by David Richardson
Sabrina Lloyd, the actress who plays dimension-jumping Wade Wells in Sliders, suddenly sits bolt upright and gasps: “Oh my God, I can’t believe you just asked me that!”
We’re sitting in Lloyd’s trailer as she takes a short break from filming a third season episode, and TV Zone has just enquired if the actress believes in fate, or whether she has shaped her own destiny.
“That has been my biggest issue for the past month,” states Lloyd, “and I’ve been talking my friends’ ears off about whether or not there is a destiny or whether our choices take us there. My best friend thinks it’s both, and she’s been trying to help me understand her vision of that. It’s been a very big struggle of mine in my immediate present. I like to think that there is a destiny, but I don’t want to take away my choice. I don’t know the answer to that, but if you do find out will you tell me?”
It might seem like an overly profound conversation to be having on a filming set, but the subject actually has a great relevance to Sliders, the programme in which four characters continually leap between alternative dimensions, each time encountering slightly different versions of their own world. Quinn Mallory (Jerry O’Connell), Professor MaximillianArturo (John Rhys Davies), Rembrandt ‘Crying Man’ Brown (Cleavant Derricks) and Wade Wells see how different choices and events can shape history, and frequently meet their own doubles along the way.
“I don’t think any other path I would have taken wouldn’t have led me to where I am because this is my calling,” continues Lloyd. “It may sound cliched but I’ve always known that I would be an actress. Now as an adult there are other things that interest me, and I’d love to travel around the world, but I don’t think any other path would have led me there because my desire was to be here.”
Lloyd first became involved with Sliders when she auditioned for the role of Wade back in 1993.
“It was pilot season, and different pilot scripts were coming by every day and this was the one that really caught my eye,” she says. “I fell in love with the script and fortunately they fell in love with me too, because here I am!”
Despite some variable episodes in the first two seasons and the threat of premature cancellation, Sliders has survived against the odds, and has developed into one of the freshest and most enchanting Fantasy shows on television. With it the rather two-dimensional leading characters of the first season have found their own niche, becoming fully-rounded everyday people.
“She’s grown a lot,” notes Lloyd of the changes in Wade Wells. “I think that she came from a really closed off place where she didn’t really understand herself, but that came with her age. She was young and very intelligent and didn’t really fit into the normal peer groups that people of that age would. I always saw her as a bit of a loner, just unsure of herself. I think through Sliding she’s become a very strong independent woman with very strong opinions and ideals; I see her as the humanitarian, she’s always trying to help people.”
Wade’s development has been helped by the fact that the producers chose to distance her from Quinn Mallory. In early episodes she was the wide-eyed, love struck juvenile, but the character has since matured almost beyond recognition.
“They were having problems developing the character because she had this one note all the time,” Lloyd comments, “which was she had this crush on Quinn and he wasn’t feeling the same way for her. It was very important for me that they develop Wade and make her her own person, and in doing that they had to take her away from Quinn because he’s always having the love interest and falling for somebody. What’s she going to do – just be jealous in every episode? I didn’t want to see that happen to her, so I was very happy that they separated that tension for a little while.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing it come back for a little while, but I think it’s a very touchy thing because we’re together all the time – we slide from world to world so when you do bring in something like that they have to be careful that it isn’t repetitive and decide where it is going to go. I think now they’re concentrating on making Wade a full person in herself, and making Quinn a full person in himself. Who knows what’s going to happen down the line?”
The most immediate change in the relationship seems to have been the replacement of Wade’s infatuation for Mallory with affection.
“They had an episode last season, In Dino Veritas, where she said she loved Quinn and it was more that they’d been through so much together. She thinks of him as a brother. The love is deeper than that, there was that possibility and it could happen, but I don’t think she’s pining for him at all and I don’t want her to be. I don’t want to put her in that love sick thing again.”
As the only woman in the Sliders ensemble, does Lloyd feel an obligation to the show’s female viewers?
“I do,” she asserts. “I had a very strong voice with Wade at the beginning because I wanted her to be more vocal because she is the only woman and I felt she needed to be stronger. I did feel it was my obligation to make sure she didn’t fall into stereotype.”
Nevertheless, the actress has no qualms about spending her working day on a male dominated set.
“I love it – I get all the attention!” she exclaims. “It’s definitely interesting, they’re like the three brothers I never had.”
Sabrina Lloyd is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. She may have been interviewed dozens of times in the past, but she answers every question as though it’s the first time the subject has been mentioned. When asked to describe herself, Lloyd’s answer makes complete. sense.
“I’m just someone who lives for the moment and who is having the time of her life,” she beams. “l feel very fortunate that I’ve landed this great show with great people and I’m just living. I’m a very happy person.”
Part of this happiness is a direct result of the show’s transfer from Vancouver (where the first two seasons were filmed) to Los Angeles.
“It’s so much better here,” she enthuses. “We’re not standing around in the rain all the time – it’s actually sunny! I was just talking about that this morning, because in Vancouver none of us knew anybody and we were all up there by ourselves and the weather was so miserable. We had a good time, but I think it was very draining for all of us, being away from our friends and our families. Now we’re here and we all have full lives away from the show, and that’s wonderful because it allows us to bring something new to the show every day. We’re just happier here, and I think it looks better. It’s a great move, and I’m glad they did it. I never thought it would happen!”
With the move to LA came the Fox Network’s order for a full season of 25 episodes a display of confidence in the series that the cast had hardly dared hope for.
