wraithfodder (wraithfodder) wrote,

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Stargate Con (Nov 2006): Carmen Argenziano & Alex Zahara

Stargate Creation Con Report

Secaucus, New Jersey

November 3-5, 2006

© 2006 Wraithfodder


Disclaimer: Please note these transcripts were done from shorthand notes, so there may be errors. Also, material is copyright so feel free to link to it but please do not copy and post elsewhere because I will most likely be editing text as folks point out mistakes or add to it. Thanks!



3)       SATURDAY

a)       Casting Seminar with Ivy

b)       Colin Cunningham

c)       Carmen Argenziano

d)       Alex Zahara

i)        Autographs with Alex and Dan

e)       Teryl Rothery

i)         Jason Momoa Photo Op

f)        Jason Momoa

g)       Autographs: Colin, Teryl, Carmen, Jason

h)       Dessert Party



c) Carmen Argenziano: "They're hideous looking little guys…"


Okay, he wasn’t bouncing all over the stage like the other actors, and was content to sit and then walk over here and there when the mood struck, so it was nice and relaxed.


He prefaced his Q&A session with some information about being tired of going to auditions where he found himself in a room with 15 other bald guys. They’re there because of how they look, not how they act. Then he sat down, put his hand in his coat pocket and went “Oh, half a tuna sandwich, anyone want it?” <G>




I was one of the first up to ask him a question and it was really sorta great t hat when he turned and saw me he said *I* was great from the previous night’s cabaret. He’d been in the audience and saw me doing the rabbit ears and hand puppets behind Dan’s head. <G> Ah, my claim to fame! Autographs at 4 p.m. Only $15 a pop! ;) Did anybody get any photos of him when he did that imitation of me?


Ahem, cough cough.


I asked him how he got into acting. He came from a little town in Pennsylvania and got interested in film there, but left because well, it was pretty much dead-end. Went to NYC when he was 18 years old and attended drama school, then as with many actors, moved out west to L.A. in the mid-60s.


His favorite actors? Amanda Tapping and Teryl Rothery. He told us a tale of how when several cast members were in France, walking down the Champs Elysees in Paris. It was night and suddenly, they realized people were following them. He mimicked a French accent with an excited whisper. “Monsieur Teal’c! Doctor Frasier!” And as they continued their journey around the city, they’d run into more fans at delis and bars, people who recognized them from the show. Apparently this doesn’t happen in the U.S. to the degree that it does in Europe, where Stargate is quite popular. He then talked about Richard Dean Anderson, who was also a producer on the show, so he was a bit distant in that respect as Carmen wasn’t a regular on the show, but it was still a wonderful set to work on. Even as a guest you felt part of the family.


He spent only 10-15 minutes in the Super Soldier outfit (ah, which Dan Payne spent all day in!) He said Dan was a trooper for doing that and not complaining once about it. Prothestics tend to ‘weird him out’ but he didn’t really have to do any on the show except for the Super Soldier outfit.


Someone asked if he would accept a symbiote? He pondered it a second, and said “if I was dying.” “They’re hideous looking little guys,” he added with a grin. When they did the scene of the symbiote hopping from the previous host’s mouth to his, he didn’t see how it was going to work and look good, but after the ‘post’ effects were added, he was quite pleased with what he saw. But in conclusion he said to the question, “Yeah I’d look into it (accepting a symbiote).”


He was inspired by the old actors – Marlon Brando, James Dean – his contemporaries really. He liked the emotional context in the older films and knew from an early age that he wanted to be an actor.


A question about Selmac and Jacob in one body, acting-wise. He said it was challenging at first to switch from Selmac to Jacob (the whole change in facial expression, bowing of head, etc.)


One of his favorite episodes (or maybe his favorite?) was the one where Jacob got implanted with Selmac.


How did he feel about upon learning of his character’s death? “It was abrupt,” he admitted. He got the script, then noticed something he’d never seen before on a script – a disclaimer on the bottom about not telling anyone about it, etc. – and he opened it up and lo and behold, Jacob’s getting killed! But when he read the script, he said it made sense, but (to paraphrase) ‘just after the funeral, they (Sam and Jack) went fishing?’ “That hurt a bit.” ‘There’s the cold reality of show business… someone replaces you within a minute. I just didn’t want it to be a fish.”


