KEVIN KILNER INTERVIEW
William Boone's demise not only stunned Earth Final Conflict's viewers, but also shocked actor Kevin Kilner. By David Bassom
IN THE beginning, he was Humanity's only chance of survival, As a top-level security officer for the mysterious Taelons and undercover agent for the underground resistance movement, Commander William Boone was in a unique position to learn the aliens' secret plans for Earth. And once he had exposed their hidden agenda, Boone looked set to confront the Taelons in a struggle which would seal his people's fate.
Or so it seemed. In reality, however, Earth: Final Conflict's
original central character would not live long enough to fulfill his epic destiny. During
the closing moments of the show's first season finale, The Joining, Boone was mortally
injured by a rogue alien known as Ha'gel and then killed by the teacherous Taelon, Zo'or,
in a brutal act of vengeance. Boone's death heralded a reworking of Earth: Final
Conflict's premise and left loyal viewers stating at their screens in disbelief.
Ironically, their feelings were shared by the character's real life alter ego, Kevin
Kilner. "It was not my choice," says Kilner of his departure. "If I
had my choice, I would have gone back [for Season Two]. I had a great time working on the
show, and there were so many aspects of the Boone character that I thought could have been
developed. "But I guess [the producers] didn't want to do that. And to this
day, it's still a bit of a mystery to me what happened. There was never an explanation, a
note, a letter or a phone call. I worked closely with those people for nine months and
never heard from them again. It's very strange."
Secrets and lies
Over 18 months have passed since Kilner shot his final scene of Earth: Final Conflict, yet he remains reluctant to talk about the circumstances of his exit from the show. It was a sorely disappointing experience, and one which he does not wish to re-live. The main reason he has decided to discuss the matter with Starburst, then, is to publicly set the record straight and dismiss some erroneous reports that have appeared across the Internet and on other parts of the media. "People have said all sorts of strange things," he explains. "They've said the show couldn't afford me any more which is just ludicrous. They've also said the producers wanted to make it more of an ensemble show and thought that I would object to it. I was all for it becoming an ensemble show, because it's one hell of a workload as a lead. "I really don't know what to say except the truth," he continues. "We wrapped in the first week of February last year and when my agents and managers asked for a pick-up [renewal] of my contract in the middle of March, they were told that [the producers] wouldn't be picking up any actor's contract until three weeks before the start of shooting Season Two. Entire technical departments already knew that they were coming back, but the cast had to wait. "I thought that was inherently unfair to me because I had done as good a job as I could have done in the first year. So I felt that they could either pick up my contract and let me know that I would be a part of the second year, or they could release me, And they got angry at that [ultimatum], but they released me. "If I had my choice, I would have
gone back for Season Two. I had a great time working on the show".
"They've taken out all the complexity, the mystery and the moral ambiguity and have made it a cops and robbers show".
"It wasn't my choice," insists Kilner. "I simply wanted to know what my future was. I wanted them to notify me that I was going to be picked up for another year. The actor's disappointment was increased by the fact that he had left Earth: Final Conflict's soundstages fully expecting Boone to recover from his battle with Ha'gel. On completing Season One, Kilner looked forward to resuming work on the series and prepared for his character to emerge from his near-death experience as a happier individual. He was also excited by the prospect of directing at least one episode of the second season. Astonishingly, the first details Kilner received of the radical revamp - complete with its new leading man - came second-hand. "In the second week of March, a friend of mine in the industry sent me a copy of the breakdown for two new series regulars [Liam Kincaid and the short-lived recurring character Maiya]. That was the first I heard of it!" In the weeks that followed, Robert Leeshock was cast as Boone's successor, Liam Kincaid, while The Joining's closing scene was altered to explain his predecessor's departure from the series. Thanks to a bit of CGI wizardry, Zo'or was digitally added to the episode's final shot and shown disintegrating Boone's broken body.
All of this took place without even a word of warning to the series' original leading man.
Kilner's exit from Earth: Final Conflict not only crippled the show's story arc, but also represented a major loss for the production. Prior to starring in the SF invasion drama, the Baltimore-born actor had garnered immense acclaim in everything from The Glass Menagerie and Music From Another Room to Almost Perfect and Home Alone 3. Similarly, his portrayal of William Boone gave Earth: Final Conflict's opening year a powerful Human focus.
