Almost transcripts of Joe Flanigan’s Saturday and Sunday talks at Collectormania, London (definitely not verbatim, but pretty close to what had been said).
Q: How was it to work with David Hewlett?
I love David, I see him fairly often. Although it’s hard to believe, David is even funnier in real life. He does this insidious thing when he starts cracking jokes and doesn’t give you any pause between one and another, so that pretty soon you’re having hard time breathing, and he just nails it all the time.
I would have loved to go on with that show and have a series out of it, but NBC made Medium instead, which is basically the same idea, only much more serious. Medium is good, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think it’s as entertaining as our show would have been, at least this is what I keep saying to myself.
Q: What would have happened in the next season Atlantis?
I would have ended up on a planet with a bunch of girls, Cpt Kirk’s style. We should have explored the new story openings from Vegas, and get back and forth to these parallel dimensions, or from Earth to space and back. From time to time, a series needs a new imprint, to make the audience pay attention to a show that they are already used to. The TV experience is different from movies; when you go to the movies, you buy the ticket, it’s dark, you’re captive, so you watch the movie. While when watching TV, you can also do other things, so it has to catch your eye. If your audience becomes too used to ‘the look’, every now and then you need to create a new visual imprint that would make them stop and pay attention to the show. I would have liked these new storylines. And I was going to get a boob job, and I just know it would have brought some new viewers!
It was fun shooting Fringe. They asked me to work for a few days, but then I’m getting dead. I didn’t know much about the show, as I hadn’t watched it before. I ended up shooting for 8-9 days. ‘So you want me to play the dead guy when he’s dead?!?’ Generally you have a double, I mean you’re dead, for god sakes. But I don’t know, I guess I’m half dead or something, and they really needed to focus on me dead. So I spent about 5-6 days on that, just being dead, and I’m not really good at that. In that regard it was challenging. It was great working with all those guys. I knew Josh Jackson, from Dawson Creek, and I didn’t even meet him. I think Fringe is more popular here than in US.
(Showing us the dodgy elbow) Look at that: I just finished Six Bullets a film with Jean Claude Van Damme, where I play a mixed martial arts world champion and I have a big tattoo on the arm and shoulder, a scar on the forehead and a little scar on the cheekbone. And when I got back from work into my hotel people would actually get out of the elevator, everybody was scared of me. I thought hey, that could be fun: are you having troubles getting a table in a crowded restaurant? Watch this!!
We did a lot of stunts and I’m still paying the price. My elbow looks like it has a giant tumor in it. I got hit, it’s actually somebody else’s fault. I got hit with a machine gun. The movie was shot in Romania and the stunt rules are a lot looser: (in a fake Romanian accent) ‘we use dynamite to make things blow up.’ And then they really do it.
Q. The weirdest thing you were asked for a photo-op?
Just recently, David and I were asked to do a ‘really kinky thing’ by a Japanese fan who didn’t quite speak English (gibberish imitating Japanese) and it was very weird… She positioned us like… ‘no, no, we’re not doing this, sorry!’… Maybe for the right price? No. That was weird. People sometimes look at you as they wouldn’t realize you’re just a person, but as you were indeed the character and expect you to behave as the character at the push of a button, and this could be challenging sometimes. Luckily for me, my character wasn’t that far away from home.
After answering, he challenged the fan who had asked the question: ‘are you going to ask me to do something really weird tomorrow at the photo-op? You think about it, you still got 24 hours.’
Q. SG Universe?
I tried to watch it, didn’t like it. I know I’m not supposed to say that, but you know me, I’ve got a big mouth. Battlestar and Stargate are different, and the qualities that made Stargate what it is are self deprecation, humour, a little repartee with the characters and I didn’t see that. I saw a lot of screaming. Apparently good drama is all about screaming. It didn’t worked and it wasn’t the actors’ fault. Actors were really talented and were deeply upset with me and David for not supporting the show. But it wasn’t personal, I’m always supporting actors as I know what they go through. I never wanted that show to fail. David told them ‘you have to understand we were essentially replaced by you guys, otherwise we would still be on the air…‘ It speaks for itself the fact that Universe imploded and buried the franchise as well. It was taken out of the air for the first time in 13 years.
Q. What joke or one liner was your favorite?
I don’t know… My reality is off camera and funniest things usually happen off camera. David had probably the best one liners, don’t you think? Maybe we should ask the fans about mines.
Then the fan offered: in Hide&Seek, “I shot him!”
