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MGM Interview: David Hewlett talks SGA, acting and friends (some spoilers)

I've done a transcript of sorts of DAVID HEWLETT's video over at MGM (http://stargatesg1.com/Interviews). The casting spoilers for two actors are pretty  much common knowledge, because the press has posted them, the actors' websites/lists talk of them. However, one episodic spoiler will be stuck way at the bottom of the post and warnings put up. The rest is pretty spoiler free, so enjoy the text under the cut.

DAVID HEWLETT (54 minutes)

 

This is rather tongue-in-cheek.

 

David Hewlett loves McKay because he says – it’s like when you’re on holiday – McKay gets to say all the great comebacks, “some kind of snarky response.” “I’m not that good,” said David. “McKay’s the guy who says everything that you want to say, at the time, that you always think about afterwards.” He joked that he’s completely silent during the off-season.

 

How does he memorize the dialogue? He went upstairs one day and said “you’re killing me.” He had ‘technobabble galore’ one week. RCC said “that’s not technobabble. It’s gold, pure gold.” He’s convinced that the memory is like muscle, the more you do it, the better you get at it. It’s easier to do but he makes more of a fuss about it. “It’s kind of an irritating crossover thing that’s happened. McKay and Hewlett have sorta of combined in the complaining. I’m beginning to find myself much more of a complainer than I was when I first started.”

 

Is that why he ends up hanging from hooks, wrapped in lettuce (Wraith prisoner). “The wrapped in lettuce thing? Where do you get this stuff?” said David. He talked about hanging from a tree in a HazMat suit in Vancouver. “Yes, I was miserable, and I made everybody else’s life miserable as well, especially poor Rainbow.” … “I think the writers take a certain amount of glee in making my life a misery. I think it’s just beating up on Hewlett. You have to be very careful what you say around the writers because if you complain about something you particularly don’t like, it will generally show up in a script or two later.” He said he was fine in the suit until they spun him. “I had some difficulty with a fish ‘n’ chips dinner I’d had. More information than most people wanted to know. Maybe we can have that like a little sneak peak on the website… if you click on the right place, you can see me throw up my fish and chip dinner.”

 

Grace Under Pressure” was very technobabble and he said that as an actor, your ego goes “woo-hoo, this is my show!” as he was in it mostly alone. “McKay under pressure!” But they’re still shooting the show before it as there’s no real clear-cut ending. You go home and learn your lines and he had a lot for that one. Other problem was all in one location so they could shoot a lot in one time. They were doing from 8-12 pages of McKay dialogue straight on. “But that’s when it got more pleasant, when it’s just me and Amanda, you know, soaking wet in a swimming pool. It’s a dream many people have had. I got to live it.” ;)

 

How does he feel about Amanda Tapping coming over to Atlantis? “I love it. Any show that Amanda’s on is her show, as far as I’m concerned, like she is just… there’s just something about her… she’s beautiful anyways but there’s just that extra kind of glow about Amanda.” He also said that SG1 would leave the studio as they would come in as they had different shooting schedules or used the same sets.

 

He said he’s disappointed as anyone that SG1 isn’t continuing as he liked the triple play on Friday nights, but from a “completely selfish standpoint,” it’s nice to be the Stargate left.

 

He talked about the back half of season 3. “There’s going to be some of the most spectacular special effects.” And…. “also, there’s this weird thing that happens with an ongoing series. It begins to mirror life. And things happen both good and bad in a show with a character and such, so we’re going to see some pretty dramatic changes to the face of Atlantis. Some good, some bad. I think there are definitely going to be some surprises for people.”

 

Favorite episodes? “One of my favorite episodes of this season is ‘McKay and Mrs. Miller’ where I got a chance to work not only with myself [Rod] – something I’ve always wanted to do – but I also got to work with Kate (his sister).” The last episode? “I think they spent more on blowing out glass in that last episode than they did on the entire season. I mean that is going to be one of the most spectacular explosions that anyone is going to see.” They had to hide in backrooms during the ‘dramatic renovations’ to the set. Lots of people watched the scene being shot. Thinks it will be a GREAT cliffhanger. “Everyone is in serious, serious peril.”

