Yet another cast change occurred as Stargate Atlantis entered its fifth season; Amanda Tapping moved on to Sanctuary and Jewel Staite and Stargate veteran Robert Picardo were added to the opening credits.
And after some very intense campaigning, it worked out well for the Dr. Carson Beckett fans, too, as Paul McGillion returned for five episodes that each had him involved in a significant way in the story. McGillion told Pop Culture Zoo, “[The fans] have been so incredibly supportive of the show and of Carson Beckett. Obviously, without them Beckett wouldn’t have come back and I’m really grateful to them for that.”
And finally, for all of the Dr. Daniel Jackson fans, there were the two mid-season episodes that saw the man who discovered Atlantis finally visit it during less pressing times and explore the city in the only way that the curious archaeologist could. Most of Daniel’s time was spent with McKay, and actor David Hewlett wrote in his blog right after filming, “We’ve just finished the two-parter where I had WAY too much fun with the…can’t say enough great things about him, Michael Shanks. That guy is such a star – funny, charming and the consummate professional…all with no attitude either!…I was bugging Mallozzi to bring him back after about an hour of working with the guy!” According to writer/producer Martin Gero in the DVD commentary for “First Contact”, they actually would have seriously considered bringing Shanks in as a regular on the show for its sixth season, but unfortunately, that didn’t pan out, because, shockingly and amazingly, the show was not renewed!
And thus we’ve reached the final week for Stargate Atlantis in our Thirteen Weeks for Thirteen Years (13-4-13) series, and it feels way far too soon. The reasons why the show had to end after having had only five years and winning the People’s Choice Award and reaching the incredible 100th episode milestone still aren’t totally clear, but now Atlantis fans anxiously await the filming of Stargate: Extinction to resolve some of the plot threads that were left rather obviously dangling in the wind.
Atlantis Season Five
Pick your favorites in our poll below. And as always, it would be lovely to hear from you in our comments at the bottom of this article.
From “Being John Sheppard” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine #24 (Sept./Oct. 2008):
“I have a very specific belief that the show is successful because of the chemistry of the characters, and because I don’t think the show takes itself too seriously. I think that is really important. You can take yourself very seriously, you can say a whole bunch of profound things, and everything can be really dramatic, but you better be awfully good. The odds are you are better off doing a $150 million science-fiction movie that is serious, but when you are doing a 44-minute television show for $3 million, you have to know what your limitations are. I think we’re lucky that we have likeable characters and you see us having fun. We are making fun of the genre a little bit, and making fun of ourselves. Knowing when the adventure is urgent, and when it’s kind of funny is important. Comedy and humor are probably the saving grace for us. It allows us to keep going, I think.
“As far as this season goes, it seems they have me and Jason working together more, which is always good because it probably means we are going to do some action sequences. We did one episode [‘The Shrine’] where you could say David Hewlett is senile but there’s no real word for it because it’s a fictional disease, and it is a very good episode. It’s nice to do character pieces because everyone wants some character development. On the show, a lot of the time we are engaged with some exterior problem where you don’t have time for character development, so when you do get a script that has some development, it’s nice. I think everyone did a really amazing job, and everyone has really great moments in the episode.”
From “Joe Flanigan: The Adventurer” at SciFiandTvTalk’s Blog (Apr. 6, 2009):
“[In ‘Remnants’], that’s where my character basically gets stuck in his own head, for lack of a better way of putting it, although both he and the viewer doesn’t realize this until the very end. Dr. McKay [David Hewlett] and Dr. Zelenka [David Nykl] discover a probe at the bottom of the ocean under Atlantis and it creates a phony physical environment inside your head. However, it’s one in which, for Sheppard, you can still feel pain. We had Robert Davi back for this episode and some rather dark things happen in it.
“’Remnants’ is one of those scripts that’s almost always better when you see everything that was shot cut together because there are all sorts of bizarre little storylines going on. I thought it was a clever script and a challenging one to shoot. For example, when Koyla tells Sheppard that he’s just a figment of his imagination, as an actor it’s very difficult to go from, OK, my character is getting the crap beat out of him, to realizing that he’s in no real physical danger. It’s an odd transition and we couldn’t quite figure out how to play it, so I hope that it worked out in the end.
“That big fight scene [in ‘The Prodigal’] took a great deal of time and energy to shoot, and I love that stuff. Any action-oriented show is always going to be one that I’m not only interested in doing, but also watching. I think adventure and humor is a winning combo every time. You can do spooky and funny stories, too, but the combination of those basic elements is always the right way to go. Sometimes we go in a heavy conceptual direction, you know, like ‘The Daedalus Variations,’ which was challenging in a different sort of way to do because it was VFX [visual effects] dependent. If the VFX don’t work out it can kill the whole show, and oftentimes they [the producers and director] can’t quite describe to the actor what the VFX is going to be. So you’re trying to react to something that hasn’t even been created yet, and you just pray to God that you’re acting at the right level. Hopefully the threat that they then create using VFX isn’t bigger, or smaller, than you’ve anticipated. It’s kind of a tricky situation to be in.
