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Stargate SG-1 Cast Interviews: Claudia Black

None More Black
Steven Eramo, TV Zone Yearbook, Dec 2004

Claudia Black

"Apparently, the casting people from Stargate were trying to track me down for a while," Claudia Black told TV Zone.  "They had, in fact, contacted me last year about a part, but the timing didn't work out. When you're on a long running show such as Farscape, people discover you and want to use you in their project. However, you either never seem to be around, or are in the wrong country. If both sides are lucky, you're eventually able to connect, which is what happened here."

"Initially, I didn't think I'd be able to do Stargate. When I got the phone call, I was in Australia doing Automated Dialogue Replacement work for the Farscape mini series. Obviously the ADR work was a priority, but as luck would have it, I finished a day or two early. The Stargate people told my agent, 'If you can get Claudia to the embassy, get her work papers, and on a plane to Canada, we can do this.' So that's what we did.

"Let me tell you, it was the worst case of jet lag I've experienced in my entire life. That said, I wouldn't have missed doing Stargate for the world. It's funny, when you've been a regular on a TV series, you sometimes forget how lucky you are to be working."

"When I guest starred on Stargate I was one of those people who was in awe of everything around me. It was an absolute blast and I was lucky enough to bring with me all that I had learn't as an actress from doing Farscape. I mean, David Kemper has always said to me, 'You were fine when you came on the show but everyone gets better with time' There are things that you won't even realize you've learn't and they will just come naturally to you now. It was wonderful to be able to walk onto a new set in a foreign country and be able to get on with the people and do the work quickly as well as deliver a solid performance. It was just an amazing experience and the cast and crew were very good to me."

In Prometheus Unbound, Black's character of Vala is a member of an alien race whose world was conquered by the Goa'uld System Lord Camulus. Her people eventually rose up against their oppressors, but the resistance was soon crushed and the survivors were forced to hide out on their worlds moon. Dressed in the armour of a super soldier to protect herself, Vala hijacks the Prometheus with Dr Daniel Jackson aboard. She plans to use the ship to relocate her people to a new planet on which to live.

"As soon as I read the script, I fell in love with the character of Vala. She's a hoot. Talk about a real piece of work. I'd never played someone who was that manipulative, and I thought it would be a wonderful acting challenge for me. What I especially liked was that the action aboard the Prometheus was very much self contained. It was it's own story within the episode, and that allowed me to be introduced into the Stargate world, at a comfortable pace.

"To top it off, I was working mainly with Michael Shanks and the director Andy Mikita, both of whom are extremely kind and giving. I remember the Stargate producers were constantly apologizing for the costume they put me in because it was so hot. I said to them, 'Come to Australia and work on Farscape and you'll realize I have nothing to complain about. I was recently in Los Angeles where I did some DVD commentary with Ben Browder, David Kemper and Rockne O'Bannon. The four of us agreed that, with all our combined work experience, Farscape was the toughest gig we'd ever done."

"The pace was a gruelling one, and it's much the same on Stargate. They don't muck around on that programme either. Most of its cast have won Canadian awards for their performances and it's to their credit because the pace at which they're shooting is just incredible. Fortunately, as with Farscape, the onset environment is both encouraging and collaborative. For example, I noticed that Michael Shanks had a great deal of excellent input and Andy Mikita respected his opinion and was keen to listen to him."

"As an actor, it's preferable to be thought of as part of the wheel that turns as opposed to something that makes the wheel stop. I can't tell you what a buzz I got from working on Stargate. it allowed me to test my acting wares and get out there in front of the camera and really takes some risks. At one point Michael Shanks said to me, 'It's all up to you now', meaning that I had made some very specific choices and was either going to fall flat on my face, or make it work. Andy Mikita was terrific about it. The more he encouraged me, the more I pushed. We were all working together to achieve a common goal and I loved every minute of it."

© TV Zone, 2004

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