June 12, 2010: Actress Julia Benson Answers Your Questions!

Exec. Producing Stargate: Universe is not unlike coaching an immensely talented sports franchise.  You go in to each script – or game – confident in the talent you’re working with, solid starters and a deep, deep bench that never lets you down.  And, on many occasions, even though you’re expecting them to excel, they still manage to surprise and delight.  Take Julia Benson (SGU’s Lieutenant Vanessa James) for example, an actress who started off strong in the opener and just keeps getting better, delivering everything from throwaway humor (Space) to  emotional intensity (Pain) with the skill and professionalism of a seasoned performer many years her senior.  It’s not surprising that, between the time I announced this Q&A and today’s entry, Julia picked up the Leo Award for Best Supporting Performance by a Female in a Dramatic Series.

Congratulations to Julia on the win, and a big thank you for taking the time to field our questions.

Over to Julia…

Chevron7 writes: “Questions for Julia:

1. What’s your workout routine? Did that change when getting the role of Lt James?

JB:  I am always changing up my workout routine, otherwise I get bored!  But I have a chocolate lab that I run with almost daily.  That is definitely my favorite form of exercise.  When I got the role of James, I did start working out with a trainer.  I find it helps with the weight training. I did some kickboxing to toughen up physically and just recently I have been taking kickboxing classes with Sharon Taylor from Stargate Atlantis.  She’s amazing!

2. Which cast member would you most like to beat in an arm wrestling contest?

JB: Jamil, just for bragging rights!  He’s not only in incredible shape but we have a fun banter with each other and it would be awesome to bug him about something like that! Lol

3. Some people are surprised at James’ reaction to losing Scott to Chloe. I see it as a normal reaction exacerbated by the fact that she’s in close proximity to them in a stressful situation. How do you see it?

JB:  I agree with you.  Regardless of what the exchange was for Scott, James developed feelings for him.  It would obviously be different if his relationship with Chloe wasn’t in her face constantly.

4. I loved the scene of James looking after Franklin in Sabotage. I sense a backstory there, like she’s been the primary carer for someone in her past. Any clues?

JB:  I love this scene too.  Mark Burgess who plays Franklin was so amazing to act with.  He was so powerful.  I can’t give away too much back story as we have yet to explore that on the show, but I will say that James has had some challenges to face in her life.

5. What was the first job you ever had? – Acting or non-acting.

JB:  First Acting Job was on a show called Tru Calling.  I guest starred in an episode in the first season with SGU’s Patrick Gilmore!

The first Joe job that I had was at a restaurant in West Vancouver called Trolls.  I was a waitress, a terrible waitress at that!  I was 16 and I think people felt sorry for me, because I got amazing pity tips! Lol

6. Do you like to cook? If so what’s your fave dish to make?

JB: I love to cook!  My family is full of amazing chefs and I was the last to jump on board.  My go-to is Chicken Parmesan, with Marscapone pasta.  Both the recipes came from my dad.  He makes the best pasta ever, second only to the pasta I have had in Italy!

7. What are your aspirations for Lt James in Season 2?

JB: I would love to see James put in a position where she really has to step up and be a leader.  And then I would like to see her succeed at that.  Like all of us her confidence goes in and out, but James is a fighter and she has a ton of strength in her.  As an actor I have loved any opportunity to do fight scenes and stunts so I would love her to continue in that direction.

Tanie writes: “So, questions for Julia:

1. What sort of research did you do for this role?

JB:  For me the most important aspect of the research was to find out as much as I could about being in the military.  I have a family member that was in the Canadian Army so that was a great resource for me.  I did a ton of reading about the different ranks and tried to get a good grasp of the mental state and the discipline that I would have in my life to be in this role.

2. How do YOU think James has grown or changed over the course of S1?

JB:  In Season 1 we saw James struggle to find her place on the Destiny.  She definitely started to break down with the loneliness and isolation.  Hopefully in Season 2 she gets to keep developing her strength.

3. Have you had any ludicrously early calls to set as yet?

JB:  Whenever you are shooting a series you will definitely have early calls.  I think I had to set my alarm for 4:30 one day and that was the earliest.  However my sister works in the stock market and is up every day at 5 am so I am cautious to complain!  I always call her on my way to set just to tell her I am up!

MyNameIsNada writes: “Yeah for a Q&A with Julia!
Her are some questions:

1) Do you think Lt. James is as cool as I do?

JB:  Lol- Of course I do!  I love playing James and think that she is a great character.

2) Do you think Lt. James will ever confront Lt. Scott? Speaking of, you can’t expect to go through a Q&A here and not spill some details on those sex scenes. So, feel free to share anything.

JB:  I don’t know what the writers have in store for James and Scott.  Maybe it’s time James moved on and found a new love interest….

3) What are some things we the fans can do to ensure your survival of the series?

JB:  Ahh, that is sweet!  Just keep sending the love for James…you guys have been amazing!  I hope to get to a convention soon, so I can meet some of the fans!

4) Lt. James has yet to really be given a chance to come into the spotlight-what do you think she has best to offer Destiny and the rest of the crew?

JB:  Well, I think that James has had some time to shine in Season 1 :)That being said, she still has a lot more to offer on the show.  She is a fighter with a lot of compassion and that is an interesting balance to explore.  I think James has the potential to step up in combat and get into some fun action!  It would be great to keep exploring her tough side!

5) Finally, pretending you, yourself, are stuck on Destiny. What would you do to preserve your sanity?”

JB: I would find routines in any way that I could.  I would give myself goals to help me feel like I am still growing and moving forward in life.  I always want to be learning new skills so maybe I would organize a group where we all teach each other our skill set.  I would also need to laugh as I think that is so important.  So, games night would be a must and Brody’s still would come in handy!

Mr Anonymous writes: “Question for Julia:

1) Have you ever been on the lonely end of a love triangle (similar to Lt. James?)

JB:  Fortunately I haven’t been in a similar situation.  Not that I haven’t experienced heartache but not like James.

2) You play a military officer convincingly. Have you had military training?”

JB:  Thank you.  I haven’t had any official training but we did a few days at the beginning of our season with our military advisor Ron Blecker and he was incredibly helpful.  He was often on set throughout the season and we have people there to advise us as we go along.

Lou Zucaro writes: “For Julia:

1) As a couple other people have touched on, James has shown an interesting duality, being both tough / strong as well as almost a bit desperate as far as the relationship / romance part of the character goes. Do you relate to any part of James?

JB: Absolutely, I don’t think any one of us is one thing.  People are so complex and have different strengths in different parts of their lives.  As far as relating to James, I actually just answered this question on my blog @ www.juliabensononline.com

I relate to the fact that she is in a situation where she has to live by a certain set of rules.  Part of her wants to lead and prove her worth in the eyes of Young.  I think what I keep learning in my life is that no matter who gives you validation, it only lasts if it comes from within.  So that is something that James is going to have to conquer.

