Several weeks ago, I was leaving Stage 3 after saying my goodbye’s to the crew when somebody called my name. I stopped and turned to meet the guy who fast approached. He looked vaguely familiar but I couldn’t place the face. “Tyer,”he said, no doubt reading my confusion. “Tyler McClendon.” Of course. Tyler, our new resident wraith. The reason I hadn’t recognized him was because, outside of the audition in which I’d cast him, I’d never seen him out of prosthetics and make-up. In a most unwraith-like display of professional courtesy, he thanked me for casting him and told me he’d had a wonderful time on the show. I, in turn, thanked him for all of his hard work and asked him whether he might be interested in doing a fan Q&A. Well, it turned out he was familiar with the blog and assured me he’d be more than happy to interact with the fans. Convention organizers take note…
DasNdanger writes: ‘First, I just want to say how much I have enjoyed your Wraithy performances, Tyler – you had big boots to fill, and you have done so quite nicely. I really enjoyed your roles so far in Broken Ties and The Queen, and look forward to any future appearances. Too many favorite moments to mention, but I will say that I love how you’ve played the whole ‘irritated Wraith’ thing, and in such a way that isn’t over-the-top. It made Kenny quite entertaining, especially with his ‘I do not know, I’m not on the ship’ line, and then when – without a word – he obeyed Sheppard’s order to head to the nearest gate, giving him that ‘Happy now?’ look afterwards. Very well-played!
Which leads me to my first question:
1. How difficult is it to convey expression/emotion with your face concealed under all of that make-up?
2. Was it ever explained to you – or do you have your own ideas – as to what the Wraith finger armor is supposed to be for? Is it a tool? A weapon? Just ornamentation? (I am determined to find this out!)
3. In your mind, why did the Wraith in Broken Ties want worshippers? Is it just a power thing, an ego boost, or something else? And what was his motivation behind turning Ronon in particular? In some ways, it almost seemed like he was trying to make Tyre jealous.
4. Some Wraith actors have said that they do not see the Wraith as inherently evil, though they are portrayed as the villains. What is your perception of them?
5. Was that really you who visited us on Gateworld as ‘tubbs’? If so, thank you again. I hope we didn’t scare you too much.
That’s all for now…I’ll leave something for others to ask. Thank you, Tyler, for your time, and for being a part of Atlantis, and especially for creating exciting new Wraith characters for us to watch and enjoy and discuss. We love these guys, and really appreciate all you’ve done in bringing them to life.’
Thank you for the kind words Das. 1. Well, it’s kind of a double-edged sword. Though your expressions are limited by the make-up, it also does a lot of the work for you. Things like a glance or a flick of the eyes are more exaggerated when your face is so ‘enhanced.’ Being my first episode as a Wraith, I spent a lot of time during BT experimenting in the make-up.
2. Ah, the finger armor. I’ve never officially been briefed on its function; however, I recall quizzing the prosthetics team (this will be the first of several times I will mention how amazing the prosthetics team is on this show . . . they’re amazing) during my virgin voyage into wraithhood on Broken Ties. Aside from some speculation, I didn’t get too far. Then I started looking for clever opportunities to use the finger armor during the filming of BT. No Luck. Next thing I knew, my hand was severed and the opportunity to find a use for it became irrelevant. I’m sure the writers would have an explanation if I were to ask, but I’m more interested in discovering a cool function for it. I’m sure I’ll find one when the opportunity presents itself.
3. Good question. In my opinion, ‘Rhys’ considered the Satedans a genetically superior race. So if he was to recruit worshippers, they were probably high on his list. Tyre’s addiction to the enzyme made him reliant on ‘Rhys’ and vulnerable to manipulation. Rhys used Tyre to track down Ronon, the one person he saw as the key to defeating Atlantis – making Ronon a far more valuable asset than Tyre. So turning Ronon was really just a strategic decision.
