Yesterday was the last day of principal photography on Stargate: Universe’s second season. We marked the event with woodfire pizza, champagne, and, oh yeah, shooting those final scenes.
It’s been a great year and, looking back over the 20 episodes produced for SGU’s second season, I have to say I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished: great stories, grand arcs, wonderful character moments both big and small, set-ups, pay-offs, and more than a few surprises. As much as I’ve enjoyed working on these episodes, I’ve enjoyed hearing your reactions even more. So, thanks to everyone out there who has supported – and continues to support – the show! You aint seen nuthin’ yet!
Whew! Busy day! Shooting those scenes outstanding from The Hunt over on Stage 4. Boy, does that second level set look awesome. I took plenty of pics. A little spoilery…but a very cool spoilery so I may consider posting next week.
Watched the Day 2 mix of #210, Resurgence, with the VFX finals. Wow! An explosive episode to take us into the mid-season break.
Also watched a Day 2 mix of #209, Visitation. I had my reservations about this particular story early on but I must admit that the near-finished episode is both engaging and thought-provoking.
AND also watched the director’s cut of #219, Blockade. Well, if we weren’t low on ammo before we certainly will be after this episode. Great performances all around (as usual) but David Blue is especially good in this one. And the ending…well, what happens to one character is heartrending – but such is life.
Continuing our Q&A with actor Louis Ferreira (SGU’s Colonel Everett Young).
Today’s question: “Can you tell us about the infamous camera prank you pulled on Mr. Carlyle.”
Apologies for the quality of the video. For some reason, the auto-focus decided to take this question off…
Finished up the script for the second issue of the comic book. It was a little tricky getting used to the format – and, truth be told, there are still elements that don’t make sense to me. It took me about a week to write the script for issue #1 (which is comprised of the tease and first two acts of the pilot), then, having got the hang of it, about a day and a half to write the script for issue #2 (comprised of the final three acts of the pilot including the big reveal). Paul will go over them this weekend and they’ll hopefully be in our editor’s hands by late next week – at which point the search for a suitable artist will kick into high gear. I’ll also send off to an email to Kevin and Dave and get the official okay to release the details on the future comic/graphic novel/t.v. series and/or movie.
Other interesting projects loom including one that – if all falls into place – will see us re-teamed with an old friend who’ll be BEHIND the camera this time.
On the SGU side, we’re all focused on episode #20, Gauntlet, which starts shooting next week. This one’ll raise (and singe) a few eyebrows – and set the stage for some major season 3 developments.
I think Ashleigh may be losing her mind. Today, she insisted Rhianna was better than The Prodigy. With a straight face no less! Puleeeze. The trifecta of Invaders Must Die, Stand Up, and Breathe alone blows away the entire career output of Rhianna, Beyonce, Celine, and those other four clones combined. I mean, seriously.
Over the past few days, several of you have asked me to dish on some of the stories we had in mind for Stargate: Atlantis’s sixth season. I actually covered this in a blog entry not long after the show’s cancellation. In it, I list not one, not two, but twenty of the ideas we had in store: http://josephmallozzi.com/2008/09/30/september-30-2008-an-au-season-6/
My Snow Monkeys just completed their first trade, sending WR Lance Moore to the Ken Ga Roo Colts in exchange for RB Brandon Jackson. With Marshawn Lynch floundering behind that weak Seahawk OL, I’ll happily take the Packer running back hosting the woeful Cowboys in Green Bay. Having Robert Meachem made the trade all that easier. Who needs two Saints receivers anyway? Especially this season.
Art Department work for episode 203, Awakening.
Destiny docks with the seed ship.
In the room, we kept alternating between calling it a “seed” ship and a “seeder” ship until Paul got fed up with everyone suggesting this spaceship may actually have been made out of cedar (as opposed to, say, pine) and requested we stick to “seed ship”.
The lovely Julie McNiven kickin’ back between set-ups for episode…well, an episode you haven’t seen yet.
A wonderful actress and an incredible sweetheart.
That’s what you call a “hull breach”.
They don’t get much breachier.
What secrets lie beyond these doors?
Tune in to next week’s episode to find out.
And if you’re going to bring snacks, make sure you have enough for everyone.
Hey! HEY! Where the hell does Atlantis think IT’S going?!!
It’s Wednesday afternoon and that means…
It’s Carl’s turn to play in the magic circle!!!
And more from my sit-down with actor Louis Ferreira, Stargate: Universe’s Colonel Everett Young.
Today’s question: What is your favorite genre to work in and why?
Snow Monkeys Win! Snow Monkeys Win! Down 17+ points going into the Monday night game, my Snow Monkeys scratched, bit, and clawed their way to victory over the Vancity Viktors, improved their record to 3-5, and positioned themselves one game out of that final playoff spot.
A new episode of Stargate: Universe airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. on SyFy – and it’s one of my favorites: Trial and Error. For a sneak peek at tonight’s action as well as a little insight from actress Alaina Huffman (SGU’s Lieutenant Tamara “TJ” Johansen) head on over to Curt Wagner’s blog:
A couple of very dusty days on set saw various members of the cast and crew walking around, doing some spot-on imitations of ghosts, ghouls, and the living dead. Actor Louis Ferreira stopped by my office to chat and ended up leaving a powder trail of oat, bran, and what I believe to be wood shavings in his wake.
Now go watch Stargate: Universe, then come back here and let me know your thoughts.
Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular Lisa R. and her hubby.
Curse the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line and the team’s inability to establish a running game. Thanks to them – and several other notable underachievers, my Snow Monkeys head into tonight’s Monday night game needing a monster night from both QB Matt Schaub and RB Arian Foster to pull off an unlikely week 8 victory. At this point, it’s not looking good. Thanks-for-nothings also go out to WR’s Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall. Also, TE Tony Moeaki. As the regulation time was ticking down in the KC game, I was cursing myself for having unwittingly started an inactive player only to realize that Moeaki WAS active – but only in the theoretical sense. I’m hitting the waiver wire hard tomorrow.
Anyone watch the premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead? That’s a rhetorical question because, in fact, MANY did. 5.3 million viewers is pretty damn impressive and, frankly, well-deserved. Beautifully shot and wonderfully written with great performances all around. And, have to agree with #1 zombie fan Ivon Bartok – those were probably the best-looking zombies I’ve ever seen. Creepy good!
Louis Ferreira (a.k.a. Stargate: Universe’s Colonel Everett Young) swung by my office today to say hi – giving me the opportunity to throw a few more of your fan questions at him. Today’s question –
How was it to have Robert Carlyle as a director for one episode of season two?
Great answer – up until he’s interrupted by my cellphone’s Yolandi Vi$$er ringtone…
Oooh, some interesting developments abound. A tricky first step finally negotiated. Less cryptic revelations to come!
I finally have time to come up for air, so I’m making today’s post a dedicated mailbag entry. It’s a brief respite since it looks like I’m looking ahead to a crazy-busy few months to end 2010 chock full of Stargately excitement, holiday planning, a Tokyo trip, and not one, not two, but three super secret projects (including that comic book series I’ve been talking about for what seems like forever). On to your questions…
But first, check out the snooze time photos –
Tim Gaffney writes: “If they are 73% better with the +7 numbers, does SyFy take that into consideration when they decide on renewal? That has to be the highest addition of viewers to a shows ratings of any show. To me, it doesn’t matter when or how a show is watched. Just count the total number of viewers and use that to make your decision.”
Answer: Ah, if it were only that easy. At present, there is no system in place that will provide an accurate assessment of how many viewers a show actually commands across the various viewing platforms. The +7 numbers are good news in that we know there are far more viewers out there but, on the other hand, they are frustrating because networks generally don’t place as much stock in those numbers. Knowing that our audience could be three times as large if everyone watched the show live or same day is interesting to note, but it isn’t as impressive to a network that generates ad revenue by selling to advertisers interested in reaching an audience that will actually sit through their commercials.
My Name Is Scott writes: “One question… what did Simeon say to Dr. Park?”
Answer: In the scene you’re referring to, Simeon walks up to Dr. Park and whispers something in her ears, eliciting a horrified respond from her and causing everyone around her to leap up and confront Simeon. The script never specified what, exactly, he whispers to her so we were curious to see what Robert Knepper would come up with. Would he mumble something incomprehensible or would he actually offer up something offensive and egregious in a bid to remain in loathsome character? Which would it be? As it turned out, neither. On the day, the director yelled “Action!”. Simeon spots Park sitting a table, walks up, leans in and silently whispers: “Try the carrots!”.
amychr writes: “I’ve noticed you link to Goodreads for your book posts and I wanted to invite you to claim your Goodreads author page. I’m a librarian for the site, so inviting authors is kind of my thing ”
Answer: Done and done. Thanks for the invite!
whiterose64 writes: “Will there be anymore of the Q & A with Louis Ferreira?”
Answer: I’ll definitely try to track down Louis for another round of questions soon.
Alfredo De La Fe writes: “Is there ever a time when you go over time and rather than cut something you have a scene shot over again to save time?”
Answer: To save time? Never.
Gilder writes: “What are the Snow Monkey’s team colors, please?”
Answer: Grey and white with select pink bits.
maggiemayday writes: “Is it me, or is “first annual” just plain wrong?”
Answer: Not if you’re trying to strongly hint at something.
Major D. Davis writes: “Will the Aliens/Telford/Seedership story be further explored later this season?”
Answer: At some point in the season, yes, we will learn the fate of Colonel Telford.
“2. The mystical elements have been so well done on season 2 so far. That said, will we see/learn more about Franklin and the faith planet this season?”
“4. Besides the atlantis alums and Dr. Brightman, will there be any more characters from the older shows in season 2? I heard a rumor that Daniel might show up again? Could you comment on that?”
Answer: Daniel Jackson will not be making an appearance in season three.
“5. SPOILERS for UK! When exactly in awakening was that VFX extravaganza you were talking about? Was it at the end where the 30 aliens are closing in on Telford?”
Answer: You’re getting your episodes mixed up. The VFX extravaganza was a reference to episode 10, Resurgence.
MyNameIsNada writes: “Quick question, and I apologize if it has been asked before-when can we expect new Kino videos?”
Answer: Alas, no plans to produce new Kino-sodes.
nate writes: “Is there a working gate on the seeder ship?”
Answer: Presumably, yes.
“IS there a reason for the bridge of the Destiny rising from the hull other than being cool?”
Answer: It’s a defensive measure.
Renegard writes: “What is the powder stuff the crew is eating on Destiny in reality?”
Answer: It’s exactly what it’s intended to be in the reality of the show – protein powder.
Kaleb writes: “Aside from the typical ‘do your best, kid’ segment, what advice could you give a student looking at getting into screenwriting?”
Answer: Read a lot. Write a lot. Watch a lot of film and television. Try to get your foot in the door by writing for animation.
Audrey writes: “So I really liked that scene between TJ and Simeon in the infirmary in Awakening, and was wondering if we’re going to see that sort of ass kicking/military side of her again?”
Answer: One of the things I loved about T.J. in season one were those flashes of the ass kicking/military side of her. As a result, I wanted to do an episode that highlighted this aspect of her character. We see a little of it in the scene you’re referring to, but will see more of it later this season.
Nbkbauer writes: “Quick question….some of us over at gateworld are latching on to this little theory about these brown fellas having been former residents of the Milky Way…should we continue to hold out hope for this or forget about it right now?”
Answer: Abandon hope. Sorry.
dasNdanger writes: “If, say…Todd and Rodney… switched using the communication stones, would Todd (in Rodney’s body) chow down in the cafeteria all day, while Rodney (in Todd’s body) threatens to suck on the first human ‘snack’ he stumbles upon? In other words, both have strong appetites, but would their food cravings be influenced by the bodies (and the needs of those bodies) their consciousness is in at the time?”
Answer: The need to feed is a physiological drive, so Rodney in Todd’s body would have the desire to feed but his mind would undoubtedly be revolted at the prospect.
Yesterday was our last day (and night) in the wilds of North Vancouver where we finished shooting our location exteriors for The Hunt. While it’s nice to get away from our standing sets every once in a while, it’s even nicer to get back to those standing sets after spending a few cold and rainy evenings in the great outdoors. If you were there, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you weren’t, check out the pics…
This time I came prepared, penguin umbrella in tow.
As did Rob.
The gang from props: Rob, Evil Kenny, and Chris.
Camera Operator, Grizz Salzi, shows of his stylin’ head gear.
While fellow camera operator, Ryan Purcell, shows off his WWE Intercontinental Championship Belt.
VFX Set Supervisor Kelly Whitfield sasses it up.
VFX Coordinator James “Bones” Rorick’s “what can you do?” shrug. He goes to that one a lot when working with Kelly.
Chaddington screws up Director Andy Mikita’s breakfast order.
Finally, this is a video of me trying to find the bathroom. Ah, show business!
We were out in the forests of North Van yesterday, shooting day #3 of The Hunt. All of the local weather people predicted rain but I remained the sole optimist. We were looking at a late crew call (10:30 a.m.) because we’d be going late tonight….
Amanda is dressed for any eventuality. Note the hat.
Greens bring in the extra alien frond.
One of the decorations adorning video village.
Crane for rescuing squirrels stuck in really tall trees.
Marjorie M. Liu is a New York Times best-selling author, hot comic book writer, and – how awesome is this? – longtime Stargate fan (and T.J./Varro shipper if the rumors are to be believed). Her contribution to the Masked anthology, “Call Her Savage”, is grand and thoroughly absorbing, an alternate history tale with one of the most kick-ass yet compelling of heroines. And, today, Marjorie swings by to offer up a little insight into her terrific story…
I’m in China at the moment. I’ve been in Beijing for about a month, and I’m heading back to the United States next week. Thirteen hours in a plane is all it takes to cover a distance that would have been unimaginable even just a hundred years ago. Oh, sure, people were getting around — but it was a different kind of adventure. You had to really travel to get places. You had to work at it, and be driven by some compelling spirit and fire — need, or just curiosity. To explore the world required risks that most of us modern-day travelers would never contemplate.
Recently at a party the hostess asked everyone to name their favorite explorer. I thought for a bit, and honestly couldn’t narrow it down to one name. I mean, really. We’re talking the countless dead and living — Leif Ericson, Ferdinand Magellan, Neil Armstrong, Columbus — a handful of names to reflect the entire human history of men and women who were going places. Going places when all they had were their own two feet and a sense of direction.
Badasses, every one of them. Heck, mummies found in Xinjiang show that the Celts were in China three thousand years ago. And that’s just one burial site. The world is probably one giant grave of human exploration.
You can’t kill the spirit of adventure. You can’t keep a curious person down. You really can’t. And that’s beautiful and wonderful, and thrilling. It also forms the root of my story, ‘Call Her Savage’.
Six centuries ago, China sent out an armada of massive ships — the largest of which was almost five times the size of the Santa Maria, the vessel used by Columbus. Loaded down with treasure, this armada had a mission to find trading partners. Explore, see the world, get rich. Not a bad motivation.
There were seven expeditions. The armada sailed to the Persian Gulf, East Africa…and there’s evidence, too, that the Chinese reached North America, almost seventy years before Columbus. Based on the discovery of certain maps, some suggest that the Chinese discovered North America even thousands of years before that.
Who knows? Let’s say that’s true. Or let’s say it only happened in 1421. The premise of my story in MASKED is that the Chinese did, in fact, make landfall. Specifically on the west coast of North America. And then they colonized it.
Imagining that — and the potential differences between Chinese and European colonization — fascinates me. Would the Chinese have gotten on differently with the Native Americans than the Europeans did? Perhaps, if only because there was no divine mission on the part of the Chinese. But, again, who knows what would have happened?
