On Wednesday, September 26th, the TVaholic and others got a chance to ask Amanda Tapping and Jewel Staite questions about Stargate Atlantis, being new to the show, funny happenings on the set, other projects and more. Fourteen different interviewers took their turn during a conference call that lasted about an hour.
Thanks to all those that emailed or left questions they wanted to get answered. Many of you seemed to be interested in funny things that happen on the set during filming, so that is what the TVaholic asked about. Many of your questions had already been asked by the time it was the TVaholic’s turn, but I think you will find much of them and more were answered by the time the interview finished.
It was quite the hour, as Amanda Tapping and Jewel Staite are a lot fun to talk with. Below, you will find the entire interview, minus the introductory pleasantries and all the concluding thanks by each interviewer. Enjoy!
David Martindale of Hearst Newspapers was the first to ask questions. He started with: What were your expectations when you signed on? It certainly couldn’t be that you’d be doing the same character for decade and beyond, right?
Amanda: No. My expectation initially was two years. We knew we had a two-year pickup from Showtime, which was our original network had ordered 44 episodes. So we knew two years.
And I think it was partway through Season 1 we found out that we were going to go, I think, four and beyond that we really didn’t think too much about it. And then we knew five. And then once we hit seven, we thought that was it; seven, that’s the sci-fi model. That’s what’s always worked for Star Trek and the usual franchises.
And then all of a sudden it was a completely different set of rules. Every year we kept waiting to get cancelled and they kept picking us up. And finally in Season 10, we went, oh, well, they’ll probably pick us up next year and then we got cancelled.
David: Yeah. Does it boggle your mind in some way?
Amanda: Totally. And it just doesn’t feel like 10 years.
David: Because, I mean, you’re in a career where you’re perpetually out of work looking for the next job.
Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It doesn’t feel like 10 years, first of all or 11, as it is now. I’m just going for the record: I’m going to be the Kelsey Grammer of sci-fi.
David: Each – both of you could talk to this because you’ve done sci-fi. I’ve talked to Star Trek actors and Babylon 5 actors, etc., who visited NASA and came out thinking, “We’re frauds for doing this little science fiction show.” Have you all – have either of you experienced that or felt that in some way?
Amanda: The only time I felt it was when I actually met a real astrophysicist. He started talking to me about string theory quite in depth…
David: Oh, like you were a colleague.
Amanda: Yeah, and about, you know, 35 seconds into the conversation, I went, oh, boy, I have no idea what this man is talking about. I’m an idiot.
Amanda: But because our show is present day, it’s a little more accessible. It’s a little more – you know we’re present day and we’re military so that’s all relatable. It doesn’t feel in that sense like we’re frauds. It’s, you know, when we get up into the big spaceships and float around that you sort of go, this is what we do for a living.
David: Okay. Jewel?
Jewel: I think it’s important to remember the fiction part of science fiction. Luckily I’ve never ran into some – any astrophysicist to test me and all I’ve ever really played are real played. I’ve played a mechanic so every once a while I get a mechanic that comes up and asks me something that I have no idea what he’s talking about. And I’ve played a doctor, so I haven’t really had to have too many conversations with people that are in the science fiction realm, yeah.
David: Good for you. Spare you that weird moment. And for both of you, are you drawn to sci-fi is there something about the genre that attracts you and makes you want to be here or is it fairly possible, too, that maybe because you’ve been in it before the people who make sci-fi, watch sci-fi and you’re on the producers’ radar or is it some combination of that or what?
Jewel: I’m not really sure. 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.
Amanda: Yeah, I’d have to agree with Jewel on that one. It’s not that you sort of set out saying, I want to do sci-fi.
Amanda: But there are great female characters, so as an actor, that’s the best case scenario that you can hope for is to play somebody who is intelligent and fully realized and not stereotypical.
David: You don’t want to be the character who is just the girlfriend or the victim or what have you.
Amanda: Exactly, exactly. And Jewel and I have both been lucky that we played really proactive characters, so…
Jewel: Yeah, I mean it’s fun, too, to play the victim every once and a while, as long as it’s something interesting and it’s not too predictable.
David: An interesting victim. That’s okay.
Jewel: Yeah, an interesting victim. There you go.
Kent Gibbons of Multichannel News was next and started off with: I have one for Amanda; kind of a two-parter. One is what do you think Stargate SG-1’s sort of – do you think it has like a – has made like a lasting impact on TV or do you sort of see it having a legacy or – as you watch shows you see it sort of having an influence either from some of the sort of production, or the story lines or anything like that?
Amanda: Wow, well in the broader spectrum in terms of mainstream television, I think sadly not so much. In terms of the sci-fi genre, most definitely it’s had an impact. And its legacy is that it lasted for a decade, which is unprecedented.
So in that sense, I mean that’s something that we’re all really proud of, but I think it took a long time for Stargate to sort of get more mainstream attention. And I don’t know if it’s because it was sci-fi or because you know it’s that little show that could. It was that little show that just kept coming back and coming back and now we’re just – I think our legacy is in DVDs right now.
Kent: And for this year coming up, do you have any particular – now the writers can sort of focus on just one show here, do you have any particular hopes for where your character goes or where the storyline goes or how the show might sort of adapt or…
Amanda: I think at this point I’m just hoping that we get picked up for Season 5. I mean we’re two episodes away from finishing the season, and I’m actually really happy with the way that the character’s been introduced. It could have been a very difficult transition bringing Carter over from SG-1 to you know to Atlantis. And I think it was handled really seamlessly so in that sense I’m really happy with the way the transition went with the way the characters developed this season.
Kent: Yeah, I forget these shows have actually been shot already.
Kent: Do you – so now that you said, after Season 10 you sort of felt confident that it would – that you’d be sure you’d be picked up for Season 11, do you have same kind of confidence now or…
Amanda: …yeah, that’s the trick. So now we’re all just saying, oh, Atlantis probably isn’t going to get picked up and then it inevitably will.
