The following message from actor GARY GRAHAM was posted to Facebook on Wednesday afternoon:
An hour or so later, when asked what happened, Gary added this brief explanation:
This obviously comes as a blow to AXANAR fans who looked forward to once again seeing Vulcan Ambassador Soval in the two 15-minute sequel fan films. Gary had already played the venerated character to near universal praise in PRELUDE TO AXANAR and then a year later in the 3-minute “Vulcan Scene.” In the years since the lawsuit that shut down production on Axanar in 2016, Gary had been an ardent supporter of both the project itself and of show-runner ALEC PETERS. Gary traveled from California to Georgia to appear at AXACON in 2018, saying positive things about Alec and the original production in interviews like this one (skip to 14:40).
Gary’s announcement came without any warning. And in the last 36 hours, I’ve seen unconfirmed reports of “irreconcilable differences,” that Gary is hoping to land a role on the new Star Trek: Strange New Worlds series and worried that an association with Axanar Productions would hurt his chances, and even political friction (Gary and Alec are on opposite sides regarding Donald Trump).
With so many unconfirmed rumors spreading on social media, I reached out to both Alec and Gary for comment. Gary has not yet responded to my request, but Alec confirmed that the first he knew that Gary was leaving the project came on Wednesday, and Alec provided me with the following statement (which has also been posted to the Axanar website)…
On Wednesday, Gary Graham announced that he will no longer be playing Soval (or any character) in the two Axanar sequels. This was what Gary posted to Facebook:
For those who wish to know… ‘What happened…”. It’s complicated… and I don’t wish to malign anyone — The parting was amenable. I just weighed the amount Alec was willing to pay me versus the career liability my association with the Axanar Project was beginning to incur… And…. Risk needs to be compensated. And we just had a disagreement….over what that compensation should be…. and neither party would budge. The end.
I have nothing but respect for Gary as an actor and a person. He’s always been very easy to work with, willing to put his all into this project, and intensely supportive of Axanar even through the darkest days of the lawsuit. I wish him nothing but the best, and I thank him from the bottom of my heart for helping to make Prelude and the Vulcan Scene.
As to Gary’s comments as to compensation, well, we are limited by practicalities of our finances, the settlement agreement with CBS/Paramount and the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines, and Gary’s salary request was outside what we were able to do.
The entire Axanar team wishes Gary all the best in his career. These kinds of things happen all the time in the industry, and there’s really no hard feelings. This is an amicable parting of the ways. Axanar will still proceed, and we are happy to say that Soval’s lines in the final segments will be given to Sarek, who is a character in the full Axanar script. We already have an amazing actor for that role, and we are sure fans will love the final product.
Alec then sent me a quick follow-up shortly before I posted this blog:
I had messaged Gary earlier in the day with a link to our statement on the Axanar Facebook page, so he knew how we were addressing it. Gary happened to message me back right in the middle of Axanar After Dark, our YouTube Live Stream, and thanked me and told me he was still a fan of Axanar. So it is nice we can part ways as friends.
33 thoughts on “GARY GRAHAM leaves the AXANAR project!”
If the rumors are true, I still wish him well whether he appears as Soval or not.
It is damn shame if such draconian guidelines force people to make such decision instead of allowing them to fulfill their artistic passions.
Odd he said he left 7 months ago…….maybe he didn’t tell anyone.
To my knowledge, Gary Graham did not leave the project seven months ago. He certainly didn’t post anything about leaving prior to Wednesday, Alec confirmed to me that the first he knew of Gary’s departure was this past Wednesday.
From his comments which I’m having a hard time believing you didn’t even read before writing a blog about it “ Actually I bailed before Christmas. Just getting the word out now… I got distracted what with a world-wide pandemic and major cities burning down in the riots… ”
Yep, I saw that post. Gary’s first public announcement, as the post confirms, wasn’t until this past Wednesday.
So, Gary says on his Facebook page that he separated from Axanar in December, 2019 and is only now just getting around to announcing it. But Alec has been fully aware. Is there any reason why Alec waited until Gary said something to tell donors? Because on its face what it looks like the same pattern of withholding bad news from donors while continuing to fundraise (see Tony Todd).
I’ll grant that at least this separation was friendly, but it does nothing to help Alec’s reputation for *cough* honesty.
Gary might have made up his mind back in December (I’ve now seen his recent post saying that), but no public announcement was made until Wednesday. It wasn’t until Alec saw that FB announcement that he knew that Gary was leaving the project. But they’re parting as friends, and the production will transfer Soval’s lines to Sarek. Considering that there are, I think, 25 different characters appearing in these two films, this seems like a minor adjustment. Granted, it’s sad to see Gary go and not to see Soval again in the sequels, but these things do happen in the industry.
