Jun 142014
You tell them!

Now, is it only me talking to the TV screen when watching a show I’m particularly invested in? *cough* SGA *cough*

Haven’t you ever yelled at your favourite character “Watch out, he’s behind the door and he’s got a gun!”, or “ruuun!”, simply because you happened to know more? I bet you have. If you haven’t, you’re not doing it right :)

Well, now here we are 10 years after the Stargate Atlantis premiere, and we definitely know more. Hence, we invite you to “tell them” what to do in a particular scene you instantly remember from a screencap (we’re hardcore fans, aren’t we? that’s how we remember scenes: instantly!)


Sheppard, don't tell them you like Ferris wheels, coz it'll haunt you endlessly on the internet, and people will write fanfic with McKay trying to build them on Atlantis.

Sheppard, don’t tell them you like Ferris wheels, coz it’ll haunt you endlessly on the internet, and people will write fanfic with McKay trying to build them on Atlantis.

I would surely tell Sheppard in this scene: don’t tell them you like Ferris wheels, coz it’ll haunt you on the internet endlessly, and people will write fanfic with McKay trying to build one on Atlantis. Okay, maybe it wouldn’t be the best advice, considering he’s just about to wake the Wraith and stir havoc in the Pegasus galaxy, but you weren’t really expecting practical and sensible words of wisdom, were you? :D

Anyway, in hindsight, what would you urge him to do when first meeting Teyla? Let us know in comments here below, or on twitter, Facebook, with the hashtag #YouTellThem!

If you like our little game, we’ll launch a new challenge in a few days time. And then maybe another one. Next month it’s SGA’s tenth anniversary, after all, or, as twitter would say it, #SGA10, so You Tell Them!


PS: would you feel more inspired to comment on a different scene? Upload the photo, let us know in a tweet or in a comment below, and let’s see what happens…

You tell them!

You tell them!

Dec 282013
Siege3 feature photo SGAFAN

Joe Flanigan contributes to this commentary of Season 2 opening episode (The Siege III), together with David Hewlett, Martin Wood and Martin Gero. Martin Gero is extremely talkative, so Joe’s interventions are rather rare and quite brief. Consequently, this transcript is not complete, since we’ve focused mainly on the parts where Joe can be actually heard, or the conversation is meaningful for the filming process. The overlooked comments are indicated by [...]

The lines in italic blue font indicate moments when the commentary is silent and the actual performance is heard. Some screencaps were added for better understanding of the references.


MG: Hi, my name is Martin Gero

DH: And I’m David Hewlett

MW: I’m Martin Wood

JF: I am Joe Flanigan


MW: …and this is Siege, part III. We’ve done a lot of three parters before on Stargate, but we never called them one, two and three. It seems like this is bigger, since it’s “part III”. Generally, if we do a two parter, closer, then we do a pick up afterwards. Still, there’s something about this that makes it a bigger episode.

MG: The difficulty in this episode is that Siege 1 was a fairly big episode, then Siege 2 was one of the bigger episodes we’ve ever done, and by naming it Siege 3 we really felt like we had to go all out and pull of the stuff.

MW: Did you plan to have three parts?

MG: Yes, we always knew we were going to do a twoparter with a cliffhanger, that was always Brad’s idea, and then move into a part three. It’s our own failing, because we couldn’t think of a better name. I wanted to call it “Dawn of the Daedalus”

JF: I was going to call it Rocky III

MF: Can I just mention that [the Wraith] didn’t have a seam on his hand, the feeding part of his hand wasn’t there, because it’s the wrong hand

MG: Oh, no.

[Major Sheppard, decloak your jumper immediately]

MW: There’s something else, Joe you know this, but most people don’t.


MW: Look at the “previously-on” and then look at that shot that we just saw and you’ll notice that the bomb is different. It’s changed, because we shot it over four months apart.

DH: We’ve upgraded the bomb?

JF: I didn’t know that until just now.

MG: Someone’s gonna get fired [laughs]

MW: Until I saw the cut I didn’t realize it was lit differently, and so when you look at it…

DH: You’ve ruined it for the kids at home


MW: When you do a three parter like this, and you go back and pick up everything… This scene was shot three months after we shot the last one.

JF: This was the first thing after the hiatus, right?

MG: There you go, Mitch Pileggi, surprisingly sexy, “People’s” surprisingly sexy.

DH: And he made the mistake of mentioning that, and since then I have been teasing him mercilessly.


JF: This is one of our weapons’ guy



MW: The guy that ‘s holding the ZPM there, he’s actually Ron, he’s our armorer.

JF: And he knows his armory.


MG: This is a great shot, the big first reveal of Daedalus, and then the hive, the cruisers. James Tichenor came on this year, he was of course a long time visual effects supervisor on SG1, took a year off to do some other things, and so he wasn’t a part of season 1.


MG: I don’t to say that visual effects in season 1 were bad, they were very good, but he came on board and they are markedly better this year. He has done a phenomenal job and also for the first time in the franchise history we have our own in-house department. It’s useful for us be able to just walk across the studio and discuss shots.

JF: This is the old main title.

MG: We made the choice to keep the old main title for the first two, I think maybe three episodes, because Ronon shouldn’t be in this one, and also Rainbow’s still in these episodes, so we didn’t want to hint that Rainbow was about to go too.

JF: The battle scene in Siege 2 is fantastic. Actually we shot this in Siege 2.

MW: We shot this during Siege 2. The inserts of the hand weren’t done, we just moved them from Siege 2 into Siege 3.

MG: This is the most visual effects that we have done in a single one hour episode. …and the puppet!

JF: Oh, man…

MG: Ellie Harvie is great!


DH: We were watching this and I was killing myself laughing, she’s just genius.


MG: There was a lot of fighting whether an Asgard should be pissy or not…

JF: But when did it take a turn? When did…

DH: Joe did not like the puppet.

JF: I don’t like it. I’ve tried to kill him a number of times [laughs]

DH: And you did refer to him as Hemorrhoid…

MW: This is interesting: we have now a new operator on the show, steady cam (meaning the camera that float like this), and he was the same one who shot the pilot with us, we’ve actually swiped him from SG1.

JF: A guy named Nathaniel Massey.

MW: Most people don’t realize how complicate this shot is.

JF: The grandson of Raymond Massey, the famous actor.

MW: Great grandson of Vincent Massey.

MG: And future great grandfather of Norton Massey, inventor of the teleporter. [laughs]

All: Chuck!

JF: Chuck has just been patient as hell.

MW: Chuck is David’s stand-in, actually, and we have upgraded him to the “chucknition”. He’s a very good actor.

DH: A well deserved upgrade, the guy really is a consummate professional.

MW: He likes to do “chucknition” as a robot.


MW: This kind of scene is difficult, because […] it’s difficult to have reflected surfaces like that in the back that look so great and have explosions going on outside. Often we’d use actual flames to do it. In this case we couldn’t.

JF: There is Ron again.


DH: Ron is the scariest man I’ve ever met.

MW: Ron Blecker.

DH: He’s great, but you just don’t goof around with him.

JF: He’s an actual veteran of the Black Hawk group. He was one of the guys in Somalia.


MW: We’re on location shooting “Runner” right now when this was happening.

DH: And a frantic shoot I might add. This was like “We gotta get this in ten minutes!”

MW: And I came back and I’d blocked this shot out for Peter and he did a great job of moving it around and getting it.

MG: You guys really know how each other shoots though. It’s funny to watch you adopt each other’s style when you step in.

DH: It’s like impersonation. Martin makes dirty jokes.

JF: That’s a oner, too. A long oner.

MW: I really like that sound, it’s the only sound you ever hear that drones make.

JF: I think one of the coolest things about the franchise is that we have just present day weaponry. Most times you go to Space, all these scifi shows have super sophisticated weaponry.

MG: Now this is the beginning of a kind of an interesting fan laugh back… They felt like in the early part, up until Duet, that we were making Rodney kind of a stupid oaf, that he was being too comic-book-ish. I don’t know, I mean…

JF: …more in line with his real character. And you know, he’s a good actor.

MG: I just try to write him closer to David, and more oafish and… [laughs]


MW: That gag was, originally, a gun-jammed, because it’s more visual, if the clip drops.

DH: It’s incredibly hard to do. I don’t understand how you’d do that by mistake.

MW: It was physically very difficult for you to get it.

DH: I got grumpy, because my thumb couldn’t reach…

JF: It’s very hard to do it.

DH: That’s the point, that’s why such things don’t happen.



DH: She does just a fantastic job, I’m in awe!

DH: Great shot!

JF: Nice!

MG: This is one of the first shots we saw for the new year. James did this and I was like: Oh man! We are in for a treat, we are gonna take them for a ride! A lot of this comes from the success of the show, because with the success you have a little more money to do bigger things.

JF: Right. I actually get three meals a day this season.

DH: You’re so lucky!

JF: That’s another interesting thing we have been talking about, which is window reflection. Are we finding that the window reflection, where we’re putting it, does it help?

MW: We’re working more and more and trying to get it. Again, it’s an expensive thing, but what’s missing … When you put something up against a window, it’s difficult to tell it’s a window, because you have no reflection. The light in the window is always missing. It’s much more expensive to do that, but we’ve been pushing for a lot.

[Sheppard: Better get the damn shield up.

Weir: How much time do we have?

Zelenka: Forty five seconds 

Weir: Rodney, we need the shield up in 40 seconds or we’re dead.

McKay: What, are you kidding me?

Weir: No

McKay: Because I can’t help but think you’re trying to determine the point when I completely snap. 

Weir: Rodney!

McKay: That should do it. Fire it up.]

MW: This is my favorite line! The Okay, snap! line.

MG: It’s Brad Wright’s. Brad’s not doing full drafts of my scripts, but he always does a polish, cleans it up, makes some cuts, adds some stuff, and without fail, he always adds the two funniest lines in the show. People are like: that’s my favorite line, and I’m yeah, that was Brad’s, I didn’t do that.

MW: We’ve talked about a number of times, this speed-speed-speed-speed, stop. Speed-speed-speed-speed, stop. To give impact to the impact, you have to have that beat before the shield comes up. It’s running along, running along, and then it comes up.

[Weir: We’re still here, that’s our status.

Sheppard: Don’t scare me like that.]

MW: The thing about Siege 3, and I say it every time anybody asks me, it’s such a roller coaster. It goes up-up-up, ok that threat’s gone, and then up-up-up-up. In order to go through the hour…

JF: Ok, can you be quiet now, I’m trying to watch the show? [laughs]

MW: We’re fourteen minutes into it right now and… “we did it! Now what’s gonna happen?”

MG: From all the episodes that I wrote this year, it was the absolute hardest, logistic wise, because you had to do so much, you had to tie up all of last year, keep an episode going – we wanted essentially three major set action sequences, and then the B plot that essentially launched the arch of the first three episodes.


DH: This is nice, now we see actually for the first time like a physical contact thing.

JF: I found this one of hardest episodes to shoot because we came back from the hiatus and we were supposed to just pick up and I had completely forgotten. I remembered the name of the show and that of my character [laughs] It was confusing.

MW: That scene, it’s the first time we see physical contact, because we cut the sex scenes out of Siege 2…

MG: I love that stuff though, although there’s a whole kind of fan-division  who doesn’t like what they call “shipping”, relationshipping, relationships on the show…

JF: Is that what they mean by shipping?

MG: …yeah, they think it’s kind of a cheap soap opera. In reality a hug is a hug, she is just happy to see him, she though he was dead, he though she was dead, you know, it’s nice that you can acknowledge… it speaks to a type of emotional turmoil that you don’t really get a chance to explain because of all the action and plot and stuff like that. So just doing a simple gesture, like a hug, says that these are people that care about each other and… the end [laughs]

MW: We took the incident with Joe’s hand out…

MG: Yeah, that was a little inappropriate… [laughs]

S III 10

MG: This scene, we thought about maybe cutting…

DH: The grandpa scene?

MW: He does a great job.

JF: You know, it’s funny, because we did this and I was like whatever, and Brad really really loved this scene.

MW: This salute that you do here, is such a nice…

JF: I was actually saluting the chocolate tray off camera.

MW: You did a really good job of containing the emotion there but it still feels like Oh man, something is on.

MG: Not only this, but also the Robert Patrick thing, it’s like a full circle. That’s why this episode has tied up so much stuff.

JF: We had Robert Patrick on the show, and he’s dead! Oh, we’re scifi, we can have him back.

MG: It’s also the last show that has those blast.

MW: That’s right, we’re fixing them after that. Interestingly enough, we came from the beginning of this shot, we came from outside the set, and we had to paint the inside of those doors. But, just a tidbit, it’s an area of the set that originally, when we designed the set, was supposed to be used. And I’m forcing us to do it, and what the audience won’t know, is that there’s a spiral staircase that I’m hoping we get to use.

JF: The set looks nice when it’s half lit.

MW: In the twilight light.

JF: It’s a good dark kind of color.

MW: And Michael Blundell does such a nice job! We walked through, before we started to shoot and he said we have got to have more shadows cast.

MG: I love Hermiod: Are you seeing this?!?  I have you to thank, on two occasions: I remember when we did Siege part 2, and you were coordinating various people in peril in the end of the episode, and you put Ford surrounded by ten Wraith guys on either side, I remember looking at that and going: oh crap, how the hell are we getting him put of there?  And you were kind of like: good luck, have fun!  You actually said: he’s on a bridge, we can have him jump off the bridge!

MW: It was mostly because I did it to show it wasn’t just guys we could shoot off.

MG: No, absolutely, it was great insofar Siege part 2, but then sitting down to write Siege part 3, I was like alrighty

MW: Actually, it kicks it into high gear with him. This scene started with a steady cam right on top of them, that rolled over his face and then you guys decided not to show his eye.

MG: No, it’s because this scene was underexposed. Slightly. We were having problems with the cameras, and you actually couldn’t see any detail, so it didn’t feel like it was much of a reveal.

MW: The reveal of Ford, in Weir’s office, is much more effective.

MG: It was one of those happy accidents.

MW: And here we go again: this is now taking us to the second roller coaster hill. I think this is great, Martin, a really nice way of doing this.

MG: I’ve said before, as much as I would like to take all these lovely compliments, with doing this “banner” episodes, it really is a team effort. All the writers sit down at the beginning of a new year, it’s all seven of us in the room, figuring out how to… These episodes are much bigger than just one writer and it’s a privilege to write them, and I really have to give a shout out to the props and the other writers, I’m so street!  [laughs]

MW: I was just about to say, you are so street!

MW: David screwed up his line, and we left it in.

DH: What did I screw up?

MW: It’s just the way that you… [laughs]

MG: Let’s point out other ways David made mistakes in this episode!

DH: We’re not on me now, because it was all one big mistake. [laughs]

MG: This was very important, Brad really wanted to… we had been on the defensive all of last season and he felt like Sheppard would, and rightfully so, be like: you know what, screw this, let’s take the fight to them!

[Sheppard: …we have the capacity and the will to go kick their asses for a change.]

JF: This part had to be changed in looping, it was vey bizarre.

S III 11

MW: And this is when David does his favorite thing: slide around the material.

MG: This is my favorite… it’s just a pause, when he’s like…

MW: Right here.

MG: I love that [laughs] he’s like: seriously, c’mon. That’s McKay in a nutshell. What’s great too, it’s like a lot of the times, just because we can’t afford to do three big action sequences in a show, there’s gonna be a bunch of scenes in between and then getting ready, let’s cut to Daedalus coming out of hyperspace.

MW: Yeah, and you’re climbing up that second hill. Just so you know, this is the re-dressed Prometheus. Much more updated and a way cooler set as the Deadalus.

MG: The puppeteer getting that thing to walk, is really hard.

JF: I have to admit something that may be truly embarrassing: when we shot Siege 3 and they mention Hermiod, and you notice that Hermiod and I are never in a scene together, I didn’t know who Hermiod was, until two more episodes, when I had a scene with him, and I realized he was a puppet. I wanted to kill him. And I wanted to kill everybody else for doing this to me.

S III 12

MW: This is the reveal. Even this shot isn’t as effective.

DH: There’s something on your face [laughs]

MG: This was actually a lot of Rainbow’s doing. He really wanted to have some sort of physical mal-normality.

MW: Yeah, we talked about it a lot. We went through a lot of different… originally it was a white eye, and we’ve changed that because that was the way the Priors would look like.

MG: Exactly.

DH: What about the giant nose?

MG: Again, if you have the chance to see the show in HD, this sequence in phenomenal.

S III 13

MG: These were the first sequences that were in-house made, so we were like: thank god!


MW: This is one of my favorite shot. Look at that!

S III 14

DH: They’re sweeping off…

JF: And the shield.

MW: It’s hard to show size, because speed is so difficult. When you have a ship that big moving, it can’t move fast.

DH: It’s almost like a sailing boat.

MW: She grabs her and throughs her away [laughs]

MG: We did that a lot in the second season. McKay did that a couple of times in that season.

DH: It’s an homage, right? [laughs] I’ve been pushing people for years.

MG: I don’t want to argue, I think it looks great, but apparently the Daedalus is steam-powered.

MW: Yeah! [laughs] […]

S III 15

MW: That trick, when he lifts up Paul…

JF: Apple box!

MW: …it’s actually a dolly.

JF: Oh really?

MW: He’s on a dolly, it’s one that we push camera around. We have a platform built in front of it and all we did was just have him there. We were all around with Ford and then lift him up, and then just let him down slowly. Rainbow did a great job on this one, with the transition in and out.

DH: He’s like you’re kidding me. And McGillion, with his many chins. [laughs]

MG: He’s gonna love you for that.

DH: He already does!

MG: He’s got some pretty hard core fans, they will come after you.

JF: They will. I’m hopeful.

[Weir: Sedate him, if you have to.

Beckett: Aye.]

MW: This was a difficult thing for me: how do you… Rainbow kept falling asleep during the scene… I’m honestly holding on to his toe, and when I want him to open his eyes, I squeeze his toe and he comes awake. That’s the truth: he is actually asleep before that.

S III 16

MW: I always had trouble with the super-hearing. It’s hard to show.

MG: It kinda worked though. I gotta say, on the record, those glasses are silly! [laughs]

MW: Because the laser isn’t working across them […] I put the same glasses when the blast comes out.

MG: This is, by the way, the most expensive shot, and no one knows: right now they pass a green screen that shows a view of the city. And no one can tell. It’s so quick.

MW: That was me in the background. Okay, this is cool.

MG: This is a CG cup.

DH: Really?

MG: Yeah, it would have been too dangerous to…

DH: But, surely, one man’s life is cheaper than CG.

MG: You know what? You’re not wrong! As a producer now. [laughs]

S III 17

MW: As we’ve got into this scene, I felt like it needed more than the threat of the shot. Originally it was scripted that he just holds a gun to the doctor. We felt like it needed more jeopardy, to somebody other than Beckett.

JF: The hard part about the scene is that that guy was actually expendable.

MG: Beckett’s like go ahead!

MW: We took out the sound of the gun shot, because he actually does kill him. [laughs]

DH: So that’s a bag of enzyme.

[Ford: Is that all of it?

Beckett: I promise you.

Ford: Toss it over. Toss it!]

MW: That scene ended differently than it ends here. It ended with Beckett turning and saying everything is okay, but we felt there was no immediate action to stop, and so it makes more sense the way we cut it there.

JF: McKay pushes another guy away.

DH: It’s all about pushing.

S III 18

MW: This is very cool.

JF: These are like little mosquitos on the windshield.


S III 19

MW: I leanrt something from that shot, Joe, that I’ll never do that again: that camera rotation, that up-down rotation.

JF: Yeah?

MW: From up left to down on the right side. It doesn’t “end” the act as well.

JF: As opposed to?

MW: As opposed to a push-in. It was just a rotation around.

S III 20

DH: I like that staying on the balcony.

MW: So do I. Both of us did and we actually fought a lot TPTB to keep that, because originally it was just looking up, cut back to them, they walk in.

MG: One of the great things James Tichenor, the visual effects supervisor, wanted to do was the ability to track camera moves using tracking points, which are big X’s that you put everywhere and there’s a piece of software that can extrapolate how the camera’s moving in tridimensional space. The ability to do that quickly and cheaply, well, it’s not cheap, but cheaper than it was even last season, it’s that we have to move the camera for effect shots, as much as possible.

