Part of the immersive experience of the SeaQuest Vault will be posts devoted to recreating the atmosphere onset back in the day using accounts from the people who were actually there. The first of these in-depth interviews with cast & crew starts here with hopefully many more to come..!
Meet Adriaan Mol! Adriaan is an artist and musician whose first job in the industry was Wardrobe PA for SeaQuest DSV and the younger brother of Season 2&3 costume designer Andrea Ayer-Mol. He shares his fascinating story below…
SQV: Adriaan – thank you so much for talking to the SeaQuest Vault – can we start with your background and how you became involved in the show?
I am an artist/musician/podcaster. To support those habits I have been working as a set builder for a number of years, as well as other various art department positions like props, scenic, and set dresser for film, television, trade shows, and theme parks.
SeaQuest DSV was my first production job. I was about 22 years old. My sister had been working in pre-production for the second season in the wardrobe/costume department while the show was in transition (from Los Angeles to Orlando). They needed a grunt/labourer for a few days to unpack the trucks as they came in. So she called me in since I was young and hungry.
The first days involved unpacking wardrobe boxes for inventory purposes. It wasn’t stellar work by any means. I literally had to climb into a very hot semi trailer in the middle of July and root around for very heavy boxes. However, it was pretty neat to realise what I was using to climb on was the show’s Bridge set.
I think my enthusiasm showed. Perhaps it was from the Bridge set or pulling out Charlton Heston’s Abalon costume from the first season. On the other hand, maybe I was just cheap labour. Either way, I stuck around as a Wardrobe PA the second and third season.
SQV: And what did that involve?
For the most part just doing whatever needed to be done. That meant being a gopher and taking stuff to the set for the crew, a lot of activity returning clothing to the mall. I guess if Amazon was around in those days I’d be out of a job. However, just by being there and doing whatever I was given a chance to get creative on several occasions. I got to make a lot of bits and pieces for costumes. Like accessories made from sculpey, a couple of alien suits, and a lot of distressing. It was a good opportunity to get to know the biz from the Art Department perspective which led to many other things…
SQV: SeaQuest was a very high profile and expensive show for its time, what were your first impressions of the cast & crew of the production?
At the time I didn’t know any better. The only time I was on a set prior was on location. I had never been on an actual soundstage before. It seemed impressive. Just like any backlot scene you see in movies, lots of busy people moving sets and props around. Guys that looked like Mr. Big and such. Little by little it all came into focus. The actors came in one by one.
About a week in the DeLuise brothers arrived and just sat on the truck just like anybody else would. Just two dudes hanging out being cool. I thought that was awesome since the bigger stars were somewhat confined to their trailers and a little more stand-offish.
Then Don Franklin, Kathy Evison, and Marco Sanchez came in, all of whom introduced themselves politely and treated me with same level of respect as they would a Producer, something that lasted throughout the series. I always thought that showed good character.
As the show unfolded it felt like I was a part of something big with ‘magnitude’. It felt good, a feeling I have yet to replicate with any job.
SQV: Oh, why was that?
In retrospect I think it was because of mix of people. The entire crew was professional and courteous. Perhaps it was down to being so big budget. That allowed for several Producer/Directors each of which had their own people and flair, rather than the usual single Producer/Director scenario, where you’re either in the circle or not.
I think there was a certain magic that comes with diversity. It was great to experience that at such a young age. Because of that I think I can see it when it happens in other areas of life such as art, social, and lifestyle movements.
SQV: Is it true the first season cast likened their outfits to ‘potato sacks’ due to much of the costume budget being spent on the amazing sets?
Potato sack? That’s blasphemy lol. Not sure I’ve heard that before. There were some good ones and some faux pas. Most were seamless wins others were not.
Also, with the bigger budgets came bigger productions, so that meant more and more extras. Some episodes called for hundreds of extras, that was also was a major undertaking.
Some of the faux pas were quick decisions that may have gone astray due to the crazy variances of the scripts. One day you have young women barely clothed. The next you have an alien on the bottom of the sea.
I blame myself for some, like characters in season 3 that literally looked like bad Klingon warriors. Dressing Mark Hamill in a brown robe. However it all lends itself to the kitsch value of Sci-Fi right?