‘Call Her Savage’ takes place after the American Revolution, which assumes that the British settled the eastern seaboard right on schedule. China rules the west, and has allied itself with the colonists. Which means the frontier is open, known.
The American Revolution. The American West. This is where American heroes were born. Men and women who became legends. Men and women who were very human.
But in my alternate world, some of them are more than human.
Like Namid MacNamara. Born a little different from everyone else. Using her extra power to be the very reluctant heroine of the thirteen colonies that are trying to break free of the British Empire.
She doesn’t wear a cape, but she’s got a gold star.
I’d like to thank Lou Anders for inviting me to participate in this anthology, especially with such wonderful writers involved. I loved the premise from the beginning, and knowing the company I would keep made it even sweeter. I haven’t been writing comics for long — novels are my trade — but I have a very deep soft spot for superheroes, and when you’ve got love to spare, you better share.
A big thanks to Marjorie for taking the time.
And a big thanks to those who posted questions and comments on the collection. I’ll be forwarding your questions this weekend to authors Marjorie M. Liu, Gail Simone, Daryl Gregory, Mark Chadbourn, Matthew Sturges, James Maxey, and Paul Cornell, as well as editor Lou Anders. And if you’re still sitting on a few questions, there’s still time to post ’em!
Speaking of Masked, may I direct you to a few Masked-related links.
Finally – I received an email from a blog regular who wrote me on behalf of a friend seeking help to defray the costs of a surgical procedure for her dog, Oreo. Being the owner of a pack of needy dogs, all of whom have required at least one surgical procedure at some point, I can empathize. So, rather than simply forwarding the email along, I thought I’d post it here on the blog to give it a little more exposure…
“I’m writing to you to ask you for some help for my dear friend Beatriz Flamenco who lives in Houston. Her dog, Oreo (see attached photos), who is only 4 years old, needs to have orthopedic surgery on both his hind legs, which will be very expensive. Oreo is in considerable pain and this needs to get done as soon as possible. Beatriz does not have the money to have it done and she is desperate for financial help. If you can contribute anything at all, it would be so appreciated. If you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact me or Beatriz.
We have set up a Paypal account in which you can donate money as a gift. In order to do so, go to paypal.com and then to “send money”. From there, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Beatriz’ email is firstname.lastname@example.org (you will need this to send through Paypal). For those of you who would prefer to send a check or money order, her address is:
Beatriz Flamenco de Rosal
15218 Jasmine Creek Court
Houston, TX 77095-3288.
Thank you so much for your help! If you could pass this along to your contacts, it would be so appreciated, as well!”
I got a sneak peek at the Stargate: Universe season two trailer this afternoon and it’s – well – is “crazysuperfantastic” a word? Steve has done an incredible job and I can’t wait for you guys to check it out. I’m still aiming for the week prior to the SGU second season premiere (Tuesday, September 28th at 9:00 p.m. on SyFy). Trust me, it’ll be well worth the wait. LOTS to look forward to this year.
Please keep those questions and comments coming for September’s Book of the Month Club, Masked. We’ve got a slew of special guests lined up to field your queries including: Matthew Sturges (“Cleansed and Set in Gold”), James Maxey (“Where Their Worm Dieth Not”), Paul Cornell (“Secret Identity”), Daryl Gregory (“Message from the Bubblegum Factory”), Gail Simone (“Thug), Mark Chadbourn (“By My Works You Shall Know Me”), Marjorie M. Liu (“Call Her Savage”), Lou Anders (our fearless editor), and yours truly (“Downfall”)!
And now, I’d like to turn this blog over to Destiny’s sassiest scientist, Dr. Lisa Park – a.k.a. Jennifer Spence – who has kindly taken time out of her space-suited forays (Come to think of it, what IS she doing in that space suit?) to spend time with us. Thanks, Jen. Now back to work on those shield emitters…
Me writes: “Not really a question for Jennifer Spence, but I loved your delivery as Dr. Park of the line in the SG:U finale to Col. Young — Don’t Yell! It was totally unexpected and spot on. I was laughing out loud on that one. Keep up the good work Jennifer, and I look forward to seeing you in Season Two.”
JS: Aw thank you Me! We’ve got some pretty fan-freaking-tastic writers on the show and that line came from none other than Mr. Joe Mallozzi and Paul Mullie 🙂
Michael writes: “Questions for Jennifer Spence
1) What do you want to see happen for Dr. Park in season 2, besides surviving?”
JS: Hi Michael. I would love to see her become even stronger and explore more of what makes her human. We know she’s smart and can hold her own with the other scientist boys, we know she likes to get it on with the military lads, now I’d like to see what else she can offer the team. Perhaps an episode where she takes on more of a leadership type of role or one in which she must overcome a fear or issue from her past in order to get the team out of a dire situation. I love the idea of secrets. And of course it would be so much fun to have some scenes where she just loses it on someone, like maybe she develops a temper.
“2) What was your initial reaction to Park’s method of coping with being stranded on Destiny; sex?”
JS: Shock followed by absolutely loving the idea! It just added so much depth to my character in that she now had this secret and it’s always great fun as an actor to come up with a reason for a character’s behavior.
“3) What do you like to do the breaks between scenes-hang out with the other actors or hide in a trailer?”
JS: We’re almost always all hanging out between scenes unless someone’s got a big scene to prep and even then everyone is so awesome about offering to run lines. We goof around a ton and regularly get our wrists slapped for getting out of hand 😉 I mean you put some of the funniest people I’ve ever worked with in a room together and you get non-stop entertainment. I think I now have about 5 videos I’ve shot on my iPhone of Kelamis doing various impressions and bits that we keep pressuring him to perform for us and the man is so sweet that he always obliges! Actually Patrick posted one of them on youtube the other dayhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSE7TOd1ieU&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Lou Zucaro writes: “For Jennifer… 1) You had one of the best lines to date in the series last week (“Don’t yell!”). When you read a line like that when you first get your script, is it always obvious how simply great it is, or is it not until you perform it (or even see it when it’s done) that it hits for you?”
JS: Hi Lou. It’s usually obvious to me when I read it thanks to our stellar team of writers. Whenever I see a line like that I get super excited about saying it and I love that those types of lines are generally of the comic variety which can be a nice little addition to dramatic scenes.
“2) You’ve worked on a fair amount of sci-fi. Are you / have you been a fan of the genre or is it something that’s “just happened”? If you’re a fan, what (other than things you’ve been in) are some of your favorites?”
JS: Honestly I was never really a fan of sci-fi before SGU. A lot of the productions that have been shot in Vancouver over the years have been of the sci-fi variety and I’ve been lucky that those that I’ve worked on have all been high quality but in general, I usually didn’t watch shows or movies of that genre. I do remember loving E.T. though and having all the E.T. paraphernalia: stuffed toy, t-shirt, shoelaces, etc. as well as rushing home from school to watch Dr. Who. I finally saw Galaxy Quest a few months ago and LOVED it!
“3) In “The Core” you were an assistant to Stanley Tucci’s character, Dr. Zimsky, and now in a way on SGU, you’re an assistant to Rush. In a knock down, drag-out, cage match of the minds, which difficult genius would you put your money on?”
JS: Probably Rush just cuz he’s always thinking outside the box. Plus Zimsky didn’t end up making it out alive 😉
Tim Lade writes: “Dear Ms. Spence. What is it like to wear the same clothing over and over and over again? I imagine I would get pretty annoyed with whatever I happened to choose to wear the day Icarus Base was attacked.”
JS: Haha! As an actor it’s not so bad just cuz you always know what to expect and our fabulous wardrobe department keeps like 6 sets of the outfit on hand. As the character though, you’re right, it would be pretty frakking annoying to wear the same outfit day in day out. I mean, there’s only so much B.O. you’d be able to get out what with a limited water supply and steam showers!
Mike writes: “Question for Jennifer, how much are you like Dr. Park, being the optimist and placating presence, in real life?
JS: I try to be an optimist as much as possible in real life and I think that’s who I am at heart but of course I still have my moments where I cross over to the dark side.
“What one item would you want to have with you if you were stuck on Destiny?”
JS: I think if I could have only 1 item on the Destiny, it would be my iPhone much as I don’t want to admit my addiction to that blasted thing!
“Are there any actors on the show that you hang out with when not filming? Thanks for answering, and keep up the good work it is nice to see a beautiful lady as part of the science team.”
JS: Aw thanks Mike- so sweet! I think I’ve hung out with pretty much all the cast off, but I think I’ve probably spent the most time with Gilmore & Kelamis. Patrick and I just recently spent a week in L.A. with Kelamis and his lovely wife in their gorgeous home which they completely re-did THEMSELVES!
PBMom writes: “To Jennifer Spence: 1. We know how Dr. Park copes with stress, but what is your coping mechanism (if you can share)?”
JS: Chocolate cake with LOTS of icing.
“2. What are your similarities to Dr. Park and what are your differences?”
JS: I think we’re similar in that we’re both optimistic, solution-oriented and nerds. I think we’re different in that she got her doctorate whereas I went to theatre school, she uses sex to relieve stress whereas I’ll eat a whole chocolate cake, she works with a couple of male scientists who bicker like a married couple whereas I work with a couple of male actors who… you know what- we’re not that different 😉
“3. Dog or cat person (or both?)”
JS: I’m definitely a dog person but I like cats too. Especially the ones that seem like dogs trapped in cats’ bodies.
“4. What was your favorite chocolate at Joe’s party (if you attended)?”
JS: Aw man, how to narrow it down?… It was actually probably the brownie (wish I could remember the company). Twas the creamiest, richest, most perfect-level-of-sweetness brownie I’ve ever devoured in my life!
“5. If you had a say in it (which I know you don’t), who would you like more screen time with as an actor with another actor, or as your character with another character.”
JS: Naw don’t make me choose- it’s too hard! I think it would be interesting though to have more scenes with whatever other character brings out the most conflict when paired with Park.
“6. What would be your SGleeU song to sing? Julia Benson answered “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi if that helps.”
“7. I read somewhere you own a bookstore in Vancouver? Thank you for being so kind to answer our questions.”
JS: The bookstore you’ve heard about is called Biz Books which is owned by the talented and outstanding Catherine Lough Haggquist who not only has been my boss but a very close friend and mentor AND she played Mary in the SGU episode Sabotage! She has taught me almost everything I know about the film industry and her belief in me is a lot of the reason I stuck it out with acting. She opened Biz Books 14 years ago and it is the only bookstore based in Western Canada that specializes in film, television and theatre related books. The store has just recently evolved from a bricks and mortar retail space into an online and on-location only bookstore www.bizbooks.net. Very excited for its next chapter!
Sean D. writes: “Question for Jennifer: What’s your favorite episode of season 2 so far?”
JS: Aw man, too hard to choose- they’re seriously all good! One that was especially exciting to shoot was Malice because we traveled to New Mexico and it put Park in an extremely challenging situation which then changed her perspective about Rush.
E. writes: “Yaaay! Lisa Park – again, one of my fav secondary characters! Questions for her: Did you practice a lot for the kino sequence in “Darkness”? ‘But it might be great!’-moment made me fell in love with Park’s character.”
JS: Aw you’re sweet, E 🙂 I actually only ended up having a few hours to practice that one. As I recall, it had originally been scheduled to shoot after a long weekend so my plan had been to take the weekend to memorize it and make sure it stuck. A day or 2 before said weekend, I got a call from production asking if I was available to come in later that very afternoon because they wanted to shoot that scene a few days ahead of schedule! Hello heart palpitations! I was working at the bookstore at the time and was slotted to be working there for the rest of the day but of course Cat (see info about Biz Books above) being the awesome woman she is told me to skedaddle and I spent the following few hours memorizing and practicing with anyone and everyone who made eye contact with me 😉
“What exactly is Park’s area of expertise? Is it astrophysics?”
JS: She definitely has a lot of knowledge about astrophysics and I think she also has done a lot of research in the fields of computer science (specifically computational linguistics) and geophysics.
“What do you think – does Park feel guilty for sleeping with various guys on Destiny, while she has a boyfriend on Earth?”
JS: I think she definitely feels guilty about cheating on her boyfriend but manages to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude 😉
Paul Moody writes: “Question for Jennifer: You’re cast as a civilian on Destiny; do you ever wish you could have been cast as part of the military contingent so you could run around shouting ‘hoo-rah!’ a lot?”
JS: Haha! Naw, I think the role of a civvy is a lot more fitting for me. I’m a nerd through and through. That being said, I would love for Park to get the opportunity to shoot a gun or backhand a bad guy in an upcoming episode.
Lisa R. writes: “Questions for Jennifer Spence: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. 1) How did you get into the acting business?”
JS: Hi Lisa. I’d always loved acting since I had done skits and stuff at summer camp as a little kid but when I did a community theatre production of “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller just before graduating high school I realized I didn’t really have a choice anymore – it was just what my little heart wanted!
“2) What kind of studying do you do to make your lines believable especially when there’s alot of science in the script? (if you’re not already familiar with the science concepts.)”
JS: When there’s tons of science-speak in the script, I usually start with wikipedia. Then when we go to shoot it, I’ll double check with the writer(s). A couple of times, Patrick and I have gone up to Brad with sketches of what we think the science-speak is referring to and then Brad will draw his own little sketch and patiently explain what’s actually going on!
Simon writes: “Questions for Jennifer: 1) First off, congrats on the Leo Award nomination! Will Dr. Park be getting more screen time in Season 2?”
JS: Aw thank you Simon! Twas truly a thrill! And yes the writers have given Dr Park lots of fun and sometimes unexpected stuff for me to play this season. Many times now, I’ve found myself clapping my hands in delight when I get any sort of tidbit of what’s on the horizon!
“2) How many episode will Park be in this time around?”
JS: As I write this, we are about 15 episodes in and I have been in all but one. Of course being a little greedy guts, I’m hoping I’ll be in all the rest of ’em!
Yazid writes: “Q’s for Jennifer Spence : First, thanks for answering our questions, it’s nice of you. Did you cast for Lisa Park first or any other character?”
JS: Hi Yazid. I read for 2 other parts first and then the producers were lovely enough to find me something else to play. The first incarnation of Dr Lisa Park was actually written as a male scientist named Miles Henry!
“How is the atmosphere on set?”
JS: Rindonculously fun. But also super respectful, patient, supportive, focused and generous.
“How funny is it? Who is the most funny? Were you the victim of someone’s joke on set?”
JS: Super funny. My abs get a mean workout any time I’m on set or between scenes. Everybody on this show is pretty funny but of course it’s always a blast when Louis is around. Haig played a brutal joke on me first season. We had just gotten the script for an upcoming episode so we hurried into our trailers to flip through and see if we were in it or not and if so, if we made it out alive. I think I had just turned to page 1 when I hear Haig (whose room was right next to mine) say “Oh no!” and I yell, “What?!” through the wall and he says, “You die.” Blink blink. “Huh?” I squeak and he shouts, “Yeah Brody says ‘what happened to Park?’ and Riley says ‘she died'”. So at this point I leap to my feet, fly out my trailer door, clamber up the steps to Haig’s door and he opens it laughing his ass off. I think I manage to mumble “I hate you” as I retreat down the stairs backwards never breaking eye contact with him. This is not a set on which one should be gullible. And I am. Oh how I am.
“What is your favorite scene/episode of SGU and why?”
JS: Really really hard to narrow it down to just one. They all have special moments and I can honestly say that I have gotten goosebumps at some point during every single episode. I think “Life” was one of my favorites because we learned so much intimate stuff about the characters.