“So ‘The Prodigal’ was one of those basic types of stories that you could sink your teeth into. It’s a great episode and Connor [Trinneer] did a terrific job in it. Bam Bam [stunt coordinator James Bamford] worked on the fight scene for a really long time. However, I then threw him a curveball because they had planned out this big elaborate fight and I said to him, ‘I’m sorry, but my character just isn’t Mr. Jujitsu.’ Sheppard would probably get his ass kicked and barely hold onto his life. He’s a great soldier, but a pretty sloppy fighter compared to Teyla. He tends to improvise, so we had to rearrange the fight a little bit.
“Carl Binder [Atlantis executive producer and writer of ‘The Prodigal’] and I agreed that the point of this fight was to show how painful it was. I wanted to convey pain, disorganization and fear, whereas the fight originally conveyed an almost Crouching Tiger-type quality. That was cool, but it wasn’t my character. I felt bad for poor Bam Bam, who had worked so hard on the fight, and then I came along and kind of changed the whole thing. I was like, Michael needs to hit Sheppard and he falls to the floor. Maybe then he grabs Michael’s leg and bites it or whatever. Michael is clearly a better fighter and Sheppard has to do whatever he can to make it work out in his favor. So we were able to make some changes and I think it worked out better for us. It’s the difference between watching Bruce Lee and Harrison Ford. The characters they play get into these difficult fights, but one is a martial artist and the other is someone who improvises and just hopes he gets out of the situation alive. It’s an important character distinction, especially for someone like Sheppard, who has a team full of Jujitsu experts, Dr. McKay not being one of them. [jokes]
“Sometimes it’s such a life and death thing for our characters that you don’t get a chance to see them enjoying the adventure. It’s almost as if they’re always fighting for their lives, but Sheppard does enjoy it. It’s like a wild ride for him. Also, he doesn’t have his personal life together, so this has been a replacement for what would otherwise be a normal, healthy functioning life on Earth, which is non-existent for him. Sheppard doesn’t know anything else. As long as he keeps getting Budweiser in space he’ll stay up there.
“[‘Vegas’ is] the script that I’ve been the most excited about all year. You not only learn a lot more about Sheppard, but also I think what’s important about this particular episode is that it sets up the fact that we all live in these parallel realities, and there are infinite and different Sheppard characters throughout these alternate universes. I’m really happy, for one, to go to Las Vegas, where they have free drinks and I can play blackjack, and, two, to get to play a totally different character. On top of both those points, I enjoy Earth-based stories and ‘Vegas’ is a really interesting and well-written script that can hold its own.”
From “Captain Fantastic!” in Stargate SG-1/Atantis: The Official Magazine #26 (Jan./Feb. 2009):
“Shooting ‘Vegas’ with Robert Cooper [was the highlight for me this year]. We shot most of it already out in the Okinaga valley, which is stunning. It looks great because we’re shooting on film, and it was written to capture behavior as opposed to dialogue. A lot of times our shows become about incredibly elaborate plotlines that we don’t have the time or the money to show so we have to explain them. The curse falls primarily on David Hewlett to do that. And doing it in any kind of entertaining fashion where people don’t turn the channel is a major success. But this particular show is not heavy on dialogue, thankfully, except for David Hewlett! Now that I think about it, David actually saves this episode because he explains the whole thing in two scenes! So it’s a lot of fun. I also like Robert Cooper. I like working with him. I think I have a connection with him in terms of the character. He’s written a couple of great episodes for my character.
“I’m going to miss you guys [the fans] a lot! I hope that you are with me on the next project. It’s been an awful lot of fun, and I hope I get to do science fiction for the rest of my life. I do. The fans are awesome. I was warned that I might have weird experiences with sci-fi fans, but, I didn’t have any really weird experiences. The truth is I don’t think it’s weird to be loyal and passionate.”
From “Close Up: David Hewlett” at MGM’s Official Stargate Website (Jun. 3, 2008):
“You know, [Richard Woolsey is] a bureaucrat. And McKay understands bureaucrats because up until Atlantis, he kind of was one. He’s the academic version of a bureaucrat; he wants everything by the book, by the things that he’s read. So there’s this weird sense of complete and utter disgust at the fact that he’s taking over, but at the same time, he’s not going to argue with someone who takes the safer route through things. McKay’s generally not the one to leap into the fray! So I think there’s a sort of begrudging agreement. It puts McKay in a strange position, because he somehow sees himself somewhere between Sheppard and Woolsey. Somewhere in between those two, there’s a McKay, because McKay definitely has to dial up the hero thing once in a while, but for the most part he’s probably more Woolsey than Woolsey.