Kent: I’m sure it inevitably will, so, and Jewel I have a question for you. The – are you concerned at all that the doctors seem to be – they’re sort of exposed endangered characters on Startgate episodes? We’ve lost a couple already. One from…
Jewel: I know. I definitely flipped through to the last page every time I read a script just in case. But I’ve been lucky. I usually don’t have to go on any field missions or ops or anything so I’m well out of danger so far.
Next up was April MacIntyre of Monsters and Critics. She asked: I have a fun, what-if question for you, if you could put your character hats on and channel Joe Mallozzi and Paul Mullie. If you were to write a romantic interest for each of your characters, which one of the male leads would it be and why?
April: Again, this is a what-if.
Amanda: Wow. On Atlantis or can they be from…
April: On Atlantis. You’ve got Ronon, the hunk. McKay the nerdy, brilliant jokester — prickly. And then, you know, rakish, Sheppard, and a few others. Who would your character pick and why if you were just speculating.
Jewel: Amanda, I’m really curious on what you have to say.
Amanda: Thank you Jewel. Wow.
Jewel: That’s hard.
Amanda: I think for just a night of pure unadulterated fun, Ronon, for sure. But –
Jewel: I love that. Carter and Ronon. I love it.
Amanda: I think Carter could absolutely go for McKay in a sick, twisted sort of let’s see how this works out intellectually, sexy way.
Amanda: I guess that’s whatever. I’ve used every adjective I know. Yeah, I think for a pure just tension release fun, Ronon, but for a bit of a more interesting character, I think she’d go for McKay. Oh, dear.
April: Thank you.
Jewel: I think I would have to say – I would have to say Ronon, too. I like the fact that he makes Keller feel a little bit uncomfortable. She is usually very much in her element in the med lab. She’s very confident and whenever he’s around, she kind of doesn’t know what to do with herself, and I think that’s sort of cute. I like that he brings that out in her. So I would say Ronon.
April: Very, very good choice. Thank you.
Kyle Braun of UGO.com came on the line and asked: Not necessarily leading in from the last question at all, but was wondering who your characters have been involved with this season – who you’ve been sort of spending screen time with this season. Question for each of you.
Amanda: I’ve spent a fair amount of screen time actually recently with McKay and with Jewel’s character, Keller, especially in the last episode that we just shot. But for me, I’ve actually sort of been spread out in terms of trying – they’re trying to establish new relationships for each of us and so I don’t think I’ve spent any time with one person more than another. Maybe mostly Sheppard, I guess, if I had to guess.
Jewel: That’s the person that I think I’ve spent the least amount of time with. I hardly ever get any scenes with Joe, but everybody else, Keller seems to have bonded with in some way. I think she and Carter have bonded because they’re both new, maybe trying to prove themselves a little bit so they have that in common. And she’s bonded with McKay because, well mostly because she likes to tease him and sort of flirt with him and make him feel uncomfortable which is always really fun to play.
And she’s bonded with Ronon a little bit. In one episode we get locked in a room together. And with Teyla, as well, we go to visit her home planet and see her people and run into some trouble, so I’ve been really lucky. I’ve kind of got some bond with all the characters. It’s been fun.
Kyle: That’s great. Now Jewel, I was wondering how the production of Stargate Atlantis is different from the production of Firefly.
Jewel: Well the sets are a lot cleaner and they’re better lit. The thing with Firefly was the world that we were in was a very dangerous world. It was kind of about a group of people really struggling to survive and dealing with all of these different aspects and not really being able to – not being well-equipped to deal with them.
And on Atlantis we’re so well-equipped to deal with all of these disasters and we face peril and danger every day, but we have such a conglomerate backing us that the world feels a lot safer.
So…and in terms of production value, it’s just – it’s such a beautiful set and it’s very, very clean. It’s very pristine.
Kyle: Amanda, I was wondering just how Samantha Carter is adjusting to life in the Pegasus Galaxy and what she does to sort of re-climatize herself?
Amanda: It’s been an interesting transition. I think – I credit the writers, again, with making it a very easy and fairly seamless transition. Her discomfort comes from the fact that she’s completely out of her element. She’s not in her comfort zone. This is a woman who spent her entire career taking orders and being subordinate to a degree as per military protocol and is now suddenly in a position where she has – she influences people’s lives by the decisions that she makes.
And so on that aspect she’s really struggling, I think in some ways to find that strength. And she’s also aware of the fact that she’s replacing a much loved leader when she comes on to the show, into the galaxy, and so she’s very aware of treading lightly.
And so in a lot of ways for me as the actor it feels like playing a much different character. She’s not – she’s almost not as confident because she’s out of her comfort zone.
Next up was Jenna Bensoussan of ACED Magazine: My first question for Amanda. Your character has always been seen as strong and inspirational, particularly to the younger women and now that your character is taking on this whole new role with her becoming Commander of this – you know in this whole new galaxy and everything, as you mentioned, she’s kind of not feeling her oats any more because she’s in this whole new environment, but how do you think your character is going to migrate overall after being put into this new character storyline with how she’s going to deal with it and what are your thoughts about this new command that you’re doing?
Amanda: I think for her it’s – she’s finding her strength. As the season goes on, she’s finding – I mean she’s not letting, you know, she’s not letting any of the chinks in her armor show, obviously, but she’s finding a quiet inner strength as the season goes on.
But I think what also Carter is struggling with in some ways is a certain amount of loneliness, sort of the “heavy is the head that wears the crown.” You know she can’t fraternize in a, you know, relationship way with any of the people that she’s working with and so because she’s the leader, it’s not like she can become buddy/buddy. And she’s used to that. She’s used to that sense of camaraderie that she had on SG-1. So it’s a little bit lonelier for her, I think.
And I think what it will show is, as the season progresses and you’ll see it come out, is the quieter strength of her character, as opposed to the kind of Carter bravado, that, “I know what I’m doing and here let me explain this situation to you,” like she was so used to doing. Now it’s a little different.
Jenna: You had mentioned the black of being able to interact with other people and I know in SG-1 she and McKay had this little tension thing going on.
Jenna: And I did hear from one of the producers that they were going to actually address this in one of the upcoming episodes. I wanted to kind of get your take on, you know, maybe a high level – is it going to be going in the humorous direction or is it just going to be total tragic?