4. Since SGA is told through the eyes of humans, any threat to the human species is inherently evil – to the implied audience. To embody a Wraith, I need to view the world/universe through their eyes and sympathize with them. And because their hierarchies are rather strict, I need to be absolute in my choices. That means completely committing to every decision my character makes, with zero doubt. Are they evil? Evil according to whom?
5. It was . . . and yes, ‘Tubbs’ is a childhood nickname I was blessed with (insert chubby kid story here).
BlueJay writes: ‘We named the Broken Ties wraith Rhys, did that wraith have a name that was used on set?
Provided Kenny survives the season and you were available would you continue this role in the Atlantis movie? (hint hint Joe)
Which eps are you in this season and how many different wraith do you play?
What have you done that could find its way onto the dvd blooper reel?
How do you think Kenny felt about his commander playing nice with the humans? About having humans on the ship to begin with?
We see Kenny take an order from sheppard, to take them to the nearest Stargate. Standing orders from Todd made him obey? just glad to be rid of them?
Todd has been betrayed by his fellow wraith before, do you see Kenny as the loyal type?’
1. No. Thanks for naming him though. I like that name. Think it should be on the name list for my first born?
2. Absolutely. As Joe has said before, scheduling is usually the main factor. But yeah, in a heartbeat.
3. BT, The Queen, First Contact, The Lost Tribe, Outsiders, Enemy at the Gate. Four.
4. There may be a copy of Rhys doing his best Christopher Walken impression floating around out there somewhere.
5. Violently opposed. We had other concerns to deal with. Allowing humans on the ship was a sign of weakness and if another hive was to discover this . . . well, you know the rest.
6. Just following orders. There wasn’t really an advantage to doing anything else, since Kenny was also unsure what was going on.
7. Loyal to the hierarchy. But, if the hierarchy is breached or reveals a weakness . . . you never know.
Rachel writes: ‘1) If you had to pin point one thing, what would you say is the most difficult part of the costume/prosthetics to work with? What is the easiest?
2) What made you decide to take the role?
3) How much creative freedom were you given in playing your characters?
4) Running on the assumption that it was actually you who dropped by on the Gateworld forum, on a scale of one to ten, how crazy do you think we all are?’
1. Most difficult thing to work with? Well, everything has its own level of difficulty. The make-up is out of my arena. The prosthetics team (have I mentioned how amazing they are) is all over the make-up. Most of the time I’m reduced to just standing there and letting everyone do their jobs. That means, two people adjusting the costume, one person touching up my make-up, one person adjusting my contact lenses, one person strapping on my weapon, one person putting on my microphone, one person fixing my hair, and one person fixing any loose fingernails. All at once. But, the fingernails are the most difficult. It makes you realize how much you use your fingers throughout an average day. Things like putting on your boots can become a ten-minute ordeal.
2. To play a monstrous, life-sucking, genetically superior, intimidating, highly intelligent alien being on a top rated Sci-Fi series? Sounded pretty good.
3. Good question. More than I thought I would. Obviously I had to fit the general parameters of how Wraith behave, but I wanted to find my own way into the role. Seeing what others had done in the past, I was eager to find something new and interesting. Luckily, Joe wanted the same thing.
4. Nine . . . kidding. Not at all. SGA has a worldwide following. So to call yourselves ‘crazy’ is to call a lot of people around the world crazy. Besides, ‘crazy’ seems kind of negative. I prefer passionate.
MyFavoriteWraith writes: ‘1. While filming on the Wraith sets (I believe it’s Stage 2?) did you encounter feeling funky, strange or even ‘hungover’ from the atmosphere there, as other people have reported in the past?
2. In your previous acting experience, had you ever gone through this much make up and costume before? And now that you have, would you ever do it again?
3. Any hope of seeing you in the SGA movie(s) as Wraith or human?
4. You and Aaron Cravon seemed to get on quite well, at least according to Joe’s blog video clip. Anyone else you struck up a friendship with or bonded with while you were on set?