“They must want to give us a chance,” muses the actress. “I always thought this show had something special and unique. It’s just so different to anything else. It was the little show that could [make big]. Now we’re finally able to show what we can do. I think the scripts this year are better and stronger and visually it’s so stunning. Some of the episodes look like movies I think. It’s going to be such a fun season.”
With the contract for a full season has come the added work load. Season One of Sliders was just nine episodes long, and Season Two a mere 13 episodes. A commitment to 25 episodes means 10 months of solid work for the cast – shooting 12 hours, every day.
“I’m just taking it day by day,” says Lloyd of the new schedule. “Sometimes I sit down and think, ‘Wow we got a long way to go…’. I’m used to working for a shorter period and then getting a big break, but you just have to take it day by day. I need to rest and I make sure at my weekends that I get enough sleep, because that’s the only way you can sustain yourself, just to keep your energy up. But when you get great scripts that are so exciting, that keeps you up. You read the next script and think ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to do this!’ That keeps you going to the next one and the next one, and we’ve been waiting for this for three years so now that we’re finally here I’m ready for the whole run.”
There’s something about Sliders that keeps the brain ticking over. Just standing around on the set one starts to think, ‘Hey, why don’t they do an episode where the characters come to our world where Sliders is a tv show…’ It’s hardly worth suggesting; everyone on the sound-stage has dozens of their own ideas already lined up to use…
“Sometimes I’ll actually sit down and brainstorm ideas for different things I’d like to see happen,” says Lloyd. “I feel so creatively fulfilled in the story ideas we do get that that usually feeds me, and I’m so caught up in them and thinking ‘What can I do with that story?’ But sometimes you’ll get an idea and think ‘Wouldn’t it be neat if that happened?’ I think about that in everyday life, like ‘What if l hadn’t have made the decision to move to New York when I did?’ and ‘What if l never met this person in my life?’ Where would I be now? It’s all choices that we make, and it kind of goes along with the show.
“[The producers] are wonderful with hearing our ideas and incorporating them. They’re really great people. It’s like a collaboration.”
The actress confides that her ambitions include working in “every aspect of filmmaking”. She wants to write, she’d love to direct – and she hopes that one day she may be allowed to helm an episode of Sliders . . .
“It depends how long this show goes,” she continues. “This show is what got me interested in it – I never was interested in directing, but when you do a show for so long you start to get ideas. You come into a scene and you think, ‘Gosh that’s interesting that he’s shooting it that way because I would have thought that… and you start to become very creative in the process and you start to think a lot and notice more. If it goes for years down the road, maybe one day they’d let me.”
Lloyd asserts that the directors who have worked on Sliders have set a marvelous example, and each has brought something new to the series.
“Richard Compton, who’s one of our producers, is just a wonderful director and he’s been on board for a while now. Adam Nimoy is a wonderful man who works really well with the actors. Geoff Levy is an incredible director – he’s so creative, he’s so visual, he brings such an intensity to the shows that he does. It’s fun because every week we get someone who sees it differently and will push one aspect of it a little bit more. rm always interested to see what they will do with it.”
Like all Science Fiction series, Sliders is a complicated production.
“It’s very technical,” adds the actress. “There’s a lot of special effects and CGI and acting to nothing… I think my [stage] training definitely helped. It also helped that I was very young and eager when we got the pilot, so I was willing to do anything and nothing embarrassed me at all, like ‘Sure, tell me a big shark is coming towards me and I’II scream – I’ll do anything you want!’ So it kind of got me rid of any inhibitions I might have bad.”
Many performers find that moving to Hollywood brings a change to their lifestyle. Women face pressures to look glamorous and slim, men are encouraged to be fit and muscular. Lloyd is not buying into this convention. preferring to remain a New Yorker at heart.
“You know, I’m really oblivious to that,” she claims. “I stay away from that side of Hollywood, I think I’ve always been terrified of Hollywood. I’m sure there might be that pressure, but I just choose not to see it. I’m going to be myself and if you like me, you like me, and if you don’t then I can’t do anything about that.”
Lloyd reveals that she isn’t recognized too often while out and about in Los Angeles, but does not resent being acknowledged by the public.
“It comes with the territory,” she asserts. “I like being acknowledged for my work. This is my life and my passion and if you want to tell me that you enjoy it that makes me happier to do it because I love to entertain. ”
Asked to identify the best and the worst aspect of working on Sliders, Lloyd finds herself able to provide only half an answer.
“The best thing about this show is the three guys I work with. I couldn’t like them any more than I do. I don’t think I could ever work with a cast that I adore as much.
“l don’t think there is a worst thing – there’s nothing about this show I don’t like. We’re having the time of our lives.”
The actress claims she has no fear of typecasting when the series comes to an end, thanks to the diverse and challenging nature of the scripts.
“Our characters are people, very human and not specifically caricatures.” she enthuses. “Every week is a very different episode and we’re allowed to do different things and we’re always exploring ourselves and learning things from the experiences we’ve had. [Typecasting has] never been a fear of mine with this show. It’s the best of all worlds – it’s not possible to get bored. I get very edgy and have a continual need to do different things, but I feel very fulfilled in this show because every week is like a different movie – we’re never on the same set and we’re always outside on beautiful locations. It’s a wonderful experience and I’m so fortunate.”
Forgetting reality for a moment, TV Zone asks Lloyd to consider an alternative universe in which the Portal is real. If it opened up in front of her now, would she step through?
“Absolutely,” she grins, “and I’d like to find a world of love without any prejudice or hate. I’d like to find paradise!”
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