December 30, 2017: Dark Matter Season 3 Awards – Part 3!

Concluding our Dark Matter Season 3 Awards with recognition of our amazing main cast and their performances big and small…

MELISSA O’NEIL (TWO)

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

It’s hard to believe Dark Matter was Melissa O’Neil’s first t.v. role, even more surprising if you’d actually seen her amazing audition for TWO. From the moment I watched her self-tape, I vowed I’d go to war to see her cast.  Fortunately, there was no need for bloodshed as I was not the only one to take note of her immense talent.  With regard to choosing her best supporting role in season 3, this was probably the toughest  call I had to make.  I could have gone with her double turn in Episode 306, “One Last Card To Play”, in which we she portrays both TWO and alt. Portia with subtle distinction, or her heartfelt performance of Episode 309, “Isn’t That A Paradox”, in which she grasps at a potential refuge for her and her crew.  Instead, I have to give it to…

Episode 304, “All The Time In The World”.  The comedy stylings of Anthony Lemke and Zoie Palmer are front and center, but the backbone of this episode is Melissa’s dubious and joyously bewildered performance.

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

She again pulls double duty in the revelatory Episode 310 (“Built, Not Born”) and my first instinct was to go with that one but, upon further review, I have to go with…

Episode 301, “Being Better Is So Much Harder”.  A great actor’s true talents shine, not so much in scenes of strength but in those instances in which their characters are at their lowest and most vulnerable.  Melissa is at her best here as TWO wrestles with self-doubt, guilt, and the true weight of command.

ANTHONY LEMKE (THREE)

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

THREE went from being one of the show’s most hated characters to, over the course of three seasons, one of its most beloved thanks in large part to Anthony Lemke’s portrayal of the incorrigible scoundrel.  THREE is generally mercenary, boorish, and comical, making those instances in which we’re offered a glimpse behind that devil-may-care facade all the more delightful.  THREE is terrific when he’s driving the action, but he’s equally great when he’s lending genuine support as was the case in…

Episode 310, “Built, Not Born”.  Anthony and Natalie Brown play off each other beautifully in their shared scenes, and it’s his later, poignant scene with Zoie Palmer’s Android in the mess that really reminds us what this show is really about: these characters and their bonds of friendship.

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

Like the decision to cast Anthony, this one didn’t require all that much thought…

Episode 304, “All The Time In The World” in which Anthony displays THREE at his funniest (riding the seemingly endless time loop) and most serious (coming to terms with the digital resurrection of the woman he once loved).

ALEX MALLARI JR. (FOUR/RYO ISHIDA)

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

Season 3 saw FOUR complete his transition to Emperor Ryo Ishida, going from steadfast ally to sworn enemy, and the episode that gets my vote for Alex Mallari Jr.’s Best Supporting Performance is…

Episode 308, “Hot Chocolate”, an episode in which he truly gets to play the role of the season’s Big Bad, delivering as a fearsome threat yet, simultaneously, a conflicted former friend who has not forgotten his former ties.

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

Throughout the show’s third season, Alex did a brilliant job of conveying the war his character fought, both without and within, measuring fear against love, leadership against loyalty, and there was no better example of this complex duality than…

Episode 312, “My Final Gift To You” which sees Ryo attempt to have it all, give it all, only to see it all come crashing down.  Alex makes us despise Ryo’s actions and yet, at the same time, find compassion and sympathy for that former friend so far gone.

JODELLE FERLAND (FIVE)

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

One of my favorite guest stars back on Stargate: Atlantis was a young (13 year old) Jodelle Ferland who played the role of precocious princess Harmony in the episode to the same name.  Fast forward some nine years later and she is impressing in an altogether different role as the ship’s tech monkey and defacto spirited mascot.  FIVE plays pivotal roles in episodes like “One Last Card To Play” and “Hot Chocolate”, but my pick for her best supporting performance is…

Episode 309, “Isn’t That A Paradox?”, which reminds us that, even though the crew may no longer refer to her as a “kid”, she is still very much a kid at heart, making friends, playing video games in pajamas, but still finding time to help save the day.

