Here is Part 3 of the Robert Picardo and Joseph Mallozzi interview. Part 1 was posted Wednesday and Part 2 was posted yesterday. These are all the questions that came after the call had already lasted an hour and they agreed to stick around for another 15 or 20 minutes, but it ended up being about 30 minutes longer and coming in at just over 90 minutes for the whole call.
Interview With Robert Picardo and Executive Producer Joseph Mallozzi of Stargate Atlantis – Conclusion
Question: I have one for Joe. As one of the brainchildren behind the awesome 200th episode of SG-1…can you tell us what you have in store for the epic 100th episode of Atlantis?
Joseph Mallozzi: Well I mean, I’ll be totally honest. You know, we all wrote our, you know, different segments in 200 but the overall idea for 200 came from Robert C. Cooper. And when he pitched it out in the room, I thought he was joking.
And then I thought it was crazy. But as it turned out, it was an episode that really worked out well and the fans loved it. I mean, in the case of SG-1, though, the 200th episode fell, I believe Episode 6 of the season.
And so, you know, we could do it a little more comedic, much along the same lines as we did for Episode 100 of SG-1 which I think fell Episode, I think 5 or 6 of season – I believe season four.
In the case of Atlantis, though, the 100th episode falls in the 20 slot and, you know, as much as, you know, the temptation is there to make it kind of an off-the-wall kind of, you know, weird, fun episode, you know, we really feel that because it is the, you know, season finale and hopefully not a series finale — but you never know — we want to go big and we want to go a little more serious.
So, you know, don’t expect another 200 romp but expect a – I guess something big along the lines of – again, you know, I refer back to our season premiere, for back to last year’s season finale and I refer back to “Be All My Sins Remembered” last year as, you know, the second part of last year’s midseason two-parter.
So, not so funny but, you know, something that the fans will, I’m sure, really enjoy.
Q: Right. And are you guys – do you plan on shooting an alternative ending then for the season finale just in case, god forbid, it gets canceled?
Joseph: No, no, no, no. We’re feeling positive.
Q: And also, since most of the earthly (flecks) are gone from our Galaxy, why hasn’t Dr. Jackson made a permanent transition to Atlantis since we worked so hard on finding the city?
Joseph: Well that’s a very good question and hopefully that’s something that will be addressed in the midseason two-parter. But I mean, Jackson is a busy guy and I mean, he – you know, in our minds over the course of the many years that SG-1 has been going off world together, a ton of alien technology a lot of it is Atlantian origin or ancient origin.
You know, and as much as Daniel’s first choice would be to go to Atlantis, at the end of the day, you know, it’s going to be a notice in rising – it’s not really his call. And so long as the powers that be, you know, dictate where he can go and, you know, for research purposes where he’s needed more like – is a more apt response, you know, he’s kind of stuck in the Milky Way.
But I mean, you know, if we get a sixth season pick up, who knows what the future holds?
Q: I’m looking forward to seeing him. And just a quick last question for both of you – one for Robert, does Woolsey see a lot of action in the field this season?
Robert Picardo: I see quite a bit of action, yes and I won’t say that most of it’s in the field. I would say that it’s in the times when the action comes to Atlantis. In fact, I’ve got – as soon as we’re back, I won’t say what it is but I think I have quite a bit of action one of our first days back.
Q: You’re thrown into the thick of it?
Q: And then the last one, do you plan on bringing — for Joseph — do you plan on bringing Jill Wagner’s character back?
Joseph: You know, we wanted to bring Jill Wagner’s character back for the midseason two-parter, but she was unavailable because she was working on, I think it was Wipeout on ABC.
Questioner: Yeah, I’m actually one of the contestants on that show.
Joseph: Cool, are you? Well good luck.
Questioner: Thank you. Yeah I know, I talked to Jill and I told her that she was awesome on the show and I was like, are they going to bring you back? And she was like well we’ll see. So now I’m trying to find out.
Joseph: Well I mean, you know, we haven’t killed her off and frankly, I mean, even if we had killed her off that, you know, from our track record, you know, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s gone for good.
So I mean, no, she’s still out there. And, you know, again, hopefully if there is a season six there’s the potential to bring her back. So sure, yeah, why not?
