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Lt. Commander Susan Ivanova

As written by series creator J. Michael Straczynski

Quick sketch of Ivanova: Russian, pessimistic, wry, very sharp. She isn't in "Believers" because there was a one-week overlap with a prior committment on a film project, which we accommodated.

Being of Byelorussian descent, I've always wanted to write for an ethnic Russian character. Not someone with an accent, any more than I have an accent even though I have a last name with 10,000 consonants and no vowels. There's a wry and formal and stiff-necked and sometimes very passionate streak that runs through the Russian spirit, and a certain rough-hewn mysticism, a sense of absolute fatality and doom punctuated by moments of great belief in humanity. It's a mix of traits you don't much see in American television.

Which is why the new second in command is Lieutenant Commander Susan Ivanova, who will be played by Claudia Christian, a fantastic and very strong performer who just knocked us out of the room. Very much a commanding presence, a little quirky when she wants to be, a shade on the pessimistic side.

Having come out of an Eastern European background, I've long lamented the stereotyped roles usually written for that kind of character, and look forward to drawing upon the real thing for her character.

I like Ivanova as well; she's got a very sly, very *sharp* intelligence going there. She can deadpan you and whap you upside the head with a comment delivered almost as an aside, or an afterthought. It's the difference between wit and humor. She doesn't tell jokes, but she's got a great sense of wit.

There's a Billy Joel song, where one particular lyric (and I'm quoting from memory) says, "You still have a pain inside you / That you carry with a certain pride / It's the only part / Of a broken heart / You could ever save." That's Ivanova. [Editor's note: I'm told the song in question is "Code of Silence," from the album "Bridge."]

She's had her heart stomped on a lot. And she's been holding it in. Even with her father's death, she sucked in the pain, fought back the tears. There is one episode, which will be right at the end of the year, where she finds she can't run from her pain anymore...can't run from the tears...and deals with them in a scene that's very moving and absolutely brings tears to the eyes.

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Last update: October 8, 1995