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

My choice for this category is an episode that was intended to open the door to a bigger arc involving the introduction of FIVE’s long lost sister, Karina, a surprising connection to the villainous Alicia Reynaud, and the shocking ascendance of a new Big Bad…

Episode 302, “It Doesn’t Have To Be Like This”, finally allows us insight into FIVE’s backstory, revealing the relationships and critical decisions that impacted her life, putting her on the fateful course that landed her on The Raza.  Jodelle is wonderful throughout, but especially in those final, heartbreaking moments of FIVE’s trip down memory lane.

ROGER CROSS (SIX)

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

Back when we were first casting the role of SIX, I felt heart of the character was distilled down to a single line of dialogue, an exchange with FIVE in which he admits that when, inevitably, she chooses to leave their ragtag crew…”I’m going to miss you, kid.  I’m going to miss you a lot.”  When delivered correctly, this line would encapsulate the very heart of the Big Brother/Little Sister relationship I sought to capture.  Almost every actor who auditioned for the part missed the spirit of the line, and then along came Roger Cross…

Some great moments for SIX in season 3, both in a spotlight and supporting role. In terms of supporting performance, I really liked him in Episode 301 (“Being Better Is So Much Harder”) as he attempts to pick up a fallen TWO and of course in Episode 308 (“Hot Chocolate”) as he attempts to juggle his roles as Raza bad-ass and rebel mediator, but my favorite was…

Episode 310, “Built, Not Born” mostly on the strength of a single scene opposite Zoie Palmer in The Marauder that sees SIX attempt to buoy our Android’s fallen spirits.  Roger has a natural warmth and nowhere is it more evident on screen that in this wonderful exchange.

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

Sure, the obvious choice would be Episode 303 (“Welcome To The Revolution”) that sees SIX finally walk the walk he’s been talking since season 2, but I would actually give the nod to…

Episode 307, “I Wish I Could Believe You”, which offers a peek at SIX’s backstory, his friendship with John Anders, and the family he left behind.  Roger delivers a compelling performance and never have we felt more sympathy for SIX.

ZOIE PALMER (ANDROID)

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

To think I originally envisioned The Android character as male.  Three seasons into the show, I can’t imagine anyone BUT Zoie Palmer in the role.  And, while the initial plan was to make the character a more supporting role, Zoie’s early portrayal ensured the Android became as important a crew member as everyone else on board The Raza.   I was really torn in trying to select an episode for this category. On the one hand, there was Episode 309, “Isn’t That A Paradox?” which sees her drive the action in her inimitable fashion; but on the other hand, there’s…

Episode 304, “All The Time In The World”.  She’s at her funniest dealing with an increasingly harried THREE and at her most dramatic jumping through her various flash-forwards.  Hell, she even sings and dances!

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

Was there ever any doubt it would be…

Episode 310, “Built, Not Born”, that sees Zoie give a tour-de-force performance as both doomed creator, Dr. Shaw, and conflicted creation.  The Android-SIX scene in The Marauder in which he reminds her how special she is, Android’s conversation with FIVE on the merits of smiling, Android’s heart to heart with THREE over whiskey and hot chocolate – some of my favorites of the entire series.

So, those are my votes.  What do  you all think?  What were your favorite Supporting and Lead Performances for each cast member?

May 14, 2016: Farewell, Jodelle!

We wrapped production on Dark Matter’s second season last week and, slowly but surely, the cast and crew have moved on to different things: plans, projects, cities. I’m in town for three more weeks, finishing up my cuts of the final few episodes, sitting in on a few mixes, and saying goodbye to anyone who’s still around.

Last night, it was Jodelle Ferland (FIVE) and her sister Marisha who came out for one last dinner with Akemi and I before heading back home to the west coast…

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The Ferland sisters.  Such cuties.

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Jodelle is a vegetarian, so we ended up going to Lee Restaurant on King Street, a place that also offers an excellent array of veggie dishes – and some pretty damn impressive desserts.  Pictured above the exquisitely elaborate Signature French & Chinese Tong Yuen: warm sweet rice dumpling, chocolate nougat, Indian pastry, strawberry, crème brûlée, peach & rosewater.

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As many of you know, I first worked with Jodelle back on Stargate.  In addition to play a young version of the powerful Ori lovechild Adria, she also played the tempestuously-tempered Princess Harmony in the Stargate: Atlantis episode Harmony.  She was only 12 then, but she so impressed me that, when it came time to cast for the role of FIVE on Dark Matter, she was top of the list.