2) Do you think the controversy regarding James’ freakout re: inhabiting Amanda’s body in Sabotage was warranted or not?

JB:  What controversy are you referring to?  I know that there was some controversy about an early draft of Sabotage.  It is tough for writers as they cannot reflect every single person’s outlook on every issue.  Every script I have read from SGU has dealt with delicate matters with class and respect.  When James had a hard time in the body of Amanda it was not meant as any disrespect to anyone in Amanda’s situation.  I saw it as one character’s response to a situation.

3) When James, TJ and Chloe dress up as Charlie’s Angels in the Very Special Halloween Episode™ of SGU, which Angel do you want to be and what are you prepared to do (as James, of course) to keep TJ and Chloe from calling dibs on your favorite? Who should dress up as Bosley?”

JB:  We are a little to young to remember the TV show but if we are talking movie- Alaina for Drew Barrymore’s part, Elyse for Cameran Diaz and I would take Lucy Lui’s character.  I bet Louis would do a great Bill Murray impression so he has to be Bosley!

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Cat4444 writes: “Q for Julia:

1. What do you think of the criticism that you were only cast for your “chest” rather than your ability to do the job?

JB: To be honest, I really don’t pay much attention to criticism like that.  I am an actor who happens to have a large chest. Period. So I think people can think and say whatever they want.  I can only control what I think.  I know why I was cast, and that’s all that matters!

3. Is there a particular storyline, or type of storyline, you’d like to see for your character?

JB: I would love to see James put in a position where she really has to step up as a leader.  And then I would like to see her succeed.  Like all of us her confidence goes in and out, but James is a fighter and she has a ton of strength in her.  As an actor I have loved any opportunity to do fight scenes and stunts so I would love her to continue in that direction.

4. Lt. James seems to be having a hard time getting over Lt. Scott. Why do you think this is? She appears to be a pretty self-reliant and confident woman and it seems kind of odd that she would moon over him to such an extent.”

JB:  I agree that she is self-reliant and confident, but people are different in love.  James has been burnt by the whole Scott/Chloe situation and to top it off, she has to live in very tight quarters with them.  I think she will get over it, but it may take some time.

CrayonBaby writes: “Questions:

1) Have you ever accidentally hit one of the cast members while filming a fight scene? I know sometimes accidents happen. Or someone ate the last doughnut. Or took you parking space.

JB: Louis, Jamil and I almost accidentally ran somebody over in a golf cart.  It didn’t go over that well. smile

2) Are you hoping for in season two that Lt. James will be happier? Poor gal has been put through the ringer this season so far.

JB:  I think it would be great if James found some happiness in her accomplishments.  If she were successful in some of her missions then it would be great to give her some moments to let that sink in!  I would also like to see James continue to have bonding moments with the girls, particularly TJ.  I think that they could continue to find comfort and friendship in each other.  Maybe out of that would come some happiness smile

3) Who on the set makes you laugh?”

JB:  Everyone!  But off the top of my head-Louis Ferraira and Jamil Walker Smith

Arctic Goddess writes: “Question(s) for Julia:

– Why did you decide to get into acting?

JB: I got bitten by the acting bug at 13 when I did my first play.  I had been competing as a dancer for years and always loved performing, but once I did a play there was no looking back.  It’s all I have ever wanted to do.

– Do you have a Facebook or Twitter page?

JB:  Yes I do!  My facebook fanpage is under Julia Benson and my twitter is Julia_Benson!

Michael Jones writes: “Question for Julia:

I’ve noticed that James has been said to be the only person to be friendly to Spencer (though, it’s described as “tolerating” him, that’s more than anyone else did), and she’s seen to take an active role in caring for the unresponsive Franklin, who was also reasonably unpopular.

Do you think James is starting to take up a position of caring for the crew’s “lost sheep”? Do you think this is a result of how isolated James herself feels, or is a remnant from the abandoned idea of her having a paralyzed brother she cared for?  Also, I just want to say I love where your character is going. James has easily become one of my favorite characters on Destiny.”

JB:  Michael, first thank you for your support and for such a thoughtful question.  Two things, I do think that there was a nice parallel storyline in the original draft of that script that tied in well with James caring for Franklin.   I also think that there are definitely different divisions amongst people on board the ship, beyond the natural divide of the military and the civilians.  James is not always kept in the loop of what is happening and there are times when she bonds with people in a similar situation to her.  James is somewhat of an outsider herself and so she does relate to people as individuals and has compassion for their situation.  This was the case with her and Spencer.

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Major D. Davis writes: “Questions for Julia….

First off thanks so much for doing this Q&A… been looking forward to this Q&A for a while!!

1. What is your favorite episode in season 1?

JB:  My favorite episode is Space.  I love the balance of action and drama and I think the aliens were incredible!

2. What is you favorite episode in season 2…which one do you think will be a fan favorite(of the ones you’ve read and shot so far)?

JB:  So far in season 2 Malice would be my favorite episode.  It was written and directed by Robert Cooper and we just finished shooting this week.  I think that the fans will love it because there are high stakes and lots of good action.  There is also some great stuff between Rush and Simeon.  When two actors like that get to square off it is explosive.  I also got to do a fun stunt, which I love, so maybe I am biased!

3. Will we get to see you character visit earth in season 2, or at least get to know more of James’ past?

JB:  That is a question for the writers…..Joe? lol

4. What TV shows do you watch beside SGU?

JB:  I have quite a big list of shows that I watch, in no particular order:

Friday Night Lights, Grey’s Anatomy, Glee, Lost, Six Feet Under, Modern Family, The West Wing, True Blood, American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance and Celebrity Apprentice!

5. Who is your favorite character from SGU(or maybe what character do you respect the most or relate to the most)?

JB: I find Colonel Young fascinating.  He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and is constantly making impossible decisions.

6. What was the hardest episode to film so far… and what episode did you have the most fun filming so far?

JB:  The hardest episode to film so far was “Pain”.  It was incredibly intense and exhausting, but it was also the most rewarding for me as an actor!  I loved getting to play so many different emotions with James in this episode.  Going away to New Mexico with the cast to shoot Air Part 3 was the most fun!

7. What do you do to pass time on set? What are you favorite hobbies(on or off set)?”

JB: Last year I was working on a series that I created with my husband Peter and another colleague.  In the down time, that kept me very busy both on and off set!  When I wasn’t working on that, the rest of the cast and I would hang out in between scenes.  Our set is a ton of fun to be on and there is always someone to catch up with.  Someone usually has music playing, our trailer doors are typically open and we all really enjoy spending time together!

Shawn Cassidy writes: “Question for Julia,

I thought you were absolutely fantastic in “PAIN”. The emotion and pain was obvious in your eyes and on your face when you broke down sitting on your bunk when Col. Young came in. I felt for your character. That’s something only a gifted actor can deliver. What is your process as a actress when prepping that scene? Was it a gut and go kind of thing or did you need to invoke some long lost torment from your past to deliver the goods?

