There’s nothing out there that restores the doldrums of daily life like coming back from a happy vacation to discover one of your favorite actors has passed away. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened to me last night, as I returned to the internet for the first time in over a week to discover Andreas Katsulas had passed away at the young age of 59.
I’m the resident lover of all things “Babylon 5” around here, although I’m not alone in that. Katsulas played my favorite character from the show, the soulful, spiritual G’Kar, a character who started the show as a bit of scum, but ended as one of the wisest, most quotable characters. Katsulas had a way of acting through the most demanding prosthetics on the show and bringing the character’s heart and soul to the screen in every scene. The opportunity to meet Andreas a few years ago at a convention proved that he was able to communicate such powerful emotions because he himself contained many of the same traits as the character, a character the actor loved playing. It was his inclusion on the tele-film for “The Legend of the Rangers” that made me want the pilot to succeed despite its problematic issues.
Katsulas was not only a player on B5 though. He was also well known in sci-fi circles as Tomalak, one of the recurring Romulan characters of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. Outside of sci-fi circles he was the one-armed man in the Harrison Ford movie version of The Fugitive, and El Sayed Jaffa in Executive Decision.
Katsulas died from lung cancer. Sadly this probably wasn’t a big surprise to those who knew him. He was an avid smoker, to the point that a picture taken of him in full G’kar makeup with a cigarette in hand was used as a cautionary image against smoking around the B5 set.
Although “Babylon 5” is long gone, Katsulas has continued to represent my favorite aspect of the show: its subtle wisdom. Knowing that G’Kar wouldn’t be involved if the show were to ever find a resurrection (which appears in rumor form every 6 months or so online) saddens me greatly, but not as much as the knowledge that the man who brought life to such a fantastic character has passed away so early in his life.
One of G’kar’s parting lines is most appropriate for this time, particularly considering that as an actor Andreas Katsulas will linger in film and memory for years to come, and will be missed each time we see and hear him.
”I believe that when we leave a place, part of it goes with us and part of us remains. Go anywhere in the station, when it is quiet, and just listen. After a while, you will hear the echoes of all our conversations, every thought and word we've exchanged. Long after we are gone our voices will linger in these walls for as long as this place remains. But I will admit that the part of me that is going will very much miss the part of you that is staying.” - G’Kar (“Objects in Motion”)