MW: It’s organic, and this is the whole thing for me. We do the shot down in the hallway, and when you look past, you see the exteriors. If you don’t do things that are organic, and if you stop the camera from moving, you “point” to the viz effect and say: “there’s a viz effect behind us”, and then you’re in trouble. But if people walk through with active puddles on, or people walk past windows…

MG: It really brings the whole thing alive.

MW: It really does.

S III 21

[Zelenka: Okay, what about the hard part?

Sheppard: Hard part?]

S III 22

JF: That’s an interesting shot. You see it’s an over the shoulder, although you have no idea whose shoulder it is.

MW: It’s over Zelenka’s shoulder. And there’s an option here, whether it’s pushed in past the shoulder or not.

JF: Just in general though, I think the camera moving certainly aids. When, as a director, do you decide when you’re going to move the camera or you’re not going to move the camera? And how do you do it?

MW: Generally, the problem with moving camera in a still scene, like this, is that it reminds people there’s a camera there. If people are in motion, or something is happening that allows the camera to move innocuously, that’s when you do it. But if it’s a static scene, or people are sitting in the same spots all the time, then moving the camera draws attention to the camera.

MG: That’s also the end of the Teyla arc, her ability to connect and sense with the Wraith.

MW: Watch the floor, watch the floor, watch the floor, there’s a yellow mark right in front of her…

S III 23

JF: Damn, did she hit it!

MW: We use those marks to tell the actors where to stop.

JF: Damn, did she hit it!

DH: And then we remove them.

MW: But this one we didn’t.

MG: Still a good show!

DH: It ruined it for me!

MW: When I saw the show finished, I saw that mark on the floor and I was like that’s gonna take people out of…   Most people don’t realize it, but on the DVD it’s visible.

MG: It’s pretty cheap to fix.

DH: All I’m doing is looking at the floor now.

MW: Well, you should, we’re relying on this.

MG: Here we go, another montage.

DH: You know what they say, the montage is helping the story.

MW: It takes the production a long time to shoot.

DH: Nobody loves the montage sequences.

MG: Martin, I’ve said this before, you really use the standing set better than anybody else, you really do make them look like much bigger.

S III 24

MW: That’s nice.

JF: Awesome.

MG: Fantastic. It’s great because for the first time we see the city all lit up, we have a ZPM finally.

MW: Joe, I want to go back to what we were talking before. One of the things that happen in HD TV rather than in film is that if you have something in front, it stops it from being very flat. HD TV (high definition television) is very very flat, so I’m going to keep moving all the time, so I’m going through things in the foreground, because that gives the three dimensions.

MG: Was that the first time we used the new puddle jumper dash board? Nobody liked the puddle jumper dashboard last year, so we’ve blew those up and came up with some new ones.

S III 25

MW: Hey, I love the pop up! “I’m hiding, and no one can see me”

DH: He loves his hidings. [laughs]

MW: I love doing it as a director.

DH: “Where did Martin go?” “I’m right here”

MW: See, like this, when the camera can keep moving all the way through, cut with something where the camera can’t move.

MG: This shot was reused from The Gift.

MW: Yeah, because it’s difficult to dress that many Wraiths.

MG: Originally, there was one shot that we almost taught ourselves into, I wanted to do a shot of a Wraith walking down the hall, when the big nuke got beamed in, and he was looking and then blowing up.

S III 26

MG: This is my favorite shot in the whole show.

JF: So beautiful.

MW: It’s very cool.

MG: It tells the story so well.

MW: I had no idea they would put a sunset there.

MG: They love their sunsets, the Rainmaker.

DH: And for good reasons.

S III 27

MW: I love this, and I love doing it to David. [laughs]

DH: This was my audition for Batman. “I am the Supervillain?!?”

S III 28  S III 29

MW: Amazing! And you don’t realize they’ve changed the axis of the shot.

MG: This is funny, I don’t know how other people write, but when I write dialogue, I actually improvise it and talk it out loud as I do it, and play all the characters, and so…

JF: You should use Simpsons characters…

MG: That’s Joe Mallozzi… and so, as I was typing David’s dialogue, I was whispering, and I was like what the hell am I doing?, it’s ridiculous, and then I had Weir calling him here “Why are we whispering?”

[Ford: I could have shot you a couple of times by now]

MG: Such a fourteen year old kid thing to say.

DH: “You’re totally dead”.

[Sheppard: Well, I'm glad you didn't]

JF: That’s such a grown up thing to say.

MW: This was, originally, a very cool shot, all one-shot, where he runs in, Joe shoots him and then he disappears, but in order to keep the action going, we couldn’t have it in one shot. What happens here is that Rainbow gets in and steps aside. We cut to that, but this all one shot, when Joe runs towards the transporter, and Rainbow is actually at his left, right there.

JF: Yes, he is.

MW: And Rainbow’s waiving at him [laughs]


MW: Acting like he’s not [waiving at him]!

MG: It’s for the first time we have two puddle jumpers in the same shot.

MW: I took the “traveling puddle jumper”, that normally goes outside and put it beside the other one.

DH: That jumper looks way better, I have to say.

JF: Yes, this season the jumper definitely looks better.

MW: This was a really tough scene to block. With Joe getting down there…

JF: And getting in front of it…

MG: Great score, by the way. One of my favorite pieces of score this year.

MW: Actually Ford is in the co-pilot seat, he’s not flying it.

MG: One onliner explained how he did, because people were freaking out: Ford doesn’t have the gene, Ford can’t fly the puddle jumper.

MW: Well, he doesn’t, he’s sitting on the other side.

MG: The DHD can be activated by anyone.

[editor's note: the fact "the DHD can be activated by anyone" still doesn't answer the question how does Ford FLY the jumper, does it? Wrong question, Mr. Gero!]

JF: Could we have ever stood in front of the puddle jumper? In front of the screen? Or would it have costed too much?

MW: No, it wouldn’t have costed too much.

DH: We could have been stuck to it, like on a windshield [laughs] “Noooo…”

MG: Hoping he didn’t dial a space gate.

MW: Every show ends with Joe in jeopardy. “Is he coming back next time?”

MG: Great score.

S III 30

MW: I like this, this is one of my favorite endings to a show. We did all the stuff, up and down, up and down, and the way that you guys play this… Joe and Torri decided to play it at this level, they just decided to play it so down, that I thought, okay, we’ll do it in one shot.

MG: Seriously guys, we’re awesome! I would actually watch the show. Can you see David in the background, trying to steal the show?

DH: They keep moving the camera to avoid me.

MG: That was a Rob Cooper thing at the last minute, because we couldn’t afford to shot the city turning off, he was like we need to see it coming back on, which is a great idea, and is a very late addition by the Image Engine people who were thankfully able to do that.

MW: Nice show.

JF: Awesome.

DH: Thank you for watching.

MG: Enjoy the rest of the season everybody.


Siege3 feature photo SGAFAN


Most of the screen caps are curtesy of gateword.net and the featured image for this post is one of idahogrl823‘s screencaps and comes from this daily-flan LJ post.


May 042013
screencap courtesy of @idahogrl823

Joe Flanigan can be heard on barely a handful of the 100 episodes commentaries, and Rising is one of the few. This is the transcript of the DVD commentary with Joe and Martin Wood, the director of Rising (the pilot, a double episode), which was first aired on July 16th, 2004. The DVD set has no subtitles for this commentary.   

Since both Joe and Martin make a lot of references to the actual scenes in the pilot, we’ve added screencaps or short references for a better understanding. There’s also a rough time code matching the video, for easy navigation through the text and the DVD (however, it appears that there’s a very slight delay between the BluRay and DVD. Note that this transcript was done from the DVD).

While the whole commentary is very insightful and revealing for the birth of the Atlantis series, you’ll notice Joe’s particular focus on the filmmaking craft (acting, camera, directing, script development, lights, production issues) and on giving credit to other members of the cast and crew.

On a side note: we’ve tried (hard!) to put in the transcript all the onomatopoeic vrooms, whooshes and wows that Joe is so frequently using in order to interpret (and re-live?) the scenes, but we couldn’t keep up with him. You really need to listen for yourselves.


MIN 0:00

MW: Hi, I’m Martin Wood.

JF: And I am Joe Flanigan.

MW: And we’re here to talk to you about Atlantis. This is the first one. This is the first “two”. And this…

JF: …is several million years ago.

MW: We went through this about a billion times to get this effect right. On the left is Ona Grauer, you may recognize her from Frozen, and on the right, that’s her husband, her actual husband, Aaron, and Ona was the girl we found in the ice, in Stargate’s Frozen, and I really wanted to bring her back for this […] She would be the one that was left on Earth as this takes off. When you watch these things, you don’t realize how much R&D actually went into them, and Joe you saw some of these things in their infancy, the animatics, and you know how far they’ve come, like with that snow particles and stuff like that.

JF: Oh, that’s incredible. I think my entire salary went to special effects.

MW: I’m really glad you actually gave us that, thanks so much for that. That shot outside, we’ve took that on the day we were up in the helicopter, I took some stills that day, we’ll talk about it when we get to it. This is the set that we’ve used in the Lost City […] It wasn’t intended to be a 360 set like this, we weren’t intending to shoot all around the whole thing. You could tell how cold it is.

JF: Yes, it was freezing, absolutely freezing. The whole method you guys used to actually freezing us is effective.

MW: Just by putting fog on the ground.  Joe has just reminded me, this was our first day in high-definition television, we’ve actually changed from 35 mm film to HD, and it was a big thing for everybody to change, although it’s an amazing thing, I love working in HD.

Joe: A big thing, and frightening, there’re a lot of challenges due to HD which I think most people don’t realize. You can see the sharpness, is something that you battle a lot with camera, you have to filter the hell out of this stuff, to soften it up. That was kind of challenging.

MW: We keep trying to get it looking like film, but I think it’s its own beast and it’s never going to look like film. We use longer lenses, we do a whole bunch of stuff trying to make it look like film to crush that depth of field, to put those guys in the background out of focus.

JF: What I don’t understand is that sometimes everything is in focus, like that, for example…


MW: Wide lens would do that. This we would shot a couple of times, this scene, mostly because of the fluorescent lights, we hated how it looked the first time, and also, these two actors, right here, Torri and David, are terrible.

JF: It’s amazing they’ve survived.

MW: We had to do it so many times. Finally Joe and I were actually feeding them lines off camera.

JF: And what’s even better now is they’re paying us now to be in the show, which helps a lot.

MW: Interestingly enough this was a big moment for me and I don’t think I’ve ever captured it the way I wanted to. The dialogue gives us a lot of leeway in the way that we normally shoot things. This one doesn’t; you HAVE to figure out that we’re trying to get to another galaxy, and that’s the whole premise of the show.


JF: You know something important; Michael Shanks’ glasses are slightly crooked.

MW: This is Joe Flanigan actually flying…

JF: This was one of my favorite days of shooting actually in my entire ten or eleven years as an actor.

MW: We had a lot of fun on this day.

JF: Should have brought my skis.

MW: Richard Dean Anderson, Joe Flanigan and a very small crew flew up in this helicopter. Actually we had four helicopters up here; one just bringing equipment up. That’s actually Rick in that helicopter and a Joe look-alike. At this point, when we were shooting this stuff, Joe is climbing up one of the hills behind us, trying to get the best view and to ski down.

JF: That’s right, I’d grabbed the guy’s skis. That’s a Joe look-alike, but that is in fact Joe.

MW: This is fake.

JF: That’s interior. That’s amazing. I remember we shot this, what, six weeks later? It threw me off completely. I forgot my character’s name and all sorts of things.

MIN 5:00

MW: We were inside a studio with this, and to make it look like it’s in a helicopter, you shake the camera and you mix it with the stuff from outside. Nobody ever believes you you’re actually sitting inside and we’re blowing wind against the windshield to keep the little orange thing flying.

JF: It’s indistinguishable, I’d have to say. While you’re shooting this, as an actor, you feel like it’s the fakest thing in the world, it can’t possibly ever fit in… And then you see the results and you’re like: oh, I should have acted better

MW: Notice the difference between the chair now and the chair when Torri was standing besides it earlier? It was broken on the first day.

JF: Who did that?

MW: Special effects guys.

JF: I thought I’d broken it.

MW: You may have, actually, sitting in the first day and pushing it back.

JF: One of the many props I’ve broken.

MW: But now it’s fixed and sitting upward.

JF: Wow!

MW: That was a cool prop. This is good, we’re blowing up the whole set. That’s Rainbow, the first time you see him.

JF: What is that effect of the bubble-like wave quality? What’s the post-production effect?

MW: Just a computer vis-effect. Here we’ve got Rick sitting… The trick is to keep one of the actors in there, show him, and then on the fake stuff, when we’re in the studio, like this, we’re moving the camera. The whole is storyboarded from the beginning. See the little orange thing that indicates the wind speed, flapping around? We’re blowing snow at the front of it. Remember the time we were trying to crash land the helicopter?

JF: …and we basically did?

MW: There’s a shot coming up, where this helicopter has to crash land, with Rick sitting in it.

JF: What’s remarkable is that essentially it was a crash landing. It doesn’t look like it, but it’s a hell of a landing if you’re in the chopper. The tail touches first.

MW: And it dug a big hole. That was a difficult part of the shot, with Nathaniel Massey sitting in the back.

JF: Nathaniel Massey is our steady cam.

MW: This is the crash land right here. It doesn’t look like it’s coming down very hard. We couldn’t actually use the landing part of it because it blew the snow up all over the place. Now, this is actually Joe and Rick on the mountain. This is hilarious, I love doing this it with you.

JF: This is about my fourteenth jump.

MW: That was a fluke.

JF: That was a well placed drone, placed by none other than Martin Wood.

MW: How many times did I throw it? Like ten times…

JF: I was of course freezing my ass.

MW: I’m throwing that drone from like 10 feet. The original storyboard didn’t have that. It was supposed to stop 20 feet away from him.

JF: But that’s the improvisational nature of being on an isolated set.

MW: That was a great way to start.

JF: It was a great to start shooting the pilot, it was a lot of fun.

MW: That was the first stuff that we shot, and we went up the glacier and start shooting.

This was originally one shot.

JF: And then you would follow me into all the other places.

MW: And we followed him from here in this big long shot discovery for Joe, but this scene was actually flipped around in several different ways.

JF: Yeah…

MW: It didn’t originally start like this.

JF: We were kind of trying to balance the idea of following the story from the point of view of my character, versus slowly introducing him as a central character.

MW: And introducing Pegasus, the galaxy, and figuring out how to get there.

[O’Neill: Why did they leave?]


[O’Neill: Pegasus]

[Daniel: Yes it's a galaxy…]

MW: “Pegasus”, “Yes it’s a galaxy…”, those were the first two lines of the scene, and when Brad wrote them, he took them and shifted them around all over the place…

JF: Because Brad Wright is a deconstructionist, and a very good one. He’s made a lot of lemonade [laughs]

MIN 10:00

MW: A lot of this movie is… and I can’t take credit for it…

JF: I can, thank you!

MW: …it’s Brad’s and Robert’s creation, from start to finish.

JF: I have to say it’s remarkable, from my perspective, I’m an actor who had never done science fiction, you and I talked at length about this, the size of the frame, for example, and the “level” of everything in science fiction is very different. It was hard for me to believe how things were going to turn out. And this is when I first start to realize that you, Brad and Robert were clued in into something that I didn’t understand at all, which is how to create science fiction and what it turns out well and what doesn’t turn out well. It’s a far cry from the tight court room dramas and the other things that I had done.

MW: There is a scene, I’ll comment when we will get to it, in the helicopter when you’re about to leave, a pivotal scene for you and I to discuss the character. It gave to me the best look at who Sheppard was going to be, and it was just the way you were playing it. And this is another one, this scene, right here… My feeling on the read that you had was like it was a little bit off… but then, when I saw how the character evolved, especially over the first season, I looked back and I think now that you had a way better handle of it than I thought, at the beginning, than either of us did.

JF: I thought I had a good handle, for a while, until we started discussing it. I think a lot of people when watching a movie or a TV don’t understand that your performance is very different when you look at the frame. You look now at the frame of Torri and then you look at Rick and those are fairly tight frames, so you keep things fairly tight. But, with science fiction, as you were saying, and the sets that we have, for example this shot is so much larger that you can’t keep things on a super-tight performance level, sometimes, and they do get lost. And so, understanding what you’re going to use is what’s critical. It was a big learning curve for me.

MW: And this, the whole scene plays out in a single shot, so whatever is happening has to happen on a scale that we can see on this frame. This is a good point.

JF: That chair was too short for me, so my legs are hanging over… [laughs] It was made for tiny people.

MW: Yeah, the Ancients were small…

JF: Quaint!

MW: Quaint little people.

JF: This is the first scene when we’re all together

MW: That black thing behind you? You know what it is? All the stuff from the wraith hive. […] Here Rick looks at this coffin, in which he ended up in the end of… There was nothing in the script, but I felt he had to acknowledge he spent time frozen in it.

JF: I guess he did. I like how Rick always seems to have a spring in his step.

MW: He’s got a bad arch.

JF: He’s like: I’m trying to get out of here. Are we done with this scene?

MW: Here there’s some backstory for Sheppard, which, over the course of the season, we’re going to learn a little more about. But we really don’t examine it enough in the first season. The second season is about you and Vietnam.

JF: Afganistan.

MW: Afganistan. I was thinking about your vacation in Vietnam.

JF: That’s right. My holiday in Cambodia?

MW: This elevator makes so much noise when it goes up.

JF: What I like here is that I actually do know how to fly a helicopter, but they wouldn’t let me.

MW: That’s right, because we’re in a studio! Even if you were…

JF: [laughts] But then they took the rotor out.

MW: Here’s the definitive scene for me, as a director.

JF: It was after we had shot the pilot.

MW: I hadn’t a handle on Sheppard, all the way through the pilot, but every time we did a scene, we talked about it. We were trying to figure it out, and I’m giving him stuff that I think Sheppard is doing, and he’s been giving me stuff in the performance, but right here, this line:

[Sheppard: Right now, at this very second, whether I decide to go on this mission or not seems to be about me.]

MW: Remember we went through this line four or five times, and you said I’m going to play it like this, and I said you have to amp it up, amp it up, and you wouldn’t do it, and I’m glad you didn’t.

MIN 15:00

JF: I remember that, because that was the most frustrating day of shooting for me. It came after the pilot, because although we had shot the pilot, were still talking about the character, and I genuinely didn’t understand what you were talking about. I just did what I thought was going to be consistent with the character.

MW: You know what? You were absolutely right, and that’s the scene that taught me what Sheppard was going to be. I didn’t have a handle on where you were going with the character, I thought…

JF: Maybe I didn’t have a handle [laughs]

MW: I know you did, because we talked so much about it, but it wasn’t the way I wanted to go with it.

JF: That’s also interesting, for people who watch a show, they don’t realize that when you are given a script, each person who reads that script has an entirely different vision of they are going to see, and they have a visual image, particularly the director and particularly an actor, they have a particular visual image of how things are going to look and feel. And when you are going to shoot, and you try to fill the gap between expectation and reality, communication is the essential bridge. If you can’t communicate between what you thought the scene was like and what the director thinks the scene is going to be like, it becomes a complicated mess. It’s a lot easier with you guys, in Stargate, because after 6-7 years of shooting the show, everything runs accordingly, everything has a life of itself, you don’t have to create… In pilots… This was like the eleventh pilot in a row that I shot, so I had like a “pilot disease” at this point.

MW: But you did a great job, and you did a good job teaching me about it. This is a one-shot, this took us an entire morning to shot. Nathaniel Massey going through with his steady cam.

JF: We need more of Nathaniel Massey’s beautiful steady cam, because it’s an incredible quality. Here is none other that Robert Patrick, whom, by the way, I just ran into, a couple of days ago in LA, and he wanted me to say hi to everybody, and how much he loved working on the show. He wants to come back, do you know how to do that?

MW: He was so much fun, a lot of people thought we should have kept him as a series regular. We would have, if we could, but he had to die, otherwise your character…

JF: Yes, that would have been tough, I would have had to kill him later on.