Amanda: It definitely is. There’s a couple of scenes right off the top that are very funny between the two of them, and I mean laugh out loud funny, for me when I read them. And then she backs off. She really does allow McKay his chance to shine and she doesn’t want to usurp his power. And she does the same with Sheppard. She really backs off a lot in terms of, you know, that sibling type of rivalry. She knows that she can’t really go there especially publicly with McKay. There’s the odd barb because she can’t help herself and because he’s McKay.
But there’s an episode coming up towards the end where the relationship comes back again. That sort of sibling snarkiness comes back. There’s a different amount of respect that she has for McKay now because he’s in a different position and she has to respect where he is. So it’s a more respectful relationship in a lot of way.
Not without its humor, though.
Jenna: That’s good.
Jenna: Jewel, you’re coming in now – you’re replacing the beloved doctor that they had before. What do you think your character is bringing to the table in terms of the ensemble of the cast and how is she going to fill those shoes and what things is she going to do to prove herself?
Jewel: I’m not really sure. I – well, all I can really say is I hope I’m bringing something new and interesting to the dynamic of the relationships between the characters.
But I honestly don’t view myself as replacing anyone. In sci-fi you know you never really die. And he could be coming back, so it just never really crossed my mind.
And it kind of – it just seems presumptuous of me to say that I would be replacing him. I know how beloved his character was and he has a lot of fans, so I can only hope that people give Keller a chance and enjoy her. She’s got a lot of complexities and she’s a lot of fun. And there’s definitely a lot of surprises coming to her personality later on in the season.
Jenna: When you did Firefly, your character had a romantic interest in one of the other characters, but it really wasn’t explored until like the very end when they thought they were going to die.
Jenna: Is your character going to have any sort of romantic developments before she – before the very end in this upcoming season?
Jewel: She actually has a couple.
Jewel: Yeah, she’s a bit of a flirt. I don’t know where that came from. I always play these shameless flirts. I don’t know why that is. It has nothing to do with me. I can hear you giggling Amanda.
Jewel: Yeah. There’s some unexpected romances happening that even surprised me and yeah, they’ll definitely come to the fans as quite a surprise, too.
Jenna: Well my one final question for both of you, with all those upcoming episodes, which episode do you feel your characters finally mesh in with the rest of the crew and with the rest of the story that just kind of just makes you one unit finally after them being introduced after the first two?
Amanda: “Quarantine” probably.
Amanda: Brings everyone together even though we spend the entire episode separated.
Jewel: Yeah, I think “Quarantine” put the characters in a position where they absolutely have no choice but to bond. Yeah.
Amanda: And at the end there’s a realization that we almost lost Atlantis and…
Amanda: There’s a renewed sort of vigor in terms of protecting it.
Jewel: Right. But I think for me, “Trio,” the one that we just shot was a turning point for Keller, especially since she was with Carter who she really respects and she was with McKay who she really respects, as well, and kind of got to prove herself to the both of them. Yeah.
Amanda: Yeah, we just finished shooting that and it was so much fun.
Jewel: It was really hard work, but it was really, really fun. I didn’t expect it to be that fun. We did a lot of laughing.
Jenna: A lot of blooper outtakes for the DVD set coming up?
Jewel: Oh, well. That blooper reel is going to be two hours long.
Jenna: Well, there’s worst things than two hours of laughter.
Jewel: I know.
Michael Hinman of SyFy Portal was next up with: I just – I guess my question is – I have two questions to each of you. But Amanda, what’s it to you, I mean you’re coming over – you’re coming into a position that really you just saw not too long ago, just a couple of years ago in Stargate SG-1, did you ever kind of talk with (Ben Browder) and stuff or maybe trying to get some pointers on how you step into a roll that, you know, that’s been make – you know that’s been popularized by someone else that fans expect to see someone else there and make it your own, you know, do you have any qualms, more or less, about playing the same character for more than a decade?
Amanda: Yeah, yes, and yes and yes. I didn’t actually talk to (Ben) about coming in because I think everyone’s transition into a new show is going to be completely different and for me I knew the Atlantis cast and I knew the Atlantis crew and you know we shoot side by side so it wasn’t as – I wasn’t coming in as a complete stranger, which in some ways made it a lot easier and in other ways maybe made it a bit more difficult because there’s a certain level of expectation with my going over.
I felt that I had to really tread lightly as not only Amanda but as Sam Carter. And make that transition.
And what was the other part of your question?
Michael: I mean do you have any qualms about playing the same – you know becoming kind of the Frasier where you’re playing the same character for a long time.
Amanda: No. If I had any qualms, it would have probably around maybe Season 6 or 7 and that was just a matter of going up to the writers and saying, hey, what next. And they always came up with something. They always gave me a relationship, be it with my father or friendships or my relationship with Pete. Any – they’ve always me something that has given my character a whole new twist.
And so there was no concern going over to Atlantis because I knew it would be a completely different set of rules as an actor. It would be finding a whole new side to this character and that’s fascinating.
Michael: And do you think that that’s going to you know maybe be difficult at first for fans to kind of accept you in a new environment and more or less a new Samantha Carter?
Amanda: I think so, yeah. I mean, that’s certainly the buzz that I’m reading on the internet is, you know there’s some very excited fans out there who were glad to see her get the opportunity to be in command. And there are some fans who have some trepidation. So the only thing I can say is kind of like what Jewel said is, you know, it’s – as long as they keep their hearts open and are accepting of the fact that everything has to change at some point and that this change is actually pretty good, hopefully they’ll enjoy it.
I think Carter is quite enjoyable to see her. She’s a lot different but she’s still at the heart, Carter.
Michael: I mean are you on the show long-term now or are you going season by season?
Amanda: Season by season right now. I did 14 episodes this year and I think we’re all anxiously awaiting the numbers this Friday to see if we come back for another season. So…
Michael: And Jewel, I mean, I just want to say by the way I’m a big fan of all of your work.
Jewel: Thank you.
Michael: And I enjoyed you in the first, you know, couple of episodes of this season.
Michael: You know I already forgot, you know, who the other doctor was. No.
Jewel: That’s the nicest thing I’ve ever heard.