I would love to hear you talk ad nauseum about what it was like to play a Wraith but I’ll be merciful and just leave it at those questions. I’d also like to add my thanks and congrats on playing two of the most outstanding Wraith characters on the show. In Broken Ties you were creepy, sadistic and yet alluring. I loved Kenny – he was snotty yet endearing. Bravo for those amazing, memorable performances. Hope to see you on the small or large screen again soon.’
1. I believe you are referring to the Norco Studios. Located about 15 minutes from the Bridge Studios. Yes.
2. No. Yes.
3. Well . . . I’m hoping. Does that make my answer yes?
4. Yeah, Aaron and I know each other as actors local to Vancouver. He’s one of the finer actors I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Any bonds? Well, my appearances are pretty sporadic, so that’s a tough one. The crew definitely grows on you. I mean, they work their butts off and still have the courtesy to treat the actors like gold. How can you not bond to that? The problem with being a Wraith is once you’re out of make-up, no one recognizes you. So I have an attachment to a bunch of people who have no idea who the heck I am!
Laura Dove writes: ‘First of all, I want to say that I enjoyed the wraith you played so far, especially Kenny. While not as impressive as Todd, I loved his calm assurance and sense of superiority (and I loved he outlived the episode *sigh*). He seemed to think ‘stupid humans!’ whenever they were asking stupid questions.
So, here are my questions:
1. Was it really you who came on the ‘Wraith Defenders Club’ GateWorld forum? If yes, I must say I admire your courage to affront us crazy wraith fangirls.
2. Did you discuss wraith topics with Chris Heyerdahl, especially for ‘The Queen’? How much backstory do you add to your characters, beyond the episode script itself? I know Chris added a lot of personality to Todd: Did you do the same with the ‘Broken Ties’ wraith or with Kenny?
3. How do you view Kenny’s opinion of Todd’s relationship with the humans from Atlantis? Is he considering it a mistake, or on the contrary an interesting opportunity? Or does he simply follow his Commander’s decisions without questioning them any further?
4. Do you feel underused as an actor, since we can’t really recognise your real face? (Actually, I find it even more impressive to be able to display emotions with wraith makeup, but I’m curious about your opinion.)
5. Kenny is named on-screen, but when your wraith is not, such as in ‘Broken Ties’, do you invent (the crew, or you personally) a name for him? If yes, how did you name the ‘Broken Ties’ wraith?
6. You must know that some of us (dasNdanger, I, and a few other rabid fangirls…) immoderately love wraith. How do you view our fascination for the ‘bad guys’? Are we scaring the crap out of you? Do you feel sympathy for the wraith despite their need to feed on humans?
Thanks Laura. No, they haven’t ‘killed Kenny’ yet. He-he. 1. See above.
2. Not really. Chris is a veteran on the show and he had a lot more work to do in that episode than I did. So as the new guy, I just try to stay out of the more seasoned actors’ way. There’s sort of a mutual respect between actors where we assume the other person has their act together (backstory, character arc, etc.). The director is usually the only person I seek advice or collaboration from. Other actors, especially those playing Wraith, just have too much to deal with (wardrobe and costume). Backstory? I guess I add as much as the script demands. The temptation is to create all this cool backstory for your character and show as much of it as you can during shooting. But that’s just not realistic. It’s important to have the backstory, but you need to know when it’s applicable to that scene, episode, etc. Yeah, I wanted to add a lot of personality and backstory to both the BT Wraith and Kenny – as any actor would. Pulling back was the hard part.
3. Red flag, error, stop, do not collect $200 and pass go. Bad, bad, bad.
4. Not in the least. Before playing a Wraith I would commonly get cast as the young cop, young deputy, rookie FBI agent, young priest, etc. This role gives me the chance to play a ‘villain’ when most of the industry doesn’t see me that way.