“Did you know Stargate before playing in SGU?”
JS: I had heard of it and knew how popular it was but I hadn’t actually seen it tsk tsk!
“When are you gonna do a “Chevron/Symbol locked sequence”?”
JS: Haha! Joe?
“Are Rush/Brody/Volker and Park a kind of control room gang? ^^
JS: I think we are! It’s a good dynamic because we’re all so different. What could our gang be called? Maybe Brush-polker? Or Volkush-bark?
“What was the hardest/funniest scene to shoot?”
JS: I think the hardest as well as funniest scenes to shoot were my “reading” scenes in the episode Life. I had never done love scenes like those before so I was kinda nervous but both Zak and Jamil were perfect gentleman and super professional. Because they’re both awesome guys, it ended up being a lot of fun and because both scenes took place in the same location with similar lighting, we shot them back to back so Zak got wrapped and then it was like, “Next!”
“What would you do if you were really stuck on an old rusty ship, billions light years away from home?”
JS: Find out where they kept the chocolate cake.
“Few words in french maybe? Thank you Jennifer =)”
JS: Merci d’avoir poser ces questions!
Lis writes: “For Jennifer – 1. Do you have any particular science background? You seem to do a lot of tech talk, that must be intimidating.”
JS: I don’t have a science background so it certainly can be intimidating to do the tech talk but once you know what you’re really saying and you run it a bunch of times it’s a lot of fun!
“2. Not really a question I guess, but the reason I find Dr Park so endearing is that she’s obviously an extremely intelligent person but also an extremely normal person. That scene way back at the beginning where she is expressing concern about visiting a planet – melted me a little.”
JS: Aw thanks Lis! I’m glad you feel that way because that’s one of the things I like most about her too is that at the end of the day, she’s just human like all the rest of em.
“3. Why don’t you tweet more often?”
JS: I will try to! No excuses 😉
Yazid also writes: “Oopsy, I forgot a question: Thanks. What would you bring on Destiny to make life better?”
JS: Earlier I answered ‘my iPhone’ but now I’m thinking a massage chair.
Myhelix writes: “First of all, you are doing a great job as Dr. Park, hope we´ll see more of you!
JS: Aw thanks Myhelix! And you will definitely see more of me second season!
“1) How is it to work with Louis Ferreira and Robert Carlyle in the same scene together? I have heard Louis is a prankster.”
JS: Being in scenes with those two rocks my world! When I first started on SGU, I didn’t know what to expect – I just had memories of Bobby as Begbie the psycho in Trainspotting and Louis as the psycho serial killer in Durham County. But Bobby is the truest definition of a gentleman. He’s a real sweetheart, completely open and one of the most gracious people I’ve ever met. Louis is totally a prankster and a super funny guy but he also has one of the biggest most generous hearts ever and looks out for us all. I think it was Elyse who dubbed him Papa Smurf. Perfect. One time we were rehearsing a scene and Bobby and Louis switched roles with each other just for the rehearsal and they did it complete with accent reversal and imitation of each other’s physicality! Wish someone had filmed it 😉
“2) Is it just my imagination or is Dr. Park a bit afraid of Dr. Rush. Or let´s say, quite uneasy around Rush. Why do you think is that the case?”
JS: I think as much as she wouldn’t want to admit it, Park is a little intimidated by Rush mostly because of how he interacts with the scientists that work with him but also because of his vast knowledge and experience.
Nuno Barreto writes: “For Jennifer Spence… Playing a recurring character, does your time on set differ much from the actors who are playing main characters?”
JS: I think us recurring characters generally get fewer shooting days per episode than the main characters but sometimes we have had just as many depending on the episode.
“Also your “Don’t yell” line is going to be a classic, it was delivered spot on!”
JS: Thanks Nuno! It was a lot of fun to say!
BoltBait writes: “Questions for Jennifer Spence: 1. Do you enjoy working on the Kino videos? Which was your favorite?”
JS: The Kino videos are always fun to work on! I’ve enjoyed watching all of them for different reasons. I think my favorite was probably the one where Volker is helping Riley and Brody into their spacesuits. Riley tells Volker he has to pee and the ensuing interaction is hilarious. Brody then finishes donning his spacesuit, tries to take a step forward and proceeds to tumble face down. Anytime those 3 get together, I end up peeing my pants 😉
“2. Have you ever said to Joe (or any of the other writers), “My character would never say this! She’d say it like this…”?”
JS: Not yet but now you’ve got me curious to know how they’d react! (Just jokes, Joe.)
“3. How many “takes” do typical scenes take to finish on SGU?”
JS: For each ‘set-up’ within a scene, I’d say we do an average of 2 or 3 takes.
“4. Have you ever said to the director, “Let me do that again, I can do better.”?”
JS: Yes I said that to Peter DeLuise once cuz I knew I could appeal to the actor part of him and he let me!
“5. Your character has a Doctorate. What is it in?”
JS: My interpretation is that Park got her doctorate in Planetary Science from MIT and through her studies has also acquired a vast amount of knowledge in computational linguistics and geophysics.
“6. Your profile page on imdb.com doesn’t say much about you. You (or your agent) needs to update that page!”
JS: You’re right! We’re working on it!
“7. Does your character believe that one day she will return home?”
JS: I think she does. Because she’s an optimist I think she believes it’s possible but at the same time, the longer this adventure continues, the more attached she grows to the whole experience and the people she’s sharing it with.
“8. If you were really aboard Destiny, what would you need to preserve your sanity?”
JS: A journal.
Randomness writes: “I have 1 question for Jennifer Spence 1. First of all, let just say you do an amazing job on SGU, you really show a lot of spirit with your character, my question to you is, do you see Lisa Park being around till the end? And with the many years she will of spent aboard Destiny, how do you think she will be, like growth wise? Can you see her becoming stronger, a different person? In a deep romantic relationship with someone?
I know thats a long question, well several questions in one Joe, but it was me asking her if she thinks her character will survive till the end, and if she does, how does she think her character will be.”
JS: Thanks Randomness! I do see Park being around til the end and I hope that’s the case. I think after all those years she will be a much stronger, tougher person, wiser person who probably will be in a deep romantic relationship with one person and will have given up most of her casual ‘reading’.
Tanie writes: “Questions for Jen: Thanx kindly! 1. How did you get into acting?”
JS: See above.
“2. What’s the best part about working on SGU? The people, the scripts, BTS stuff?”
JS: All of the above. It’s got everything going for it! I hope it goes on for many years to come!
“3. Ice-cream or custard?”
SG7 writes: “Hi Jennifer! My Questions: 1. If you could go anywhere in the world or have been anywhere in the world and want to return where would you go?”
JS: Right now, I’d really love to go to Hawaii. I’ve never been and I’m dying to see those incredible volcanoes and that beautiful water and attend a luau!
“2. Where would be your favorite place to shop & or Eat & or Drink (ie coffee etc)?”
JS: Probably Italy. I LOVE Italian food, love drinking coffee (even though I’m a wuss and only drink decaf) and damn those Italian ladies sure know how to dress, don’t they?
“Just wanted to say a HUGE congrats on your awesome work on SGU! And I hope TPTB give you lots more screen time in season 2 as you truely add sooo much to the show! And thanx for taking the time to answer our questions! You rock! Cheerz, Heather”
JS: Aw thanks Heather- that means a lot! And uh… feel free to let TPTB in on your wishes there 😉 Or put it out there to the “universe”, as it were.
Feanor writes: “Questions for Jennifer Spence: I: What is the background for your character’s constant optimism?”
JS: Hi Feanor. My take on it is that she grew up with 2 brothers and always felt underappreciated by her divorced parents especially her father so she had to build herself up in her own mind in order to feel good enough. I think she then started getting so practiced at it that she was able to do the same for her friends when they were feeling inadequate and soon, she’d adapted the “habit of hope” for life.
“II: Do you feel a similarity do the character you are playing?”
JS: I think the biggest similarity between the 2 of us is that we’re both nerds (except I don’t have a friggin clue when it comes to technology). That and we look alike 😉
“III: How many times your charachter has approximately done ”reading” during season 1 and will that continue or will your charachter find a new hobby?”
JS: She has “read” with at least 4 guys (that we know of): Greer, Rivers, Marsden and Dunning and I’m wondering if she will next move on to the scientists after she’s run out of military 😉
“IV: Is it fun to play in SGU? Good luck and good night!”
JS: Aw man, it’s da best!
“V: What episode do you like in season 2 most from the ones that are already made?”
JS: I think I’ll have to watch the completed versions of all the episodes before I can say J
Nekomajin writes: “I’ve got a question for Jennifer Spence. Lisa Park is one of my favourite character aboard the Destiny. She is pretty, funny and clever. A true geek. Do you think that Lisa can be the female Eli in the future? Thanks for answering.”
JS: A true geek – well said! I think Park is really smart like Eli but nobody can else can be Eli like Eli.
Thank you so much for all your wonderful questions and support! And a very big hug and special thanks to Joe for hosting the q & a and for managing to find the time to write a blog that never fails to entertain and put a smile on our faces.
avabird writes: “…I attended Dragon Con. (…) What I remember is that one or two people did ask rather rudely-toned questions about SGU. Usually, the actors representing a particular branch of a franchise fields those questions. When the questions were asked, the majority of the audience “oooo”ed in a way that should have tipped off the one asking that it was rather rude.”
Answer: Yes, that’s in line with what I heard from other sources, that the crowd oooh’d, leading someone to speak up in the actress’s defense, something along the lines of “keep it up and she’ll end up scared of you.” – to which some classy individual resplied “With good reason.”.
Mel writes: “So instead of apologizing to the innocent SGA fans at the Dragon Con, you misdirect people towards an incident, which has nothing to do with the Dragon Con.”
Answer: First of all, I never referred to the “innocent SGA fans at the Dragon Con”, only the rude ones. So, if you were rude and you were offended by what I have to say, tough. If you were innocent and offended by what I had to say, I wasn’t talking about you. Second, if you check out the comment above, someone who attended one of the panels pretty much confirmed the story I heard.
Mel also writes: “And finally blackmail! SG1 and SGA movies will be made on its OWN merits. The ratings were great, the DVDs of them sold MUCH BETTER than SGU. The SG1 movies were a huge success. It doesn’t matter how good or bad SGU is doing.”
Answer: If you want to believe that, then by all means knock yourself out. But the reality is that should SGU end prematurely, it would be bad for the franchise and have an adverse impact on the SGA movie.
Answer: What does this fan have to do with what we’ve been talking about? You’re assuming that this is the incident I was referring to. It’s not.
Mel also writes: “The simple answer is, because he likes to stir trouble and put fuel to the flames of the “fandom war”, which is going on.”
Answer: Yes, Yes, I know there are many out there who assume I put in a lot of time and effort into hatching these diabolical plots designed to target them specifically but the truth is – and I hate to break it to you – outside of this blog, online fandom is an insignificant part of my life.
Sean D. writes: “Person X enters a stargate a long, long time ago, and finally, present day, the destination stargate is made available, and (poof!) out pops Person X, who should be about 46,000,000 years old now but is still young.
I’m curious though…
What would initiate finally making that connection once the second stargate is made available?”
Answer: Hmmm, now that I think of it, we’ve dealt with a similar scenario back on SG-1 in an episode titled 48 Hours. I believe we said that the gate buffer stores the traveler but that degradation occurs over time. Say, 48 Hours. I still prefer the original working title: Teal’c Interrupted.
crayonbaby writes: “How did the truffles turn out? Were they gone by the time the game ended? Does the alcohol evaporate in the cooking process? You will have to tell us which one is your favorite so far.”
Answer: I brought the leftovers to work and they were a hit. All three flavors went over well, but the Guinness Dark Chocolate Truffles – surprise, surprise – were the clear winners.
Abbas Karimjee writes: “1. Are you concerned about the fate of the movies, given the ongoing delay. Essentially, are you concerned that ecen if the films are ultimately given the greenlight, it may not be possible to have the required main cast for both films?”
Answer: Not especially, no.
Abbas Karimjee also writes: “2. As far as the second season of Stargate Universe is concerned, will we have the chance to touch on the issue of Colonel Young’s relationship with his wife, Emily especially given TJ’s pregnancy?”
I was introduced to him in La Bamba, enjoyed his work in Young Guns, and positively loved his performance as the scheming Cisco in the under-appreciated The Big Hit- but it’s been his latest role as Stargate: Universe’s Colonel David Telford that has made me a HUGE Lou Diamond Phillips fan, partly because he’s so damn talented, partly because of his ever courteous, always professional on and off set demeanor, but mainly because LDP is simply one helluva a nice guy. It was a pleasure working with him on SGU’s first year and, should Telford survive the gunshot wound he sustained in the season one finale (in either physical, robotic, ghostly, or flashback form), then I’ll say it’s been even more of a pleasure working with him on season two.
At the beginning of the summer hiatus, I sent Lou your many questions and told him to pick and choose among them, respond to those that interested him, and then send me his answers whenever he was done. Well, as it turns out it took a while because Lou was so impressed with the caliber of the questions that he elected to answer all of them. A huge thanks to Lou for taking the time from work, family, and, of course, twitter to swing by and hang with us here on the blog.
And so, it gives me great pleasure to turn this blog over to fellow foodie, talented thespian, and all-around prince of a guy Lou Diamond Phillips. But be warned! Potential spoilers abound!
Major D. Davis writes: “First off thank you Lou for taking fan questions! 1. What was your favorite episode of season 1 and why?”
LDP: I have to say the last 3 eps (Subversion, Incursion 1&2) were probably my faves of the work I did in Season 1. Lots of meat for Telford and the great reveal that he was a brainwashed spy! Fun stuff to play. Plus, the character’s arc in three eps took so many twists and turns and there were so many levels to play in his interaction with Young, TJ, Kiva et al. And, since it was a continuous storyline, it truly felt like we were filming a movie instead of a TV show. (Although, I have to say the quality of the show on a daily basis rivals a lot of features I’ve been on.) That said, I truly enjoyed making Earth as well. Probably one of the trippiest love scenes I’ve ever been a part of!
“2. Whats your favorite season 2 episode and why?”
LDP: Can’t really talk about the eps in Season 2 at this point. (Just knowing I’m around for them is a bit of a spoiler for those wondering about that gunshot wound in Incursion 2!) Let’s just say the new Telford with his squeaky clean, freshly scrubbed brain has been a joy to play. We finally get a little more insight into who he really is and the nature of his relationship with Young. (Don’t go there…even though I do on a consistent basis. I have, after all, been in his body numerous times!)
“3. How would you cope being stranded on the destiny? How do you think you would react to the situation and what would you do to deal with the stress and anxiety?”
LDP: I assume you’re asking LDP how I would cope with life on Destiny and not Telford. Being from a military background myself and having spent a lot of time not only around servicemen but also law enforcement and firefighters, I would like to think that I possess the mental fortitude to adapt to the situation. (Hell, I survived the Costa Rican jungle with Speidi and Janice Dickinson! Destiny might be a walk in the park in comparison!) Often, when I’m dealing with stress, anxiety or just the demands of a hectic life, I tend to work-out more. I find that the physical exertion is not only calming but centering. I also throw myself into writing which occupies my imagination. Perhaps a stint on Destiny would finally result in my Great American Novel!
“4. How was it voicing the part of Mark for the New Testament Audio Bible? Any cool experiences working on that project you might share with us?”
