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"What else could one do to culminate a career than to become a very great international star as the voice of a Muppet?"
July 31, 2012 3:23 AM   Subscribe

You probably didn't know the name or face of New Zealand actor Jonathan Hardy, but you may recognise his voice: he was Dominar Rygel XVI in TV's Farscape. But did you know he was also an Academy Award-nominated scriptwriter? He died at his home in the NSW Southern Highlands on Sunday.

Hardy's work includes many of the important Australian TV series and films of the past few decades including Moulin Rouge (as The Man In The Moon), but perhaps his greatest legacy was that he also wrote the screenplay for the film Breaker Morant (trailer) one of the iconic Australian films of the 1980s, and a fascinating snapsot of the life of an Australian folk hero, who remains controversial to this day.
He received an Australian Film Institute award and was nominated for an Academy Award for Breaker Morant in 1981.

On TV he appeared in the Prisoner (aka Cell Block H, the 1989 revival of Mission: Impossible or and The Thorn Birds: The Missing Years. He also wrote for The Adventures of Skippy for two years.

Sure, he acted on stage with Sir John Gielgud and Sir Laurence Olivier, but no footage of that exists, so here are some scenes from Farscape about crackers, sugar, allies, and Hynerian bodily functions.

Here he is at a Farscape Con.

He was also in a little film you may have heard of called Mad Max.

(For those who can Breaker Morant is apparently on Hulu, Netflix and YouTube.

He may have also helped provide a visual basis for Rygel's eventual design, and joined his cast members on screen for two episodes Kahaynu the builder in "I Do, I Think" and "The Maltese Crichton".
posted by Mezentian (44 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Frell. I loved his work as Rygel. Somehow he made me fond of that irritating lump of Hynerian blubber.

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posted by fight or flight at 3:28 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had no idea about the Breaker Morant connection at all (and nor did anyone else I asked, many of whom count BM as one of their favourite '80s Australian films). Each level I just kept finding amazing stuff.

So I knew he needed a post.

I started putting this together last night, but there was no verification. But I just fell in love with the Rygel clips. He have the stupid Muppet so much life.

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posted by Mezentian at 3:33 AM on July 31, 2012


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posted by Not The Stig at 3:39 AM on July 31, 2012


He *gave* the Muppet so much life. Damnit.
posted by Mezentian at 3:40 AM on July 31, 2012


· ←floating dot farting helium
posted by XMLicious at 4:01 AM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, wow, that's so sad. The first three seasons or so of Farscape were just gleeful, almost intoxicating fun. I don't think Rygel was the first asshole puppet, but he felt so .... so real, like a genuine jerk in normal life might feel. As fight or flight says, somehow his voice made him fun to watch, and you couldn't help but like him, even if he was a colossal asswipe.

It felt like the writers got angry after season three, and the show as a whole got very unpleasant. But those first three seasons were first-rate SF, and the knowledge that it truly is now gone permanently is a very, very sad thing.

I'll hoist a glass to you when I get a chance, Mr. Hardy. I thought of you as part of the trio that made Farscape work.... the characters of John Crichton, Aeryn Sun, and Dominar Rygel were the glue that held that show together. And you did it just with your voice.
posted by Malor at 4:05 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


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And, what Malor said re: the first three seasons of Farscape
posted by Thorzdad at 4:09 AM on July 31, 2012


This, Mezentian, is a post worthy of a dominar.

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posted by cranberry_nut at 4:12 AM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, Australia's entertainment media keeps us up-to-date with the Kartrashians romances and Suri's footwear. Sigh.

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Great post, Mezentian. Thank you so very much for bringing it to our attention.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:16 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rygel was a large part of what made Farscape enjoyable for me, and his voice acting was most of that.

Despite the eyebrows, he did not play a Mentat in Lynch's adaptation of Dune.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:22 AM on July 31, 2012


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posted by koucha at 4:32 AM on July 31, 2012


Awwwe. :( I loved Rygel. That cantankerous greedy floating muppet. Hardy made him such a rich and believable character.