“The episode I’m most excited about so far is called ‘The Shrine,’ which we’ve just finished shooting. It’s Brad Wright’s triumphant return to writing scripts for Atlantis, and it’s just great. It’s a really meaty McKay episode, but the great thing about Brad is that he may write episodes that are kind of McKay-centered, but he’s so good at bringing in all the other characters as well. So it’s just a great ensemble piece where I get to do some acting. I love running around shooting things and techno babble and all, but it’s just nice to go, ‘Wow, I actually have to act…’ I can’t just have fun I actually have to do some serious work!”
From “Science Friction” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine #26 (Jan./Feb. 2009):
“The lines [in ‘The Shrine’ are the highlight of the season for me.] But for ‘The Shrine,’ we did all of the video stuff in a couple of hours one afternoon. We sat and knocked off every different stage of this disease in literally two hours. Basically, it was Brad, Andy Mikita and myself and a very slimmed down splinter crew. This is the way I like making films—with tiny little budgets and tiny little crews. We got to establish exactly where we wanted to go with each session of this breakdown, so that really set the tone—it was great. What was really nice is that Brad Wright was there. I did all of those lines with Brad, which was fun. It’s very hard to look at Brad Wright and tell him that you’ve loved him for some time. He cried, which was very funny! We were doing the scene, and he started crying. I asked him, ‘Are your crying? Hey! You’re crying because your lines are so good, and not because of the way I’m delivering them!’ It was also a great episode for cracking up the other actors while they’re all doing their ‘acting’ stuff—I’m supposed to be in my own little world, so they were prefect targets.”
From “Stargate Atlantis’ David Hewlett – The Deconstructed Man” at SciFiandTvTalk’s Blog (Jan. 19, 2010):
“The dynamic between Daniel [Michael Shanks] and McKay is not a particularly friendly one. He shows up on Atlantis to do some more research, and my character is not happy because McKay then gets stuck taking him around the city while dismissing Daniel’s theories about various things and then ending being horribly wrong on many occasions. The two of them eventually get pulled off to another planet where they meet an armor-clad race, and then get to become a bit of an armor-clad race themselves.
“It was terrific to have Shanks on the show and fun, too, as I got to sort of pick his brain because he did this [Stargate] for so long. As for our scenes together, well, we both talk incredibly fast, and I’m not used to lines being picked up so quickly and thrown back at me in such a way, because Michael adds in these cool little character-related things. The guy is amazing. I don’t know how he does it, and not only that, but he gets younger every time I see him. Actually, the whole SG-1 cast is on some kind of reverse aging process, whereas I’m on an advanced aging process. By the time we finish this conversation I’ll have aged 10 years.
“As I mentioned, Michael and I ended up in those armor-clad suits for a period of time. All I can say is, I now have a new respect for those people at Comic-Con who dress up as Storm Troopers [from Star Wars]; I don’t know how they stand it because you sweat buckets in an outfit like that. That’s what happened to me in that spacesuit. Of course, Michael glowed and was in a really good mood. Again, we had a ball. There’s some fantastic back and forth banter when Daniel and McKay get together, if I do say so myself. You’ve got that great sense of McKay being up against someone who’s as smart as he is and knows as much as he does, so there’s a lot of attitude being exchanged.”
From “Science Friction” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine #26 (Jan./Feb. 2009):
“Unlike the other characters who came in and developed, the weird thing with McKay is that he came in developed, and tore himself apart—you see why he is the way he is. That was a lot of the fun of it. Basically, you’ve got a guest star role who’s there to cause trouble, and he gets kicked up to Siberia or wherever he was. All of a sudden they go back and start pulling him apart, ‘OK, he’s a complete knob about this, why? Let’s learn why he’s the way he is.’ With sci-fi, I think there are a lot of people who feel an affinity to that kind of character. A lot of people into sci-fi are very smart and not always terribly good socially—I know I wasn’t—and part of the whole love of sci-fi is about escaping. The idea that there’s this guy who’s like you is very appealing. He can’t get his smart out fast enough, he has no social boundaries, he says exacty what he thinks, and he does everything you want to do. For me, that stuff usually requires a lot of drinks—McKay just does it! He says whatever he needs to say and then goes, ‘Oh.’ I love him. I really love him. I make jokes about it, but I’ve learned an awful lot from McKay. What you see is what you get with him, he doesn’t try to be nice if he doesn’t fee like it, but he does try when he wants to.”
From “Close Up: David Hewlett” at MGM’s Official Stargate Website (Jun. 3, 2008):
“The scary thing is I feel like I’ve learned a lot from McKay. People always laugh when I say this, but I’m actually quite shy and retiring. I’m not really good with people, I’m not really good in first impressions, I’m not very good at social scenes. And McKay’s kind of given me this like ‘Well, they all hate me anyway’ attitude. It’s given me the freedom to get out of my skin a bit, and it’s given me a certain confidence. And also, to be fair, as an actor, there’s a confidence in having a regular job. One of the hardest things as an actor is to not base how you feel on whether you’re working or not, because so much of your time as an actor is spent not working. But when you’ve got a job like this, and especially a character like this who is so much fun to play, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself.”
