Lloyd Morris (born on November 11, 1958), is an Australian-based actor who began his professional acting career in the mid-1970s with appearances in the drama The Devil’s Playground (1976) as well as guest appearances on the long-running Australian TV series Homicide (1964-77). However, it wasn’t until getting cast on Tsuburaya Productions’ Ultraman: Towards the Future (1992) as UMA member Charles Morgan that Mr. Morris earned worldwide attention. In this December 2020 interview, Mr. Morris recounts his memories of making Ultraman: Towards the Future.
Brett Homenick: Could you share some details about your early life? Where did you grow up, and what were your interests at the time?
LM: I grew up in Melbourne, Australia.
BH: When did you get bitten by the acting bug?
LM: I started acting at a very early age. Did a play at the local theater at 12, which was directed by Val Lehman, who was Queen Bea in [the Australian soap opera] Prisoner (1979-86). At 13, I did a play with the Melbourne Theatre Company.
BH: How did you eventually break into the acting business?
LM: I then got an agent and did television shows at 14 and 15. At 18, I moved to New York and studied at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I then spent a year with the Boston Shakespeare Company before moving back to Australia.
BH: Let’s talk about Ultraman: Towards the Future (1992). How did you get cast as Charles Morgan on the series?
LM: A normal casting session.
BH: Were you familiar with the character of Ultraman at the time?
BH: How involved was Tsuburaya Productions from your vantage point? Did they have a presence during production, or not that you saw?
LM: We were well aware that this was the first production of Ultraman outside of Japan and that it was very important.
BH: How was your character explained to you at the time, and how did you decide to approach it? Did you have any particular inspiration?
LM: I only saw the original series after we shot. I didn’t realize that Charles was the overweight comic relief. I loved Charles because he had social issues relating to other people but had a good heart.
BH: Do you have any memories about pre-production?
BH: How long did it take to finish shooting the entire series?
LM: Don’t remember [the] timelines, but we were there for probably three months.
BH: The star of the show was Dore Kraus, who played Jack Shindo. What was he like to work with? Do you have any interesting memories you could tell us?
LM: He was a lovely boy. Did he do anything else?
BH: Just a few other acting roles, but he eventually decided to pursue other businesses. Perhaps the best-known cast member these days is Gia Carides, who went on to appear in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) and My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002). How was she to work with at this time?
LM: Gia is still a friend. A beautiful girl with a huge heart.
BH: Your other fellow UMA members include Ralph Cotterill, Grace Parr, and Rick Adams. How about them?
LM: Ralph was brilliant. An amazing actor who was inspirational. It was a privilege to work with him. Both Grace and Rick were lovely.
BH: The series was directed by Andrew Prowse. Do you have any memories of working with him?
LM: Andrew was a fantastic director. It was a shame I never worked with him again.
BH: What kind of direction did Andrew Prowse give you on set?
LM: Andrew Prowse was an intelligent, thoughtful, and gentle man who believed in the project and was a great director.
BH: Was there anything tough to film during the shoot?
LM: The shoot was a delight.
BH: Your character was turned into a toy when the series was broadcast in the U.S. Were there any negotiations about the rights?
LM: I didn’t know! Have you a photo? Would love to show my son. No negotiations. [I sent Mr. Morris the photo. – BH]
BH: Do you have any other Ultraman memories that you would like to discuss?
LM: Tsuburaya took us all out for Christmas dinner. They had dangled a promotional trip to Japan. I didn’t want to disrespect them, so I forced myself to eat the raw fish [sashimi]. As it turned out, they only sent Dore and Gia, which was a great disappointment. It took me another 30 years before I went to Japan. But it was worth it. I absolutely loved the people and the culture.
BH: How would you describe the production? Was it generally smooth, or were there any difficulties?
LM: They shot the monsters as miniatures, but it didn’t work, so they had to reshoot with men in costumes. From memory, before we started shooting, they tried the monster fights as miniatures but were unsuccessful. So, by the time we all arrived at the studio, they had hired an actor to play Ultraman in his evolved form.
BH: Do you have a favorite episode, or even a favorite memory, of the series?
LM: My favorite episode was when Charlie fell in love [episode 10, “Tourists from the Stars”], of course! The scene in the restaurant where he fumbled everything was so much fun to make. Also, the moment in the opening credits where everyone pulls out their weapons, and Charlie reluctantly joins in. He was a scientist, not a fighter, but he still was part of the group. I remember we waited all day until the magic moment when the sun goes down to shoot that scene.
BH: Since Ultraman, what other acting work have you done?
LM: Check out my IMDb page. I continued to work for decades and had a wonderful career that I will forever be grateful for.