Thanks Joe and Julia, keep up the awesome work!!

JB:  Thank you Shawn!  My process is different depending on the scene.  For something this intense I do as much work at home as I can, trying to get into the mind set of what she is going through.  I always drill my lines so that the last thing I am thinking about is the lines.  Then I trust that if I am present and really listening to my scene partner, the emotion will be there.  Over the years I have learnt that trusting yourself as an actor is half the battle.  In the episode “Pain” I did use music to ground me and keep me focused and then I let it all go and played the scene!

Shiny writes: “My question for Julia Benson is did she do her own stunts in the scene where James rifle butts that Civvie in “Divided”? Cuz it was very satisfying to see one of the more whiny Civvies get a beat down by James. And will Julia get to do more fight choreography in the future? I love BamBam’s work. Great work on James, she’s quickly become one of my all time favorite SGU characters!”

JB:  Yes Shiny that was me and yes BamBam is awesome!!  He has been so instrumental every time we have a fight scene.  He knows when to push me and makes me feel like I can do anything.   I am hoping that James will get to do some more fight choreography and stunts!  Thanks so much for your question and comments!

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Tammy Dixon writes: “Questions:
Are you a cat or dog person? How does your family like that you became an actress?
Have you always wanted to be an actress?
How did you get interested in playing “James”? What kind of hoops did you go through to try out for “James”?

I really enjoy your work as “James”! “James” has a bigger story to tell. So, I believe the writers should give you more!”

JB:  Hi Tammy, thank you!  I am honored to play James and hope to keep exploring more and more as the episodes go on!  So for your questions:

-Dog person, love cats but my husband is allergic!  We have a 3.5 year old chocolate lab named Bauer.

-My family has always been incredibly supportive of me.  My mom taught me to follow my dreams and spent most of her life driving me between dance lessons, theatre and figure skating!  She is one of the main reasons that I followed my passion.

– To get the role of James I had to go through several rounds of auditions. First I read for the character, Andrea Palmer, then I was in consideration for the role of Riley, and then they asked me to come back and read for James. I knew instantly that this was the role I wanted.  It just felt right!

Amara MacLeod writes: “Julia, you and the SGU cast are fantastic. I am very glad to see your character being given intriguing depths as we go on.

Now for a silly question (meant completely tongue in cheek no insults or evilness attached): Was it fun for you to kill Brian Jacob Smith?

Sorry. Couldn’t resist. *grins* If I am too inappropriate, please, at least pass on the comment.

Thank you for being on SGU!”

JB:  We are lucky to have such a great cast!  Not only is everyone amazing in their roles but they are also fabulous people, which makes going to work so fun!  I have tons of respect for Brian J. Smith.  He is a dream to work with and he plays his role with such conviction.  Fun, terrifying, emotional, adrenalin inducing…these are some of the words I would use to describe that scene.  It was intense.  I know that you were joking when you asked but truly there were so many crazy emotions running through me when we shot that scene!

Randy White writes: “For Julia:

1.) It has been asserted in some comments by women (most notably a GateWorld podcast basically involving two women) that the writers do not let women be complex characters, typically using juvenile male stereotypes for writing the female characters. Would you agree, or would you say that you have been able to display a fairly broad range of your acting ability and the depth of your character on SGU, given the (still) less than one full season that has been aired?

JB:  Given the amount of screen time James has had, I think that we have seen many sides of her character.  In general I think the writers do a great job of exploring the complexity of humanity in both their male and female characters.

2.) Without revealing too much about season two, are you looking forward to showing even more of your (and the other actors) abilities and the depth of your character, going in directions not even contemplated yet?

JB: Absolutely!  The great thing about being on a sci-fi series is that the possibilities are endless.

3.) How do you feel about the decision to cut the scene more fully explaining your inability to transfer consciousness with a person restricted to a wheelchair and on a respirator?

JB: As an actor, you never know how scenes are going to be cut together.  I trust that they edit to tell the best story and in this instance I don’t think we needed to see more of what James was going through.  The episode was truly about Wray’s journey at home and Perry’s journey on the ship so they needed to get to focus on those stories.

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Bolbait writes: “Here are more serious questions for you:

1) Who do you hang out with on set? Off set (other than your husband)?

JB:  We all spend time together off set.  We like to get together and have Poker nights, which usually end in Rock Band.   Louis Ferreira, John Lenic and I all have dogs so we often go for dog walks together in any one of the amazing trails we have in Vancouver.

2) How much time do you devote to running your lines before filming a scene?

JB:  It depends on the scene, but I always drill my lines until I know them so well that I don’t have to think about it!

3) I really enjoyed watching you “kill” Scott. You showed a great range of emotion, not only in the act, but also later when you were surprised that he was still alive. (This isn’t a question, is it?)

JB:  No but…thank you!

4) Any other characters you want to kill?

JB: No….James didn’t want to kill Scott- I look at it as her fear of what she could be capable of.  Have you ever been so mad or hurt that your mind goes somewhere that scares you?  I think that is what happened for James during that hallucination.

5) Do you think you’re character will ever get together with Eli? It seems that lots of “shippers” would like to see that happen.

JB:  Lol- David Blue and I are always joking about this happening as it seems to be of interest to a lot of the “shippers” as you say.  I think so far Eli and James probably have better chemistry as friends, but who knows….anything is possible on The Destiny!

6) Do you have a lot of input to the writers about what your character would say or do? Or, do you pretty much do what is written down?

JB:  The writers have your storylines mapped out before you get to see all the scripts, so although you have input when you are on set in terms of how the lines are said and what your character is feeling in that moment, I don’t have a ton of input on where my character is going.

7) Do you enjoy the Kino video’s as much as us fans do?”

JB:  I think the Kino’s are great.  It is a great opportunity to show the fans every day life on the ship and for the characters to have fun with each other.  We have such a big ensemble cast that it also is a nice way for you guys to get to know everyone a bit better.

Craig writes: “Question for Julia Benson: are we going to see Lt. James hook up with one of the other men on Destiny (Eli?) now that Scott isn’t available? And are we going to see Lt. James get to kick some ass in “Incursion” or the second season?”

JB:  Good questions!!  Unfortunately I can’t give anything away but James does get some fun stuff to do in Season 2.

Michael writes: “Questions for Julia Benson:

1) What was it like playing one of Lucius Lavin’s six wives in the Stargate Atlantis episode, “Irresistible”?

JB:  Atlantis was great!  I loved working with Richard Kind.  He was hysterical and very down to earth.  I had a wonderful time on that show!

2) On Stargate Universe, what would you rather explore in Vanessa James’ backstory and why: her empathic nature (as she seems to care about others on Destiny like Franklin or tolerating Spencer) or her assignment in Iraq (that she mentioned in “Air” Part 3)?

JB: Both!! Lol, but if I had to choose I would love to explore her life at home.  It would be great to delve into what drew her into the military.

