Well, this takes me back. Going through the MGM Atlantis photo archive, I came upon snaps from the season five Ronon-centric episode Broken Ties, a sequel of sorts to the previous season’s Reunion.
This particular story partly came about as a result of a request from actor Jasono Momoa who wanted to see his character go darkside. He pitched out a bunch of ideas for the prospective story including a scene in which Ronon shaves his head as a symbolic break from the past. (In truth, the desire to lose the dreadlocks also had a lot to do with the neck and back problems Jason was experiencing at the time, the result of lugging around some 4 pounds of hair.).
Well, I wrote the script and that head-shaving sequence, but, alas, the network didn’t want the Ronon character to lose the dreads and so, as a compromise, while Jason did lose the dreads (taking a load off his neck and back in the process), Ronon did not, and Jason ended up being wigged for the show’s fifth and final season.
I know, I know. This is old news. But what I struck me about this particular script and another one I wrote later that season, Remnants, are the structural similarities of the two that, quite frankly, made them atypical of most Atlantis scripts and, surprisingly, more characteristic of the type of scripts we are writing for Stargate: Universe. Rather than focusing on a single action or plot-driven A-story, or an unrelated A and B story, these episodes spotlighted multiple characters in multiple thematically-linked through lines that delved into their respective psychologies and backstories.
Broken Ties, for instance, focused on three seemingly disconnected stories – Ronon’s capture and subsequent turning, Teyla’s struggle with motherhood, and Woolsey’s settling in to his new position as commander of the Atlantis expedition – that, upon closer scrutiny, actually dealt with the like themes of belonging, change, and the ability to accept the past in order to move on to the future (similar to season four‘s Reunion). Remnants, on the other hand, dealt with three more seemingly disparate storylines – Sheppard trapped on the mainland with one of his greatest enemies, McKay and Zelenka working to solve the mystery of a piece of alien technology, and Woolsey’s struggle with loneliness – all of which end up dovetailing at the end of an episode that, it turns out, has everything to do with hidden, deep-seeded desires brought to light.
Ultimately, however, at the heart of these episodes are our characters and their relationships with themselves and each other: Sheppard’s drive to protect those near and dear to him, McKay’s secret respect and affection for Zelenka, Ronon’s struggle to come to terms with who he was and how he’s changed, Teyla’s attempts to reconcile her established role as warrior with her new role as mother.
In short, less about the threat-of-the-week or the running and gunning and more about who these people were, who they are, and where they’re headed. Which pretty much sums up our approach to Stargate: Universe and its diverse crew. Yes, there’ll still be plenty of action and humor and exploration and discovery and incredible space battles but, at their core, the SGU stories will be about the characters. And a terrific bunch of characters at that.
Like, for instance, the character of Sgt. Spencer played by actor Josh Blacker, a hard-ass military type who proves himself a bit of a loose cannon with a hair-trigger temper facing the strain and tensions of an unforeseen jaunt through distant space.
He is one scary dude but the actor playing him is quite the opposite – an incredibly gracious and altogether friendly guy.
Some of you know him as Ernest Littlefield. Most of you know him as Dr. Carson Beckett. Me? I know him as good ole Paul – talented actor, all-around good guy, and the most entertaining person to hang with at a con (as I discovered at the 2007 San Diego Comic Con). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the charming Scotsman, Paul McGillion…
Lexi Proudfoot writes: “1] You said in June of last year that Hakkasan is one of your favourite places to eat. What is your absolute favourite restaurant? If you had to pick one dish to eat every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?”
PM: Hakkasan in London is still my favourite restaurant. If only one dish, it would have to be the duck salad – delicious!
“2] If you were invited to a costume party and the theme was ‘childhood heroes,’ who would you go as?”
PM: Flash. That way I could be everywhere at once.
“3] Will you ever start a blog? Please, please start a blog! For the love of ceol mor, man!”
PM: Don’t see myself ever doing my own blog. Joe’s a tough act to follow.
“4] Have you ever visited your Gateworld thread, a.k.a. The Gutter? I hope you brought some hipwaders if you ventured there…”
PM: I’ve popped into the Gateworld thread a few times. No hipsters were needed – everyone seemed pretty cool!
“5] Will you marry me?”
PM: As flattered as I am, I’m spoken for.
Rhonda writes: “Do you have any con appearances coming up? You and Aaron Douglas really need to do one together. You guys are hilarious. Anyway, hope to see you back on TV in a regular position soon.”
PM: Thanks Rhonda. As it happens, Aaron and I are appearing at Dragon Con. Should be a blast! Hope to see you there!!
GateGeek in Canada writes: “Whoo! Thanks for doing a Q&A! My question is completely unrelated to Stargate but…
Can you share any amusing anecdotes/stories from the Star Trek set? Your scene (though far too short) was brilliant and I IMMEDIATELY burst into a huge grin when you came onto the screen! I also began frantically pointing you out to everyone I was with; I didn’t know when you’d appear and so it rather surprised me. Bravo! And thanks again.”
PM: Hey GateGeek! Thanks for the Star Trek kudos. Yes, it was a lot of fun to be part of such a cool movie. Maybe not so funny, but unusual was riding in a Pope-mobile type thing to and from set – top secret and all.
Michael A. Burstein writes: “Were you as surprised as the rest of us when you died so quickly on 24?”
PM: Not really – everyone gets killed by Jack.
Elyse writes: “Thanks, Paul, for taking the time to answer some questions. Had Stargate Atlantis had a sixth season, where would you have liked to have seen Beckett go, story/character-wise?”
PM: Hi Elyse. Beckett, 6th season? Finally ending up on that island inhabited only by Swedish swimsuit models.
“Any word on whether Beckett will be in the SGA movie?”
PM: Yes… looks like Dr. Beckett will indeed be in the SGA movie. At least that’s what Joe says!!