Question: Earlier in the call you guys mentioned – you mentioned that there was going to be a, sorry, a horror episode. And generally, Sci-Fi and horror just produces really awful results sometimes.
How are you guys going to – are you guys – were you worried about that or how are you guys going to break that curse?
Joseph: No. To be honest with you, I have always been a horror fan first before I’m, you know, a Sci-Fi fan. And actually, my (writing), Paul, was always more the Sci-Fi guy and then, you know, we came onto Stargate and we’ve been working on Stargate what feels like forever but it’s only been nine short years.
So I mean, you know, as a fan of horror personally I always find that what’s scarier is what you don’t see as opposed to what you do see. And so that’s kind of what we were, you know, playing with – kind of the hidden.
We use a lot of fog elements in this particular episode so there’s a lot of, you know, figures in the fog and there’s a lot of – I like to call them sort of pure, kind of like I guess, jump sequences where, you know, it sort of, it, you know, classic horror movie style.
You know, something jumps out at you and I think there are like a good dozen of those instances in this particular episode and, you know, Will Waring, our director, does a terrific job.
And, you know, from what I’ve seen of the director’s cut, it’s going to be a lot of fun. And I think horror fans actually will enjoy it as well.
Q: Yes. Is there going to be some aliens versus predators and things like that?
Joseph: No, no. It won’t be – like I said, we’ve done monster kind of movie in the past. “Vengeance” actually comes to mind and it’s not a monster movie in that respect. I, you know, I think it’s closer to the horror genre than the Sci-Fi genre.
Q: Oh awesome. And Robert, how do you feel about doing something of that style?
Robert: Doing a horror episode?
Robert: Well my character is not featured in the one that we’ve just – that was just mentioned, that particular one, “Whispers.” But I am – I love doing that. I did – one of my favorite Voyager episodes was called “The Darkling” where my – it was a Jekyll and Hyde, you know, episode for my character and I got to play the sort of pure evil version of my regular program.
So that was – that’s always a lot of fun for an actor to do. And especially since I – as I worked weeks on the Sensored horror film earlier in the year, I think my dark side is very close to the surface. So I’m longing to bring it out in the Pegasus Galaxy.
Joseph: You and horror have a very rich tradition, Bob.
Robert: Yes I do. I was going back to Joe Dante’s The Howling. You know, I’m one of very few actors who has pulled a bullet out of his brain on camera.
Q: Oh, well there you go. Now do you wish you had been able to do the episode?
Robert: I beg your pardon? Do I wish I’d been able to be in it?
Robert: Well sure because – but I – because it, you know, it was off – it was away from the base and, you know, traditionally Woolsey, you know, is minding the store at home, it – that particular one wouldn’t have made sense had I been along.
But I certainly – you know, I – as an actor, it would’ve been fun to be, you know, working with the fog machine for seven days, choking and gasping along with everyone else, you know, scraping the black crud off the top of your slice of tomato while you’re eating a bagel.
Question: This is for both of you. What has been your favorite, either episode or scene to work on so far in either SG-1 or Atlantis?
Joseph: Bob, go ahead, if you want to. Yeah.
Robert: I think my favorite moment for the character prior to this season, prior to joining the cast as a regular, was an episode – it was a crossover episode between SG-1 and SG-1 (sic) where they went to the Pegasus – it’s called “The Scourge.” Now wasn’t that – that was a crossover?
Joseph: No, the crossover was “Return 1 and 2″ with (Rick).
Robert: Oh, forgive me then. “The Scourge” was the one with all the giant – with the – it was the…
Joseph: The bug…
Robert: …it was the Starship Trooper episode?
Robert: With the bug attacks.
Robert: And it does feature Richard Woolsey running away from an attack of the bugs and seeing me run at a pace that I’m not aware that I could run (seemed right). To see me on camera running faster than I can actually run was a funny moment for me and it gratified me to see that.
Now, to make an emission as a new leader, my favorite moment is when he’s running away from danger, it’s probably a risky thing to start out with. Having said that, I think that my favorite moment that we have filmed thus far is in Joe’s episode, “Broken Ties” – one of the comic moments that I’d rather not give away.