3) What was a bigger challenge to you as an actor and why; the body switch with Dr. Amanda Perry in “Sabotage” or the hallucination sex scene from “Pain”?”

JB:  They were both challenging scenes but the hallucination scene in Pain was emotionally exhausting.  You have to throw yourself in and go to a very dark place, which can be very draining.  It’s interesting though…you don’t realize how tired you are until the end of the night when you get home and all the adrenalin has left your body!

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

E writes: “What do you think of James/Scott relationship?

JB:  I think it is like a lot of relationships….complicated!  On the one hand, James has a lot of respect for Scott and on the other….she has been very hurt by him.  I don’t know if it will happen but it would be great for James and Scott to have a scene together where they get to talk about what happened.

James is easily one of my fav secondary characters. Will we see more of her in the 2nd season?

JB:  Thanks E!  Yes James is around in Season 2!

Where do you see your character in, say, a few years from now?

Most fun experience you’ve had while working on SGU?

JB:  Hmm good question, hopefully James and everyone on board The Destiny are still around in a few years! If so, I hope that James has kicked some serious alien butt!

The most fun days are when everyone is around and the weather in Vancouver is good!  Those days the music is playing and everyone is usually laughing…when they are not working of course!

What’s your fav James moment in SGU S1? Mine was in “Space”, where she talked about Caine without knowing that he could hear her. That was funny, hehe.”

JB:  I love that scene as well! There is always so much intensity on the Destiny that it is great to have a bit of fun with the characters.  I also like the moment between Chloe and James in Water when she tells Chloe about Scott.  I think it was a powerful statement about the kind of character James is.

Freeman writes: “How do you like your character and do you think that the series will have an episode on her past?

JB:  I love the character and I think it would be great if we got to see more of her past.

How do you like working with so many people from some many different backgrounds on the show and behind the scenes?

JB:  It is one of the best things about this business.  You are always meeting and working with tons of different people.  Everyone has their own story and bring such different experiences to the table.

Kabra writes: “Quick get know you questions:

1. Q: Bottled water or tap?

JB: Perrier

2. Q: Beach or Mountains?

JB: We’ve got both in Vancouver, but beach if I had to choose.

3. Reading or watching SGU?

JB: Watching SGU of course!

4. Q: Joe’s homemade ice cream or Ben and Jerry’s.

JB: Ben and Jerry’s!

5. Q: Diamonds or Pearls?

JB: Diamonds!

6. Q: Dogs or Cats?

JB: Dogs.

7. Q: Brothers and sisters?

JB: 4 sisters and 1 brother

8. Q:Hockey or Football?”

JB: Hockey, I am a Canadian Girl thru and thru smile

PBMom writes: “Julia Benson question (since everyone has asked some really good ones, this is the only other one I could come up with):

For a SGleeU episode, what song would you like to sing and why?”

JB: Oh tough one PBMom.  Let’s go with “You Give Love A Bad Name”- Bon Jovi.  It seems appropriate for the situation James is in and who doesn’t love to rock out to Bon Jovi! Lol

Sgugeek writes: Questions for the amazing Julia Benson

1) What would be the ideal gift to get from a fan? What is the coolest thing a fan has ever given you?

JB:  Umm…how about a house, the real estate market in Vancouver is crazy! Lol

A longtime fan of Stargate named Ian made me a website. He continues to work on it with me and has been very generous with his time! He also made me a great poster from a shot in “Darkness”.

2) Do you ever feel like James gets lost in a sea of main characters?

JB: It’s such an ensemble cast and as a supporting character, I think the key is to try and make all of your screen time count.

3) Do you have any convention appearances coming up? Would you like to go to a con, if invited and your schedule permitted it?

JB: I would love to do a convention.  I was supposed to do one at the beginning of the year but scheduling didn’t work out.  So I am working on getting to some soon!

4) When you were little, what were your career aspirations?

JB:  I have always wanted to act or perform in some capacity.  I grew up in competitive dance and always loved being on stage.  As soon as I did a play, there was nothing else that I wanted to do!

Yazid writes: “What is your favorite scene/episode from SGU ?

JB: On the whole, I think that “Space” is my favorite episode, but I also love “Divided”.  There are so many great scenes throughout the season that it is hard to pick one.  That being said the scene between Rush and Young fighting in “Justice” was incredibly intense and will always be a favorite of mine.

You seem to have fun on set, what’s your favorite moment?

JB: Peter Kelamis is a standup comedian and he was doing impressions of the crew one day.  His Peter Deluise is bang on!

What are your similarities/differences with Lt James?

JB: As a lot of people have noted, James has a strong mix of strength and vulnerability.  I am very similar.  Luckily for me the big difference between us is that James hasn’t been very lucky in love!

Did you know Stargate before playing in SGU ?

JB:  Yes I did.  Stargate has always been a huge part of the film and television industry in Vancouver.  I had also done an episode of Stargate Atlantis called “Irresistible”.

Did you cast just for Lt James or any other character ?

JB: To get the role of James I had to go through several rounds of auditions!  First I read for the character, Andrea Palmer, then I was in consideration for the role of Riley, and then they asked me to come back and read for James. I knew instantly that this was the role I wanted.  It just felt right!

In your opinion, how the relation between James and Scott is gonna progress ?

JB:  I think James will have to get over him…not saying that it’s going to be easy but he ends Season 1 very attached to Chloe.  Can’t tell you what happens in Season 2, you will have to wait and see smile

What was the hardest scene to shoot ? The funnier one ?

JB: The hallucination scene in Pain was emotionally exhausting.  You have to throw yourself in and go to a very dark place and that is incredibly challenging but also draining.  It’s interesting though…you don’t realize how tired you are until the end of the night when you get home and all the adrenalin has left you!

Shooting scenes with David Blue in “Darkness” was fun!

Few words in French ?

JB:  Bonjour je m’appelle Julia.  That’s all I’ve got!

May 25, 2010: My most popular entry is… Really? Yet another guest blogger announcement!

One of the many great things about having a blog on wordpress is the Blog Stats section that allows you to track everything from daily views and incoming links to search engine terms and referrers.  And, I just discovered this weekend, if you click on the Top Posts & Pages header, you’ll be directed to a list of every one of your posts ranked according to the traffic it has received to date.

So what, according to wordpress, has been my most popular entry of all time?  The breakdown of the Atlantis season that might-have-been in my An AU Season 6! entry?  The Amanda Tapping Q&A?  That Long Overdue Rant?

Guess again.  Here are my top ten most popular posts to date:

10. September 21, 2008: The Wrap Party!: After five fabulous years, the cast and crew closed the book on Stargate: Atlantis with a final wrap party that featured blackjack, fantastic fashion, and a chocolate replica of Atlantis itself.

9. August 21, 2008: All Good Things…: Seeing about 20% more traffic than entry #10 was my farewell to Atlantis, a bittersweet entry written on the heels of the official announcement that the show would not be returning for a sixth season.

