The last time we saw Tygh Runyan’s character, Robert Caine, he was being left behind on a seemingly ideal world in SGU’s first season episode, Faith. Well, a lot can happen in a year, especially in science fiction, and – let’s just say I crossed paths with Tygh about a month ago. I asked him whether he’d be interested in doing a fan Q&A for the blog and Tygh was more than happy to oblige in intelligent and insightful fashion.
Today’s blog entry is dedicated to belated birthday gal Annie from Freemantle!
Over to Tygh…
Michael writes: “Questions for Tygh Runyan – 1) How did you react when you first learned about your character, Caine?”
TR: I was very excited to do sci-fi. I wasn’t familiar with the previous Stargate shows, but I’m a huge Star Wars and Blade Runner fan, as well as a fan of foreign sci-fi films like Alphaville and Solaris. I haven’t done much sci-fi, and to find out that I’d be on a ship with such wonderful actors, I was basically doing backflips.
“2) How did you prepare yourself for Caine’s religious side in “Faith”?”
TR: Although I don’t consider myself a religious person, I’m deeply spiritual. I drew on a lot of my own teachers from the Toltec and Indian traditions, as well as my experience of going to a non-denominational church for a while. Under my wardrobe, I wear a rosary made of sandalwood that I found in India. It reminds me of the deeply spiritual people I met there and the beautiful temples and ceremonies I experienced. I met a leper there who had no legs and severely deformed arms who, although was begging for coins in the street, always had time to give whoever passed the brightest, most genuine smile I have ever seen. He had absolutely nothing, and was giving everything. My experiences in India really informed how I related to Caine’s discovery of his faith.
“3) What was your reaction after reading the “Faith” script?”
TR: That script was really a turning point for my character, so I was happy to begin delving a little deeper with Caine. Also, I thought the script was asking some very important questions, like “what is the nature of faith?”. No matter where you go in the world, no matter what philosophy or religion, even talking to self-proclaimed atheists, people have “faith”. Whether it’s in a master teacher from thousands of years ago, or one’s self, or the law of nature, or some unspoken mystery that can’t be discussed or described, it is there. I can see that it enriches our lives. It helps us let go of our illusions, and open up to each other.
“4) What do you look forward to most for Caine in season 2?”
TR: I really hope they come back and get me!
E writes: “My questions for Tygh Runyan – I noticed your character in “Justice” for the first time. Did you happen appear in any episodes before that, maybe some group scenes?
TR: No, Justice was my first episode. I’d been shooting a film in India before that.
“Caine chose to stay on the obelisk planet. If you were in that kind of situation, would you choose to stay on the planet or return to the Destiny?”
TR: I’d probably return to the ship. I usually follow the girl wherever she goes. I’m a helpless romantic!
“Do you believe in luck?”
TR: Sure. I think things can just happen. I also believe that we can manifest our own dreams, and be blessed by god. But I think in this huge energy field we call the universe, there’s room for everything.
Major D. Davis writes: “So questions for Tygh. First off thanks Tygh for doing this Q&A. 1. What do you think Caine truly believes in? He seems like he has a Christian background, but he seems to worship the aliens on the planet from Faith. Do you think he believes in a benevolent higher power(like aliens), or does he believe in God?”
TR: I think that he had a Christian upbringing and that, ultimately, he’s asking himself if there’s room for both aliens and God in the universe. He’s in the process of discovering his faith for himself, and I think he believes that the aliens will play a vital role in proving the existence of God. Maybe by showing humans something that our monkey brains just can’t comprehend. A kind of alien miracle?
“2. It was never shown in Divided, but do you think Caine was with the few civilians who weren’t involved in the mutiny, or was he right along side the rebellious civilians?”
TR: I’d say rebel. That’s what I would do.
“3. Do you watch the SGU episodes you aren’t in? If so what’s your favorite episode? Did you ever watch previous Stargate shows?”
TR: I’ll always prefer to watch anything that I’m not in. I enjoy watching what my friends and co-workers are doing. There are some really wonderful people and actors on this show! I’ve only seen episodes from the current series. I don’t really have a favorite episode, but I tend to lean towards the action-based ones like “Space”. I’m a martial artist and love to watch fight and battle sequences. Also, the more ships the better!
4. How is it to be stuck on the same planet with BAG? Is his awesomeness overwhelming?”
TR: I must admit…it’s pretty overwhelming.
“5. Which girl would you rather see Caine in a relationship with… TJ or James? Thanks so much”
TR: Holy moly! Do I really have to pick?!! They’re both played by such talented and beautiful actresses! Ummm… maybe Caine would date both, maybe at different times…yeah.
Randomness writes: “My questions for Tygh Runyan – 1. Thought you were great in Eureka, but don’t you think Pierre Fargo could of lasted more than 1 episode? I mean he’s a genius, and in a town of genius’s surely they could of wrote him as a recurring character, Eureka needed more Fargos.”