Despite the sense of sadness which characterizes his departure from the series, though, Kilner still recalls his time on Earth with a great deal of affection. "It was terrific. I have to say that those actors
are incredibly talented. I also think it was as good a crew as I've ever worked with. The Director of Photography, Mike McMurray, created an extraordinary look for the show. He was even nominated for an Emmy, which is amazing for a syndicated show; that never usually happens. And I loved living and working in Toronto.
"So yeah, all things considered, it was a wonderful experience. I have no regrets."
Ironically, when Kilner was initially approached to topline Earth: Final Conflict, the actor passed on the project in favour of pursuing his flourishing film career. But after reading Gene Roddenberry's script for the show's pilot episode and discussing the series with its original guiding light, Executive Producer David Kirschner, the actor agreed to lead Humanity's fight for freedom.
"Gene's script seemed like a cross between Blade Runner and The Prisoner," he explains. "it offered a nice kind of twist on what Gene had done before. And the way Boone's character was described to me was really exciting. Gene had created somebody who had shortcomings and
flaws and all-too-Human problems which he had to work through. I thought it would be great to see Boone overcome his wife's death and go on this mythological journey from the dark to the light. "I think it's really sad that they didn't follow through with everything they said they would do," he adds. "Boone's journey could have been really interesting."
Having tuned in to a handful of second season episodes, Kilner maintains that his fears
about the show's writing were well founded. *From what I saw, they've taken out all the complexity, the mystery and the moral ambiguity that I thought was inherent in the series and have made it a cops and
robbers show," he claims, "And I just don't think that was Gene Roddenberry's vision.
The write stuff
Kilner points to The Secret of Strandhill, Sandoval's Run, Miracle, Avatar, Destruction
and The Joining as the highlights of his time with the series. "I thought that the shows that were good in the first season were really good," he states. "And I know there were a lot of episodes that were
very average, but I thought things would get better as we went along.
"I remember David [Kirschner ] used to ask me what I thought was important for one year ..... two, and I always used to say, "The most important thing is for you guys to hire a big writing staff.
This show has a great look, a great group of actors and a great production team. The thing that's going to separate it from the masses and make it really memorable and really great is a full writing staff."
"It's so ironic, because at the start of Season Two, they decided that [Executive Producers] Paul Gertz and Jonas McCord would write all of Season Two; the idea was that they would buy scripts from the outside world and rewrite them, and I thought,
'Why don't you just pull out a gun and shoot yourself?' It was incredibly short-sighted
and stupid.., I think it meant that a lot of people's hard work in Season One went to waste."
Back to Earth?
In the year-and-a-half since Boones demise, Kilner has maintained a busy schedule as an actor-for-hire, He starred opposite Linda Hamilton (of Terminator fame) in the SF telemovie Point Last Seen and toplined a Disney production, Smart House, which was directed by Star Trek Next Generations, LeVar Burton. On a more personal note, the actor also married his longtime girlfriend, Jordan Baker, and guest-starred with his wife an episode of Fraiser.
Kilner is currently seeking a regular role in a TV series and is in the running for a large number of projects. He is pleased to report that his early exit from Earth: Final Conflict doesn't seem to have done any lasting damage to his career.
"I'll always work," he insists firmly. "Unless something terrible happens - like if I'm in a car accident or something - I feel like I'll work."
"It's sad that I'm not working on Earth: Find Conflict. But I'd rather be in this situation- where I don't know where my next gigs coming from than working with people who don't want to be working with
Although his life and career have clearly moved on. Kilner is well aware that his association with Earth: Final Conflict will probably continue for some time to come. Fan mail continues to pour in from the show's viewers and the SF: drama series stands alongside Almost Perfect as his most well-known offering.
The actor also admits that he is constantly asked if he really has played William Boone for the last time. It's a question that was recently posed by none other than Executive Producer Majel Roddenberry, who called Earth's original leading man to explore his willingness to reprise the role.
After everything that's happened in the past year, it would come as little surprise if the actor's response was a firm 'Never again'. But Kevin Kilner isn't ruling out anything just yet.
"It's still out there in the air," he declares. "I don't know if I would do it. I would have to see the script and I would have to be invited back by David Kirschner and Paul Gertz. When I spoke to Majel,
I told her that the only reasons I would do it was for Gene's memory and for the fans. Other than that, I have no interest in doing it and nothing to prove."