MW: Going back into this, we were here for this scene, for the whole day. It was funny that there were only 5 of us who knew anything about this, everybody else was new.

JF: Yes, that’s true. Except for David, who had done Stargate.

MW: Yes, we brought him back and forth, but David actually didn’t show up. This scene was shot much later.

JF: We can talk about David later on, but the character that was written for him was to be entirely different. This is another shot.

MW: You don’t like this.

JF: I thought the shot was about to start from around the corner. But it didn’t. You talk about learning something from the other person you’re working with, what I learned from you, here, was… I was under the impression, perhaps egocentrically, that we were going to follow my point of view, from this pilot.

MW: It was originally written like that.

JF: It was, and I expected that, but the way you’ve done it is… you had the character creep up, which I think it’s a good choice, because you’re not sure who’s going to emerge.

MW: That’s the thing. It’s all about the discovery about who the characters are going to be, who’s going to be the main character. To keep you in the middle of this is a much cooler way than having the big wide lens following you.

JF: Specifically back to that scene, when you’re in the hallway, that hallway was really a hero-shot: bum, around the corner, music, ta-da-da, you know something’s going to happen to this character. This way is done here, I think it’s a much subtler approach, and creates more dramatic tension. You wonder what’s going to happen to this character, maybe he’ll become a critical character.

MW: We saw a montage of characters. This unfortunately gave away who the main characters in our show were.

MIN 20:00

MW: It wasn’t supposed to be there, it was asked for it afterwards, I didn’t even shoot most of it.

I love that line delivery “That would be Dr Weir, right?” And I love that shot, too. That’s the relationship, right here.

JF: He likes me, you know he does, c’mon.

MW: What happens is that we already know, unfortunately, who the main characters are supposed to be, and I didn’t want that to happen.

JF: I agree with you. You want these disparate things to come together. But I still don’t think watching would give away too much.

MW: Yeah.

JF: This is my first time I think in the Stargate room, the fabled Stargate room, which people actually try jumping the fences of the Studio to get into.

MW: This is the first time you ever went through a gate.

JF: Yeas, and I didn’t realize that this was kind of the Mecca for scifi fans. This little room right there. To be in it and be shooting and launching a new Stargate with the old Stargate characters… That was a very interesting day. The not-so-quiet MALP.

MW: Here again, there’s another set up…

JF: …more of Nathaniel Massey steady cam shot…

MW: …boom, right into a tight hero shot.

MW: The thing I liked about this day for me was being able to say good bye to the SG1 set, because it was literally leaving one and going into the other. I storyboarded this whole thing too, just so I can figure how to get from one to the other. Interestingly enough, the scene that David is playing here is a different scene than the one that was scripted, because we had it changed for Hewlett.

JF: I think people would be interested; the character of David, McKay, was a very different character. I had read in Los Angeles, with a number of people that they were looked into, to be cast for McKay, and they were entirely different. When Robert Cooper suggested David Hewlett, from Stargate, there was a complete reconfiguration, about… hmmm, that’s a good character, maybe we should make that character…   We started shooting the pilot before David was even hired.

MW: When I read this, originally, I was picturing McKay in there, and I asked the question the first day and both Robert and Brad said: we’ve thought of that, it’s interesting, we might do that.

JF: I think it’s proved to be one of the single best decisions of the entire series, because David’s McKay is… he’s an absolutely brilliant actor, and having that addition to the show… his humor and his acting skills are just, you know, they bring up the whole level of show, significantly.

MW: This was not how it was intended to be shot.

MW: Brad had come to me and said what are you thinking, why would you shoot it like this?  I needed you guys to have a moment there, by yourselves, without people passing by you. I didn’t want that many people in there, and so everybody says why are they standing there.

JF: I’m glad you didn’t because otherwise we’d be looping the whole thing.


MW: It’s a better character moment for you to be standing there by yourself. Splash!

JF: Now, this is going to be interesting, because I have an interesting comment about this. One mistake we did make: it’s my first time through a wormhole. Right here!

JF: Okay. What I was picturing was like wow, I just got out of a wormhole, but in fact, we end up in such a bizarre new environment, that I had to go into this military mode, of security and securing the environment. I really wanted a separate moment, just like you said before going into the stargate, a separate moment after the stargate, because, remember: I was just flying helicopters a few days ago. This is entirely new.

MIN 25:00

MW: This for me was about showing off the set, getting into this massive set. [...] We show off this place three times. The second time is of course when we get out of the water, but this time is very important to see… These are wide lenses, very wide lenses, almost to the point of distorting, and being able to show this progression through into the second level.

JF: This was our first day figuring out the lighting on this set, so it was really difficult. Poor Bruno, he was like: number 47! and the downstairs lights would go up… And that of course is our new stargate.

MW: The new stargate needs a whole commentary in itself. [...]

Creating that new stargate was a huge deal, and the special effects guys had been putting it together for months beforehand, and the way it dials up and things like that. It’s all new.

JF: That is one hardy mountain girl, with the backpack that weights one hundred…

MW: She’s got how many costumes changes?

JF: It’s remarkable, she actually has three seasons worth of wardrobe.


MW: This is amazing.

JF: Another lucky shot.

MW: I end up paying a hundred dollars to the prop person, she’s actually sitting right there, you can’t see her, she’s painted out, but her name is Ocean, and I said Ocean, if you can hit the camera with that

JF: But how come we don’t have that? Because it did land…

MW: She did, it landed, but it was the way they wanted to cut in.

JF: We put an enormous amount of pressure on our props people. Have the bullet hit the shoulder right in the middle of the word “and”.

MW: Through the season this room changes about 20 times, just like the table changes.

JF: It’s one of the cooler rooms of the entire set.

MW: It is, and those 9 doors that open…

JF: And this is downstairs. For everybody who’s thinking My god, this is a huge set, well actually it is a huge set, it is an absolutely huge set. This is an entirely different sound stage, which is one of the world’s largest sound stages where they built part of the Goldengate Bridge, that’s why they call it Bridge Studios.

MW: Spaceships!

JF: Yes, I love that read, it’s just pure…

MW: It’s what you would do if you walked into this room. Bridget McGuire did such an amazing job of production design. This is my favorite shot in the first part of the show.

JF: Is it?

MW: It’s so weird, I don’t know why I like it so much. It just shows off the set exactly how I wanted it to. It gets you, and David and Torri and Craig all into the control room.

JF: By the way, this is good to explain these “oners” as we call them, are a very complicated thing to get. As you see, everybody has to hit the mark precisely right, and the camera guy has to hit his mark and do his thing precisely right. And the camera guy, remember, can’t see where he’s walking. He’s got two guys holding his waist, so that he hits his marks, but he’s looking through the lens.

MW: This is interesting.

MW: This is where I actually got you to change your performance. And you fought this.

JF: I know, and you’re much happier with…

MW: The reason I had to do this is, to make you change it, is that line, right there.

[Sheppard: We're under water!]

MW: Because in the rehearsal, no, no, in the audition, you had that read. I thought: that’s what we need to feel! We have to feel that, we’re under water! That amazement that you would feel there. We’re shooting through a tank right here, that’s where the bubbles would go up here. That’s the tank I used in SG1 Watergate for the first time.

I just love the way of showing our set.

JF: By the way, of all the actors, who did a good job, this hologram girl would read this speech…

MW: Melia.

JF: …Melia, from beginning to end, without a single mistake, while we were all goofing off and making small mistakes.

MIN 30:00

JF: I have to say, this was a difficult day for me, because, once again, this was one of the first days with a lot of this scifi stuff I’d been taking about, which is: okay, you’re looking at a projected map of the universe. But I’m not! I’m looking at a bunch of … you know … lights! I had not done… I had done a fair amount of green screen and things like that, it was hard for me to understand how this thing was going to materialize. So, it was just challenging. Can’t you see the challenge in my eyes?

MW: I was gonna say, if nothing else, there’s challenge.

JF: It was pure challenge. Torture!

MW: Angst, mixed with challenge.

JF: And then, a little bit world’s crafty!


MW: A little hungry…

We’re in the same room that has the nine doors opening, I’m trying to make it look differently by having only one door open.

JF: People probably just don’t realize it’s the same room.

MW: The VR (virtual reality) room, it evolves over the season. We change the lights…

This was a difficult day.

We spent so long in that room.

JF: But we had a lighting problem, remember? It was the lighting, the hologram lighting.

MW: So here we are, back at another oner, rolling around with the steady cam again. Trying to get this many actors serviced in a scene, is very difficult. Let’s talk about David for a second here.

MW: David was searching for his character. He shouldn’t be as angry as he is. I let him get this angry, and it’s a mistake I made.

JF: I’m sitting down here, and that was a clear character choice, because I was actually tired.

MW: I put you in the background like that because I didn’t want to come up until there’s this decision at the end, with you throwing the line that actually gives us the solution. Until this point we really haven’t seen much from McKay. This is McKay coming up to the forefront, right here, and I let him get too big. David fought me on this.

JF: It’s interesting because Robert Patrick, along with what you’ll see of Robert Davi in the future were also at a loss with how to react, because one of the conundrums here is that’s a civilian mission, but you got the military. They’re used to clear military hierarchy, so to be spoken to the way McKay speaks to people, with that level of irreverence, is not military at all. So their character choices had to change with David’s. And it’s tricky, it’s tricky! He’s a brilliant antagonist, that’s what he is.

MW: And that’s what McKay was in Stargate. I was trying to hold that McKay. But he needed to evolve. He actually said to me: remember, at the end of Stargate I spent a couple of years in Russia, I was sent to Russia, so I’ve learnt something from that, I shouldn’t be like that.

JF: Which is how to drink lots of vodka and smoke Marlboro cigarettes (in Russian accent)

MW: This is our dialing sequence. I really like these lights flares.

JF: This is definitely a great Stargate. Although the purists… I have to say, this was an overarching theme through this entire pilot: a lot of Stargate fans watching a new Stargate show being launched and comparing: oh my god, this is not the same Stargate as the other Stargate. We were doing in this time a lot of press, lots of interviews, for all over the world, and they would always ask us questions like that: how does this compare with the other Stargate, even physically. How is the other Stargate different? They would ask all the time: how is your character different from Rick’s. It’s amazing that after we did the pilot, I’ve never been asked anymore any of these questions.

MW: True, because once people start watching it they realized it’s not the same show but it has the same mythology. It’s that mythology we needed to keep intact.

JF: I actually like getting through, by the way.

MW: Yes, it’s very cool.

This was fun.

JF: This was just an absolute… What’s remarkable is…

MW: The Stargate doesn’t actually exist there.

JF: …the eerie similarity between the landscape of British Columbia and the planet of Athos. And particularly a gravel pit, forty minutes north of Vancouver.

This was a cold wet day, everybody was cold and wet. And we could not see. As beautiful as these props are, you can’t see anything, so we were all bumping into each other. I wish we could’ve used some of the blueprint scenes. Ah! This is the introduction of the ever charming little boy named Jinto, who goes on to be the fabled Jinto.

MW: That’s Casey and Reese. And Halling, Christopher Heyerdahl.

MIN 35:00

JF: All three great actors, especially Christopher, he’s a phenomenal actor.

MW: There’s a great moment coming up here, when he stands up, and it was a joke, but I actually kept it in. Right here, Robert got his gun here, and Christopher stands up, and Robert purposely brings it up.

JF: I love that! I love that! That’s what a guy like Robert Patrick… he’s a lot of fun to have. A great actor is somebody who fills in all these blank spaces with small choices and sometimes are just physical choices or intonations and they create so many new levels.

MW: I loved having Robert in a situation where… It’s him in command but… you remember there was a whole piece to this scene that’s not in the show, when you have a conversation with him.

JF: And I love that scene too! The scene we’re talking about is a scene that the producers decided to pull, and it’s right about here, I’ll tell you in a minute.

MW: That’s the end of the scene right here.

JF: I say I think they want us to follow them, and he says: Good thinking, Sheppard. It was a very funny thing, and it would have shown more of the relationship between us, but Brad thought that it might insinuate that I’m not that smart. I didn’t think that it insinuated that, I thought it just showed that Robert was a smartass and had his own level of sarcasm.

MW: It played out very nicely but I’m glad they pulled it out, because this scene makes more sense now, with the whole walking, with you behind them. Remember, you said  I can hear them, and I said, yeah, react to it! That’s why we come to you with the camera. This is just one shot.

JF: You know, it takes out a good chunk out of our relationship and it would have been nice to have it left in.  The relationship is ultimately established, with or without it, but it was a nice little added flavor.

MW: That’s a huge shot with the steady cam that steps up to the crane and goes up in the air. This is the introduction of Rachel. This is actually shot in daytime.

JF: And this is the r-a-v-i-s-h-i-n-g RACHEL LUTTRELL! This was actually one of the first days of shooting, I believe.

MW: It was. And it’s daylight out there, we had to shoot it during daylight and make it look like night time. This whole tent is tented with blacks.

JF: I love this scene because we’re all stuck into a situation with Robert.

MW:… who’s supposed to command everybody and it’s a very weird power struggle between you guys.

[Sumner: Col Marshal Sumner, Mj Sheppard and Lt Ford]

MW: and Lt Ford… we were supposed to introduce his first name, but we were arguing about what his first name is going to be Aidan or not, because he was like: I’m not an Aidan, I shouldn’t be Aidan. So we didn’t use it, we just used the rank.

[Sheppard: Me, I like Ferris wheels and college football…]

JF: I didn’t even think twice about this line and for some reason people really like it.

MW: It’s a character line.

JF: I guess it does define certain things. See this scene? There’s so much more going on in this scene than meets the eye. It really establishes when Sumner decides alright, will let Sheppard do his MO, I’ll do my MO, and whatever’s more effective, will accept. Because until then, it was:  don’t even mess with me, I’m in charge, I know how to handle the situation.

MW: Which gives him…

JF: Because when you cut here, right here…

MW: He’s a smarter leader than you’d expected

JF: Yes, it shows flexibility that allows to get through a few situations.

MW: That was actually looking back at our trucks and we end up putting a vis effect in front of it.

JF: I think that’s one of the best-looking shots in the show.

MW: When he comes out like this?

FJ: I just think it’s great looking the village in the background, the mist, it gives it an epic quality. It’s also the first real exterior shot of the pilot, with the exception of the helicopters, and so you get the scope of things.

MW: It opens it up quite a bit, you’re right. This was bigger, too. This whole day, it started with a big crane shot.

JF: Oh, the crane shot, the famous Martin Wood crane shot.

MW:… going across the water. And we couldn’t do it, because we had to have time. So this scene starts actually half way through the original scene that we shot.

It was good, there was a lot of stuff going on, it’s the first time Sheppard killed anybody, it was at the beginning of this scene, remember how you killed that, … umm…

JF: Yeah, all of them! And then we decided to rewrite the entire pilot. Because I thought it was a solo show…


MW: We’ve had this conversion, Joe, you can’t kill them all.

JF: Who are these people?


MIN 40:00

JF: Rachel is such a great actress, and I think she has one of the most difficult roles on the show: it’s very to play an alien-type character. Chris Judge plays one. It’s hard because you’re tightening the parameters of your expression and you’re trying to develop a complex character underneath. It takes a very good actor to succeed.

MW: It doesn’t have our sense of humor.

JF: Right, exactly! I think she’s got one of the most challenging roles in the show.

MW: See those guys in the background? They’re looking at a Swiss army knife. That knife was the beginning of the scene. It was handed off and they were supposed to be looked at it in the end of the scene. He grabs it and says give me my knife back.

MW: Back to Rachel. The relationship that you guys had, everybody ask you about it, right?

JF: Yeah.

MW: Because nobody knows. Which is the best thing!

JF: It’s still out.

MW: It has to be enigmatic. It has to be an enigma, because you can’t instantly start with a relationship like that.

JF: It would also be natural… for two… you know… a man and a woman… in a desolate forest…


MW: This is all Joe! We had some set up here, and Joe just fell down and we decided to keep that.

JF: That was a choice. It was funny because I just thought, I don’t know, maybe they’ll use, maybe they won’t. Brad loved that! It was so funny that he liked it so much, that I was like oh, okay, I’ll give you some more of that.

MW: That was a huge scene, remember? It was all about the power bar…

JF: And we cut the whole thing!

MW: We cut everything out and went back to you falling down and to how far is this thing. I love that! It’s a good way to get there.

[Weir: You're saying we have to abandon the City?]

JF: Whoohoo…

MW: The only thing you can actually see here is the special effects guy shaking the windows. I did a terrible job of showing the City falling apart and that’s one of the things I really regret.

JF: How long did it take to light this thing?

MW: About 14 seconds.

JF: We couldn’t light this thing for the life of us. See, here’s the light!

[Teyla: We mastered the fire long ago ]

JF: We mastered the fire long ago. Actually, on the 25th take we’ve mastered fire.

MW: That’s right, because it wouldn’t light up.

JF: So I made fun of “her people”

MW: I thought you were speaking of the lighting of the scene…

JF: The lighting of the scene is great!

MW: …which is lit by one light, a flashlight.

MW: In scenes like this, when we use flashlights to light the characters, the DOP (Director Of Photography) is forever asking guys like Joe: flash the camera like that and shine the light in her face.

JF: Yeah, and that can prove challenging to people who haven’t been on a set a lot, like an actor who hasn’t done a lot of work, sitting there and trying to do all these things, and the DOP comes along and says: oh, when you’re halfway through that sentence, shine that flashlight on her face. It’s a lot to do!

MW: People asked me about this [the necklace], if we knew it was going to be a show later on about it

MW: We can’t tell you about that show is about, but there’s a lot about that necklace.

JF: But it was a double issue, which was establishing a potentially romantic situation as well.

MW: This set was originally supposed to be a bigger set, it was supposed to be a huge long cavern, and it was supposed to be a vis effect, but we end up putting the money somewhere else, and we end up with a very small area.

JF: This was the audition scene for this character, and in Los Angeles I read with all these characters and this is where they decided to cast Rachel. She was able to strike that balance between speaking normally, without sounding too “out-of-wordly”.

MW: She’s giving us the backstory to Atlantis.

JF: And it’s critical!

MW: It’s all about what happens for the rest of it, for the time we’re in Atlantis.

JF: It’s true.

MW: About the wraith moving, and sleeping, and moving out and culling. I love that scene. It’s a very intimate two persons scene.

JF: There’s also another part to that scene: I have to be kind of a smartass again, but…

MW: You’re talking about the 6 hours day alien planet?

JF: Yes.

MW: Remember that gate doesn’t actually exist there. It’s the first time we get to see the wraith darts. These are pretty cool. The first time we actually see a ship like this flying through. We haven’t seen them before.

JF: That actually is what marks our show from Stargate, we’re dealing now with “gate-ready technology”.

MW: That’s right, that’s a good point.

MIN 45:00

JF: The puddlejumpers, which you’ve seen slightly, they’re designed to fit perfectly through the stargate. Looks like a winnebago, of course…

MW: This was fun to shot, this whole night of running around and blowing up things. This is when the special effects guys go crazy, because I said these darts have to be more powerful than anything we’ve seen before. They have to be scary.  So they need to start blowing stuff up, and blowing them up in a big way.

JF: The first time that I saw that I was pretty impressed!

MW: That ray plays very heavily in a bunch of other stuff that we do.

JF: I have to say that one of my favorite parts of Stargate and Stargate Atlantis is that there is this kind of very basic technological quality to humans, and we’re still like just Commando guys, with basic guns, dealing with alien type people. This grounds us, this gives a such an earnest scifi show, while there is so much technology where everything is outwordly. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who start to watching scifi after seeing Atlantis, and they say the same thing, they feel like they could be watching a conventional military type drama, but it’s placed in space.

MW: You took that line away, do you remember? There was a line that said you walked right through it.

JF: No, I didn’t, I’ve said it, I don’t know where it is. Where is it?

MW: Seriously? I thought it was you who decided that…

JF: No, I can’t make executive decisions like that.

MW: Action in Atlantis is an important thing, and it’s important to you.

JF: It’s my favorite part of the show. As far as I’m concerned, there can never be too much action. It’s a budgetary issue.

