wraithfodder (wraithfodder) wrote,

NJ 2008 Stargate Convention 4/5: David Nykl

Yes, Dr. Z’s panel!


8:00AM – Sunday Morning Breakfast and Charity Silent Auction
Gah, up at 6:00 a.m. Got down to find about 25 people already there at 7:30am. We were let in at 8:00 a.m. Everybody grabbed a seat here and there, and then the tables went up one at a time for the food and well, um, uh… it reminded me of a Howard Johnson’s on the Ohio Turnkpike back in 1985… the eggs were that sorta runny rubbery consistency, the potatoes lukewarm at best, but the bacon was very good. Fruit was good as well. However, the eggs were, guh, yuck. Yeah, my joke about breakfast being those little boxed cereals I’d cracked earlier that day? It would have been better! At least they did have coffee!

Anyway, after a little while, Jason Momoa and David Nykl came into and did the stage posing stuff. Jason promptly whipped out his piece (stealing this gem from WWLH), which was a cap gun he shot off at random in the audience ;) Like I said, it must be so weird to stand up there like an exhibit at a zoo but at least they had some fun. Then the actors spent time at each table.

Jason talked about this arm tattoo (took over eight hours and HURT), his kids (loves ‘em to death), building tree forts, and that they have lots of land. Oh, and everybody in the family (well, not the little kids) has tattoos and he’d be okay if his kids later got tattoos. If I recall correctly, his said his has family dynasty down one leg. Still doesn’t have a television set. Flew in the night before and watched “Saturday Night Live.” Going to NYC afterwards. Oh, the action figures were on the table and he though the likenesses were good, and we told him his Ronon figure was coming out in December. When I told him that the figures were articulated (he had McKay in his hand), he said “just like David.”

After a while, David Nykl sat at our table. Said he just flew in and he would never do that again because of the time difference. He shook hands with everybody and introduced himself and we introduced ourselves. I mentioned I commented on his blog and he seemed to recognize my name. He then said, darn, he forgot to bring his camera and I said he could use mine and I meant to take pictures of us but instead he took a picture of me and him, which was like, wow! He’s great. Salty pointed at me as his stalker ;), he said he was going to Philly and NYC afterwards, to see the Anton Chekhov play, “The Seagull.” Said DragonCon was a blast. Before David left, I warned him not to eat the eggs but lucky guy, he’d eaten elsewhere before coming to the con!

After breakfast we went upstairs and ate real food. ;)

Breakfast Guests

12:20PM - DAVID NYKL on stage

First, a Zelenka video by Rosehawk shown at con before David Nykl came out on stage:

David came, something about welcome to Philadelphia, but then corrected himself to Cherry Hill (I swear, there is a definite aversion to New Jersey, but yeah, the roads are a nightmare). First, of course, he sounds nothing like Zelenka. David then asked “Is Rosehawk around here?” but alas, she wasn’t and he obviously liked the video. He then said “Hi, my name is David Nykl. I used to work on Stargate Atlantis,” which drew awwwssss from audience. “They let us know about three days before the convention in Chicago.” He then pulled out a camera and took some photos. “www.davidnykl.com - You guys can see yourselves [there].”

“I hear Chuck and Kavan were here yesterday,” he quipped, “Warming you guys up for us. You know, they’re the warm-up show. And then comes JASON MOMOA!” He then wondered how many fans were really there sitting through him to see Jason ;)

Is he coming back to “Eureka” ? “I might be. Things look good for that.” He’d called before the writer’s strike and they wanted to bring his character back and then the strike happened, then the producer who’d said yes was gone but he made contact with them again.

Sanctuary”? He did a day on that show in an episode called “Kush,” a plane crash. “I’m the dead guy!”

How does he practice his accent? Good question. “I speak Czech. I am Czech. I was born in Prague, but I grew up on the West Coast of Canada, eh? So what you’re hearing right now is my Czech-Canadian hybrid. The accent comes natural to me. I speak the language so it’s just a matter of… “ and he dissolves into Zelenka. “Talk Zelenka to me. I should do that, eh? Talk Zelenka to me.” He said it all everybody’s idea. He’d give us ten percent ;) “I forget sometimes when we’re filming. We’ve actually had the camera rolling and I’m speaking like I’m speaking right now, and goes oops, can we cut? I gotta speak Czech.”