His favorite city is New York City, and he likes Paris, Vancouver, London.


He auditioned for a guest spot on the Fox series Bones. David Duchovny was directing it (pretty sure that’s what I heard). Anyway, his sides kept falling apart and David would keep picking up the pages that fell. After he left, who does he run smack into at the audition? Tony Amendola! Someone in the audience said that Tony got the part and Carmen sorta sighed ;)


He read for a part in CSI: NY and ran into John Jackson (Chegwick from JAG). Carmen said he’d read for that JAG role too but John got it. He’d been surprised when John left that role, as that meant the actor was back into the world of auditioning for parts, which is not a fun process. 9 out of 10 times you don’t get the part, but Carmen did get the part on CSI: NY of a cop who loses his temper with Gary Sinise’s character, so keep an eye out on that show. In fact, Carmen starts shooting his part this Wednesday (well, November 8th – depends when I get this uploaded).


He talked about playing bad guy characters… said how actors love to do it and said something about Jon Voight (“fun loving guy”) who did a serious dark role, and Carmen said in those instances, you try to play the humanity of the character no matter who they are.


Ah, Richard Dean Anderson. Since RDA wasn’t around the set a lot, he’d sometimes confuse names. In the beginning, he began calling Carmen “Tony” (Amendola) and called Tony “Carmen.” For RDA, getting to Vancouver could be an inconvenience, as he’d fly in from L.A. At first RDA confused the names, but then it became a joke.


Film or stage? He was trained for the stage but loves doing movies. Said you have to be a stage trained to do film as it gives you the experience you need.


Was there any role he’d like to redo if he could? “Everyone of them,” he replied. “No, seriously. [It’s the] cringe factor.” His first role was in the old CBS show Mannix, starring Mike Connors. He was cast as a cop who stood in the back of an elevator. He was so nervous he was shaking. When they finished shooting the scene, the cameraman said everything went fine except for the guy in the back of the elevator who was shaking! ;) But when it comes to acting, you should ‘own the stage,’ not let it own you,’ and then cited the book “The Power of Now” (believe this is it - http://www.amazon.com/Power-Now-Guide-Spiritual-Enlightenment/dp/1577311523) . Said it was a great book.


Was he ever the victim of one of Chris Judge’s practical jokes? No. He wasn’t part of the family on the set on a daily basis, but he did attend a social thing at Chris’ house but was spared Chris’ sense of humor ;)


Would he like to appear on Stargate Atlantis? Yes. “I think my mortgage company wishes I was!” he joked. He’d be available for a role if they wanted him, but he’d like to do other things (initially) before returning to the Stargate shows.


Check out his official site at http://carmenargenziano.com/



d) Alex Zahara: “You make me really, really angry…"


Despite looking a bit fatigued on Friday night, Alex arrived for his talk, then told that on the day before he arrived at the con, he was in Vancouver, standing around in the Vancouver cold, half his body painted in white and such, standing outside, freezing, playing the ghost of a dead Irish mobster (well, a ghost anyway), and that he was sick, and he warned us that if he shook our hands, we should wash them. Didn’t want to spread his bug!


He said he’s played more different characters in Stargate than anyone else. Did eight episodes (you can read about them at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0951912/) . He stopped auditioning for the roles and soon the Stargate producers were requesting him and writing roles with him in mind. His favorite episode was “Metamorphosis” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metamorphosis_(Stargate _SG-1)) He patterned his character Eggar after Fiddler in the Roots miniseries. He also said in the episode where he played the Unas whom Daniel set free, he also played several Unas (or is that Uni?) Anyway, he said when several were imprisoned, they made this Unas screeching sound, which they thought was cool but which got swapped out in post. Disappointed ;) He also played the female Unas barmaid who served Daniel beer!


Then, he asked if anybody in the audience had a Samsung cellphone charger. He forgot his and needed his phone available as he needed to keep contact with his 88-year-old grandmother, who has her moments of clarity, but then forgets who he is. And, we found out his nickname is ‘Sandy.’ I’m pretty sure he found someone with a charger.