TR: Thanks man! There was some talk of that happening, but I ended up getting busy with other stuff before anything materialized.
“2. How would you describe your experience on Eureka? And which of the cast did you admire the most, as in get along well with and you know genually had a lot of fun around?”
TR: I really hit it off with Fulvio Cecere. I didn’t have any scenes with him, but I was on set to watch him do a scene, and was already a fan from seeing him in a film called “Dirty”. We ended up going out for beers after that. He’s a great guy and a lovely actor.
“3. As with question 2, How would you describe your experience thus far with Stargate Universe.”
TR: SGU has been a dream to work on. To work with Bobby, Louis, Alaina, and the rest of the cast…it’s been a dream. I just really, really, really want to fly a ship!
Shane-Brumley writes: “I have a couple of questions for Mr. Runyan: 1) Do you think that the Obelisk Aliens came?”
TR: I believe so.
“2) Do you think they were/are benevolent like your character believes?”
TR: I think that they might have stronger faith than humans. And have been able to collaborate a little better with the mysteries of the universe…
“3) Will be get to see you back on SGU in season 2?”
TR: I hope so!
“4) Which other supporting/minor character do you think deserves some exploration?”
TR: I love Volker and Brody!
“Also, my friends and myself would like to see Caine back and get with one of the guys!!(I know that he used to have a wife) There is way too much heterosexuality in space…. Seriously though, we thought you were great in that role and wish you luck with your career…..”
TR: Thank you so much! I wish you all the best as well. Yeah, more space love all around!!!
Chevron7 writes: “Hello Tygh!! from chilly Melbourne. 1. Your character was introduced quite suddenly. To be honest my first reaction was, why are they throwing a new guy at us when we haven’t even explored all of the current characters? Is that hard for you?”
TR: Not really. It felt good to be thrown into the mix right away. I hope it wasn’t too confusing for the viewers! There will be a payoff, I promise.
“2. The scene w/ Lt James when Caine’s setting up the comm stones is soooo cute. How do you act when you haven’t got the person in front of you to react to? Sometimes its done separately isn’t it?”
TR: Thanks for the compliment. Yeah, it’s often shot seperately when it involves the kino. Lt James wasn’t anywhere near set that day, so I had to draw on my imagination. I think that’s one of the most important facets to develop in our work as actors. Actually, imagination is probably the gateway to everything else.
“3. What’s the most interesting part of the Caine character to explore?”
TR: For me, the most interesting and challenging aspect of Caine to explore has been his faith. It always raises a lot of questions for me, big questions, and ones that have led to some important discoveries about the character and myself as well. I think that Caine’s discovery/rediscovery of his faith is the heart of the character. I think he’s wrestling with some demons, and it’s teaching him to forgive and love life again.
“4. I don’t think we’ve ever seen an IT guy on Stargate before…cool!! Are you into tech and gadgets?”
TR: Normally, I wouldn’t say I’m into tech gadgets. Well, maybe older technology. I like motorcycles and have built a couple vintage bikes. I also play guitar and I’m into old guitars and effect pedals. But I must admit…I’m totally obsessed with my iphone!
“5. What music do you like to chill to?”
TR: My favorite bands are The Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3, Neil Young and Crazy Horse. But they aren’t always that relaxing. Lately, I’ve been listening to the new Bonnie Prince Billy and some Brian Eno to unwind.
“6. How do you hang w/ most on set?”
TR: I’ll usually have lunch with Louis or Patrick. Jamil and I hang a bit on set.
“7. What was you first job ever? Acting/non-acting?”
TR: My first job was a paper route with one of the worst guard dogs in history! It was straight out of a movie. This was a very bad dog, and he could smell me coming down the block! So, it was a serious upgrade to become a bus boy at a local diner. That job actually led to my first acting job. A student filmmaker was visiting his fiance’s family in my small fishing town, and he came into the diner for some coffee. After a while, he asked me if I’d done any acting and asked me to play the lead in his thesis film for college. After that, I cold-called some agents and signed on with one.
“8. If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?”
TR: I just got back from the Venice Film Festival, and I would board a plane back to Italy in a heartbeat!
“9. Which actor or director do you most want to work with next?”
TR: I’d love to work with one of my acting heroes, Jack Nicholson. I missed my chance with Marlon Brando, so I’d love to have that experience. As far as directors go, I’d love to work with Terrence Malick. I’m a big fan of his films.’
“10. Who surprised everyone with their soccer skills in Faith?”
TR: Definitely the director, Will.
“11. What were you fave tv shows as a kid?”
TR: I used to pee my pants with excitement for Inspector Gadget! I didn’t watch a lot of tv growing up though. My parents were hippies, and didn’t want cable. But they’d take me to the movies once a week. I saw a lot of films growing up, and I have to say that the whole reason I got into acting was from seeing The Blues Brothers when I was 4. I totally flipped for that experience, and still remember it to this day. Those guys were having a riot up there on that screen!