Pictured above: Jodelle shows off the gifts sent her way by props and costume specialist Ryan “Stitch” Nixon, two mementos from her days on Stargate.  In her right hand, the Harmony pendant, in her left a miniature of the royal-commissioned painting: Princess Harmony being protected by the heroic Rodney McKay while the cowardly John Sheppard cowers in the background.

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Check out detail on that necklace.  The Ancients would’ve been proud!

Bon Voyage, Jodelle!

Or should I say FIVE?

Or Das?

Or…

August 30, 2015: Last Days of Dark Matter – Season 1!

Our official final main unit day was an event that involved the entire cast – in addition to some thirty extras.  After the final scene had been shot (appropriately enough, the final scene of the show’s first season), we wrapped – and celebrated the end of a challenging but very satisfying year.

And then we came back after the weekend – well, many of us did – to shoot the final day of second unit.  Directed by Dark Matter stunt coordinator John Stead (who directed Episode 1.10), it involved a single cast member – Jodelle Ferland – crawling through the ship’s vent system…

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The labyrinth was constructed in the breezeway between our standing sets (bridge/corridor/underbelly/quarters on one side and infirmary/mess hall on the other).

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 We wanted it roomy enough to move through but cramped enough to suggest a tight fit, with plenty of branches.

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The “landing strip” that runs down the center allowed Jodelle to drawl along as painlessly as possible.  All the same, she was outfitted with elbow and knee pads and a stunt double was also used because it was, nevertheless, uncomfy going.

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Sections were designed to allow a bird’s-eye view of FIVE’s progress through the maze-like system.

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Raised sections allowed director John Stead to capture FIVE’s up and down progress as well.

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Jodelle was alternately boosted up (to appear on the rise) or lowered down (to drop down onto lower levels).

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Director John Stead, always prepared, had a concise shot list he worked off of…

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I collected the shot list for FIVE’s final vent venture and had him sign some of the pages…

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I’m thinking of offering up the package as part of a Dark Matter fan giveaway.

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John directs Jodelle on our final shooting day.

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Checking out the tight quarters.

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Lighting the vents.

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Jodelle prepares to head in.

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Armed and ready.

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And that’s a wrap on Jodelle Ferland!

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Jodelle has a hard time letting go.  She misses the ship already!

May 13, 2015: The Dark Matter rollout continues! Introducing Jodelle Ferland as FIVE!

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Continuing our Dark Matter rollout – today, we turn the spotlight to actress Jodelle Ferland and her character, FIVE.

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This was part of the casting breakdown that went out for the role:

“AKA The Kid. THE SHIP’S PIXIE-ISH MASCOT WITH MYSTERIOUS ABILITIES – SHE’S THE KID WITH ALL THE SECRETS. And a propensity for getting into trouble. EASILY BORED, QUICK TO MOUTH OFF, she is nevertheless innocent among her unsavoury company.”

In the comic book, the character is a tomboy and a lot younger (I originally envisioned her as about 12) but production considerations made the casting of a minor very difficult. We would have had to provide schooling in the form of a tutor and limited her hours on set. I suggested we circumvent the problem by hiring a high school dropout, but that brilliant idea was roundly refused. And so, we decided to cast older to play younger.

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I had plenty of requests for the general auditions, actors I’d worked with over the years who I wanted to see read. And, when it came time to find a FIVE, actress Jodelle Ferland was at the top of my wish list. I’d had the pleasure of working with her eight years ago on an episode of Stargate: Atlantis on which she’d played a bratty princess. She was, far and away, one of the greatest guest stars I’d ever worked with. At only 12 years of age, she’d known her dialogue down pat – and even prompted our leads whenever they forgot their lines. She was brilliant.

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So when it came time for the FIVE auditions, Jodelle sent in a self-tape from Vancouver, made the second round, and, ultimately, won the role on the strength of her adorably quirky performance.

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So what is Jodelle Ferland like? Well, surprisingly – or not! – a lot like the character she plays. Cute, perky, wide-eyed and animated, funny, excitable, and suuuuuuper sweet. I sometimes imagine her as an anime character come to life!