Ask about his missing scene in “The Shrine” and if he had any David Hewlett stories, as Kavan had some great ones. “Have I got stories about David Hewlett!” he laughed. We told him about complaining about anything. “Oh, those stories? Okay, how much time do we have? .. Okay, let’s set the record straight. David Hewlett is a great guy but I can’t shake him. I mean he follows me everywhere I go. I was cast in a film last season, called ‘Helen,’ and the next day I got an email, ‘oh you’re in a movie with David Hewlett.’ And I’m like ‘What?”’ so he went to IMDB to check it out. “Stay away from my career!”

Back to “The Shrine.” “What happened was I had some really great scenes with him, sort of back to classic Zelenka-McKay scenes. They sort of trailed off on those in season 4.” “‘The Shrine’ had lots of them, and one of them he admits that I’m wrong, that he’s wrong, sorry! And they CUT all those scenes and all that’s left is I walk by.” The official explanation was it was cut for time. They do that a lot depending on the kind of episode.

David laughs, saying Hewlett “is a piece of work. He’s got the lion’s share of memorization… he disappears on the weekend.” They work 16-hour days; David says he has fractions of what Hewlett does. “When you’ve got that kind of a workload as an actor, you get a little anxious about it going a certain way.”

A question about the Bigfinish.com audio book, “Zero Point. ” Would he do anymore? And was the Czech in it scripted or adlibbed? All the Czech is added in. There’s a second one that should be coming out right after the first one (think it’s 2009). He said to drop BigFinish an e-mail as they’re good in responding.

He said that he and David Hewlett had great chemistry.

It takes seven working days to do an episode of Stargate Atlantis, Monday through Friday, then Monday and Tuesday of the next week. “It’s breakneck. It’s six o’clock in the morning and you’re on set and you go.” They often keep the sides in their pockets and he wonders if a viewer will ever catch a side sticking out of someone’s back pocket.

When asked about Zelenka’s origin, he said “it’s not how Dr. Zelenka became Czech, it’s how a Czech became Dr. Zelenka. The story is that they were looking for a Russian scientist, which is kind of a stereotype. I came in to audition and told them my background is Czech, and the character was Karpov. Karpov,” he repeated. “Yeah, I still have the script. I found it just a few months ago, going through my old sides. And it the was the original dialogue.” When he got the part a week later, it was Radek Zelenka, and he didn’t have a first name until the end of the first season and “Martin Gero came to me and said ‘when you get a first name, you know you’re on a series.’” … “And the Czech is ad-libbed.” He said the monologue in “Letters from Pegasus” was originally written in English and they said ‘let’s do a Czech version’ so he took it home and translated it (one line things can be done quickly, like cursing) “No translation needed,” he quipped. So he rehearsed it, showed up and Mario Azzoppardi was the director and he said “we’re going to do the Czech version first,” and he did it, one take and that was it, but he still had the English version, but Mario said no, so that way they had no option to choose the English version. The concern was that the network might change it. And why does everybody speak English? “How come no aliens speak Czech?” He said in one instance in second season he said “I can’t work with these actors” in Czech and it went through, but “of course the Czech fans picked up on it. Actors??”

Video of above

“Stargeek Atlantis.” Think the question was about geeks in Atlantis. “Working with David, and not working with Dave, it’s a great character, it’s a lot of fun to do and they’ve been putting me with everyone except Jason, it seems. I’ve had a couple with Teyla. I think I’ve only had one scene with Jason ever in the entire series, and quite a bit with Joe [Flanigan].” He mentioned the jump across space in “Adrift.” “That was cool…” He explained how it was done in a studio with a floor and a green screen with the camera above, and they’re on big cantilevered cranes hooked into wires on their hips in spacesuits. You just float. Martin Wood was the director. In the scene where he’s thrown, it was fast, so they slowed the camera down.

Favorite episode? “Adrift” was fun, but “Letters from Pegasus” – “that’s my favorite episode! The one that Zelenka is in.”

“Am I going to be in the movie? I’m pretty sure I am.” (applause!) “It’s tough to say because the movie isn’t written, but I don’t want Mallozzi to go ‘oh really?’ but all indications are that it would be a classic Stargate movie and all the characters from Stargate Atlantis will be in it.”