 

Season 4 – new? “I haven’t a clue. I’ve been on holiday.” He heard about Amanda coming on board. Michael Beach has joined – “not sure how long that will be for; I don’t know what the nature of that deal is.” They call the conference room the ‘room of death’ (acting death) because it’s full of ‘hot and sweaty bodies’ and ‘It sucks your brain’ where you have a LOT of dialogue. Beach comes in with four pages of non-stop military talk; first time on the show. He can’t pronounce naquadah. “He’s got every lingo known to the Stargate universe in these four pages of dialogue.” David kept botching his four LINES of dialogue afterwards. “It was like embarrassing. It seemed like time had stopped.” Then Beach nailed his lines in two takes. “Puts me to shame.” Thinks ER really helped Beach on that. “We got ER actors showing up.”

 

Jewel Staite. “Jewel had the fortunate or unfortunate job of …playing a partial Wraith…” (talked about her role in Firefly – “sexy, child-like brilliant mechanic”) Said they’re all big fans of Firefly. “They bring Jewel Staite in and then they put on about 8 hours of makeup so I didn’t even know I was working with Jewel half the time…. The poor woman was the best behaved actress I’ve ever seen… incredibly easy to work with.” Apparently she was told there “might be some prosthetics” and “she’s come back as a Canadian doctor, another Canadian doctor, so I’m hoping for Canadians ganging up on American humor, that kind of stuff, as we flash our little Canadian flags. Very excited about that. I have no idea what she’s doing on the show…. She’s been rescuing other people, other than me. McKay hasn’t gotten hurt enough – I gotta make sure McKay gets hurt badly so I get to spend some serious quality time with Jewel Staite.”

 

Any other insight for season 4? Where would he like him to go? “I think McKay should be put in a wheelchair so I don’t have to walk or run anymore, I can just wheel around. I think that would be the way to go. Very overweight, and some kind of mechanical contraption for moving him around.” ;) Actually, the “irritating thing” is that the writers know what they want to do and surprise the actors. “If they told me what I was going to do in advance, I’d spend most of the time whining and complaining and trying to talk them out of it.” Guarantees “discomforting, embarrassing and psychologically scarring incidents for McKay in the future, and they will probably also apply to me as well.”

 

Says he has whining down to a fine art. “I am a fine whine. I’m like a Bordeaux,” then related how once he came home and he was on the phone and he snapped his fingers at his girlfriend Jane. “I did the McKay snap and point. That’s not Hewlett. Never done that, until now. And I did it and there was this sort of pause and I was like ‘why is she not getting that for me’ and then I realized in the middle of a snap and point that I was snapping and pointing at my girlfriend and she was going to kill me. And her face clouded over and she stopped for a second and there was this clear, like a bright blue sky, and she said ‘I’ll give you fifteen minutes to lose McKay when you get home every day and then that’s it.’ And so from then on in, I have fifteen minutes of I get to be snarky and jerky and whiny for fifteen minutes and then I’m supposed to be the suave, charming Hewlett that I always am otherwise. It’s not working very well, I should add, because the whining definitely is catching, I find. The more you whine, the more you want to whine and complain, so….”

 

He says that as an actor, or himself, he looks for things in himself that are similar to the character that he’s playing because it’s familiar to him and he can bring up those elements. He laughs. “I had no idea I was such a jerk.”

 

A Dog’s Breakfast. He’s a film nerd, really wanted to make a film, direct and write, etc. So he and Jay came up with a list – access to a house, crew, cast (to some extent) and a dog, and a little sister, so they put it all together. It’s a Fish Called Wanda type comedy about a recluse whose only love in his life is his dog and when he meets his sister’s fiancé, he realizes that this is not the man for his sister, so he tries to kill him. “Unfortunately he’s never any good at anything in his life, and murder is no different.” He wanted to make a comedy that his father would laugh at. “He’s a British OB-Gynie so he’s a little uptight and yet, every so often he’ll watch these silly comedies and just lose it. Like just crack up funny.” There’s no swearing, virtually no violence but “is wickedly funny.” Self-financed. They used various Stargate cast – “we approached Stargate and asked if we could be like the little fish that swims around the giant shark and just picks at their teeth. That’s what we did.” They got crew, deferred their wages, production companies around Vancouver helped them with post-production, equipment, etc. They shot it in about fourteen days and then went around trying to sell the film, which is the interesting part (for David). They talked to a lot of distributors and having a lot of trouble with that, so they talked to MGM about it (as they know about SG’s popularity). “It was kind of like working with an uncle, or family. “Charlie Cohen was very gracious” and put them on to the right people. “I told them it was going to be bigger than Casino Royale” and they bought it, so MGM is looking after the film. He loves movies. “Dealing with MGM is like dealing with the history of film.” He was really impressed with MGM’s L.A. offices, with Oscars all over the walls. Doesn’t know when ADB released but looking for DVD and online distribution and a book tour type thing with the movie, setting up Q&As and screenings. It’s in High Definition as well.