From “Science Friction” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine #26 (Jan./Feb. 2009):
“I already miss McKay. Being an actor is kind of like playing the lottery, I mean, you get these roles and some of them stick and when they hit, it’s an amazing thing. I think McKay was one of those roles. I find it weird to let that go. But at the same time, I don’t have to yet. I don’t want to sound trite, it’s like when you break up with a woman, you never really get over them until you meet someone else. And with McKay, I hope I’m not always going to miss him. I hope there will be other characters that resonate the same way. McKay is a great character and I hope he’s not a once in a career character. So, basically, I’m kind of excited because maybe there’s another… I have a sneaking suspicion that McKay is not going to disappear—I think we’ll see him again. …”
From interview with Fantasy Magazine (Oct. 1, 2008):
“[Teyla has] matured, definitely. She’s come into her own and she’s become stronger. Her journey has become quite broad and extensive. She’s become a very grounded and stronger just because that’s what the situation has called for. I mean just the fact that she’s had a baby definitely has caused her to change.
“I think that she’s pretty much made up her mind at this point, not so much where she’s going to put her focus but where she’s going to divide her energies. She’s still part of the team. She’s come to terms with the fact that what she does is dangerous, that when she goes out on a mission it might be the last time that she’s sees her child but she’s determined to make the galaxy a safer place, especially for him.
“Throughout the past few years, I’ve grown with Teyla, and the shifts she’s undergone have been reminiscent of my own life. I’ve become a mother as well. I think I’d like to see her have a little more fun (laughs). I would! I’d love for her to have some fun and light in her life. To have a moment where she has a sigh of relief. A moment to relax and show a softer side.
“With each character and each personality, Teyla responds in a different way. We have Robert Picardo this year as Richard Woolsey. Woolsey is kind of prickly, but Teyla is inclined to give people the chance to show their true nature. She shows compassion towards him, and in the end, he’s won her over. … I mean, Teyla leaves Torin with Woolsey and trusts him to find the dad.
“I connect with all of them in different ways; even with Woolsey there’s a connection.
“With each of the team members she has a personal kind of affection towards them. After ‘Missing’ she has an affection for Dr. Keller. Dr. Keller rises to the challenge and she knows about the pregnancy first. And of course with Sheppard there’s a kindred spirit connection between them that’s been there from the beginning. With Ronon there’s the great relationship that they have since he’s also from Pegasus. And the only one to share any connection to what she’s gone through. But they all are important to her in different ways.”
From “Queen of Atlantis” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine #26 (Jan./Feb. 2009):
“[Teyla’s] journey has been very broad, actually. She’s gone through a lot. I look back to season one Teyla, and everything that has transpired, and I think she’s just come into herself. She’s become more of a woman. A very grounded, well-rounded, compassionate and strong woman. I think in the beginning, there was still a bit of the girl in her. Certainly, her relationship with the rest of the team has deepened. In terms of self-discovery, she has had all of these unique skills that, in the beginning she was uncertain about— since then, she’s learned a lot about herself and her own powers and capabilities. I think I started off with a character who was filled with potential, and I’ve ended up with a character who’s still very ripe with potential, but who’s quite weighty and centered.
“It’s an honor to be able to play such a character. It’s so wonderful to be able to bring a character to life, who is a woman, who is strong physically as well as intellectually, but without being a bitch or being masculine in any way. She didn’t lose any of her femininity, or strength—that was something I didn’t want to compromise on. … I was very clear that that’s what I wanted to do with her. I’ve had a lot of strong female role models in my own life and one of them have been bitchy! They’ve all been great women. Let’s face it, that’s what we are, that’s what we do!
“I’m sorry but I can’t say ‘The Queen’ [can be considered a stand-out moment for me this year.] That was a hell of an episode. I’m still nursing my son and there I was as a freak monster holding my wee one! Thank goodness he’s so above all of it that he thought it was hilarious. I’d been putting green facemasks on to make sure he was OK. He would look at me like, ‘I know what I signed up for,’ and laugh! Then I knew it was going to be OK, but it was a long, hard episode.
“Sitting on top of the Stargate in ‘The Shrine’—that was a fun moment! We had a ball splashing the water before takes, and we were spraying each other.
“I had a lot of fun with Michael and his demise in ‘Prodigal,’ and being a little bit of a superhero mom. That was good because that’s certainly something that happens when you become a mom—you feel you can take on anything!”
From interview with Sci Fi Now (Aug. 10, 2009):
“You know, there are many things that I would have liked to do with Teyla. I like the direction that she went, certainly, but I still think that there was room to do a lot more in terms of exploring her culture and the fact that she was native to the Pegasus galaxy. I think that there could have been, potentially, a lot more mythology and history woven in there. I’m not going to say that it was a missed opportunity per se, but I just really feel that there was much more depth that could have been explored and it could have been really fascinating.
