TV Fact #242 – June 23rd, 2015:

Actor Michael O’Hare started out as the lead character Commander Jeffrey Sinclair in “Babylon 5” (1994-1998). He ended up leading after the first season but reasons why weren’t released until 2012 by series creator J. Michael Straczynski. And the reasons are incredibly tragic.

Turns out O’Hare was struggling with an increasingly debilitating case of schizophrenia, which caused him to miss an increasing amount of time from work as the first season progressed. While O’Hare was eventually replaced by actor Bruce Boxleitner, who played the character Captain John Sheridan from season two till the end of the show in season five, at first Straczynski told O’Hare he would hold production of the show so that O’Hare could get the help he needed. O’Hare refused.

O’Hare felt it was unfair to the rest of the cast and crew to be left without work for so long, so he and Straczynski mutually agreed to have O’Hare leave at the first season’s conclusion, with Straczynski utilizing a “trap door” storyline to explain the departure of Sinclair at the beginning of the second season.

If you’re wondering why no one knew the reason until 2012, it’s because Straczynski honored O’Hare’s request to keep the real reason for the departure a secret until after O’Hare’s passing in October 2012. Straczynski made television history with “Babylon 5” by becoming the first person to write an entire 22-episode season of a television series when he did the third season all by himself and then wrote alone the fourth season and all but one episode of the fifth and final season. Yet his greatest honor, in my eyes, was his commitment to O’Hare.

Straczynski’s professionalism allowed O’Hare to leave with dignity during his hard times and while O’Hare is gone now, his honor and sacrifice for the sake of the cast and crew of the show to have work showed that good men are never truly forgotten. Here we are, about 20 years after he made that sacrifice, and we’re still talking about him.

Published in: on June 23, 2015 at 2:22 AM  Leave a Comment  

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