“What’s the next project we can look forward in seeing you in?“
PM: I currently have a couple of things on the go. Most exciting, is an independent feature I’m working on with a friend of mine. Working title: ‘The Bad’.
flygirl writes: “Hi Paul – You were absolutely super in “A Dog’s Breakfast”. Do you have any future plans to take a turn behind the camera as a producer/director? If so, would it be a comedy, adventure, mystery, or scifi???
Enjoyed meeting you in Vancouver, BC in the Hilton’s restaurant, after you met with the lovely lady who led your “Save Beckett” campaign!!
Take care – Evelyn
(co-producer of your “Lean on Me” vid)”
PM: Hi Evelyn. Nice to hear from you! No directing is in my immediate future, but I’m co-producing an indie. Hoping to get it behind the camera by the fall; working title, ‘The Bad’.
Ricky writes: “I watched “A Dog’s Breakfast” few times as you were wonderful in it! Any word for ADB 2?”
PM: Hey Ricky! Thanks for your kind words about my performance in ADB. You’ll have to ask Dave Hewlett about a sequel. I certainly hope so – it was fun to do.
Bailey writes: “For Paul:
1.Do you keep in touch with any of your colleages from SGA?”
PM: Hey Bailey. Yes, I keep in touch with all of them. Infact, I saw the lovely Rachel just last week.
“2. I loved you as Dr. Beckett, what do you think were his best qualities? His worst?”
PM: Thanks. Some of his best qualities were his sense of humanity and his sense of humour. Worst? Would have to be his lack of love interests.
P.S. There’s always the movie.
“3. Did you try to play the second incarnation of Beckett differently than before he was cloned?”
PM: I think Beckett, as well as the rest of the crew, had some trepidation about his return to Atlantis. He was certainly aware of the changes that had occurred in his absence and his own circumstances, ie being a clone. That being said eventually, by the end of season five, I think we had good old Carson back.
“4. Whatever happened to the “wee turtles?”
PM: Rodney still has them. The bastard! “Give me back my wee baby turtles!!”
Arctic Goddess writes: “Questions for Paulie: Where did you get the name, “Paulie”?”
PM: Hello to the Arctic! It was a nickname, “Pauly”. It was given to me when I was a wee boy from my sweet mum, and it just stuck!
“Are you going to be at Comic Con in San Diego this year?”
PM: No Comic Con for Pauly this year, unfortunately. Dragon Con in Atlanta though.
“When you were on Atlantis, who was your absolute favorite guest star to work with and why?”
PM: We had a lot of great guest stars on Atlantis over the years. But for me, I’d have to say Richard Kind, in the epidosde Irresistable. Great comic timing, and just a funny, funny guy.
“Thanks for answering the questions, Paul. As a mom, I suggest you give your parents a call and tell them how much you appreciate them. You can never say that enough to the people you love. “
PM: I talk to my parents everyday – you’re absolutely right!
Adna writes: “Since David Hewlett said that there are high hopes ADB’s ‘Starcrossed’ will see the light of day, are you going to participate in the project?”
PM: Hi Adna. That’s totally up to David, but I’d love to.
PoorOldEdgarDerby writes: “Questions for Paul: Can you comment on whether you’ll be in either the Atlantis movie or SGU?”
PM: PoorOldEdgarDerby, Nice to hear from you. Altantis movie – yes. SGU – haven’t heard, but if they asked me, I’m sure it would be a blast.
“3. Who is your second favorite Beatle?”
PM: Assuming my first is Sir Paul (little known fact – I was named after him) I would have to say John Lennon.
Silversi writes: “Hey Paul, Do you get to Scotland often? If you were to recommend the best place to visit on vacation–what would you choose? I’m hoping to get there one day, and I’m looking for suggestions!”
PM: Hey Silver, I do indeed get back to Scotland – love it there! Glasgow’s a party, Highlands are a must, and get tattooed in Edinborough.
“Also–with your parents having fairly heavy Scottish accents, and while you played Carson on Stargate–did you ever randomly find yourself slipping into a bit of a Scottish brogue at all? It seems like you can slip in and out fairly easily–did that take much practice at all?”
PM: No, I can go back and forth quite naturally. Lucky for me, because the brogue can be quite a tongue twister at times!
Ponytail writes: “Questions for Paul McGillion. You have always been one of my favorite characters. Nice, sweet, non-threatening, always there to help.
What was your favorite episode of Stargate Atlantis?”
PM: Thanks Ponytail! You’re sweet. My favourite episode would have to be “Poisoning the Well”.
“Who did you most like to work with and why?”
PM: Had the opportunity to work with Sally Field in a movie called ‘Cooler Climate’. She was just such a professional, down to earth – a genuine sweetheart.
“What would be a dream project for you?”
PM: Working on a film where we could cast all the talented actors I know, have an endless budget, and tons of laughs.
“Were you surprised when Martin Gero wanted to be your brother “Danger Beckett” in the hilariously funny Road To Dream featurette?”
PM: Not at all. Martin has always looked up to me.
Hachi writes: “Hi there, I love Paul McG!
I was wondering what he thought about some of the moral dilemmas and medical decisions that Dr. Beckett went through during his tenure on Atlantis?
Some of the medical experimantation on both humans (the ATA gene therapy which turned out well), and the Hoffan virus and Michael transformation (which didn’t).”
PM: Hi Hachi. Great question. The moral and ethical issues that Carson had to deal with over the five seasons of Atlantis weighed heavily on the character. As an actor, it made for great story lines with complex scenes, that were thought provoking and challenging at the same time. One of the great things about Carson’s journey is that the character had the opportunity to deal with many different issues on a human level.
“And was his work with the Pegasus Galaxy natives upon his return part of a way to assuage his percieved guilt?”
PM: I think you’re right Hachi. Carson wanted to give back to the Pegasus Galaxy, aka his Doctors Without Borders within the Pegasus Galaxy.
Vecturist writes: “Questions for Paul – I know you have a teaching certificate – what classes have you taught or what you like to teach given the opportunity? (If you want to come teach my college intro bio courses, give me a call).”