Michael: Now if you just had a Scottish accent, no. Do you – and this is a little bit away from Atlantis, but I mean now that you’re finding, you know, I guess some of the new roles that go with Stargate Atlantis and such, I mean, are some of the old projects, you know obviously there’s a lot of Firefly, Serenity fans, is that really now gone? Is there anything we can expect from that in the future that you’ve heard of at all?
Jewel: Well I think it’s safe to say that for now we’re finished. There’s always been talk of a couple more movies being done at some point in the future. But I think that’s up to Joss and then that’s up to somebody else to give us some money to do them.
But I would do it in a heartbeat. I had such an amazing time on that show and the movie was so great for us because it was closure. We got cancelled in a hurry. It was over in a second, it felt like, and I just – we all really felt that we didn’t get enough of a chance. So with the movie, it was just a sense of closure that we all really needed.
But if they asked, I would definitely do another one.
Michael: And what do you think is better, playing a doctor or playing a wraith?
Jewel: Oh, God. Doctor, definitely. It’s like a third of the time in hair and makeup, for one. And it’s way less distracting. I found playing the Wraith was just it was limiting my performance and I was so worried that what I was trying to do wouldn’t be conveyed through the mask. You’ve got these contact lenses on and the fake teeth and you know, you just feel so constricted, but I guess at the same time it really helps you let go of your inhibitions and kind of really go for it.
The TVaholic finally got on the call and asked Jewel: I was wondering what it was about your character that most interested you in taking this part.
Jewel: Well I didn’t really know a lot about her to begin with. They just said, hey, we need a new doctor on the show, are you willing to come in and I said, yeah, no problem.
I had such a good time coming on the first time that I was really, really happy that they thought of me.
So I don’t think it was anything having to do with the character, really. I think it was just the fact that I knew it was a great production. I loved the crew. I loved the cast and it’s shot here in Vancouver in my hometown.
TVaholic: Thanks, and for both of you it seems like there’s a lot of fun that happens on the set, and if you guys could share any stories that maybe will make that blooper reel?
Amanda: Well on the last episode Jewel and David and I were stuck in a, you know, really quite hideous set covered in dirt and on angle in this little metal box, and so we decided to come up with a new show. Should I reveal?
Amanda: It’s called Stargate Titanic: The Musical. And it’s specifically for small town dinner theater and we just started writing and singing and dancing about the set. I hope some of it appeared on camera because it was really quite hilarious. David singing a song about the wraith, the wraith, they’re a very bad race.
It sounds really silly, but it got us through the day.
I think most of the blooper reels I think will be us cracking each other up the entire cast. Everyone on the cast has a really good sense of humor, so generally it’s just people making each other laugh. And of course the Stargate Titanic: The Musical.
Jewel: Oh my God. I hope somebody gets that and it’s not just me and you that think that’s really hilarious because that would be really embarrassing. Anyway.
Ileane Rudolph of TV Guide was next up. She started off with: Hi. First off, Michael Shanks had told me if the show comes back next season he’d love to be – do an Atlantis episode. Have any of your – Amanda, have any of your SG-1 people showed up this year?
Amanda: Christopher Judge showed up this year, which was fantastic. And it was actually – it made a lot of sense. Most of the episode he does is with Ronon, and as the resident expert on being the new alien onboard, Teal’c has a lot of information he can pass on to Ronon; a lot of expertise, but there’s also…when I talked to Joe Mallozzi he said the fans have always wondered in a fight between Ronon and Teal’c, who would win. So this episode sort of addresses that.
Ileane: And you have to tell us who wins of course.
Amanda: Gosh, no.
Ileane: Yeah, the two muscle men, I like that.
Amanda: Yeah. It was great fun having him on the show and I’d love to see Michael come over.
Ileane: Now David has used – in fact Christopher Judge in his movie that just came out in DVD and he’s writing another movie. Are either of you prepared to be in his next movie?
Jewel: I better be in his next movie.
Amanda: Yeah, or else.
Jewel: Or else.
Amanda: Yeah, most definitely. I offered to do like, you know, catering for David’s movie. If he gave me a part, I offered to do craft service on the first day, but I don’t know.
Ileane: I think he’d rather have you in the movie probably. Have either of you worked with any really yummy guest stars this season?
Jewel: Hmm…I don’t know.
Amanda: Mitch Pileggi, as strange as that sounds, was the first love scene I ever did on camera was with Mitch in The X-Files. He’s yummy and so he was on our who this year and –
Ileane: No love scenes, I assume?
Amanda: No, no, sadly. But…
Jewel: Yeah, I don’t know about any…
Amanda: I’ve mostly worked with the core cast.
Amanda: I haven’t had the opportunity to play with a lot of the guest stars.
Jewel: Yeah, me, too. I mean I’ve had a yummy moment with someone yummy, but not necessarily a guest star.
Ileane: I would assume that means a romantic moment with one of the male cast members?
Amanda: You’ve said too much Jewel.
Jewel: I’ve said too much.
Ileane: And finally, Jewel, can you just talk a little bit about Keller? What’s her – like what is her main foible and her biggest strength?
Jewel: Well, she’s a bit of a scaredy cat. She’s not very good in dire or violent situations. She scares easily, which is not such a good thing when you’re in the world of Atlantis.
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.
But she’s not so good with guns and she’s not so good with fighting.
Ileane: Does that get her in trouble?
Jewel: Yeah, a little bit. And she doesn’t like heights. She’s a scaredy cat.
Cynthia Boris of Media Village was next: Sci-fi is known for its really exuberant fans and I know that both of you were at Comic-Con this year and I wondered if you could a little bit about the whole fan experience.
Jewel: Comic-Con is a different one. I’ve done a few sci-fi conventions and Comic-Con is so gigantic that it feels a little impersonal. There’s not too much interaction with the fans. So I would say that we didn’t have too many runs with exuberant fans there, but I’ve definitely had some in the past. But it’s usually because they’re nervous and they don’t really know what to say. They kind of have really funny blunders that, you know, I shouldn’t be laughing at – like fainting and things like that.
But for the most part it’s really flattering. Yeah, it feels really good to have somebody faint because they’re so nervous to meet you. That sounds really bad. It does.