Joseph: So did you say episode or moment? I mean…
Joseph: I guess, you know, I – for SG-1 it was definitely, I think, “Ripple Effect,” the episode with the countless SG-1 alternate universe team that basically visited the base.
It was just a lot of fun, you know, sort of trying to keep track and, you know, having fun with the different, you know, variations of personas. For this season or on Atlantis so far, I’d say over the past couple of seasons, I’d say it’s “Broken Ties” again, the episode that Bob mentioned.
Q: It’s called what?
Joseph: “Broken Ties.” And, you know, just because it has a lot of nice character moments for Ronon, for Teyla, but also for Woolsey. And, you know, like I said, this is the first episode where Bob really demonstrates his comic ability and he reveals himself quite nicely.
Q: Okay. Thanks. And quickly, is there any guest stars that we should be watching out for this season?
Joseph: In terms of big guest stars, I mean, it’s – the big guest stars are going to be Daniel Jackson in the midseason two-parter, Michael Shanks of course. And then during the latter half of the season, I mean, we’ve been talking about potential guest stars for 19 and 20 but we don’t have anything solid yet.
I mean, we still have to sort of sit down and actually break the episodes. So I’d say stay tuned.
Question: Yes, thank you. Real fast, I know. For Joe, I have a question – you mentioned earlier new races. Would you care to elaborate at all? If I heard you correctly, you mentioned new alien races might be coming to Atlantis?
Joseph: Yes. In fact, actually they’ll be coming in a big way in the midseason two-parter. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but what happens is Daniel Jackson comes to Atlantis because he is, you know, basically he’s following a lead and he – David needs McKay’s assistance.
And basically the two of them put their heads together and they make a discovery. And by making this discovery, they alert an alien race that also happens to be looking or has been, you know, in the midst of seeking out this device that they end up discovering.
And this alien race ends up coming to Atlantis and it’s not a, I guess, a friendly house call you would say.
And again, I don’t want to give too much away about the race but, you know, they’re kind of an interesting player that we introduce in the midseason two-parter. We introduce kind of another new look alien this season in Episode 4, an episode called “Daedalus Variations.”
And there – actually, I love the look of this race and we only used them in Episode 4, but they are a race that I would love to bring back. And in fact, we’re – you know, we’re already discussing the possibility of bringing them back as well.
So I mean, two new looks and then other than that, it’s really more sort of a dynamic shift with regard to the status quo in the Pegasus Galaxy. In an episode call “Inquisition,” the various civilizations that have been depressed by the race for so many years has finally come together to create almost a, I guess, a United Nation of the Pegasus Galaxy.
And, you know, one of their first orders of business is calling Atlantis to task for, you know, the trouble they’ve caused in the Pegasus Galaxy. (Chief) is amongst the issues being decided. The (wrote) the Wraiths way back in season one.
So I mean, that’ll be kind of a fun story. By the way, love your site.
Q: Oh thanks so much. We’re all big fans. My second question is, you know, Sheppard’s done a lot of character development already that I’m seeing. I want to know more about his character.
Are we going to delve more into the demons of his past? I know there was a big surprise and is any of that going to be coming back this year?
Joseph: Yeah, in fact, actually – I mean, like I said, in season four we wanted to do an episode where we spotlighted – you know, we shined the spotlight on each character.
We did pretty much the same thing in season five and the episode I’m writing now, “Remnants,” is like I mentioned, kind of a dark episode with three different elements.
And the Sheppard element kind of delves into his character and kind of asks the question – here’s a guy who, you know, he – basically he comes to the Pegasus Galaxy to protect people, you know – comes all the way over to another galaxy and, you know, risks his life sort of protecting people.
And, you know, there are instances where, you know, he’s not successful. I mean, he, you know, he lost, you know, Ford and he lost Weir. And you could argue whether, you know, it’s really his fault or not.
But at the end of the day, what drives a guy like that and, you know, he – and, you know, frankly is it a healthy thing that drives the guy? And that’s, you know, one of the questions that is positive in “Remnants” that is kind of thrown in Sheppard’s face that we kind of explore.
Q: Oh, then I finally have one more question for Rob. I was hoping – I personally wanted to ask you what was it like to put on the commander outfit? How did you feel in it?