 

What does he do in his off-time? He does keep in touch with cast and crew. He mentioned a dinner with Joe (mainly because he’ll pay). They drove around Malibu trying to find this ‘cool’ restaurant. He talked about some guy going around the restaurant asking ‘would you like truffles on that?’ and he said sure and the end of the dinner ‘we discovered it was 50 bucks a pop! Every time that guy came around with a truffle, it was fifty bucks. I must have had like ten helpings of that. And then Joe paid for dinner. So I owe him a really expensive dinner, possibly a mortgage payment. Joe and Catherine are like, it’s like being with Robert Kennedy and Jackie O, they’re just very cool, very hip, they know and love California and Los Angeles. They’re the best people to hang out with in California because they know everybody and everything that’s cool to do and be and eat.”

 

For his holidays, he’ll go back to Toronto and visit family. “I get these rather teasing emails from various sisters mock me for stuff I’ve said and done in various episodes, so I can look forward to a lot of evil-mind ribbing from various family members.” And a convention in England, and Jane’s father, 86 years old – “I swear to god he’s fitter than I am” – and spend some time with him and some writing. He said what’s nice about the hiatus is knowing you’ve got a job to come back to “you hope.” He said he’ll hide away in Washington State, which has no power, and write.

 

Directing an Atlantis? They’ve talked about it. Problem is McKay is always talking, always there, so he’d have to not be there which makes it difficult for the writers to work around. Maybe McKay could get a nasty cold and have little to say, or become mute.

 

Who is McKay? “The guy in high school, the nerd in front of the class, basically. Always has the answer, always ignored by the teacher.” He wasn’t that person in high school, he was in the back of the room hoping he wouldn’t get called on because he hadn’t done his homework. “He’s incredibly well-educated, he’s very savvy to the educational system…he’s been on the book side of the Stargate program for years and then with Atlantis he suddenly gets thrown in the practical side of it. So it’s a wonderful kind of combination of a nerd, a super-nerd basically who also has to act a bit like a hero. He’s like action-nerd, basically. Maybe they’ll have action nerd figures. You could have different pencil things for him… he’s like a reluctant hero. He tends to do the right thing at the right time but in the big scheme of things, he doesn’t particularly want to. He generally thinks about himself unless, under pressure, when he actually surprises himself by caring about everyone else.” … “Everyone has a bit of McKay to them. Everyone has those moments where they’re proud because they got the answer right, who are protective about their own things and their own ideas, and who sort of protect themselves rather than everyone else. There’s a tendency for McKay to look after himself. I think he will always do pretty well because he’s not terribly good at diplomacy. He says what he feels before he thinks it through and he’s just absolutely terrible with people but he’ll always do well because he’s also irritatingly smart. He’s not the person you want at a dinner party. He is the person you want if you can’t figure out how to rig up the stereo.”

 

Why did he want to become an actor and if not an actor, what? His father wanted him to be a doctor but there’s this whole problem “with blood and fainting.” In the 80s, wanted to be a rock star, wanted to be the ‘lost’ Duran Duran member. A lot of makeup and hair “and probably therapy later on.” In their family album portraits, they looked like a band “because everyone would say which sister is that?’ and that would be me because I would have the makeup on like Adam Ant.” If he wasn’t an actor, “I’d probably be a really bad drummer.”

 

Before he got McKay… “I got into it originally because of Dr. Who (TV show).. and it was a time of my life when there was this maybe Dr. Who was real and during that period of time I discovered that he wasn’t real and that failing at becoming a time lord and traveling around in a Tardis.. I could pretend to do that, and actually get paid much better, so there’s far more money into pretending a nerd than there was actually being a nerd, I found. And it was just the way I approached life. I tend to be better at pretending to do things than actually doing them.” He did plays at school, had a drama teacher who took an interest and took him to auditions and “so people believed me into it. If they hadn’t, I’d probably still be living in my dad’s basement, with like a Camero and a really nice stereo, and probably a nasty like drug habit or something… still at age 24.”

 

What do people perhaps not know about him? “That’s what I don’t want them to know!” “I think they probably know too much already.”

 

He did a holiday message, which consisted of a humorously snarky “Bah Humbug.”

 

Then it went to a spoiler section about one of the unseen (on Skiffy) episodes). I’ll post that way at the end of this thread, so if you want to read it, go there, otherwise….

