fantasy: Babylon 5 – Na’Toth

Babylon 5: Na’Toth

Na’Toth was a Narn and daughter of Counsellor Shu’Toth. She served as Ambassador G’Kar’s second ambassadorial attaché, after his first aide Ko D’ath died in an airlock accident.

G’ar was initially suspicious of Na’Toth, fearing that she might be a member of the Thenta Makur (an assassins’ guild) sent to kill him; in fact Na’Toth saved his life. Thereafter, G’Kar quickly developed a liking for Na’Toth. In return she stood loyally beside him as they both prevented the local Narns from starting a major incident on the station, during the Narn–Centauri War.

Na’Toth provided a pragmatic  foil for the spiritual G’Kar and had a frequently displayed sarcastic (if not sardonic) sense of humor.

She was present on Narn when the Centauri attacked their homeworld and was thought to have died but some years later Londo Mollari and G’Kar rescued her when they discovered that she was alive and being kept in a cell under the Centauri imperial palace. She then went back to Narn to heal in body and spirit.

The character of Na’Toth was introduced when Ko D’ath had to be written out in a hastily arranged airlock accident when Mary Woronov had to be replaced ‘with virtually no notice after we found that she really had a hard time with the Narn prosthetics’.

Susan Kellerman was hired to play Na’Toth but she walked off the set because of the prosthetics so Julie Caitlin Brown was hired at the last minute; she however declined to return for a second series (although she did return to the role for one episode in the final season). She was replaced by Mary Kay Adams who was used to prosthetics having played a Klingon on Star Trek. Na’Toth's costume required not only facial prosthetics but a full rubber head coupled with contact lenses that are larger than normal.

Both Julie Caitlin Brown and Mary Kay Adams found the Narm makeup difficult to cope with. Although Julie Caitlin Brown said that she ‘loved the character’ she decided not to renew her contract citing the makeup (‘My face was very sore from the makeup and I was afraid there would be permanent damage.’) as the main reason , although she also wanted to pursue movie roles:

You have to wear an awful lot of makeup to play Na’Toth. It is a very, very demanding role. You're working fifteen to eighteen hours a day and you can’t breathe. There were times when I couldn’t see where I was going, because of the contact lenses – it was all just a red fuzz. And I lost so much weight working on the show, because I sweated it all away underneath that costume! So the makeup was probably the biggest deterrent for me; I couldn’t sign on and say, ‘Yes, I’ll do this for thirteen episodes for another four years’.

The makeup

The Narn makeups were originally designed by John Vulich and Optic Nerve Studios who explicitly set out to lift the bar for Sci-Fi TV shows: ‘not just a forehead’. They largely succeeded – setting a standard – only beaten by Farscape in the 1990s.