8. April 26, 2009: The Best Chocolate Party: Last year’s chocolate party – and, perhaps not so coincidentally, the first group sneak peek at the new Stargate: Universe cast – comes in at #8.

7. August 23, 2008: Questions, Answers, Guests, and Pics!: Actress Dawn Olivieri does a guest spot on the show and, more importantly this blog – scrapping with Jason Momoa and even using his guitar as a weapon.  The entry is dedicated to more post-Atlantis-cancellation fall-out, and thank-you’s.

6. September 30, 2008: An AU Season 6!: So IF Atlantis had received that sixth season pick-up, what kind of stories could we have looked forward to?  Well, something like the notions listed in this flash-sideways entry…

5. May 3, 2009: Transforming Stage 5 From Stargate Command to Icarus Base: Occupying the fifth spot is our stroll through the corridors of what was once Stargate Command.  The SG-1 gate room, control room, and briefing room are no more, the spaces they once occupied in the midst of a transformation that will see them become the SGU premiere’s Icarus Base.

4. January 2, 2009: Brad Wright Answers Your Questions:  The man who co-created Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: Universe, and was showrunner for much of the franchise’s amazing 11+ year run fields some fan queries.

3. October 31, 2009: That Long Overdue Rant: Given the online buzz and the ensuing furor it received, I figured this entry would have occupied the #1 spot – but, surprisingly, it only received roughly half the traffic of the #2 entry…

2. September 5, 2009: Dinner with Ivon and Brian!  Julia Benson!  Braving the Tokyo subway system!:  At first glance, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what made this post so popular.  Was it the snaps of our dinner at Quattro?  A sneak peek at SGU’s Lieutenant Vanessa James played by Julia Benson?  Or was it all those Ivon Bartok fanatics checking out their favorite guy?  Well, the entry that came in at #1 gave me the answer…

1. October 22, 2009: Julia Benson! Jennifer Spence!  Birthday Swag!  The Weird Food Purchase of the Day!: Granted, this entry had a bit of everything – Carl, pretty actresses, a video of me sampling one of the hottest hot sauces out there, a picture of the bacon-chocolate chip cookies sent in by a fan – but what the hell made it so damn popular?  Well, if you compare and contrast the entries occupying the top two slots, you’ll notice one like variable: Julia Benson.  Cross-reference that with the top three Search Engine Terms used to reach my blog –

3. “joe mallozzi”: Makes sense.

2. “joseph mallozzi”: Makes even more sense given that that’s how I’m credited onscreen.

1. “julia benson”: Garnering about twice as many searches as “joseph mallozzi”.

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television

What does this tell us?  Well, it tells us that there are a lot of fans of strong, military women out there.  What else would it tell us?

It also tells us that it’s high time I invited actress Julia Benson to guest here and answer some fan question in her very own Q&A.

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

So if you’ve got questions for the Julia, start posting!

And between coming up with questions for Julia and dissecting the last episode of SGU, I urge you to find the time to read two of our upcoming book of the month club selections:

Swordspoint, by Ellen Kushner Discussion the week of June 14th with author Ellen Kushner

House of Suns, by Alastair Reynolds Discussion the week of July 12th with author Alastair Reynolds. It comes out in paperback today!

Finally, Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok passed this one along.  If you failed to check out SGU’s season premiere, Air I, here’s what you missed:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=IoBRFjeXfeU

Today’s entry is dedicated to birthday gals Chevron7, Lis and Sarah Lee!

October 22, 2009: Julia Benson! Jennifer Spence! Birthday Swag! The Weird Food Purchase of the Day!

Well, hey!  Look whose IMDB starmeter has skyrocketed 360% this week!  None other than SGU’s Second Lieutenant Vanessa James, Julia Benson (formerly Anderson).  Yes, she’s gorgeous – in addition to being a total sweetheart.   AND a wonderful actress, which you’ll find out for yourself in the coming weeks.

Julia Benson (Second Lieutenant Vanessa James)
Julia Benson (Second Lieutenant Vanessa James)

Anyway, in addition to joining the ever-growing SGU twitterati (http://twitter.com/julia_benson), Julia has also started a blog.  Check it out: http://www.juliabensononline.com/

Also, actress Jennifer Spence (SGU’s Lisa “Earthquake Girl” Park) joins twitter (http://twitter.com/SpenceJen).

Two of my favorite Jen Spence picks – and not just because I’m in them…

IMG_1961

IMG_1962

Hey, another big thanks to all those who posted or emailed birthday wishes.  Special thanks to Shirt’n’Tie, Anais33, Polly, For the Love of Beckett, Sara Nice, and Quade for the cards and gifts.  “What gifts?”many of you may ask.  Well, check out my birthday swag…

Birthday cards.  The one on the very left, sent by Anais33, sports a pic of my three pugs (Bubba, Jelly, and Maximus).
Birthday cards. The one on the very left, sent by Anais33, sports a pic of my three pugs (Bubba, Jelly, and Maximus).

Big paw magnet.
Big paw magnet.
Chocolate rocks and framed pic of two of my faves (Carl and Jelly).
Chocolate rocks and framed pic of two of my faves (Carl and Jelly).
Carl claims possession of my gift.  It now sits atop HIS desk.
Carl claims possession of my gift. It now sits atop HIS desk.
Bacon gumballs, a picture/frame, and hot sauce.
Bacon gumballs, a picture/frame, and hot sauce.

By the way, the Dragon’s Blood hot sauce is made from Naga Bhut Jolokia Peppers, purported to be the hottest in the world.  How hot?  Well, Quade helpfully provided the following Scoville scale breakdown (offering comparable ratings for other, less fiery peppers):

0 = Bell Pepper

5,000 = Jalapeno Pepper

200,000 = Habanero Pepper

1,000,000 = Naga Bhut Jolokia Pepper

Was it really THAT hot?  In a word: YES!  Check out the video of Carl and I sampling the goods (Camera work by Lawren Bancroft-Wilson)…

Bacon-Chocolate chip cookies.
Bacon-Chocolate chip cookies.
Taaaaaaasty!
Taaaaaaasty!

October 17, 2009: A Big-Time Jump! A Doggy Dilemma! Some Atlantis Stills! And An Extra Chunky Mailbag!

Well, hoowee!  I just checked my blog stats and discovered that my traffic has jumped by a whopping 40%.  What gives?  Strangely, nothing out of the ordinary in the referrers or incoming links.  And then I noticed the 2800+ visitors who came to this blog via a search engine.  And the search term used?

Stargate: Universe?

Nope.

Rosie the Riveter?

No, it only brought in a mere half dozen.

Julia Benson?

Correct!  Julia, who plays the role of Second Lieutenant Vanessa James on Stargate: Universe, has obviously captured the attention of more than a few casual viewers.  Great!  She’s not only a wonderful actress, but a total sweetheart.  And she’s apparently joined the ranks to the Twitterati, so if you want to get the latest updates on all-things Julia, head on over here: http://twitter.com/Julia_Benson

Hey, after Air I and II, we got the “Hey, why didn’t the kino push the buttons to seal the shuttle door?” questions and after Air III we got the “Hey, why didn’t the kino find and test for water?” questions, so I’m surprised that, after Darkness aired, we haven’t seen the expected “Hey, why didn’t the kino figure out the ship’s power issues?” questions.  What gives?