“Obviously, number one [highlight for me] would be the camaraderie between myself and my fellow cast mates, as well as our wonderful crew. We just had a terrific group of people to work with. It was very fortunate, it doesn’t happen very often…but we all got along with each other. Certainly in the early days we would spend a lot of time with each other and that was a ball, and our crew was great, so the sense of family was fantastic. I also loved being able to play such a strong, vibrant and intelligent, physical character… Teyla wasn’t a cookie cutter, kind of [character]… she wasn’t sexy without intelligence, or smart without the physicality, she was really well-rounded and that was great. It was wonderful to be able to take on such a physical character as well, I hadn’t done that before and so the whole aspect of martial arts and fighting was something that I very much enjoyed as well.”
From “Queen of Atlantis” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine #26 (Jan./Feb. 2009):
“I don’t know whether or not anybody will admit this—I’ll admit it—I think everybody’s a little bit sad about [the cancellation]. I was shocked by it. We all had the carpet pulled out from under us because we’ve been doing so well. Paul Mullie and Joe Mallozzi came to my trailer, with their heads hanging down, with the news. We all thought it would at least go one more season.
“I would just like to make sure that the fans know how much we appreciate their support. We’ve all been touched by the outpouring since the announcement. It’s just been wonderful and we appreciate it.”
From “Jason Momoa – At Home on Atlantis” at SciFiandTvTalk’s Blog (Apr. 14, 2009):
“I’ve been with this role for four seasons, and at the end of my first year playing him I really began to grasp the character, so much so that now it’s easy to slip into. As far as the action goes, it’s a lot easier than it used to be. I mean, I’ve been walking in these shoes for a long time, and I’m going to be a little sad when this show ends and I’m not playing Ronon. I’ve never really felt that way before. This is the hardest role I’ve ever had. There’s no way that I relate to most of the stuff he does, but I really like Ronon and I think the writers have done a good job with him. Sometimes it’s hard not having much to say as my character, but, hey, that’s Ronon, so I’ve had to let go of that.
“When it comes to the acting, I’ve learned a great deal on Atlantis. I get really nervous on-camera, so I’ve tried to relax and slow down. This season I’ve had the chance to go much deeper into this character and really experiment with him. ‘Broken Ties’ was a huge breakthrough for me, especially when it came to the scenes where I cried. I find it very difficult to cry, and as an actor you have to look inside yourself as much as possible and be aware of your emotions. Thank God I got to work with [director] Ken Girotti on ‘Broken Ties,’ who’s incredible. He got me to relax and would say to me, ‘You know you can do this.’ When you’re on-set and, for example, the lighting people are doing their thing, the camera guys are moving the camera into place, and someone from make-up is powdering your face, it’s hard to channel your emotions. It takes a lot of practice, and I’m not good at getting all emotional and crying. Ken just came up to me and said, ‘Jason, you know what you want to do. You’re there, just relax.’
“When I heard Ken tell me to relax I thought, ‘OK, just breathe into your stomach and listen for a second to what he’s saying.’ When that one word [relax] hit me, it was just awesome. That’s where you think, ‘This is why I do what I do.’ I’ve had times in my career where I’ve been able to stretch myself acting-wise doing those types of scenes. Action helps that entire process because it throws you into that particular moment. As far as the acting, though, when you get to just perform and do your thing, that’s when you truly realize why you love your job so much.”
From “Dex Appeal” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine #26 (Jan./Feb. 2009):
“‘Broken Ties’ was my favorite episode, acting-wise. I had these super-human powers, which was pretty cool, and I got to take the badass thing to another level. I got to play evil. It was horrible to come off of such a crazy drug, and doing it in that place is pretty funky. It’s meant to be like heroin times 10, and they really let me go with it and create the pain. There was a lot of pain, but it was fun to do!
“I broke two gurneys on the set and the crew were like ‘holy crap!’ I was a broken man by the end of that day—I didn’t have anything left. It was just rewarding to hear them say, ‘I didn’t even know he could do that, he doesn’t even talk!’ That was nice.
“At the end of every season I go up to them and we talk about what I’d like to happen character-wise—like I’d really love to see him beg to be killed, or have a love interest. I wanted to go evil for a while—originally, in that episode my dreads were supposed to get cut off to show the transformation. After I cut my dreads off last season, they made me the wig and we were going to ‘shave’ it off during ‘Broken Ties.’ The Wraith would capture me, torture me and cut all my hair off, as part of the story. The powers that be didn’t like that—Ronon can’t be Ronon without the dreads!”
From “Jason Momoa – At Home on Atlantis” at SciFiandTvTalk’s Blog (Apr. 14, 2009):
“‘Tracker’ was fun because it was just me and David Hewlett, and working with him is always a pleasure as well as laughs and good times. Our two characters are good together because they’re obviously brains and brawn, and now this year they’re fighting over Keller and it’s been great to feed off of that.