PM: Hello Vecturist. I have teachable subjects in science, history, physical education and theatre. For the past fifteen years, I have been focusing of my acting. As far as teaching your college courses, I think I’ll leave that to you – I wouldn’t want to get you fired! I’m sure you’re doing a great job. Keep it up.
“Do your siblings give you a hard time for being an actor, especially since it seems you have a lot of female fans?”
PM: My siblings love the fact that I’m an actor. As far as the female fans go, they’re just curious to see if they actually exist – that I’m not putting them on.
Carolyn writes: “Question for Paul: As with all actors, there is probably a part out there that you’ve dreamed of playing – whether it be a character from a favorite book or screenplay or maybe a part that you’ve seen played by another. What would be your dream role?
Paul, thank you for the years of happiness you’ve given your fans playing Dr. Beckett. I watch TV shows for the characters – and the depth and soul you gave Carson will forever make him one of my favorites.”
PM: Carolyn, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your kind words. That’s very thoughtful of you to write. As for my dream role, it would have to be Bond. Pauly Bond. 008. What do you think of that?!
ChelleDeBoer writes: “Question for Paul – Mr Mc – first off I’m looking forward to meeting you for the first time when you pop down under in October. I know you’ve been to Australia a few times already but I’ve never had the chance to get to one of your cons til now. So, I hope you brush up on your Australian accent coz I’m likely to ask you to give it a try!! Most folks who try to imitate an Aussie end up sounding rather Cockney!
Anyhoo, my question as boring as it may seem, is: do you ever find yourself slipping into a Scottish accent when chatting to either the fans or just anyone in general?
Also, if you could have chosen…if it were possible, who would you have liked to have seen Beckett “hook” up with??
Thank you so much for taking the time out to answer the fans questions. Again, I’m looking forward to meeting you in Melbourne in October. Oh wait…do you prefer red wine or white?? Or would you prefer a good Aussie beer? I’ll shout you a drink at the cocktail party! Cheers!! “
PM: Gidday Chelle! Looking forward to the accent challenge. Scottish accent slip? Sometimes – depending on the number of drinks. As for hookups, Beckett and Teyla would’ve been a solid pair in my humble opinion.
Kabra writes: “Duet has to be one of favorite episodes. The scene with you and David kissing… I have to say I did not see that coming.
I think it was on the DVD to that episode you talked about that scene. What was you initial reaction when you were approached? Did you receive extra pay for that kissing scene?
Both you and David did a great job with that scene.
I was very shocked when Beckett died – and I was thrilled when he came back, even though he was clone.”
PM: Hey Kabra. First off, kissing scene – creepy. As far as extra pay goes, sadly no. But should’ve.
Johnny E! writes: “This question is for Mr. McGillion: Having seen you on roles in Smallville, 24 (nice death by the way), and other roles that do not feature your accent, my question is 1. Is the accent on Atlantis yours, or is it exaggerated? 2. How long did it take for you to “loose” your accent for the other roles? Thank you for your time.”
PM: Johnny – Born in Scotland, but raised in Canada, so I don’t normally have a Scottish accent. What you do hear in Atlantis, is from years of being around my parents, who are Scottish through and through. All best, Paul.
Sinan writes: “Hello Paul how are you? Thank you so much for answering fans questions. I have a few questions to ask you.You don’t have to anwser if you don’t have the time. I’ll try not to ask to many questions.
If it’s ok i’d like to ask some questions about acting. I finished a course in April at the VFS (Vancouver Film School)and i was wondering how you got started,what steps did you take ?
Thank you so much Paul for your time and from me i’d like to thank you for helping me find an awsome school (Thanks to your biography)and making making my first Stargate convention Gate Con (April 4th) really specail.Also thank you very much for your work on Stargate.
Take care and all the best and good luck for your future projects.”
PM: Hi Sinan, I’m so glad my bio pointed you in to the right direction (Hey VFS, can you say free advertising?!) Welcome to the biz! As far as advice I could give, do as much theatre as you can, do as many independents as you can, and act because you love it, not because you want to be famous.
Chevron7 writes: “Questions for Paul: Have you ever used the Scottish accent to get an advantage in real life, such as dealing over the phone with a customer service person or does it come with great responsibility? p.s. Listening to you as Beckett makes me remember my Physics teacher. He rocked!
PM: Hey Chevron7, funny that you’d mention that. I’m famous amongst my friends for ordering pizza, and working a deal – Scottish style. Works like a charm! I know it’s bad, but it’s so much fun!
“What was the best thing, personally or professionally, you did while your character was off Atlantis?”
PM: I moved down to L.A. and set up camp down there. I met and worked with J.J. Abrams and Star Trek, but perhaps most important, perfected my highland dancing.
“Has your hair recovered from the unfortunate “Elvis” dyejob of 2008?”
PM: Thanks for the reminder. Yeah, no kidding – what was that?! Yes, my hair has recovered. But our hairstylist, Richard, hasn’t.
“Who would win in an arm wrestling contest, you or David Hewlett?”
PM: Oh definitely David – if he used TWO arms!!
Paloosa writes: “Actors seem to have to go with the flow in their quest to find interesting work. Do you enjoy moving, or would you rather stay rooted somewhere?”
PM: Hey LolaPaloosa, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to travel quite a bit, working all the while. That being said, there is definitely something about coming “home”, having a routine, and being able to spend time with close friends. So to answer your question, I guess I like a bit of both.
Joflyaway writes: “For Paul: Love your work. I felt you played Beckett as a relunctant hero; one who just wanted to do his work and let the soldiers do theirs. Was this your choice to play him this way or was he written in this manner? What did you think when you learned of Beckett’s death in “Sunday”? Did the fan’s outrage over Beckett’s death surprise you? What did your parents think of your accent? I heard you tell the story of when you called your dad to tell him of your role on Stargate–he thought you said Star Trek. What did he think when you did get a part on the Star Trek movie? You and David Hewlett have great onscreen chemistry. Does the friendship continue offscreen as well? Last question: How did you get to be so bloody awesome? Did you grow up that way or do you just acquire additional awesomeness as the years go by?”