Amanda: I have to agree with Jewel on the Comic-Con front. It’s so huge.
Amanda: And you just really don’t have a chance to –
Jewel: Well you kind of get shuttled from place to place and it’s all happening so fast and then it’s over.
Amanda: It’s the other conventions where you actually get to meet people and shake hands and…
Amanda: …they tell you a bit about themselves and that’s where it gets really cool.
Jewel: Yeah. And it’s really nice to have the Q&As that aren’t so enormous. Like the smaller they are, the more intimate they are and yeah, you really kind of feel a connection with them, as opposed to being on stage at Comic-Con where it’s just – you can’t even see the crowd and there’s just so many people.
Amanda: There’s a mild rock star moment when you first step on stage and all the flashbulbs…
Amanda: …go off and you sort of go, cool.
Cynthia: Because you guys packed the house. You had several thousand people.
Jewel: It was really cool.
Amanda: That was pretty crazy. It was great.
Jewel: It definitely felt really nice.
Amanda: And it’s so neat to watch them watching the trailers for the shows and hear their exuberance and hear their excitement about it, you know, the applause and it’s like, yeah, wow, we – this is good, what we make. This is, you know, this is a good show that we make and look at the response.
Jewel: It was a nice reward.
Amanda: Yeah, because we don’t get – you know when you shoot television, you don’t get an immediate response to what you do ever, right?
Amanda: You know it’s not like the crew sits around after each scene and applauds. It would be nice.
Jewel: It would be nice.
Cynthia: Just once.
Amanda: To see the reaction immediately from the fans when the trailers went up was amazing.
Cynthia: Do you get much of a chance to see the finished product? Because so much of it is the special effects and all the after work that’s done.
Amanda: I don’t personally. I haven’t watched a lot finished episodes except when I came on to Atlantis, I watched their three seasons. But this year I haven’t watched any yet.
Jewel: I’ve only seen four, and that’s because I begged and I finally got copies. I’m just dying of curiosity. I really wanted to see more, but they’re all in the midst of being locked for air and all that, so yeah, I’m really excited to see the whole season.
Cynthia: Great. And one last question. Both of you, what inspires you or who inspires you to just get up every day and do what you do?
Jewel: Other really great actors inspire me. I love watching amazing performances. That always inspires me. Yeah, I don’t know, things like Comic-Con inspire me.
Jewel: I feel loved. I feel like somebody out there appreciates what we’re doing and that’s always really nice.
Amanda: Yeah, I have to agree with that. The fans are hugely inspirational. And because they’re so stalwart in their support and they’re so – like encyclopedic in their knowledge. You just really feel like you have to step up every time you step onto the set and feel a sense of responsibility for that kind of enthusiasm.
Amanda: But on a really hokey answer from me, my two-and-a-half-year-old inspires me.
Jewel: Love it.
Amanda: Sounds hokey as hell, but it’s true.
Cynthia: Actually a lot of people say that because kids have that sense of imagination and wonder that we lose so often and especially working in the environment that you work in, it’s a cool thing to have.
Amanda: Yeah. There’s such a sense of joy about everything.
Ian Spelling of Cult Times to the line next and asked: I have a question for each of you and then one for both of you. Amanda, you didn’t have Claudia around until the very end of your of SG-1 experience. So how big a pleasure is it on this show to have Jewel and Rachel on set with you?
Amanda: I can’t even tell you how great it is to have other women on the set. It’s so much fun, and it’s so vital to the balance of any show to have all the genders represented, you know, like I just felt for a long time on Stargate – especially after Teryl left the show, it was lonely being the only girl.
But Jewel and Rachel and I just have a blast together, so it was great. I just remember the first episode with the three of us, we’re just standing on set giggling and talking and I just felt this huge sense of camaraderie that, you know, I had with the guys on a few on but it’s totally not the same having other women around.
Ian: And Jewel, I’ve got to ask you, your – if the Internet Movie Database correct, and I’m assuming it is because you have it under your My Space site, as well, what is The Tribe? Give me the basic set up of that and what you play it.
Jewel: The Tribe is an action movie, basically. It’s got a lot of suspense and a lot of thrills. There’s been a misconception that it’s a slasher movie, which it totally is not. It’s basically about a girl who starts off as being very meek and kind of subservient and scared about life in general, and then really has to step up to the plate and become the leader; become the alpha in the situation. So it was really fun to play. It was a really complex character and yeah, it should be coming out next summer.
Ian: And the girl is you?
Jewel: The girl is me, yeah.
Ian: And is this right on Internet Movie Database, “an ancient tribe of humanoid creatures,” so it does have that fantasy element to it?
Jewel: It does have a bit of a fantasy element to it, yes. It definitely does.
Ian: And then…
Jewel: It would please the sci-fi fan, I will say that.
Ian: There you go, and then the question for the both of you is I think you’re in an episode or two away from shooting the season finale. Have they given you a clue yet as to whether this will be a kind of a cliff-hanger that will set the stage for another season or are they going to kind of keep it, you know, compressed and on its own.
Jewel: I think it’s definitely a cliff-hanger.
Amanda: Yeah, it’s hugely a cliff-hanger.
Jewel: Yeah, yeah. It definitely ends with a sense of, oh, my God, what’s going to happen?
Ian: That sets the stage for you both to return next season, I assume.
Amanda: Here’s hoping.
Amy Ruby of MediaBlvd took her turn and asked: The first one is for Amanda. I was curious if you could tell us more about how your character is involved in Atlantis in the sense that it sounded like you’re going to take more of like a leadership role, but are you still going to be joining the team on missions regularly or is it different than that?
Amanda: Not as regularly as I would like. It’s very much a leadership role. She sits in the big office, the big fishbowl office, and oversees everything, so it’s a much different role for Carter.
There are – I think I have only gone off-world three times this year, which is really hard, extremely frustrating for me as the actor, and for Carter as the character, too, to say, “you have a go,” and watch people go through the Gate without her. I’m kind of lost without my P-90, too, so it’s been a bit of a transition.
But she doesn’t go off world nearly as much as she would like.