MW: This is interesting: on the turn around in here, we’re no longer outside. I didn’t have time to shoot. This shot, right here, that’s inside.

JF: So it’s in the studio. I didn’t know that. I’ll be damned.

MW: That’s actually sitting on the same spot that…

JF: Whoosh…

JF: That was late at night.

MW: We were out of time every night we had to shoot there. This is the end of the first night.

JF: You know what’s funny? We were shooting in this area and it was the first time we were really running around, doing stuff and jumping. It was funny because you kept asking: are you ok? is it ok? are you ok with that?  And that’s the part I love! It was the only exercise I was getting.


MW: It’s so nice to have an actor who wants to do all that kind of stuff on their own.

JF: Well, sometimes a lot of actors want to do it for super macho purposes, while I just wanted to make sure I got a lot of exercising.


MW: This is cool.

JF: This was cool!

MW: I love shooting this kind of things because we don’t get much of a chance to be outside with these super long lenses. This wraith hand: that’s inside the studio, it was the same day we were shooting the helicopter shot. It’s an actual hand inside there and there’s a slot that it fits through and his hand is sort of bent and is moving, while the rest of the arm is hanging in the back.

JF: It’s a great apocalyptic quality to this whole shot.

MW: First chance we get to see the wraith.

JF: And the power of the wraith.

MW: This kind of long-lens shot:  you don’t often get in television, unless you’re outside. You have to go to super long-lens to compress the background like that and to make it look cool.

MW: This is more important than we realized, because I think I failed, I didn’t show the City destroying itself enough. Inside, in here, you don’t get the sense of it falling apart, until you come back. It just doesn’t feel it’s enough…

JF: … structural process…

MW: …chaotic going on. The jeopardy isn’t there! We don’t feel the jeopardy. The people are surprised oh, it’s falling apart?

JF: I think you and I see something, and other people see differently. I never heard that complain. I think as a director, you obviously are going to be a lot more critical of your work. Because I felt like, you know, the explanation early-on of the structural issues was sufficient.

MW: Because the audience doesn’t know the City, and *we* don’t know what it looks like, it was for me… We’re on the top of the tower here, and I should have played a little more of that top of the tower stuff.

JF: Would you like us to go back and shoot again?

MIN 50:00

MW: Yeah, I’d like to! For way more money! On this shot, we’re seeing the floor of the studio, in behind the window.

MW: And it’s something that we’ve addressed much later on, but didn’t until that point. This is the first chance I get to see my daughter on television. That’s her, on the right.

JF: These are very expensive shots, anytime somebody walks through water.

MW: Here, we have the vibrating… Remember the shakers? How the whole equipment vibrated?

JF: Yes, yes, those were great.

MW: So you guys were all yelling…

JF: Yeah, this is all loop. You know, one of my pet peeves is that I’m not crazy about looping. So I’ve become very sensitive when I hear background noise, I try to nail the dialogue with that noise in the background. This is my favorite line: I’m Jinto.

MW: She’s glad to meet you.

MW: This is amazing!

JF: Here’s where the money goes!

MW: And this is innovation, too. This is Rainmaker making stuff that has never been done before.

JF: John Gajdecki. He’s kind of a special effects genius.

MW: All those luggages were on shakers and started to fall.

JF: Yeah, and that helped quite a bit.

MW: This is the first chance anybody gets to see this City. This is a nice reveal, a beautiful reveal.

JF: This is a great shot. I think that, visually, this was by far the pinnacle of the pilot.

MW: I agree.

JF: Everybody I’ve talked to. My friends and family weren’t scifi aficionados, but when they’ve watched this, they really liked it, and particularly this shot. That’s the best shot, right there!

MW: This is the combination of John Gadejcki, Brad Wright and Robert Cooper.

JF: How many Emmi’s have Gadejcki and the Rainmaker guys? They’re so good at this stuff.

MW: And finding the angles, to show the water shedding off this thing and yet to get the sense of the size of this City, all in about 14 – 15 shots. It has to feel like it’s actually coming out of the water, and just to do that is so expensive.

JF: It’s enormously expensive, but we also knew it was money well spent, because we use it so many times.

MW: Yes, it’s title sequence stuff.

JF: Definitely title sequence.

MW: This is an interesting read of the major characters of the show.

JF: I think I had Jinto coming into this scene.

MW: Yes, you actually asked him to come in, and it worked very well to have him there. I find that that part of Atlantis, coming up, and sitting up and being there, that’s really where the pilot was aiming toward.

MW: Now we’ve got the next half of the show, when we start dealing with the wraith and the rest of it. I love that change that happens in the middle of the script, where you think ok, uh, we’re at the end of the show, but we’re not. We’re now into the second part of it, which is going to be sort of setting up what’s going to happen in the next few shows, because the show ended right here, so would the series.

JF: This is an important scene between our two characters.

[Sheppard: When can you tell me where the Wraith took Colonel Sumner and the others?]

MW: It is. I wanted to play it with you guys in confrontation like that, facing each other. A character beat for you to show that you’re no idiot.

JF: Actually we had two different takes on this, and the direction you gave us was the right one, because my initial reaction was to do military and to kind of physically intimidate him a little, when you said step back and just don’t be physically intimidating.

MW: Play your brain.

JF: And I think it’s good, because it established a more neutral environment for us to become friends.

MW: Everybody asked me why don’t we see what they’re looking at? The only one reason: too expensive.

JF: Very expensive. If the shot is shot from behind, like that, those are expensive shots.

MW: In a movie version of this, we would have seen you guys out there, from behind, seeing the whole thing.

MIN 55:00

MW: And it really is missing, I know it’s missing, Brad knows it’s missing. We saved it for the end, when she walks away, and it does work. This is looped completely, because we’ve got those fans going on.

JF: Uggf…

MW: And your hair is so plastered, so that we can’t move it.


JF: It helps if you do not wash your hair for a couple of weeks.

MW: And then use bear fat.

JF: Of which is plentiful up here, in British Columbia.

MW: I really like the scene.

JF: I still think it’s one of the best scenes, particularly for our characters. I, personally, I have a hard time with the look of this particular scene, because it’s the first time that we’re seeing the outside of Atlantis, and everything is, again, so crystal clear. Some people like that. It was very hard for me to get used to it. The clarity of this was very hard for me to get used to.

MW: Another point you made is shouldn’t we talk about this, since this is the first time we’ve been outside, and the conversation isn’t about what’s out there, it’s about the situation. It’s distracting.

JF: It is distracting, but it’s also very tough. We have, you know, two hours, or less than two hours, we have roughly 88 minutes, to introduce an entire new mythology. So you can’t address everything and that’s why there’s a series of compromises you make to get a pilot shot and introduce the pivotal moments of the characters and then send it off, so it self-sustains. It’s always the challenge of a pilot. It’s not the challenge of further episodes. See, now there is a shot that might have been the start of the scene, what we were talking about earlier.

MW: That’s true. The option was there, but just expensive, and there are so many places to spend money in here.

JF: This is a big money pit.

MW: This is the wraith hive, which is organic and completely different. We tweaked the color in this, because the whole thing is much bluer than we expected. Those dots in the background were originally yellow.

MW: There’s the wraith. Everything looked cartoonish and we didn’t want that to happen. This is James.

JF: This is Jimmy the wraith. He is the most patient person on the set, because he is covered in one of the most uncomfortable outfits, with the skin and everything else. The teeth, contact lenses, you name it, it’s a really uncomfortable situation to be in. And so are all these guys.

MW: The wraith, for me, were the biggest challenge. They were the hardest thing because introducing a new character, a new enemy that was going to be our enemy, was a very difficult thing for me.

JF: It’s a source of so many conversations; goa’uld vs the wraith, the wraith are over the top, bla bla bla. I think we struck it right now with the wraith, because I think they’re very menacing.

MW: The thing I hear most of the time is that they are too scary. People don’t want them to be that frightening.

JF: A lot of people have been scared, a lot of kids I’ve talked to, have said I’m really scared of the wraith. But weren’t you scared of the wicked witch of the East when it was revised?

MW: I was, especially when I realized that she was wraith with makeup on. For me, the Goa’uld were never frightening. All through Stargate SG1, there’s an evolution of them, until we get to Anubis, but when you are just dealing with the wraith themselves, my whole focus was to make them a menacing-menacing character, that scare you instantly! When you’d got back there you’d say: you weren’t there, you didn’t see what we saw. They’re scary, they’re not like these beautiful people, who are humanoid.

JF: I think the wraith are great and I think they make for a fantastic enemy. I think they’re scarier that the Goa’uld but I don’t to get into that… competing bad guys.


MW: Again we show something scary and gross, this wraith arm here.

JF: And this is played by Paul McGillion. And Paul is a very good actor. Now here’s a guy who took not so much and turned it into a lot, and he’s become an invaluable part of our show.

MW: I love that prop.


JF: One of the coolest props.

MW: That was created by the same guys who do our prosthetics, and when they first came to me with this waggling it back and forth, I said that’s exactly what we need, goo it up! And they put all this goo all over it, to make it even more disgusting. But again, a really important scene, to introduce what the wraith are, they’re unkillable.

MIN 60:00

JF: What has been left in the pilot is absolutely indispensable in terms of information. That’s the challenge of editing, having it down to the essentials, and every one of these scenes is very important information that carries on for further episodes.

[Weir: What is that noise?

McKay: He was right here. Major!]

JF: This scene was one of the single most frustrating scenes for me in the whole pilot. I was the first time in the puddle jumper, which I don’t like to be in, and I didn’t know if I was on speakerphone or I wasn’t on speakerphone, I didn’t know how far away I was from Torri and David, and, I don’t know, it was very frustrating.

MW: All of these things are my fault, for not being able to…

JF: Aaah, you’re right, it was *your* fault! [laughs]

MW: No, it is, it was up to me to paint that picture for you. When it’s a vis effect, I can say:  this is what is happening here

JF: But you had nothing to show, we had nothing to show! The storyboards don’t do justice.

MW: We didn’t know, on that case, what it was going to be until we actually built it.

JF: By the way, we reshot this.

MW: Yes, we did. We reshot pieces of the whole thing, because, at the end of the pilot, both of you knew what you were going to do: Rainbow figured out his character…

JF: I don’t know if you can see the discrepancy, I’m not going to point it out!

MW: That’s the retake.

JF: We shot the whole thing, and remember, you and I talked about it, and after talking to pilots… Well, that’s a little further down the road, so I’ll wait to talk about that.

MW: About how your body was affected?

JF: Well, it’s a lot about that stuff, about how pilots behave inside their ships.

MW: This is a new part of our set, a lot of people reacted: oh, okay, so we’re getting the geography of this place. Which is important.

MW: I love this shot.

JF: This is a very great shot.

MW: We minimized it. A lot of time, my feeling is minimize the effect, so it doesn’t seem like the technology of the gate is that great, but let things evolve, like okay, holly crap!, you know?

JF: This is when we’re discovering that Ancient genes can really help.


JF: That, of course, was an altered gameboy that I kept trying to play with. We’re working on so many kinks in the pilot, the wardrobe, in the chair, that was very… That is another great shot.

MW: I took a little bit of the speed off the camera shot, that is slightly faster when you play it at the normal 24 frames, so his hair moves a little bit slower. All the stuff on the wraith side we shot slightly overcranked, so that you get a little bit of sense of weight to them.

I liked playing this in the back of his head. He looks back at Bates, I’m scared, now look how long it stays right here. Instead of being on his face for that, I showed the back of his head and let us see what they see.

JF: Oh, yeah, it’s interesting

MW: Rather than playing it on his face. So much of what’s about to happen is going to happen on Robert’s face, that I didn’t want to take his character and show any kind of fear. I didn’t to show anything at this point, because I wanted to let the next scene to give his feelings. He had to put a brave face for everybody else.

Look at your face in this scene! As you’re landing, and you’ve never landed this thing before, that for me was an important part of how to do this.

MW: We’ve colorized all this to give an alien feel, and put the big wind machines.

JF: Huge machines!

MW: Which, unfortunately, are not big enough to move the big trees! Just the small ones.

JF: These were tough shots, once again with many actors.

JF: This guy just stayed to the party a little too long!

MW: This beast here was in the Stargate movie, the Stargate SG1 pilot and now it’s in our pilot.

JF: Interesting piece of trivia.

MW: I found it in the model shop, and I said we got to put it in this pilot. It was never addressed, where it comes from.

MIN 65:00

So here we now get to see Sumner’s reaction to this weirdness. And look on this face.

MW: And Andee…

JF: Here we have the Uberwraith!

MW: Played by  Andee Frizzell

JF: Played by Andee who’s, what, 6 ft 1 or something?

MW: Yeah. Was cast because she was a yoga instructor and had a sense of body movement that we needed to get that feeling all the way through it.

Some of the other shots we shot at the end of the pilot.

JF: Oh, yes, we did!

MW: This is my cameo right here.

JF: [laughs] We’ll show that in a minute.

MW: If you actually see Joe’s hands, and my hands… Because my hands double Joe’s all the way through the pilot.

Here, these are my fingers

JF: Ha, chubby little fingers!

MW: I kept the fingernails dirty, just like Joe Flanigan would.

JF: Oh, yeah.

MW: Whenever you see Joe looking at the life signs detector…

JF: Because Joe’s like: I like to get home and don’t want another hour for the insert of my thumb, and Martin, happily, filled in for me. Made the wrong choices with the thumb, though!


MW: How about indicating with a gun?

JF: I have to say, I’m an outsider to science fiction, so, I’m sitting in these sets and I’m thinking to myself: my god, this thing is plastic, and we have this fake arm hanging around, this is ridiculous, this can’t possibly work, right?  And then it works.

MW: And then you look at your paycheck and say Maybe it’s not so ridiculous! You keep comparing the two. But yeah, you get immersed in it after a while.

That scene that we just left, was much longer. There’s a whole explanation about where you were going and testing Ford’s loyalty.

JF: It was supposed to be a relationship point between Ford and Sheppard.

MW: Remember when we were playing on the back of his head? Here we were doing the same of his face. This is all about his feelings. Camera pivots on his face.

Both Andee and James were wearing contact lenses.

JF: You can’t see ANYTHING in those.

MW: I had to walk to her and say: Andee, it’s Martin, in case somebody else was giving her directions. She would sit in the middle of the set with this wild look on her face, and you’d think: she’s freaking me out. But it was because she couldn’t see anything, she was just standing there, watching shapes moving in front of her.

There’s another thing that I should have done: I should have put Toran in something different, because once we colorized this you lose the colors of his clothing, so people weren’t really sure it was Toran.


JF: You love action, and I love action, and so we were always trying to find as much action as possible.

That was an insert that we did later on, and you’d say: look left, look right, look forward. And they add to the physical, the velocity of the show.

MW: She can’t close her mouth, and when you actually hear her talk…

JF: The talkth liketh thith the whole timeth!

MW: So Robert was concentrating on not laughing. If you could see the outtakes for this thing… It’s so funny, because she sounds so funny, and Robert is standing there and finally he looses it. I’m going to kill you, with thith voith of mine!


JF: I created this little stance, I had to know how was I to hold it and press the little buttons? This costly prop… it’s a very complicated thing to hold onto these props, and you want to be in stealth mode, too.

She’s a very sexy wraith!

MW: Yeah.

JF: We need more female wraith!

MIN 70:00

MW: The red hair is something I’ve added much later, she originally had white hair, the same as the guards. I wanted her to stand out, more than the other wraith that we see, and make her feel like she was the one in charge of this hive.

JF: People don’t realize how physically demanding this scene is for Robert.

[Wraith queen: Earth first!]

MW: This is when we see how the wraith are scary, beyond how they look like. Look at what is happening, just by having a hand on you! Originally we were supposed to show all the details of the hand sucker. I kept asking: how are we going to do that? Her hand is against his chest, you can’t show that stuff happening. We hold on to it for a long, long time, to see that vis effect of that thing coming out from her hand. And then we figured, why? All you had to see was his chest.

What’s interesting here is, when you came in, you’re actually looking at somebody who’s not Robert. This whole scene had to played without Robert there, with the whole thing between the two of you.

That’s Robert, but by the time you came into the scene, he was gone.

That’s Robert’s mold.

JF: It was the first time we were actually shooting a wraith.

MW: That’s not Robert.

When you put another actor in prosthetics and he’s supposed to be… your face, and his face, back and forth…

JF: That’s a pivotal moment which I’m sure everybody knows. I’d like to have played more that, the clear signal, please kill me.

MW: I agree.

JF: Because it becomes an issue later on, are you sure you had to kill him?

MW: The whole thing about that moment, I don’t think it played as well as it was scripted. It was scripted much better than I shot it.

JF: That’s a great rack.

MW: In this scene we had to do this fight and a bunch of different things, and the set is so much smaller than it was supposed to be. People say why didn’t Ford shoot her?  He shot the guard that was holding you. But why isn’t he shooting her now? is the question. He still hasn’t shot her, the one who’s making all the noise. Because you needed to…

JF: That was a cool effect.

MW: She actually started with this thing stuck to her on her back, and Joe runs in with one that doesn’t have the big beak in front of it…

JF: And then the frame comes in.

MW: …and jabs her, and then we pull back on it, and that’s when you see the thing, and it looks exactly like the one he jabbed her with.

JF: More movie magic!

MW: And then, when you pulled it out, it was actually the one beneath her arm, and you pull out the one with the beak on it.

JF: It was not that easy to do. This, to me, it’s one of the best parts of the pilot, because this is when Sheppard realizes he has just created so much trouble for himself, which is an ongoing theme of how we’ve really made some critical mistakes.

JF: I love this part. And I get a handgun, of course, that’s really going to help up.

MW: We had to address Col Sumner, because both of you wanted to take him with you and not leave a guy behind. We couldn’t do it.

JF: But they didn’t show that we took his dog tags!

MW: You see Sheppard go down to get them, but…

JF: I do, and a lot of people don’t realize that I still have his dog tags.

MW: *I* knew that, because the props guys put them in

JF: Even a lot of directors that came don’t realize, and they ask why I don’t get rid of those, and I say these are Sumner’s dog tags that I keep in my room. As a reminder of the choice I had to make.

MIN 75:00

MW: I think that’s a point, over the course of the season this was not addressed as much as we could have addressed it.

This is the first time that you get the sense of scale, with the darts running like that.

This was a huge scene, between Rainbow and Rachel.

JF: You can’t tell, but we’re painted almost yellow, all of us, because they’re going to saturate. You can see that Rachel looks very different. They were supposed to be saturated with a blue saturation, but then we’ve toned it down, so the makeup is very strange.

MW: We called it jellybean faces.


MW: You were going to shoot them with your little handgun.

JF: That’s right, my handgun. And there’s the saw!

MW: That was my favorite shot.

JF: These shots… It’s getting really tricky, as you have steady cam stuff, you got to hit everything. And you got pyrotechnics. Surprisingly, we had a whole another shot to that, remember? that Nathaniel just nailed, but we couldn’t use it.

MW: We ran out of light. Ford loosed his hat right there, nobody saw it. If you actually look, you can see it fly off. I was going to have to shoot it again, but I couldn’t, because we didn’t have time.

MW: I love that. That shows what the puddle jumper’s all about!

JF: This is an important scene. To the audience this would be interesting; pilots, in their own ships, behave in that eerily calm fashion which is: we got our target locked on. This is true, and as this scene builds, we made the choice of having him a seasoned pilot. But after we looked at it, and we looked at the entire pilot together, we realized we were going to have to play it differently. So we went back and reshot that. This was done in, what, the fourth episode?

MW: You can tell what’s reshot, because there’s an Atlantis case up on the wall behind you, and they’ve forgotten to take that down.

JF: There’s a number of shots that we couldn’t use. Right there!

MW: That case should not be there. So that’s a reshot. You’ll see when you actually see the other ones, you’ll see that it’s not there. And now you know which is reshot. And again, I would amp up your action.

JF: Yes, I was to amp up the action, which in end helped up quite a bit on the overall pilot, because it’s actually, emotionally, the climatic point. For him to be calm was counterproductive toward what we were trying to get.

I didn’t even see any of this stuff until months later, and you ought to have it in your head. So when I saw it, I was…

MW: I’m getting you to fire back at these, with flashlights in front of you.