LDP: I had fun reading Mark for the New Testament Audio Bible. In many ways, it’s like doing Shakespeare. The language is heightened and you really have to know what you’re saying to not only make sense of it but to make it interesting. All of the readers involved recorded separately but my wife, Yvonne, did my make-up for the behind the scenes taping and photos and also did Lou Gossett Jr’s, Michael York’s and Stacy Keach’s, all of whom I’ve had the pleasure of being associated with on different projects.
“5. Who is your favorite SGU character?”
LDP: Other than Telford (who I obviously have deep affinity for!) I can’t say that I have an absolute favorite SGU character. I think that’s a real testament not only to the cast but to the writers who have presented us with a number of well-rounded, interesting and complicated people aboard the Destiny. It makes for great storylines and truly makes it a joy to come to work since you’re constantly dealing with strong personalities who operate on many different levels. It also keeps me intrigued and excited for the future of these characters.
“6. What show do you watch on TV besides SGU?”
LDP: Have long been a fan of all the L&Os (I guested on an SVU) absolutely love ‘House.’ Recently fell in love with ‘The Good Wife’ and just discovered ‘The Glades.’ Have plans to get DVDs of Mad Men, Dexter and a few others I missed. Also, Yvonne and I are hard core food show fans – Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Chopped, Iron Chef etc.
“7. How are you a total foodie yet are so buff? Do you run like 10 miles a day to counter all the calories? (See.. I love food, but when there’s good food i always over-eat, so I kinda have given up on being a foodie) :p”
LDP: Believe me, at my age, I have to hit the gym not only to make up for the food I love but just to maintain a shape I’ve had most of my life. (These SGU bastards like seeing me in fight scenes and will sometimes get my shirt off! Pervs!) Still, one of the things I love about cooking is making great tasting food that’s also healthy. When I plan a menu at home, I try to be a little calorie conscious. However, you gotta splurge every once in a while. I made up this saying – Moderation in all things…including moderation.
Abbas Karimjee writes: “1. In Life, we learnt that Telford was regularly seeing Emily, but they were only getting together as friends. By Subversion, do you think that their relationship evolved to a romantic one, especially with Emily believing that Young was still with TJ?”
LDP: Interestingly enough, I don’t think Telford became intimate with Emily (other than that ill-fated ten seconds when he zapped back into his own body to find himself in the saddle!) I truly believe he had an ulterior motive (esp. considering his brain-washing) and was simply trying to ingratiate himself to get information and to achieve an upper hand over Young. Having said that, whatever shred of decency was left at Telford’s core, I believe it kept him from crossing a line but also made him sympathetic to Emily’s plight. I do believe they became friends and he became a confidante. Still, we don’t know much about Telford’s personal romantic history so I don’t know how that factors in…yet.
“2. How many episodes will you be in for the 2nd season?”
LDP: Sorry, can’t answer that one. Just know, as I’ve tweeted before, that Telford is like SGU herpes! He’ll never go away and will flare up when you least expect it to complicate your life and perhaps cause minor irritation!
“3. If Telford survives his injury in Incursion Part 2, what challenges do you think he will face as he copes with life on the ship? Do you think he would try to overmind Young’s leadership, especilly since he was suppose to be in command of the group that went through to Destiny?”
LDP: I think, should Telford survive…wink, wink, that the most obvious problem is that there would be two Colonel’s on board the Destiny. Read an interesting chat on-line discussing who would actually have seniority and I think the solution would have to go back to their graduating order from the academy. What is more complicated and what is still yet to be seen is where Telford’s head is at now that he has been released from the effects of brainwashing. That personal interplay between him and Young will be fun, especially considering that it was implied that they were friends back in the day.
“4. Were you a viewer of any of the previous Stargate series before you were appointed the role of Telford? Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions.”
LDP: I was not a regular viewer of the previous incarnations but I certainly have respect for the success they achieved and am grateful that their legacy has been passed on to us. Having said that, I would like to think that SGU can stand on its own and perhaps even expand and build upon what has come before. Since I was virtually an SG virgin (although I loved the feature film written and produced by my buddy Dean Devlin) I came into this show with no preconceptions and could honestly and without baggage put my own stamp on this character and this world. I know many of the other cast members feel the same way.
Maggiemayday writes: “Mr. Phillips, did you enjoy Stadium of Fire? How do you like our mountains here in Utah?”
LDP: Loved being a part of Stadium of Fire! Absolutely a beautiful part of the world and we were blessed with an amazing day! I was truly impressed with the musical acts, especially Carrie Underwood. Didn’t know she had such great pipes and she really brought the energy! Truly a patriotic day and how ’bout those fireworks, huh?
Randomness writes: “1. Why are you such an awesome actor?”
LDP: Fiber…Actually, I hope it’s because I really care. Acting was my dream from a young age and I pursued it in high school and college (I have a BFA in Theatre from the University of Texas at Arlington) I truly love this Art form and this craft and feel it should be approached with respect and diligence. Still grateful to be doing what I’m doing.
“2. How would you describe your experience on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here, like high and low points?”
LDP: I’m a Celebrity was nothing short of surreal. I often questioned myself for making the choice to do it but, I have to say, at the end of the day it was quite the adventure. I had hoped for more of a Survivor-type challenge in survival and wished that the physical aspect had been a little tougher. But I will say that the isolation and separation from the world and family was truly difficult. It made me acutely aware of how much I love and value my family and friends.
“3. How did you feel when you were voted winner of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here?”
LDP: Winning I’m a Celebrity was a bit of a vindication for saying yes to it in the first place. It not only made me feel good about how I played the game but it was a very special surprise to see that the voting public responded to what they saw on screen. It was a chance for me to show the audience who I really am without the filter of a character and I’m proud and grateful for the support that people gave me. Then again, I’m still working because my fans have been loyal. A big thank you for that!
“4. What are some of your favourite foods? And wouldn’t you agree that Ice Cream is one of the worlds greatest feel good treats?”
LDP: As you can probably tell from some of my tweets and/or interviews and appearances on Iron Chef, I love all kinds of foods. I feel fortunate to have been blessed by this business to travel and experience so many different cultures and cuisines and, strangely, my palate really didn’t become developed until later in life. I’m still on a food adventure in this life and loving every minute of it. And, yes, Ice Cream is one of the greatest gifts to your tongue ever!
“5. How do you think Telford was feeling at the end of Season 1 when he was in control of his own actions again and was around the very people that brain washed him?”
LDP: I think Telford’s head was in a blender there for a little bit. First, un-brainwashed by asphyxiation, then zapped back into his own body when he went through the gate. Not a lot of time to acclimate! It certainly seems that his true character has finally come through when he doesn’t have a pre-programmed agenda. Obviously, there is residual guilt but, as soon as he got his bearings, he stepped up and showed that he has the strength of character to try and make things right. It also seems clear now where his loyalties lie.
“6. Personally I think you do an amazing job with Telford, would you mind sharing some high and low points of working on SGU?”
LDP: The high point of playing Telford and SGU in general are the people I get the chance to work with. Obviously, that includes the entire cast from top to bottom but I’ve also made great friends on the crew and have worked on numerous other projects with many of them. I feel that writers, producers and directors are doing a great job of creating a vibrant, exciting and unpredictable show and the material is a joy to perform. It’s like Christmas when we get a new script. Truly, the only downside is the fact that I would’ve liked to get in the game a bit more during the first season but things seem to be pointing toward a greater involvement as time goes on.
“7. If you were to give some important life advice to anyone, what would you say?”
LDP: I mean, follow your dream is certainly hackneyed and somewhat cliche but it is truly good advice. Too many people settle. Not only that, but far too many people aren’t reflective enough to realize their dream at a younger age. To do that would be the second part of that proposition which would be to try and figure out who you really are. Embrace that even if it is not part of the norm and own it and never apologize for it. Be yourself.
“8. Any favourite authors or books?”
LDP: Most recently fell in love with two of Ken Follet’s books “Pillars of the Earth” (now a miniseries) and its sequel “World Without End.” All time faves include most of Stephen King, Richard Addams “Watership Down,” Jonathon Franzen’s “The Corrections,” Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet,” Richard Bach’s “Illusions”…Well, many more. Point being, love to read.
“9. How would you describe the relationship between Young and Telford now that he’s free of the LAs brainwashing, we saw he made a speech about how Earth didn’t consider the results of overthrowing the Goa’uld that really resonated with a lot of fans, do you believe he meant what he said in that regard?”
LDP: I sort of answered the Young/Telford dynamic a little before but I will say that I think it’s still evolving. We certainly see more of it in upcoming eps and the nature is totally different than what it was. We start to see the friends they once were instead of the rivalry. I mean, come on, Telford has a lot to make up for! As far as that speech goes, it’s one of the reasons I love the writing on SGU. That speech is totally valid regardless of Telford’s brainwashing and perhaps that’s the reason he could finally open his mind and see something from another culture’s point of view, regardless of his military indoctrination. Even though that speech is coming from “The Bad Guy” I’m glad it resonated with many of the fans because there are obvious parallels in our world, our country and with recent global confrontations. That’s one of the great services science fiction can actually provide because, when well done, it can make you think about your own world and your own experience and perhaps see it without the veil of politics or nationalism.
“10. Any favourite songs/bands/groups you would like to share with us all?”
LDP: Liking a lot of the new stuff (my tween girls, Grace, Isabella & Lili keep me up on the Top Forty) but my all time stand-bys are from my youth – Springsteen, U2, Sting, Tom Waites, Jackson Browne – a lot of singer songwriters really. They are my influences whenever I dabble in lyrics.
skye writes: “Mr. Diamond – My Question is What was the most fun Character u have ever played on tv and/or in the Movies? thank u for your time”
LDP: Well, not to be too mercenary but the list has to be led by Telford because he’s still evolving. He’s like a novel that has many chapters still to go and I find that exciting and intriguing because his journey is mine. Other than the most immediate, I feel very privileged to have played some characters that have over time become almost iconic. Ritchie Valens. Chavez from Young Guns. Angel from Stand and Deliver. The King from my broadway production of The King and I. I might as well throw in King Arthur from Camelot. Cisco in The Big Hit was most certainly one of the craziest and most fun. Monfriez in Courage Under Fire. Edgerton on Numb3rs…Holy shit, I’ve had some great roles!
E writes: “Did you know from the start that Telford’s been brainwashed? How did you portray the character in the beginning – as someone who’s an ass because of brainwash, or a tough military guy who’s disliked by others? What do you think – is Telford better commander than Young? Why?”
LDP: You know, oddly enough, I didn’t know Telford was brainwashed when I started the role! I mean, when I look back now it all makes perfect sense but I’m not even sure the brainwashing was a part of the writer’s plan when we started the season ( although I must say, those guys have a great way of layering in storylines over multiple eps and they don’t always tell you what’s in store!). I also think that, as they get to know this cast better, it sparks character traits and personality touches when developing the character’s story-lines. As far as playing Telford as an ass in the beginning, that’s really a matter of opinion. Whenever I take on a character, I try to adopt his world view and not judge his actions. You can’t play the character honestly if you’re holding him at arm’s length and apologizing for who he is. I’ve known hard-asses like Telford. My dad did two tours of Viet Nam and many of his friends are hard-core military types. I also played Col. Jessup in the stage play “A Few Good Men” and his big speech resonates with a lot of truths when you’re dealing with how to keep a country safe or why the military does what it does. So, I chose to play Telford as a man with a mission, even a noble one – to save these people any way he could – and without apology or regard for people’s feelings. In truth, I think a true leader has to have compassion and understand when compromise or even retreat are a smarter option, so, in that respect, I think both Young and Telford have great leadership qualities and could learn a thing or two from each other.
Steph writes: “Questions:
-Ian Edgerton was one of my favorite Numb3rs characters and I was sad to see the show end, even though it ended well. What are the differences between playing an FBI Agent and a military officers?
-How do you think Telford’s presence will affect the dynamics and power balance on board the Destiny?
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions!”
LDP: I’ll refer to the two characters I’ve played, Edgerton and Telford, to illustrate the point about FBI versus Military because I think to generalize would be a disservice. The one thing that was fun and freeing about Edgerton is that he seemed to be such a free agent. He most definitely was a Black Ops guy and probably had very few people to answer to, a real Lone Wolf. He just had to get the job done in any way he saw fit. That allowed me to play him with a great deal of self-confidence, independence and even a bit of a devil-may-care twinkle in his eye. He had very little to prove because he knew he was one of the best. Telford, on the other hand, as a military man of rank has to answer to a chain of command and be respectful of other people’s authority. This is (or was) his frustration because, like Edgerton, Telford feels he’s one of the best and certainly better suited to have led this mission. He does not have the carte blanche Edgerton does and so must attempt to realize his goals with one hand tied behind his back. We’ll see how this plays out and how Telford responds to his “place” in the microcosm of Destiny’s society.
Simon writes: “Questions for Lou Diamond Philips:
1) What’s been your faviorute episode of SGU so far?
2) Is there a specific scene that you’ve enjoyed doing on thw show?
3) Who’s been the most fun to work with on the show?
4) Is your character in Season 2? Doubt you’ll be able to answer this, but hey.”
LDP: Kinda covered question 1-4 in previous answers but I will say I’m really looking forward to an ep where I was able to do a lot of work with Mark Savela and his VFX team. I think those guys do amazing things on the show and the fun (and the fear) for the actors is putting your complete trust in something that you can’t see and hoping that it will turn out looking awesome. So, obviously, without being too much of a tease, Telford gets to interact with some pretty cool CGI in the future. I’m looking forward to seeing it as much as anyone! Beyond that, I don’t have a fave actor to work with on the show. They are all amazing talents and wonderful people. The bulk of my dramatic work has been with Louis and Robert and I’m always grateful for the dynamics the writers give us and how those two make it pop. Alaina and I have had a few moments that I dig but I noticed that I haven’t had as much interaction with Blue or Elyse lately. Hope that changes. Jamil, Brian and I get to play a bit since we’re all soldiers and I’ve really appreciated getting more contact with Gilmore, Kelamis and Spence because the collision of science and military is always fun (not to mention, those guys are goof-balls!). It seems Ming and I are becoming confidantes in upcoming eps and I appreciate that because we’ve known each other for quite a while and we have a very easy chemistry together. (By the way, that inadvertently answered question 4 so wink, wink, nudge, nudge, eh, mate?)
“5) You’ve worked with Kiefer Sutherland, you guys still buds? Keep in touch etc?”
LDP: I absolutely adore Kiefer. Not only a great actor but one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet with an absolute heart of gold. Having said that, I saw him two months ago and he mooned me through a lobby window at the Chateau Marmont. Given our history together, I had no choice but to moon him back. Drinks ensued. This is the nature of our relationship. I’d crawl through broken glass to work with him again.
Rob writes: “What was it like to work with Kiefer Sutherland again on season 1 of 24 after doing the Young Guns movies? Would you like the opportunity to work with him again?”
LDP: Little bit of an overlap from the last question but I’ll elaborate by pointing out that Kiefer and I have worked on five projects together – Young Guns 1 & 2, Renegades, Picking Up the Pieces (With Woody Allen & Sharon Stone. I hear it’s terrible. I’ve never seen it.) and of course those two eps of 24 in Season 1. I got a call from my agent who informed me they were offering me the role but the script wasn’t written yet. I was told it would be me, Kiefer and Dennis Hopper in a bunker. Sounded like a party to me so I told them I needed to make one call. I called Kiefer on set (he was unaware of the offer) and he told me to say yes immediately. Obviously, I did. He mentioned a project to me in passing the last time I saw him so I have hopes that we’ll be back in the saddle again. He is still one of my favorite people in the biz. Also, just as an added note, don’t remember the season or the ep but Kiefer/Jack Bauer saved my daughter Grace from nerve gas in a mall not too long ago. It was her first professional gig.
