Interview: Oneiros (Chan Taris)

(1) Tell us a little about your character
Taris is a logical man, he likes things to make sense.

And that is what underpins most of his actions. His grasp of strategy and logistics is surprisingly good. Even when he does things which look impulsive, you know that he’s, probably, got a good reason for doing it. Whilst he likes a good plan and is keen to make sure that things are properly set, he appreciates that circumstances may not always allow it. Plus there’s his own inherent impetuousness as a holdover from childhood that he is still always trying to, well, ‘subdue’ probably isn’t the right word but it’s appropriate, I guess.

He’s not likely to be your go-to kind of guy to get something done; the ‘dashing hero’ archetype is not Taris at all. But if you want to know ‘how’ to get something done, you’re probably not going to find someone much better at his level. But he may very well rub you the wrong way depending on how you ask – he’s awkward in large groups and can be somewhat brusque. ‘Tactics not tact’ is a good way to describe him. Unless, however, he wants something... He may not be good at charming people but there’s no doubting he can get things done, even if you may not have wished to do it in the first place. And he’s good at working the system – he could have been a lawyer in another incarnation.

He’s polite and civil and loyal to his friends, but he’s not great at making friends in the first place. He’s something of an opposite to Adrus – full of guile and constantly working to turn things to the group’s advantage and suspicious of other people’s actions and intents because he knows how he thinks and also, despite being a handy martial artist, is not much of a combatant.

(2) What initially attracted you to this role?
I have to say I was a little sceptical at first. The premise of the show was good, there was no doubting that. But the actual character? I thought he was a little underdeveloped, maybe filling a niche for the sake of it. Similarly other commitments were threatening to keep me away.

But the director, Brave Sir Robin, persuaded me to take another look. So I did and gradually came round as I started thinking about it. It would be a challenge no doubt about it, so I guess that’s probably the main reason I ended up taking the part. Whilst there are quite a lot of similarities to other characters I’ve played before, there’s enough here to stretch me which is what I look for in a new role – whilst I accept I’m going to get a certain amount of typecasting, each one should be somewhat nuanced. Taris is a bit more ‘gung ho’ and valorous than my usual characters which I’m looking forward to portraying. I mean Azir [Dr. Azir Lerayne from BSR’s previous work, Golden Opportunity - ed] was intelligent and full of planning but he was very strict and not particularly brave unless he had no option.

Hopefully it will come across okay – I’ve been doing a lot of directing recently, so it will be good to be in front of the camera for a bit. And the chance to work again with CardinalSin and Blackrat is a bonus.

(3) What other characters would you say have influenced your portrayal of this character?
I’m not sure I can pin it down to any particular character – you can probably see bits of a number of characters and character types in my portrayal: the weasel-like lawyer with a good heart, the overlooked nerd, the master tactician who has a flaw of overconfidence, the meticulous bureaucrat. I’d say if you have to pick actual identities… well, probably the two closest would be Dr. Julian Bashir from ST: Deep Space 9 and, somewhat controversially, Warren from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Let me explain. Dr. Bashir was an intelligent guy who had a very strong grasp of utilising information, something that Taris excels in as well. He also believed in things quite strongly and would work out ways to achieve those objectives even if it required more ‘unconventional’ means to do so. He also had a general attitude that alienated some people as much as he was charming in other areas but his friends were able to get round that. He also had a tendency to rush into things without necessarily thinking them through fully or ignoring all the consequences – so a degree of rashness that still needs tempering, even despite all we know about his ‘superhuman’ powers, which are probably equivalent to the power a Terrestrial has over a mortal in this kind of setting.

I daresay I’m going to get a lot of stick for describing myself as Warren. *smiles wryly* After all he was a villain of the series. But I see a lot of Taris in him. He was often overlooked, cleverer than many around him but still an outcast, which turned to resentment – he went over that line that Taris so easily could. Warren wasn’t conventionally charismatic but had a way of manipulating people into doing what he wanted, up to a point. Just look at poor Andrew… It’s that kind of internal conflict that I see Taris having tried very hard to overcome, using his friends to hold him back even though they may exasperate him sometimes.

(4) How would you describe your characters outlook on the world? Or his reaction to the situation he's found himself in?
Generally speaking? He’s fairly reserved – he’s unlikely to chip in to topics that don’t directly involve him but he does see most things as sources of information. His view is that the world is dangerous but that Lookshy can provide a decent sense of order and direction if people would just listen.

As to the situation – surprised and then practical, he will want to gather information as soon as possible though the death of Duros will shake him greatly as their best scouting asset. He will look to establish the facts of the situation as quickly as possible and then seek out what will be to their advantage. Whilst he grieves, he knows the situation could turn dangerous any moment. He will treat everything with a healthy dose of scepticism and suspicion – especially since he knows that Adrus is a bit too much of an optimist.

(5) How would you like to see your character develop over the course of the season?
I’d like folk to see that Taris isn’t just an arrogant wallflower, he is a real person who can get on with his friends but he has a darker edge when dealing with ‘outsiders’. He’s stern but can have a bit of a laugh. As the season goes on, I’d like him to develop those core traits of his and show that he really has their best interests at heart by being suspicious, show that wariness can be a good trait as well.

I think it’s a great shame that suspicious characters are often shown in one of two lights – either, ‘oh, all your suspicions were for naught – ha ha ha, weren’t you stupid for not being more trusting’ or ‘Hah, I was right to be wary, serves you/us right for being trusting’. I’d like to think there is a halfway house between the extremes.