“I have to say, too, that Mike Dopud, who played Kiryk, does a terrific job in the episode. He’s a fantastic actor and we had such a good time working with him. Like Mike’s character, Ronon brought death upon an entire village because of the Wraith, so my character is able to relate to him on that level. However, they’re two testosterone-driven don’t-show-any-emotion guys, but they do share one tiny moment of understanding in the episode. I’m really pleased our writers did something like that, rather than having Ronon put the blinders on and have him just seeing red because this Runner took someone who he loves and respects. It would have been neat if they were able to bring back Mike’s character and have him and Ronon take on some Wraith together.”
From “Exclusive Interview: Jason Momoa” at Cinema Spy (Aug. 11, 2008):
“[I’d like to see Ronon go out in] a blaze of glory, man. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, me and Joe, going out. The unspoken word, looking at each other. We’ve had it happen this year, we do one where we look at each other and he’s like, ‘We’re going to die. It’s an honour,’ and I’m like, ‘Same.’ It’s unspoken and you’re going out with your buddy, firing.”
From “The 100th Episode Wrap Party” video at MGM’s Official Stargate Website (May 21, 2009):
“I’m going to miss playing [Ronon]…he’s a fun character, for sure, but I’m also looking forward to smiling instead of—and not beating people up. I’m sure everyone says it’s like family, but it really is. I’ve met a lot of people I’ll take with me and cherish. I’m going to love coming back [to do the movie]. It’ll be nice to have a little break and come back and—you know, I’ve never really been in a feature, so it’ll be nice to do that: this whole big budget and play Ronon, someone I already know, and just having fun.”
From “Close Up: Jewel Staite” at MGM’s Official Stargate Website (May 27, 2008):
“They called in the fall and told me that we had been picked up for a fifth season, and once contract negotiations began, they asked if I was willing to come on for more time. It’s a great show, a great cast, the hours are great… It’s a very easy set to be on but at the same time, there’s all these extreme situations that we’re playing out every week, so it’s kind of fun. You never really know what your character is going to go through next, so it’s a bit of a challenge as well, which is good. It shoots in my home town and I’ve bonded with everybody – I definitely wasn’t ready to say goodbye, so I was happy to keep exploring the character.
“Keller has definitely become more comfortable with the group. There are more scenes with Sheppard, which I really like because I didn’t have a lot of scenes with him last year. There’s been more development with the Ronon situation and the McKay situation, but of course, it being Atlantis the stakes are high and we’re in constant danger! There’s been lots of stunt work. So it’s the same old, same old, really. [laughs]
“I got a new leather jacket to wear off world. They’ve given me this off-world outfit and solidified me as more a part of the team, so that’s really cool. She’s still a little bit of a ‘fraidy cat, but what I really like about Keller is that she seems to react the way a normal, ordinary person would in a death-defying situation. I think there’s a lot of humor and a lot of realism in that. But she’s learning and she’s definitely becoming used to being in dangerous situations and stepping up to the plate a bit more. So, slowly but surely, she’s getting the hang of it.
“I feel very comfortable here. I feel like I know everybody very well and they know me very well. I just feel trusted and confident in letting loose with what I can do. I don’t second guess what I’m doing and I don’t worry about whether my choice about something in a scene is going to be wrong, because I feel like I now own this character, and it’s a great feeling. It’s hard to grasp that when you’re just starting a job, especially since you’re essentially replacing somebody who was very well loved in the fandom. It was a little touch and go at first, and I was feeling like the new kid – but that was good because I think Keller felt the same way, so it just seemed to work on set and feel very real. I don’t feel so new anymore. I just feel like one of the gang, which is awesome.”
From “Why Is Jewel Staite Always In Bondage? We Asked Her” at io9 (Aug. 8, 2008):
“No! [It wasn’t fun having the alien spore taking over my body in ‘The Seed.’] It was the weirdest thing in the world. I was basically pinned to the bed literally, they had a prosthetic blanket that went over me, and they glued pieces of the blanket to my face. So once I was in, I was in. It took like half an hour to get out, and then another half hour to in, so if I really really had to go, they would let me out, but I knew it would be a big hassle, so I just laid off all the fluids and I went to the happy place, that’s where I was. Yeah. That was so bizarre. I just laid there and David Hewlett (Rodney McKay) was feeding me at one point. It was a bonding experience. It wasn’t that bad. I basically laid there and relaxed in a very comfortable bed. It could have been worse. An odd way of working, for sure.
“In season four, I was kidnapped and bound and gagged. This year, it’s happened to me twice so far. And I just read yet another script where I am again bound and gagged. I don’t know what I did. … I’m starting to wonder. It’s a fetish thing. And it’s the same writer every time that writes the episode where I’m being kidnapped. Maybe he likes seeing me dragged through the woods. I don’t know what’s going on. And you know what? I don’t question it. I guess. At least he’s writing for me.”