JF: There’s lights flashing and Martin is like: oh, three o’clock, no, two o’clock, there’s another one going for three o’clock

MW: This is the scene we were talking all the way through. See, there’s no case behind you, that’s the original. And this is wild! There’s the whole thing about how you didn’t get crushed by the G-forces.

JF: I love Torri’s look.

MW: This is something we don’t normally play on SG1. The fact that of course you can fire through these things.

MIN 80:00

JF: This is why they have a lock on the gate.

MW: This is great! Zoot! I love that, and there’re pieces of debris of the ship.

[Weir: Reactivate the shield!]

JF: Just in time!

MW: I like the action that happens. It’s just shot, shot, shot, motion, motion, motion. Again, in television we don’t the time to do that a lot.

JF: I know. There’s not a lot of action shows left on television.

MW: Because it’s too expensive.

JF: I think we’re still of the few action shows, which I love. I love action shows.

MW: Especially when you do an action-adventure, it’s good to have that action part [laughs], not just adventure all the time.

JF: That was another veeery funny scene.

MW: Here we are. With all the Athosians…

JF: We’re having that inter-mingling…

MW: This set, you might recognize, if you’ve seen Blade: Trinity.

JF: Which we now own.

MW: Which we now own, which is Atlantis.

JF: It’s massive, four storey of a skyscraper. It’s interesting that we had to strike the right tone at the end of the show. It’s supposed to be a fairly joyous occasion. We talked at length about this you, and me, and Michael Greenberg, and Brad, about what is the right tone to strike. We just killed Sumner and, yet, everybody seems to be celebrating the fact that they’re alive, more than Atlantis. So, essentially, I think we did it right.

MW: I do too.

JF: Torri balances it properly by saying let’s keep things in perspective, you did what you had to do.  We were afraid that our… that we were too solemn. Remember that? And we thought no, it’s not good to have a too solemn tone to strike.

JF: This was the hardest part for me, as an actor. I’ve actually never formed heads with another actor.


MW: It’s alright. It looked practiced. He wouldn’t rehearse it either. Okay, on the day we’ll touch heads, he said.

JF: I can’t keep forming heads in rehearsals.

MW: Mostly because your bear fat from your hair would transfer to hers. It’s important for me when I watch your character, and this is so cool about Sheppard, this is what I really like about Sheppard, that he’s not O’Neill. Your reaction is, this lower key reaction to things, where there’s still humor underlying it. There, look at you eyebrows there, that your humor is underlying certain things, but you take it a little more seriously, which I really like.

JF: This character is distinctly different. Brad and I would tell you both that Sheppard is more of an optimist, and he believes in the basic goodness of people. It’s skepticism, and not cynicism, and it gets tough sometimes.

MW: I like that, because it gives more direction, more room to grow. There’s a childish interest in things that you’ve got.

JF: That’s a great shot.

MW: I like that.

JF: It’s play time.

MW: And that’s Atlantis. That’s the pilot, thanks for watching.




screencap courtesy of @idahogrl823



Nov 122012
Stargate Atlantis

Joe Flanigan’s character from Stargate: Atlantis, Lt. Col. John Sheppard, was voted in the top 100 greatest sci-fi characters of all time in a UK poll organised by Stratego Sci-Fi, has recently announced imdb.

To mark the launch of its new game, Stratego Sci-Fi has surveyed more than 2,000 Britons to chart the Stratego Sci-Fi 100 – the nation’s top 100 stars of the sci-fi world – as well as a separate poll charting the best sci-fi battles from the silver screen – and has crowned Superman the greatest sci-fi character of all time

Following up the Man of Steel in 2nd place in the Stratego Sci-Fi 100 was Harrison Ford’s gruff but lovable rogue Han Solo, with Frank Oz’s jedi master Yoda coming third, both representing Star Wars in the top three and rounding it out firmly in George Lucas’ favour. Steven Spielberg’s E.T may be one of the most lovable characters of all time, but only made it to fourth in the list, followed by Will Smith’s Agent Jay from the hugely popular Men in Black series at number five.

1. Superman (Christopher Reeve), Superman
2. Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Star Wars
3. Yoda (Frank Oz), Star Wars
4. ET, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
5. Jay (Will Smith) – Men in Black Series
6. Darth Vader (James Earl Jones), Star Wars series
7. Captain James T Kirk, Star Trek
8. Martin McFly (Michael J Fox) – Back to the Future
9. C3PO, Star Wars
10. Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Star Trek
11. Mr Spock, Star Trek
12. Captain Steven Hiller (will Smith) – Independence Day
13. The Daleks, Dr Who
14. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Star Wars
15. Doctor Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd), Back to the Future
16. The Tardis, Dr Who
17. R2-D2, Star Wars Episodes I-VI
18. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars
19. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ghostbusters
20. Doctor (David Tenant), Dr Who
21. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Alien
22. Kay (Tommy Lee Jones), Men in Black series
23. Gizmo, Gremlins
24. Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), Star Wars Episodes III-VI
25. Princess Leia (Carrie Fischer), Star Wars Episodes IV – VI
26. Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), The X Files
27. Trinity (Carie-Anne Moss), The Matrix
28. Thomas Anderson/Neo (Keanu Reeves), The Matrix
29. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), The Terminator, Terminator 2
30. Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) – Jurassic Park
31. Doctor (Matt Smith), Dr Who
32. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), The X Files
33. Dave Lister (Craig Charles), Red Dwarf
34. Alien, Aliens
35. Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), The Matrix
36. Wall-E, Wall-E
37. Robert Neville (Will Smith), I Am Legend
38. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), The Matrix Trilogy
39. Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) – Jurassic Park
40. Scotty (Simon Pegg), Star Trek
41. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), Bladerunner
42. T-1000 (Robert Patrick), Terminator 2: Judgement Day
43. Major Alan ‘Dutch’ Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Predator
44. Arnold Judas Rimmer (Chris Barrie), Red Dwarf
45. “Mad” Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson), Mad Max
46. Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Torchwood
47. Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Dr Who
48. Jabba The Hutt, The Return of the Jedi
49. Predator, Prediator
50. Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Buffy the Vampire Slayer
51. Optimus Prime, Transformers
52. Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), Inception
53. Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) – Close Encounters of the Third Kind
54. Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Dr Who
55. Padwan (Natalie Portman) Star Wars
56. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), Avatar
57. RoboCop (Peter Weller), RoboCop
58. George Taylor (Charlton Heston), Planet Of The Apes
59. Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds
60. Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Blade Runner
61. Lady Penelope, Thunderbirds
62. Bender (John DiMaggio), Futurama
63. James Cole (Bruce Willis), Twelve Monkeys
64. Private William Hudson (Bill Paxton), Aliens
65. John Anderton (Tom Cruise) – Minority Report
66. Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise), War of the Worlds
67. Angel (David Boreanaz), Buffy Vampire Slayer
68. Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman), Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
69. Dr Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) – Jurassic Park
70. Seven of nine (Jeri Ryan), Star Trek: Voyager
71. Darth Maul, Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace
72. Buck Rogers (Gil Gerard) – Buck Rogers
73. The Borg, Star Trek
74. General Jonathan ‘Jack’ O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) – Stargate
75. Paul (Seth Rogan), Paul
76. Marvin (Warwick Davis), Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
77. Bumblebee, Transformers
78. Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones), Flash Gordon
79. Riddick (Vin Diesel), Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick
80. Ash (Ian Holm), Alien
81. HAL-9000 (Douglas Rain), 2001: A Space Odyssey
82. Rory (Arthur Darvill) Dr Who
83. Judge Joseph Dredd (Sylvester Stallone), Judge Dredd
84. Alice (Milla Jovovich), Resident Evil films
85. Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow), Flash Gordon
86. Klaatu (Michael Rennie), The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
87. Snake Plisskin (Kurt Russell), Escape from New York
88. Megatron, Transformers
89. Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman), Galaxy Quest
90. Abe Sapien(Doug Jones), Hellboy
91. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), Stargate
92. Ood Sigma (Paul Kasey) Dr Who
93. David (Haley Joel Osment), A.I.
94. Leeloo (Milla Jovovich), The Fifth Element
95. Jim (Cillian Murphy), 28 Days Later
96. John Sheppard (Joe Flanigan), Stargate Atlantis
97. Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere), Heroes
98. Godzilla, Godzilla
99. Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), The Fly
100. Dr David Bowman (Keir Dullea), 2001: A Space Odyssey

1. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 – Harry Potter vs Voldemort
2. Lord of the Rings; Return of the King / Final battle Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Luke vs Vader
3. The Matrix – Neo vs Agent Smith
4. Independence Day – Humans vs Aliens
5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day – The Terminator vs the T-1000
6. Avatar – Final battle scene
7. Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back – At-At attack on rebellion base
8. Blade Runner – Deckard vs Roy
9. Aliens – The Marines vs the aliens
10. Star Wars: A New Hope – Destruction of the Death Star


A selection of Joe’s interviews recorded during shooting SGA (2004 – 2009) may be found here.

Jun 012012
conversation with the Colonel


Stargate Atlantis-related interviews with Joe Flanigan, written or video, originally posted during the show being shot and aired for the first time (2004-2009).

19 items in this post (latest 3 items were added on 2 Jan 2013)

Interview by cinemaspy.com, 2008

Interview Rewind: Joe Flanigan

By , August 12, 2011

This interview was originally published in 2008 and is presented again here to mark the release of Stargate: Atlantis – The Complete Series on Blu-ray (reviewed here).

Joe Flanigan, who plays John Sheppard on Stargate Atlantis, is a funny guy. But he has a dry sense of humour, so when he’s telling a joke it takes a moment to register because the only cue to the fact that he’s just said something funny is a slight shift in the cadence of his speech.

In talking with journalists at Vancouver’s Bridge Studios in May, he kept the group so relaxed and at ease that the 30 minutes seemed less like an interview session and more like a group of people hanging out at the pub. Flanigan talked about the sorry state of the action-adventure genre in the medium of television and why he prefers the Wraith to the Replicators.

CinemaSpy: Would you consider Sheppard to be old fashioned?

Joe Flanigan: No, I’d never consider him to be old fashioned. Old school?

CinemaSpy: I’m referring to the relationship with Teyla. Sometimes there’s an old fashioned treatment of Teyla, do you not think?

Joe Flanigan: What’s old fashioned? What do you mean?

CinemaSpy: Well, she’s pregnant so you don’t want her to go on missions. That felt old fashioned to me.

Joe Flanigan: As opposed to putting a pregnant woman in the middle of battle.

CinemaSpy: Or letting her decide for herself what she can and cannot handle.

Joe Flanigan [laughs]: I don’t write this stuff, remember? I act it. I think, actually, that there’s a protective thing regarding . . . I don’t think anybody’s ever seen it that way before, but if it’s old fashioned. . . . I don’t think it’s old fashioned. If a woman’s pregnant you’ve got to make sure she’s out of physical harm. Seems like a pretty logical thing, doesn’t it?

CinemaSpy: It’s protective.

Joe Flanigan: But wouldn’t it be considered insanely responsible to stick a pregnant woman in the middle of battle? I don’t see it that way. What I found in that particular storyline with her being pregnant and wanting to go and not wanting to go, what I found – actually Rachel and I both found – we were like, “This is so tedious.” It actually plays as an impatient kind of thing, which was more interesting. I said it to her and we made a choice, I said, “I think I should be really tough on you and impatient because I’m tired of asking whether you want to stay or go.” I don’t think he’s old fashioned. He might be a little old school. When it comes to men and women and their relationships and the military, no, I think he’s pretty modern. [pause] I just want you to know that when I was pregnant, I was in battle. I went to war.

Question: Ever since you were stuck in that cell with Todd [a Wraith played by Chris Heyerdahl], you guys have had a really interesting relationship. How would you describe that dynamic and where does it pick up this season?

Joe Flanigan: With Todd the Wraith? [pause] There’s a Todd and a Bob and a Steve, and now this year there’s a Ken. Ken was a weird one. I was like, “Where’s the Barbie?” [pause] We pick up with Todd and try to come to some type of a deal, an agreement, where he can help us and we can supposedly help him. Surprisingly, it backfires. Which makes a very interesting 44-minutes of entertainment: When plans go badly. That’s what we just finished shooting, and Chris Heyerdahl, who plays that character as usual – he plays a lot of different Wraith, he’s one of our best Wraith, if not the definitive Wraith. Much to his chagrin, ‘cause he’s a great actor. I think we should introduce him as himself on the show somehow. We just generally have fun with those characters. It’s an interesting thing, the only thing we try to keep an eye out for is not becoming so familiar.

Question: Yeah, it’s not like you’re drinking buddies.

Joe Flanigan: Exactly. Or that there’s a freaky element to it and that we’re always adversarial in that on any given moment we’d like to clearly kill each other. So no love lost.

CinemaSpy: I’ve read you say that you’d like to see episodes that explore Sheppard’s background a little more. Do you have a particular idea of what his background should be?

Joe Flanigan: Well, yeah, I do. We did part of that in “Outcast” [Season 4]. “Outcast” was a story that I came up with. My original idea was that Ronon and I have to go back to Earth because Replicators have infiltrated the population and they are insidious because you can’t distinguish who’s who. But basically us running around civilian areas blowing things up. And they liked that idea and wove some backstory into that regarding my father passing away. I think the episode turned out pretty well and I think they are going to return to that. If I’m not mistaken – and you really should talk to the experts, who are the writers and producers, on the issue – they say on our hundredth episode we’re going to Vegas. And I think that if we’re in Vegas it’s because there’s aliens there, right? What better way to spend a weekend in Vegas? Killing aliens.

Question: That’s the season finale for the year, right?

Joe Flanigan: It is the season finale, too.

CinemaSpy: Vegas? Now, practically, how do you do that?

Joe Flanigan: Well, you’ve got to walk away from the blackjack table. Save the galaxy.

CinemaSpy: No, shooting the thing.

Joe Flanigan: Shooting Replicators in Las Vegas?

CinemaSpy: Are they going to send second unit down there to shoot sequences?

Joe Flanigan: Why can’t we shoot main [unit]?

CinemaSpy: Really? Actually go to Vegas?

Joe Flanigan: Sure. We’re going to Vegas, man. Actually, Jason and I were all excited and high-fiving, “We’re going to kill aliens in Vegas.” And then he found out that he wasn’t in the sequences.

CinemaSpy: So what happens there won’t stay there in this case.

Joe Flanigan: I think we’re going to end the season there. I think the last four days of shooting will be us there.

CinemaSpy: Then the CSI guys will move in.

Joe Flanigan: I think there should be a crossover.

Question: You mentioned Replicators. What are some hints about what we’re going to see in that storyline this season.

Joe Flanigan: Surprisingly, we’ve dealt with a Replicator variation, and the Weir character comes back in this Replicator variation, but we’ve been dealing with more Wraith this season. I personally prefer the Wraith because I think they are more . . . spooky. The Replicators are weird because you’re acting with a regular person, they look very regular. It’s not until they add in the special effects that you realize they are crazy and spooky.

CinemaSpy: So it’s harder to play off of?

Joe Flanigan: It’s a little more challenging, [pause] but I’m old fashioned, in the sense that I like to have bad guys and good guys and I like to be able to tell who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. It’s kind of classic, “There’s a monster, let’s go kill the monster” stuff. The episodes that I find most challenging are the conceptual pieces where you’re in parallel universes and all that stuff, because it is primarily a show that requires a lot of exposition to explain, and it’s challenging from an acting perspective because you’re just dealing in high concept. You have to create urgency out of high concept, versus there’s somebody’s claws going into my chest. Which is, to me, more interesting. It’s also why sci-fi does well, because it can do almost anything. It’s an incredibly flexible format. You can reinvent it in any way you want.

CinemaSpy: One of the keys to Sheppard has been playing off the “boss” of the mission. You’ve got another new boss in Season 5. How is that going to change things for you?

Joe Flanigan: I’ve been introducing that as our “hot new female lead, Robert Picardo [playing Richard Woolsey].” He is interesting because – Robert and I discussed it – we were expecting an adversarial relationship, and it didn’t really work out that way. It was strangely constructive, and that’s generally something I’ve always told the writers we should avoid. People should not get along in shows, they should always not get along because it’s more interesting to watch. We found an interesting moderate form of that which is that he is a little bit of a peacock, and he likes the protocol, he likes to be able to be the person in charge, but in truth when you close the doors he has a certain level of humility and he comes to you for advice because he knows he doesn’t quite know what the hell he is doing. So we’ve had these scenes where it’s kind of a nice relationship. It’s not all that different from the relationship that me and Carter [Amanda Tapping] had. But what I like about Robert’s character clearly has these personality flaws that are fun to watch. Amanda’s perfect. On-screen and off-screen, she’s unflappable and imperturbable. I tried desperately to crack her and I couldn’t.

Question: Robert may have been misadvertised a little bit. You’re not the first person today that’s talked about having a fairly good relationship with him on the show.

Joe Flanigan: The fictional relationship? Yeah. ‘Cause we all hate him in person. [laughs] No, he’s an absolutely great guy. I was having drinks with him last night. It’s an interesting thing and to be honest with you it’s probably smart because if he came in too bombastically, you’ve got already this super-cohesive team, they’d probably take him down. And he has to have some of the sympathy of the audience. There’s only so much you can do in that regard. It would be fun to have a so-called antagonist of the bureaucratic sense. We do need some bureaucrat in there messing with us. We’re missing that.

Question: It’s kind of his role, isn’t it?

Joe Flanigan: Well, a lot of times you introduce these characters and they become acceptable characters. But we need a loathsome bureaucratic personality. There’s so many of them, why can’t we just get one on our show?

Question: Speaking of different characters, everyone always says that there’s something between Sheppard and Teyla. Last season I noticed a spark between you and Jill Wagner’s character, the traveler. Did you notice that, too, and are they going to develop that more this season?

Joe Flanigan: Well, she’s supposed to come back and she’s doing another show. So I’m not sure that we’re going to be able to get her back during our shooting schedule. So what we’ve done is we reinvented that character. Well, we haven’t reinvented it. What we’ve done is she and her group come back, but it’s going to be a different girl that is part of that group. From my understanding, the last I heard, it was going to be Nicki Aycox who is a really good actress. You lose good actors a lot of times. They’ve got other jobs to go to.

Question: That’s too bad, because there was a nice banter between the two characters.

Joe Flanigan: Oh, I thought it was fun. It was a lot of fun. She’s going to do really well. Jill’s great; a lot of fun to work with.

Question: What has you excited about the arc that they’ve created this season?

Joe Flanigan: I think we’ve been emphasizing a lot of action, and I think that I’m always a proponent of action. In fact, I’m proposing that we do a big action episode with no dialogue. Where I’m basically stuck in some world and I’m on my own and there’s nobody to talk to anyway. So you’re stuck and you’re fighting for your life against another beast-like thing.

CinemaSpy: It seems to me that Sheppard would talk to himself in that situation.

Joe Flanigan: Well, he may, but he probably would occasionally talk to himself but the emphasis would be primarily action, action, action, action. Which would be a nice counter to all these high concept, super sci-fi like things. The truth is, it’s funny, our show airs on Action Network, and a number of people that are action fans like our show. Which is a funny little side branch that there are not that many action TV shows. There’s not that many action-adventure TV shows; they are cost prohibitive. So we’re one of the few pretty decent . . . I was watching one – unnamed – show, high visibility network show, and I was astounded at how bad the action was. It was abysmal. The coverage, the quality of the stunts.

CinemaSpy: What show did you say that was?

Joe Flanigan: I’m not going to say. [pause] But I was astounded. Then I thought to myself, “We have definitely one of the better action-adventure shows on the air.” I like action-adventure, and I’ve also really learned to like sci-fi. ‘Cause I didn’t watch sci-fi TV, and now I watch sci-fi TV. So action. I’m all about action. And I think, also, action is great to reach out to mainstream viewers. ‘Cause I’m a little bit simple when I watch TV, and if somebody’s sitting there talking to me, trying to explain something, I generally turn the channel. But if somebody is getting the crap beaten out of them and trying to survive, I’m like, “[giggle] He’s getting his ass kicked. Look at that.”