Amy: Okay, thanks. Are you going to be directing any more episodes? I know you directed an episode of SG-1.
Amanda: I would love to. I think the complexities that we’re facing with directing basically come down to trying to get enough prep time, which means taking an actor out of an episode prior to the one that they shoot and also taking them out of the episode after the one they shoot for post, and not being highly involved in the one that they direct. So that sort of takes you out for three episodes, essentially.
And I think that the writers are sort of loathe to do that with any of us. And then Martin Wood actually did tell me once that every time an actor directs a kitten dies, so I sort of backed off on the whole…
Jewel: Oh, my God.
Amanda: I made that up, but anyway.
Amy: I did want to ask you one question about Sanctuary. I really enjoyed that series. I was curious, is it strange – I know that you worked with special effects and such in Stargate but it said that it was filmed mostly against green screen, is that different? Is that strange to do that all the time or…
Amanda: It’s very different. 95% of the sets on Sanctuary are computer rendered, so…
Amanda: After the first maybe three days when you get over the green screen headache because that’s really all you’re looking at is this bright green which is just crazy, once you get over that, then we were really lucky that Jim Menard lit the show for us and you actually have a real sense of windows and fireplaces and doorways and candlelight based on the way he lit it.
So you get used to it. It’s much different initially though, because I’m used to sort of looking at a green screen through the Stargate or looking at a green screen off to one side that’s going to be a matte painting or whatever but this was everything. I sit at a desk and that would be the only thing on the stage.
So it was very different.
Amy: Okay, thanks. Now I have a question for Jewel. I’m curious, I know someone asked about how the sets were different between Atlantis and Firefly but I’m questioning like what other things do you find different about with acting or even with the people that you’re working with and how everything is kind of put together on the show and how everything is done.
Jewel: I think in terms of the people that I work with, there’s not too much of a difference. On Firefly we were one big happy family, and on this show I feel like we are, too. Everybody hangs out and you know we don’t rush off to our trailers between takes or anything like that. We hang out a lot, which is really nice. Everybody is very open about who they are and that’s cool.
And the other difference, I’m not really sure there are a lot. I mean, both shows have fantastical elements to them. They’re very, very different from each other in plot and synopsis but they’re about people that are forced into a world and forced to really accept each other and like each other and they’re all each other has, and Firefly and Atlantis are very similar in that respect, I think.
Amy: Do you feel different playing your new character compared to Kaylee…
Amy: It seems like this character is more serious.
Jewel: They are completely night and day, I would say, expect for the flirting part. They’re both flirts. But yeah, they’re totally different. Keller is a lot more mature. She’s a lot more seasoned. She’s very smart and she’s not as trusting as Kaylee was. Kaylee just trusted everyone right off the bat, which I think was one of her faults.
And Keller has a bit of apprehension to her. She’s a lot more serious, like you said. Yeah, definitely.
April MacIntyre came back on the line and asked: Hello again. I’ve been enjoying your answers. My question for you; easy question for both, if you could offer a short list to Mallozzi and Mullie for your – for guest stars that you would love to see on your series, who would it be.
Jewel: Oh wow.
Amanda: Realistically or you know in fantasy land?
Jewel: Fantasy land.
April: Creatively, I mean, who you think would really knock it out of the park on Stargate Atlantis.
Amanda: Judi Dench.
Jewel: Wow. You’re just shooting really high.
Amanda: I am shooting really high. Currie Graham was an actor that was in the Stargate: Ark of Truth, one of our Stargate movies and I would love to see him come to Atlantis. He’s an amazing actor. Very fun guy. That’s my more realistic wish.
Jewel: For me, well, Nathan Fillion from Firefly was just in town for the weekend and I had four episodes of Atlantis and we sat and we watched them and he was telling me what he thought of the show and my character and that kind of thing and he was really enthusiastic about it and it just made me realize that I really miss working with him, so I would absolutely love to see him come on. I think that would be really fun.
April: Excellent. I have one last question for you.
Amanda: Go ahead, sorry.
April: Your set is the most dog-friendly set I have ever set foot on in my life.
Jewel: It’s true.
April: And I met Mars, David McKay’s dog.
April: And he was lovely. Do you bring your dogs to work, too and if so, who wrangles all these dogs while you’re working?
Jewel: I don’t know. I think we all take turns and taking the dogs out and that kind of thing. I’ve brought my dog a few times. And there’s always a couple of dogs running around in the hair and makeup trailer.
Jewel: And there’s lots of grass around. I think maybe that’s why the dogs are allowed to come because the studio in itself is very dog friendly.
Julia Houston of SciFiX-ile.com came out of exile to ask: So you’re not getting really tired at this point and wishing we’d all hang up and leave you alone?
Jewel: No way. I’m lying in my house right now having a tea. It’s perfect. I love this.
Julia: I’m in my house with my cat bothering me, so…
First off, I have to tell you both that the fact that you wouldn’t instantly jump John Sheppard makes me really question your taste.
Julia: But it also leads me to my questions, one of the things that – I mean I’m a huge sci-fi fan, something that I and many of my friends really hate though is the way that sex is usually offered. Star Trek, if you sleep with Kirk, you die, or if you’re seductive you’re usually a villainess. Frequently, when women characters have children, they die as soon as the child stops being an infant so that the father can then raise the child alone, which is a very peculiar fantasy.
One of the things that’s really great about Stargate from the full frontal nudity of the pilot episode to John Sheppard casually asking Ronon if he was maybe seeing a guy instead of a girl, and the acknowledgement between Carter and O’Neill that they were interested in each other but they weren’t going to do anything about it, you know are very mature, it seems to me very realistic portrayals of sex and relationships.
And I find this particularly interesting because Stargate is just as guy-written as so many of the other science fiction shows and things out there.
I know it’s kind of asking you to pull something out of the air, do you have any idea why the writers and the production are able to give us aspects of life that other shows seems to screw up so terribly?
Amanda: I think partly that we are present day, and I keep going back to that, but I think it does make a difference that we’re real accessible, present day human beings and so they can write for our modern day vernacular in the way that we think and the way that society is at this moment.
And I think also there’s a healthy respect that they have for the female actors on the show.