5. No. Most of the time it was just ‘bring in Tyler’ or ‘the baddie.’ I thought ‘McNasty’ would’ve been funny, but it doesn’t really fall in line with Sheppard’s more common name assignments (Bob, Steve, Kenny etc.). I believe a fan named Rhys.
6. Well, they are pretty cool bad guys after all. I think it’s great that you’re so into it. I’m that into it. Yes, I do feel sympathy for them. Even though they’re considered the ‘villains,’ there’s a lot about these guys that we can relate to. They need to survive on a limited amount of resources. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
I’ll transmit questions from Degilwen in the ‘Wraith Defender Club’:
1. How do you feel under all this make up and with long hair?
2. Do you know that girls love you in this Wraith Costume?
3. Have you problems to eat with this make up?
4. What do you think about the fact that SGA ‘Close the Gate’ and make now a new Show/movie?’
1. Hot. Temperature I mean.
2. Insert *blushing* here.
3. Yeah, it can get a little tricky. I try to drink everything from a straw and eat everything from a fork, so as to insert the food without any snags. I know that sounds awful, but it’s not so bad. I don’t like to eat a lot when I work anyway. It makes me sleepy.
4. Well, nobody likes it when the show they’re working on gets the axe. I’m sure SGU and the Atlantis movie are going to be great. These guys have a pretty good track record.
Noir writes: ‘- How does it feel to play a Wraith? Does the behaviour of the people around you change when you appear in fully make-up and clothes? And what about your behaviour? How much does your appearance influence your way to talk, walk etc?
– What do you think about the Wraith in common? About their culture, their social behaviour etc.? Do you like them?
– Have you ever been tempted to leave the Bridges Studios – in fully make-up! – to drink a cup of coffee somewhere or go by bus, only to see how the people outside react?
– I really love the hair of the Wraith – especially of that one of Broken Ties – btw: one of the most handsome Wraith I’ve ever seen. This Wraith’s hair seems to be really soft and thick. How does the hair of the Wraith feel in reality?
– Is there any character you would really like to play someday? And what kind of roles do you prefer as an actor: comedy, drama, action films or love stories?
Thanks for answering our questions and my best wishes for your future. Hope to see you in the movies.’
1. I feel mean. Really mean (tongue-in-cheek doesn’t translate so well on a blog). You can always tell who’s new to the show by the way they act around you. While the regular crew barely even notices you, new people tend to be a little more fascinated by the make-up so they stare a lot. I don’t think it influences my behaviour too much. As I said before, it does a lot of the work for me.
2. See above.
3. HA! That would be a trip. Yes, I’ve often thought of it. Just to see the reactions on people’s faces would be priceless. But I like my job, so that’s as far as it goes. Also, the make-up is very frightening in real life, so the public’s safety would be a concern.
4. They do not go cheap on the wigs. These are some of the best wigs I’ve ever seen. Incredibly authentic and heavy.
5. Any megalomaniac villain really. I don’t have much preference in terms of genre. If the material is good, I want to do it. Thanks Noir.
Davidd writes: ‘Hey Tyler. I have two questions for you if it’s alright, I’m not sure if they’ve been asked already, but I’ll try anyway:
1) What got you started in acting? Had you always wanted to act?
2) What are the pros and cons of being a Wraith?
Well, I guess that’s actually three questions, but…’
Hey Davidd. 1. As a kid, I remember being completely flabbergasted that the guy who played Mork from Ork was the same guy who played Popeye in the feature film. Is that when I decided to be an actor? I doubt it, but I think that’s when my interest in the craft began. I started studying acting seriously as a teen. After high school I earned my BFA in theatre, got an agent, and started auditioning . . . and auditioning . . . and auditioning. Three years and 4 agents later I landed my first paid acting job – a one liner on Andromeda. Can you say ‘things looked pretty grim?’ Why I persevered is beyond me. But here I am playing a character I love on a really cool show, so it looks like things are starting to pay off. 2. Pros: see above (the life-sucking, genetically superior stuff), plus it’s a lot of fun. Cons: Overheating. In full costume it’s easy to begin perspiring and it’s difficult to cool down. If we’re rehearsing a death scene, I’ll try to limit the amount of times I get down on the ground because of the energy I expend doing it. Obviously certain things have to be rehearsed, but just trying to cut down on vigorous physical movement until the cameras are rolling usually helps.