Bryan M. White writes: “Hello Mr. Phillips – Quick question, way back when, in 1990, when you contributed your vocals to the intro on Bon Jovi’s “Justice in the Barrel” off the Blaze of Glory record, did you record that in the studio with the band, or was that recorded separately? Several films have featured your vocals, do you sing or play any instruments during breaks on set for SGU?”
LDP: “Justice in the Barrel” had been completely recorded when Jon Bon Jovi asked me to come in and add the Native chant. He had heard me doing that piece as a part of a scene where Chavez mourns Balthazar Getty’s character so he wanted it on the soundtrack. By the way, that is not an actual Navajo chant but one made up to approximate a chant since using the real thing would be disrespectful to the Navajo religion. Another cool fact, I was part of a small group including Kiefer, Emilio, John Fusco the writer/producer and a few other producers who got to hear Jon sing “Blaze of Glory” for the first time ever. He played it on an acoustic in Emilio’s trailer at about two in the morning of a night shoot. He had just finished writing it. As far as my own musicianship, I don’t even call myself a musician. I learned all the guitar notes for La Bamba but I don’t really play. Yes, I sing, yes, I write lyrics but I know too many people who do it really well to put myself in their category. I just like dipping my finger in that pie every once in a while! That said, people break out in song on the SGU set constantly, myself included!
MatthewRD writes: “Questions for Lou Diamond Phillips, Hi!
1) What do you like most about being Telford?
2) What was the hardest part of being Telford?
3) You probably won’t say anyway for spoilers and all, but does he survive the shooting?”
LDP: I’ve kinda covered the things I like about Telford but I’ll reiterate the fact that he is still evolving and I keep discovering new things about him. It’s also cool to see who he really is without the brainwashing and layer that with a history that is slowly revealing itself. I also love the fact that a wry sense of humor is creeping into his persona but I think that’s just a result of me rubbing off on the writers! The hardest part of a character like Telford is a trap that I see a lot of actors fall into when they are playing characters in procedurals – ie your cops, doctors lawyers etc. who have what I call esoteric dialogue. The words can sometimes become mundane and meaningless and the actors just spit them out without developing a character behind all that information. Yes, the technical jargon is very necessary when creating these worlds but if the actor hasn’t created someone interesting and three dimensional then they become bland and interchangeable with anyone else in a uniform or suit. Truthfully, that’s one of the reasons I never minded that people didn’t like Telford at first! At least his presence elicited a response and he served a purpose in the story rather than just being a talking head.
cat4444 writes: “1. During Season 1, Telford was kind of a jerk – okay, no kind of about it, he was very much a jerk. Was his behaviour due to the brainwashing or is he really that big of a jerk?”
LDP: Kind of touched on it before but I will add that, in my opinion, the brainwashing gave a very sharp focus to an agenda that Telford had already and that was to reclaim his rightful spot as mission leader and bring those people home. It just goes to show, though, that when someone becomes that narrow minded and has that much of a singularity of purpose, they can become insensitive, abrasive and hard to deal with. However, once again, when dealing with the military and questions of commitment and mission, you want someone who is decisive and willing to commit to a course of action so I can’t fault Telford entirely.
“2. In Earth, how do you think Telford, while he was under the influence of the brainwashing, reconciled the fact that he was likely to blow up Destiny with the desire of the Lucian Alliance to obtain Destiny? Was it more important to ensure the SGC didn’t have control of Destiny?”
LDP: Interesting question because I truly believe that Telford never believed for a second that he was going to be responsible for blowing up Destiny. It was not something that entered his mind until Rush “put on a show” and made Telford and the visiting scientists believe they were in jeopardy. Remember, at that point I’m fairly certain Rush had no interest in going home and was willing to make that decision for the other people on board the ship. For all we know, even at this point, that rescue mission might have worked if Rush hadn’t sabotaged it.
“3. It’s obvious Telford and Rush don’t get along, particularly given that Telford tried to have Rush removed from the Icarus project. How likely is that to change now that they’re both stuck on Destiny? Was Telford’s attempt to have Rush removed more of an attempt to get him into a position where the Alliance could “obtain” his services?”
LDP: One of the things I love about the Rush/Telford dynamic is that there is a history with these two that continues to unfold and certain predispositions that seem to prevent even the kind of moderate truce that Rush and Young occasionally agree upon. I don’t think, even given the brainwashing element, that Telford’s animosity for Rush is born of strategy. I think Telford is mistrustful of Rush because he knows that he can never control him, that he is unpredictable, mercurial and with total disregard for authority. So, not only does Telford know that Rush is like dealing with a highly volatile explosive, useful but not without risks in handling it, he also knows about Rush’s disdain for the military and that rubs Telford entirely the wrong way because, in many ways, Telford is more of a by-the-book soldier than Young. Additionally, I think there is a grudging respect for Rush’s intellect but an irritation that he isn’t willing to be more forthcoming with it in service of what Telford deems to be the greater good, brainwashing or not.
“4. Telford or Young? Who’s going to be in control now? Young, who has been since the arrival on Destiny? Or Telford, who was supposed to have the command from the start? I suspect there would be some serious trust issues regarding Telford, given the whole brainwashing thing, so I’m going to say Young. Your take on it?”
LDP: Touched on this a bit and would steer you toward a chat I read not too long ago that efficiently charted the discussion from a military standpoint. Shouldn’t be too hard to find. Of course the human element leads me to believe that Young and Telford have greater issues of friendship and the needs of their soldiers and civilians to deal with so, I’m thinking, their dynamic won’t be a cut-and-dried matter of seniority.
“5. I understand you’re quite the cook. Do you plan to challenge Joe to a cook off since Rob Cooper has left and the Ice Cream Throwdown is likely no more? How did you get into cooking?”
LDP: I don’t know about a challenge (because I understand Joe is quite the foodie) but I will 100% cook for him one night and hope that he will return the favor! Or, at the very least, make some wonderful reservations! I’ve had the pleasure of cooking for John G. Lenic, our producer and also a foodie, so now I need to start working my way through the writer’s room. (Maybe it’ll finally result in a love interest for Telford! He hates to eat alone!) Many of my earlier jobs in Corpus Christi, TX were in the kitchen like cook’s asst. on the Navy base, breakfast cook on Padre Island and flipping burgers at Whataburger. I started cooking heavily in college when I had four roommates and my love of it continued as I got older and had kids. It is highly satisfying to me to have friends and family gathered around a table eating a meal I made for them. That’s life and that’s love.
“6. Actor, foodie, twitterer, and occasional Iron Chef judge Is there anything you don’t do? Handstands maybe?”
LDP: You’re absolutely right. I can’t do a handstand! Other than that, I will not reveal my weaknesses…poker player, doncha know!
“7. Do you participate in the pranks that apparently take place on set? If so, what’s the best one you’ve pulled? Been pulled on you? Or do you simply give the patented LDP Glare and send any potential pranksters – yes, I am referring primarily to Louis Ferreira – running for cover? Thanks for taking the time to do the Q&A. Very much looking forward to next season.”
LDP: I have to say, the SGU set is one of the most joyful sets I’ve ever been on. Everyone has a sense of humor and everyone is funny! We laugh a lot which is ironic for such an intense and sometimes dark show. Most of the levity comes from jokes or the outrageous bits from Kelamis or Gilmore or Spence but, tuthfully, the big surprise is Louis Ferreira who is downright hilarious. As far as pranks go, there haven’t been any of the order that I’ve pulled in the past (Young Guns was the prankiest, most ingenious, evil mastermind shows I’ve ever been on) but that’s probably a function of the fact that we’re on such a busy TV schedule. Not a lot of time to hatch elaborate plots. And, truthfully, I’ve never been on set long enough to get bored. Blue is always coming up with fun games and Ming, Alaina, Elyse and our lovely Jeffrey bring love and light wherever they go in addition to some wicked moves and a surprisingly raunchy sense of humor! As for the patented LDP glare…it’s all an act but it comes in handy when I have to discipline my four girls!
Tammy Dixon writes: “Mr. Phillips, so nice of you to put up with the Q & A. I’ve been a fan of yours since Young Guns! How did you get started in acting? I hope to see more of your character on SGU!
LDP: Thanks so much for writing in and for your support of the show. I always wanted to be an actor and that journey is fairly well documented in a number of other interviews. For a very nice over-view, our publicist, Carol Marks-George, recently updated my bio and it can be found on the official SGU web site. Check it out.
Shawn Cassidy writes: “Lou – First off, thanks for taking the time to engage the fans. I’ve been a big fan of yours since way back when (Young Guns series are my favorite westerns of all time!) In a huge part due to your character Chavez.
1). Being a seasoned “Big Time”veteran, what was it like coming into a long time Sci-Fi TV franchise? Did you have any preconceptions of what Stargate was all about? (i.e. Wow, it’s cool to be part of the whole Sc-Fi convention scene, to …. What the hell is a Stargate?) Were you even aware of the long rich history?”
LDP: You know when I started in the 80s, you were either a TV actor or a Film actor and seldom did people cross that line. That is no longer the case. Very, very few actors get by on just features any more and many choose to do TV for the steady gig and, quite honestly, the fact that TV paychecks have gotten much bigger. My buddies Kiefer and Charlie sure can’t complain. Not to mention the fact that the writing, directing and overall production values on a hit show have gotten very competitive with anything you’re seeing on the big screen. So, having said all that, (and with a big nod to Richard Dean Anderson and all those who made SG a long running franchise) I was very open to coming on to a successful show. Any preconceptions I might have had were immediately tempered by the fact that Robert Carlyle was attached when they came to me. I sensed right away that, given the type of actor they were seeking, that this was going to be a different direction for the SG saga. That was intriguing to me and made me feel like I could be a part of the show’s evolution as opposed to just being another cog in the wheel. And, just as an after-thought, I’m a big sci-fi fan so it’s been a blast to become a fixture in this universe, not only on set but in cyberspace and at conventions. It certainly makes you feel like there’s a legion of people out there taking the journey with you.
“2). I always read how you are one of the “Classy” ones, one of the true gentlemen in Hollywood. What’s it like playing someone who is so opposite your nature in Col. Telford who has been at times a real SOB?”
LDP: The really cool thing about acting in general is playing something that you are not. Many times in my career I’ve been blessed to represent different communities and cultures like the Navajo or the Inuit and my research becomes a great opportunity to learn. With that in mind, if you keep your eyes and mind open, you will never stop learning from this craft and new revelations will pop up as you continue to grow as a person & artist. That applies to who you are as a person as well. While I certainly try to NOT be an asshole in life, I firmly believe that everyone has the potential within themselves just like they have the potential to be saintly or heroic. One of the jobs of an actor is to be honest with yourself and be self-analytical. You have to know what makes you tick, what you’re putting out and how to access it honestly. Besides, channeling your inner jerk can be fun and you can leave it on the set without forcing your friends and family to deal with it. It’s a cheap form of therapy actually!
“3). It seems that there may be redemption for Col. Telford (I’m assuming he survived since you’re at the studios while deep into season II production). Are you happy with this direction, or do you enjoy paying the bad guy?
Thanks again for your valuable time. I can’t wait to see what transpires onscreen this fall! And for the many years to come!”
LDP: Obviously, I can’t talk too much about the direction Telford may or may not take (I mean, jeez, last time we saw him he was bleeding and unconscious!) but I will say that our writers are incredible and they never take the easy, predictable or boring path. Given a character like Telford, who still hasn’t revealed much of his past, I’m confident that no matter what side of the good guy/bad guy fence he falls on, he will be interesting and complex and that his dynamic with the rest of Destiny will be entertaining.
Daniel fleming writes: “Hi Lou, I’m Daniel Fleming from the UK, and I’m 16, I would like to become an actor when I’m older, I would really appreciate if you were to answer these few questions please: 1, How long do you get to learn a full script?”
LDP: I always say this to young actors when they say they want to become an actor. You already are, you’re just waiting to get paid for it!
The time an actor gets to learn a script is always tied to the schedule and the type of project you’re working on. In theatre, you often have at least a month or so to learn and rehearse. This is totally necessary because you have to perform the entire script from top to bottom without (hopefully) any mistakes. In feature films, even though there are not always rehearsals, you usually get the script a few weeks or months ahead of time and it’s up to the individual to judge how much of it they want to get down before filming. I tend to learn everything but other actors like to wait until the last minute to keep it spontaneous. To each his own. Also, on features, you usually have the luxury of filming only 3 or 4 pages a day so you can spend all day (@ 12 hours) on the same scene and make it perfect. Not so in TV. Our writers are great on SGU and we usually receive our scripts in a timely fashion that allows us to ask questions and absorb what it is we will have to perform. Even so, we’re usually working on the previous script when a new script comes in so it is a constant process of learning and working. I’ve heard of other shows where the scripts don’t get delivered until the night before they are supposed to shoot so everyone, directors and crew included, have to scramble to be prepared. All that said, we average 6 or 7 pages a day and you might have a lot of lines or you might have very little. I usually read a script a few times and then work on the specific scenes the night before, leaving room to tweak it when I see what the director and other actors bring to the party.
“2, Is that really cool accent really or is it put on?”
LDP: Being an American I wasn’t entirely aware of an accent, that’s just the way I talk, but I can certainly see how it might seem a bit exotic if you’re watching in the UK! I have to say, Hugh Laurie and Linus Roach have impeccable American accents and do a great job on their respective shows. I will say, though, that I love doing accents which probably comes from my theatre training. I’ve done a few different regional touches in films (like Texan or Brooklyn) and I truly loved doing an English accent when I did the National Tour of Camelot playing King Arthur and a Thai accent when I played King in The King and I on Broadway.
“3, Is it hard acting infront of a green screen?”
LDP: Acting in front of the green screen is probably one of the most difficult and frightening propositions there is. Obviously, there’s nothing really there and you have to imagine what it is you’re looking at, be it a spaceship an exploding star or a bunch of aliens. It requires a lot of focus, consistency and a huge amount of trust because you have to commit to it fully to help create the illusion. It can make you feel pretty stupid but you have to let go and put your self-consciousness aside. It’s an old saying but, if you believe it, the audience will believe it. All that said, our VFX team on SGU, led by wizard Mark Savela, are brilliant and always make us look good. I’m blown away by what they accomplish on a weekly basis and it gives the cast a lot of confidence when we have to deal with otherworldly stuff. In addition, they usually provide us with renderings that help us imagine what we are seeing and can adjust the timbre of our performances. I really think they are the finest team working on television effects today! (As evidenced by their recent Emmy nomination!)
Michael writes: “1) I’ll start off with a compliment. I managed to convince many, many women I know to watch SGU simply because I told them Lou Diamond Phillip was on it.
2) Did you know from day one of SGU that Telford was being brainwashed and if so, how did you adjust in the later half of the season?
3) Do you have plans to continue playing in the World Series of Poker?
4) When does your autobiography come out, last I heard, early 2010, any updates?”
LDP: 1. God luv ya, Michael. Every guy needs a good wing man!
2. Covered that one. See above.
3. Did not get a chance to play in the WSOP 2010 this year. Had a gig! Cannot wait until next year and have high hopes that I’ll be there for the Main Event. Would also like to play some of the smaller buy-ins. Coming up soon, I may be playing in a large invitational for PokerStars in the fall and perhaps the BC Championship while I’m here in Vancouver.