Jewel: I think so, too.
Amanda: And that – I mean kudos to them for that because it would have been very easy to go the other way, I think. Even like when I got cast, I was pretty surprised because I thought they’d go for like a space babe, space hottie and they went with –
Julia: You’re pretty hot.
Jewel: You are hot.
Julia: You’re a total space hottie.
Jewel: You’re a spottie.
Amanda: I’m a spottie. But they have a healthy amount of respect for the women on the show and I think they all have really strong and intelligent wives and that helps us a great deal.
Jewel: Yeah, I think so, too. I just really, really hope that that stays the case for Season 5 if we go. Because if I get with Ronon, I don’t want to die. You’ve got me a little worried now.
Julia: Well, no, first you’ll have the baby and then you get to raise the baby for two years and then you die. So you have a couple more seasons.
Jewel: So you’re telling me I’ve got a couple of years if that happens?
Julia: Yeah, I would pretty much, you know, not go there.
Jewel: Okay, good. All right. Copy that.
Julia: Well thank you very much for answering my somewhat vague questions.
Jewel: Thank you.
Julia: One other question before I give it over to somebody else. We – other people sort of skirted around this, but on Stargate Atlantis, the scene that really made it start to work as a show is 100% the chemistry between the actors.
In particular, Flanigan and Hewlett have what they called the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby sort of road movie chemistry going on. Was there a time – I know that you said you had a good time on the set, but was there a time when you were integrating with the cast and really getting to know your new characters where you could feel a little special chemistry going on with another one of the actors?
Jewel: Absolutely for me.
Jewel: Yeah. There were a lot of moments. I think at the beginning “Missing” was one of my first episodes and that was with Rachel and we decided to carpool to the set everyday because we were shooting way out in the woods in the middle of nowhere. So we would drive to work, work 12 hours, side-by-side and then drive home again together. And we really bonded, to say the least. And I think it really helped on screen. I think you can definitely see some chemistry there and that was really fun for me. I kind of got to let loose and she was just so great to work with.
I’ve had moments like that with David, as well. A lot of moments where Keller and McKay kind of go head-to-head and are sort of trying to prove themselves to each other and being all smartypants and, you know, spouting off all this techno-babble and yeah, he’s really easy to connect with, as well.
And Amanda, too. We’ve had a lot of really good moments.
Jewel: I think one of the first ones was in “Doppleganger,” which was the first that we shot. Carter makes a speech and Keller kind of tells her how strong she is and in a sense says how much the team needs her in that moment and I really liked that.
Amanda: Yeah, it’s nice that they – the writers wrote into the scripts moments of – as opposed to us just finding it as actors, which we were doing, they’d actually written specific moments for us, which is amazing.
Jewel: Yeah, it was really nice.
Julia: That’s always the fans’ favorite part of the show.
Julia: That’s always the fans’ favorite part of the show.
Jewel: It’s my favorite part, too.
Julia: Oh, that blew up and that blew up, that’s great, oh look, they said something funny to each other like that’s the part that we really care about.
Jewel: I think that’s 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.
Julia: Especially when you’re dealing with a character like McKay across from you whose kind of – when things are going up, he’s kind of annoying and then when things get quiet, it’s like of like when you like him, when you see that he’s a great guy or you know – I don’t know. (Skeppard) – Sheppard and Ronon kind of scare me when they get their guns out. I wouldn’t want to talk with them but when they’re kicking back, then…so it’s sort of in those quieter moments that you actually I think see characters connecting better than just sort of fighting side by side.
David Read of Gateworld.net came on to ask: Jewel, I have a question for you. What elements of Atlantis do you think might attract Firefly fans other than yourself, of course?
Jewel: I really like the characters. I think they’re all really interesting. They’re all really different from each other and I think that what was so special about Firefly was the characters and how well-written they were, so I think it’s just a whole new set of interesting and different people to love and learn about, so hopefully that’s why they’ll watch.
David: Okay, great. And Amanda, one of the problems for Atlantis thus far is that it has never had a chance to really stand on its own, its’ kind of been in SG-1’s shadow. Is there a spark from SG-1 that you think Atlantis has taken up this year?
Amanda: You know, I always felt like Atlantis stood on its own as a great series of its own accord without any intervention from Stargate at all. And so I don’t know that they – I think that the pressure is going to be on not having the lead in of SG-1 in terms of the numbers and you know having the sort of Sci Fi Friday night that was in place beforehand, but I don’t know. I think Atlantis stands on its own really well.
And I think, you know, I mean, me crossing over hopefully, you know, in spite of some disparaging comments from some fans or some sections of fandom, I think for the most part people are pretty excited about it, so, if there’s any spark from SG-1, it will be little old me.
Jeff Hidek of Wilmington Star-News was next with: Amanda, first for you, have then touched on the fact that with Carter in charge the military is now running Atlantis instead of a civilian?
Amanda: Yes. Yeah, it has been addressed and I think the answer that came down and what made the most sense was the fact that Carter also comes from a very scientific background and so her agenda is not entirely military because she understands the need for research and the need for exploration and so you’re not coming strictly from a military perspective.
And we also addressed the fact that military protocol is a little different on Atlantis. There’s a bit more of a renegade feel to it. Once you get out there into that galaxy so far from home and having to deal with things that maybe military protocol doesn’t necessarily fit, so that’s addressed, as well.
So I don’t think people should be too worried about somebody from the military coming and taking over Atlantis because it’s a little bit of a softer edge to it.
Jeff: Thanks. And for both of you, you said you only have a few episodes left to film, what plans do you have for after you’re done filming? Are there any other projects you’re working on or are you looking forward to a vacation?
Amanda: Well I’m hoping to continue shooting episodes of Sanctuary, which is a Web-based series that I’m working on. And yeah, that’s me, and hanging out with my daughter; being a mommy for a while.
Jewel: Yeah, I think I’m looking forward to a bit of a vacation. I was crazy enough to renovate an entire apartment while filming this series. I don’t know how that happened. It was a disaster for the most part, but it was just finished and I would love to enjoy it a little bit and kind of relax. But I’m still reading stuff. There’s still some scripts floating around out there that I have my eye on, so who knows. Maybe something before Christmas.