PM: Hey Joflyaway. First off, thanks a lot for the kudos, brother. Carson turned out to be a reluctant hero. If I had something to with it, great, but really it was the writers who made him the hero.
Beckett’s death on ‘Sunday’, surprised everyone, including myself. The fan response was truly overwhelming. To think that you’ve affected that many people simply by playing a character in a television series, and then for those people to then mobilize and campaign for your character’s return, was pretty cool.
My parents give my accent a thumbs up – and trust me, they’d tell me otherwise. As for telling my dad about my role on Star Trek, let’s just say, I had to say it a few times.
I’d have to agree, David and I do share great on-screen chemistry. And of course, our friendship transcends the set – unfortunately though, I don’t get to see him enough.
With regards to being awesome, it takes one to know one! Thanks for the great questions. To quote from Anchorman, ‘Stay classy.”
Newkax writes: “Dear Mr. McGillion.
I live in the Czech Republic.
I ¥m sorry, because I don¥t speak english very well.
Do you like reading or watching the sci-fi?
What is your favourite genre in the movies or books?
PM: Hi Newkax. I actually grew up watching sci-fi as a kid – Star Trek, Dr. Who, Phoenix and the Carpet, etc. I’d my tastes are pretty eclectic in terms of genres.
Maggiemayday writes: “Question for Mr. McG: do Americans with Scottish ancestry annoy you when they trot out their knowledge of the clans in their past?
and I’ve never made it to Scotland, but perhaps in the next few years I can swing a week. So, Edinburgh or Glasgow?”
PM: Hi Maggiemayday. No, it doesn’t bother me. It’s nice that they have the interest in their culture and heritage. Though a lame Scottish accent – that can really get on my nerves!
Sorry dear, but do yourself a favour and make time for both Glasgow and Edinburgh – too hard to choose one over the other!
Sirle writes: “I’ve got a question for Paul: how has the Stargate experience been for you and given the chance would you change anything at all? If so, then why? Also, all the best for future endeavors.
I’d like to thank in advance for even considering my question. This is so exciting!”
PM: Thank you for the question for the Sirle! The Stargate experience has been one of the best I’ve ever had. Would I change anything? Well let’s put it this way: beware of exploding tumours.
Perragrin writes: “Paul, firstly.. a heartfelt thanks for five absolutely wonderful years of Carson Beckett. Your portrayal of him is second to none and it’s been both a pleasure and honour to watch. It really wouldn’t have been the same without our adorable Doc. How surprised have you been with the overwhelming show of support from your Fans, especially towards the end of the third season/begining of the fourth season?”
PM: Hi Perragrin. To be honest, I have been flattered. The fans never cease to amaze me. The support after the demise of Beckett completely blew me away.
“Looking forwards, is there any particular direction you’d now like to take with your career? Perhaps something you’ve not been able to indulge in before now?”
PM: Every actor hopes for the opportunity to play a character that allows them to stretch themselves as an actor. Be it film, television, or theatre, I’m looking for the next opportunity to be involved in something like that.
“A friend once mentioned that you’d make a perfect ‘Q’ for James Bond Would a role like that attract you?”
PM: If Bond is taken, then sure!
“4. Talking of roles.. what type of character portrayals give you the most satisfaction when acting? And which do you find most challenging?””
PM: As I said earlier, any role that has forced me out of my comfort zone, and helped me learn to test the boundaries of my skill and confidence, give me the most satisfaction. Ironically, they are usually also the most challenging. I hope that answers your question.
Thanks for your support!
Scary writes: “Question for Paul. Thank for doing this because I will probably be too nervous to ask it to you at Dragon*con. I saw your cameo in the new STAR TREK movie. It went by pretty fast but I knew to keep an eye out for you. What was it like to film your scenes? Personally I thought Simon Pegg played Scotty a little too slapstick/over the top for me. Other then that I love it. : ) Have you had the chance to see the whole movie?
Only 85 more days to Dragon*con!!!!!!”
PM: Hi Scary!Glad you caught me in the movie! Yes, I saw it too – I thought J.J. and the cast and crew did a great job. Stop by and say hi and Dragon Con.
Quade1 writes: “Question for Paul McGillion:
How did you feel when they decided to bring back Beckett?? Did you think the character was brought back for the fans or for the show??”
PM: No doubt, the fans had a huge role in bringing Beckett back. I was happy to come back and reprise the role, as I personally thought he had some unfinished work to do.
Trish writes: “Hey Paul! Thanks for doing this Q&A with us! My husband met you on the elevator in Vancouver back and April. He warned you about me. Remember that? Then I met you at the photo op. I gave you a mousepad with Ryan on it from “A Dog’s Breakfast.” I just wanted to say that meeting you was one of the highlights of the entire convention! Not really a question, I know. But thank you, all the same! By the way, our picture is fabulous, naturally.
David Hewlett is *supposed to be* working on his next indy movie, Design of the Dead. Will you be in that, hopefully? I think you two work so well together.
I do love Simon Pegg. However I need to tell you that you would have made a better Scotty. That’s the truth. Even my mom and dad agree. So does my big sister. We did enjoy seeing you in the latest Star Trek movie, all the same.
Any exciting plans to tell us about? Work or otherwise?
I wish you the best! Again, thanks for stopping by Joe’s blog!”
PM: I remember your husband and of course, I remember you! Thanks for the mouse pad. Of course it’d be grea to work with Daivd again. Thanks for the comments about Star Trek. See you at the next convention! Stay out of trouble..
Miz writes: “During your time on SGA, who used more hair product? You or Flanigan. Cause really, when you get right down to it, it’s all about the hair.”
PM: Hi Miz! I would have to say Flanigan. I mean c’mon, you’ve got to give it to him. The man has good hair.
LibKat writes: “For Paul McGillion:
After doing the cross-dressing role in A Dog’s Breakfast, were you surprised by any of your reactions to acting as a woman? How’d you like wearing nylons? (Of all the tortures inflicted upon women, they are the worst, IMO.) Do you think David Hewlett wrote that bit simply so he could make fun of you at all future con appearances?”