Wraithfodder writes: ‘1) Just what is the process it takes for you to be made into a Wraith, such as how long does it take to put on and remove the makeup, how long do you have to be in it, what are the drawbacks? Like those contacts that cover your nice blue eyes (yes, I was looking at pictures at IMDB)
2) Have you done roles like this before (extensive makeup)?
3) How did you get into acting?
3) Are you in anymore SGAs, and if not, what is your next project?’
1. The prosthetics team usually works on my face for the first couple hours, then the hands, next I’m sent off to the hair department, then final touches (like fingernails and contact lenses). The entire process usually takes between 3 and 4 hours. The length of time in full make-up can vary, depending on how many scenes I’m in that day. Drawbacks, see above. 2. No. 3. See above. 4. See above.
Naamiaiset writes: ‘1. What first interested you in acting?
2. Who have been your favourite people to act with/interact with on and off the SGA set?
3. Any funny bloopers on the set you can tell us about?’
Hi Naamiaiset. 1. See above.
2. I don’t think I have a favorite. As a Wraith, I spend the majority of my time with the prosthetics team. I mean, we spend 4 hours together at the start of every day, so I’m definitely the most comfortable around them.
3. See above.
Karen writes: ‘Aren’t you just waiting for someone to say ‘Hey, you killed Kenny?’ (tho I am not a fan of South Park)
I see that you played hockey when you were 7, Do you still play? What or who is your favorite hockey team/player? I am a Panther fan, I hope they do better this year. Luongo is one of my favorites. And what do you like to do in your spare time to decompress and relax?’
I may have heard it once or twice. Yeah, I still play about two or three times a week. I grew up in Vancouver, so my team is definitely the Canucks. Actually, I’m listening to the game on my computer as I write this. We just scored against Anaheim! Favorite player is probably Todd Bertuzzi. He’s got speed, good hands and can absolutely lay guys out when he wants to. The whole Steve Moore incident was a real shame. Yeah, the Panthers are due for a good run. I’d like to see them go far in the playoffs this year. My secondary fav team is usually Montreal, but I’ll keep an eye on Florida and see if they’re worth cheering for this year. Thanks for the goalie by the way. He’s not bad Any spare time I get is usually gobbled up by hockey or golf.
Lberostar writes: ‘1. Do you ever find yourself wanting to put on the Wraith gear and go grocery shopping or to the car wash just to see people’s reaction?
2. How long does it take to go from Tyler to a full Wraith?
3. How do you mentally prepare for being a Wraith?
4. Do you get to keep the cool coats?’
Hey Lberostar. 1. See above.
2. Three to four hours.
3. I did an interview for a local publication called Yaletown Magazine. In the interview, they asked me the same question and I told them: ‘Spent some time with an ex-employer – took notes. Spent some time with an ex-girlfriend – took notes. Gave myself a blistering hangover – and voila.’ Joking aside, I don’t really know if I can give you a concise answer to that question. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of it has to do with seeing things from a Wraith’s point of view and finding an unflinching dedication to their cause. So I guess it’s a combination of that mindset with the physicality of the creature that needs to be intact before I hit the set. 4. I wish. I can’t even imagine what one of those costs to make.
GoSpikey writes: ‘In the promo shots for ‘The Queen,’ we’ve seen something that wasn’t shown on television, namely Todd with brushed out hair and a smile on his face. Was that part of a cut scene? I was maybe expecting an official welcoming for Queen!Teyla on the Hive, but we went from Teyla in the infirmary straight to ‘Throne Lessons,’ instead. So, if indeed it was a cut scene, is there anything that you could tell us about that? Were you in it? How did Kenny react to having a fake Queen on board? I do not think we’ve seen much interaction between her and Kenny, unfortunately. Unless there was again something that wasn’t shown due to a time problem?’