4. Now, see, here’s the thing. The term ‘autobiography’ would imply that I’m writing it, right? I am writing NO such book. This rumor started on the internet somehow and many, many people believe it to be true. The funny thing is it keeps getting repeated and therefore validated in some circles. I have no immediate plans to write an autobiography and, if that were to ever happen, I would probably wait until I’m much older so I could get all the stories into one volume. Believe me, I sincerely hope the most interesting years aren’t behind me!
Michael A. Burstein writes: “Given all the work you’ve done recently on Numb3rs and Stargate Universe, my wife and I were surprised to see that you took the time to appear on “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” How did that come about? How did you find the time to do it?”
LDP: First of all, thanks so much for following Numb3rs & SGU. Both great shows and I’m very proud of my association with them. What’s interesting is that my time commitment to either of them might seem a little misleading. I only ever popped up on Numb3rs once or twice a season, believe it or not. Each episode, like on SGU, only takes eight days to film and very often not every actor works the entire schedule. Similarly, I actually appear in only eight episodes of the twenty in Season 1 of SGU. Add to that the fact that SGU was on hiatus during June and July and I found myself with a lot of time on my hands last summer. Now, I never intended, nor do I intend now, to become a reality star. However, I was pitching a few reality show ideas with my wife, Yvonne, where we would serve as creators and producers when the opportunity for ‘I’m a Celebrity…’ came up. I had jokingly told an exec that I wouldn’t mind doing something like Celeb Survivor and…well, watch what you ask for. NBC jumped all over it. I actually said no a few times but the reasons for doing it started to make sense. Ultimately, I was able to raise quite a bit of money for my friend, southwest artist Amado Maurillo Pena, and his charity Art Has Heart/Legacy Art in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I had an open door to bring my reality ideas to NBC (none of which panned out.) And, I have to be honest, I was really intrigued by the challenge and adventure of it all. I figured it was a one-shot deal to test myself like that and see if I could not only pull it off physically and mentally but maintain a sense of integrity and perhaps show the viewing public a side of myself that they may not know. Happy to say it all worked out just fine but, NO, I won’t be doing anything like that again.
Boltbait writes: “1) You’ve worked on many TV shows and movies. Which do you prefer? Why? How are they different?”
LDP: Yup, just looking at my resume on IMDB makes me tired. So, I guess it’s safe to say that I love both film and television…and theatre. Hell, I just like being employed! Seriously, to this day I’m grateful that I get paid to do something I love. Having said that, the major difference between film and TV is usually time and money. You have incredibly talented actors, writers and directors in both it’s just that an hour of television takes eight days to shoot and that same hour in movies could take months. Even so, made-for-TV movies have recently become much cheaper and faster to shoot. I’m amazed how quickly some feature length projects are put together, some in as little as thirteen days. I would also hazard to say that a few I’ve worked on lately don’t even have the budget of one episode of SGU. (Yet another reason I’m consistently impressed with every episode of SGU.) Ultimately, I will add that you have to be on top of your game if you’re working in the TV biz. Audiences expect more on a weekly basis so, for a show to be a hit, you have to deliver quality in the writing, directing, production and, of course, the acting for a show to stick around. That said, the bar has been raised not only for TV but for films as well. It’s harder to be viewed a success and so fewer risks are being taken and fewer projects actually get off the ground. Like I said before, it’s just nice to be employed in this environment.
“2) Of all the actors you’ve worked with in the past, who would you most like to work with again? Anyone you haven’t worked with yet, that you’d really like to?”
LDP: I have had the immense pleasure and honor of working with some great actors who are also great people. I am truly enjoying the ensemble of SGU but some of the heavy-hitters I’m proud to have shared screen time with include – Edward James Olmos, Denzel Washington, Meg Ryan, Matt Damon, Harrison Ford, Benicio Del Toro, Andy Garcia, Ernest Borgnine, Woody Allen, Mark Wahlberg, Christina Applegate and obviously all my boys from Young Guns. I’d show up to do anything with any of them again in a heartbeat. There are many, many more who are not as well known and even more like Fred Gwynne, Toshiro Mifune and Jack Warden who are no longer with us but who I loved dearly. Of the people I still have yet to work with, the list is long because I am truly a fan of film and actors myself. Meryl Streep, DeNiro, Pacino and that group from the 70s inspired me to hone and respect my craft as an actor. Some of my peers who I’ve known forever but never worked with also come to mind – Clooney, Pitt, Sean Penn, Robert Downey Jr. and the like. And, strangely enough I’ve appeared in films with Kevin Spacey, Robert Duvall and Sam Neill but didn’t have any scenes with them! It all reminds me, even though I’ve already received a few lifetime achievement awards, that I truly think the best lies ahead and I’m not done by half!
“3) My favorite of your performances would probably be Angel Guzman of Stand and Deliver (1988). What can you tell me about that movie–any favorite memories?”
LDP: Stand and Deliver was and is one of my favorite films of mine, for the performance, for the memories and for the difference it made in a lot of people’s lives. It actually came about because I did a guest spot on ‘Miami Vice’ before ‘La Bamba’ came out. (By the way, Viggo Mortensen and Annette Bening were also in that episode!) Eddie Olmos had worked with Luis and Danny Valdez on their play and film “Zoot Suit” so he was aware of ‘La Bamba.’ He was actually supposed to have a cameo in the film as Esai’s father. At any rate, we had one scene together and afterward he asked what I was doing in the next month. At the time, since ‘La Bamba’ had not yet come out, I was having a hard time getting a job in LA so I informed him that I was completely available for lunch or whatever. He gave me a phone number to Ramon Menendez the writer/director of ‘Stand and Deliver.’ We had one meeting and suddenly I found myself in the movie. The funny thing is, you often don’t know how good something is going to be while you’re in the middle of making it. S&D was a tiny little film made for under a million bucks and would go on to win seven Independent Spirit Awards (both Eddie and I won) and get Golden Globe noms for me and Eddie and, obviously, an Oscar Nom for Eddie. It will always be one of the highlights of my career.
“4) You’ve been an actor, a writer, a producer, a director… which do you prefer?”
LDP: When I think of all the hats I’ve worn on film sets – actor, writer, director – I’m often reminded of my theatre training at The University of Texas at Arlington. The beauty of actually studying this craft and art form is that you come to respect all aspects of it and as a theatre student, I did it all, from painting flats and sewing costumes to writing and directing my own productions. I’ve always ben grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to extend that into the film and television world. I certainly think the writing and directing enhance my understanding of my acting and definitely help me embrace the process of making films. I can understand the problems that production face and be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Conversely, I often encourage writers and directors to take acting classes not so much that they can become actors but so that they will have a better understanding of our process and what we have to go through to deliver a good performance. At the very least, it helps them to speak our language. Ultimately, I look at my place in the film industry as a communicator or story teller. All of the different positions are in service to the story and one should complement the other. All that said, if I could only do one I’d have to go with my first love – acting.
“5) On the set of SGU, who do you “hang out” with?”
LDP: The SGU ensemble is very tight and, fortunately, we’re all very fond of each other. I’ve thrown large dinners a few times and have also had the chance to grab beers one on one with some of the guys. Was out not long ago with Louis Ferreira and surprised a fan who must have assumed that, since our characters are confrontational we’d have the same dynamic in real life. Had to assure him that, no, we’re just acting!
“6) Other than spending time with your family, what do you enjoy doing during your down time?”
LDP: I’ve done quite a bit of writing in the past year and, when I can get motivated again, I’ve got another project in mind that I would like to start. Hopefully, we’ll see one of my screenplays get some traction in the coming year. When I really want to turn off and not think about anything else, I like to sit down at the poker table for hours at a time. Not always relaxing but certainly fun.
“7) Imagine you’re really on the Destiny, how would you keep from going crazy?
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!”
LDP: I’d probably do what a lot of the characters are already doing. Working out, trying to figure out how to get home. Although it seems that every week there’s some new jeopardy so nobody ever runs the risk of getting bored. I think Rush has finished carving his chess set by now so I’d certainly sign up for that. And, like I said before, I might have to fashion some hand drawn playing cards.
Wraithfodder writes: “Hi Lou,
1 – You have been fantastic tweeting with the fans but am curious, what’s been the weirdest thing you’ve ever had anyone tweet to you?”
LDP: And speaking of Twitter…I actually love that I can communicate with fans and just share random thoughts. I often am amused by the wit and wisdom out there. (Yeah, I know, there’s a lot of mundane stuff, too, but hey, you just zip past that stuff.) I don’t go into chat rooms or anything like that and I understand that there are sites that can get personal and mean spirited but my experience on Twitter has been very positive. The weirdest tweet happened when I first started on the network. Some guy went on a surprisingly long rant basically telling me the many ways I could fornicate with myself. I’m sure it amused him and his friends and, even though I found some entertainment value in it myself, I chose to just block his ass!
“2 – I envy your cooking skills, but wonder, if there any kitchen/cooking disaster stories you’d like to share with us fans? We promise not to tell anyone.”
LDP: Fortunately, there haven’t been too many absolute disasters in the kitchen. (Although, there was the time when a home-made apple pie started a fire in the oven. I thought it was hilarious but it freaked out my daughters. Must say, though, it was a good lesson in not panicking. Oh, and the pie turned out just fine.) The biggest faux-pas would probably be my timing when I invite friends over for dinner. As my good friends @EdwardsRellas (yes, they’re on Twitter) would tell you, my meals are never on time so they tend to have a light snack before they come over. That would totally be my downfall if I ever appeared on Celebrity Chopped!
“3 – Do your children have any favorite movies that you’ve done?”
LDP: Indy is still too young to even care about Daddy’s work but the older girls are pretty familiar with a lot of the flicks and TV. (Gotta say, though, there’s a lot of shows that I’ve done that they’re not allowed to see until later. They’re going to need therapy just from having watched me die umpteen times.) Of the ones that they do know, La Bamba is obviously a favorite and they tend to like watching me fight creatures like in Bats or Red Water. I’d have to say that Love Takes Wing probably takes the prize simply because I directed it and ALL my girls are in it. Indy was still a baby but Yvonne held her in a couple of scenes and she was great. Grace, Isabella and Lili all had speaking roles and I was proud and frightened at how good and talented they were. They obviously have the gene and the bug!
“4 – How much input did you have into Telford?
Thanks very much!”
LDP: I think the input any of the cast has into their characters is purely circumstantial and indirect. The staff of writers are so creative and have an overview of each season so it’s actually quite fun to wait and see what surprises they have in store for us. Obviously, our personal approach to our roles color the dialogue and add personality to the characters but that’s mostly a function of having cast the show very well. But, certainly, as the writers get to know us personally and see our individual quirks and idiosyncracies they begin to get our voices in their heads and it helps to infuse the roles with real specific touches.
Thijs writes: “A few questions for Lou Diamond Phillips:
-.Will you be back for season 2 of SGU?.
-.Will you become a main cast member?.
-.How many episodes will you be in in season 2?.
-.Can you tell me a little about things i can expect in season 2 of SGU?”
LDP: Wow, sorry to say that I can’t answer a single one of your questions directly! All I can tell you is that you can probably glean a lot of the information you seek by reading between the lines in some of my other answers! Sorry to be obtuse but I’m afraid the producer’s would communication stone Telford’s consciousness into a chimp if I talked too much!
jojo writes: “Questions for LDP:
1. I really enjoyed your work and your commentaries on Numbers. What did you enjoy most about your time on that series? You did a lot of location work. What location did you enjoy most? Any fun things you got to do on that show? (like riding in a helicopter?)”
LDP: Numb3rs was one of those shows that I said yes to before I’d even read a script. The cast alone was incentive enough for me. I’ve gotten to the point in my career where I look for a life experience almost as much as a good role and working with actors that I respect only enriches my work. In addition, the character of Ian Edgerton was created by Ken Sanzel, an old buddy and the writer/director of a film I had done called Lone Hero. I really thought Edgerton was only going to make the one appearance since his field of expertise seemed narrow but Ken, Nick & Cheryl found ways to keep bringing him back. I used to joke that they only called me when somebody needed killing. That said, one of the more fun aspects of the role was learning SWAT/sniper techniques and picking up a few tracker tricks.
“2. Do you think Col Telford was just friends with Col Young’s wife or did it go beyond that? Was his “friendship” with her to spite Col Young or just to be a friend to her?”
LDP: I think I mentioned it before but I’ll repeat it just in case. When I queried the writers, they were of the opinion that Telford had not crossed that line. I think the decent side of his character respected her situation and actually became fond of her. I also think his restraint made him feel superior to Young in a moral sense. Given his brainwashing and his agenda for wanting the command back, I think he was also willing to use that relationship to get under Young’s skin and get an even greater insight into his weaknesses.
“3. Was Col Telford planning on being in charge of the group to go through the gate and the attack and Rush spoiled that plan? Do you think Col Telford had any advance warning that LA was planning on attacking Icarus Base?”
LDP: It’s always interesting to go back and dissect the motivations and what-ifs with the benefit of hindsight. Knowing about Telford’s brainwashing and the amount of contact he had with Kiva and the LA, it’s hard not to believe that he wouldn’t have been aware of the attack on Icarus. It’s also implied that Telford may have supplied information to make the attack successful. Obviously, it wasn’t entirely effective since I think the LA’s goal was to go through the gate themselves. That said, in both cases, I don’t think Telford would have led the Alliance through since that would have blown his cover. If he were to remain an asset to them, I think he would’ve kept his status as a spy secret.
“4. What future roles do you have in mind? What are some of your favorite roles you have done over the years? Are there any actors you really desire to work with in the future?
Thanks for answering my questions! I really enjoy your work on SGU.”
LDP: The only future roles I could actually plan would be the ones I would eventually hope to do on stage. The film roles always come out of the blue. As far as theatre is concerned, I’ve never done the Scottish play, I hope to play Don Quixote one day and I would love to get a play of mine that I wrote finally produced. There are a number of others I’m sure but that’s half the fun of having roles come your way. They’re often unexpected and always welcome. Kinda covered the fave roles and actors in a previous question.
PBMom writes: “Questions for LDP (a lot of good ones already asked so my attempt at asking different ones):
1. Any word about a release date on your movie, “Transparency? To JM’s posters, it is a must-see movie.”
LDP: (First off, great to hear from you! Thanks for all the kind mentions of ‘Transparency.’ Hope your son is doing well.)
1. Speaking of ‘Transparency,’ the latest is that it will screen at the Oldenburg festival in Germany in September. Presently, I don’t know if I can attend. Hoping so but will have to wait to see if the SGU shooting schedule will accomodate. Deborah Kara Unger will be there and is serving as the festival’s jury chairperson. Ultimately, I truly hope fans of mine will see the film because I’m very proud of it. These little films, without built-in distribution and advertising dollars, often have a difficult time getting out there in a mainstream way. Every once in a while, they break through and the festivals can be instrumental in making that happen.
Eventually, I know it will be available on DVD but I hope that it might have an art-house release or appear on one of the cable outlets so that it might reach a larger audience. Keep your ears open. I’ll certainly be promoting it.
“2. I know you were talking about creating a cooking show. Is it being shopped to networks yet, or is it still in a developmental phase?”
LDP: The cooking show idea was the brainchild of my wife, Yvonne, and a friend of hers who is also in our business. They ran it by me and I was able to develop it a bit more. It’s actually out there in the world in the hands of a few different producers and, hopefully, we’ll see it gain some traction in the coming year. It’s a great idea that we would produce in a very hands-on way. Wish I could tell you more about it but it is actively being pitched to networks presently so it’s best to stay mum about the details. I love the project simply because it would be a fun way to join together a few things that I love – food, cooking shows and, of course, my wife, partner and creative muse, Yvonne!