PM: Hey Kat. I can sincerely sympathize with women out there. The nylons were tough, but the heels were the worst. As far as David goes, and him torturing me at conventions? I didn’t make the best looking woman, but I’d put money down that I’d beat David in a pageant.
KaziWren writes: “PAUL “WOULDA BEEN A HOTTIE SCOTTY” MCGILLION QUESTIONS: Do you go after all the roles you can, or do you have projects you prefer to go after?”
PM: Hi Kazi. Generally speaking, my agent send sme projects that we feel confident we’d like to pursue.
“Everyone is so careful not to pry, but I’m going to pry a little (forgive me): Do you want to settle down and do the family thing at some point, or are you a destined bachelor?”
PM: I’m thinking a Mrs. McGillion, and an army of kids one day. Someone’s got to take care of me, right?
“3. Are you considering any projects in the UK, such as Torchwood, Dr. Who, etc? My husband and I adore your work. We’ll be supporting you in all you do!”
PM: Sure I would. Please tell them I’m interested.
Appreciate your support,
Lcshepp writes: “For Paul- At the VanCon Joe F. stated he won the ‘wrestling’ match between the two of you. When you poked your head into the room, you stated you won. What’s your version of that match?
Do you really occasionally call him ‘Josey’? Beautiful job in ‘Star Trek’!”
PM: Hey Leshepp. Let’s put it this way: I don’t think Joe’s going to want to wrestle me any time soon. He’s a good athlete, but he should stick to the surfing. No, I don’t ever call him Josey. Wouldn’t that make the rest of the cast the pussy cats?! Thanks for your words about Star Trek – it was great to be a part of it!
Laura writes: “Question for Paul: I’m a premedical student, and from what I can tell most of the medical stuff in Stargate is relatively accurate for a scifi show. Did you get to learn about any of the medical procedures that you were supposed to be doing or did you just memorize your lines? Thanks for taking time to answer questions!”
PM: Hi Laura. Thanks for the question. Truth be known, we have a med tech on set most of the time. Although I did get a chance to learn some of the minor procedures, I wouldn’t look to me to perfom surgery in the near future. I’ll leave that to up and coming professionals like yourself.
C.C. writes: “Question for Paul McGillion: You’ve worn a kilt at more than one convention in europe, so I was wondering, is there any way you might be convinced to wear a kilt at some of your USA cons too? It just doesn’t seem fair that only the europeans have had a chance to get a photo op with you in your kilt!
Loved seeing you in Star Trek and 24!”
PM: Hi C.C. I think there’s most definitely a chance the kilt will make a U.S. appearance. Thanks for watching Star Trek and 24 – really appreciate it!
Clementine from France writes: “Questions for Paul :
1) What is your feeling at the end of a convention ? Easiness or not ?
2) Do you think the conventions are more tiring than days of shooting ?
3) How do you feel the behaviour of the fans toward you ?
Excuse me for my bad english . I hope the best for you in the future. Thank you for my wonderful birthday in Facts Belgium and your kindness.”
PM: Hey Clementine. After a convention, I feel energized and touched after meeting all the fans. That being said, conventions are indeed tiring – not often do I shoot 12plus hours and talk to new people. You’re most welcome, and many more birthdays to you!
Nichola Dennigan writes: “1)If you could invivite five famous People living or dead to dinner who would you ask and would you include David Hewlett?”
PM: Mohammed Ali, Elvis, Bill Clinton, Johnny Depp, and of course, Andre the Giant. David Hewlett will be serving us all.
“2)Did you enjoy making the star trek movie?”
PM: Of course!
Tina writes: “Question for Paul : How much fun was it getting to take part in the stunt demo at P4 back in January??(you definitely showed those stunt guys whose boss!!thankfully I had gotten off the stage by then!) how does Carson Beckett:Action Hero sound
Dude you are an absolute one in a million..total legend!!!! P.S thanks for the bottle of water!!!“
PM: Hi Tina. Yeah, it was great to be a part of the stunt demo. From what I recall though, you’re the action hero! Great work out there! Carson Beckett Action Hero? I like the sound of that!
BlondieChemGirl writes: “Thanks for hosting the Q & A with Paul McGillion.
I went to the Michael Shanks Online Auction and found the recorded book that Paul McGillion read/voiced and signed. I am going to go bid on it.
1) Did you enjoy doing the characters and voices on the SGA recorded book?
Recorded books are a great way to “read” a book and get lots of other things done like housework, gardening, and driving and it can save your sanity on long trips. And my sister is sight-impared and recorded books are the only way she can “read”, so thanks for that.”
PM: Working on the SGA record books was a lot of fun and an interesting challenge.
“2) How are the fans at the conventions? Are they cordial and friendly or over-the-top crazy?
I have yet to go to any fan convention, but would hope that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself or just stand there in awe of a favorite actor.”
PM: Conventions are great – you should check one out sometime. A lot of fun, friendly people.
JYS writes: “Hi Paul, you rock. If you were offered a regularly recurring role on SGU as Carson Beckett the clone, or another character, which role would you choose and why. I was at the Save Carson rally at the Studio years back. Skipped an important English class for ya! And when I was at the Bridge Studio’s Haunted Studio Tour, the guide forgot to mention you as part of the cast, so I yelled out your name. That’s how much you rule Best of luck!”
PM: Hey JYS! If I came back, I’d definitely come back as the one, and the only, Dr. Beckett. Thanks for going to the rally – that was really cool of you.
Neverstop writes: “A question (or two) for Paul McGillion:
As much as I’ve enjoyed your work on SGA and laughed at “A Dog’s Breakfast”, I would really love to see more of the amazing acting you did in “See Grace Fly”. (I’ve tried to promote it through the Cinemateque club at the Swedish Film Institute, so far without success…) Do you have any similar projects planned? And will you be working with Gina Chiarelli (absolutely fantastic!) again in a somewhat near future?
Thanks for taking the time and good luck with your career!”
