three or four miles a week less! I liked that set a lot. Yes, I missed it. Logically, there were a number of reasons it was changed. The fact that our first set was on the surface of the moon, with windows. It was not built for a moon moving in space. It was logical from the story point of view and more logical to put it underground. From another point of view, the shooting point of view, the big set was difficult to light, very difficult. We had an awful lot of lights to put in and an awful lot of bodies to be lit, which slows down shooting production. Because of the type of movement the set has, and because of the very qualities of different shows, power failures, colours of different kinds, it turned into an enormous lighting job each time. On that level, the set did slow us down, but from a filming point, I like the first season the best.

Q: Were there ever any serious injuries in Space: 1999?

There wasn't a week that went by when we didn't have a bruise or two. You have to expect that on this kind of show.

Q: Can you tell us about Meteor?

Well, It's science fiction, but we call it science fact. In Meteor, I worked with Sean Connery, Natalie Wood, Brian Keith, Karl Malden, Henry Fonda and Trevor Howard. It's about a meteor approaching the earth and sun. It's been approaching for some time. A splinter of it hits New York and half the population is destroyed, the sea coast is destroyed. We have an underground base in New York full of Senators and hostile congressmen. In order to deflect the meteor itself, we have a rocket which we would put close enough in outer space for deflection. The Russians also have a similar rocket. We needed the five fire powers to vote. The meteor would destroy the Earth and knock it off its course. We have to admit to the Russians that we have it, which is a contradiction to every national agreement we have. They have to admit to us that they have a rocket too. Anyway, I play a guy who was a general, who's more concerned about the Russians than the meteor. So, that kind of a guy, the thorn in Sean Connery's side.

Q: I was curious about why Dr. Russell seldom showed emotions, but we had seen Commander Koenig crying. Can you tell us why?

I'd better be careful not to say anything chauvinistic! People cry... people are emotional. Dr. Russell is a very responsible person. By the same token, the kind of medicine she had related to prior to this ordeal we'd been committed to, was normal medicine. She could cope with it. There's no basic training for what we had to do in outer space. I cry sometimes. The point of that is, we're possibly a lot more vulnerable in the series. I've seen women in position cry. I've seen men in position cry. Dr. Russell cannot do that publicly. You know, it takes a certain type of training on Alpha. There's the claustrophobia of not being able to go outside, not being able to see the sun, not seeing things we expect to happen. The kind of edge people are on is unnatural.

Do you have the first film version of Black Sun?

No, as a matter of fact, one of them was destroyed. There were two versions of it, one which was crushed, the other, I don't know who has that.

Q: Would you do a third year of Space: 1999?

That's such a long question. I don't know how I'll answer it. Let me try to answer it succinctly. At the moment, I am doing a film. I'm going to produce and direct two films that I wrote, one of which is the science fiction route. In the immediate future, it would be difficult for me to go back into production, because I have these other things that I need to do and want to do. In fact, it's conceivable that in a couple of years from now, it's possible we could all get back and do another season. That would be a logical and possible thing. The popularity continues. At the moment, the show is one of the most popular shows in the history of German television. We've just won awards. It's playing in well over 100 countries, Our fan mail comes in different languages. There's an enormous audience out there! It would be nice. The changes, I think, we could pretty much go back to the first season. I say use the first season as a springboard to make the show more of what we really had in mind in the beginning.

Q: Would you do the show again if Freddie Frieberger was assigned to it?

You know, would have to say 'no' to that!