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And yet, at the same time, she is professional, focused, and possessed of astounding onscreen instincts. I’m always amazed because I have never walked onto set and asked her to readjust her performance. It’s as if she reads my mind, offering up the perfect interpretation of the character beats EVERY SINGLE TIME. And, I supposed it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given that, at 20, this former child actor is the most seasoned member of our entire cast! The editors LOVE her because she always delivers great reactions on her off-camera moments, another sign of a wily veteran.

One on one, she’s delightfully normal – but when the camera is on her, she POPS. As more than one person has said: “When she’s onscreen, you can’t take your eyes off her.”

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May 7, 2015: Space Cat! Oh, and the rest of the Dark Matter cast!

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A sneak peek at the Dark Matter season finale.  In the final shot, the crew enters the bridge as this season’s mysterious Big Bad swivels around in the command chair to reveal their true identity: Space Cat!

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See, this is the type of behind the scenes photos fans love.  Actor Anthony Lemke (Dark Matter’s THREE) eats an egg salad sandwich.

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While actor Roger Cross (Dark Matter’s SIX) enjoys his morning coffee.  Try to take it away from him and THIS happens –

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Meanwhile, back on the ship –

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Someone forgot actress Jodelle Ferland (Dark Matter’s FIVE) in the airlock!

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Actor Alex Mallari Jr. (Dark Matter’s FOUR) shuttles our special guest star back to her trailer between scenes.

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Actor Marc Bendavid (Dark Matter’s ONE) wants your coffee.

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Actress Zoie Palmer (Dark Matter’s Android) keeping Space Cat’s seat warm.

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And, yes.  Actress Melissa O’Neil (Dark Matter’s TWO) also wants your coffee.

January 13, 2015: Dark Matter – from cast to characters!

Today, we shot two of the most important scenes of this first season (if not the entire series), and every member of our cast – Marc Bendavid, Melissa O’Neil, Anthony Lemke, Alex Mallari Jr., Jodelle Ferland, Roger Cross, and Zoie Palmer – delivered BIGTIME.  Sitting at the monitors, watching them in their first scene together, I found myself magically cross over from professional observer to mesmerized viewer as their onscreen characters took on a life of their own.  The lines separating fact and fiction, fantasy and reality had blurred and I’d been transported.  And the first thought that entered my head was: “I’m going to love watching this show!”

This cast is AWESOME!

A couple of behind-the-scenes snippets:

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The gang (Alex Mallari Jr., Anthony Lemke, Roger Cross, and Trevor Finn) show craft server Cathy some love.

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The exterior of the ship’s underbelly where secrets reside.  Oh, and the cast because that’s where they hang out between set-ups.

Our Dark Matter screen grab of the day (from yesterday’s dailies):

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Mysterious, no?

And, of course, on the heels of last blog entry’s Carlton Dance comes a little MJ c/o Alex Mallari Jr. (aka. FOUR).  Go say hi to him on twitter: https://twitter.com/AlexMallariJr #FOURCLAN #DARKMATTER

And while you’re in the twitter neighborhood, why not drop in on the entire crew:

ONE (Marc Bendavid): Apparently, not on twitter. Yet.

TWO (Melissa O’Neil): https://twitter.com/Mel13Oneil

THREE (Anthony Lemke): https://twitter.com/ranthonylemke

FOUR (Alex Mallari Jr.): https://twitter.com/AlexMallariJr

FIVE (Jodelle Ferland): https://twitter.com/jodellemicah

SIX (Roger Cross): https://twitter.com/therogercross

THE ANDROID (Zoie Palmer): https://twitter.com/ZoiePalmer

This year is going to be A LOT of fun!

June 17, 2009: Dear Casting Directors, Producers, Studio People, and Network Execs – Do Yourself A Favor and Hire These Actors.

Nothing to read here. Move along. Thank you.

This blog entry isn’t for Stargate fans or foodies or dog lovers or anyone who was directed here following an internet search for “vampire prop” (three of you), “big ass xex” (two of you), or “eating champagne truffles when pregnant” (one of you). No, this blog entry is for all those casting directors, producers, studio people, and network execs looking to cast their next big project. How about a few recommendations…

Over the course of my ten years with the Stargate franchise, I’ve had the pleasure to work with numerous talented individuals, many of them guest stars who impressed with their performance, professionalism, and gracious off-camera attitude. And so, today, I’d like to make mention of a few of them here (and I stress “a few of them” because there are certainly more than many I could add to the list. But, for the purposes of today’s entry, let’s go with these ten individuals who a) left a lasting impression and b) I feel are really deserving of more recognition). All are gifted actors who would make a terrific addition to any cast. But be warned! Snap ’em up now because I have a feeling they’ll only be available for so long.