PM: Hi Neverstop. Thanks for your comments about “See Grace Fly”. I’m currently working on another indie film, “The Bad”. Gina, however, is not in this one, but I’m sure we will work together again soon.
Caitlyanna writes: “One question for Paul McGillion – Out of all the roles you have played in your life, which was your favorite and why?”
PM: Hi Caitlyanna. It’s got to be a toss-up between Carson and Dominic McKinley, the character I played in “See Grace Fly”.
BloodyB writes: “Hi Paul.
You never gave me a right answerd for my question at FedCon in Bonn about the number of takes it took to finish the kiss-scene in “Duet”
Here is another try to get an answer
Wish you all the best.”
PM: Hi BloodyB. I was done after the first take.
Halessa writes: “Hi Paul, just wanted to say hi! and send you all the best wishes from the members of your fansite. We just want to know your plans about future conventions in the UK or in Germany for the next year. Hope to see you in the future. Cheers, -Tanja”
PM: Hi Halessa. No plans as of yet, but would love to come back to Germany and see all the fans there. Have your ptb make that happen and I’m there!
Dini writes: “I hope you feel fine. It’s great that you’re taking time for this Q & A These are my questions I forgot to ask you during the interview at F.A.C.T.S. in Gent / Belgium: Could you tell us something about the signifaction of your tattoos?”
PM: Hi Dini! Flag of Scotland – need I say more? The other one, I share with two close friends of mine – guy bonding!
“What has been the most lovely gift, that you ever got from a fan?”
PM: A terrific bottle of 18 yr old Scotch – delicious!
I want to thank all of the fans for the great questions. I’m sorry I couldn’t get to them all. Quite honestly, they were in the hundreds! Wow!
I did my best and I wish you all a great summer.
Keep on checking out Joe’s blog. I would also like to thank Joe for letting me come on here and talk to you all.
I walked into Ashleigh‘s office and leveled with her. “I’m worried. All this morning, I was reading about that possible pandemic in Mexico…”
The implication was clear. She was about to head off on a week-long Mexican getaway and the prospect of her flirting with danger was paramount on my mind. No doubt touched by my concern, she nodded, wide-eyed, and said: “And it’s not just me coming down with it. The worst part would be if I came back to work and brought it back with me.”
Deadpan, I informed her: “Uh, yeah. That’s what I’m worried about.”
She threw me a look, then redirected her attention to her laptop. I pointed out that the chances of her coming down with something while down south were much smaller than, say, contracting some form of dysentery or getting kidnapped. All things being equal and given the choice, getting kidnapped would probably be the way to go. While we wouldn’t be able to offer any assistance on the dysentery, Lawren helpfully pointed out that Tanya in the front office, besides being an excellent coordinator and marvelous cook, is also a skilled hostage negotiator, so she’d have that going for her.
Hey, you’ll never guess who called yesterday. Well – uh- yeah, right on the first guess. Paul McGillion. He’s in L.A. and gearing up for the Star Trek premiere. For those of you who don’t know, Paul has a part in the movie. Oh, and he also just shot a guest spot on 24. He sounds like he’s doing great and will be up in our neck of the woods neck week.
And, hey, you’ll never guess who dropped in for lunch today. Uh, right again. Michael Shanks. We had Thai and talked about old times, then he swung by my office and approved some of the pics I snapped of him for blog use. Oh, and he was also quite pleased about the performance of his favorite hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks…
Who are in my bad books. Why? Because they won their series against the St. Louis Blues, thereby costing me my bet with my co-worker Kerry that will see me accompanying her to a musical production of her choice. I need as much advance notice as possible on this one as I’ve decided to research the production and memorize the songs in advance so that I can belt them out unabashedly on the night of the performance.
Went over the Stargate: Atlantis movie script today and I think it’s pretty tight. I’ll be sending it Paul’s way next week as I switch gears to work on the rewrite of Space (They’ve been threatening to give me notes for weeks now and I have a feeling it just might happen this time.). Once that’s done, I’ll finally finish up that short story and send it on its way.
SGU cast news of note: Holy crap is David Blue a funny guy! Yes, in person he’s laugh-out-loud hilarious but I’m talking about onscreen where he’s added so many wonderful little touches to his performance as Eli that the character has motored past likable and directly into lovable territory.
Major D. Davis writes: “1. Will the Atlantis Movie’s A plot be about the Wraith?
2. Will there be lots of action? Such P90 fire, Space battles, hand to hand scenes. Or will it be like a common episode’s dose of action? Do you think it will have more action than the previous movies?
3. How do I contact Mrs. Val Halverson?
4. So are you done Filming Water yet? Has it taken longer than usual to film? Has Life Started Filming yet?
5. How close is Air to being finished.? How are the visual effects coming? Are they almost done? How is the music coming?
6. Do you think the Atlantis movie will be released in the summer or the spring of 2010?”
Answer: 1. While Todd the wraith will play a significant role in the proceedings, the A story will not focus on the wraith.
2. Yes, plenty of action for those who like that sort of thing.
3. Someone in today’s mailbag already posted the production office mailing address.
4. Nope. As I mentioned in yesterday’s entry, Will was on Stage 2 shooting Water. Life started filming today. Carl was away on location.
5. Significant sections of Air III have yet to be shot. The visual effects take time so our premiere won’t be finished until August.
6. I have no idea what MGM’s plans are regarding the movie’s release.
Tammy Dixon writes: “I’ve read that SGU is going for an ediger, younger crowd. Will those of us that are not edgy/older like the show, also?”
Answer: As Brad Wright pointed out in a recent interview, the term “young” and “edgy” are industry buzzwords. We (the production) never referred to SGU as “young” or “edgy”. I think that most Stargate fans will enjoy the new series and, hopefully, plenty of franchise first-timers will also join the ranks.
Major D. Davis also writes: “Will the unlimited ammunition aka unlimited p90 clip situation be delt with on SGU, cause they could not have possibly evacuated the icarus base with all the ammo they could possibly need for the coming years?”