From “Exclusive Interview: Jewel Staite” at Cinema Spy (Jul. 30, 2008):
“I think in terms of doing a series, the writers get to know you as a person, besides you as the actor, and start incorporating a lot of your own personality into the character. As time goes on they can’t really help but do that. If you are playing this person every day, there’s a little bit of you that goes in there no matter what you do. I’m very laid back and I talk to everybody and I’m the type of person who gets along with everybody, and I think she’s like that too. It’s not that she has this intense bond with everybody. It’s just a friendly, amiable quality about her that is there. There’s a really interesting scene coming up [in ‘First Contact’] where Woolsey is writing a speech and he’s really nervous about it and she can pick up on that and she interrupts him and says, ‘What are you doing?’ and she sits and laughs with him and relaxes him. I don’t think he’s had that with any of the other characters yet on the show. I like that she’s able to get along, at least, with everybody. She doesn’t have a beef with anybody. She doesn’t have an aggressiveness about her, or any major past issues that bring a certain coldness to her that somebody like Ronon would have, or even McKay.
“I’ve been able to help develop the relationship between Keller and McKay a lot more. They’ve become much closer and better friends. I’ve been a lot more involved this year. I signed on for more episodes, so it’s been almost every day and I feel good. I feel like I’ve realised my place here and know everybody and feel very at ease and comfortable. It’s really nice.
“The thing I’m most excited about is her confidence. I’m so happy to see more of that. She was a bit of a scaredy-cat in Season 4 and was apprehensive and kind of shy and full of anxiety a lot of the time. A lot of that is dissipated this year and she’s become more forthright and believes in herself a little bit more and I really like that. She’s becoming a strong female character on the show and that’s always good to have more of those.”
From “Interview with Amanda Tapping & Jewel Staite of Stargate Atlantis” at TVaholic (Sept. 30, 2007):
“I’m usually just drawn to really well written characters. I don’t limit my career choices on any particular genre. And I guess I’ve just fallen into this world of sci-fi over and over again because a lot of the time in this genre there’s some really well-written, intelligent women characters to play, luckily.
“And as for her biggest strength, she’s really great under pressure. I think that’s when she’s at her best, especially when she’s in her element; anything to do with medicine or a complicated medical situation she’s just there. She’s just on. She’s very, very, very smart and very focused.
“I think [the character moments are] so important in a show like this. I mean there’s so much action and there’s so much going on and special effects and that kind of thing and that’s important, but I think it’s so much more interesting when there are those special moments between the characters where they let their guards down a little bit. I really like that. I think that’s really integral to a good episode.”
From “Shutting Down The ‘Gate: ‘Stargate Atlantis’ Ends Its Five Year Run” at Pop Culture Zoo (Jan. 8, 2009):
“I knew the show was in a groove, having been running for so many years, so I expected a well-run set and a lot of camaraderie. And I couldn’t have been more on the mark. I’ve never worked with such a talented, easy-going crew! I was always amazed at how much we were able to achieve in a twelve hour day, and everyone really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Since I was the new kid stepping in to some hard shoes to fill, I was a little worried about fitting in, but they all made me feel so incredibly welcome, right from the very beginning. I’ll always remember the cast and crew for that.
“Nearing the end of season five, Dr. Keller was just beginning to show her true colors. I would love to explore more of that in the future!”
From “Close Up: Robert Picardo” at MGM’s Official Stargate Website (May 20, 2008):
“I’ve enjoyed not only playing the character but the experience of working with both casts. The writer-producers have treated me very nicely and I think rather amazingly they’ve rehabilitated a character that was originally introduced, not so much as a villain, but as an unpleasant bureaucrat. I think the producers kind of liked me [laughs], and they thought, ‘Well this guy’s not so bad, why don’t we try to bring him back?’ So my next appearance, they rehabilitated him quite a bit by making him a guy that may rub people the wrong way and may be annoying, but at least he means well. He has a high ethical standard and thinks that secret military operations really need to have civilian oversight to stop them spinning out of control. And when he found out that he was being manipulated by the evil senator Kinsey, he provided evidence against Kinsey at extreme risk to himself—career-wise and probably also health-wise! So he’s shown a certain courage and backbone.” [Note: These are references to Woolsey’s first episodes during Season Seven of Stargate SG-1.]
“What I find interesting about this challenge as an actor is I guess the same challenge that Woolsey is experiencing as a character. He is reinventing himself. After years of being a conference room guy, someone who has a great legal mind, a lot of legal training, and knows a lot about military protocol—he knows enough to evaluate anyone else’s command, but he’s never had to make those decisions himself. So it’s fun to take the guy who can so easily come in and evaluate you and suddenly put the mantle of power around him and say, ‘Okay, what are you going to do now? How are you going to handle the same challenges that you used to critique other people over?’ The whole notion of a middle aged man completely trying to reinvent himself is something that I think audiences will find interesting to watch, and I certainly find interesting as an actor to play. It’ll be an interesting evolution.