CinemaSpy: On that note, is Sheppard ever going to learn to get the upper hand on his sparring partners?

Joe Flanigan: No. He can’t compete with Teyla. Is that who you’re talking about?

CinemaSpy: You have some run-ins with Ronon, too.

Joe Flanigan: Yeah, but they’re kind of the martial arts angle.

CinemaSpy: The true training is with Teyla?

Joe Flanigan: I tend to be more of the Harrison Ford vein. [mimics drawing a pistol] “Blam!” That’s pretty much where my skills come in. I have a sloppier, more improvisational approach to winning battles. They are not well choreographed. It’s funny, because [James Bamford], our stunt coordinator, we talked about that. At the beginning of the show he was like, “This guy’s going to be like . . .” and I thought, I don’t think that is the character. I think the character is more regular guy in extraordinary circumstances who just feels like he’s flying by the seat of his pants and he’ll be lucky if he pulls this thing off. As opposed to that [martial artist] guy. It’s fun to have those characters on the show, but I just thought my character is not going to be like that. Chances are in his off time he won’t be sparring, he’ll be drinking beer.

CinemaSpy: Playing golf.

Joe Flanigan: Or playing golf. Yes.

Question: You mentioned getting into the genre now that you’re doing this. What are some of the other genre shows that you enjoy?

Joe Flanigan: Well, I don’t watch a lot of TV. But I like to buy DVDs and watch various shows. It’s really a great way to watch shows. I think a lot of people are realising that. When you watch DVDs, you can watch them right through. I like Entourage. I really liked Deadwood. I would love to do a western. Westerns are also very cost prohibitive. But I would say I watch movies, mostly. And there is some really good television. I don’t watch reality television because it scares me. It frightens me to the depths of my soul.

CinemaSpy: Why?

Joe Flanigan: Because they are real. Real people scare me. I want fabricated people. [pause] No, because I find it unnerving to know so much about people. I’m probably a lone voice in the whole thing. I’m not a big fan of reality television; there’s very little I’ve ever watched. Love documentaries. I just watched Surfwise last night, very interesting, about the Paskowitz family. Interesting. I love documentaries. But for some reason the reality shows strike me as . . . trash. They are, I’m not saying there’s not some interesting ones. And I won’t watch American Idol because the truth is I’m sure I’d get addicted. And I don’t have time for addictions right now.

CinemaSpy: You talked about the action-adventure aspect of the show being one of its popular elements. What other things appeal to people?

Joe Flanigan: I have very specific beliefs. The show is successful because of the chemistry of characters and because I don’t think the show takes itself too seriously. I think that’s really important. I think you can take yourself seriously, and you can say all sorts of profound things and everything can be really dramatic, but you’d better be awfully good. And the odds are you’re better off doing a $150 million science fiction movie that’s serious, but when you’re doing a 44-minute television show for $3 million, then you have to know what your limitations are, and if you come off as very serious and pretentious, and it comes off instead as being, well, pretentious, then I think you lose people. Also, my favourite shows, movies, and TV shows were always – I loved Rockford Files as a kid, I loved all those guys where they were having fun. They’re good guys and they are having fun. For some reason over the last ten years it seems like Hollywood executives have fallen in love with bad people, edgy dark characters because that’s cool. So what they’ve done is they’ve created tonnes of these shows and they’ve all failed. Almost all of them have failed. Even if you go to the Sopranos, the dark character is a good guy. You can call him dark all you want, but the truth is he’s a good guy. And a lot of the shows I’ve seen some very well-known showrunners put up, the characters are just not likable. I think we’re lucky we have likable characters and we also have fun, you see us having fun, we’re making fun of the genre a little bit, we’re making fun of ourselves. Knowing when the adventure is urgent and when it’s kind of funny is important. Comedy and humour are probably the saving grace for us. It allows us to keep going, I think.

CinemaSpy: So if your character is not the best fighter, if he’s not a guy like Jason [Momoa’s] character, where does your character’s inner strength come from? What is it that keeps him going? What is it that drives him if he’s a little irreverent.

Joe Flanigan: [taps his holster]

CinemaSpy: Beyond that.

Joe Flanigan: He’s a good fighter, but truthfully, there’s always somebody stronger. Surviving. [laughs] He wants to live. Remember, most of those situations he’s in, he’s about to die. You’ve got your survival instinct, you also protect other people. The dynamic is always about the team, right? Anytime one of the team members is in trouble, everybody gives up everything they’re doing to go find that and they never give up doing it. That’s a really important thing, that whole loyalty aspect is something that plays very strongly with the audiences. It’s something they really enjoy watching. I think there is a deep sense of loyalty in the character, for sure. It’s a quality I admire. Loyalty is . . . [pause] I sound serious.

Question: Every year they seem to get you in the makeup chair for something.

Joe Flanigan: Some prosthetic?

Question: It’s provided some really good episodes like that one with Todd where you age was amazing. Have you had that this year again?

Joe Flanigan: No, I haven’t. I’m okay with that, it never really bothers me, but every actor who goes through it seems to dread it. Rachel had to do it this year with “The Queen”, and remember she’s breastfeeding. She’s like, “I’m going to have these prosthetics and I’ve got to go breastfeed my child and I look like a monster.” She was really upset about it and they were like, “We’ll make some gloves and maybe a hood for you.” I just thought it was hilarious. I was giving her a hard time. I was like, “No, your child is going to be permanently scarred. You’ll be lucky if he ever wants milk again.” She’s like, “That’s not funny!” I was like, “Well. . . . There are a lot of psychiatrists who can pick up the detritus of this whole tragedy.” But she said that he did remarkably well and breastfed during that whole thing and I said, “Of course, he was starving. It’s latent. It pops up twenty years later. It’s a very destructive form.” It was a lot of fun. It was a really difficult issue for her, understandably. Anytime it’s difficult for somebody we have fun.

Question: We’ve heard there’s an interesting dream sequence between the two of you this season. What’s that about?

Joe Flanigan: Yeah, there is a dream sequence. With a surprise guest star in that dream sequence. I haven’t seen it, but I hear it’s good. I’ve seen the dailies, but I kind of wait until things are pretty polished to look at the final cut. Because if I watch every cut, it’s like, “Why did they do that?” Sometimes it’s just best to wait for some effects and music to kick in. I think I’m about to die, or something, and I have a dream sequence.

CinemaSpy: What have been some of the other highlights of what you’ve done on Season 5 so far?

Joe Flanigan: I got a new skateboard. My other one fell apart. As far as this season goes with the show, it seems like they’ve got me and Jason working together more, which is always good because that means we’re going to probably do some action. We did one episode where McKay [David Hewlett] loses his, he goes – call it senile, but there’s no real term for it because it is fictional disease. It’s a very good episode. It’s nice to do character pieces with some character development. If you watch the show you’ll realise that a lot of times we’re engaged with some exterior problem on a level where you’re constantly engaged with something and you don’t have time for character development. So when you do get a script that has that it’s kind of nice. And I think everybody did a really amazing job. Everybody has really great moments in that episode.


Solitary Man, video interview by GateWorld.net, 2009

Solitary Man (Interview with Joe Flanigan)

Video interview by GateWorld.net, taped in April 2009 at the Vancouver SG convention. Joe talks about shooting “Vegas” and the end of the series.


Online interview by AXN Hungary, 2009

Online interview with Joe Flanigan by AXN Hungary

AXN Hungary had initially announced a chat with Joe in May 2009, but it has turned into a collection of questions that Joe answered online.

Joe Flanigan: Thankyou all for writing me these questions. I am deeply sorry about our online chat that didn’t happen. I was in Toronto shooting a project and staying in a hotel whose internet connection failed right before our interview. Thanks to Adam and all his patience. Look forward to all personally meeting you oneday
Teensqueen: I have a simple question, how are you?
J.F.: I’m great. Feel very lucky about my life.
Some guy from the Czech republic: Hello Joe.I´d like to know what do you think about downloading TV shows and movies (like StarGate).I know it´s not good but before AXN we didn´t have much options to get our beloved Atlantis :-).Thanks for response, sorry for mYstakes (hope dictionary helped ;-) PS could you say HI for me to David?
J.F.: Well…we know it’s not going away. One of the reasons TV programming has gotten worse on networks is the lack of revenue stream, Downloading is the noose to hang ourselves
Sylvia Knowles: I’m a big fan of yours! Thanks for some great moments as John Sheppard, Vegas was my favorite episode ever! At the Vancouver con you said you were keeping bees? How is that going? Any new projects in the works?
J.F.: Bees are very good. Very Busy. They work awfully hard. I wonder if there are actually lazy bees? Just finished an episode of Warehouse 13 for the Sci Fi network. Will be shooting a movie in Vancouver for the month of January.
P$YCHO: Hi Joe! Do you like beer? Whats your favourite? Have a nice day!
J.F.: Love Beer. My Dad was a brewer. Made Budweiser. Love it or hate it, but that’s the family beer.
Philip Kasabov: Hey Joe! I’m a big fan of the Stargate series and i have 2 questions for you 1. Will you take part in Stargate Universe?
J.F.: No
Philip Kasabov: If you had the chance would you take part in Stargate Atlantis again?
J.F.: Probably. I miss my cast members and the crew. There is a lot of unexplored elements left for Atlantis. Personally I think it could have easily gone for another 5 years. No one is really certain why it was cancelled. Every producer/executive lays the blame on the other so it’s becomes impossible to understand the true reasons. I think our cast did a truly amazing job in helping build a succesfull franchise, but I don’t think that it is seen that way by the writers and producers. If Universe is successful, the prevailing theory among the writers and producers will be that actors are dispensible and not a critical part of the show. Only time will tell. I don’t know about you, but I think there are a lot of crappy shows on the air and I really appreciate good acting and interesting characters more than formulaic and procedural dramas.
Gina: Hello, Joe. I’m a forteen-year-old girl from Hungary. I have three questions for you. 1. I know that you play the guitar. What kind of music do you play? 2. I hope that you don’t smoke. Am I right? 3. After three boys, would you like a girl, too?
J.F.: Love all kinds of music. Listening to RadioHead right now. Mozart this morning. Probably be listeing to Rage Agianst the Machine by the afternoon. I do not smoke, at all. I’m very active and could never keep up my schedule of games if I smoked. I love my boys. I even love their problems. I would like to have a girl, but would probably adopt if I had another one. There are too many children in need.
Rose: Are you still playing the guitar? Thanks, Rose
J.F.: Not as much.
George: When we will see The Stargate Atlantis Movie?
J.F.: Good question. You might want to ask the producers.
Sanzi: Hi, (sorry about my english) my favourite episode of the Atlantis series is 05×19 (Vegas). Do you play poker regularly? The nice .45 Colt 1911 single row magazine was yours? And the car? :-) They both really suits you.
J.F.: Fun episode to shoot. Nice gun, and car. Wish I could keep both. Love poker. Listen to that scene again. The dialogue is based off something that happened for real at my house. My friend got her finger bit off by a dog and Robert Cooper thought it was strange and funny. So did I, so we put in he show. When I told the actors, who were from the Sopranos, they freaked out. Made it even funnier.
Andra: Hi Joe! If you would have to face a similar situation to that in Stargate Atlantis, as John S. does in the show, do you think you would be as cool and as in control as the character you played was? XXOO
J.F.: Good question. I don’t think anybody know exactly how they will respond to a crisis. My father-in-law is a quadraplegic from a skiing accident. He is my hero. Goes to work every day and never complains. I think he surprised himself and found this great inner well of strength. I would like to think we all would, but hopefull we will nerver have to find out.
Adam: Hi Joe, I would have two short questions: what was the strangest thing a fan surprised you with? And would you go to “Dancing with the Stars” if they would ask you to be one of the celebrities on the show?
J.F.: I’ve had some pretty strange gifts, ranging from chunks of ice from the Anarctic to women’s panties. Most of the gifts are truly heartfelt and sweet. I don’t think I am a dancing with Stars type of guy. How about “Shooting Guns with the Stars”?
Deb Selle: I’m still holding out hope for the Stargate Atlantis movie :-). But in the meantime, what type of projects are you interested in getting involved in? Another series possibly, or a movie, or a play?
J.F.: I have been really fortunate in my career and hope that I continue to be. I have been offered a number fo things since I quit Atlantis. Many of them require relocations that would prove too difficult on my family. Some are simply not as interesting as my role as John Sheppard. I am looking for a show that will really invest in their lead characters. I’ll be shooting a movie in July.
Maria Petrova: If you are the one with the questions, what would you like to ask the “Stargate: Atlantis” fans?
J.F.: Would you like to see more Atlantis? As a movie or a series, or both? What characters worked and didn’t work? Would you like to see Chris Judge, David Hewlet and myself do another series, even if it’s unrelated to Atlantis?
Kuraimo: How do you do that, you look so good? :)
J.F.: ?? You mean shoot aliens, save the Universe and crack jokes?
G: Ok, stargate is a frnachise, and you are all connected somehow in the shows, but wasn’t it strange when Amanda Tapping / Sam Carter appeared in the show as the “leader”? I mean personnaly for you and for the other members of the cast – workwise?
J.F.: I love Amanda, as a person and an actor. I do think there was a significant risk bringing her over, namely making Atlantis SG2. A lot of the things I was trying to achieve on Atlantis were big stylistic departures from the SG1. I was a fish swimming upstream.
Iary: Have you ever brought your kids to the Stargate Atlantis set? If so, how did they react? What do they think about their dad playing a scifi hero?
J.F.: For a long time, my kids thought that I flew to space everday to kill badguys. They still play with my action figure. That’s always flattering.
Cécelie: Hi, I’m Cécile from France. I was wondering if you had any personal backstory for Sheppard that never made it on screen but that you had in mind when playing the character, things that may have happened to him or that he may have done. Thank you very much for participating in this chat!
J.F.: Sheppards family, and for that matter his personal life, went largely unexplored. There is a lot of interesting stuff there. I was hoping more earth based episodes could bring them to light.
George: Hello Joe, have a little question “To je na hovno tohleto, kdo vymyslel ze budeme zrovna pod vodou”. Do you understand that or not? Its David Nykl monologue from 2×14 Grace under Presure. Im from CZ and Im realy curious if you understand that or if your answer was from script.
J.F.: Nichol spoke Chec. I told him to say the most vulgar thing possible. I hope he made me proud.
J.F.: Love Star Wars. Favorite is probably Empire Strikes Back, or the original. Han Solo rocks!
Katja: What are you doing currently, I mean after the end of SGA? Some long vacation or rather shooting something new? We miss you terribly ;-)!
J.F.: Just finished shooting a project in Toronto. Supposed shoot a film in July. Don’t want to get involved in another TV project unless the character is really interesting
Carmen: Hello Joe! You play the chararcter of someone who is a good friend, a brave fighter who can also be very attractive and has a lot of sex appeal and i was wondering how much of yourself you find in that description? Thank you.
J.F.: I am too smart to answer that question
v.rejam@gmail.com: Hi Joe…My name is Vojta Majer and I am from Czech republic… Anyway i want to do apologize for every mistake or rubbish what I going to do in your grammar…I so sorry ….OK let´s go to that questions… 1.What is your favourite beer??? and 2.Do you relly like Johnny Cash??? Ok that´s all so by.
J.F.: Love Beer, but really love single malt scotch. Lagavulin 16 year. Johnny Cash is a national treasure. God Bless Johnny Cash
Michael Petrik: Hello Col. Sheppard.You´re excellent actor,but if stargate really exist and all of it you play and they come to you as a ordinary man and tell you to be first to go through to unknown planet,will you have a courage to make a first step?Thnx for answer.
J.F.: I think I am just stupid enough to do that.
Csaba Komives: Hello Joe, I would like to ask you about Richard Dean Anderson and his jokes(looking stupid) in the SG-1 series. I noticed, that the character you play uses almost the same humour as him. And my question is: was Richard an inspiration for you, or it was requested by the director? Thanks a lot
J.F.: No, In fact I never even saw SG1 untill much later. I actually think my character is very different from Rick’s, but I like what he does generally. We make very different choices but both like to have fun.
Palotai Marci: Hello again Joe, Do you like golf in real life? Because John Sheppard likes it. Thank you
J.F.: Yes. Very much
Cristi: Hi John, I am Cristi from Romania. In some episodes from Stargate Atlantis you have contact with people who meditate to became like Ancients, to live on a high level of existence. Also you meet Ancients.This made you curious to read about meditation (maybe insight – meditation, forest sangha) ?
J.F.: I don’t have a long enough attention span to meditate.
Jan from Poland: I also want to ask you: if you had a chance to play in new Stargate serial – Stargate Universe, would you do this? Would you come back to role of John Seppard?
J.F.: I don’t really think that will happen.
Maria Petrova: What’s the one thing you would steal from Atlantis?
J.F.: Spaceships…and beer
Marta Poland: Someone told me once that good Science-fiction has got more science in it, than fiction. What do You think about it ?
J.F.: Interesting question. They have both. The future and the potential of civilization is fiction now, only to be truth later. Maybe in our lifetimes
Martine Dellaleau: You had the chance to shot in the episode “The Kindred”, a small stage with your son Aidan and Truman. I want to know what you felt as a father in this little moment. Thank you for taking the time to answer the many questions from fans.
J.F.: Makes me laugh. They played villagers in a prison, and I was supposed to free them. The director told them to be very serious, tired, scared etc.. My middle kid, Truman, would see me and say “Daddy” with a big smile. My oldest kid Aidan was taking it very seriously and was horrified by Truman’s acting. It was pure gold.
Rics: Hi joe .Are you hate all kind of bugs or just the iratus?:D
J.F.: Not a big fan of bugs
Violeta from Romania: Hi again Joe. I know that you’ve graduated History in College and I’m also a History student and a History addict, also. My favorite part is Ancient History. What is yours?
J.F.: Huge question that would require an entire day to answer. However, I have always been fascinated by history and think that almost all the answers are buried in the past. If we were just wise enough to understand them. My oldest kid has the bug for history also. If nothing else, history can you give you a healthy perspective on the present. I think mankinds best days are ahead.
Michal: Hi Joe, I m from Slovakia. First of all, I d like to congratulate you to 5 great seasons of Atlantis – I ve had a great time watching it. My question is :Do you use that phrase of yours, I dont think so, with your typical voice melody in every day life ? Wish you good luck, see you in SGA movie :-)
J.F.: Not sure what you are talking about. But I have a little bit of a western drawl naturally. It’s a distinct accent that perplexes a lot of people because they can’t pin it down.
Melania A.: Hello again . Did u have to learn any special skills for Atlantis ? What were they ? Love the cast and the team behind the cameras , u all did a verrry good job !
J.F.: Yes. I can really shoot guns, drink beer, crack jokes.
Hugi: Hi Joe! If you were a jedi knight, what would be the colour of your lightsaber? Thanks!
J.F.: Purple
Éva: With one answer, how would you prove that you’re really Joe Flanigan on the other side of the chat? :)
J.F.: Sometimes I wish I wasn;t Joe Flanigan.
Lise: hello it’s lise again . one last question, an alien ring your door what’s your choice :you trying to get to know him or call the army.thank you for your answer
J.F.: Probably offer him a drink and ask him to babysit my kids so I could go on a surf trip.
Marianna: Hi! Did you watch the series before you got into it? What was your first tought when you got John’s role? ~Thank you!
J.F.: As I said earlier, I had never watched Stargate. I actually was given the material by my manager and told him thanks, but no thanks. I wasn;t excited about the idea of doing a Star Trek-like TV show. When they came back to tell me they it was all very self-deprecating it changed everything.
Julia: Did the creators ever ask the actors about what they would want to have in the next episodes? Was there anything you could decide upon? (small things like clothes and colors and effects, texts maybe)
J.F.: There is usually collobaration and small issues like wardrobe, and specific dialogue issues
Sorins: If u would go “off world” in a mission and u could bring only one of your teammates who would it be. As a more serious question , who would u like to work again if given the opportunity (beyond stargate film/show) ofcourse from the cast of atlantis.
J.F.: The safest team would be me an Jason, but the funnier one would be me and Hewlett.
Michal: If Stargate is real, would you like to live as Joe Flannigan or John Sheppard?
J.F.: Tough question.. Probably a little bit of both


SGA promo video featuring Joe, 2006

SGA promo video  featuring Joe, 2006

Not a very good quality recording, but a fun promo vid shot during the first season of Atlantis. Joe is the host (“a peek behind the scenes with the show star, Joe Flanigan”), introducing us to the cool things he gets to play with during shooting, and a nice little Joe impersonation by David Hewlett, right at the end.


