You can count actor Ben Browder as one of those names you would think has either done more on the TV screen or feature film circuit. He certainly has the pedigree. But somehow, things haven’t panned out as perhaps they should have for the former Farscape and then Stargate SG-1 star.
FROM 16 TO 26
The start to Ben Browder’s acting career could be described at once as pretty ho-hum. His first appearance on screen was as a 16-year old in the feature Duncan’s World. It was a movie that was as forgettable as Browder’s appearance in it. The amazing thing here, though, is that it took Browder 12 more years before he would be seen on the big screen again. Any screen, for that matter.
Perhaps the reason for Browder’s lengthy departure from acting was the fact that he was studying the craft overseas at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Browder credits the wonderful actress Dame Judi Dench as being highly influential with his studies as Dame Judi was a visiting teacher at the school. She also directed Ben Browder in several of the Shakespeare productions that he was cast in.
Another reason for Browder’s long hiatus could also be that while studying in London, it was at the school where Ben Browder met his future wife, actress Francesca Buller (Chaplin, Farscape). The pair met in 1987 and were married in 1989.
Ben Browder’s official restart came in 1990, shortly after his marriage to Buller. His first role out of the gate was as a rookie captain in the movie Memphis Belle. Things began to pick up significantly for Browder in the early to mid ‘90s. As with most new actors, he wasn’t picky, finding roles on both the big screen and small. He was in the movies Daughters of Privilege, A Kiss Before Dying, Secrets, Big Dreams & Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story, and Innocent Victims. He was seen on the small screen in TV series such as The Boys of Twilight, Grace Under Fire, Melrose Place, Thunder Alley, and Murder She Wrote. In show biz terms, it’s called resume building and for Ben, it was beginning to work.
BEN BROWDER BREAKS OUT
Ben Browder finally got some much-needed recognition. After a few years of bouncing around as a guest starring on various TV series, he found a recurring home on the TV drama Party of Five. He joined the show in 1996, which also starred the likes of Matthew Fox (Lost, Speed Racer), Neve Campbell (Scream franchise), Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls, Baby Daddy), Scott Wolf (Nancy Drew, The Night Shift), Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer, 9-1-1), and Scott Grimes (Mystery, Alaska, The Orville). Browder’s recurring role only lasted 10 episodes, but it covered two seasons and opened doors for more roles.
After his “party” Browder was seen in Nevada, Steel Chariots, Bad to the Bone, and Boogie Boy. All of this work still wouldn’t prepare the actor for what was to come next.
THE FARSCAPE YEARS
Ben Browder’s role in the sci-fi series Farscape as astronaut John Crichton is probably his best work and his most popular. Farscape tells the story of Crichton, an astronaut testing a spacecraft he designed (and dubbed Farscape), when it accidentally flies into a wormhole and is tossed to a distant part of the universe.
Ben Browder’s Crichton is then picked up by a group known as the Peacekeepers during an escape attempt by the living spaceship Moya. During the battle, Crichton accidentally kills one of the pilots of a Peacekeeper fighter. As the Moya (a ship full of escaped prisoners) successfully escapes, the leader of the Peacekeepers, Captain Bialar Crais, finds out that Crichton is responsible for the pilot’s death, who just so happens to be Crais’ brother, and decides to hunt him down. Welcome to Farscape.
The series was a big hit for Ben Browder and the crew of Moya, as well as for the Sci-fi channel on which it aired. The series filmed in Australia, which meant relocation for Browder, Buller and their two small children, something Browder regrets in the least. “Sydney is gorgeous, I love the Australians, and we’ve got great surf breaks now just around the corner from where I live. I’ve got my favorite form of exercise available to me. It’s a good standard of living,” he said at the time via LittleReview.
Ben Browder is also quick to point out that, “It does not make my mom happy, nor my dad, and in regards to missing my family and the people back home, it does not make me happy either.” There were also some other little issues Browder and his family had to deal with. “Let’s be honest, they do not have Peanut Butter Captain Crunch in Australia,” Browder complained. “If I’d known, that would be in my contract. That and the Mountain Dew! Where’s the Mountain Dew? And I can’t find Crisco. You can’t make biscuits without Crisco. That’s one of the things about being far away from home, you miss the little things, but it’s made up for by the fact that I get to wear these cool Australian work boots that I would have never gotten in America.”
Farscape lasted four seasons. The problem with four is that it was five the series was intended to run for. So as the series wrapped, it ended on a major cliffhanger, leaving fans wondering. It took some negotiating and some heavy lifting from co-producer Brian Henson of the Jim Henson Company, but he finally got the rights back and was able to finish off what they started with a mini-series.
The producers were able to get the cast and crew back for one last shot at telling their story. The mini-series, Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, successfully tied up all the loose ends from season 4. Ben Browder returned as John Crichton and the rest of the cast into their previous roles.
A fun note on the series before it was cancelled, Browder and Buller were able to use both their kids in two episodes. Their son was in the episode Look at the Princess: Part 1: A Kiss Is But A Kiss and their daughter was seen in the episode Look at the Princess: Part 3: The Maltese Crichton.
BEN BROWDER ON STARGATE SG-1
Ben Browder, who actually was nominated and won a couple Saturn Awards for his time on Farscape. However, being on the show did prevent Browder from accepting another role on another big time sci-fi series. Ben was on the short-list as the lead on the upcoming series Stargate: Atlantis.
The problem with accepting the Atlantis part was the fact that fans, and Brian Henson, wanted more Farscape. So, instead of taking on the lead in Stargate, Browder went on to film the Farscape follow-up mini-series.
Not to worry though, Ben Browder finally got his chance to be a lead in Stargate, just not on Stargate: Atlantis. When Richard Dean Anderson decided to step away from Stargate SG-1, Browder was brought in as the show’s new lead. He played Lt. Cameron Mitchell until the series concluded in 2007. Good things come to those who wait.
BEN BROWDER AFTER STARGATE
True, Ben Browder has an affinity for all things science fiction. Just look at his resume and where he has found his most success. For this reason, Browder needed to change things up a bit. So he accepted the role as George Tildon in the feature Outlaws and Angels.
This presented a major departure from his normal sci-fi roles or even some of the characters he played on TV. He told Popmatters, “This is a departure from everything. Yeah, it’s an unusual piece, but that’s what drew me to it and made it interesting. It was a different kind of day at work, and it was certainly a different kind of experience. It’s so far away from something like Farscape or Stargate that from an acting standpoint it’s actually a viable reason to do it. Stretch in different ways; to look different, to be different.”
Not much has changed for Ben Browder over the past few years. After Outlaws and Angels he was able to snag himself a cameo on the massive hit Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2., a movie based in part on director James Gunn’s love for Farscape.
He found work on Criminal Minds and All Rise as well as on the features God Bless the Broken Road, Hoax, and Being. The work may be trickling in, but he is still finding it. Plus, there has been rumor that Farscape could be making a return. Fans would love it.