‘I shot him!’? oh, yeah! That was actually my line, I remember saying that. Sometimes these lines are funny, and they really work, but you had to fight for them. One of my favorite line is from this movie I can’t even say the name, it’s called ‘Ferocious Planet’ (blah!). It was called ‘The Other Side’, it’s a science fiction movie that I did, it was shot in Ireland and there was this US senator who gets killed by the monster. I just said off camera: ‘I guess he won’t be running for reelection.‘ That was funny! When we gave that to the network, they didn’t know what to do with this line. And then they changed the name to ‘Ferocious Planet’, I think that says it all… If you’re going to be in genre shows, you either have to go for self-deprecation, or the show needs to be really really good, meaning high production levels.
Q. How many hours for the tattoo make-up?
The first time it took a couple of hours and then it was just a maintenance issue. It was a decal thing, not henna, which would have been easier, but apparently henna is illegal in Romania, don’t ask me why. You can easily get uranium there, but not henna.
Q. What character you’ve never played would you take?
There’s so many! Any of the Indiana Jones and obviously Han Solo. Basically I want to be Harrison Ford! I liked that series, Deadwood. When the script came out I was working, otherwise I would had loved to read for it, but I couldn’t. The way the character was written in the pilot would had become a great character. Ian McShane devoured almost the whole show because he was so good, he’s amazing on that show. I would have liked to play that role; there was nobody there to go toe to toe with him and ‘push him back’. Or any of Paul Newman’s roles, I would do any of those.
What makes me angry is when I watch a movie and I see guys being given the chance to really hit it and they don’t. There are a lot of male leading men who don’t take advantage of the materials that are given to them. It’s not always their fault, it could be the directing, the editing, the studio… but it’s unnerving to watch an opportunity given to somebody and him not reaching out. It’s like being on the bench at the World series and watching somebody not playing second base as good as you could play second base.
Q. What about working again with David Hewlett?
I’m thinking about asking him to help me split some firewood, that would be working together and he hasn’t done that yet. We will definitely do something, and we keep talking about it. We have a number of ideas and I told him that after I’m back from Romania we need to seriously sit down and hammer something very specific that we’ve talked about, and stop waiting for people who say they’d be doing Stargate movies and things like that.
Q. Will you be in the last Creation Vancouver convention, next April?
Is it the last one? I don’t know, probably. I think they’ve invited me, they usually do. April is so far away, global warming… Unless I’m working. I honestly prefer doing movies rather than doing conventions. This is what I want to do for fans, to give them my work, as opposed to coming here and making an ass of myself and forcing you guys to laugh at my jokes.
Q. Do you think other actors feel the same about you not playing as good as they would?
(laughs) I hope not, but I’m sure it happens. Actually, it’s not always about doing it better, but doing ‘your way’. You can’t really say that one actor is ‘better’ than the other, although we do say it, but it’s not like comparing baseball players, with statistics and everything. For instance Christopher Walken in that Bond film that was preposterous, but Walken was so good, he was doing what Walken does and nobody does it like him. I want to see a certain amount of authenticity. When I started Stargate, everybody was like ‘you’re no Richard Dean, he’s like God, he’s MacGyver’ and I didn’t even see SG1 so I didn’t even try to be like him. After a couple of episodes nobody was asking me that anymore. I’m fortunate because I was able to do one hundred episodes, so that’s my role, it’s not somebody else’s role. I’m lucky in that regard. I’m sure there’s somebody there saying they could have been better, I know David always thought he could do it better.
(while waiting for the microphone to get to a fan placed in the first row, close to the stage): Go on with the question and I can repeat it. You want to see me naked? I’m sorry.
Q. Have you enjoyed ‘Good day for it’?
Good Day For It is a modern day western I did. They were looking for somebody for the lead role and I wanted to do it. But this guy was supposed to be beaten up and torn apart and rightly I think they got Robert Patrick for the part. The truth is he’s perfect for the role. I had a really good time. At this point in my life I just do things, and I enjoy the process and I hope for a good result. Ten years ago it was the opposite, I was obsessed with the result. But I don’t have control over the result.
Q. Fringe recorded some really good numbers
Really? I like that! It wasn’t just the premiere numbers? I’m the greatest person in the world!! We’ll try to let know the networks executives that I have some value on a show, even dead… I did the same for Warehouse 13, and they were counting on the Stargate fanbase, and after I shot it I got nervous, thinking if I didn’t deliver the numbers I’m just another schmuck. Thankfully, the fans showed up and it was the highest rated event in the network history, and I felt relieved.
Q. What’s next?
I just finished the movie with Jean Claude Van Damme. I’m going to this convention in Marseille and then straight to Brussels to do a TV series that Sony has, based on the Heavy metal comic book / Metal hurlant in French. It’s really cool, kind of like Blade runner but with even more bad guys. I don’t know why I said yes, I’ve never done a non-American TV show, but this is very cool.