“I had some chats with Joe Mallozzi. We had got a little comic mileage, especially in the two part episode I did with Richard Dean Anderson [Season Four’s ‘The Return’], where Woolsey is afraid in a dangerous situation. And I said, ‘Well, we certainly won’t be able to mine that territory for comedy any more. We can’t look to the new leader being afraid to lead. But I think we can still find some comic possibilities in his bad people skills. He doesn’t have an easy way of getting on with other people—he can be a little brusque and arrogant. What I find interesting is that he’s aware of his limitations and he wants to work to change them. There was a wonderful moment I had with Amanda Tapping’s character last season. I’m brought into evaluate her character, and I say, ‘It’s been brought to my attention that I can sometimes rub people the wrong way.’ She just looks at me and lets the comment hang, until about four or five eggs are dripping off my face! So he has an awareness that people don’t find him easy to get along with, and he wants to work on that too. That’s part of him building himself into a leader. I love the idea that he wants to leave the boardroom and enter the command room, and I hope that they’ll put him in missions later in the season. In anticipation of that, I chatted to the writers about whether or not he might try to train himself, first physically, and then with regard to weapons and combat, and then try to get some basic boot camp training that he never had because of the career he’d chosen. So I think there could be all sorts of fun possibilities!
“The very first episode that I’m featured in is the second episode of season five, called ‘The Seed.’ Woolsey has to handle his first crisis—which I of course won’t give away. He is immediately amazed at his own behavior, that he chooses to break protocol and not follow the by-the-book way of dealing with the security threat that the base is facing. He turns away from that and makes some riskier choices in order to try to save one of our endangered crew members. The book clearly states, ‘restore security with minimum collateral damage,’ which means sacrifice the one life for the good of the many. He doesn’t do that, and I think he’s kind of shocked by himself. There’s a quite nice scene that I have with Joe Flanigan at the end where he confesses to Sheppard that if he can’t trust the rules that he’s supposed to follow, he doesn’t know whether or not he can really do this. He’s a theorist that’s put in a real situation, and he doesn’t know how much of the theory that he’s memorized he can truly trust to guide his decisions. That’s a major step for his character right off the bat. The Woolsey that you saw in the alternate time line at the end of season four [in ‘The Last Man’] is the guy before he faced this kind of crisis and finds out that he cannot lead effectively the way he thought he would.
“It’s been great so far. We’re only on the fifth episode right now and I appear in four of the first five. So I’ve been having a fun time getting to know my fellow cast members and, of course, the crew. And we’re getting some comedic moments out of the fact that Woolsey is the new guy, who doesn’t know the base very well. He doesn’t know how things work or his way around. So there’s some things with him getting a little bit lost and with him not knowing how to get the doors open, so we have been having some nice humorous moments, which I’m happy about. We’re also learning more about his back story. He’s divorced, obviously married to his work and he doesn’t seem to have a lot of friends. He seems a little lonely in his new position. So I think they’re getting some things lined up for later on, with people trying to get him to socialize a little bit. To let his hair down if you’ll excuse the irony of that image!”
From “The Last Commander” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine #26 (Jan./Feb. 2009):
“It’s been a delight! It hasn’t been too terribly taxing—there’s only been about four episodes where Woolsey was fairly heavily featured and there were big dialogue days. After my years of spouting techno-babble on Star Trek it was nowhere near as memory-taxing. You’re allowed to actually change a line or two without having to go through seven layers of protocol, the way you do in the Delta Quadrant!
“The most fun for me to shoot was ‘Remnants,’ which Joe Mallozzi wrote. It has a certain emotional journey for the Woolsey character—there’s a good deal of humor in it, but also it has a surprisingly touching pay-off. And, I get to flirt with a girl, which is always a good thing! Woolsey can see this woman that he’s attracted to, and other people can’t. When he becomes aware the he’s going a little crazy because he’s not sure if he has an imaginary friend or not, there are scenes where he’s torn between hearing what the person no one else can hear is saying, while trying to appear to everyone else that he’s not talking to imaginary people. That dynamic is funny. Like Harvey! Those scenes were great fun to play.
“They could obviously go with one of their prior leaders or another leader [in the movies], but the fact that they now look at me as the leader of the expedition is very flattering, and I would be delighted to do it. Also, it’s nice to keep a hand in the genre. I love doing all kinds of acting. I love working on stage, I love doing comedy and I like doing regular non-genre drama on television because it’s fun to do everything. I can’t imagine a better situation than to have an ongoing way of keeping your hand in science fiction, and still have time to do other types of work—that would be the best of both worlds. I hope the first movie gets made, I hope it’s well received and I hope we get a shot at doing more than one!”