Robert: Well, I did – I caught myself looking in the mirror at myself in my new togs. You know, Woolsey has always been in a business suit and some pretty good-looking business suits.
And I think that he’s a guy who has probably spent the last 35 years of his career in a business suit. So it’s a big change for him to suddenly be in the command uniform.
But I think I look all right in it. It’s – you know, it’s a little – it’s kind of like a jogging suit. I do feel like I should break out into a run down the hallway. But I do like it. And it also has some slight leisure suit tendencies, too. I feel al little bit like an escapee from a, you know, from a late Seventies, early Eighties movie.
Joseph: You’re styling…
Robert: But I look okay in it and, you know, I’m – it’s very good to have a trim butt in science fiction. I’ll leave it at that.
Q: And finally, just Woolsey – who was the first punch against (the pull)? Are you going to throw any fisticuffs with any of the other character at Atlantis?
Robert: Oh that’s a great question. I haven’t punched anyone in the face yet, but I’d like to now that you’ve mentioned it. And mention it – the right guy to mention it to is on the line. So I haven’t punched anyone yet but I will…
Joseph: I’ve taken note – Woolsey punches someone.
Questioner: You got to make it happen. Punch an alien. That’d be fun.
Robert: No wait, that’s not true. I did hit somebody. I smacked somebody with the back of my – I think I hit somebody with the back of my hand or something. I do remember hitting someone either by mistake or – maybe that was on the – you know, that was at the craft service table so maybe it’s not…((Crosstalk))
Joseph: Yeah, that what I was going to say. It was behind the camera.
Robert: Actually someone got between me and my donut, I think, now that I think about it.
Robert: I have a quick question myself. Joe, am I allowed to mention – I have a friend who has recently been cast in an upcoming episode. Am I allowed to mention that?
Questioner: Please do.
Robert: He’s a man. Do – are we allowed? Is that a surprise, Joe? Are we allowed to…
Joseph: Has he been cast? Which episode?
Robert: I believe it’s the one where they are visiting scientists or there are other visiting scientists. Do you know who I’m speaking of? An fan…
Joseph: Oh, has he been cast? I don’t know. Actually…((Crosstalk)) If the deal has been closed, then sure.
Robert: Oh, I believe – as far as I know, it’s been – he’s been cast. But I believe that Bill Nye, the Science Guy will be making an appearance. And he’s one of my closest friends, so I think that – but according to him, he’s…
Joseph: Yeah, well I spoke to (Carl Weber) our LA guy and then basically yeah, he did seem – he seemed interested. So yeah, it’s great.
Robert: Yeah, as far as I know he wants to do it so that’ll be – even though I’m not too certain we’re in the scene together. We’re very good friends, so that’ll be fun.
Joseph: That will be (cool place to visit)…((Crosstalk))
Q: And he plays a scientist?
Robert: You first, Joe.
Joseph: Oh no, yeah.
Q: Did you say that he plays…
Joseph: Yeah, he’ll be playing a scientist and hopefully there’ll be a couple of other cameos as well in that particular episode that we’re working on.
Question: Robert, I was looking at your sheet and I realized you’ve been on a number of regular series for about – for over 20 years now. And I was wondering if there’s any element of your other characters that you played on Voyager or Wonder Years, or China Beach, or even Home Improvement that are in Commander Woolsey?
Robert: Well let’s put it this way. I think one of my characteristics or my stock in trade as an actor is to play a character that you would – when you initially meet him, you don’t think you’re going to like him and then you grow to like him in spite of that first impression.
Whether it’s China Beach where I’m pinching all the women on the butt in the first episode until Chloe Webb knees me in the crotch, and then I learn my first lesson about, you know, inter gender relationships – or the character I played on the Wonder Years who was so – on the surface, so annoyingly stupid and close-minded.
But there was something appealing about him as well and I think it’s normally because of the sort of hints of neurosis that are just beneath the surface that endears the character to you anyway.
So I think that respect there is a commonality, perhaps that Woolsey does not have, as I said earlier, the best people skills but that he really – you can see that he really wants to do a good job and he really wants to change himself or to grow in any way he can to fulfill his new role as commander.