 

 

Asked about his co-workers. “Apparently there are other members of the cast, too,” said David. “And I found out they’re regulars.” He said that he ‘susses out’ people he starts to work with and says the SGA cast are “remarkably dissimilar from who they are.” “Joe is not heroic at all; he’s the ultimate coward. No, he’s funny because he’s very low-key. His responses to things are very sort of – he thinks things through, and he works them out and he’s very calm – I suppose very similar to his character on the show… Sheppard tends to react quickly and sort of rush off and save the day type thing and Joe is very think things through, very cautious, very good about planning things. I of course naturally immediately react and then worry about what I’ve just said or done afterwards…so there’s this great back and forth. I think we’ve got where we’re familiar enough with each other that it’s fun both because we don’t worry so much about hurting each other’s feelings which always makes much interesting times on set, and at the same time, I think we do respect each other. There’s a great sense of camaraderie about the cast and we do invariably end up at the same restaurants at the same time… it’s a really nice working environment.

 

Rachel. I got a postcard from Tanzania, in Africa. She’s out there…’ and her dog hangs out with my dog and it’s .. it’s funny because we moved to Vancouver to do the show and in a way you don’t just get a show, you get a social scene as well. We’re friendly with all virtually everyone, with the cast, a lot of the crew, you know Jane is much nicer than I, so she tends to be more friendly with more people but I generally avoid having to get together with anybody unless I absolutely have to… Rachel is remarkably different than her character. Her character is this very sort of straight-laced by the book almost kind of warrior princess type thing and Rachel is like this wonderful kind of laidback – she does get a bit harried sometimes as well. She’s fantastic. The wig comes off and there’s this hair and she walks into a room and everyone just stops and looks. I think they’re probably looking at me but I like to think for her sake they might be looking at her, and she’s got this very excited to be here.. .she loves all the martial arts stuff. In fact she wants to do more classes on the weekend. I think she wants to be able to kill people. I think that’s where she’s going. I think this whole sort of nice thing that she’s going is actually a front: I think she’s training to become some kind of an assassin.”

 

And then you’ve got Jason, “who is my complete opposite.” “For all of my uptightness, he is the loosest, coolest individual on the planet. He’s slightly taller than I am, by about four feet, and I don’t know what’s in his hair. I don’t know what’s up with that. I’m surrounded by people who walk into a room and light up rooms. It’s remarkable, like Rachel’s that way, Joe turns heads all the time generally because he’s got a very, very pretty wife and Jason is just a striking figure who is incredibly loud. He’s big on picking you up which I’m not on being done to, and he’s most similar to his character in a way. I think his personality seeps into his character much more than I think was originally planned because originally I think he was supposed to be much more hard-edged and no sense of humor… and Jason has this incredible sense of humor…” He writes, watches movies for research and wants to learn about film history, etc. “I think they’re beginning to meld.”

 

“Torri is the most different from her character. Torri plays this very by the book leader, struggling to be taken seriously in a world of men, so that’s her character on Atlantis. She is the coolest individual in the world. Her dog is the most laidback thing I’ve ever seen. She’s so completely – a polar opposite of who she is on the show because she has this incredibly wicked sense of humor… and she’s the funniest person in the bar, basically. When we go out, Jason and her would probably tie for the bar clown. I’m never there because I’m never invited, but I hear stories of these things… It has become this kind of Atlantis family. And if we have to go this function together, we’ll try to gather beforehand – usually drink too much – and then attend whatever function it is we’re supposed to go to. There’s this kind of strength in numbers and it’s really nice; it’s a nice camaraderie. I mean I’m friends with Rachel’s boyfriend and Jane’s friends--- we’ve turned into some kind of Desperate Housewives thing where we… we’re like a soap opera. We’ve got both the on and off set stuff going on. I look forward to running into them at conventions and having them show up at various things. They actually hate me, so I’m just trying to be nice.”

 

McGillion and I hang out all the time, it’s kind of sad mainly because I feel sorry for him, because he’s a sad lonely guy who can’t get a date. He lives in like this ivory tower with a beautiful view but no one to share it with, so I actually go to sleep crying for Paul many times, at night. And Paul is just so much fun to make miserable that I spend most of time and most of my off-season doing it. I put him in a dress for the movie and extensive makeup – maybe I shouldn’t say that, I’m not supposed to give that away – but later on when the movie comes out we can’t talk about this. Yeah, I made his life misery on the film as well, and he’s just so good at taking it. He plods along, happy to have people looking at him and so he’s like the consummate host, Paul McGillion. He goes into a restaurant and introduces himself to the maitre de and gets the names of the servers. He’s very good at that stuff. He really sort of introduced us to Vancouver… he was like the maitre de to Vancouver for us. And took us out and showed us where to go and became a really really good friends of ours, so I would never admit it to him, but he’s a terrible kisser (“Duet”), just so people know that. There you go, that’s something people don’t know about me. Paul, terrible, terrible kisser.”