In no particular order…

Michael Welch – Young Jack (Fragile Balance, SG-1 season 7).

Welch, perhaps better known for his role as Luke Girardi in Joan of Arcadia, out-Ricked Rick himself when he took on the role of Young Jack, raising eyebrows by nailing everything from O’Neill’s cadence to his unique mannerisms.

Neil Jackson – Khalek, Wraith (Prototype SG-1 season 9, Vegas Atlantis season 5)

He’s a brilliant actor and works a lot, but given his immense talent he should work even more. He delivered one of Stargate’s most deliciously evil performances as Khalek, the Anubis offspring in SG-1‘s ninth season, then delivered an equally nefarious turn as the poker-playing wraith in Vegas.

Jodelle Ferland – Young Adria, Harmony (Flesh and Blood, SG-1 season 10, Harmony, Atlantis season 4)

Whenever I used to watch Dakota Fanning, I never saw her a “child star“. She was simply a great actress. And I feel much the same way about Jodelle who blew us away as the Young Adria in SG-1’s Flesh and Blood. So much so that when we were looking to cast a precocious young princess, we immediately thought of her and offered her the role – before the script was even finished! She’s incredibly accomplished for someone so young. When she was shooting Harmony, she not only had all of her own lines down pat, but would even prompt her fellow actors when they forget theirs.

Brendan Beiser – Tavius, Weaver (The Tower, Atlantis season 2, Memento Mori, SG-1 season 9).

A couple of wonderfully calculated and controlled performances had me standing up and taking notice. His dinner scene in The Tower was my personal highlight of the episode while his wordless reaction to Teal’c’s whispered suggestion in Memento Mori still makes me chuckle.

Reed Diamond – Bryce Ferguson (Stronghold, SG-1 season 9)

The Homicide: Life on the Street vet delivers big time in his role as Cam Mitchell’s dying buddy in SG-1’s ninth season episode Stronghold. Over the course of the single episode, he brings to life a character so genuine and likable that his end touched even the most stoic of stone-hearted producers. That would be me. Hey, I hear he’s on Dollhouse!

Ryan Robbins – Ladon Radim (Various episodes, Atlantis)

Atlantis had it’s fair share of recurring villains, but none quite had the depth and daring of Genii Ladon Radim. Here was a sometime adversary and occasional ally who both charmed and schemed with equal aplomb and, at the end of the day, always seemed to find a way to come out on top. Ryan’s nuanced performance always kept the audience guessing.

Kari Wuhrer – Nancy (Outcast, Atlantis season 4)

When I think back to Kari’s guest spot on Atlantis, I remember her as much for what a sweetheart she was off-camera as I do her terrific performance as Sheppard’s ex-wife. She was perfect as the captivating, whip-smart Nancy.

Malcolm Scott – Caius (The Ties That Bind, SG-1 season 9)

Malcolm delivers one of my favorite comic performances as the colorful intergalactic swindler Caius in The Ties That Bind. Hilarious.

Mike Dopud – Bounty Hunter, Kiryk (Bounty, SG-1 season 10, Tracker, Atlantis season 5)

Former stuntman Mike Dopud excels where so many others crash and burn, pulling off characters both tough and ultimately sympathetic. It’s a tricky balance but Mike makes it seem effortless.

Reiko Aylesworth – Sharon (Life, Universe season 1)

Alas, I never had the opportunity to meet her but going from Carl’s on-set reports, Reiko is a delight to work with. On the other hand, I did see her dailies and watched her performance in the subsequent cuts of Life and can report, this time firsthand, that she was unbelievably good.

Hey, guess who was back at the Bridge Studios today? That’s right. Martin Gero! And guess who wasn’t? That’s right. Me! I was home waiting for the guys to complete work on the new home security modifications. They’re done with the moat but some of the alligators got loose from the truck. By day’s end, we’d managed to corral most of them. That said, if you’re in the neighborhood and happen to come across an enormous reptile that answers to Monty, please contact this blog.