Just as he did at the previous day’s talks, Joe opened with: ‘I don’t really like to be up here and pontificate… so let’s hear your questions’
Q: Do you keep in contact with the rest of cast?
I try not to! No, it’s not like that, we are really close, all of us, Jason lives very close to me, he just texted me yesterday if I wanted to go surfing. I see him often, and now that David is in Santa Monica I see him also fairly often, I saw Rachel at the Conan premiere, as you know Jason went from Ronan to Conan. I said that at his premiere: ‘look, it’s Ronan with a C‘. And I talk to McGillion also, he will be in Marseille with me, unfortunately… I told him to stay home…
The next fan had a problem with the microphone, so Joe couldn’t hear his question, but took a wild guess “Oh you wanted to know why am I such an amazing actor?” When his microphone got online, we had the surprise to learn his question was actually linked to SG Universe and SGA possible crossover episodes.
I also heard that Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson were hanging out together. No, these were just rumors. The producers knew they weren’t going to do that, but they never came clean with the fans, they didn’t want to disappoint them. An SG1 and SGA movie could possibly happen, with the same actors but perhaps with different producers and writers. I don’t know if Universe would be part of it, although they would need to tie in all the shows, which would be weird, as Universe is too serious compared to the others.
Q. Do you have other stories with the SG1 actors similar to that with Christopher Judge?
Oh, you’re asking about that extremely sordid story with Christopher Judge? He is a very hard man to go toe to toe with. I tried, much to my chagrin. We were never serious on the show, I don’t know if this came through (!) ‘We’re all gonna die!’ Jason and I would team up pulling pranks around, we were an unstoppable duo of pranksters and Hewlett was our favorite target, he was so easy to bother. I remember, for instance, when Hewlett was having a baby… (pause, as he realizes how weird that sounded) Yes, he actually thought he was having the baby. He was wondering about these Lamaze classes… I have three kids, I never went to any of these classes, or to the driving education classes, for that matter… And so we found this really horrible porno magazine. Don’t ask me how Jason got it! We thought we should plaster his trailer with it, as a ‘how to’. And we did. And he walked in. And he was… genuinely traumatized.
Then Jason took the photos down and stuck them in my laptop, and the next day at 6 am, we were going through security at the Vancouver airport, Jason, Chris Judge and myself. So here’s Jason, with dreadlocks, and tinfoiled food looking like hash, and they let him go through. And then there’s Chris, this big menacing guy, and then I came through. Apparently I fit a profile… and there’s this lady who’s messing with me. So she makes me open the laptop and she sees these… and I was like… (mimicking: these are not mine, I don’t know anything about THIS, I’m innocent) …guys…Chris…Jason… (in high pitch voice, searching desperate over his shoulder for some help). She looked at me and she was disgusted and told me… just go!… I felt dirty. They let me through, but I felt really dirty.
Look, I don’t want to take everybody’s time with just pranks (audience protesting). No? I’ll answer a few more questions and maybe more pranks later.
Q. What did you keep from the show?
(whispering) A little bit of my dignity. I remember we got this award I was actually proud of, the People’s Choice Award, it’s this glass sculpture type of thing and they gave it to the cast of Atlantis. For some reason the producer thought it was his and he kept it. But I don’t think he won it, it was us who won it, so, on the last day of shooting, I went up to his office. And by this moment he was a bit nervous about me. I knew I was going to be fired the next day, so I thought I had nothing to loose … So I went up there and said: ‘See that award on the shelf? I want it’. I grabbed it. I still have it.
On a TV show, everybody thinks they are the people responsible for its success, and everybody is partially right. In their case, after 12 years on the show, they thought their ministering as producers was the sole reason for the success and they were dismissive of the actors’ contribution. I kind of disagree with that, the actors are an important part of the show. I felt like Stargate relied on pretty strong characters, like Richard Dean Anderson’s. He’s unique, right? He’s not easily replaceable, and if you did, you’d have a different show. So I’d say the actors are important so I took the damn trophy! (audience cheers)
Q. How did you get along with SG1 actors?
They were great. At first, Rick and Michael were in our pilot, so they came to our show before we went to theirs. While Rick and I were in the helicopter together, flying over the glacier, I thought it was so cool, I was flying with MacGyver, so I handed him a paper clip and a rubber band ‘in case we’re going down, you should have these’. I thought I was too funny, but he looked at me ‘think you’re the first guy who said that?’ I felt so small… Then when we start shooting, as our show had more resources than theirs, we used to go next door, where they were shooting, and I would be like ‘what are you doing, hey it’s so hot in here, oh it’s because you don’t have A/C, see you guys later!’ and just walk out… I used to do that all the time, I think they hated me. I’m still seeing Michael and Amanda, I run into Rick every now and then, he lives in Malibu, he’s very involved in parenting.