Space Daddy, interview by GateWorld.net, 2004

Space Daddy, GateWorld talks with Joe Flanigan

The first of Joe’s interviews with GateWorld.net, dated December 2004, right after the first 10 episode had been aired, before the “The Eye” premiere in January 2005. However, shooting for the whole first season had been done by the time of the interview. GateWorld’s audio interview with Joe Flanigan is available in MP3 audio format for easy listening (check the original source for the audio file), and is about 31 minutes long. It is also transcribed below.

GateWorld: This is David Read for GateWorld.net. I’m on the phone with Joe Flanigan, Major John Sheppard on Stargate Atlantis. How are you doing, Joe?

Joe Flanigan: I’m doing very good!

GW: Glad to have you with us! Joe, can you tell us about the moment you found out you had won the role of John Sheppard?

JF: Well, there wasn’t exactly a specific moment that I can recall, but it happened within a 24-hour time frame. What happened is my manager was at the Golden Globes, and one of his clients had won a Golden Globe. And the president of MGM Television went up to congratulate him and in the course of this conversation he said, “I don’t know what to do, I’ve got this new series I’m starting and I can’t find my lead guy. Do you know anybody that fits this description?” And he said, “Actually, I do, and why don’t you meet with him tomorrow morning?”

And so I met with him the following morning and it was pretty much a done deal. It happened much more quickly than most auditions come together. It came together really fast. It was relatively painless. We didn’t go through one of these long, lengthy negotiations. It was really nice. It was the type of experience you hope to have.

GW: Rachel [Luttrell, “Teyla Emmagan”] said she went through five or six auditions.

JF: She did, and I was there with her, because I read for her. After that I read with all the other actors who were auditioning for the parts. And, yes, they took her through a much more painful process, so she deserves more.

GW: Right. What was it that they were looking for that MGM just said, “Wow, we’ve got the guy right here?”

JF: You know, it’s hard for me to objectively tell you what it is. But I would probably say that it might be a mix of lightness, a little sarcasm without a little cynicism. It was a fine balance. I knew what they were going for, so for me it was relatively simple. They explained it very well and I knew exactly what they wanted, and it wasn’t very far from a few characters that I’ve played before. So to me it was relatively easy to do that. I guess that’s what they wanted, because they hired me.

GW: Rainbow’s screen test — in some of his dialogue he talks about how Sheppard went back and disobeyed orders from a superior officer, and went back and saved a couple of fallen comrades. But that’s not necessarily canon because it was a screen test, and we didn’t know really much about it. I was wanting to know if you knew, specifically, why Sheppard was so at odds with Sumner, in terms of recognition of authority.

JF: Well, it actually does — it goes back to that specific event, and it is for disobeying direct orders. That’s the back-story. The back-story is, in Afghanistan, there was a situation where a couple of his comrades needed rescuing, and that was a direct — the order was not to rescue them. Sheppard does, and consequently he’s sent unceremoniously to a different post in the Antarctic.

GW: Right, to McMurdo.

JF: Yeah. No! Was it McMurdo, is that where it was? You may know more than me. All I know was it was a big ice thing …

GW: Basically for latrine duty!

JF: You’re right! That’s a good one! [Laughter]

GW: I have to tell you, my dad is a helicopter pilot, and he was absolutely tickled to find out that there was a helicopter pilot leadingAtlantis. He thought that was so cool.

JF: It was also the funnest part to shoot.

GW: Really, to do the flying sequence?

JF: Yeah, that was a blast.

GW: Are you a science fiction fan?

JF: You know, it’s interesting. I’ve been asked that question a lot, and I’ve always said, “No, I’m not really a science fiction fan.” In contrast to the avid science fiction fan, I never considered myself a science fiction fan. But when a lot of people asked me what my favorite movies were, and TV shows, I found myself actually listing, predominantly, science fiction shows. And I realized that really I was a science fiction fan, but for some reason I didn’t see myself like that.

GW: Like, did you define it as something else and like, “Hmm. Maybe I am!”

JF: You know, I defined it as something that was … For one, I missed a lot of the Star Trek craze. And so I pictured Trekkies, people who knew all the details of every show and everything. I, instead, found myself really into things like “Blade Runner” and “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and a number of other things like that. And in the process I realized that I was a science fiction fan, from a slightly different nature. And now I’m actually a newly converted science fiction fan.

GW: Do your boys get into Atlantis?

JF: My little boys?

GW: Yes.

JF: Oh. You know, one’s four and a half and one’s two.

GW: Oh, OK. A little too young!

JF: The four and a half year-old, he likes it quite a bit. I’m somewhat selective about which to let him see.

GW: Oh, of course, yeah. There were a couple of those that were …

JF: Because sometimes he’s not quite sure. When I go to work and I walk out the door and jump in the van, he thinks that I actually go out into space and kill bad guys. And the sad thing is I don’t want to dissuade him from that because that’s a fairly heroic thing for a son to think his father does. And pretty soon he won’t have such high opinions of his father … so I want it to last for as long as possible!

GW: So from his point of view Atlantis is real!

JF: Well, he’s been to set. It’s very interesting. I’m fascinated with what actually takes place in his little mind, because I don’t know what he knows is real and what is fiction. He knows there’s work and he knows there’s an actual set. And I’m not sure he knows what’s real and what isn’t.

GW: Well, that should be interesting, to see him grow up with the series in the coming years.

JF: It will be, yeah.

GW: One year of shooting has been completed already. Is the experience, as a whole, different than what you imagined when you first started?

JF: Yes.

GW: It is?

JF: Yes.

GW: OK. Have you stopped to think, “Oh, God! What have I gotten myself into?”

JF: Um, yes! [Laughter] I have thought that on a few occasions, but that’s nothing unusual because I’ve thought that on a lot of projects. Science fiction tends to focus on special effects, on sets, on gadgetry and very technical jargon that I’m not used to with my previous projects.

And so I was a little taken back by that on a few occasions, because it became clear to me that we had this big, expensive set that had to be seen, and I had come from the tradition of shooting one-hour dramas where the sets were not that important. What they did is they primarily did close-ups and they dealt with interpersonal tensions and all those types of things. And it was a different animal. It was a little harder to get used to, in that regard.

But then when you see all the pieces put together it was really entertaining. And then I pretty much surrendered to it, and it’s been a lot of fun.

GW: What is your favorite show from this year?

JF: I think, so far, my favorite show is probably “The Storm” and “The Eye,” the two-hour — then the second part being particularly good, which is “The Eye.” And “The Eye” will actually air in January when we return. That’s really good. “Underground” was also really good.

And then we have a few more that are coming up that are really a lot of fun. The more action there is, to me, the better the episode. So I can’t get enough action. I’m always asking for more action. And action is expensive, so you have to be somewhat careful about how much action you can feasibly put into an episode.

And also action is time consuming. So you have a 50-page script, and it’s kind of broken down — or 44 pages, roughly, is what a script is — a minute a page, roughly, if it’s dialogue. But if 10 of those pages are action, you’re probably talking about a much slower pace then a minute a page. So you have all these variables.

But the reason I like action is because we do air all over the world and I think it’s something everybody can relate to. More importantly, I have a lot of fun doing it.

GW: Yeah, “The Eye” — we’ve seen some preview shots for “The Eye.” You definitely get a lot of physical workout in that episode. We’re looking forward for that here in the U.S. We haven’t got it yet though.

JF: That’s the only exercise I actually get!

GW: What is your most poignant memory from this past year? What first comes to mind out of the entire year?

JF: I would say, I think it was the second episode we shot, or the third episode, called “Thirty Eight Minutes.” I was on the floor for eight days shooting the episode, and I had a bug on me. And it was this big, classic, ugly bug that looked, you know, completely phony. It hurt like hell, and I was on my back. And I thought, “Well, I don’t know what the producers are doing but there’s something very sadistic about this.” Because, I mean, I actually die in the episode. I don’t know, we’re getting off to a rocky start here!

And I just thought that it was very funny, sitting there, lying on my back for eight days with a bug on my neck. And you hear people saying things like, “Oh, put more blood on the bug!” It became clear to me that I was actually fully immersed in the science fiction genre at that point. That was a funny moment.

GW: When they pulled that thing off that was absolutely — it grossed me out, and I’ve seen a lot of gory stuff.

JF: It was — I mean people, like I said, it’s remarkable. These guys are really good at what they do. Because if you saw the bug, I mean, we were joking about it. We thought they should take the ACME label off. We thought it was phony and ridiculous, but by the time they got finished with the special effects it looked like a good one. So, you know. What you experience there in reality and what you obviously see on screen are two very different things.

GW: Very different. Right.

JF: Oh, yeah.

GW: Do you have a wish list for Sheppard in year two?

JF: Actually, I don’t so much think in terms of a wish list for the character as I do for the show, because they’re kind of inextricable. I think about Sheppard and the show. I don’t just think about Sheppard — I think they’re just intertwined.

And what I’d like to see the show do, and I think where the show’s going to go, is that the city of Atlantis is essentially the size of Manhattan, and it’s empty. So we get to explore the city, which is really exciting, and there are endless discoveries to make.

And the city actually has a potential. It has a higher cosmic purpose, and it will slowly come to life and fulfill the higher purpose of why Atlantis was built and why it was moved. And I think that’s going to be exciting, but it really requires us incrementally building the mythology of our show — which will take a few seasons. And then these pieces will fall together and it will become a fairly sophisticated mythology — a self-sustaining mythology. And then, I think, that’s what I wish for. I think that’s where we’re headed, and I don’t think it’s too optimistic to think that this’ll happen.

GW: Have you had discussions with the producers to that end?

JF: Yeah, I have! And it’s pretty exciting. We have so many options that it’s really exciting. And the great thing about science fiction is that you really have no limitations. When people said, “Oh, you’re going off to do this new science fiction show” — it’s really exciting. I had a couple fellow actors that were telling me how exciting it was and how much they wanted to do it, and one of their reasons was there are no limitations. You take any idea, it can be explored. You’re not even constrained by the time-space continuum! So it is exciting.

GW: The only limit really is the human mind to come up with this stuff.

JF: That’s exactly … well, the human mind and, of course, that nagging budget issue.

GW: [Laughter] That’s right!

JF: That’s the other one. That’s our time-space continuum.

GW: Do you feel Sheppard is compared to O’Neill too often?

JF: You know, before we actually aired we were compared all the time. And now, after the show’s aired, I never get asked that question anymore.

GW: Really?

JF: Yeah, it’s kind of interesting. I take that as a good sign. And there’s no doubt that when they went off to write this new series that they wanted a male lead character who, potentially, had the ability to lead a group of people through all sorts of adventures. And they like Richard Dean Anderson quite a bit, but they didn’t want a Richard Dean Anderson copy. That was a question that I think was the most asked question as we led up to our premiere, and then since the premiere nobody has asked me that question.

GW: Well, I’m sorry. [Laughter] I can take it back!

JF: Well no, I mean, you’re more than welcome to ask that question. But actually I was just saying that it hasn’t been asked anymore and I just take that as a sign that people are accepting the characters as their own characters. And listen, I think he’s a great character — I don’t think that it would be a bad thing for the character. They are really fundamentally different characters.

I think that the primary difference is that Sheppard really is, by nature, an optimist. He does believe in things. He does believe that people will do the right thing, if given the opportunity, and he does believe that things will work out. And I think that that may be the difference between the two characters, more than anything.

GW: Well, it seems to me that one of the hallmarks of Stargate is sarcasm and making fun of science fiction while science fiction is being brought to the screen.

JF: Yes, yes.

GW: And a leading man presenting that would definitely have to have some of those qualities. So that’s where I think they’re in common, but other than that, two totally different people.

JF: Yes, and you know what, I wouldn’t even want to do the show unless that was there. That, to me, is the single greatest strength of Stargate and Stargate Atlantis, is that ability to constantly — you know, a little wink of the eye to the audience. It is. We are having fun with the genre, yet we aren’t making fun of the genre. We’re twisting it and we’re having fun with it, but not enough to mock the material.

And when you said, “What were they looking for in the character,” that was an important part of it, was the ability to put sarcasm into the character without mocking the material. I just think that’s the best part of the show. We get to talk about Star Trek, even talk about MacGyver. I mean, and to me that’s the future of television — it may be self-referential, but it makes for great television.

GW: Are you pleased with Atlantis‘ ratings?

JF: Oh yes, very much.

GW: Are you surprised by them or was it something you were expecting?

JF: I am surprised by them. I had done a number of pilots and things for — and I’ve learned not necessarily to lower my expectations, but I’ve learned to extend my expectations. It’s very hard to know what’s going to succeed and what isn’t going to succeed, and I just simply extended my expectations. It’s hard to extend it, but I put them in a somewhat safe place so I wouldn’t be disappointed in case things didn’t go well.

And I was surprised our numbers were massive. I really expected to always be coat-tailing SG-1, and instead our numbers have been stronger. So I can’t imagine asking for anything more in that regard.

GW: Statistically, people have been saying that Atlantis has actually been helping SG-1 to get higher ratings.

JF: Well, there’s a lot of theories, and when you get on set and you talk to the guys on SG-1 and the guys on Atlantis, it’s the source of a lot of competition. People have a lot of fun with theorizing, you know, which show is supporting the other show!

GW: Are there any qualities about SG-1 that you hope Atlantis will take on as it matures and gets older?

JF: You know, it’s hard for me to answer that, because, I mean, what I want is a long-term, loyal fan base. Why they have a long-term, loyal fan base? I couldn’t even tell you. I’m sure there’s different reasons for different people. I can’t think of anything. What I just want is characters that are three-dimensional, and multi-faceted, entertaining.

And you know, I think a lot of entertainment — I go to just as much entertainment as anybody else — I don’t like watching movies or TV shows where you can’t root for your heroes, because your heroes aren’t that great of people. And so, I think that I like rooting for people if I like those characters, so I want characters that people find redeeming and entertaining. And if SG-1 has that then I want it, too.

I can’t think of anything really that SG-1 has that — I just think we’re such a different show. I haven’t really thought of it that way. Let’s put it this way: I really haven’t thought about it. But I would like us to get back to Earth.

GW: Oh, yeah, and that’s going to be happening. The producers have been saying that you’re not going to be Stargate: Voyager forever.

JF: No! That’s exactly right. Battlestar Atlantis?

GW: [Laughter] Yeah, that’s right! What interpersonal relationships between Sheppard and the others would you like to see strengthened in the coming years?

JF: Well, I think that what I’d like to see is — and I think some of our better episodes have been when there’s a real nemesis for Sheppard. I think that it makes for a good show.

GW: Like Kolya.

JF: Yes. And I mean a really powerful one that has a long-term, multi-episode life that’s a real threat. I think that that makes for a really good show, and it’s also fun to work against. The more obstacles there are for your character, the more fun it is to take that character around. So I’d like to see some, you know, real obstacles by way of a real nemesis.

GW: Our forum in particular really embraced the “Steve” Wraith, and it really took off with you playing against him and him being in the cell for so long. Was that a good experience as a villain that Sheppard just didn’t take seriously?

JF: You know, actually that was funny. We talked a lot about that scene, because Brad [Wright], our producer, loved the name “Steve.” And I thought, and I really believe this firmly, that “Bob” was a much better name. And so we sat around and argued about this. I was like, “Oh, Bob’s so much better!” “No, Steve’s better.” And literally we talked like this for quite a long time. He said, “Nope, we’re going with Steve.”

So we went with Steve, and the reaction to it was kind of crazy. People went nuts for the guy. But what was interesting was that scene, when we shot it, was right during the Abu Ghraib prison problem. And we were sitting there in our uniforms, with our flags — we all have our country’s flag — and I thought that we had to be really sensitive about this, that people would draw a comparison. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t; and chances are some will and some won’t.

So it actually took us in a direction that turned out to be kind of interesting, which was kind of more of a sympathetic approach to the prisoner. And sure enough, people were really sad to watch the guy die.

GW: Well, they just thought he was so short-lived! Like he could’ve went on for so much longer.

JF: He could have! We’ll there’ll be more Wraith to come.

GW: Right. Isn’t there like another Wraith that you name?

JF: Yes, there is. There is.

GW: Well, it’s interesting that Weir made the comment about the Geneva Convention, and I think it was you that said, “Well, if the Wraith were at the Geneva Convention the Wraith would’ve tried to eat everyone.”

JF: That’s right! It’s a thinly-veiled comment of today’s current topics, right?

GW: Right. And that’s what sci-fi does so well.

JF: It really does.

GW: Do you feel the writers will take Sheppard and Teyla’s relationship the distance, or is this just something temporary?

JF: Well, I think they just have to be really careful. I think this urgency that the team has in these episodes has to be paramount, and that when they start getting into romantic thinking — in some ways, it doesn’t seem appropriate. And yet at the same time, it’s also real life. People in the middle of war have relationships.

So, it’s done, it just has to be done in a way appropriate to the context and what the situation is. Our situation’s fairly dire, so dilly-dallying around, liking various people and flirting with them, in some ways, I think deludes the urgency of our show. So we’re going to do it but we’re going to do it in a way that I think will satisfy both groups.

GW: OK. Will Sheppard ever get to make use of your skateboarding skills?

JF: God, I hope so! I keep telling them. I say — no, the surfing! I said, “You know, we’re able to get a vast, giant ocean. I think we have some massive waves here. I think it would make a great episode.” They kindly nod their heads and they say, “Poor kid just misses Malibu.”

GW: Well it’s not every day that the lead man can skateboard around the lot all the time. And I just thought that would be a really cool little addition.

JF: You know what, I feel deeply attached to that thing. I love it. I love getting around on that thing.

GW: I have to say that’s a beautiful board that you have. I’ve never seen one quite like that.

JF: I contacted the guy at the company and I told him that we’re spending a lot of time — people are asking a lot of questions about it, so he sent me up a new board.

GW: Oh, really?

JF: Yeah.

GW: Awesome! Totally cool.

JF: I know!

GW: Do you hope to cross over into SG-1 in the future, for like an episode or two?

JF: Yeah, I do, and vice versa. And I think that will happen, but it won’t be like this open avenue between the two shows. I don’t think it can be. I think you have to be really careful about that.

GW: Do you plan to stay on board Atlantis for as long as the show lasts?

JF: I don’t know how long it’ll last!

GW: Ain’t that the truth!

JF: If we’re looking at 35 years from now if you ask me that question, I’ll have a different answer! I plan to definitely stay on board for us to develop a solid, syndicated package, which is 80 to a hundred episodes. And I really want to get the show to those numbers. And after that, then we’ll take it one step at a time.

GW: Right. You’ve signed on for six years, is that correct?

JF: You know, I saw that, and I said to myself, “I don’t remember that. I’d better go look at that again.” Maybe I should hire you as my agent.

GW: [Laughter] Well, Joe, I appreciate you taking the time to chat with us.

JF: You bet.

GW: And we definitely look forward to talking with you in the years to come.

JF: Likewise.


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Stargate Atlantis The Official Companion, season 1, foreword by Joe Flanigan

Although not technically an interview, these two pages of the Season 1 Official Companion booklet carry Joe’s thoughts about the show.

The Official Companions cover each season (available only for the first 4 seasons though) and are  rich documentary sources (especially for the die-hard fans), presenting all episodes in a season, including production details (on special effects, music, costumes, stunts, stand-ins, construction of the set, make-up, post-production etc.), heros’ characterisation,  and a generally reliable track record of the show. The booklets are packed with behind the scene stories and interviews, memories or short statements of the cast, directors, producers and other members of the crew, as well as lots of pictures. The series is authored by Sharon Gosling and can be found on amazon.

Each of the four “Companions” has a foreword by the lead actors (Joe Flanigan, Torri Higginson, Paul McGillion and David Hewlett), and here below we have Season 1 foreword, signed by Joe (June 2005). 