But he does not have – the interpersonal skills don’t come easily to him. He’s more comfortable intimidating someone than necessarily, you know, working side by side in a – kind of a cooperative way because he’s had to come into so many situations where he is the outsider who comes in to examine everyone else’s performance.
So he could not buddy up to people. That would’ve weakened his position. So that he comes with a certain amount of – a certain kind of baggage from his former, you know, former role that now he has to set that aside and try to really develop friendships and working relationships with people that he normally would’ve – he would want to have kept them at arm’s length in his previous, you know, identity as the evaluator.
So there are – I mean, I think – but to answer your original question, yes, there’s a commonality in that he’s not a cuddly guy up front. But if you give him the time and you get to know him, I think that he’s the kind – that he does grow on you and you see his struggle, and that you sympathize and enjoy him.
Q: Okay. And actually, I had only one more question. It was about Comic-Con and this is for either of you. Do you know from – who from Stargate Atlantis is going to be appearing during that convention?
Joseph: I think Michele would probably be able to field that one. Michele?
Michele Rosenblatt: I’m sorry, can you repeat the question? I only heard part of it.
Q: Oh we were just – who from Stargate Atlantis will be appearing at Comic-Con?
Michele: We have the lovely Robert Picardo. We have Joe Flannigan, Jewel Staite, Brad Wright and Martin Guerra will be the moderator.
Question: Bob mentioned challenges being presented to Woolsey in Atlantis. So Joe, my question for you would be tell us some of the challenges you faced with eminent threat on Atlantis with (now an infant)?
Joseph: Well, you know, really the – I’m trying to think about how best to field this question because the real threat – like – there’s an instance where the infant is threatened but it only comes later on in the season – the back half of the season.
Up until then, it’s really more of a struggle. We’re kind of exploring the struggle that I guess Teyla has to go through as sort of a mother and an off world adventurer.
And very early on, I mean, Bob mentioned the fact that Teyla is one of the first, you know, members of the team to actually open up to him and really approach him, and there’s a really nice scene in “Broken Ties.”
You know, the B story or one of the B stories, or I guess B or the C story, involves her as sort of a new mother having to come to a decision regarding her future with the team.
And, you know, the person she actually goes to talk to, to, you know, I guess, you know, discuss the situation with is Woolsey. And Woolsey ends up being surprisingly, you know, sympathetic and, you know, kind of opens up a bit to her as well and in kind of a surprising little scene that I thought, you know, worked very nicely.
And we also get to see a little bit of Woolsey’s baby handling skills in that episode as well. I mean, with regard to a specific threat to the baby, not until the back half.
Q: Not necessarily to the baby, but just as an overall threat to Atlantis under attack or something – that type of challenge?
Joseph: Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s always there and that’s something that basically Teyla has to sort of address very early on. I mean, not only, you know, is it a threat to her child on Atlantis, but the fact that every time she heads off world there’s a chance she may not come back.
And really, you know, as a responsible parent, you know, does she have a right to be going off world when, you know, she’s got, you know, a child depending on her.
Question: For both of you – what’s both your most favorite part of working on the show and your least favorite part?
Robert: I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.
Joseph: Most favorite part and least favorite part of working on the show.
Robert: Oh, all right. Let me see, I – you know, I don’t mean to sound like a Pollyanna. I haven’t encountered my least favorite part yet. I would say, you know, as I said, I’m now in – back in a jumpsuit so I find myself secretly comparing the Star Trek outfit to the Stargate outfit.
Star Trek, for years, I had no pockets, which was very difficult to deal with. There was more than one take where I had to eat a phone number right before because there was no place to put it.
I almost sent a pencil into one of my castmate’s eyeballs by hiding it up my sleeve and then gesturing during the scene, and it flew out and hit them in the head. So there were all sort of things that I hated about wearing that suit.
Apparently, zippers don’t exist in the 23rd Century or 22nd Century. They’re all hidden. They all have hidden heads. So if we had a zipper head appear, we had to re-shoot the scene.
Now, I’m working in the present and I’m allowed to – we’re allowed to have zippers. I’m even allowed to have pockets. So that’s one of my favorite things about my new job.
Joseph: Zippers and pockets, that’s great. ((Crosstalk))
Robert: I can hide my script pages right on my body which is great and as I said, I haven’t really – I haven’t found the thing that I hate the most yet but give me time.