SQV: What involvement or influence did you have over the design process? For example the brief for season 2 was ‘make it sexier.’ How was that interpreted?
By season 3 Baywatch was killing it in the ratings. SeaQuest had a contract for several episodes with the option of several more upon ratings. So the producers said “Let’s make it sexier” like Baywatch. All that really meant was skimpier clothing. Pretty sad that it comes down to that for ratings but that is the way Joe Public thinks I guess.
My contribution wasn’t much to talk about. I just followed instruction and brainstormed some ideas with the rest of them. While doing that I was asked to sketch up drawings for the ideas. Dude, did that bomb. I mean big. I could draw since I took art classes in community college. However, I didn’t have the Illustration technique the storyboard artist (Mark Simon) did. It was embarrassing yet kind of funny.
SQV: With that in mind, where did the inspiration for the more functional ‘Seasuit’ come from for season 2&3 with its shoulder clips etc.? Were the cast happy with the changes?
For the most part the cast and extra’s seasuits were awesome. They were a major effort of redesign for seasons 2 and 3. The first season had literally black military flight suits with patches added – except for Roy Scheider’s which was custom made from black duck cloth. For season 2 there was a major upgrade and all the patches were removed from the old suits and transferred to the new blue ones. They added surplus military belts and nylon shoulder clips from Fastex. They were designed by costume designer Ingrid Price – she is amazing! A true professional. Perhaps her experience as the designer for Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell years influenced it lol.
SQV: Arguably more controversial than making season 2 ‘sexier’ were the damning comments made by Roy Scheider about the quality of the scripts. Though these comments have since been proved to be sensationalised, do you remember any tensions on the set at this time..?
I met Roy a few times, he was very professional. I don’t recall him specifically being outraged. A lot of people thought the same way. The show started as a Sea Hunt knock off. Then it turned into a Sci-Fi fantasy show with a gill man, giant alligators, Neptune, and aliens under the sea. Then it took another “sexier” turn with even more outrageous scripts.
I guess if an actor was there to make a serious name or continue on a serious name for oneself it could have been frustrating and probably jab at some insecurities. However, in the end it’s the tongue and cheek and kitsch elements that stand the test of time, that’s what makes some Sci-Fi so memorable, the ‘so bad it’s good’ factor.
SQV: SeaQuest featured a galaxy of genre stars throughout its run – what recollections do you have of them and who was your favourite?
First and foremost Mark Hamill, with Dom DeLuise coming in a close second, then Michael York. I can’t recall all of the stars that came through. It seemed like every episode had at least one recognisable actor.
When Mark showed up one day and was roaming the backlot, everyone stood to attention starstruck to some degree. I mean how could you not? It’s Luke Skywalker after all.
He seemed really nice and very approachable, although we weren’t really allowed to talk to the talent unless they talked to you first. An all-time favourite moment was during the wrap party at the Hard Rock Cafe. Dom DeLuise was at the next table drawing a lot of attention, and Mark sat down with me and another person. We were shocked. We shared a pitcher of beer listening to him chat about being the voice of The Joker on the Batman Animated Series.
Dom came through several times and was always on. He would light up a room. He’d just start singing or laughing at lunch or wherever with his sons. I sat in on a fitting with him once and he actually asked me about myself. Seemed like not only a funny character but a genuine person too.
Another mind blower was Michael York. What a presence, low key and serious. When he spoke on set his voice filled the room. Then again like the Mark situation, during a busy lunch on location he sat right next to me. I kept me cool, but inside I’m thinking its Logan dude!
Universal Studios itself was buzzing in those days. Other names that come to mind are Anson Williams who directed some episodes, Kent McCord the Adam 12 guy, and Spielberg actually came in one day too. The list just goes on and on. Every once in a while I’ll see someone in a movie and recognise them.
SQV: Did you get the opportunity to be in front of the camera at any point? What were your experiences?
I did get to be an extra a few times. It was a bit more difficult that I thought it would be. Who knew looking into a camera would be kind of frightening?