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Interview of SGA cast after winning the 2008 People’s Choice Award for the newly introduced category of Favorite Sci Fi Show.

Matching written interview in the picture below (from a New Zealand TV guide).

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Frankly Flanigan, interview by GateWorld.net, 2006

Frankly Flanigan, GateWorld talks with Joe Flanigan

Now in his third year on Stargate Atlantis, California-born Joe Flanigan is a certified science fiction veteran. His character, Lt. Colonel John Sheppard, has been shot at, tortured, captured by Wraith, turned into a bug, attacked by an invisible monster, possessed by an alien consciousness, and pined over by alien women. And, of course, he’s flown a whole lot of space ships.

GateWorld caught up with Joe on the set of this season’s “Irresistible,”and spoke with him about what is different in the show’s brand new season. Joe also talks about character backstory, getting back into the swing of long production days, and speaks frankly about where he thought Season Two didn’t live up to expectations.

GateWorld’s interview with Joe Flanigan is available in MP3 audio format for easy listening, and is 8 minutes long. It is also transcribed below. You can also download the interview to your MP3 player and take GateWorld with you!

GateWorld: For GateWorld.net I’m Darren Sumner. I’m here with Mr. Joe Flanigan. Joe, thanks for welcoming us onto your stage today!

Joe Flanigan: Thank you for coming!

GW: Tell us a little bit about Sheppard as he finishes off Season Two, once again in mortal danger. What were your thoughts on how Season Two wrapped up?

JF: Typical cliffhanger, hopefully designed to drag you into the third season. And it gets really interesting. The conclusion of that is very interesting. And it was an interesting thing to come back to. You know we have four months off in between, so I virtually forgot everything. They had to remind me: “So you flew a 302 and latched on to the hull of a hive …”

I’m like, “Oh, I did? OK.”

GW: Is it kind of tough after such a long hiatus to get back into things?

JF: Well, it can be. It certainly can be, there’s no doubt about it. But no, it also feels very natural. The whole schedule is a reawakening, or I should say the opposite of that! It’s a difficult thing to hardwire yourself again for the 5 a.m. alarm bells and the 12- to 14-hour days and stuff. But that’s the way it works, you know.

GW: Do you start to feel like Sheppard again when you’re getting up at 5 a.m. and sitting in the make-up chair? There’s no way around it?

JF: Actually, no — I don’t really feel like I start to get ahold of that material [until] I’m actually with my fellow castmates. And then I fall back into it.

GW: Speaking of your fellow castmates: The show’s writers have said that one of their goals for Season Three is to improve the team dynamic, your relationships with one another. Is that something you are seeing coming out so far?

JF: This season? They’re making a pointed effort to write more material where there are moments of greater intimacy, greater bonding, things like that. They feel that perhaps there wasn’t enough in the last two years. And they’ve got to write them, [and] we do them. And I guess that’s what they’re going to do — start writing more of them.

And yeah, you see it — actually I’ve watched a number of the scenes that they have written. I’ve watched the dailies. And they’re nice. It’s nice to see the characters that you’re familiar with get to know each other [in] more intimate moments and stuff. They’re nice. I like them. As an actor, I enjoy it quite a bit because we have very few mano a mano scenes.

It was interesting, because someone was cutting together a reel for me and we couldn’t find a scene that lasted longer than 15 seconds, really. Because the show is an action show, and it’s “Boom boom boom boom.” Cut back and forth, intercuts, intercuts! And getting a whole scene that has an emotional arc, where two people arrive, they speak, and they then leave two pages later, slightly transformed — that’s traditional, dramatic style that I hope they inject more of that stuff into the show. Because as an actor it’s a lot of fun to do.

GW: Contrasted with Seasons One and Two, how is Season Three stepping up for Sheppard — aside from the fact that he’s latched onto a hive ship?

JF: I have yet to see the big Sheppard episodes that are apparently coming down the pipe. So far, for my character, the few episodes we’ve done are not necessarily Sheppard episodes. There are team episodes, and then we have a big Ronon episode that we just finished shooting.

Then we get back into a team episode. Then next we’ll be doing a Torri episode. I mention it that way, because really when I say that, that particular character will be driving the story. Ronon drove the story in“Sateda,” Torri [Weir] will drive the story in “Real World.”

So when you say, “What’s in it for my character?” — I’m not exactly sure that I can say anything has been filmed yet. But I know what we plan on doing. From my impression we’re going to get into some backstory issues that should be pretty interesting. We’ve said this before and not done it, which is a source of great frustration. Because at the last minute they’re like, “Well, we don’t have room to do this!”

Backstory is one of those things that if it works for the story, great. But I don’t think it’s worth creating an episode just for backstory. So you have to be flexible enough. These stories come along — these guys are working really hard upstairs to create 40 hours of original programming. And they have to have the flexibility of saying, “We’re not going to do the backstory this time. We’re going to do backstory in a few episodes.”

GW: Do you think that that was the case with “Epiphany” last year?

JF: “Epiphany” had … [Laughter]

Listen to me: I’m not much for being censored in these interviews. I’ll be frank. We had a lot of problems with “Epiphany” on a lot of different levels. And I don’t think Brad [Wright] or I were really happy with the end result of “Epiphany.”

GW: Really?

JF: No, we had much higher hopes for “Epiphany.” From concept to reality there was a drop-off. [Laughter]

But it’s a learning process. And I think Brad and I would probably agree, we both — there were a series of problems. Not to mention one of them was a two-and-a-half-week hiatus in the middle of that episode. But yeah, we had a different idea for “Epiphany.” And in the end we didn’t do it.

You know, not all episodes are great. Some are less good than others. I know I’m supposed to be sitting here and plugging this, but I’m also a viewer. I’m a regular part of the TV audience world, and I know that I like shows that I would watch. And this is a series that I definitely would watch. And some episodes are better than others.

The good thing is this season, though — each season, the first season, second season got better. This season has had the most marked improvements in terms of storylines, character development, lighting, you name it. We’re actually getting some really interesting stuff.

The show looks better than ever, if you want to know the truth. I’m pretty excited about the third season.

You may listen the interview here.

Where We Left Off, interview by GateWorld.net, 2009

Where We Left Off, GateWorld talks with Joe Flanigan

Conventions are hectic events for everyone, but for celebrities it can be madness! GateWorld fell prey to actor Joe Flanigan‘s busy schedule at Creation Vancouver 2009 when we were forced to cut our last interview short. So we were delighted to be able to polish off our discussion in this second segment, recorded at Creation Chicago 2009.

If you haven’t read the previous interview, we suggest you do so first!

In this segment, Joe discusses the reduction in DVD sales, waiting to hear word from MGM and Bridge about an Atlantis movie go-ahead, and getting a chance to build some memories with his three young boys. He also discusses a new project he and a writing partner are undertaking!

This interview runs 12 minutes and is available in audio. It’s also transcribed below!

GateWorld: Last time we talked with you, we were in Vancouver. It was kind of rushed. We had a chance to talk briefly about the cancellation.

Joe Flanigan: Was that the last time?

GW: Yeah.


GW: We talked about the cancellation, briefly talked about “Vegas.” Obviously nothing has changed since the DVDs have been kind of put on hold while the economy is in recession. Were you aware of that? That they’ve been basically saddled until …

JF: We get slightly different stories. It’s hard to tell. I don’t know. I think that obviously there is a slump in the DVD market, without a doubt. That can always be a contributing factor. I don’t know. I know MGM says that it has something to do with that but, man …

GW: They do want it to happen.

JF: I think they want it to happen. It’s hard to tell. Who knows? When the show was canceled we were told the movie was green-lit and we were going to shoot it quickly. That’s been almost a year, so …

GW: And before a big economic falloff, too. Rob Cooper [Robert C. Cooper] recently said in an interview that, that was the big contributing factor and that MGM wants to hold on until things kind of start moving in the other way. And who knows when that’s going to be. I would think that the home DVD market would be booming because no one’s going out anymore.

JF: Well, I did speak with somebody specifically at MGM about that and they said, “The SG-1 movies did well.” And that SyFy wanted to be part of this and so what they tried to do is they did it with Caprica. And I think we sold something on the tune of 500,000 units and Caprica only sold 35,000 units. And MGM …

GW: Really? Ark of Truth and Continuum totaled?

JF: I think so. MGM was reading that as a disastrous downturn in the DVD market. But I was telling them I don’t think that’s a good economic model at all. Because I don’t think Caprica has any brand recognition like Stargate does. Nor do I think they have an existing fan base like Stargate does.

So, I urge them to reconsider that model because I don’t think that’s an accurate model of the DVD market. There may be a 15 to 20 percent drop in sales because of what’s going on, but it’s not going to be anywhere close to that. But that’s the model they’re looking at. So the way they see it, I think, is not good. Now, if the new show comes out and does well … I don’t know how that would affect the movies.

GW: What do you think about Stargate Universe? Have you talked with the folks who are developing it?

JF: No. I didn’t talk to anybody. Not a single person. I’m in touch with all the cast members. But no, I have not talked to anybody so I have no idea about any of it. I’ve got great respect for Robert Carlyle and those guys. I’m sure they’re working awfully hard and I really hope it works out. I really do.

GW: In the meantime you’ve been doing some guest spots. You’ve doneWarehouse 13.

JF: Ah, yeah.

GW: It’s doing very well.

JF: Yeah, it’s doing pretty well. That was really for fun. And I had fun. And then I looked at it and I was like, “Oh my God, I’m not doing anything in this episode.” You know? [Laughter] I’m not used to not doing anything in an episode. But they’re a really fun group of people and I really enjoyed working with them. And I think the show is doing well.

GW: Not having Atlantis day to day, obviously you have the opportunity to devote more time to family. You have a third son now, are they happy to see you more?

JF: He claims he’s my son. I feed him. He only gets two meals a day though.

GW: Is it nice to be home more?

JF: I love it. One of my kids was having some difficulty in school last year. I was gone a lot. Since I’ve been home, he hasn’t had any of those problems so I’d like to think that that helps.

There’s not doubt about it. Being around for their birthdays and being around for a lot of little memories are pretty priceless, so I’m enjoying that a lot. I’ve also gotten reconnected with a lot of friends in my neighborhood that I don’t really ever get to spend a lot of time with. I actually have a life. It’s actually really fantastic. I really enjoy it.

GW: Are you actively auditioning in L.A.?

JF: Well, not a lot. Things are pretty slow in Hollywood. Things are pretty slow. I mean, there’s always certain type of work if you want to do that but my parameters have gotten a little tight and I don’t know whether I am going to be able to stick to those parameters, but I really wanted to stay in Los Angeles. And shows are now shooting all over the place, from Mexico City to Detroit to Providence, and it creates a real quandary for me. It really does.

GW: It’s not easy to uproot your family. You’ve done that with Stargate.

JF: Yeah but also to compound that, if you go off to do one of these shows you just don’t know how long it will last, too. So you can’t really uproot your family. You could be told one day “Don’t come to set, the show’s over.” And then you’re moving out of your place in Mexico City. And so it puts a strain on things. That’s kind of where I’m at. I’m having a good time though, awfully good time.

GW: But of course we’ll hopefully see you back in Vancouver when they do say “Yes, let’s do the movie.”

JF: Your guess is probably as good as mine. You probably have … I could call and ask flat-out. Maybe I’ll get an answer, I have no idea. [Laughter] I have no idea. I’m surprised they’re not doing a movie. But that could reveal just how little cash they have right now. I mean, they may be on vapors. I’ve been hearing that for so many years, though, that MGM is teetering on the precipice. You just, I don’t know …

GW: But you’re in Chicago today to talk and meet with a bunch of people who have loved your contributions over the past few years. What is it like to be with the fans? What is it like to hang out? I remember the first time you ever did a convention. Up on stage, “Holy cow! There’s a few people in here.” What is it like now?

JF: It’s nice to know that people are still enjoying the show. I feel really grateful that people still like the show. It’s also unusual. I have a lot of friends who are actors and they’ve done shows and shows that have lasted for a while. They just don’t have the fan base. And it’s pretty cool. I mean, it really is. It’s really a special thing that you have such loyalty.

I just hope that we can create another platform that they can follow. And I’ve been talking to SyFy about it and we’d like to come up with something and see if we can shift the audience over to a different show. Give them something that they’d like to watch. I hope it works out.

GW: We’ll be keeping an eye out for that. Show’s been wrapped up for over a year now.

JF: Yeah.

GW: You’ve built a lot of relationships, a lot of friendships. Which do you find are standing the test of time through the work load? Who do you find you’re staying in touch with the most?

JF: Cast. And then certain crew members that have come through L.A. They stay with me or I take them surfing. We had our stunt guy down there the other week.

GW: BAMBAM [James Bamford]?

JF: Actually it wasn’t BAMBAM, I was Todd Scott. And really anybody who passes through town that wants to hook up. I unfortunately have not talked to any of the producers and the writers at all. I don’t think they really made any attempt to reach any of us.

GW: The new show’s got to be keeping them busy.

JF: Maybe, yeah. But that’s a little weird. Because you’re like, “I’ve just spent five years with everyone.” And then suddenly you don’t hear from them at all. So it’s weird.

GW: David’s [Hewlett] down in L.A. right now, isn’t he?

JF: David might be back in Vancouver already.

GW: Jason is still in L.A.

JF: Jason is in Los Angeles. It’s the thing I miss the most, going to work and saying “Hi” to everybody. It was a tight-knit group of people. We had a lot of fun on set. Set was fun.

GW: Aside from dwelling on the past work, where do you want to go next? Where would you like to see yourself next? Aside from Lamborghinis and a pepperoni pizza and all the toppings and things like that. Where do you want to see your career go?

JF: Well, I think that we are making a push definitely toward action. That’s just a venue that I like.

GW: Being physical?

JF: I like being physical and I like watching action, also. [Laughter] If there is a gravity that’s drawing us, it’d be toward the likes of the “Indiana Jones” and things like that. Trying to find that type of action-adventure and inject it into television again. Which is very difficult because of the price parameters that you have for television. But with the new technology there may be a way to do it.

And I know that Sanctuary is being looked at as possibly a watershed TV show in terms of how effects-heavy it is and how little money they make the show for. It’s pretty impressive, what they do. So, it’ll be interesting to see if that’s a whole new angle that they go to. And if so, I think it opens up a lot of possibilities.

GW: What about writing? Do you write, star, produce? The whole gamut?

JF: Yes, I actually have been writing with a partner in Los Angeles right now. I find it difficult. Because I find that I have not only a limited attention span [Laughter], I like to be around people. I like to shoot the s***. If I find myself alone — if I have to go down into a room and write, I will figure out how first to clean out the closet, check on the refrigerator, figure out what repairs in the house need to be done. I cannot sit down by myself and write.

And I realized that my mind works much better when I’m bouncing ideas with people. And I think that I like being around people and I don’t like being alone that much. So I’ll have to figure that out.

Interview by David Read.
Transcript by Kerenza Harris.

Video interview at ComicCon 2008, by Amazon

Amazon.com’s Exclusive Interview with the Cast of Stargate Atlantis (Joe Flanigan, Robert Picardo and Jewel Staite) at ComicCon 2008


SciFi promo for season 5 (video), 2008

Joe Flanigan talks about season 5


On set video interview while shooting Harmony, 2008

Joe Flanigan confides on set, between takes, in former reporter Jerry Penacoli, who is playing a Genii warrior in “Harmony”, one of the season 4 episodes (414)


Joe Flanigan on KTLA, 2007

Video interview


Promo for season 3, 2006

Joe Flanigan, Torri Higginson and David Hewlett feature in this promo for season 3. Footage mainly from Common Ground (3.07)


Cast interview following winning the People's Choice Awards in 2008

Jewel Staites, Joe Flanigan, David Hewlett and Rachel Luttrell answer viwers’ questions in these two videos on the Stargate official MGM site. Joe gets to answer some interesting questions, like: “Is there an extreme sport you’d like to try and that haven’t yet?” “Do you plan on writing any more episodes and do you want to direct?”


A conversation with the Colonel, DVD commentary (S5)

The Season 5 set of SGA DVD includes an interview with Joe as a short feature. The transcript is copied below.

Joe Flanigan – A conversation with the Colonel.

From SG1 to Atlantis

I think there was this general attitude that whatever we did on SG1 is what we’re going to do on Atlantis, and a lot of my efforts went into trying to make sure that was not the case. It’s not that SG1 didn’t have a super successful kind of formula, it’s just that I thought it was a mistake to simply recreate it. I think at the beginning we were adopting a lot of SG1 elements, and as time went on, there is a change that’s gone on in the show, which is, I think it’s modernized itself quite a bit. The cameras are moved a lot more, the tone has darkened a little, and yet we kept a very dry sense of humor. I think it’s a sexier show, and there are so many more stories to tell.

The daily grind

I don’t have a life up here outside of work, so when I come to work, work has to fulfill me. The only difficult thing for me has been, you know, struggling and kind of, you know, breaking skulls a little bit every Friday afternoon to get everybody to get me on a plane so that I spend, hopefully, more than one night a week with my wife and kids. That’s really the only challenge. I’ve had to be fairly annoying to accomplish that.

I would say the biggest accomplishment in the hundred episodes, the thing that I’m the most proud of, is the fact that we have all developed really good relationships, we all really get along, and I don’t think anybody’s walking away from this show angry or upset about anything. If anything, they’ve made lifelong friends. That’s a hard thing to accomplish  in this environment. I think every cast member and every crew member should be pretty proud of themselves for being an important part of just creating an environment that’s pretty fun to go to work for. I mean, essentially, we’re getting paid to goof off and play and have a pretty good time. If I had my wife and kids around the corner, I would be in Utopia.

The team

Without David Helwett I don’t know that I could have pulled off a hundred episodes. Without that laughter I’m not sure I could’ve pulled this off.  He had us cracking up almost every day, and sometimes uncontrollably cracking up. I think some of the best moments in the show, that I felt, from my perspective, were with me and him. He has a tremendous kind of depth as an actor, that a lot of people don’t see because he’s manically talking and freaking out and stuff, but he has a capacity to really go from zero to a hundred and anything in between.

Jason Momoa, what can you say? I think he pretty much broke the mold, that kid is… he’s an endless source of entertainment for me. He’s also my roommate. I was fine with that. We enjoy each other’s company, and to be honest with you, sometimes he doesn’t have the same shooting schedule, and he’ll be gone for a week, and I’m kind of lonely, I’m like, Christ, I’m really bored.  I’m in my hotel room by myself ordering room service. This is no fun. I’m with him, like, you know… a little bit of trouble follows us, but it’s always entertaining.

If we didn’t have Rachel, then we would be in serious trouble. For one, we’d just be a bunch of, pretty much, sweaty guys running around, but we give her a really hard time, and she just, for some reason, takes the bait. But she’s a sweetheart and it’s been fun watching her have a child, be a mom and do all those things. And she’s going to be beautiful for the rest of her life.

Jewel is a really talented actress who came here… I think she was a little nervous the first few episodes, like the new kid on the block type thing, and then I think she realized that there’s none of that here. Then she got really comfortable really quickly and chimed in with the kind of quirky sense of humor and the kind of dark jokes and all that. I think she was really happy. I could tell she was genuinely happy coming onto thins show.

The fans

I think that Amanda and Chris and Michael really paved the way for this feeling that the fans have, that they’re part of something and that they have an interaction with the show. That it’s not just some super exclusive thing done behind closed gates in Hollywood, but that’s a real show with real people, and they can interact with you, and fans are an important part of the show, and that without the fans you don’t make the show. Being in front of those crowds, it turned from being a little scary to actually being really rewarding. I also feel a genuine gratitude, so it’s not like I’m going up there hanging by a thread and… You go up there and people are really grateful that you’ve come and seen them, and I, in turn, am very grateful.


A conversation with the Colonel. Screencap from SGA DVD set, Season5, volume 2

The 100th episode wrap party, video, 2008

Brief moments from the 100th episodes wrap party video on the Stargate official MGM site. Several cast and crew members have short interventions.

Joe says, among others:

I’m proud of doing 100 episodes and building great friendships. It was actually a real joy to come to work everyday, and that’s a rarity. It’s hard to do a hundred episodes of anything, and to enjoy it and have a great cast and crew…