“3. Are you shocked that Heidi and Spencer are separated? LOL.”
LDP: Nothing that Heidi and Spencer do shocks or surprises me any more. What I find amazing is that, perhaps, no aspect of their lives may actually be real. We all have to wonder if anything they do is designed to be a publicity stunt. Tough way to live and, in my opinion, a really misguided way to stay in the public eye. Depends on what you want to be famous for, I guess.
“4. I was really touched how deeply Sanjaya became attached to you and looked up to you on I’m A Celebrity. Have you kept in touch?”
LDP: Sanjaya and I have definitely stayed in touch. He and his sister, Shamale (sp?) stayed with Yvonne and I recently. It was certainly like having a teenage son and daughter in the house for a few days! The two of them were in LA to make an appearance on Hell’s Kitchen so be looking for them this season. The two of them were also very sweet to go and have lunch with my older girls, Grace, Isabella and Lili. I will certainly be staying in touch with my illegitimate son and keeping an eye on his career and well-being.
“5. I have to ask, since I’ve asked everyone — what song would Telford sing on an SGleeU episode and to whom?”
LDP: Well, we’re constantly singing on the SGU set but I’ve never really thought about musical selections based on character motivations. Looking at Telford’s history (not necessarily what he might have coming up in the future) I’d probably have to go with songs like – Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself,” or The Who’s “No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man…” or maybe The Cars “Best Friend’s Girl.” Always open to suggestion so feel free to compile the Telford Play List!
“Thank you for being so kind and sending words of encouragement. It was so fantastic to meet you at the Dallas International Film Festival. To all JM’s blog posters, LDP has been on the board of directors for an autism charity called ACT Today http://www.act-today.org/ since 2005 and has been an amazing supporter of the autism community. It’s a great website and you should all check it out. You rock! I’m looking forward to a lot more Telford in the episodes to come.”
Nick Danger writes: “Question for LDP: Since you’re a foodie, I’m going to ask you the Bourdain Question: It’s your last day alive, what will you have for your final meal?”
LDP: Since I do consider myself a foodie and have a great affinity for many different kinds of foods, that’s always a tough question since one wouldn’t want to limit their choices. As they say, variety is the spice of life! But if it’s the final meal, I’d probably have to go with a very basic choice, certainly one of my all time faves – A bone-in ribeye, medium rare, Alaskan King crab legs, sauteed mushrooms and grilled vegetables with maybe a little wild rice and a Shiner Bock or Newcastle to wash it down. Now, that’s eating.
Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “For Lou: Given the diversity of roles and productions with which you have been involved, which do you feel has been the most demanding (both mentally and physically)? Has that role also been the most fulfilling? And… given the choice of any role, past, present or future…what would be your dream gig? Many thanks for all the tweets!!!
Paul aka Shirt’n’Tie!”
LDP: (Hey, great chatting with you on twitter! Regards to the Emerald Isle.)
Certainly the theatre roles are some of the most demanding because of the amount of preparation, the size of the roles and the pressure to do it live in front of a few thousand people a night. I certainly felt the scrutiny in my Broadway debut in The King and I! Fear is a huge motivator. Not only was there the text to learn, there was the singing and dancing (which people did not necessarily expect of me) and the large shadow of Yul Brynner that was much more prevailant than I had first imagined. A number of patrons and critics had seen his final tour and I had some very big shoes to fill. Fortunately, I was able to make the role my own and felt validated by the Broadway community when the production won four Tonys (including Best Revival) and I was nominated for Best Actor. I would also have to include playing King Arthur in the National Tour of Camelot for all the same reasons but with the added hardship of moving to a different city every single week for seven months. As far as film roles go, none has been more difficult and pressure laden than Ritchie in La Bamba and certainly none has been as gratifying since it was certainly my Cinderella story. I felt a huge responsibility to get it right since Ritchie had been so well loved and his entire family was on set almost every day. Plus, I didn’t play guitar (still don’t) and, at the time, I wasn’t much of a singer. I lived in fear every single day that I would be fired, especially after Exec Producer Taylor Hackford said, “Get it right, kid, or we’ll send you back to Texas!” I haven’t felt that way in a long time but recently I managed to get a bit nervous when I played a small role in ‘Che’ opposite Benicio Del Toro. Not only is Benicio very imposing (especially in character) but the entire film is in Spanish. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t speak Spanish! I had to learn the whole role by rote and was constantly aware that it would have been very easy to simply replace me with a Spanish speaking actor. Fortunately for me, Benicio and Stephen Soderbergh wanted me in the film.
As far as a dream gig goes, I’ll refer to an old Journeyman Actor’s philosophy when asked what their favorite role is…My next one!
In the year 3000, the wealthy Abigail Gentean, inspired by dreams of exploration and discovery, creates nine hundred and ninety-nine clones of herself. These “shatterlings” and her original self (indistinguishable from her duplicates) are subsequently dispersed to the far reaches of space – to colonize, investigate, learn and, eventually, meet up every two thousand years to share the memories they have gathered over the course of their travels. Some six million years after the Gentean line first left the Milky Way on their galaxy-spawning odysseys, two clone siblings, Campion and Purslane, enroute to one of these reunions, receive a troubling message. The gathering was ambushed by unknown forces and most of their numbers killed. Only the fact that Campion and Purslane were running late saved them from a similar fate.
Campion and Purslane must place their trust in an enigmatic ally, the amnesiac Hesperus, a robot of the machine people, if they have any hope of finding out why the Gentean Line has been marked for extermination. As it turns out, the shocking answer may lie with the mysterious House of Suns…
Alastair Reynolds is an author with an impressive academic background firmly rooted in science. To be honest, when I heard that he was a former research astronomer with the European Space Agency, I approached my first Alastair Reynolds novel with a certain amount of trepidation. Let me be frank. Most of the SF authors I’ve read who straddle the worlds of science and science fiction tend to come up short in certain key areas of story-telling – namely character, plotting, and a prose style that doesn’t have you skipping whole pages to get back on the narrative track. Still, having heard good things about Reynolds, I was cautiously optimistic when I started reading Revelation Space. Eventually, that cautious optimism turned to relief, then surprise, and, ultimately, utter delight. Revelation Space became a fast favorite because it delivered on so many of the levels I’d found wanting in other hard SF writers. As for House of Suns? Well, in my opinion, it’s even better.
One of the things I love about Reynolds’ books – and it’s a characteristic of the works of Iain M. Banks as well – is their ability to serve up BIG ideas: multi-century spanning narratives, inventive technologies, and unique takes on future/alien cultures. Lesser writers would be content with introducing one, maybe two such cool concepts and making them the center-point of the story. Reynolds throws about a dozen at you, each one helping to build the narrative in its own unique way, from the surrealistic game play of palatial to the Andromeda-dwelling First Machines and so much in between: the information-gathering beings known as The Vigilance, cloning and communal memory-sharing as a means to advancement, ever-evolving machine intelligence possessed of god-like abilities, vast solar system-containing devices known as stardams, the miraculous all-purpose aspic of machine, and, my personal favorite, the time dilated interrogation of prisoners.
Reynolds peoples his novel with interesting characters. I felt for both Campion and Purslane and was wholly invested in their stories although I had a particular affinity for Hesperus who was undergoing his own parallel journey of self-discovery. The one nitpick I had was with some of the supporting players, those surviving shatterlings, who, with a few exceptions (notably Mezereon and Betony), didn’t really distinguish themselves from one another. As a result, the reveal of the mole-in-their-midst wasn’t quite as powerful as it could have been.
Overall, the story was very well-paced, striking a perfect balance between the establishment of some fairly lofty concepts and timely plot advancement. The shifting point of view between Campion and Purslane in alternating chapters was admittedly damn confusing at first, but easy enough to follow once I’d caught on. And I found the Abigail storyline equally engaging.
I’ve heard some complain that they found the ending abrupt or anti-climactic. I disagree with the latter. I loved the fact that despite the building suspense, race against Cascade and Cadence, and looming spectre of vengeance for the mass genocide, the First Machines have developed to a point where they are beyond it. Their decision offers hope for all sentient beings, something that is reinforced in the book’s final moments. Yes, the ending is abrupt – but perfectly so. Campion is told that his lover has survived, housed within the protective gold sarcophagus created by Hesperus in a final act of sacrifice, and as he prepares to free her with the help of a descendant of the race his people almost wiped out, one can’t help but feel that sense of hope and anticipation, of looking forward to something long sought-after finally within reach, a sense of wonder that pervades House of Suns, perfectly distilled and crystallized in its closing paragraph:
“’Then I’ll help you,’the glass man said as my fingers du their useless nails into the fused seams of that golden mask. ‘After which, with regret, I shall have to be on my way.’”
Well, those were my initial thoughts. What did everyone else think? Weigh in with your thoughts and questions for author Alastair Reynolds!
Randomness writes: “Joe wouldn’t you say those aliens from Daedalus variations could just be a random alien race from another Galaxy that just so happened to come into conflict with Atlantis?”
Answer: Yes, that was the original conceit.
Chevron7 writes: “Joe, are we sure that the Joe Flanigan space suit incident was an accident? I suspect foul play.”
Answer: At the time, a straight-faced N. John Smith defending the crew member, insisting “It wasn’t malicious.”
sgugeek writes: “I know the cast is on holiday now, but if I mail my fan mail for Ashleigh today, will she get it?”
Answer: Not unless you post it on this blog and she happens to read it.
Michael writes: “1) I’ve read that SGU is moving to Tuesday but has the timeslot been announced?
2) I didn’t recognize Louis Ferreira in that robe and floppy hat, how the heck did he get past security?!
3) Why haven’t you done any commentary, the world needs to hear your genius!!”
Answers: 1) Not that I know of.
2) That was just one Friday. You should see what Jamil Walker Smith wears on a daily basis.
3) I’ll limit my genius to this blog, but thanks for asking.
afg1 writes: “So, then, as regards the SGA movie, there’s no point in you pushing for it until MGM gets better and the SG-1 movie gets made? Is that the idea?”
J. Chris Tucker writes: “Why are you and Paul credited as co-writers on scripts if you don’t actually co-write them?”
Answer: When we first started working on Stargate, we would write a script together, bouncing dialogue back and forth in the room. One of us paced while the other typed. Eventually, as we grew busier, we started working on the script separately, bouncing it back and forth between us. He would write a scene and send it my way. I would rewrite it and write the next scene. He would rewrite what I’d written and write the next scene and so on. Eventually, as we grew even more busy, we started writing scripts separately and merely doing final passes on each other’s drafts. Eventually, we just started writing our scripts separately. The reason we’re credited as co-writers is because while I’ve done mostly originals, Paul has done a fair amount of uncredited rewrites. And so, out of fairness (given that Paul is never credited or receives an extra script fee for what occasionally amounts to page one rewrites), we share the writing credits on the original scripts.
for the love of Beckett writes: “How long will Jelly be at the vet’s?”
Answer: She’s in all day tomorrow. I pick her up Wednesday, then bring her back in on Thursday for the stem cell injection.
otros ojos writes: “Hey, people better not mess with the octopus. (Just saying, based on what Jeffrey Ford’s psychic octopus did in The Drowned Life.)”
Angelus writes: “Judging from the Pineapple Diaries, Louis doesn’t seem very camera shy, Are there any cast members or have there been cast members who don’t like to be photographed and put in your blog?”
Answer: No, so far so good. I tend to head down to set and snap pics on the quieter shooting days and always get the okay from the actors before proceeding, getting them to sign off any pics before posting.
Angelus also writes: “My guess is Bobby doesn’t like to be photographed considering I can’t remember a single time he appeared in your blog?”
Answer: Oh, he’ll eventually make an appearance.
Angelus also writes: “How about guest stars?, Robert Knepper perhaps?”
Answer: No, I missed out on Robert but I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded. Very nice guy. As for guest stars – the same rule applies. I always tell them what it’s for, get their permission, and have them sign off on any potential public pics.
Angelus also writes: “And, Did anyone ever freak out about you posting a picture of them in your blog?”
Answer: No one ever freaked out, but Jason Momoa once suggested I ask him before posting any pics. I thought that was very cool of him and gave him a break – which resulted in him tracking me down to take his photos for the blog, like these ones –
E writes: “What SGA episode are you talking about? Only similar title is “Submersion”.”
Answer: Right. Submersion.
Gabriele writes: “1. Will we see Colonel Samantha Carter again in season two of “Stargate Universe”?
2. Will we see any of the Earth ships in season two of “Stargate Universe” and in the movies?”
Answer: Maybe to both questions.
andrew writes: “Anyone on the cast or crew have an ‘out there’ favorite food?”
Answer: Carl is a big fan of Chili’s. Does that count?
Kymm writes: “What hockey team does Ivon cheer for?”
Answer: The hated-everyone-in-Canda-except-Toronto Maple Leafs.
Luis writes: “Speaking of you and Paul’s Comic Book Series..Hows that going for you guys???”
Answer: Great. Next step: the comic book company is assigning an editor to the project.
Michelle writes: “I offer the following translations for your Atlantis movie diplomacy:
a. MGM is in so much debt, even the SG-1 movie has a .001% chance of getting financed, the SGA movie even less. Why should I waste my time?
b. Flanigan has said negative things about SGU’s ratings and prospects; no way am I fighting to get him a gig.
c. You fans are so naive. The sets are gone. SGA is over. Get a clue!
d. Have you not noticed I’m branching out to fiction and comics? I won’t be around long enough to make an SGA movie.
e. MGM never paid me for the script. I don’t work for free.
Care to comment if any of those are accurate?”d
Answer: MGM certainly did pay for the script and I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time before it’s business as usual with the lion, at least with regard to features and television. The direct-to-dvd market, however, will probably continue to be a big question mark. As for the sets – it’s much cheaper to put them in storage and put them up when needed rather than leave them standing and pay the cost of the stage rental.
The psychic octopus does it again! Not only does he correctly predict the outcome of every one of Germany’s World Cup matches including both losses AND its final victory over Uruguay, but it correctly picked Spain to triumph over the Netherlands in today’s final match. Amazing! Is he on facebook? If not, he should be. Unless, of course, he’s already been eaten by irate Germany fans.
I watched the game with friends today: Special Features Producers Ivon Bartok (who cooked), actor Patrick Gilmore (who carried plates and helped clean), and actor Tobias Slezak (who just showed up).
After the game, Ivon suggested we all watch The Boondock Saints, a presumed “cult classic” – and a film that is the focus of one of my very favorite documentaries, Overnight. The latter tracks the rise and fall of Troy Duffy, a humble bartender once trumpeted as the next Tarantino who impresses Hollywood with his first spec script, is given his first big break, and then proceeds to squander this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by burning bridges and generally acting like an out-and-out jerk. As for The Boondock Saints – well, at one point, the blu-ray player froze for about five minutes. They were, by far, the best five minutes of the movie.
Hey, heard from Rob Cooper yesterday. He dropped me an email titled “I thought of you”. It contained the following pic…
In the third installment of The Pineapple Diaries, we pick up our interview with actor Louis Ferreira, conducted on a day when he was called in to work on his day off (Can you tell?). Here, Louis discusses the challenges of working in those space suits –
Which reminds me of one amusing behind-the-scenes incident from my Atlantis days. We were shooting the episode Subversion which required our actors to strut around in these enormous, unwieldy underwater suits. Joe Flanigan’s suit necessitated some repairs and so, while everyone waited, a crew member hopped inside to fix the problem. We were hurrying to get our day so when the crew member had finished, he hopped out and Joe stepped inside. Too late did he realize that the crew member was feeling unusually gassy that day. And by “too late”, I mean “by the time they sealed him inside the airtight suit”. Now THAT would have been one for the blooper reel!