Damn it. I’m pissed. I’m just not sure what or who to be pissed at. I get Gary’s desire to not want bad blood between GREEDBS and Axanar to hurt his career but that should have been his only reason for leaving. He had no business asking a production like this for more money. And if politics was an issue I’m even more disappointed. Plus knowing he’s a trumpanzee pisses me off even more.
This sucks. What a major disappointment.
Thanks for ruining my morning Johnathan.
Sorry, I just report the news. Look, Shane, I know this probably won’t make you feel too much better, but I’ve seen the script. Gary had a MUCH smaller part in the two 15-minute sequels than he did in Prelude…which makes sense, as Prelude had 6 actors/characters and the sequels have about 25! And to be honest, Soval’s best lines were in Prelude. 🙂
I figured it wasn’t the “controversy” the detractors wanted to play it off as being.
Stuff happens. It’s a fan film. It was awesome having Soval in Prelude and the Vulcan scene, and Gary was a fantastic guest at Axacon. Everyone is still friends. Life goes on.
This is the biggest giveaway that Alec is just taking peoples’ money. Please don’t delete this Jonathan. Instead engage. He knew in DECEMBER that Gary would be gone. BUT…he knew that could hurt fundraising. So he literally never said a word until forced to because Gary said. He also admitted to knowing this back in December on last night’s livestream.
So please tell me the ethics of him knowing his star had bowed out, and waiting 6 months and tens of thousands of donor dollars later to tell everyone.
Even if Alec knew that Gary was thinking of leaving back in December, until Gary said something publicly, he was still officially on the project. Thinking of leaving and actually leaving are, of course, two different things. In Hollywood, actors sometimes use the threat of leaving in order to get more money. But until they actually make good on the threat to leave the production, the studios never announce “such-and-such has decided to move on.”
To my understanding, nothing was made final and official until this past Wednesday, at which point Gary announced and Alec made an announcement, as well…as it should be. I also found out on Wednesday, reached out to Gary and Alec on Thursday, and published the blog early Friday.
As for fundraising, I highly doubt that the folks giving money to help make Axanar were doing so solely to see Soval. While I can only speak for myself, I would have funded it even if Gary and JG Hertzler both weren’t going to be in it (and JG definitely will be, as his scenes were already shot). I’d like to see the final Axanar sequels completed, and that’s why I donated money to the project.
Gary Graham being or not being part of the project has nothing to do with anyone donating money. To accuse Alec of lying to his donors is asinine. Make those ridiculous accusations on one of those dumbass anti Axanar FB pages where this crap belongs.
Hmmmmmm where did the comments go?
I see them. Do other people see them? Chime in, folks.
This is one of the vagaries of this platform on the mobile side.
Everyone is a hater because they question your account of why Gary has decided to quit Axanar? It’s a huge loss to Axanar & to find out that Soval (your telling) was never a very important role is astounding to me considering that some of the best acting in Prelude & the Vulcan Scene were Gary’s portrayal of Soval… I’m sorry but Sarek doesn’t need to even be in Axanar, he’s already been played by 3 (4 if you count Star Trek V) different actors over at least 3 series & 3 movies… Hell, Sybok would be more an interesting character than Sarek if you could convince me that Star Trek V was canon, of which even today after watching it 3 months ago I still reject… I’m biased I guess because I’ve watched Gary for years, first on Alien Nation & then Star Trek, he’s a hell of a great character actor & to lose him, to replace him for another actor to play another facet of Sarek of which we’ve seen before, he’s been young, he’s been middle-aged & he’s been old & he would be roughly 80 years old when the events of Axanar takes place, which would be considered a Vulcan teenager yet, he appears as a roughly a 40-year-old Vulcan in STD… This is the main reason that so many of us reject STD & everything Alex Kurtzman has done with Star Trek up to now…
You made a classic Star Trek episode with Prelude & now it seems as if you’ve become lazy… If you’re not going to have Gary back as Soval, that’s fine, but telling another story about Sarek is wasted… We would like to hear about other people, whether they be Human, Vulcan, Tellurite, or Andorian & their fight to realize their Dream of the Federation… Just Sayin”
Sarek was always a character in the full-length Axanar script,Barney. He was Soval’s protege, which I always thought was kinda cool…one Vulcan ambassador teaching “the next generation.”