I would seem my laptop is not long for this world. Twice, yesterday, I fell victim to the blue screen of death. One second, I’m copy and pasting the day’s blog entry into the wordpress window and, the next, my computer is rebooting. I ended up spending most of last night watching Mad Men while I backed up two year’s worth of blog entries, scripts, pics, videos, and contacts. It was while I was going through my photo archive that I discovered a whack o’ Whispers snaps I was holding back on, some of which I’ve posted today, plenty more of which I’ll be posting in the days ahead.
In addition to getting myself a new laptop, it looks like I’ll have to pick up a new pair of dress shoes as well. I arrived home the other day to discover my Franco Visconti’s the victims of a brutal and undoubtedly unprovoked attack. It was too late. There was nothing I could do for them. I had four suspects, all of whom were discovered at the scene of the crime yet none of whom proved particularly cooperative under questioning. I have my suspicions as to the identity of the guilty party but without either hard evidence or eyewitness testimony to back me up, it looks like the perpetrator will amble free. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Our contemporary justice system is soft on crime, allowing serial chewers to thumb their noses at authority while the footwear-sporting public is left to fend for itself.
And another reminder that if you read The Church of Dead Girls and have a question for author Stephen Dobyns, let’s seem ’em. Allie, this means you!
Today’s blog entry is dedicated to soon-to-be birthday girl Theresa.
Today’s video: The return of The Weird Food Purchase of the Day. In this installment, guest eater Carl Binder samples ox-tail.
GrapesofWraith writes: “A quick question – do the stairs at the end of the video lead up to the production offices, or are they in a different building?”
Answer: Yes, they do. The stairs let out onto a corridor. Take a left, and it will take you down past accounting to the art department. Take a right and you’ll hit a door (see the production offices walk-thru vid).
Anais33 a ecrit: “Pourquoi ne jamais répondre a mes questions? Vous n m’aimez pas?”
Reponse: Si vous avez envoyer votre question, j’ai pu l’avoir manqué. Si vous avez une question, Il est plus facile pour moi à repondre a vos questions ici.
Translation: If you’re looking to get a question answered, post them here instead of sending me an email.
Ben writes: “And also where do we sit in terms of getting another SG1 movie?”
Answer: If all goes as planned, we should be filming both the SGA movie and the third SG-1 around the same time next year.
Muddypiddypop writes: “Joe, Was the “your a good friend Arthur” line in the Shrine an adlib?”
Answer: Actually, I’ve already answered this question. The line, the reaction, even the spit take by Sheppard, was scripted by Brad Wright.
MrsB108 writes: “Will we get a deeper look into Michael’s thoughts/emotions?”
Answer: Yep. Plenty of Michael angst to come.
CDB writes: “Do you know if they are going to use the SG-1 or Atlantis cast to kick off Stargate: Universe like they did with Atlantis????”
Answer: Haven’t a clue.
DasNdanger writes: “Have I mentioned my irrational and ungodly fear of spiders??”
Answer: You and my writing partner would get along swimmingly.
Wonderingbrit writes: “The future of TV is going to be completely web based and it’s really about time viewing stats reflected the download capabilities of this medium.”
Answer: That neatly sums up my sentiments on the topic. So long as the onus on gathering ratings rests on the existing quaintly antiquated system, it will be shows like ours (those possessed of a more technologically-inclined viewer base) that will continue suffer.
ShippyChick writes: “It seems that Jason has been quite the ham in front of your camera lately. Is he typically the most welcoming of all the cast members when the flash starts going off?”
Answer: I’ve always gotten along well with Jason but I’d say it was during the prep, production, and post on Broken Ties that he grew comfortable enough to start dropping by the office on a semi-regular basis. This episode was very important to him and I’m guessing he appreciated the fact that I welcomed his input and tried to address any concerns he may have had rather than siccing the production office hounds on him. Since then, he’s been more than happy to strike a pose or two. Whenever I’m on set, Jewel, David, David, Bob, and Kavan have always been good sports about the photos. Rachel is a little camera shy at times but I have snapped some good pics of her.
Alexandria writes: “Can I ask a huge favor? Can you speak to someone about getting SGU to air at the same time here in Australia as it does in the USA when it premieres?”
Answer: Sorry. I have absolutely no say on what gets aired where and when.
PG15 writes: “Good to know we’ll get to see the SGC one last time before the Atlantis series…*sniff*…finishes. Does that mean we’ll see Walter too?”
Answer: Yes, Walter will put in an appearance before the series ends.
Chevron7 writes: “1. Are you really afraid of heights? And flying? Anything else?
2. Did TPTB ever seriously consider having someone take over military command of Atlantis and having Sheppard just be the leader of the no 1. team (whatever it’s called)?
3. What’s happened to the Weird Food vids? Haven’t got the stomach for it lately or just maintaining some variety?”
Answers: 1. I hate heights. I don’t even like it when someone I know stands on a balcony. As for flying – I’m okay when we’re in the air, but I am a tad nervous during take-off and landing. 2. Never. 3. They’ll be back.
NIMBUS writes: “I’m wondering why the Destiny crew won’t be able to land on the new planet and use its Stargate to send a rescue team to a previously visited planet?”
Answer: I can’t wait to find out the answer myself.
2cats writes: “Joe do you happen to know where SG Universe is planning to be shot? Will it be at the Bridge?”
With the end of production on Stargate Atlantis less than a month away, I’m going to do my best to introduce you all to some of the amazing unsung heroes who have worked very hard behind the scenes these many years. They may not get the all-expenses-paid invites to the overseas conventions but that doesn’t mean that their contribution to the success of the show was no less important than the likes of the series regulars, writers, or producers. Over the past couple of months, you got to know the likes of VFX Supervisor Mark Savela, Director of Photography Jim Menard. In the coming days, it’ll be Props Master Evil Kenny Gibbs and Director Andy Mikita. Among the many others on my “to pester” list: Composer Joel Goldsmith, Stunt Coordinator James Bam Bam Bamford, Director Will Waring, Playback Supervisor Krista McLean, SPFX Supervisor Wray Douglas, Costume Designer Valerie Halverson, Production Designer James Robbins, and many others. Can’t promise they’ll all have the time to drop by, but it doesn’t hurt to ask – or apply extreme pressure if they prove reluctant (Yes, I’m talking about you, Will.).