The first time I was a Scarab in one episode. I helped make the costume for the main Scarab. We were the same size so I was fitted to it while he was away. One scene called for several Scarabs so I got to jump in. All I had to do was stand still. However, it was so hot under the lights fully covered in black vinyl. I couldn’t stand still to save my life. Flubbed a few takes trying.
Another time I was an Alien in the Season 3 grand finale. When the show was wrapping they were still shooting 2nd Unit pick up shots. Oscar I. Costo approached me to do it. I fit the suit and had mentioned at one point I wanted to try to act. So he gave me a shot. He was always good to his people, a really cool guy.
All I had to do is get shot and jump backwards into some boxes in the rehabbed Scarab suit. You’d think that would be easy but under the lights and looking into the camera…All I could think was to not screw it up; all these people are waiting on you. I was stiff as a board. Not sure if the footage was even used but it was an awesome experience.
SQV: What was the feeling amongst cast & crew when Roy Scheider finally departed? Did the introduction of Michael Ironside cause as much friction in reality as in the show?
There was insecurity when Roy didn’t come back; after all he was the star and face of the show. However, when Michael Ironside showed up confidence was immediately instilled.
Not only did he have star power with Scanners, Total Recall, and Highlander but he filled the room with presence and personal confidence. When he spoke On Set his voice cut through with perfection.
Off set he would hang out outside the soundstage like a regular guy. He’d buy beer for the crew and have it ready chilling in a cooler at wrap. Once on a while I got to strike up a conversation with him. Mostly about guitars and how cool Toronto is. How he bought a new Gibson Les Paul for his brother when he finally had money to do so. His ‘regular guy’ probably wasn’t an act since he had a background as a carpenter. So I guess he has seen both sides of things.
Once the show kicked off and he took the helm there was no more insecurity from the absence of Roy. I think it was more like Roy was forgotten sadly.
SQV: You mention the ratings battle – during 2032’s run did the spectre of cancellation cast a shadow over cast & crew? How aware were you of it?
Well, as anyone with a short-term project based job knows, one can’t help but think and/or worry about your next gig. Since the show was contracted for several episodes with the option of an additional several episodes upon rating tallies it weighed on the cast and crew.
Some of the insecurity was due to the departure of Roy. Some of it was due to the scripts becoming weirder and more absurd. Also, there was realisation that most shows only make it 2 or 3 seasons anyway…
SQV: Did you have any involvement in the public auction after the show was cancelled? How big a wardrobe inventory was it and what were you sorry to see go?
Yes, my job was to help inventory every piece of wardrobe/costume from all 3 seasons. We documented everything with the corresponding Polaroid snap shots. There were authenticity certificates issued and everything was put on display. NBC stored multiples of most characters for reshoot purposes, plus tons of clothing for extras, it seemed endless. In addition, NBC had flown in props and costumes for another show that wrapped around the same time called Earth 2. So that was kind of exciting to go through that stuff as well.
The Auction took place on the backlot in a few (if not all) of the soundstages. It was huge – just our area alone filled one soundstage. So many people attended plus news and radio crews. Collectors flew in from all over. Some flew in just to grab the Earth 2 items.
One guy bid high on a pallet of Earth 2 stuff just to get one little laser pistol. He looked at me afterwards and said ‘that’s all I want take the rest’. I ended up with a truck-load. I wish eBay was around then, or that I kept it.
It was sad to see it all go and the show finally end. It was empowering in a way to see so much interest afterwards. Some of the stuff went for a lot of money, some of it did not.
SQV: Finally, what is your most treasured memory of SeaQuest and what was your favourite episode and why?
There isn’t any one treasured moment, there were many. They kind of blend together. I have a weird internal monologue that is no different to any of the answers to the bases we touched on. I call it up in one form or another when anyone asks about the show.
It was an exciting time to be in ‘The biz’ in Orlando. The future of film production looked promising in Florida. However, when the state stopped the tax incentive for film production everything halted. In its wake were a lot of jobs with bright futures. The policy should be reinstated. SeaQuest was more than a talking dolphin – it had porpoise (bada bing!).
SQV: Adriaan Mol, thank you very much for talking to the SQV!!!
Thank you for letting me share my stories. Break a leg!
(Click here to view Adriaan’s current projects!)