Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

RIP: Michael O'Hare

- Boxleitner and O'Hare

Tonight's episode of Babylon 5, War Without End, was a two-parter and special in that it featured the return of Jeffrey Sinclair, who had been the commander of Babylon 5 in season one. Everyone thought that the character of Sinclair, played by Michael O'Hare, had always been scheduled to leave the show, replaced by Bruce Boxleitner, and to reappear in season 3 to close his character's story arc, but that was not the truth .....

During the filming of the first season of Babylon 5, O'Hare began having paranoid delusions. Halfway through filming, his hallucinations worsened and the stress of playing a character who was suffering from a similar mental illness was becoming overwhelming. It became increasingly difficult for O'Hare to continue work, his behavior was becoming increasingly erratic and he was often at odds with his colleagues. O'Hare sought treatment for his mental illness, but feared that, as the main character of Babylon 5, taking an extended medical leave of absence would destroy the show just as it was getting off the ground.

J. Michael Straczynski, the show's creator and main writer, offered to suspend the show for several months to accommodate O'Hare's treatment; however O'Hare refused to put so many other people's jobs at risk. Straczynski agreed to keep his condition secret to protect O'Hare's career. O'Hare agreed to complete the first season but would be subsequently written out of the second season so that he could seek treatment. He reappeared in a cameo appearance early in season two and returned in season three for the double episode "War Without End" which closed his character's story arc. He made no further appearances in Babylon 5.

Although his treatments were somewhat successful, he was never fully cured. On his return to Babylon 5, Straczynski promised again that he would keep his condition secret to his grave. O'Hare told him to "keep the secret to MY grave", pointing out that fans deserved to eventually learn the real reason for his departure, and that his experience could raise awareness and understanding for people suffering from mental illness. On May 25, 2013, eight months after O'Hare's death, Straczynski fulfilled his promise and finally revealed the reasons behind O'Hare's departure from Babylon 5 at the Phoenix Comicon.

I really liked the character of Sinclair ... he reminded me a lot of my grandfather. I was very happy to see him return for this later episode, and I had no idea until just now that he had been ill or that he had died last year. Here's a short clip someone posted in remembrance of him ...

And here's a short clip of an episode in which Sinclair has breakfast with his co-workers and tells Ivanova he was taught meditation by the Jesuits, all so he and Garibaldi can steal her breakfast :) ...


Anonymous Richard said...

Ha! Pretty funny. Those wascally Jesuits:)

4:46 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

They sure have a popular culture reputation :)

11:53 PM  
Anonymous raf said...

rip Michael,ive only just found out!

8:46 AM  

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