Q. What’s your favorite period in history?
So that’s a serious question! Do you really want to talk about history? I did a thesis on modern European and American intellectual history between WWI and WWII. I just love history, I always did. If you learn history you get more perspective, so you’re less mystified by what is happening now. For me, it gives more sense. My oldest son likes also history and our conversations are priceless.
Q: Have you ever been in an archaeology dig?
No, I haven’t. But I buried like a six pack somewhere at my place and I couldn’t find it…
No I haven’t been in an archaeology dig and I would probably like it for about 5 minutes… with the toothbrush… I would loose patience. It’s not active enough for me. I’m hyper active, I drive people nuts on vacation. I’m told: can’t you just sit down there? Yes, I can sit there, or there, or there…
Q: What’s coming up next for you?
I just wrapped a film 5 days ago, with Jean Claude Van Damme, featuring some hard core action. I get to play a really cool character, the ex-mixed martial art world champion and I have this really cool tattoo that goes over my arm to my neck. It was a lot of fun. It was just wrapped up, I don’t know when it’s going to come out. I did an appearance also on Fringe, so short I don’t remember even doing it, it was like a couple of days in Vancouver. Then I’m going to Brussels to shoot this very interesting project that Sony has, the French call it Metal Hurlant, it’s very Blade Runner-ish, which is cool. And then there’s Thanksgiving, and then Christmas… Beyond that I don’t know what’s going on, but something always comes up. I’ve been very busy, fortunately, ‘cos I need to feed my kids, if they were eating just one meal a day I could save so much money…
Q. What existing TV show you’d like to do?
I’m guilty for not watching TV. If I could be on a show that I’m aware of it would be something like Boardwalk Empire; I watch Mad Men, I feel it’s cool, it’s almost that it’s too cool to be good for it. It’s good, but I think it’s more smug than good, and that’s okay.
What I really want to do is movies, because it’s more fun, and I’d like to do the Uncharted movie, I like the Drake character, I’m trying to figure it out how to do this, so just make that happen for me, will you?
Q. If Atlantis had rightfully had its fully deserved 20-30 seasons, what kind of resolution you would have seen for the characters and the city?
I probably had a cane to smack McKay around. The show did something funny by taking a lot of story lines from SG1 and just tweaking bits of them. I think the writers ran out of ideas, which is ridiculous, as there are countless ideas. Running out of ideas on a SF show is almost preposterous, unless you lock yourself into a certain mythology. That’s why the episode Vegas was great and I though it would had been our best opportunity to open up new chapter stories. For instance Fringe does that, you have there two universes and two types of characters. I thought that was a great idea, and then we’ve got cancelled, damn! Who knows, maybe we’ll come back to that…
Q. Did you stalk / cyberstalk anyone?
Editor’s note: couldn’t get this question right and it was weird also for Joe, he couldn’t understand it exactly, so not sure if this coverage is accurate
I’m so lazy I could never do that, even if was obsessed with someone. So the answer would be no. Have you? No, don’t tell me!
Q. Do you have any tattoos?
No, I don’t, it wouldn’t help me in any way. A tattoo is a bit of a hindrance for an actor. But it was a lot of fun having such a menacing one, plus the scars here. When I came back from work, people wouldn’t make eye contact, they were very nervous when I was around. One night, some Italian dignitary was staying in the hotel, and I came in with my bags, bloody knuckles, scars, tattoo and while walking into the elevator there were these three guys in suits that stopped me (Italian accent): ‘Excuse me, sir, where are you going?’ ‘To my room.’ So we had to go to the registration, they weren’t sure that I was a ‘guest’.
Q. What was your favorite story line in Atlantis?
Vegas was one of my favorites. It was also very expensive to shoot. Also Outcast… any episode that would be outside, with guns, was fun to me. A harder part was to shoot inside, with the green screen, and the technobabble, when I have to listen to McKay, or at least I must pretend I’m listening… It takes long hours to shoot a show, 12-14 hours a day, every single day, and then I had to fly back to LA on Fridays night or Saturdays morning, to be with my wife and kids, and fly back on Sunday, and that’s pretty exhausting. So I’d say the hardest part of the show was maintaining energy levels. So frankly, if we are talking 30 seasons, I’m not sure I would have make it. Rick did a clever thing towards the last seasons of SG1, he reduced to only 3 days per week, 3 weeks per month, for about 8 months, adding to no more than 72 days per year. Now, that’s fine! When shooting recently the movie, we had the luxury of shooting just 2-3 pages at most a day, while on a TV show you shoot 12 pages a day. But I’m still alive. Thanks everyone!