ALEX ZAHARA: Alex-00.jpg


How did he get into acting? He recalls being told he was doing sock puppet plays when he was three years old and just kept doing it through high school (acting, not sock puppet shows). He also mentioned that he dated a black girl and best friend Dennis said like dude, “you’re so progressive” (he said that in the Keanu Reeves surfer dude voice). He did a stage version of M*A*S*H and got a scholarship to college from that directing work (he likes behind the scenes work). He got into acting because he likes to communicate with people, and he cited an example of non-communications (New Yorkers, you may now cringe). He and his manager/friend (?) went down to the Circle Line Cruise earlier that day and were buying tickets and she got one and then the guy wouldn’t sell him one. Was just curt and said ‘boat’s gone’ or something like that. Anyway, he got a degree in acting from UBC (University of British Columbia?)


He said that when he was a struggling actor, if he had a buck left at the end of the week, he’d buy a can of Coke as a treat. His first acting job was in the movie The Thirteenth Warrior. The casting folk wanted BIG guys to play Viking types or whatnot, and he wasn’t big, but then the next casting call stated “must be strong actors only,” so he went in auditioned and I think he said was doing Julius Caesar when he got the call to do the movie. He also brought up the role of Gabriel “the angel” on the UPN series The Sentinel, and then showed a video clip of himself under mounds of makeup for his role in Babylon 5.


Oh, he let slip then that Dan Payne is coming out with a calendar. Okay, I have this quote in my notes, and can’t remember the context (but it was harmless) in which it was said, but it’s really too priceless not to post: “We live in the same building. I’ve seen him half-naked.” ;)


It takes 4-1/2 hours to do the makeup for an Unas. He then mentioned Dion Johnstone (who’s done his fair share of under-prothestics roles on Stargate ). Anyway, their call (time to show up on set) was around 3:30 a.m. (yikes!) and Dion’s in the makeup chair having this huge prosthetic head put on and he just falls asleep (Alex mimics him) which just sorta holds him in the chair. However, there are some drawbacks (at least in the beginning) to an Unas costume. Bodily functions. Yes, going to the bathroom with Unas claws is an, uh, experience. They did put in huge zippers but you sorta need assistance, so someone has to unzip you and you do not wear underwear under the costumes.


Favorite character on Stargate? Michael from “1969.” Pretty sure that’s what my notes say, because that character gave a positive message. It wasn’t that Michael didn’t want to go to war, he didn’t want to kill anyone. (I think many discussions at this con actually did touch on the Iraq war in one way or another.)


Someone asked about his character Gabriel from The Sentinel (“Night Shift” on May 13, 1998) and if the character really died. Apparently Gabriel took a bullet meant for a little boy and then died and disappeared. Alex said he played the character as an angel who has occupied the body of homeless person and then cited the last line of dialogue (think he said this) which was in some foreign language, so he said if he could repeat that phrase, sure, he was an angel.


He said that if he could play a historical character, he’d like to play Alexander the Great. “Just the name,” he joked. The name Zahara is Ukraine and he talked about what names meant. He went fast, my notes are sorta illegible, but I think Zahara means “one from beyond the hills” and Alexander meant ‘protector’ and um, er, sorry! But he also said “If Bugs Bunny were real, I’d want to play him,” then mimicked Marvin the Martian as well saying “You make me really, really angry,” and he’s got Marvin down pat J


Wrapping up the session, he said he’d once worked as a lifeguard and now he’s going more into directing/producing. He used to run a pool for mentally and physically challenged children. There was one boy – blind (born with no eyes), paraplegic and mentally challenged. His only word was “guh” for everything. He said that when that boy went into the pool, he simply ‘transformed.’ While gravity kept him in a wheelchair, he could swim in the pool and remarkably, never swam into any walls or hit anything. It was really astounding and very touching. Alex said “Every day I went to work [there] I was adding and bringing something to the world, [and] that’s what I would do [if I wasn’t acting].”


Alex’s official website is at http://www.alexzahara.com/


i) Autograph Line with Alex and Dan


Those of us who ‘acted’ (cough cough) in the cabaret were told to come to the tail end of Alex’s autograph session where both he and Dan Payne would autograph for us. So I brought my script, which Alex autographed nicely and personalized and then I handed it to Dan, who held it up, look at Alex and said in a ‘surfer dude’ kind of voice “Hey, Alex, I found the missing script.” You see, I’d inadvertently snatched up Alex’s copy with all the director’s notes from the stage! However – Dan, Alex – you don’t need to rewrite the script – your notes are safe with me : )


Tags: alex zahara, carmen argenziano, dan payne
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