SciFi.com has put up a selection of interview bits on the Stargate Atlantis cast - Joe Flanigan, David Hewlett, Amanda Tapping and Rachel Luttrell (darn, no Jason Momoa) at their site at http://www.scifi.com/sfw/interviews/sfw16933.html. Below are some excerpts.
What can you tell me about Beckett's return?
Hewlett: Well, it's certainly unexpected. Not unexpected, perhaps, from the fan standpoint, but it's complicated [laughs]. Let's just say that Beckett becomes a product of his own genius, to some extent. And we see not only old friends but old enemies. It's a pretty neat two-parter, and it's going to be pretty intense. The ending of the two-parter is wonderful, too. I think the fans are going to love where it goes, shall I say. We had a lot of fun shooting it. He was back in fine form. And McGillion is a real gentleman—or, as I would say, a suck-up. He bought pizza for the crew. And it was just really, really fun to have him back; everyone really enjoyed having him around. It's like life, except they get to come back. He's one of those actors who's always going to land on his feet, but I'm hoping that those feet then take him back to our little galaxy, too.
Your sister, Kate Hewlett, makes another appearance this season, in "Miller's Crossing."
Hewlett: The return of the McKays. I was so thrilled that they took what subtle hints I could give them about the idea of casting Kate as my sister, and they've run with it. And she's back again this year. Some of my favorite stuff this year is in that episode. Watching the McKay family trying to sneak their way out of a high-security building while squabbling about directions and bringing up stories about getting lost in malls is just really, really fun. The episode is kind of neat; it has a lot of fun backstory about McKay and the family. And that's the stuff that, as an actor, you just thrive on. So she's back. Of course, now I have to try and talk them into knocking her off. I don't want to be replaced.
Are you satisfied with the direction season four has taken?
Hewlett: Oh, yeah. I wish I had more time to watch it. One of the things I'm looking forward to doing this hiatus is actually watching this season, because I never have any time to do it. People will always say, well, where do you see your character going, what is the one thing if your character could do, what would it be, and I'm always like, [the writers] have got a way better imagination than I do. I'm always thrilled with what they come up with. I find it a little alarming that perhaps they understand McKay so well, and that they seem to sympathize with him so much. It's a little alarming to think there could be a whole fleet of McKay-like writers up there, working.
This year, not only has it been a year of change, it's been a year of confusion. Because we're [spending], like, a day on one episode, a day on another. I keep announcing we're being attacked by the wrong alien race because I'm saying the lines for the next day, or yesterday's lines. I just hope to God it all makes sense when they cut it together.
Amanda Tapping, you get to bring Carter to a whole new level in Atlantis. What's different about your character in Atlantis as opposed to Stargate SG-1?
Tapping: She now has to prove herself as a leader of an entire base—and, of course, her style is that she doesn't want to piss anyone off. She's coming into a situation on Atlantis where there's a lot of heartache. They've lost one of their very dear leaders, and I think they're reluctant to welcome someone new at first. And then of course it turns out to be Sam Carter, which is good for some people and not so good for others. So she has to tread lightly, but I think part of her command, at least the way that I've chosen to play it, is that she relies entirely on the strength of the people who are around her. She understands Shepherd's military expertise, and even though she may have the same amount of military expertise, it's not in this galaxy. She's never fought the Wraith before, so she defers to him a lot. She defers to McKay and his scientific expertise in the Pegasus galaxy. There's not as much head-butting with McKay as you might think—partly because she's in command and she has to show a certain modicum of respect even though he drives her crazy. And then Teyla and Ronon are complete unknowns to her, so she really has to make her way with them. So it's a lot different. It feels a lot different. The relationships are very new and fresh. Jewel Staite's on the show now as the doctor, and she's awesome—there's a neat friendship burgeoning there between our two characters.
Rachel Luttrell, the fourth season is taking things in a different direction—a soft reset, so to speak.