 

Interviewer: That’s not about you.

 

David: “Well, I was involved in it, two way street you know. Give and take. Maybe too much information. No, I happen to know I’m a very, very good kisser. Jane tells me that all the time. Can we go now?”

 

 

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SPOILERS BEGIN HERE – FLEE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ THEM!! This is your last warning!

 
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Lady Interviewer: “This is a kind of under wraps thing…”

 

David: “I’m going to pretend that I don’t know.”

 

Lady Interviewer: “I understand that there is an episode coming up that is not to be missed. “Sunday!”

 

David: “Sunday” is one of the most harrowing episodes of Atlantis that you’re going to see. I mean it is literally a ticking bomb throughout and it takes you off. It’s a very, very smart script by Martin Gero who tends to write more of the comic episodes of our show and he’s done a fantastic job of an incredibly sort of traumatic episode. It’s amazing how it takes off in lots of different directions and leads you down one route and then throws you back over here, and literally it puts all of us in incredible peril at some point throughout the episode and the result is quite shocking. I mean it’s really, it’s very.. it’s quite disturbing and at the same time there’s – it leads to certainly some of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever had to do. There’s a scene at the end of “Sunday” which I think is one of the most poignant McKay –not to be self-centered but from my standpoint – one of the most poignant McKay episodes, um, scenes that I’ve had to do. It’s really quite emotional, and I think beautifully written and just sweet, very very sweet. It’s going to be the episode most people talk about for sure. And I both look forward to and dread everyone’s reaction to it because I’m interested to see how they take it.”

 

Lady Interviewer: “And this next bite MGM will save until this episode has aired.”

 

David: “Don't mention this until he's dead.”

 

Lady Interviewer: “This is for after so we have a reaction from you.”

 

Lady Interviewer: “Now that everyone has seen the episode- I haven't seen the episode so you can tell me perhaps what happened, and how you said it was sort of shocking. That you were even were surprised - the fans will be surprised. Give us an after comment.”

 

David: “Uh, "Sunday" was one of the toughest shows to shoot, because we lose both one of my best friends, and also McKay's best friends, both on- and off-screen. Beckett and McKay have had this great kind of symbiotic, very difficult kind of relationship - effectively they’re the two nerds that get stuck together in most situations, and where he will be brave, McKay will be cowardly, and when I'm brave, he's useless. So there's been a great kind of back and forth with our characters, and off-set as well. Paul and I wrote a part for Paul in my first film, and he's just a very, very good friend of mine; a very good actor, and just an irritatingly nice guy and very fun to tease, I might add, as well.

 

So "Sunday" was quite a shock. I mean, um, it's one of those things that with a television show that has gone on as long as it's gone on for, you do get affected by life. There's just things happen in life that you don't expect and that you don't particularly like, and I think that's the case with "Sunday.” It's remarkably effective because it points out the reality of life, which is that things don't always go the way you want them to go, that we aren't safe. And I think that it's clever writing and clever producing, I think, because it does remind everybody that, you know, while there's time for merriment, there's time for camaraderie and all this kind of stuff, they’re - we're constantly in danger. These characters are constantly under the threat of some imminent death, and you get reminded like that, quite suddenly, as we do in life, I mean. The same thing happens in life. Out of the blue, you don't expect it, and these things happen. So, I think it's very accurate. It's unfortunate. I mean, you know, ‘cause frankly I'm going to miss having Paul around, cause he’s - the crew's going to pick on me now instead of him – so, that's basically what it comes down to. You know, I have the sneaking suspicion that we will be seeing McGillion again, though. The beautiful thing about scifi is that no one ever dies in scifi, so I'm curious to see how they resolve this, and I think fans should know that I personally believe that he's going to be back. So we'll see how season four unravels, but I look forward to see how they get themselves out of this one.”

 
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Lady Interviewer: “Stay tuned.”

 

David: “Indeed, yes.”

 

END
Tags: david hewlett, mgm, stargate atlantis
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