“Everybody picks on Zelenka, ” said David humorously. It seems fans noticed everybody picks on him and the writers noticed that, but Zelenka is a sort of second fiddle and you need the drama. He has no problem in playing that with Zelenka and McKay.

“When I’m not doing Stargate Atlantis, what do I do besides that? I do dishes, I vacuum, I take care of the kids, I bike…” he said with a grin. He said that there is fortunately a lot of scifi productions in Vancouver, so what will happen next? He doesn’t know. “There’s a huge degree of uncertainty in this profession, always has been… so you get it, you don’t get it, it’s part of the process.”

Said that Amanda Tapping is great to work with and a “consummate professional”, a “terrific woman.”

He had no idea that the character would last past the pilot. “ Karpov became Zelenka… Zelenka became, just one scene with Torri… Torri…” (said very fondly – they all seemed to really like her) “And Brad Wright happened to be on set that day…. And it picked up from there,” and then added about Torri “She’s awesome!” He’s been in almost exactly half of the 100 episodes they’ve done of SGA.

He said that Jason was a great guy, a puppy dog. “Are you asking me if I’m really scared of him? NOO! But let’s not forget he’s a runner, he’s from another planet, for Zelenka, he’s scary.” He said Zelenka for him is a stay-at-home scientist, “comfortable in a controlled environment” is the way David approached the character. “Any kind of extra-terrestrial shenanigans don’t bode well for Zelenka.”

He said he didn’t realize that in “Critical Mass,” he get his face painted and stuff put in his hair as the script indicated “that the kids had fun with him but this was their interpretation. Yeah, yeah. It was a funny scene.”

Someone asked about sexual tension with Zelenka and…alas, poor Zelenka has always been off on his own. “I think in ‘Quarantine’ in the transporter room is as close as it got. I tried to milk it for all it was worth. I’m in an elevator with Amanda, come on!” he jokes. He also mentioned something about episode #18 of season 5, but it wasn’t romantic at all, but it’s also a spoiler, so he didn’t say anything more.

He says he has an old 1980 something Yamaha Exciter 185 motorbike, “an old junky” bike and he explored the old logging roads (you can read about it on his blog at lettersfrompegasus.com). He’s an avid skier, and will ski almost any chance he gets.

Someone asked about Zelenka and pigeons (Zelenka’s screensaver). “’The Pigeons of Atlantis,’ quipped David. “I think that was Martin Gero’s version of what happens in the Czech Republic.” … “So yeah, Zelenka had a rough childhood and raised pigeons.” He said there could be worse things coming up on a computer screen (as Chuck Campbell sure knew). He said it was an interesting relationship with the writers as they write and the actors act, so a script appears on his doorstep and he reads it, and fortunately the writers have never done anything that has made David go “yeah, whoa…. Need to go upstairs,” but he’s never had reason to.

He talked about “Hot Zone” was filmed in August and he had a scene with Paul McGillion, who had a lot of technobabble and he was in a biohazard suit and the mask was steaming up and his face was disappearing behind the steam, and it was funny and they’d finish the scene and Paul would rip the mask off in order to cool off and breathe. Unfortunately the way the studio is arranged they freeze out stage five (the gateroom) while the other sets get hotter.

How did he get into acting? “Through the back door!” he grinned. He said that throughout the 90s, when the Berlin Wall was coming down, he was just coming out of University (finishing a degree in acting and English – “which qualifies me perfectly to wait tables”). He took a production of Waiting for Godot to Prague and it was the beginning of several years in Prague, first being in plays and then running a theater company in English. “With some very dear friends of mine up in New York City, we started Misery Loves Company Theatre and we ran theater and that’s my first love.” He’s been acting since he was a kid. He was six years old and had done an Adidas ad. He did theater for most of the 90s in Europe and then returned to Vancouver in ’99. He said that about 85% of scifi series are filmed in Vancouver. He said that “Caprica” (a prequel to BSG) is going to be filmed.

What else would he like to do besides acting? “I’ve got my eyes set on Brad Pitt,” he said, adding that “You know what I mean, his career.” (and then he had to wait for the audience to stop laughing). “This is how stories get out.” But he said “Onwards and upwards, what’s the phrase? To infinity and beyond.”