The problem/challenge for Alec was how to take a 90-to-120 minute film and squeeze it down to 30 minutes. A LOT had to go. And many excellent dramatic scenes needed to shift from “show” to “tell.” In other words, much like Prelude, the talking heads are recalling what happened and telling the story. But Prelude only had six talking heads providing the commentary. And remember that Soval only appears in the first half of Prelude and only has about six scenes total. So having five lines in the sequels isn’t all that different.
Meanwhile, the sequels have dozens of other characters! There’s Garth, April, Travis, Tanaka, Leonov, Corax, Threll, Robau, Mor’o, Kessel, Arev, Deville, Singh, Trask, and others. Soval simply didn’t have as many lines in the sequels as he did in Prelude. This part of the story wasn’t really his. And the Vulcan’s involvement in the Battle of Axanar–and the ensuing treaty that follows–and their perspective can be relayed by pretty much any Vulcan character. Since Sarek is in the full script anyway, why not make him the Vulcan who delivers those lines? Seems like a fun idea to me…I love Sarek!
Just out of curiosity does the character Kessel ever run?
In less than twelve parsecs, as a matter of fact! 🙂
Sarek was intended to be a part of Axanar from the beginning. Giving him Sovals lines is a minor thing. And you sound
Like you’re blaming Johnathan. He’s just the anchorman for this story. Even Alec had very little to do with Gary’s decision.
I sorta figured that Barney was using the “royal you.” 🙂
Just wanted to let those know who feel Alec was purposely keeping Gary’s leaving a secret so that he could keep raising money is totally untrue. I am an actress and I am also Gary’s personal assistant. As Jonathan stated actors can threaten to leave productions all the time to try and get more money but until there is an official announcement it’s not official. Alec and Gary were in negotiations. It was not until last week Alec then knew for sure Gary was not going to do it.
Thanks, Lezlie. I hope folks are still reading the comments! 🙂
I was never under the impression that Gary had a large part in the next Axanar installments, so this should not be a big deal to anyone. As far as fund raising, I doubt anyone gave more or less money because Gary was thought to be in or out of further Axanar installments. Did we all not enjoy the past Axanar projects for the production quality as well as for the acting? As far as some of the political hatred exhibited toward Gary and people of like mind, that is petty and it neither serves Alec or Johnathon’s upcoming projects any good at all by unnecessarily berating or maligning what may be 50% of the fan base. This is something Disney and now CBS are finding out to their extreme dismay and monetary ruin. I’m sure Axanar will be fine without Gary and he will be fine without Axanar. Though I’m not sure I would ever bet Strange New Worlds is ever going to be produced given the current environment.
Things will hopefully look better by next summer when there is (hopefully) a safe vaccine available. All in all, I suspect we’ll lose at most a year of TV and movies. It’ll be tough, but there’ still so much to binge-watch! I’m currently enjoying “Never Have I Ever” on Netflix with my wife.
Firstly, I can see the comments. So yay.
Gary’s post reads:
” Actually I bailed before Christmas. Just getting the word out now… I got distracted what with a world-wide pandemic and major cities burning down in the riots…”
It doesn’t say ‘I decided to quit’, but ‘I bailed.’ Perhaps this is useful context. There is also a claim from Resse that Alec has stated that Gary decided to quit in December over politics, but then expressed a willingness to continue if he was paid more. That can be found here:
Here’s hoping that the rewrites will be a beneficial opportunity to sharpen the script.
See the comment from Gary’s personal assistant Lezlie above.
Hey, what happened to the Axanar YouTube channel? It is unavailable and there is a message that states the channel has been TERMINATED “…due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy against spam, deceptive practices, and misleading content or other Terms of Service violations.”
Yeah, it appears to have been a mistake, but Alec is working his way through the YouTube bureaucracy to get the channel back up.
This just in…Paul Jenkins has departed the Axanar production team. This is the third Director to part ways with Axanar and Alec Peters. What!!!!???? Why is this happening? How can Axanar be completed? Apparently Jenkins is refusing to provide the footage that was already shot? How did this happen? Is Axanar dead? Nothing on the Axanar Facebook site. No word. Please inform us.
I’m awaiting a statement from Alec on the matter. I contacted Paul, and he prefers to let the press release from META Studios be his official comment.
On q persona note, I am friends with both men, and I respect them both. I’ll be reporting on this as best I can primarily through statements from each side. I don’t want to get in the middle of things, and so I will refrain from opining.
As to the question of whether or not Axanar is “dead,” Alec doesn’t think so. A new director has, as I understand it, been chosen to complete the final shoot in Los Angeles. After that, Mark Edward Lewis will likely shepherd the project through post production as editor. But I will leave it to Alec to confirm both of those pieces of information.
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