As for today, I’m happy to turn this blog over to actress Sharon Taylor who went from a “blink and you’ll miss her” appearance as a replicator in Progeny to a recurring role as gate technician Amelia Banks…
2cats writes: “Is this the ONLY show you’ve worked on with such a zealous (i.e. fanatical/passionate) fan base?”
“What is your quirkiest experience on set so far?”
– Having a conversation with Christopher Heyerdahl in his Todd makeup was surreal. He’s smiling and chatting like a regular man, and meanwhile I’m completely mesmerized by his creepy appearance.
Wraithfodder writes: “1) How did you get into acting? Was it a lifelong goal or is something you sort of fell into? (as some actors do) And how did you get the role of Amelia Banks?”
– I knew I wanted to be an actor ever since high school. I was in all the school plays and then I went on to get my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre from Simon Fraser University. In season 4, I auditioned for the role of the Replicator Technician in Lifeline, and I got the part. A few months later, they offered me the part of a female gate technician in Quarantine, who was later given the name Amelia Banks in season 5. I was pretty darn happy to be on the good guys side!
“2) You’ve worked on several Stagate Atlantis episodes. Do you have a favorite episode, and if so, why?”
– My favorite episode is The Prodigal. When you watch it you’ll know why.
3) Can you tell us an anecdotes from the set? What was your first day like?”
– My first day on set was when I was playing the Replicator Technician, so I was working with David Ogden Stiers who is very funny. He would ad lib silly lines during our rehearsal. I never actually met any of the lead cast members until the Quarantine episode.
AV Eddy writes: “Hi! I’m glad you’re getting a story arc this season. I had noticed your “technician” character last season, and liked her. I was wondering…since you work with computers and other Ancient-tech computer equipment, whether the buttons or switches have specific “functions?” What I mean is, when your character does a specific task, is there a rule or guide to “push these three buttons in this order?”
– I watched how Chuck operated the ancient controls and I followed his lead. So, yes, some of them do have specific functions. (At least they do in my imagination!)
Montrealer writes: “Did your character get to beat up someone on the show?”
– You’ll have to stay tuned to find out the answer.
Dalene writes: “What other work have you done in television/been working on in television? Do you have any plans now that SGA has been canceled? Any particular hopes you had for your character to go into?”
– I did a TV movie with Justine Bateman called “To Have and to Hold” which often airs on the Lifetime channel, and I worked on Eureka last year as well. Now that SGA is cancelled, I will continue auditioning for other projects.
Smiley_face06 writes: “1. When you first got on the show, did you think it would just be a one time thing?”
– I had my fingers crossed that my replicator character would recur, so I was thrilled to appear on the show again and even more thrilled to play a member of the Atlantis expedition.
2. Joe is consuming some weird things for us blog-readers. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten?”
– I’m not nearly as brave or adventurous as Joe is when it comes to trying new foods. Sashimi is the most daring I get.
Neb writes: “Sharon, is that you in Ghost in the Machine?! It sure looks like you’ve reprise your role as a replicator. I’m honestly surprised that you reprised that role after you were so firmly established as the Atlantis tech in Quarantine. But in any case, it was great to see you play two different roles! I think it’s kinda funny that you play two very similar roles, an Atlantis Technician and a Replicator Technician. Are you actually playing the same character? a replicator pretending to be human? haha!
I absolutely loved seeing you in Quarantine. It’s nice to see the nerd girls, we don’t get to see them very often (Nerd-Girls meaning females in technical/scientific roles and aren’t superhuman like Sam).”
– That wasn’t me in “Ghost in the Machine”. I’ve only played the character of Amelia Banks this season. Nerd Girls Rule!
“So what did you think of playing the techy role? do you get to do a lot of tech-no-babble? Not sure if anyone has asked this yet, but have you watched a lot of stargate? are you a fan of scifi? do you think you’re likely to do more scifi work?”
– I love playing technician Amelia Banks. Since being cast as Banks I’ve caught up on most of the Atlantis episodes in previous seasons, as I like to do my research. Also, I had watched a lot of SG-1 episodes in the past because many of my Vancouver actor friends have had guest roles, and I like to watch and support my friends’ work. I enjoy sci-fi and I loved watching Star Trek The Next Generation with my Dad when I was a kid. I would happily work in sci-fi over and over again.
Christin writes: “And a ridiculous question for Miss Taylor…I hear that catering on the set is good. What’s your favorite thing to eat while at work?”
– The catering on set is soooo good. I have a weakness for pasta salad.
Airelle writes: “Sharon Taylor question–?? Is working on the show as much fun as it looks? What kind of hours are required to do the character? thanks for taking the time here.”
– It is as much fun as it looks. People are always cracking jokes here and there, so there are lots of laughs. If Amelia Banks is in an episode, then it’s usually one or two full days of work for me.
MELorne-Super-Fan writes: To Mrs. Taylor – Looking at IMDB it seems she hasn’t done a lot of work. My question is… are these small acting Roles just something for fun/money/hobby or are we going to see her more often in the coming Years as she works more as an Actress.”
– You will see a lot more of me in the years to come. In the last 2 years I’ve made a real push to have a career in TV and Film. In the past, I focused my career in professional theatre, and spent time traveling after university.
J. Williams writes: “How has it been working on Atlantis for your brief time? Any memoriable scenes that have stuck with you?”
– There is a scene in The Prodigal that is definitely the most memorable for me so far.
Karen WI wites: “Sharon: Sometimes do you wish the gate would work??”
– Sure! However, since there is often unknown danger lurking on the other side, I wouldn’t go through it unless I had Dr. McKay and Ronon Dex with me. Between Ronon’s braun and Rodney’s brains, we’d be safe….at least temporarily. Then we’d wait for Sheppard and Teyla to show up.