My attempts to find a dog-sitter for over the Christmas holidays have come up empty.  I thought our Production Coordinator Tanja had a lead the other day when she told me about a quiet, middle-aged woman who would have been perfect for the job.  “She ‘s a bit of a spinster,”Tanja informed me.  I asked her what she meant given that the poor woman was described as “middle-aged” (which, last time I checked, aint exactly spinster territory so far as I’m familiar with the term).  “Oh,”she explained.  “She’s middle-aged, a homebody, and her life revolves around dog.”  Then, helpfully adding: “Sort of like you.”  Which, I guess, makes me the male equivalent of a spinster (a spinsthim?).  I haven’t given up hope and will continue looking but, as a last resort, I might have to board the gang at the local doggie hotel.

The pugs huddled together to catch that lone strip of sunlight.
The pugs huddled together to catch that lone strip of sunlight.
The Frenchies post-party crash.
The Frenchies post-party crash.

Hey, since someone asked, here are some publicity stills from Atlantis’s fifth season.

Ronon in action.  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Ronon in action. Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Rumor has it Jason has been cast in HBO's upcoming Game of Thrones mini-series.  Cool, no?  (Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Rumor has it Jason has been cast in HBO's upcoming Game of Thrones mini-series. Cool, no? (Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
A couple of most unlikely action heroes (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
A couple of most unlikely action heroes (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

AND an extra-chunky mailbag:

Matt Boesch writes: “What Episodes are you guys on currently working and prepping for?”

Answer: We’re done prepping.  We’re shooting Incursion I and II.

O6untouchable writes: “Just curious – is this another one of Ivon’s contributions to the franchise this year, or is it something that Brad and Rob cooked up?”

Answer: Those segments were shot by Andy Mikita as part of the opener.

Qsoaiein writes: “Do you know how the people that make Stargate decide how old a particular character is in the show? Like when they were born, because I’ve noticed it seems to differ from their actor’s age sometimes.”

Answer: No, we never assign an exact age or date of birth to the characters.

Joel413 writes: “The face shown in the sand, was that an ancient or was that the face of the priest that raised the Lt?”

Answer: That was the priest.  See the video in yesterday’s entry.

MrsB writes: “ 1) Is anyone onboard the Destiny severely mentally unbalanced?
2)Will there be any surprising relationships formed this season?”

Answers: 1) Oh, the strain of being stranded so far from home will exact a psychological toll on many of the crewmembers.
2) I’m not sure what you would consider surprising.

Matt Tyler writes: “Also, where did you find Jamil? He’s absolutely amazing!”

Answer: That he is!

Sean writes: “Do you think the concept of the edge of the universe might eventually apply within the Stargate Universe series?”

Answer: It certainly sounds cool, but I don’t think there is an “edge of the universe”.

Hestia writes: “It’s a stupid question but we all are curious to know if SGU will have a song for it’s opening credit.”

Answer: Unfortunately, it won’t.

Jlgrand writes: “What is the best way to show my support for SGU?”

Answer: 1. Watch the show.  2. Tell everyone how much you’re enjoying the show.

Michael writes: “Can I ask who is the cg artist responsible for making the destiny ship for Stargate Universe and does he have a website.”

Answer: Production Designer James Robbins designed Destiny.

RandomQ’s writes: “Any indication yet as to whether or not during the SGU hiatus the SG1 & SGA movies will move into production?”

Answer: Alas, given that we’ve received no word about either movie by this point, it’s unlikely we’ll be shooting them in November.

Quade1 writes: “I’m watching Dragon’s Den right now on CBC, actually a pretty good show. you catch any episodes Joe?”

Answer: I don’t, but the guys at work do and enjoy it.

Brian writes: “…is it true; that if Extinction succeeds the SGA series will be picked back up?”

Answer: There is absolutely not truth to this.  Even if the movie does well, it will definitely not result in the series being revived.  It would, however, increase the likelihood of more movies.

Hitman writes: “Run a scandisk of the drive and see if it detects any faults.”

Answer: I did!  And it did!  And my laptop is functional once again.  But I’m still getting a new one.

Littleravenhawk writes: “Matt Stover….like Matthew Stover…the best Star Wars author????”

Answer: The one and only.  Check out the recent Q&A he did for us: http://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2009/09/18/september-19-2009-author-matthew-woodring-stover-answers-your-questions/

Mel writes: “Everyone is talking highly of the ratings, however, they aren’t that good, are they?”

Answer: They’re actually very good, especially when you consider SGU’s winning the night in key demos.  Of course you can compare the show’s number to other shows, but you can also bring up the fact that we’re airing Friday nights (the least watched night on television) and in the Fall where we’re up against network competition.

Jenny writes: “Also, I got so much GREAT footage up there last week and cannot wait to get started.”

Answer: It was nice chatting with you on set, however briefly.  Ivon speaks very highly of you.

Ytimyona writes: “ Any word yet on whether we can look forward to actor commentaries on SGU???”

Answer: Yes!  The actors have been in and out of the production offices these past few weeks working on their commentaries.  Coming soon to DVD!

Scarym writes: “So what is your idea of the perfect birthday cake?”

Answer: I’m going to go with dark chocolate pistachio.

Kathode writes: “Okay, here’s a question for you: where in Vancouver can I find good cannoli?”

Answer: Hmmm.  Good question.  I’d check out some of the shops on Commercial Drive.

Ravenfur writes: “Do TV networks take into account their online viewers when they consider how popular a series is?”

Answer: They might, but advertisers generally don’t.

Tim Gaffney writes: “I know you want to get LDP into these episodes, but it strains credability that he is the one who always is there when Young returns to the Pentagon.”

Answer: That goes to Telford’s determination and desire to get on Destiny.

Tim Gaffney also writes: “And come on, I can maybe buy that Sen. Armstrongs wife was informed of the situation. She could have high clearance. But Young’s wife?”

Answer: Over the course the many years the Stargate program has been in operation, more and more people have been informed of its existence.  In the interest of ensuring the psychological well-being of the Destiny crew, many civilians WILL receive clearance so that they can visit with their loved ones.

Tim Gaffney also writes: “And if Telford reports that Young should be removed from command, who would possibly replace him. Rush just had a mental breakdown, Scott would be the only other possibility and he is only a Lt.”

Answer: Scary, no?  Let’s hope Young is able to stay cool under pressure.

Df2506 writes: “Young goes to visit his ex-wife?”

Answer: Why not?  Given the technology at their disposal, why deny these people the opportunity to visit with loved ones, allow them at least a glimmer of comfort and open an otherwise bleak situation?

Montrealer writes: “Who is the ranking officer after Colonel Young?”