Joseph: Yeah for me, I mean, I’ve often said – you know, it may sound like a cliché, but I mean, it’s always the people. You know, these individuals I work with, you know, I spend more time with than my wife.
You know, I mean, I go – you know, I’m in early. I’m, you know, I leave late and, you know, by the time I get home I spend maybe three, four hours with my wife before I’m, you know, off to bed and, you know, back with my extended family on Stargate.
And, you know, over the course of the, you know, the years – I mean, you go year to year and it’s been nine years. And you develop friendships. And, you know, I think more than anything that, you know, is the best thing about working on this show.
It’s a well oiled machine. You know, people get along and I mean, I think that’s, you know, really important. As for the thing I least like about the – you know, it’s hard to say.
I would’ve said last season when I was off in Widgeon Park where I’d be – you know, I’d have to wake up at 4:30 to get down to Widgeon Park to – you know, as sort of an on set presence for the episode, “Harmony.”
That was kind of unpleasant initially. But then after awhile, I kind of, you know, grew to enjoy it. And I really – you know, this is something, you know, I’m talking about with, you know, with a guy on the conference call who I’m sure gets up at 4:30, what is it every day? What time do you wake up, Bob?
Robert: You mean every day when I’m shooting?
Joseph: Yeah, when you’re shooting.
Robert: Oh, it’s not that bad. It’s much worse when you have to wear a rubber head in science fiction. But no I mean, on a Monday you might have to get up at 4:30 or 5:00.
Robert: But that’s as bad as it gets. It tends to get later as the week goes on. I forgot to say – I don’t mean to interrupt, but I wanted to mention one other significant difference in my new job versus my old science fiction job.
It’s not a secret, I think that the Star Trek producers were kind of ivory tower producers who rarely came down to the set to see the actors. In fact, if the producers came to the set, the actors’ response was normally uh-oh, you know, what did we do wrong.
But the Stargate producers visit the set all the time and there’s a very relaxed, you know, kind of easygoing atmosphere. They’ll pop down and say hello to us. They’re not located on the other side of the lot the way the Star Trek ones were at the other end of the Paramount lot, as far away from the sets as they could possibly get.
They’re just upstairs in the, you know, in the – in our main stage, the production office is. So I really like that – that it – what Joe described is, you know, the extended family thing is much more apparent to me here because they really do, you know, mom and dad really do come down to visit the kids on the set. And that’s, you know, that’s – that makes it a very relaxed atmosphere.
Q: Cool. Can you tell me who your favorite people to work with are since you’re mentioning that?
Robert: You know, I get along very well with all the cast members and they’re all – they’re very unique personalities, so they all really – you know, getting to know each of them has had its own joys already.
But as I said, David really cracks me up. David makes me laugh a great deal, so it’s always a pleasure to work with him. And Jason has his own very unique, bizarre sense of humor so he makes me laugh a great deal as well.
But Joe and Jewel, and the other – the recurring players that – David Nigel is also a treat to work with. So it’s really – you know, it’s been fun to get to know everyone and I, you know, I really enjoy playing scenes with all the other characters.
Q: What about you, Joe? Who are your favorite people?
Joseph: You know, I have to say – I mean, I really can’t take favorites. And to be honest with you, I mean, the first couple years I was on Stargate, I really didn’t go down on set just because, you know, as sort of the new guys we were – you know, we wanted to look busy and we were actually very busy because Paul and I would average about, you know, seven scripts out of the 22 we would write every season.
So I mean, we were in our office either spinning, writing or re-writing. And it wasn’t until, I mean, you know, in later years that I actually went down to the set.
And, you know, here was a guy who had been working on the show for so many years, you know, finally getting to come down and meet the crew. And, you know, just – you know, the writer/producers, everyone in the office is great, the actors, you know, a pleasure to work with.
But I mean, and particularly the crew who are, you know, always the unsung heroes. There are a lot of, you know, great personalities on the crew and these are guys who have been with the show, guys and gals who have been with the show for, you know, sometimes there’s, you know, almost like 12 years.
And, you know, it – they’re also a real pleasure to work with. It’s – you know, I don’t think I could actually specifically choose, you know, any particular individual that I enjoy working with.