Grover on Amelius and the Ark in "The Ark of Truth"

Stargate Planet interviewed actor Fabrice Grover who portrayed the Alteran Amelius, the inventor of the Ark of Truth and the Stargates, and the actor shared his take on the position that the Alterans took when dealing with their rivals, the Ori, in Robert C. Cooper’s Stargate: The Ark of Truth.

To introduce Amelius, Grover said, “Well, for starters, Amelius is also the guy who invented the Stargate. I think that’s important because it gives a sense of scale which helps explain why this particular character, whom we see relatively briefly in The Ark of Truth, is implicated in the philosophical question encapsulated by the title of the film, a question which lies at the heart of Stargate mythology: Can using powerful technology to manipulate people ever be justified?”

In the movie, the Alteran council decides that it was morally wrong for them to use the Ark as a weapon against the Ori. “I belong to a highly advanced civilization that fiercely believes in free will,” Grover explained from Amelius’s point of view. “We have the power to use the technology I have developed to change our opponent’s minds, but using this technology to control how the Ori think is in apparent contradiction with our belief that all people, even those with whom we don’t agree, have a right to think for themselves.

“The Alterans recognize that using the Ark against the Ori could be interpreted as a form of indoctrination or brain-washing. By denying the followers of Ori ‘religion’ the very essence of their sense of selves, we might be doing no better than the Ori who murder non-believers in the name of Truth. So the Alterans ultimately choose not to use the technology of the Ark against the Ori. The Alteran Woman summarizes the Alteran position on the issue when she says ‘I will not compromise the fundamental tenets of my devotion in order to preserve it.’

“As an Alteran scientist, I have trouble with this conclusion and with the decision not to use my invention against the Ori. I do not claim to know the absolute Truth nor do I want to impose my views on others, but I know that Origin as proselytized by the Ori is a religious fallacy designed to control people. The Ori attempt to kill anyone who rejects the promise of enlightenment (or “ascension”) as it is described in The Book of Origin, a text which the Ori appropriated to suit their own purposes.” From this statement, it appears that Grover believed that the Ori and the Altera were well aware of their next stage of evolution, ascension, and that The Book of Origin already existed in some basic form before the Ori started to change it. The pre-existence of The Book of Origin was alluded to by Merlin when he said that the Ori began “with the best intentions” (in “The Quest Part 2”) and is addressed at the end of the movie when Tomin recognized that there were still valuable truths inside the book’s pages and that the Ori’s additions were the only parts that needed to be removed.

Grover continued, “I feel justified using the technology of the Ark to expose the Ori ‘religion’ as a fabrication in order to save our people from extinction and avoid further bloodshed. In my mind, the Ori have demonstrated a flagrant abuse of power; the mass-murder of human beings is a far greater immorality than anything I propose. I think my character embodies the notion Robert C. Cooper expresses in a Gateworld interview when he says that ‘it’s not necessarily wrong to believe in something … what’s wrong is to murder somebody because they don’t believe the way you do.'”

The movie, unfortunately, didn’t cover all of the details concerning the origins and history of The Book of Origin, of how far in the evolutionary path the Altera and Ori were at the time of the rift those millions of years ago (i.e., were some of them already ascended?), nor what exactly Amelius had programmed into the Ark that would have worked in both his time and millions of years later. Grover said, “The scene we shot for the prologue of the film was longer than it appears in the final edit. I guess a long philosophical debate about the nature of truth does not make for an action packed beginning to a movie! But I enjoyed the original dialogue.”

As an actor, Grover said that he’d like to think that he’s versatile and would love to be in most any kind of film, from romantic comedy to a war piece. “I enjoy taking on vastly different types projects and really ‘dropping in’ to the character and absorbing the script and seeing how convincing I can be in the reality of that particular style.” And as far as working on a sci-fi story and with the Stargate crew, Grover added, “MGM’s Bridge Studios are a well-oiled machine. They’ve been producing the Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis series for years, and I got to witness some of the magic that goes on behind the scenes. Everyone knows exactly what their job is, and everything just works.

“When I showed up, I could hear all these loud explosions and I was told that we would have to wait a bit before getting started because the team was working on some effects for an episode of Atlantis. Once we were inside, everything went very quickly. Robert had everything planned out and explained the camera movements and what he wanted from us as actors. We did a rehearsal and then the team went to work setting lights and laying down a track for the dolly shot around the group off the top. We shot both scenes in one day.”

To sum up his experience on set, Grover shared a story about a costuming issue he had. “When I first went for my costume fitting I was amazed at the size and scope of the costume building. A small army of highly skilled workers create everything you see in the Stargate world pretty much from scratch. It was quite amazing to see the attention they gave to even the smallest detail. One of the designers showed me what she had come up with for the Alteran clothing and asked me how I felt about everything. You could tell they loved their jobs and took pride in their work.

“When I came back a week or so later to shoot the scene I went to my trailer to put on the costume and realized that I had no idea how to attach the ‘belt’ they had made for me. Because of the way the scene was lit, I don’t think you see it in the film… but this belt was like no belt known to man. And there were these two mysterious brownish-green pieces of leather hanging next to my shirt and their function completely evaded me. I knocked on my neighbour’s door and Simon Bradbury, who plays Alteran Man in the film, cheerfully explained the greenish leather bits were actually gators. ‘Oh, of course,’ I said and went back to my trailer. I had no idea what gators were. So I wrapped the pieces of leather around my arms as best I could and walked over to the costume trailer where the costumers worked their magic and set everything straight (apparently gators go on your legs).

“It’s funny because everyone is so on-the-ball on a film set that you really don’t have to worry about anything. You can show up and not know how to tie your belt and someone will definitely catch it and fix it for you long before it ever becomes an issue. That’s pretty fantastic because scientist-types like me who spend all our free time designing Stargates can be pretty absent-minded. Have you seen The Absent Minded Professor? The 1961 Disney movie where a college professor called Ned Brainard invents an anti-gravity substance he calls ‘Flubber’? He puts it on the basket-ball team’s shoes and they win the big game and in the end Ned gets the girl… that was my favourite movie as a kid. I must have watched it about a hundred times. Anyways, I can be kind of absent minded too…”

To read the complete interview, visit Stargate Planet: Interview with Fabrice Grover.

[Images in this article are from Solutions’ screencap gallery.]