Michael Hinman came back on to ask: Sorry, I just had one last follow-up and maybe this was addressed at the very beginning – I missed that part. But, Amanda, I was just curious, do you know exactly where your character is like in the timeline of the Stargate universe? Like is appearance here in Atlantis just coming after the movies or just coming before it?
Amanda: No, it will be – I mean even though we shot them concurrently when I talked to Rob Cooper and Joe Mallozzi and Paul about it, Sam crosses over after the two movies.
Amanda: So in terms of, yeah, that timeline.
Michael: Good, because at least we know that we survived through the tube.
Amanda: Oh, yeah…now that’s a big spoiler now, isn’t it.
Michael: So if your life is in peril, we know, yeah, she’s coming out of it.
Amanda: Exactly. Damn, I gave it away.
Michael: And Jewel, like in what part of the timeline does your character come over from Firefly – I’m just kidding. I’m sorry.
Jewel: Six hundred years into the future. How is that possible?
Amanda: Anything is possible, Jewel.
Jewel: In sci-fi.
David Martindale was back for more with: I have one more question and by the way, Amanda, you are a babe.
Amanda: Thank you. I love you.
David: But for each of you, was there an important moment that compelled you to become an actor? Was there something that – was it something you always aspired to do? Was it an accident? What?
Amanda: When I was very young my parents took me an English pantomime and I just remember watching the guy on stage, Lionel Blare, who was a famous in England for doing pantomime and I just remember very quintessentially looking at him and thinking I want to do that. And they had little kids – they picked little kids out of the audience to go up on stage and I so desperately wanted to be picked and I wasn’t and I was devastated.
And I thought I would explore this more, this need to get up there, what is that. So that was for me. I just remember sitting in a dark theater and going wow, that’s what I want to do. And then of course, Little House on the Prairie. I really wanted to be Laura Ingalls. Who didn’t?
Jewel: I started when I was five, and I was walking through a shopping mall.
David: It’s never too early, it’s the thought, right?
Jewel: What’s that?
David: Almost too early in your life to process the thought of…
Jewel: Well, kind of. I started off doing a couple of commercials and I really loved it and then graduated to TV movies and series work and I don’t know it just kind of happened and I really love it and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. And I don’t really have any other special skills, so yeah, I think I’ll just keep at it.
Ileane Rudolph came back to guide the questioning to the end of the call: Just really quickly, Jewel, now that you mentioned that you wanted Nathan Fillion to appear on your show, how about appearing on Desperate Housewives. Did you ask him to get you a little guest part?
Jewel: Well I definitely wouldn’t say No if they asked me. I don’t know if Nathan’s novelty has worn off enough yet and he’s able to pull those favors. I highly, highly doubt it, but yeah, I’m desperate to work with him again. He’s a cool guys. He’s one of my best friends.
Ileane: You have to write a movie with a part for him.
Jewel: I know. Well I’ll just tell David Hewlett to write it.
Jewel: Yeah, he’s the writer in the group.
Ileane: Good point.
Jewel: I’ll make a note of that.
Ileane: And Amanda, re Sanctuary, you’ve done eight episodes so far?
Amanda: We’ve done eight webisodes which is basically two hours or three TV hours, I guess you could say, but two full hours, so they’re eight webisodes. They’re about 15 minutes each, the webisodes and we’re hoping to shoot 10 more hours this fall/winter.
Ileane: So will that be the end? Is it a finite story or…
Amanda: No, no. I would love to see it continue. We’re looking now at TV distribution, as well.
Ileane: Oh really?
Ileane: And how do you think – has that moved in any direction or…
Amanda: It’s moving. The wheels of network television move very slowly, so, but yeah, it’s definitely moving in that direction.
Ileane: Yeah, I really enjoy it.
Amanda: Thank you.
Ileane: I don’t know how you get to do all of this with a baby, but…
Amanda: I don’t know, either. I…actually – there are 36 hours in my day. I don’t know how it works out, but…
Ileane: Oh, well actually one thing, speaking of time, if there are – we hope there will be other DVD movies of SG-1. Does that mean you can’t be in them?
Amanda: No, God, no. Bite your tongue.
Ileane: Okay. Just because your – as you say you’re over on Atlantis and after those two movies so how do they get you back and…
Amanda: The movies would have to sort of work as autonomous little anomalies out there. I’ve stormed myself of Brad Wright’s floor and held my breath and counted on the floor with… so I don’t think he wants to see that again, so I’m hopeful that I’ll be back on if more movies happen.
This is where the interview came to an end. It actually kind of flew right by, but we had basically been peppering Amanda Tapping and Jewel Staite with questions for an hour.
The TVaholic really liked the story about goofing around on the set and coming up with Stargate Titanic: The Musical, if there is any video of that, I would really like to see it someday. Also, the question asked by April MacIntyre about who they would like to see guest star on Stargate Atlantis was very good. Really, who wouldn’t want to see Judi Dench or Nathan Fillion mixing it up with the Atlantis crew?
What was your favorite part of the interview? What did you find most interesting? What would you have asked? Let us know in the comments.
I just wanted to thank you for putting up a full transcript of this interview. I’m sure it took a lot of time to transcribe and your hard work is very much appreciated. I thought it was a great interview with just the right mix of intelligent, thought-provoking questions and fun. Good job all round!
Personally, I think you guys did an awesome job with the interview. It’s great to see that so many publications were interested enough in Atlantis to come and essentially “share” their interviewees for an hour. Also, kudos to AT and JS who were great sports while being shared. :D They seemed very funny and easy-going.
Thanks for the great transcript of an equally great interview.
Kaylee, Thanks, but the conference call people did the all the transcribing. It did take some work formatting for the website and getting rid of some of the superfluous stuff, like each of us thanking them for doing the interview.
Spaz, They really were pretty great. Both Amanda Tapping and Jewel Staite seemed to be having as much fun answering the questions, as we did asking them.
I’m glad you both enjoyed it. You may also enjoy watching an interview with David Hewlett, Rachel Lutrell and executive producers and writers, Joe Mallozzi and Paul Mullie.