When actress Claudia Christian flees a troubled childhood and moves to Hollywood at age 17, she steps through the looking glass into another world. From the set of Dallas to her starring role on the sci-fi series “Babylon 5”, Claudia’s affairs with billionaires, supermodels, rock stars, and celebrities are mixed with shootings, stalkings, conspiracies, heartbreak, and betrayal. On set and off, drama follows Claudia – from an alcohol-fueled coke run and makeout session with a bridesmaid the day of her wedding to a 20-year on-and-off relationship with billionaire Dodi Fayed…
Autobiographies of sci-fi stars also seem to be in vogue at the moment. Whilst many do have genuine stories to tell (Anneke Wills’ Self Portrait, Mary Tamm’s First Generation and Jacqueline Pearce’s From Byfleet to the Bush being three examples of stunningly affecting stories), there is also an air of cashing in. I was witness to an excruciatingly embarrassing panel at a recent convention with a certain cult movie star who was either trying to be aloof, or is genuinely uncomfortable with the exposure. Either way, it was a toe-curling plug that soured any idea of buying the book. Babylon Confidential, whilst not being rich in content about Babylon 5 instead has a far different mission.
Uncompromising and tough, Christian’s story is a raw one that highlights the nature of addiction in a brutal way. Indeed, there are some exceptionally bleak recollections. This said, there are some typically wacky fans and admirers who take things too far (one particular highlight is the chap who turns up dressed as a Tribble – your jaw will drop) and tales of sci-fi stars and crew a-plenty making advances on Claudia including an awkward encounter with Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski.
What is particularly interesting from a UK standpoint is the tales of how lecherous old actors react to an attractive young girl new to the industry. A number of top name actors all presume that they can have a piece of the 16 year old Claudia. Given the recent revelations about UK television presenter Jimmy Saville and the supposed air of indifference at the BBC towards abuse, this paints an interesting and timely picture of the industry.
As Christian’s addiction takes hold of her life, all roads lead to a little known treatment that Christian is trying to spread the word about. The so-called “Sinclair Method” involves taking a small pill before drinking and has enabled her not to slip back into alcoholism for nearly three years, which is no mean feat.
An inspiring, revealing and at times harrowing read, Babylon Confidential blows the lid on a remarkable life story. From Christian’s almost happy ending with Dodi Al Fayed through to the sexism encountered on film sets and through to her iconic role as Susan Ivanova in Babylon 5, the warmth, radiance and generosity she is known for shines through. Moving in a crowded market, some fans will be disappointed that her time on Babylon 5 isn’t covered much, and the frank content may put off some, but beyond this is a fractured picture of a vulnerable woman whose life very nearly took several different paths.