When will “Beast of Bottomless Lake” come out (to which David groaned on stage) and would his character fare better than his character did in “Pterodactyl”? “Wow, you guys watch [tv],” said David. “Pterodactyl” is a film that I filmed in the Czech Republic about five years ago in which I get ripped in half (by Pterodactyls}. Oh yeah, it’s great. Have your legs ripped from your torso. It was done by a Bulgarian scifi-expert on his computer and his whole thing was that I writhe so it looks like you can see the torso cut in half.” However, “Beast of Bottomless Lake” is a comedy. “It’s based on ‘Moby Dick,’ and I’m. the obsessed Ahab character. I have to find this thing, and the expedition is falling apart. It’s a sweet little movie. I’ve watched a work cut of it and it turned out really, really well. It’s an independent film, making I’ts way through,” and David laughs, “the Canadian financing system. So… I don’t know when it’s going to come out. They need money for some VFX shots which I understand has come in. It’s slow, it’s slow. I shouldn’t have posted on my blog. I posted ‘hey, this movie’… it takes a long time for it to come out.” He said they hope to have it done by Christmas (’08) and release it sometime in the spring of ’09.

“What’s my favorite scene or line?” repeated David to a fan’s question. “Now we’re breaking it down, aren’t we? … I like any time I have the chance to speak Czech. It’s always a lot of fun. I’ll give you a little spoiler, in an episode coming up. No, I can’t say that, because that will give away what will happen…” and the audience seems divided but they do want to hear and David protests mockingly “Nooooo! Then you guys aren’t going to watch it!” He said it was a very funny line to say though. But it’s episode 18. He said that the producers started naming all the shows with one name titles – Identity, Prodigal – etc. It’s one of the one-word titles… “Identity,” he clarified. “That was a good one. And any time I speak Czech,” he repeated. -

A fan wonders why the bloopers aren’t released. “I know,” David commiserated with the fans. “There’s so much funny stuff that happens on the set. … I have a theory, and this is speculation, but maybe some actor’s agents don’t want that shown.” He thinks that bloopers are hilarious, and the only other theory he can come up with is that there is a legal reason, “which is a drag.”

Not sure what the question was, but David said “I’m a great screamer,” then grinned and added “That’s not the first time I’ve heard that,” and the audience roared at the innuendo.

The glasses he wears are very weak reading glasses for night, when his eyes are tired. He auditioned with them, and in the first five episodes he wore them until a set was made.

Pranks? “Flying bananas, fruit, tugging … ask that question of Momoa,” and then he pointed toward the main entrance to the auditorium and there stood Jason Momoa. “Have any pranks happened on set?” but Jason just grinned. David pointed out the guitar Jason had in his hand and then Jason left. “What’s his favorite prank?” Lots of shots are close-up or “two Ts, for obvious reasons” (about chest up).” And anything below that line is up for grabs. He said once the crafts guy brought out a tray of fresh fruit – “And it’s not me,” he insisted. “I don’t do any of that stuff … Flanigan, yeah, sometimes, but it’s Momoa usually.”

When queried if he, like Chuck, ever had pranks played on computer screens, he laughed. “The universe runs on Windows, so it’s a miracle that we made it this far. They’re all run by John LeFont(sp?), he runs them from the central service, a little closet off the set – a little server farm in there and it’s all done wirelessly.” Anyway, all the computers have a Windows feature where it speaks (for the hearing-impaired), so John has the computer speaking “you .. are .. a .. bad … actor… …. you … are … going … to … forget … your… lines.” It’s really funny. “Another thing that happens quite frequently, because we’re so laptop-driven, Dave (Hewlett) and I, it’s always about mashing the keyboard. That’s how you save the universe. It’s enter enter enter enter…. Space bar space bar space bar,” said David really fast. “That’s all we needed to do. Thank god you pressed the space bar five times and not four times, that’s a signal to the Wraith.” So David H. does tap tap tap tape and David N. does spacebars. If you hit the Windows key, it goes into Windows, of course when the cameras are on it.

Video at

When asked to do a Joe Flanigan imitation, he hemmed and hawed, pleading. “I don’t know, this is going to get on the internet,” and a fan says it’s already there (yes, it is, see below!) “Yeah, I guess I’ve been conned into doing that before,” and he starts but then stops and protests humorously, “No no no, I’m above that! Does Joe Flanigan do Joe Flanigan?” And fans tell him Chuck, Paul has done it and David H. too, to which David says “in that case, I have to do one,” so he does his Joe Flanigan imitation.