Answer: In the event Colonel Young is unable to fulfill his duties, Lieutenant Scott will step in.

Quade1 writes: “Do the actor’s have to visualize the Kino or do you guys have like a green ball hanging from a rope on a stick?”

Answer: The kino is usually CG and for tracking purposes it is usually a “ball on a stick”.

Joshua Meyers extraordinary teenager writes: “ Are there any moments ahead where Telford challenges Youngs command or something, or anyone challenges his command(this question is limited to people stranded back on earth only)??”

Answer: It certainly looks like that’s where things may be headed.

AceNZ writes: “will the crew ever be able to explore the full extent of Destiny?”

Answer: Exploring Destiny will be a priority in the coming months.

Kevin writes: “At the beginning of the episode when they’re in the mess hall. Everyone is casually sitting around and having a conversation…but in the back of the room…there’s a soldier in full gear…carrying his rife at the ready.”

Answer: Given that that’s where much of the food is stored, it makes sense that there would be guards posted to ensure nobody tries to help themselves.

HBMC writes: “Will the characters we saw be developed further in this way (not necessarily via Kino diaries).
Take Lisa Park as an example – I think she’s adorable, and seems to be the kind’ve person who rambles a bit when given the chance. Is this present in her character further down the line, or just something done in this episode?”

Answer: We will develop our secondary cast of characters as well, in the episode and in the kino sequences that will be appearing online.  Soon.  And, yes, I’m a big fan of Jennifer Spence’s work as well.  In the coming months, watch this blog for upcoming guest Q&A’s for the likes of Jennifer (Lisa Park), Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker), Peter Kelamis (Adam Brody), Haig Sutherland (Sgt. Riley), Mark Burgess (Franklin), and Julia Benson (Lt. Vanessa James).

Aboleyn24 writes: “Why not have scientist that are experts on ancent tech swap with someone in board Destiny and try and solve some of these problems. They can’t expect Rush to do it all and its not like they don’t have access to capable people that might be able to assist them.”

Answer: Rush and Eli are certainly the best and brightest.  Rush, in particular, would be in the best position to know what kind of help he would need.  That said, the issue of using the stones in this regard will be addressed in an upcoming episode.

September 26, 2009: Six Days to the Stargate: Universe Premiere! A Sneak Peek for the Cast and Crew!

Yep, only six days until the world premiere of Stargate: Universe!  Have you told everyone?  And I mean EVERYONE?  Your pharmacist?  That ex-girlfriend you dumped in college?  The Hungarian woman in Accounts Receivable from your last job?  No?!!!  Well, what‘re you waiting for!

We’re not waiting.  For October 2nd that is.  Today, we held a special matinee screening of SGU’s first three episodes – Air I, II, and III – for the cast and crew.  I’ve gotta say, there’s nothing like seeing it on the big screen.  The performances were spectacular, the visuals stunning, and the last ten minutes of Air III had me on the edge of my seat (despite the fact that I’ve already watched it about a half dozen times).

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Lawren, Ashleigh's guy, and Ashleigh.  Before leaving the office on Friday, I asked Ashleigh to text me a reminder about the matinee.  About an hour before the matinee, having received no reminder text, I texted her: "Hey, am I supposed to be somewhere today?"  A moment later, I received her response: "No.  It's Saturday.  You're free."  Later, I received a follow-up text: "Oh shoot.  The premiere is today.  I hope you can make it in time."  I got it about five minutes after I'd taken my seat beside her in the theater.
Lawren, Ashleigh's guy, and Ashleigh. Before leaving the office on Friday, I asked Ashleigh to text me a reminder about the matinee. About an hour before the matinee, having received no reminder text, I texted her: "Hey, am I supposed to be somewhere today?" A moment later, I received her response: "No. It's Saturday. You're free." Later, I received a follow-up text: "Oh shoot. The premiere is today. I hope you can make it in time." I got it about five minutes after I'd taken my seat beside her in the theater.

The eccentric Carl Binder and my writing partner Paul Mullie.
Producers Carl Binder and Paul Mullie grow increasingly anxious for the movie to start.
Actor David Blue (SGU's Eli Wallace) scopes the crowd prior to the screening.
Actor David Blue (SGU's Eli Wallace) scopes the crowd prior to the screening.
I look like one of those eccentric European fashion designers.  Zis seazun zebra iz in!
I look like one of those eccentric European fashion designers. Zis seazun zebra moccassins are een!
A candid shot of David Blue enjoying a little popcorn.
A candid shot of David Blue enjoying a little popcorn.
Show Creators/Executive Producers Robert Cooper and Brad Wright give a speech before the screening.  "The blue honda hatchback, license number 987 DFJ - you are parked in a fire lane.  You WILL be towed!"
Show Creators/Executive Producers Robert Cooper and Brad Wright give a speech before the screening. "The blue honda hatchback, license number 987 DFJ - you are parked in a fire lane. You WILL be towed!"
SGU Director Will Waring strikes a pose.  Then remembers too late he is camera shy.
SGU Director Will Waring strikes a pose. Then remembers too late he is camera shy.
Actor Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) intermissing at intermission.
Actor Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) intermissin' at intermission.
The lovely Kerry McDowall shows off her Irish beau Alan.  Do I sense a little magic in the air?  Oh, no, sorry.  I think that's flare from the black light.
The lovely Kerry McDowall shows off her Irish beau Alan. Do I sense a little magic in the air? Oh, no, sorry. I think that's flare from the black light.
Actor Jamil Walker Smith (SGU's Sgt. Ronald Greer) wonders whether I'm going to keep the camera after I'm done.
Actor Jamil Walker Smith (SGU's Sgt. Ronald Greer) wonders whether I'm going to keep the camera after I'm done.
The ever pleasant Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (SGU's Airman Darren Becker) shows off his stylin' headwear.
The ever pleasant Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (SGU's Airman Darren Becker) shows off his stylin' headwear.
VFX Supervisor Mark Savela supervises the crowd at intermission.
VFX Supervisor Mark Savela supervises the crowd at intermission.
Yowza!  Actress Elyse Levesque (SGU's Chloe Armstrong) reminds me of those beautiful starlets from the 30's and 40's.
Yowza! Actress Elyse Levesque (SGU's Chloe Armstrong) reminds me of those beautiful starlets from the 30's and 40's.
Director Andy Mikita and his better half, wife Candace.
Director Andy Mikita and his better half, wife Candace.