Thanks for this wonderful obit post full of tidbits about Hardy's life I didn't know.
posted by zarq at 4:41 AM on July 31, 2012


That the writers could give Rygel the line "I am nobody's puppet!" and know that it would take the audience a full second or two to even realize what they'd just heard (and then have to pause the show to allow for screaming laughter) is down 100% to Hardy's impeccable voicework. He made the character completely, organically integrated into the show; Rygel was just another cast member, and that was an amazing thing.

(That Breaker Morant flick isn't so bad, either.)

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posted by tzikeh at 4:42 AM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


( )

He gets a wormhole from me.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:44 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this.

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posted by Coaticass at 5:46 AM on July 31, 2012


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Man that show was an important part of my college years.
posted by Osrinith at 6:13 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Goodnight, sweet Dominar. And flights of hover chairs float thee to thy rest.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:19 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


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I try to explain Farscape to people, and they stop dead at the word puppets. But they have no idea just how effective the work was on Farscape, that you could actively invest in the fates of puppets as much as humans. And to have a puppet character be as selfish, arrogant, ignorant, incorrigible, and as loveable as Rygel... well, you can thank Jonathan Hardy's voice work for that.

You did excellent work. Thank you.
posted by sutt at 6:27 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


He is why we forgive aliens that pee explosives and fart helium.


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posted by Atreides at 6:49 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


A tribute to Hardy from Farscape producer Richard Manning.
posted by penguinliz at 6:55 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, Australia's entertainment media keeps us up-to-date with the Kartrashians romances and Suri's footwear. Sigh.

I... er... have a half written post about The Shire (pre-broadcast too).
But, I really can't.
posted by Mezentian at 7:21 AM on July 31, 2012


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posted by mstokes650 at 8:11 AM on July 31, 2012


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posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 8:20 AM on July 31, 2012


I am sad now.

Are we past the cutoff point where we'll never see another new scifi series that uses practical effects, ala latex and puppeteers? Are we destined to forever have bad CGI?
posted by Rhomboid at 8:30 AM on July 31, 2012


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RIP Buckwheat
John Crichton's earth culture referenced 'nicknames' were one of the show's best tropes, since noone would ever understand just how badly he was insulting them. Remember Astroboy, Captain Crunch, Pip, Rasta Man, Sundance? He also called Rygel Fluffy, Guido, Sparky, Sluggo and Napoleon XVI. (yes, I googled it)
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:47 AM on July 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


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posted by EatTheWeak at 10:02 AM on July 31, 2012


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posted by dlugoczaj at 10:10 AM on July 31, 2012


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posted by Diagonalize at 11:13 AM on July 31, 2012


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posted by ob1quixote at 11:15 AM on July 31, 2012


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(I'm picturing all these dots as the little crystallized bits of John and Aeryn that Rygel gobbled up from the lake bottom in the series finale.)
posted by xedrik at 12:50 PM on July 31, 2012


I was just thinking "Hm. I should watch Farscape again." yesterday. Guess I know what I'm doing tonight.

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posted by BZArcher at 1:27 PM on July 31, 2012


Farscape is still my favorite show, and Hardy's work more than anyone else helps to elevate it above the "Mullets in space" moniker. Thank you, Mr. Hardy.
posted by Errant at 1:39 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by twidget at 2:35 PM on July 31, 2012


I'm willing to bet Errant meant "Muppets in space", but mullets is just so much funnier.
posted by xedrik at 2:57 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


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I was lucky enough to see him at SC2K3. He had such wonderful, quick wit.
posted by wiskunde at 4:36 PM on July 31, 2012


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posted by homunculus at 4:58 PM on July 31, 2012


He is why we forgive aliens that pee explosives and fart helium.

You Fart Helium?!

Deleted Scene
posted by homunculus at 5:03 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Kevin Street at 7:33 PM on July 31, 2012


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posted by stoneegg21 at 7:59 PM on July 31, 2012


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posted by a hat out of hell at 9:18 PM on July 31, 2012


He was also wonderful as Groove Courtenay in The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie
posted by milkwood at 12:16 PM on August 1, 2012


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/off to plan which episodes to watch in tribute.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:21 PM on August 1, 2012


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posted by Jairus at 9:42 PM on August 2, 2012


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posted by Smart Dalek at 4:14 AM on August 4, 2012


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