Any fan of ‘90s science-fiction knows who Robert Leeshock is… he was Liam Kincaid on the sci-fi/drama “Earth: The Final Conflict.” Created by Gene Roddenberry of “Star Trek” fame, the series ran from 1997 to 2002 and told of aliens called Taelons that have become a part of Earth culture and are called Companions, but there’s a resistance movement of people skeptical of the Taelons’ intent toward humans. It was a blast of a show, and you can’t help but wonder whether there’s any movement on resurrecting the series in some form – maybe a big screen venture?
Meantime, Leeshock makes a return to the science-fiction genre in an alien invasion movie with a difference. The very scary and quite topical Star Leaf tells of a group of hikers that find a secret grove of extra-terrestrial marijuana and must fight for their lives when they anger the other-worldly forces protecting the plants. Leeshock only has a small role in the movie (see if you can spot him) but produced the film.
We had a chance to speak to the amiable actor and producer about Star Leaf.
Dread Central: Firstly, I don’t think there’s a science-fiction fan alive that isn’t fond of “Earth: The Final Conflict.” Can you just briefly talk about what that time in your life was like?
Robert Leeshock: Well, it was pretty awesomely transformative to say the least…. sort of like having the notion of a dream which ultimately becomes a reality. Becoming an actor was the beginning of the journey, and the icing on the cake was to have it realized in the context of an iconic sci-fi movement led by the renowned Gene Roddenberry. I worked with some really great people who treated me really well, including the Roddenberry family itself, Rod and the late Majel.
DC: Why don’t you think the show lasted as long as it could’ve? Maybe it was too ahead of its our time, or was just there too much other science-fiction TV to choose from at the time?
RL: As much as I enjoyed my time on the show, it seems that the mythology of the show changed once they hired me and continued to change throughout the span of the five years it was on the air. I am grateful for my time on the show. It was a really good project in its first season, and the guy who created the original role, Kevin Kilner, did a really fine job. I really enjoyed seasons one through four. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to see the fifth and final season. I am hoping that it turned out well, but as I heard from people associated with the final season, it kind of morphed into something totally different than what was intended at the outset.
DC: Do you keep in touch with anyone from the show?
RL: Yes, I do. Von Flores, Anita LaSelva, and Leni Parker are still great pals. I even heard from Richard Chevolleau a while back. I’d love to get back to Toronto… I made some great friends up there, cast and crew alike!
DC: With “Battlestar Galactica” and “Babylon 5” headed for the big screen, do you think there’s a chance “Earth: The Final Conflict” might be resurrected for the multiplex one day?
RL: Unfortunately, I am not sure who would command that vision. I am working with a writer/business partner right now who could probably handle the demands it would take. If we’re successful with our latest endeavor, Star Leaf, then maybe our production company could take the helm.
DC: How much different would you consider Star Leaf to “Earth: The Final Conflict?”
RL: Whereas in “E: TFC,” we dealt with inter-dimensional travel in the physical realm, Star Leaf deals with it in the psychic realm. The aliens in Star Leaf are probably a distant cousin of Zo’or, looking to prey upon the weakness in humanity. Again, Star Leaf aliens don’t have much in common with Da’an’s agenda.
However, the idea of free will plays a vital role in the deterministic aspect of both shows. Responsibility, as a gateway to freedom, underscores both narratives.
DC: Why did you decide to get into producing?
RL: This idea is just so provocative considering the debate going on in the US regarding a plant that has been reviled for so many years. It’s got such therapeutic effects in so many cases; yet, the economics behind the plant has been politicized for so long that it has become a galvanizing platform for a large number of ideas and the laws that govern them, including the corporate dominance of agriculture on many levels. And… it’s a fun film as well! Aliens and weed are just ripe for some creative freedom from a filmmaking point of view. The minute you introduce a hallucinogenic idea into a film, the fun begins!
DC: You’re in the film briefly, but did you consider taking on a starring role at any stage?
RL: I couldn’t find a role suited for me. I mean, Richard Cranor ‘kills’ the part of Ranger Dave. I had to be the best ‘supporting actor’ I could be. After all, if you’re not supporting something, you’re probably contributing to its destruction. Look for me in the sequel!
DC: Have any media outlets been scared to touch the film based on its inclusion of drugs? Any interesting run-ins with those who preferred not to carry it?
RL: Singapore passed. But I think they ‘string you up by the thumbs’ in some places for drugs. So, let’s keep it out of the [hands of] young children and any place that thinks it may insult their cultural ethos… okay? We may have to get rid of the plant on the DVD cover for some marketing. But as of right now we’re targeting our ideal demographic, who seem to be chuckling once they hear about the idea. The funny thing is that the film is fun, trippy, and actually leaves you with a positive message. Someone today referred to it as REEFER GLADNESS!! Go figure…
DC: Any plans for a Star Leaf 2?
RL: Yes, we’ll be taking on the GMOs!!!
DC: Where can we see the movie?
RL: We’re in Australia and set there for an August or September release date. Right now we’re only available in the US on our Star Leaf website. Once September rolls around, we’ll be available on VOD and ideally in a few theaters in states where the marijuana laws are, of course, more liberal.
Written and directed by Richard Cranor, Star Leaf stars Julian Gavilanes, Tyler Trerise, Shelby Truax, Russell Hodgkinson, and Richard Cranor.
A group of friends set off to find a secret forest of marijuana hidden deep in the Olympic Mountains. Legend has it the plants are of extra-terrestrial origin, and two ex-Marines among the group hope it will cure their PTSD born from hard combat in Afghanistan.
They soon find themselves in the fight of their lives when one of them steals the Star Leaf, accidentally opening up the trio to attack by alien entities who use demons, both interpersonal and real, to unleash hell upon them all.