Actress Julia Benson (SGU's Lieutenant Vanessa James) and actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Airman Darren Becker)
Actress Julia Benson (SGU's Lieutenant Vanessa James) and actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Airman Darren Becker)
Actress Julia Benson (Lieutenant Vanessa James) with husband and fellow actor Peter Benson (playing himself).
Actress Julia Benson (Lieutenant Vanessa James) with husband and fellow actor Peter Benson (playing himself).
Exec. Producer Robert Cooper snacking it up before Air III.
Exec. Producer Robert Cooper snacking it up before Air III.
Actor Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody).  And rumored french bulldog owner.
Actor Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody). And rumored french bulldog owner.
The beautiful Ming-Na (SGU's Camile Wray) with hubby.
The beautiful Ming-Na (SGU's Camile Wray) with hubby.
Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok.  Hey, where's his camera?  Shouldn't he be getting all this for the DVD extras?
Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok. Hey, where's his camera? Shouldn't he be getting all this for the DVD extras?
Check out the hot couple!  Actress Alaina Huffman (SGU's Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) and husband John.
Check out the hot couple! Actress Alaina Huffman (SGU's Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) and husband John.
The lovely Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park).
The lovely Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park).
Actor David Blue let me post the first two goofy pics so long as I posted at least one good photo.  This one's going to be my desktop wallpaper.
Actor David Blue let me post the first two goofy pics so long as I posted at least one good photo. This one's going to be my desktop wallpaper.

Finally, as I was driving today, listening to the radio, I heard a radio advertisement for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in which they mentioned some upcoming performances,  among them Itzhak Perlman and Lang Lang.  Seriously!  Lang Lang!  Who wouldn’t pay to see a panda play the cello?  I can’t wait!

September 5, 2009: Dinner with Ivon and Brian! Julia Benson! Braving the Tokyo subway system!

Ivon considers his menu options.
Ivon considers his menu options.

Last night, I went to dinner with Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok and actor Brian J. Smith (SGU’s Lt. Matthew Scott). We ended up at Quattro (now Q4) on West Fourth for an Italian extravaganza. We ordered and were immediately presented with a wonderful little amuse-bouche of bacon-wrapped sablefish (?) served with a sundried tomato pesto.

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Then, we moved on to our first course – the house antipasto platter that included, among many other things, a heavenly grilled radicchio-wrapped mozzarella and proscuitto in cherry vinaigrette.

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Then, we moved onto a second course served family style – a double pasta portion – the house special Spaghetti Quattro (black beans and lots of garlic!) and the not-on-the-menu-but-you-should-ask for it-anyway Fettuccine Tartufati (Portobello mushrooms and truffle cream). The latter, by the way, has the Carl Binder seal of approval.

Fettuccine Tarufati (left) Spaghetti Quattro (right).
Fettuccine Tarufati (left) Spaghetti Quattro (right).

 Speaking of Carl – the first few times I took him out to dinner, he would ignore my recommendations, much to his regret. Eventually, he got into the habit of actually listening to me when I said “Try the crispy duck!” or “Get the squash agnolotti with black truffle butter!”. Last night, both Ivon and Brian went with my suggestion for their mains – the Galleto al Mattone (marinated de-boned Cornish game hen grilled with Riviera herbs, garlic and pepperoni), another house specialty. Needless to say, no one regretted the choice.

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For dessert, we decided to go with a platter comprised of four selections: house tiramisu, warm chocolate cake with home made ice cream, a vanilla crème brulee, and the sour cherries with phyllo and mascarpone cheese. After seven long sugarless weeks, I finally partook.

Desserts!
Desserts!
Ivon is stunned!
Ivon is stunned!
Brian is overwhelmed!
Brian is overwhelmed!
I'm armed and ready!  Note the crazy eyes.
I’m armed and ready! Note the crazy eyes.

All around, a most satisfying and delicious meal. I believe I counted about a half dozen “Wow!”’s from Brian.

Brian J. Smith is hankering for a fan Q&A.
Brian J. Smith is hankering for a fan Q&A.

Anyway, in addition to food and the wine, we talked – about the show, the franchise, and the future. Yesterday, I mentioned that the people who worked with Zac Efron described him as “very professional, incredibly focused, grounded, courteous and kind”. Well, the exact same words could be used to describe Brian as well. Thoughtful and well-spoken, he’s also surprisingly low-key, not at all interested in the trappings of celebrity. Rather than partying it up, he prefers quiet time spent reading, watching a good movie, or working out. He expressed a desire to do some stage work this winter. I’ll keep you all posted should you find yourselves in the New York area in late 2009 and early 2010.

Brian, by the way, is super keen to do his own fan Q&A on this blog.  So, once I’ve organized and sent off the questions for David Blue, I’m going to start taking questions for SGU’s very own Lieutenant Matthew Scott!  So, what would you like to ask him?

Julia Benson (Lt. Vanessa James) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Julia Benson (Lt. Vanessa James) – photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Speaking of our impressive cast, I want to make mention of yet another recurring player who has really stepped up over the course of this first season. Julia Benson (formerly Julia Anderson – She claims the name change was the result of her recent marriage but I suspect it has more to do with that whole fugitive from justice thing. But I digress.) plays the role of Second Lieutenant Vanessa James and, like much of our supporting cast, impressed early and continues to do so with performances that have won her the respect and confidence of the entire writing-producing team. I mention Julia because we were watching the director’s cut of Pain the other day, an episode in which she delivers one stunner of a scene. I’m also looking forward to her nice, meaty moments in an upcoming episode.

Running through a scene with stunt coordinator James Bamford.
Running through a scene with stunt coordinator James Bamford.

Well, with my Tokyo trip a mere two months away, I’m putting the finishing touches on my travel plans. On past visits, I’ve relied on the city’s cab drivers to get me where I want to go – with varying degrees of success. On this visit, however, I’ve decided to be a little more adventurous and hazard the Tokyo subway. Last time I was in town, my friend Jessica took me through the paces (http://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2008/12/01/december-1-2008-tokyo-travel-day-9-my-big-subway-adventure-checking-out-the-iron-chefs-dark-digs-and-i-take-the-day-off/) so I sent her an email today requesting her input. I wrote:

“I’m thinking of using the subway and wanted to now about that all-inclusive card you had. Does it allow you to travel everywhere in the system? For how long? What is the cost?

Thanks,

Joe

P.S. Tokyo Times article, February 12, 2010 = “Remains of Tourist Found”: Yesterday, transit officials discovered the desiccated remains of a Canadian tourist almost two months after his mysterious disappearance. It is presumed he got lost on his way to eat some matcha opera cake at the Sadaharu Aoki Patisserie in Roppogni and perished after getting stuck in a turnstile on the Hibiya line. Next of kin have been notified.”

Hey, check it out. Stargate: Universe made the list of TV Guide’s 10 Most Anticipated New Falls Shows: http://www.tvguide.com/News/10-Anticipated-New-1009428.aspx

Pics of Zac Efron with actress Ming Na (SGU’s Camile Wray): http://twitpic.com/gcrz4

Some on set photos from Stargate: Atlantis’s fifth season:

Actress Leela Savasta (Captain Alicia Vega) at gun school with armorer Rob Fournier.
Actress Leela Savasta (Captain Alicia Vega) at gun school with armorer Rob Fournier.

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Today’s entry is dedicated to DemonHunter’s niece Hannah (Happy Birthday!) and Netty (Happy 1st Anniversary!).