Excerpts from an interview with Ray “Brains” Hackenbacker.
JE: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a very special guest today. He works as an engineer, inventor and scientist for a worldwide organisation which specializes in aiding people from dangerous situations. He was in a very famous British TV programme and, in recent years, did his own adverts. Would you please give a big warm welcome to, from Thunderbirds, Ray Hackenbacker better known as Brains!
JE: Good evening Brains.
B: G-good evening Jon.
JE: Now Brains, I’ve been a huge fan of Thunderbirds since at an early age. In fact, that’s also the same with my dad. When he was a kid, that was when the show came out. Would you say you would recommend this show to the next generation of children?
B: W-w-well, i-it may be old, but I-I-I definitely w-would. Th-thunderbirds can t-each people r-really good m-oral values. For e-example; th-at people’s l-ives m-mark and extrem-emly i-important contribution to s-society. I’m also p-proud of all the v-v-v-vehicles I c-constructed. K-kids can even l-learn from m-my various formulas.
JE: Sweet stuff! I also think you made a massive contribution to the programme.
B: Why t-thank you very m-uch.
JE: Now, it’s about ten years since the Thunderbirds movie came out. This one was kinda different to the show. It used actors instead of puppets and was directed by Jonathan Frakes. I didn’t see it when it first came out, because I personally didn’t get the chance. I did see it a few years later. Can you remember much about it?
B: Y-yes I can.
JE: What would your reaction be to the movie?
B: T-to be honest, I w-asn’t a-angry. I never am. B-but I was d-disappointed. I-it was not really w-what I hoped f-f-f-for.
JE: In what way?
B: W-well Jon, the sh-show was a-about the whole team s-saving people’s l-l-lives and f-focused on all c-characters. The m-movie was more a-about kids g-graduating as m-members of I-i-international Rescue.
JE: Come to think of it, there were three of them; Alan, Tin-Tin, what’s the other one?
JE: Fermat, that’s right.
B: That was my s-son. I-I-I never had a s-son in the sh-show. I d-did imagine having ch-children someday, but to c-call my son F-f-f-fermat…
JE: A stupid name I suppose.
B: Y-y-y-you could say that.
JE: They did include the other characters in the movie, didn’t they?
B: Y-y-yes. There was M-m-Mr Tracy and all f-five of his sons. The p-problem was, the producer s-seemed to like A-Alan more than his b-brothers. W-w-we hardly saw m-much of Scott, Virgil, Gordon or J-John, which is a s-shame, because all of them w-were fully focused on, not all a-at the same time, if y-you know what I-I mean.
[small laughs from B & JE]
B: Myself and M-Mr Tracy had p-plenty of screen-time a-and dialogue, but I’m concerned a-a-about our ages. I-I-I don’t think B-Bill Paxton was right for Mr Tracy. H-he looked too young. A-as for Anthony E-edwards, he l-looked too old t-to portray myself. I-I’m aware it’s a remake and h-he has a f-f-fourteen year old son. B-but he didn’t look m-much like me, n-nor that interesting.
JE: What did you think of Lady Penelope and Parker?
B: They were f-fine. I l-loved how L-Lady Penelope spang into a k-kung-f-fu fight. I g-got a l-l-laugh [laughs] out of that.
JE: [smiles] I loved that bit too.
B: My b-b-biggest issue is the c-car.
JE: Come to think of it; I heard the producers could not get an agreement from the BMW company who owned the rights to Rolls Royces, to get a FAB1 built.
B: M-maybe so. But i-i-if this is a Th-thunderbirds movie, p-producers n-need to be strong and r-reason with them.
JE: Do you mean like “look guys, we’re making a movie based on Thunderbirds. You know Thunderbirds, the programme right? Well one of the vehicles is an actual Rolls-Royce and we want to make this movie as perfect as possible. If we use some random car, we’re gonna totally screw up and people are gonna be like ‘eww!'”?
B: [smiles] I-I wouldn’t get ag-g-gressive with them, but y-yes. Strong persuasion i-i-is the way forward. Plus I f-find the idea that it f-f-flies rather ridiculous. It’s a r-rip-off of Ch-Chitty Ch-Chitty B-B-Bang Bang.
JE: What about the Hood? Is he still a convincing villain?
B: H-he is still a criminal and s-sorcerer. But I admired B-Ben K-K-Kingsley in better role i.e. G-Gandhi and Schindler’s L-l-list. He w-wasn’t p-particularly interesting as the H-Hood. One thing I l-liked was how his b-brotherhood with Kyrano a-affected T-Tin-T-Tin, discovering that Th-the Hood is her uncle.
JE: I know you mentioned FAB1. Were the other vehicles okay?
B: I-I wouldn’t say as brilliant as th-the original ones, but y-yes, they were a-average. My major c-concern is Th-Thunderbird 2. Thunderb-bird 2 was meant to c-carry pods, but no. It j-just releases the vehicles w-without d-d-depodding itself. Even Thunderbird F-four is carried s-s-simultaneously with the M-M-Mole. Thuderbird 4 was a-always carried on i-its own in p-pod 4.
JE: Oh yeah, I remember that. Now Brains, you may be interested to know that some of the fans and reviewers share the same opinions as you on this movie. Many have disliked the new FAB1 model as you have just commented on. And apparently, the movie was a box office bomb grossing $28million out of a $57million dollar budget. Gerry Anderson once stated; “It was disgraceful that such a huge amount of money was spent with people who had no idea what Thunderbirds was about and what made it tick” and that “It was the biggest load of crap I have ever seen in my entire life”. How would you respond?
B: Personally, I-I-I don’t blame them. I think Gerry h-has a point. He w-was after all the show’s c-creator and I thank h-him. I l-liked the occasional j-j-jokes, but the experience s-s-seems hardly worth it. I-it’s more like a Spy Kids m-m-movie rather than Thunderbirds. If the c-company had let Gerry i-in on the production, i-it would’ve been d-different.
JE: Any words for anybody unfamiliar with Thunderbirds in general?
B: Y-yes. St-stick with the TV show. I w-would also p-p-point out there’s another c-couple of films; Th-Thunderbirds Are G-Go and Thunderbird S-six. I would recom-m-mend those two, b-but start with the sh-show. St-stay well clear of the l-live-action m-movie.
JE: Well Brains, it’s been a pleasure to have you on the show.
B: I have e-enjoyed it v-very much.
JE: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. Brains!