I can’t recall. Sometimes those shots are taken between takes, so that might explain the discrepancy. Other than that, I’m afraid I don’t have much of an answer for you. I’m usually only there if it’s a scene I’m in, so I don’t really have a way of knowing if something was cut. Kenny wasn’t terribly fond of that plan, so having a fake Queen on board didn’t make him a happy camper. Thanks GoSpikey.
Jean writes: ‘How did you approach your audition for a Wraith role? It’s not like you could draw on personal experiences….could you?’
I actually did a lot of work on that audition. More than I do for most. I knew every actor in town was going to do their best Wraith impression, so I really wanted to find something unique about my take on the character. I did my research first, then I worked on it with everyone I possibly could. I must have gone through a dozen different voices and a dozen different postures until finally settling on something I liked, something that would work for the show, and something I knew I could make repeatable. When my agent called to tell me I got the gig, it was definitely one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.
Well, I wanted to answer every question and I think I came close. Thank you all so much for your questions. It’s been a real pleasure for me to be part of the show and hear all of your feedback. All my best and here’s to future discussions.
‘Til next time.
Ytimoyona writes: “So are you and Paul gonna stay together? Do you have the same agent?”
Answer: We do have the same agent and, yes, we do plan to continue the partnership. I think we compliment each other well both as writers and as producers, especially given that many of the production aspects that he enjoys I despise, and vice-versa.
StellaByStargate writes: “What is Carl up to these days anyway?”
Answer: Oh, he’s working on the SG-1 movie script, presently hammering out an outline with Brad.
Michelle writes: “ Wait, and what the hell? I thought you were in talks to work on Universe… and why did the front office team leave, given there’s about to be a new show?”
Answer: When all is said and done, I believe that Paul and I will end up consulting on SGU, writing a few scripts, and writing and producing the SGA movie. That said, we’ll have significantly more free time next year which opens up the opportunity to pursue other projects. As for the office gang – well, their work on Atlantis is done. They’ll go off, hopefully enjoy a well-deserved break. Hopefully some if not all will be back in January when production on SGU gears up.
PG15 writes: “Finally, what about Cookie Monster and Baron Destructo? They’d say. In truth, I’m sure the Antis think that they were kicked off of the blog to “add risks” and to “shake things up” to increase the number of hits on the blog! Did it work, Joe? I don’t think so.”
Answer: Baron Destructo (who, incidentally, made an appearance here just last week) and Cookie Monster are valued and respected members of his blog and will continue to contribute here in the significant yet haphazard fashion we have grown to accustomed to.
Luis writes: “Joe I see your blogsite is valued at around 15,000.00 does the figure have to do with the hits a blog gets?? can you actually sell your site for tha much or is that just a numbers thing???”
Answer: 150 00 what exactly? Old LP covers is my first guess.
Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “By the by…anything planned for next Wednesday?”
Answer: Nothing. I’m prefer to celebrate in low-key style: dinner and a movie. I’m sure Fondy has it all planned out.
Ytimyona also writes: “I’m gonna go back to the blog entry where you first mention insomnia and try out some of the suggestions people gave you…”
Answer: What’s worked for me is to lie back and take a deep breath, then exhale, then take another deep breath, then exhale – repeating as deeply and as quickly as possible. I’ve found that after about a minute, I get all light-headed and sleepy. Seconds later, I am out!
Pilota writes: “The company I work for has a genre division ROGUE Pictures (they released The Strangers earlier this year) and I’ve pointed them in your direction. A call was made to your reps. What genre is your feature film that you are pitching?”
Answer: Thanks for the recommendation. We’re presently pitching horror, horror-comedy, and sci fi. I’ve given my agents the heads up.