Sean D. writes: “Hi Joe, can you make those videos available in another format or through another source?”
Answer: Hey, Sean – when I have time, I’ll upload them to youtube. I’ll keep you posted.
Bailey writes: “You know, rereading the mailbag, what I think PG-15 and a few others may have been tactfully trying to ask, without actually asking, is why haven’t you or Paul gone to bat for Extinction as Brad has for Revolution?”
Answer: Hmmm. I spent the better part of an hour attempting a tactful response to this question before eventually giving up. Let’s just say that when news of the Atlantis cancellation first came down, I was crushed – as was everyone else associated with the production, from cast and crew to the entire writing staff. My disappointment was somewhat mitigated, however, by the prospect of continuing Atlantis’s story in the direct-to-dvd format. Since then, circumstances have tempered that initial enthusiasm. I still want to see the movie made; I’ve simply adopted a more practical outlook with respect to its (hopefully) eventual production.
Major D. Davis writes: “1. Now I know the SG-1 cast is signed to do the SG-1 movie, but what about the Atlantis cast? When the movie is greenlit, are you worried that it might be to difficult to get the cast back together?”
Answer: The SG-1 cast has not been signed.
Gategod writes: “What might a fourth stargate series be about/be set?
Would you be the show runner?
Would any of the SG-1/SGA cast members star in a 4th stargate series?”
Answer: No thought has been given to a fourth Stargate series. We’re wholly focused on the terrific series presently in production.
Deni writes: “Hi Joe, any news regarding Jelly?”
Answer: She heads in for her procedure on Tuesday. Will keep you posted.
Don writes: “One thing I’ve been curious to see is a story where someone uses the stones to come to Earth and something big is happening there.”
Answer: Like in season two’s Alliances?
Quade writes: “Have you seen Avatar the Last Airbender, the tv series??”
Answer: Nope. My anime to-view list will probably take me well into 2015 as it stands.
Pol writes: “About how long does it take you and Paul to knock out an episode script? Do you do a solid pass and then give it to Paul (or vice-versa)? Or do you sit in a room and collaborate? How does that process work?”
Answer: Even though we are credited as co-writers, Paul and I haven’t co-written a script since SG-1’s 8th season.
Pol also writes: “But…back to my main question, how long does it take you (’til you’re happy with the script – or at least willing to release it into the wild) to write an hour-long episode?”
Answer: From concept to finished draft, about a month.
dasNdanger writes: “Any chance of a sexy long-locked albino sort finding its way into your story??”
Answer: Not in the short story but quite possibly in the comic book series.
Lewis writes: “Just a quick ? about Gauntlet (ep. 20). Is it already mostly written at this point or do you wait until later in the fall when you find out if SGU has been picked up for Season 3… or is it a matter of plotting out 2 different endings?”
Answer: As was the case in every other season, the script for our season finale will be written by the time a decision is made on a pick-up. In fact, I suspect that by the time we do hear, we will have already wrapped production on season 2.
Boris writes: “1) Who are the writers of the last episodes you give out in this post:
215: Seizure, 219: Blockade, 219: Blockade, and 220: Gauntlet?
2) What happened to episode 218: Radio that you mentioned some days ago?
3) Will we see many new different species of aliens in season 2 or just a few like in the first season?
4) Will there be a CD of SGU’s first season soundtrack, I will buy it ASAP, the music is just awesome?
and finally just out of curiosity
5) Which episode of SGU is shooting now or will start shooting soon?”
Answers: 1) 215, Seizure – Remi Aubuchon, 216, The Hunt – Joseph Mallozzi, 217 – Robert Cooper script, 218 – Carl Binder script, 219, Blockade – Linda McGibney, 210, Gauntlet – Paul Mullie,
2) That’s still under discussion.
3) We’ll definitely be introducing several new alien life forms in season 2.
4) No idea. Sorry.
5) We just wrapped on Deliverance (211) and will be moving on to Alliances (213).
Collegeboy8907 writes: “Did SG-1 ever find the Clava Thessara Infinitas that was mentioned In SG-1 Season ten?”
LaWanda writes: “I was wondering about something else when they were fighting those aliens guys on Daedalus variations could they have been a new form of wraith.”
Answer: No, it wasn’t our intention to create any connection between the two alien races.
dioxholster writes: “Joe, is that alien concept art for season 2 or was it something for season one?”
Answer: It’s an alien concept for season 2 – that we won’t be seeing in season 2.
Valaur writes: “1. Does the Destiny have a teleporter similar to that of the goa’uld or the Ori? Seeing as the Goa’uld stole that technology from the Ancients, it would be really cool to see the first or second generation of that technology.
2. I think it was Brad who said he immensely disliked having the Asgard beaming technology as a quick get-away device or a gimmick used by the SGC. Are there any pieces of technology that were imagined, then suggested in the writer’s room but received an unequivocal no? Like the Zat being able to make a body disappear with 3 shots.
3. In ‘Faith’, the marsh looks similar to the one used Battlestar Galactica’s ‘Home Pt. 1 and 2.’ along with ‘Kobol’s Last Gleaming’. I’m only curious if it’s the same location or just really similar.
4. Will the answer to why the environmental suits of the Destiny looks so similar to the ones used by ‘The Lost Tribe’ or was that already answered?
5. Will there be an ascended Ancient sent to the Destiny to help the crew in any shape or form?
6. I really, really enjoy the real science element of the show, like the white dwarf and pulsar in ‘Incursion’. Is there anything coming up that you’re excited for, science-wise?
7. In comparison to SG-1 and SGA, could you give us a rough estimate or figure of how many crew work on the show to give us what we see on the TV? Also, have most of the crew from the two previous franchises moved on to bigger and better things or stuck around for SGU?”
Answers: 1. Nope.
2. Actually, I’m the one who hated the convenience of the beaming technology. And, yes, plenty of ideas get bounced from the writers’ room – though none come readily to mind.
3. Sorry. No idea. Given that both shows were produced in Vancouver, it’s likely however.
5. You’ll have to stay tuned. For the record, however, I’m not a huge fan of ascended visitors.
dasNdanger writes: “Joe – you like cool spooky stuff, right? Please tell me what you think of this:
Time flies when you’re having fun – or when you’re not prepping that script until September, meaning you don’t have to finish your first draft until well after your return from hiatus. On the bright side, I finished the Tease and it’s a pretty damn good one, the kind the network loves: Jeopardy! Jeopardy! Jeopardy! This is going to be one of those episodes (like Malice and Cloverdale) that will be mostly shot on location, meaning there’ll be no ducking back up to the office for a quick break between set-ups. Guess I’ll be bringing my work – and chocolate – with me. Also, bug spray may not be a bad idea. I’m sure the experience will not be unlike that fab week I spent with Will Waring on the set of SGA’s Harmony all the way over at Widgeon Park – except that, in this case, the location under discussion is a much more manageable fifteen minutes or so drive from the studio. Hmmm. I’m thinking that for my next script, I might set the episode in a middle-class suburban home. One with a fairly extensive and somewhat bizarre liquor collection. And four dogs, specifically three pugs and a french bulldog. I could wake up five minutes before the first blocking, throw on a bathrobe (note to self: purchase a bathrobe), come downstairs for first team, head back upstairs for a shower and shave, come back downstairs whenever they’re ready to shoot the scene, then head back upstairs and watch my favorite morning shows (note to self: have favorite morning shows) until they’re reading to move on. Catering could serve lunch right out of my kitchen and, best of all, this time, I can’t get in trouble for walking around in my underwear. It’ll be win-win-win!
In and around the offices…
Terrific review of Masked, that forthcoming superhero anthology I keep talking about, over at io9: http://io9.com/5583647/the-book-that-anybody-who-writes-superhero-stuff-must-read. The collection is edited by none other than blog favorite Lou Anders and features contributions from a wonderful array of writers from the worlds of comic books (ie. Matthew Sturges, Bill Willingham, Gail Simone), novels (ie. Marjorie M. Liu, Ian McDonald, Stephen Baxter), and television (ie. Paul Cornell and even yours truly). Thanks to Morjana and Nadine for the heads up.
Coincidentally, Masked is our September Book of the Month Club pick – so if you’re thinking of picking it up:
Answer: Some I agree with; some I don’t; some we’re already working on in season 2. We’re definitely “fleshing out the main characters” (and those “side characters” as well) in the show’s second season and, with that, demonstrating that these people are far from perfect. And, as Brad already alluded to in a recent interview, we will be taking advantage of the gritty realism to go to some pretty dark places in the coming season. There’ll be plenty of “crazy” to go around in SGU’s second year and, yes, many of those questions will be answered or, at the very least, explanations will be hinted at as we use them to build some bigger arcs. We’ll be doing more exploring and more adventuring, both on and off Destiny. I don’t agree that we need to kill off the cook or “this guy” to raise the stakes or convey a sense of loss. Anyone remember Senator Armstrong or Sgt. Spencer or Franklin? More exploration? Check. More monsters? Oh, yeah. Check. More of that back half of season one humor. Also check. Lose the music montages. Nyet. Meredith may not like them, but I love ’em. They offer a nice, succinct way of wrapping up the episode’s various storylines and furthering ongoing character arcs.
Zoomeister also writes: “Will you have an alien join the cast (and no, I don’t mean a Jaffa, Tok’ra or Lucien Alliance member)?”
Answer: Great idea. All we’ll need is an extra 3 million dollars an episode and we can work one of those blue aliens into the show as a recurring crew member, maybe the new cook.
PG15 writes: “I’m glad to hear that Brad is having talks with MGM about Revolution. That’s a good start. I wonder what the impetus for these talks were (unless they’ve been happening since the beginning), and why that’s not happening with Extinction?”
Answer: As I mentioned previously, Brad is co-writing and Exec. Producing Revolution, not Extinction.
E writes: “Can we expect some AU SGU stories to come? I’m dying to see what would have become of the character had they not gotten stranded on the Destiny.”
Answer: Hmmm. Wouldn’t that be interesting…
Juergen writes: ”
1. I believe SG-1 Movie will be produced soon. Hope, Hope, Hope! You guys had a lot of time now. Did you have improved some things from time to time or is the script untouched for long time?
2. Assuming the next stargate movie works fine and MGM wants more stuff. Do you think, it is possible, that we will see an entirely Stand-Alone-Movie with new characters and new stories? A new series is often a risk. But making a movie with a completed story would maybe safe money (new characters) and gives the chance to reinvent the Franchise. I want to see more about Stargate. Why no movie with from the perspective of the Jaffa, Tokra, any other people. A complete detached story. I thought long about it. That’s the kind of way, I would go. Hope, sometime we will see such a movie.
3. Does the SGC still exist or is the Stargate being moved to Homeworld Command?
4. If it has been moved….has this to do with Atlantis staying on Earth?
5. The moon base, which Sam speaks about in Continuum…Are we going to see it in the next movie? Has the Earth Gate beeing moved to the moon?”
Answers: 1. Paul and I haven’t revisited the script since submitting it some time ago.
2. No. When we move ahead with the movies, the first one up will be Revolution, featuring SG-1.
3. More on that in Stargate: Revolution.
4. Not necessarily.
5. Stay tuned.
Daniel writes: “1) Will we learn more about the Lucien Alliance in future episodes? I’m curious to know if it’s only this group led by Kiva that is pursuing Destiny or if it’s an obsession for the whole Alliance?
2) In the Writer’s room have you pinned down what Destiny can and can’t do, in order too stop each Writer adding something new every script to solve a plot point until there is nothing it can’t do.
3) Given the tight running time every episode has too keep too, and the shows aim to treat the audience with more respect was there any talk of dropping the “previously” segments? Or is it something the network simply won’t let you drop?”
Answers: Hey, Daniel, thanks for the insightful comments. And welcome to the blog.
1) We will definitely be learning more about the Lucian Alliance in season two.
2) We are all on the same page with regard to what the ship can and can’t do. In fact, all the writers are present when a story is broken, ensuring a consistency in series logic.
3) Given the somewhat serialized nature of the show, I think it’s a good idea dedicated a little time to catching potential first-time viewers up on what has come before.
Ponytail writes: “Would you ever consider doing a sort of live Q&A with someone on your blog. Lets say one evening you let us ask this person questions (in your comments section) and they answer them right away (in your comments section). You could have rules like, only one question per person per 1/2 hour or something like that, and every 10 minutes or so, you post everything so far. That sounds like fun to me! Can we, can we!”
Answer: It’s possible but unlikely. The whole point of doing the Q&A’s the way I do (gathering the questions, sending them off, then giving the guest how ever much time they need to get back to me) is to ensure the process is a painless as possible for those taking part.
dasNdanger writes: “If you get a lot of good feedback from your story, do you think you might try to tackle a novel?”
Answer: I’ve been kicking around an idea for a novel. It’s just a matter of finding the time to sit down and write it.
SG-UNIVERSE writes: “Can we see a SGU trailer 2.0 in Comic Con 2010 ?”
Answer: You will.
PG15 also writes: “1. Are all the Season 2 episode slots filled at this point?
2. In your opinion, would you say Season 2 is more serialized than season 1, or less serialized?”
Answers: 201: Intervention, 202: Aftermath, 203: Awakening, 204: Pathogen, 205: Cloverdale, 206: Trial and Error, 207: The Greater Good, 208: Malice, 209: Visitation, 210: Resurgence, 211: Deliverance, 212: Twin Destinies, 213: Alliances, 214: Hope, 215: Seizure, 216: The Hunt, 217: (Rob’s script), 218: (Carl’s script), 219: Blockade, 220: Gauntlet. Yep. All we need are a couple of titles.
2. I’d say it’s about the same as season 1 although there will be a much bigger build in some of the individual story arcs, particularly in the front half.
Chevron7 writes: “Do you mind if I borrow your photos for a little project I’m working on?”
Yesterday, we hit the annual Greek Fest on Boundary Road…
Headed to the Greek fest: Ashleigh, a jubilant Remi, and some border guard we picked up along the way.
From right to left: Kerry, Carl, and extra special guest star Ming-Na!
Gyros up front, spit-roasted lamb in the back.
Kerry, just delighted to be in the company of friends. Carl, just interested in his food.
Remi and Linda, ready for some power eating.
Ashleigh sweeps down on dessert like a seagull on french fries.
Ming loving her new iPhone. They were inseparable throughout the outing.
It was a welcome warm and sunny respite from the dank and dark environs of the editing suit where I had spent most of the day, working on my producer’s cut of Resurgence with ace editor Mike “Marverick” Banas (see last issue, ed.). It’s going to be a terrific episode, especially once Mark Savela and co. deliver the finished visual effects.
Speaking of Mark and our brilliant VFX team – congratulations go out to them on not one but TWO Emmy Nominations, one for Air, the other for Space. Read all about it here:
So, I gathered up your questions for Louis and sent them his way. The next day, he emailed me back something along the lines of “Holy crap! There’s a lot of ’em!”. He suggested swinging by my office and fielding the questions while I transcribed his responses. I offered up an even better idea: he swings by the office and I’ll just videotape his answers. Well, a scheduling snafu resulted in Louis having to come in today, a day into his hiatus, something he was more than happy to do despite the fact that he was already in holiday mode…
After shooting his scene, he dropped by the production offices to spread some summer cheer…
…and, of course, answer some questions. So here we go with the first installment of an interview series I’m calling The Pineapple Diaries: