We have collected Joe Flanigan’s interviews in 2011 and we are providing here the texts and transcript excerpts for the video/audio ones, as well as links to the original sources.
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1: How do we know you?
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I had a short stint working at Interview Magazine for the late Tibor Kalman. I had just graduated from college and my last job was working as a White House Advance Man. You can imagine the culture shock of entering ground zero of New York’s Downtown scene after working at the White House. Ironically, there was more dysfunction at the magazine than the halls of power, but one figure who always remained unruffled and gracious was Patrick McMullan. We quickly became friends and I was essentially ushered into the downtown scene. There is no place like New York City.
2: What is your latest project?
I just completed two projects. A sci-fi movie we shot in Dublin and a new pilot that recently aired on Fox. We are waiting to hear if it goes to series.
3: Where are you living?
Malibu California with my lovely wife of 14 years Katherine Kousi and my three rambunctious but charming boys: Aidan (10), Truman (8), and Fergus (4). Also, 4 dogs.
4: What don’t we know about you?
I have bees and a large organic vegetable garden.
5: What is your favorite travel destination?
Should be a plural.
Destinations: Paris, Kauai, Aspen.
6: What inspires you?
I majored in History, primarily Intellectual History. I have always been inspired by ideas and how they evolve, gestate, and manifest themselves in civilization. We are living in an incredibly interesting time and the velocity of change is so great ideas are having a hard time reaching the public in any profound way. America has ADD while China is thinking 30 years down the road.
7: If not yourself, who would you be?
8: What book is your bible?
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays on Self Reliance were probably the most influential in my life. God/Nature or Nature/God. It’s hard to separate the two, but I believe there is a supreme intelligence in the universe. Some organized religions really take issue with this because they believe we are more evolved than much of the natural world around us. While there is truth to some of that, I believe mankind’s separation from nature is at the heart of our problems.
9: What is your favorite word?
10: Who is your biggest hero?
My mother and my late father. They loved each other like teenagers to the end. And more importantly, they knew how to have fun.
11: How would you define success?
He who dies with the most friends wins.
12: What would the last question of this questionnaire be if you were the one asking?
Why is everyone so damned scared?
Our lives are longer and healthier than ever before. We are more knowledgeable than ever. Our capacity for self-education and self-correction is historically unparalleled. And yet, we are scared. Kids aren’t allowed to go ride bikes around the neighborhood anymore because parents think it’s too dangerous. America is consumed with anxiety. The boldness and courage required by our ancestors that built this nation is in short supply. I think it may have a profoundly disturbing impact on our future. I really want America to crawl out from under the table and get back in the game. Now where’s that beer?
Joe Flanigan is an American actor. He is best known for his portrayal of the character Major/Lt. Colonel John Sheppard in the television show Stargate Atlantis.
Joe Flanigan @ IMDB
Questions by PMc Magazine
Edited by Tyler Malone
Photography by Patrick McMullan for Patrick McMullan.com
Design by Marie Havens
Joe Flanigan, Malibu, CA, March 1, 2011, Photography by Patrick McMullan for Patrick McMullan.com
I feel horrible that I’ve dropped out of the tweet universe; I have to re-enter it. Maybe I’ll do it right now, I’ll do it after the show.
[…] I have ADD, I think; I get really excited about things and then I just completely forget about them.I’ll be sending video-tweets, and it’s kind of cool. Actually I like that idea a little bit better. […]
Q: Lets’ talk about Ferocious Planet
JF: I’m a marine colonel who did something wrong, namely something very patriotic and I’m punished for it. I get stuck guarding a national science laboratory and one of their experiments go wrong. This drove us into a parallel dimension, where there’s a different planet that also looks like British Columbia or Ireland and has very large monsters. I love saying that. I love to say m-o-n-s-t-e-r-s. And I love killing monsters.
JF: I’ll be woefully undreamed, not unlike Stargate Atlantis and I’ll have to tap into my inner MacGyver (and I’m sure Rick will appreciate that) and survive. It’s a real stretch.
JF: “Sisters” was my first series, and you couldn’t get farther away than science fiction than “Sisters”. It was a popular show, with an slightly different audience. I was not quite as heroic, I was “a guy”. A lot of guys came through that show, by the way, George Clooney was on that show too, right before ER. A lot of guys went through “Sisters”. The sisters ate them up and spit them out. There were really good actresses on that show.
Q: Is there going to be something like a Stargate Atlantis reunion soon?
JF: The rumors have been all over the place. Unfortunately, there’s not going to be any Stargate in the near future. That doesn’t mean it won’t be in “the” future. I don’t think anybody would be seeing anything related to Stargate for at least another year. The franchise has been effectively kind of shut down. SG1 and SGA were canceled and they spun off a series simultaneously, called Universe, that unfortunately was not embraced by the audience, and that kind of sank the ship for a while. So we’re gonna have to resurrect that ship somehow.
Q: What is it about the movie Spore?
JF: Right now we just have a script and we are supposed to go into production in spring on Spore. I love saying that one: S-p-o-r-e.
Q: You know it’s spring now, right?
JF: Oh, my god, hold on, you’re absolutely right. I have to tell you where I am right now: on the streets of Aspen Colorado, in snow, I’m freezing and nothing looks like spring to me. But you’re right, I’d better call about that one, maybe I’m late for work.
JF: I’ve just sent my first twitter in five-six months as we were talking, you’ve instigated it. It says “I’m back” and that may be not such a good thing that I’m back, but hey…
source (the actual interview runs from min. 5:30 of the recording)
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This is an interview from April 6, 2011 with Joe Flanigan from the Syfy movie Ferocious Planet. In “Ferocious Planet,” an experimental device designed to view alternate universes malfunctions on its first demonstration, transporting a group of observers into a nightmarish new dimension. The team must use ingenuity and courage to outwit the bloodthirsty creatures of this bizarre world, while trying to repair the damaged machine and return home.
What are these aliens like compared to the types you’ve gone up against on Stargate Atlantis?
They seem to be almost impossible to kill. I seemed to be very good at killing the other ones. When we shot this, we shot it Ireland, and we worked strictly on green screen, and we weren’t given much in the way of what it was going to look like. And that’s kind of interesting because on the show, we always knew what the Wraith were going to look like. And so, you had an idea of what you were looking at and what you were working with. And in this case, I have to say they’re much bigger than I anticipated them to be.
You’re so calm.
Well, my calm and easy demeanor may be a bit deceiving because I didn’t think they would be that big until I saw the cut.
From the trailer Ferocious Planet looks a bit like the series Primeval. Were there any human-like aliens that you had to deal with?
Not in the movie. Just off camera. A lot of those.
What was it like working with John Rhys-Davies?
Oh, he’s a wonderful guy. And, he’s just filled with tons of fantastic stories. He’s done so much. We took him out to dinner one night in Dublin and he kind of regaled us with like all sorts of interesting stories. You know, he’s just done theater everywhere, movies everywhere. And he was wonderful to work with. Consummate professional.
Are we ever going to get to see Stargate Extinction?
Apparently not. I believe that those things have been postponed indefinitely. I mean as you know, the franchise has been summarily closed. That doesn’t mean that’s the end of the franchise by any stretch of the imagination, especially if I have my druthers, I’ll find a way to bring it back. I think the fans deserve to see some closure or at least some type of continuation. I think that – and especially in regards to my show, it was just unceremoniously closed and we need to do something about it.
What can you tell our site viewers about the movie? What should they expect?
Well, the movie is kind of part homage to the genre and also part actually the genre, so it’s one of those – you could call it in some ways a guilty pleasure in some ways. There are elements that are similar to Stargate in terms of the character and in terms of being kind of off world. But beyond that, I want to say it’s dinosaur-centric, but I guess it is. It looks like that.
You did Stargate Atlantis for five years. What’s it like shooting a movie compared to shooting a TV show?
Well, it’s really not that much different except that it’s a lot easier than shooting a TV show. It really is. I mean, I wish I was just a movie star. My God, those guys have a great life. They shoot one or two pages a day, and then they go back to their trailer. With Atlantis, for example, we would shoot 10 to 12 pages a day, and you’re really on your feet all day. You know, 12 to 15 hours a day and it’s work. It’s definitely a grind, and with no seeming end to it. And with movies, it’s more laid back. You tend to have a little bit more time and a little bit more money.
In this case, I don’t think that was the case. We actually had a very, very small budget. But because we were shooting in Ireland, you can make that money go a little bit further. Also in Ireland, they have this really interesting thing where they only work ten hours a day. You actually can’t go past that. And that gave us enough time to go to the pubs, and we liked that.
What can your fans expect to see you in next?
I did a two hour back door pilot that aired on Fox, and they were supposed to extend our contracts and they’re not extending those contracts, which leads me to believe it probably will not become a series. And I just assumed that that was going to be the next series, and we just found out Friday that it probably will not be. So, I don’t have any definitive answer on that right now. And I actually kind of liked that. There’s a kind of like wonderful freedom about that. I’m excited about being able to play my options out right now.
Could you talk about how you got started in acting?
By accident. I was in New York City and I was working at Interview Magazine and I managed to get myself fired, don’t ask me how, and I was pretty much out of money. And I had a neighbor who happened to be an actor, and he was always enjoying himself not working nearly as hard as me, and apparently making much more money than I was. And I said, “What is it that you do?” He said, “I’m an actor.” I said, “Well, what does that mean?” I didn’t quite understand what that meant. Now granted he was a commercial actor, but anyway he put it in my head that maybe this is something I should try out, since I was “in between jobs”, and I did. I went to the Neighborhood Playhouse and I just thought to myself, “Well, if I’m going to try this, I might as well try it now,” and I just happened to get very lucky.
You were on Warehouse 13 not that long ago. Is there any other Syfy series that you’d like to guest star on?
Oh, sure. I actually don’t think in terms of guest starring. I’m not really in pursuit of guest starring. Sometimes, if it’s interesting I would consider it, but it’s primarily as a reoccurring or a regular. But as far as guest starring on different Syfy shows, it’s not necessarily a goal of mine. However, there are a number of shows that are out there now that look awfully interesting to me, like – I consider True Blood a sci-fi show. You know, I consider anything with visual effects to that way is essentially science fiction.
And so, there is a lot of really interesting ones. Syfy’s got a couple new interesting shows. I have a friend doing this one called Alphas, then there’s Being Human. I think they have a lot of really interesting ones. And, I’ve been talking to Mark Stern recently about some new shows that he’s got in the works. So I’m in contact with Syfy about trying to nail down the next series.
Can you tell me something that your fans would be surprised to know about you?
I raise my own honey bees. I have my own organic vegetable garden. I’m actually a little bit of a farmer. In fact, I’m sitting here in Colorado actually right now andy fingers are all wrapped up. I almost chopped my finger off in one of these classic Farmer Joe moments dealing with large equipment and nonsense. A man of the Earth.
How did you initially get involved with this project?
Well, Syfy does obviously a series of these movies, and they’ve asked me on a number of occasions if I wanted to do them. Most of the times I’ve said no because of mostly location. Sometimes they shoot in Bulgaria and some places like that, and I just don’t have any interest in going to Bulgaria in the middle of winter. I’m spoiled. So this one actually came up that was shooting in Dublin, and I thought, “Well now, that may be a game changer.” I could actually go to Dublin for awhile. That would fun. And I was proved right. Dublin was amazing.
What did you find to be the most challenging part of making the film?
Well, a lot of the visual effects were not entirely fleshed out and shown to us. So when you’re acting, you’re acting against what you think will be the special effects in post-production. And you can only guess. So when you go and gauge your reaction to something, you have something in your head, I had some drawings they gave me. But when I saw the movie, the monsters were way bigger than I thought they were.
Oh, my God. It’s very, very tricky and fraught with a lot of obstacles when you’re doing science fiction acting. And I’m a bit of a stickler on set about making sure I know exactly what the levels of urgency are so that I don’t get a lot of egg on my face after they do a lot of the post-production. And you say to yourself, “My God! Why is he not reacting to the 300 foot tall monster?” Because I thought it was 3 feet tall. So you can imagine it gets tricky.
Honestly, I think science fiction acting is an art form, and I think it’s so much harder than people have any idea, and I don’t think it gets the respect that it deserves. And if you talk to people like Robert Patrick and these guys, they’ll tell you how truly difficult it could be.
Would you ever be interested in writing again or directing for you know a movie, TV show, whatever?
Oh, yes. Absolutely. In fact, this previous show that I did, it was a two hour, back door pilot which airs as a movie, and then could conceivably get spun off into a series. In that deal, I had a directing deal.
And so had the series gone, I would’ve been able to direct, and I was definitely looking forward to that. And presumably, I would write too. Any series that I’m on I would love to be writing and directing. And I just think it’s a natural progression of where you spend that much time on set and that much time in front of a camera, I think it makes sense to kind of expand your horizons a little.
The problem is in our business right now, the business is going through a really serious compression, and it’s so serious that it’s actually kind of sad. People are really losing their homes and they’re losing they way they’ve made their living for the last 20 years. So, the verbosity involved with protecting jobs these days is something else. So you know when you want to direct on a TV show, there are a number of directors who really don’t want actors to become directors or writers. The pie has gotten too small, and so it’s tricky in that regard.
Did you ever think of writing your own show?
I have. I’m busy definitely doing things. I just don’t like to talk about them until I feel like they’re kind of in their final stage and they’re going to move forward. The one thing that annoys me the most in this business is that a lot of people talk about things that are going to happen that aren’t happening, or may not happen, and I just don’t want to be another one of those schmucks.
How did you originally get involved with Atlantis?
Well, I mean the President of MGM at the time was a guy named Hank Cohen, and he ran into my Manager at the Golden Globes, and my Manager was representing Renee Zellweger, and she had just won something and he came up to congratulate him. And then, he started talking to him that he had this great new series, but he couldn’t find his lead guy. And he said, “Well, I have a client who’s perfect for that. Why don’t you meet him tomorrow?” And we met and it just literally happened in like a painlessly little time. It was really like within 24 hours, you know there was deal struck and that was it. It was interesting. If all deals could only work that well.
Back to Ferocious Planet. What was your favorite part about working on it?
Being in Ireland is just so much fun. I feel right at home in Ireland. And I had this wonderful Irish crew and this wonderful Irish cast, and they were incredibly professional and efficient. And it’s just a lot of fun. If I could shoot more there, I would. And I’m really glad I chose that because I would certainly try to encourage people to shoot in Ireland more often. And then it was fun to just get back into some camouflage and run around and shoot things. Call me crazy. I know it sounds a little weird, but I felt right at home.
When you have to act as if you are traveling to a parallel universe, did they provide you with any technical advisors that prepare you for such an adventure?
It would probably make my head explode, so they did not. I actually was thinking to myself, one of my favorite episodes in Stargate Atlantis was the Vegas episode. And we just kind of tapped into that at the very end, like unfortunately too late. So, it is kind of ironic this movie is about parallel universes also.
Do you prefer fighting aliens or dinosaurs?
I’ve got to say I think aliens are a little sexier, you know. I could at least talk to some of the Wraith. There’s no common ground between me and dinosaurs. Couldn’t really start any negotiation there.
In terms of genre, would you consider this your favorite one to work in?
Well I got to say it was funny. I approached science fiction with a lot of trepidation. I wasn’t really that enthusiastic about the genre when I started. And then as time went on, I’ve been converted you know 180 degrees, and I absolutely would say it’s now my favorite genre. And it gives you so much freedom. And I mean at heart, I’m an action/adventure kind of guru. I like that. And that you can do that and mix in science and fantasy and all sorts of things is pretty cool. And so, I really do miss doing my show, and I really hope to do another one. I think TV needs some more action/adventure, science fiction stuff.
You mentioned True Blood before. If you could be on the show, would you rather be human or other creature?
No. I wouldn’t want be human. It’s a lot of fun being the bad guy with big teeth. Playing bad guys is an awful lot of fun. You do it on a limited basis, but it’s an awful lot of fun.
A big part of the movie is about people who want to stay and explore, and the rest who say, “Let’s get the heck out of here.” If you were in a similar circumstance, are you a run kind of guy or are you a let’s stay and check this out guy?
I think it depends on what you left behind. I mean, you got a wife and kids left behind; you might want to run and go back. I think if you don’t, then I think it could be a nice permanent vacation. In our case, it’s unclear in the movie, it was kind of funny because all I really have to go back to is a boat. You know in retrospect, that’s really not a hell of a lot of to go back to. Maybe I should’ve stayed. It might’ve been the lack of cold beer or something that you know, like really wanted to make run.
Are you very adventurous otherwise?
Unfortunately I am, and I sit here talking to you with a third degree AC separation, a semi-chopped off finger, and it’s all from just nonsensical stuff like mountain biking. And, I’m actually sitting at the base of Aspen Mountain as we speak trying to figure out if I’m going to go cross country skiing, snowboarding, or just down-hilling.
Oh, rough life.
I know. I do. I live for it. And that’s why I think I like action/adventures, because I just need to physicalize things, and it’s tough for me to be inside and doing kind of domestic-like acting.
Did you do any stunts in the movie?
Yes. Well, I mean there wasn’t really any incredible stunts. But yes, I did everything. As you’ll see, there’s nothing really stellar going on. I didn’t get shot out of a cannon, but yes I did all the stunts.
Did you do any big stunts on Atlantis on your own?
Yes. Well I actually did quite a few. There’s some pretty serious climbing. We were on pulleys a lot. I mean, I got yanked off of two-story you know decks and all sorts of stuff. That is the part I miss quite a bit. It’s so much fun. It’s interesting because our stunt guy on Atlantis always had in his mind that I was some karate expert of some sort and would have these enormously like elaborate you know choreographed fights going on. And, I would say, “You know, I’m not that guy. I’m Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones. I just pick my gun up and shoot the guy.” I mean the path of least resistance. And it would frustrate him. However, we were able to make it up with my character getting kind of beat to crap and getting thrown around. And I think it worked well for that character. And in this case, it’s not unsimilar. The movie that – the Ferocious Planet, the guy gets kind of whacked around a good bit.
Do you have any advice for people who want to act?
Don’t. How’s that? There’s not enough jobs. Don’t come into our world. No. What I would say is if you enjoy it then pursue it. Acting is really difficult because it requires a tremendous amount of people to make it work, and a tremendous amount of money. For example with Stargate, we had 300 or 400 people working on the show. And you’re dropping $60 to $70 million a year. And it’s not like painting where an artist can go into a studio and nothing’s going to stop him from painting. Nothing going to stop a musician from making music. Well, a lot of things can stop actors from acting.
There are so many elements of dependency. So there’s a level of frustration that can come with the territory. I would warn people of that, and know that it sometimes may just end up being a hobby. So, that would be my advice.
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Q: Tell us about the plot of Ferocious Planet. It sounds, on paper, a little bit like an episode from Stargate
JF: I didn’t say that, you said that. It basically involves an alien planet and large inhospitable monsters, so yes, you’re not that far off in that regard. People who’d watched Stargate Atlantis will see in this character a lot of similarities.
Q: And probably not coincidentally. These movies are there to connect you to things that are familiar to you.
JF: These Saturday night SyFy movies, I’ve been offered a number of them before and I’ve mostly turned them down because they’re shot in places like Bulgaria, in December. When I was offered this one they just made a notation on top, that said: Dublin, Ireland, and I said: well, now that’s kind of interesting. I was immediately much more open to it, because it was Ireland, and then coincidently the character was similar to the character I play [in Atlantis].
Q: What is col Synn like? What’s his story?
JF: He’s a disgraced marine […] An experiment that takes place goes awry and then we all get thrown into a parallel dimension on a planet with m-o-n-s-t-e-r-s.
Q: The SyFy Saturday night monsters movies are deliberately ridiculous in many ways. They’re fun to watch, what about the fun to make them?
JF: I had a blast, I really did, I had so much fun, and so much of it had to do with the fact that “I’m in Ireland, working with all Irish cast and crew”, and I loved that. And thankfully, they put up with me.
These shows are kind of a guilty pleasure, they’re part homage to the genre and then they’re part “the genre”, you know, unironically the genre, as well. So it’s a fine balance to strike, between earnest genre and something a little self-deprecating. As you know, Stargate Atlantis is very self-deprecating and I think this was one of the really great qualities of the show. These things have their audiences and they are aimed at a very specific group of people and I hope that those people will like this.
Q: I guess you didn’t know what kind of monster were chasing you on the ferocious planet until long after you’ve done shooting. How do you look horrified not knowing what’s getting at you?
JF: I’m so glad you’ve asked that, because that’s something I try to explain to people. It’s one of the biggest challenges, I’ve seen some of the greatest actors getting assassinated on a scifi set. They don’t understand how do you have to incorporate the visual effects and how you can really get a lot of egg on your face in post production if you’re not very communicative with visual effects. You have to know exactly how big is that monster, what kind of noise does that monster make. If I’m reacting to this thing, how scared do I need to be.
In our case, they were not doing the post production, the same group that filmed, so what I had was very little. I’m hoping that my reactions are hopefully appropriate to the threat. That is one of the greatest challenges of scifi, not to mention a lot of times the dialogue itself could really kill a good actor.
Science fiction acting does not get the respect that it deserves. If you talk to a great actor like Robert Patrick he would tell you how truly difficult it is, and when it’s done well, you just don’t notice it. And that’s an accomplishment!
JF: John Rhys Davies is a child at heart, he’s a great guy and he’s incredibly well educated and knowledgeable about all sorts of stuff, filled with fascinating stories about his life and theatre. That was a highlight.
You said that: “do you enjoy shooting these things”. What is funny, the evolution that I have experienced as an actor… When my initial career was: “What is this project doing, where is it going to take me, will it accomplish the goals I’ve set up?” Now I don’t even think that way, I think on a totally different level: “Do I enjoy the role, and am I enjoying the people I’m working with?” And that’s really it, and that’s the end of the story, because all the other elements are out of my control. Consequently, I do enjoy myself quite a bit more. We just don’t have control about how these things turn out, where they end up, so you really do need to enjoy yourself. Working with guys like that, and especially the Irish cast and crew, I would go back gladly.
JF: We, as a cast [of Stargate Atlantis] were all very close and really miss each other and miss working with each other. We also felt like we have worked very hard and have done a very good job not only taping the Stargate SG1 area, but expanding it and kind of trickling it into the mainstream; we have won the People’s Choice award, and those are mainstream type of awards for a science fiction show.
Q: What do you have lined up?
JF: I just did a two-hours backdoor pilot that Walmart produced, we aired it on Fox, there’re hopes that it would become a new TV series, but it’s a complicated, very different model. These guys would potentially buy out the air time for the whole season, so they would only air the show and their commercials. It’s a very large business transaction that involves hundreds of million of dollars, that’s a little above my pay grade. There are intense negotiations on that, and it may or may not happen. But regardless, I’ll move forward and I’m in contact with Mark Stern at SyFy about trying to get a new series off the ground and I’d like to see that happen.
Q: Website, twitter, Facebook where people can find you online?
JF: I’m just so hopeless about that… I will start twittering again!
source (actual interview starts at min 3:00)
Joe Flanigan is starring as a disgraced Marine colonel, who winds up guarding a science lab in the SyFy thriller,Ferocious Planet. Naturally, an experiment goes horribly wrong and tosses the lab into a parallel dimension.
“Of course there are monsters,”Flanigan tells us, “that’s the operative word…there are monsters.”
Fighting make-believe monsters can truly be a challenge,Flanigan explains with a laugh.
“You’re only told or occasionally given a drawing of what it will be like so you’re hoping that your acting is somehow calibrated to what the visual effects are going to be,” he begins. “And sometimes you don’t get it right. That’s why in science fiction you see this kind of discrepancy between what happens and the reaction of actors.”
His trick to making it appear realistic is simple.
“Yeah, I learned that as long as you scream, ‘I’m going to die! I’m going to die!’ it works in every show,” Flanigan deadpans.
Actually, Flanigan is an adventurer who mountain bikes, mountain climbs, surfs and more. In fact, the actor has been nursing an injury from one of his many outings.
“Right now, I’m currently a beat up adventurer,” he says. “I separated my shoulder in a mountain biking accident. I was coming down a single track trail at a furious speed – I just got brand new handle bars that were extra long – they snagged a branch and they just kind of threw me over and I landed on my back. I actually feel pretty damn lucky that it’s just an AC separation and not something more serious.”
Right, well apparently you can’t keep a good adventurer down. Flanigan is in Aspen, still thrill-seeking despite his injuries.
“I’m still skiing and snowboarding,” he confesses. “It’s about constant motion. I think I’m afraid of not being in a state of constant motion. My shoulder was immobilized for two weeks and I go back for surgery in another two weeks, so I thought I’d get the maximum adventure in before I got immobilized again – and I will be immobilized for quite a while.”
Crazy? No ways, Flanigan tells HollywoodOutbreak.com.
“I thought to myself, ‘I can’t hurt my shoulder any worse than it is – all the ligaments are separated – so what the hell…I’ll just go snowboarding and skiing. It hurts if you fall and I have yet to fall. So, when I do fall I’ll call you screaming…I could be screaming I’m going to die! I’m going to die!”
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It’s nice to come to London at this time in the year and have this ridiculously nice weather.
Q: We put it on just for you, we thought you deserved it.
JF: I had a feeling. It’s in my contract, actually.
Q: Have you done lots of fan events like this before?
JF: I’ve done not too many events quite like this, but I’ve been to a number of signings, I’ve been to a few. They take you to some very interesting places around the world, and that’s essentially one of the key reasons I do it. You go to Sweden, you go to Australia, you go to New Zealand… It’s fun in that regard.
Q: Do you have any particularly fan experiences?
JF: I do, actually. The best collective fan experience is that I have a friend who’s dying of the Lou Gehrig’s disease and I really needed the help for her and we were going to raise funds for her. I was able to get an incredible amount of support from the fans that they sent her directly, helping her get through what’s going to be the last chapter of her life, but they’re making it a lot more comfortable. I’m tremendously grateful to have that fan base to appeal to, and they delivered a lot of help.
Q: SGA and its large and eclectic fan base: What do you think it is about this universe that people love so much?
JF: I think it helps that SG1 was on the air for 7 or 8 years before we came along, I think that makes a huge difference, you can really underestimate that. We really walked into a preexisting fan base. For that we’re super fortunate, we didn’t really have to build step by step the fan base as other new shows would have to build. We inherited it and we were able to expand it in different directions. We were really lucky. I think a lot of it has to do with the mythology of Stargate and the chemistry of the actors, it was a big part of it.
Q: Were you a fan of the Stargate universe before, were you familiar with it?
JF: It’s frightening: I had never seen Stargate before! At all. I had to have a mea culpa at one point: “I have no idea about Stargate”. At the end of the day I think that was actually a good thing, because I remember when I was shooting the first episode of Atlantis a lot of people were saying: You’re no Richard Dean Anderson, and you’re never going to be a Richard Dean Anderson. I didn’t quite know what Richard Dean Anderson’s role was. There was no chance of me imitating that, having never seen it. As a result, we were able to put together a show that was a spin off, but was entirely authentic in its own right. So my ignorance worked. But I’m a big science fiction fan, and since then I’ve become a much bigger science fiction fan, I really prefer doing science fiction over a lot of standard scripted dramas that television have today.
Q: Why do you think science fiction offers you more as a performer?
JF: As an actor, I really enjoy action. Action-adventure to me is a lot of fun and our show has quite a bit of action-adventure. Science fiction has this realm of possibilities and literally it stimulates your mind a lot more than other shows. At least that’s my personal opinion; some people don’t like science fiction. Science fiction television has come so far because of the effects that we can do today, or movie quality; there are TV shows where we get movie quality. If you look at our first episodes of Stargate versus the end, they are dramatic quantum leap in terms of production value, and so you’re able to do some really cool science fiction television these days. It’s not corny, it’s pretty cool.
In that regard I like it. And it appeals to a huge age range, it’s not just for kids or just for older people or just for middle age people. I’ve never seen fan base like the one we’ve been lucky enough to have: you’d have a six year old kid come up with his 86 years old grandfather and they are all fans. That’s hard to achieve. I’m kind of proud of that.
JF: If I could play another character other than my own it would probably be McKay, because he’s so hilarious. I just don’t think I could ever be as annoying as he is. I would try, but nobody can be as annoying as David Hewlett himself, and for that I have great respect for him. If he was here, I would smack him, we love to give each other a hard time.
Q: Is David like we see him on screen?
JF: David is surprisingly funnier in person than he is on screen, which is saying a lot, and he can be viciously funny. He would definitely give you a workout, your stomach would hurt sometimes. That is priceless, when you’re working for 5 years, I don’t know where that breaks down to, but somewhere between probably 11,000 or 12,000 hours on set, to shoot five years. You get to know people pretty well, and the fact that we all like each other and get along is great. The fact that you get to have somebody like him, making us laugh… it gives a huge mileage, and you can overcome some pretty long hours and some difficult times. We just had a great time, we’d all like to be back together doing something. And we probably will! We don’t know when.
Q: Is this a suggestion that you’re going to do Stargate Atlantis again, or maybe something else, with the same people?
JF: Both. I think we could probably do a show together, that has nothing to do with Atlantis, if we chose. But the truth is the greater potential for us would be to pick up at some point where we left off with the existing characters, in a form of a movie or a mini series or something. I think most fans feel pretty upset that the stories in Atlantis were never able to be resolved in a respectful way and it was a very rushed end to the entire series. There were claims that we were going to do a movie, which we never did, so there are a lot of loose ends that have never been explained.
Q: Do you have a message for Stargate fans watching this?
JF: Be hopeful, I think you’ll see some resemblance to Stargate in the near future. I really do, I believe that.
BJ: Joe Flanigan! How’s it going?
JF: Good! Good good good good. How are you guys?
BJ: We’re good, thanks. I was just wondering whether you’d mind sharing a few words about Stargate?
JF: Yeah of course, go ahead.
BJ: Ok, well, obviously a lot of people were incredibly disappointed when Atlantis was cancelled after the Stargate franchise had been of the longest running SciFi shows on the air. Did you feel it ended at the right time?
JF: Oh no, the show definitely ended too early. Without a doubt. It could have gone for another five years. It was a strange set of circumstances, and it has to do with the decline of the DVD market, which is partly responsible. The producers were getting anxious about all sorts of different issues. In any normal set of circumstances, we would have kept going, but the circumstances were not normal, so we were cancelled essentially to be replaced by what they thought of as a newer, fresher show that they could make more money off of, which is of course Stargate Universe. But unfortunately, their plans went quite horribly awry, and they actually ended up losing quite a bit of money. And our show, really, you know, it got cut off too early.
BJ: Yeah, especially as you said in your talk about Vegas; it was really taking a new direction, and it could have continued along that route, but then it got cancelled.
JF: It was the penultimate episode, and we shot that knowing the show was going to be cancelled. It was always kind of a little bit of a tragedy, I was always like “aaah, that’s a shame, this is such a great episode, too bad we didn’t do this three or four years ago.” So, that’s the way it goes, in TV land.
BJ: And sadly it was replaced with Stargate Universe. It’s a shame that Universe didn’t quite match up to the calibre of shows like SG1 or Atlantis…
JF: Well, it wasn’t really trying to be SG1 or Atlantis, it was really trying to be Battlestar.
BJ: Yeah, they attempted to blend the two, which could have worked, but I didn’t feel it was that successful.
JF: It could possibly have worked, but it would have to be under different helmsman-ship. The strength of Stargate was the sort of self-deprecating, wink of the eye, adventurous quality that we had. Not in anyway great pretence of sending messages and having intense drama, that was not really… I think the strength of Stargate. You know, they took what was successful, and they changed it, like when they made a new formula for Coke. They all ran back to the original formula, they realised it was wrong, so maybe they’ll do that. Who knows, we’ll see what happens.
BJ: Fingers crossed! There was word of an Atlantis movie, but nothing’s been said about that since about 2009?
JF: Yeah, the studio, MGM, has been suffering, it went bankrupt, I mean there were so many problems. So, we are largely a victim of their problems, and their problems are significant. If they had been Warner Brothers or Sony it would have been entirely possible we would have kept going. MGM was just a mess, and they’re reorganising and… But I’m sure they’ll become successful again in the near future, but right now it’s just a matter of cleaning up the mess. They lost a lot of money.
BJ: If you could go on to do an Atlantis movie, would you?
JF: Oh yeah, absolutely! Provided we could get all of our group back together.
BJ: Yeah, if you could get the entire cast back…
JF: If they couldn’t get everybody back together, it’s questionable, but yeah, no, absolutely. That’d also be weird if there were new people doing it, it wouldn’t be the same. Although, you’d be surprised what Hollywood will do to save a bit of money! “We’ll take Laurel out, and Hardy out, and it’ll be called Laurel and Hardy with different people!” You know, they’ll do that.
BJ: “Sod David Hewlett, we don’t need him! Nor that Flanigan fellow!” Nah, wouldn’t work!
JF: Maybe they’ll do an SG1 movie, or a Universe… I don’t think they’ll do a Universe movie. It wouldn’t have the audience for it.
BJ: It really didn’t take off and keep the spirit of Stargate alive as much as I’d hoped.
JF: It didn’t. I also think that they really upset the fan-base. You’ve got a real loyal fan-base that’s been nothing but supportive, generous and instead they go “oh, we don’t need that fan-base any more, we’re looking for a younger, hipper, cooler audience. If you don’t like it don’t watch it. We’re going in a new direction and don’t need our pre-existing fans.” Which is a really, really reckless approach, and it had very disastrous consequences as a result. The fans have not really forgiven that.
BJ: At the end of the day, a franchise is supported mostly by its fan-base. The cast can be fantastic, have some great scripts and all the money in the world, but it’ll be the fan-base that makes or breaks it.
JF: Absolutely. Assuming the fan-base… Well yes and no. Assuming the fan-base watches the show when they are needed to watch the show and buy the DVDs. If the fan-base is massive but they download everything, that show will disappear also. You need money to make a show, if your revenue streams are drying up and people are taking things for free, there’s no way to make quality programming. It’s one of those things.
BJ: Yeah… And are you currently working on any new projects?
JF: Oh yeah. Look at that. [He lifts his right arm, pointing to a swollen elbow.] I’ve just finished a film with Jean-Claude Van Damme (Six Bullets), and I play an ex-Mixed Martial Artist world champion, and I had a tattoo that ran from here [points to shoulder] all the way down to here [points to wrist], a scar here and another scar here [points to cheek and eye brow]. When I came back from work and into the hotel, people would actually get out of the elevator. They were scared of me! And I was like “hey, this is kinda fun… Oh, your restaurant is crowded, there’re no tables available? Watch.” So it was interesting. We did a lot of stunts, and it still kind of hurts, but it was a lot of fun.
In case you were wondering why my elbow looked like it had a giant tumour; I hit it. Actually, somebody else hit it, it’s somebody else’s fault! With a machine gun. It was shot in Romania, and the rules of stunts in Romania are a lot looser… “Alright, we blow things up.” Yeah, great, what’re you using? “We use dynamite, that’s how you blow things up.” They do actually use dynamite – they’re a lot looser with the rules, so you gotta be careful.
JH: We’ve got to wrap things up now.
BJ: Oh, blimey…
JF: Oh, right, I just gotta sign this, sorry.
BJ: Thank you for your time, it was a pleasure meeting you.
JF: Yeah, you too. Take care.
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Q: What has been the impact of the role of John Sheppard on your own personality? Did it bring something new to you or were you always the perfect Colonel?
JF: No, it’s a different character, but there is obviously a lot of cross-over. I’m a bit of a soloist in life and I think Sheppard starts in the show as a soloist. Then I think he becomes a team player, toward the end.
Ironically, it’s a similar arch in my personal life with the show. I started looking out for myself on the show and then I became good friends with everybody. I feel close to them and I feel like we’re just one unit. That’s true in life in general, my whole life has gone from very singular to being very plural.
Q: What about the SGA movie?
JF: To be honest with you, there was never a plan for a movie. It was a rumour that the producers were perfectly happy to let out there, and I was always deeply uncomfortable with that. There were never any commitments for it, and I know because nobody ever contacted me. I did however say, well, it’s possible, but they would’ve been doing it without me, because nobody has talked to me. They had cancelled Stargate SG1, they’d cancelled Atlantis, and they were launching a new show called Universe; it was important to let the fans feel that there something else left from the other shows. I think it was not smart and it was disingenuous. Everybody who would have asked me, I said the movie is a no.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think it will happen in the future. I think it will actually happen sometime. It could just be a very long time, could be in a year or two, I don’t know. I think the franchise has that dormant quality that it could sprout out at any time, not unlike Startrek.
Q: Do you like to see yourself on the screen?
JF: I hate it! I don’t watch it! I don’t watch anything I did. I watch the dailies and I try to learn from the dailies simple craft issues, like: am I moving too much, am I speaking clearly, am I at the right angle for the camera or am I turning too much; little craft issues I look at. Could I have done it better, am I breaking apart the scene well enough, how many layers did I put into it…
So I’m very critical, I think, in a constructive way. I do it in a constructive way and I actually don’t have any ego when I watch this stuff. But when it goes to film and they cut it out and edit it and they send it out there, I don’t like to watch it. I’m so far past it, emotionally, that when I sit down to watch it I find it to be uncomfortable.
Q: Would you like your children to become actors?
JF: I really don’t want them to be actors. It’s a very difficult life. Statistically it is a miserable life. I think there are 120,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild; I believe that less than ten thousand make over 5,000 $ a year. If you took out the top 20 movie stars, it’s probably more like only two thousand people make over 10,000 $ a year. So, really nobody works as actors, statistically speaking. It’s a very brutal life, very difficult, you have to deal with a lot of rejection.
If they really really wanted to do it, I’d just say: hey, go make a lot of money and bring it to me! Bring your daddy the money!
Q: What was your most awkward moment on set?
JF: Besides now? I’m just joking! We did something that was so out of the blue… David would tell you this, because he remembers it distinctly. It’s just me and David and we were doing a scene. It was on film, the tape was running, he said something and I looked at him and I go: “I’m so ashamed!”. That wasn’t the line at all! I don’t know where it came from.
It was a conversation that David and I had had from earlier, joking about doing science fiction and doing some other things and being very self-effacing, and somehow it just popped up. I was like [whispering]: “that’s really too bad, because that’s on the film”. It was funny. David seized at it, of course, making it double uncomfortably for me.
editor’s note: from several other recounts, it seems that shortly after they started shooting SGA, Joe invited his fellow cast members to watch together the “Galaxy Quest” movie and to compare notes with the characters. The “I’m so ashamed” moment appears to be connected to that.
Q: New projects?
JF: Tomorrow I leave to go shoot the thing called Heavy Metal, Metal Hurlant. It’s based on the Heavy Metal comic books and the movie. I’ve just finished doing an action film with Jean Claude van Damme in Romania and I’ll be finishing doing this French episode.
There’re always things percolating, possibly happening, but I don’t like to talk about anything unless it’s a done deal. So there will probably be something else before Christmas but there’s no way to tell at this point. Unfortunately in this business things change fast and you can think you’re doing something, and like a week before you find out the whole project is cancelled.
Q: Have you ever been here before?
JF: Marseille? I came here once, when I was like 15 years old and I remember walking the streets and that’s about it. I’ve been all over France but Marseilles is one of the places I really don’t know that well but it’s a great city. I mean I really like it. I, personally as an American, I like cities that have a authentic quality to them, and this is, you know, it’s a port city, and it’s also an industrial town, but that’s fine. I wouldn’t like a town that was trying to hide that.
I like towns like Detroit and Chicago because they’re real. They’re real cities, they’re not cities trying to pretend that they’re something else. Vancouver, for example, is a port city but they’re trying to pretend that they are Paris or Hong Kong or New York City, and they’re not. It’s not the same thing.
Marseille, 31 Oct 2011