Here’s a vid someone made:

Okay, can’t decipher it all, but apparently Zelenka says something to McKay in episode #18 to the effect of “I wish that would happen to you,” and I guess it does!

What was it like working with Rainbow Sun Francks? “Rainbow? Remember him. I saw him just a few months ago in fact, down in Atlanta, and it was such a pleasure to see him. I hadn’t seen him since the first season. Rainbow is an awesome guy. He was great to have on the set. That was the first time it happened (as in a cast member being replaced). I was really surprised.” David wondered why they couldn’t keep them all? “Torri, Paul… I don’t know. It was a shame. It was great to work with these guys.”

David said that Stargate Atlantis is not broadcast in the Czech Republic, yet when he went to a convention there a year ago. 700 people, and all had seen it on the internet. He said that it’s the next medium. “I get letters from Korea, from Iran, where I know the show is not sold to…. Stargate is a worldwide phenomenon. So, why did they cancel it?” He says it’s what “we yearn for, the stories, the exploration, it’s the best of what Star Trek was, the ability to overcome your fears…” He says it’s all downloaded in the Czech Republic “but I know that doesn’t happen here.” ;)

The Stargate is plastic but says “it’s pretty cool.”

Any funny moments with Kavan Smith? He brought up “The Game” in which Sheppard and McKay have this rivalry over a video game “and the whole scene with me and Kavan was actually added later, after the whole thing was shot. We shot that almost a month later” because they wanted to do that B story in which the same thing happened with Lorne and Zelenka. Kavan is very much like David in that he comes in for random episodes.

Pranks don’t happen while they’re filming – “there’s a great deal of respect for the process.”

He said it’s an old director’s trick to let the scene hang at the end, usually with someone looking stern and they do it on purpose in the hopes of getting “something more.”

Does he feel stereotyped? He thinks that there is some of that with scifi shows, and actors do get categorized, which in some respect helps the actor to be in a certain type so they can get cast. He doesn’t think, however, he’ll be playing any more doctors with Czech accents.

Would he do a Czech Asgard? “I never thought of that. That would be kind of fun, wouldn’t it?” He said that in “Star Wars,” some of the aliens had accents.

How much control does he have on his character? Depends on the production. On Star Trek, it’s word perfect, but on Stargate it’s not so strict. “We don’t have that kind of strait-jacket sort of thing.” Different writers have different turns of phrases and some are easier to memorize. “It’s like any kind of memorization. Some you can memorize right away.”

At this point he’s allowed one more question, but he says “let’s go with four!”

How long did it take to film the Subway ad out on the ice? “Minus 16, five o’clock in the morning, outside of Calgary, outside of Banff, freezing my **** off. It was crazy. Filmed in one day.”

Then he went to the other side of the stage, remarking “I’m going to get beat up” (for defying the Creation handler)

Who’s his favorite wraith? “Todd! Christopher Heyerdahl is a fantastic guy.”

Nicknames for each other on set? “It’s kind of like high school. We call each other by last names. ‘Hey Nykl, hey Hewlett.’”

How does it like being on stage? “I love it being up on stage!”

And then he was whisked off. Darn.

David Nykl

1:25PM – Stargate Universe update and feedback panel
Missed it as I was, oh, in the long, long line for Jason Momoa and realistically, there really wasn’t much out on SGU that wasn’t on the MGM or SciFi sites.

2:15PM - JASON MOMOA photo op
Longest line as Jason had a lot of guys in line. Yeah, not just women. Oh, there was one black guy there who was TALLER than Jason, and Jason laughed at that, and then picked up the guy in his arms. He put his elbow on one person’s head. He was very amenable to whatever the fans wanted and had very whacky poses. I just did a normal photo op but oh, wait, went as far as to do the ‘surfer dude’ thumbs up. Saw him pose with a little kid who was about up to his knees, so he knelt down. Saw a hilarious photo of Jedi (from SciFi boards) mock-punching him. I do recall telling him have a good time in the city. Ack, what a dull thing to say!

Uh, time to make a new entry as this one is rather big!


Tags: david hewlett, david nykl, jason momoa, joe flanigan, photos, stargate atlantis
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