Luttrell: Yeah, in many ways it kind of has to be. First of all, the reins of the show have been passed on. Now Brad and Rob are taking much more of a back seat, and they've passed it on to Paul Mullie and Joe Mallozzi, our show runners. They're our go-to guys, and it's their vision that's being impressed on the show. Not only that, but season three was quite a big season, because we lost some very pivotal characters. Paul McGillion, Dr. Beckett, we lost him halfway through the season last year. And Dr. Elizabeth Weir, her character is taking on a completely different persona and going in an entirely new direction, and her involvement in the team is not as broad as it was in the past. That in itself has completely changed the face of the show. Having said that, there are still the key elements that make SGA what it is. But yes, it is different. We now have Amanda Tapping as part of our show—and they're working her to the bone [laughs]. And Jewel Staite has joined us.
What can we expect for Teyla in season four?
Luttrell: A lot. There's a lot going on for Teyla this season, which is wonderful for me as an actor. There have been little things as an actor that have been touched on throughout the past seasons; you know, the fact that she has these powers that are innate to her, her physiology, etc. So we expand that a little bit, in terms of her links to the Wraith. But even larger than that, it's her attachment to her people, and the fact that she actually does have a love interest that she's been hiding from everybody. We haven't met him yet—I haven't met him yet. I hope I'm part of the casting process.
Joe Flannigan, how has the interpersonal dynamic on the show changed in season four?
Flannigan: We've lost Paul McGillion, who was a valued member of our team, personally and professionally. So we miss him. We have lost Torri Higginson—my God, this sounds like a funeral—who was also a really valued member of our group. And we've also gained a really valuable member of our group, Amanda. She's a real veteran, a real professional, she knows the genre, and she can tackle the gobbledygook of science-fiction dialogue, perhaps even better than David, which is hard to do.
The dynamic that's developed by having Amanda in the show is that she and David Hewlett have a pre-existing relationship, so that's a very funny and entertaining thing to watch. My character now, I'm just listening, trying to keep up with the science of it. You find me listening a lot more. Or trying to listen.
Has it been a smooth or rocky transition?
Flannigan: It's also been interesting how we've dealt with the transition, going from Torri to Amanda. We had long discussions about that. I was concerned that the transition was too quick. So I went upstairs and I talked to them and I said, "I think we're just moving way too quickly on this." I felt, shouldn't we pause, say, "Oh, we should try to find Dr. Weir and rescue her, hold out hope that she could come back, that we could rescue her," things like that. And so they wrote that back in and tried to create that, and I think we did a pretty good job.
How does shooting science fiction differ from shooting an ordinary drama?
Flannigan: My training is in prime-time drama, cops, things like that. They tend to shoot tight, like you see on C.S.I., and rely on close-ups quite a bit. Science fiction—when I first saw the pilot of this show, I called one of the assistant directors and said, "If you're going to shoot big, giant wide shots and stay wide all the time, I need to know," because that does change your performance. You disappear. When you keep your performance here [marks a low level], it vanishes when you're showing the whole thing. So I needed to make those adjustments. Additionally, you're not dealing with as much human-to-human interaction; you're dealing with green screens, you're dealing with effects, and trying to establish natural relationships is challenging. They'll do a thing called block shooting—where they stick you in the puddle jumper, and they'll shoot literally 10 scenes at once, and it's very difficult to keep track of what's going on, because there's something blowing up over here, and a planet over there, and all you're doing is staring out at a crew with a bunch of equipment. So that's a challenge, for sure.
In the show, you get to play with technology and fix things through technology? How about in real life? Are you a gadget freak?
Flannigan: I'm very much a fixer. I love fixing things. I'm remarkably successful at fixing things. I'm very tactile. I would not say I'm a technology expert, though. But I am a gadget freak. I love gadgets. I can spend all day in gadget shops. Between my computer and my Treo and my iPod, I don't need anything else. I function on all pistons with that stuff. I'm always in search of the Holy Grail, that all-inclusive piece of machinery.
There's more at the link above. NOW we know why Joe Flanigan got an iPhone before David Hewlett did ;)