Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to take part in a conference call Q&A session for Stargate Universe [Syfy, Friday, 9/8C]. The Q&A was supposed to be with David Blue and Brian J. Smith, but Smith was unable to make it, so the quick-thinking folks at Syfy rang up Elyse Levesque who jumped in completely unprepared. Judging from the laughs and general good feelings evinced by David and Elyse, Stargate Universe maintains the Stargate reputation for happy sets.
The Q&A was moderated by Syfy’s Marian Arias and the following bloggers/journalists also took past: Jamie Ruby [Media Blvd.], Curt Wagner [Red Eye], Troy Rogers [thedeadbolt.com], Michael Simpson [Cinema Spy], Stacy Whitley [Pop Culture Madness], and Julia Diddy [fancast.com].
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David Blue: Thank you for having me.
So how did you get this part? I mean, did you audition for it or and like why did you accept it?
Blue: Yeah, well, you know, as far as getting it, the typical route. I was actually in New York shooting another episode of Ugly Betty and heard about it. Then we set up the original, you know, audition and then I had a screen test and the whole usual process; pretty much worked hard to get the role. I was excited about it.
And having watched a lot of the original Stargates when I actually got the script it changed everything for me. I mean it was just really interesting and gripping and in depth and it was a character that I really felt like I could sink my teeth into.
And then during the actual screen testing process I heard about them signing on Robert Carlyle which of course just made me want it even more.
So you said you’ve watched Stargate; did you use any of that to prepare or did you, you know, completely go away from that?
Blue: You know, when it comes down to it my character, Eli, is very much new to this word so the way he approaches things has to definitely be a fresh perspective not knowing anything about the program, about the aliens, about the different technologies.
It does help when I read a script – when I read other people’s parts to know what’s going on which is how I’ve kind of become the go to guy; I get phone calls from my cast mates all the time saying okay explain this to me. What is this now that you guys are talking about?
And it makes me I think appreciate it more but as an actor it’s kind of fun because I have to act. I have to bring a set of fresh eyes to seeing something for the first time even though I’ve actually seen it on the show before. You know, I love it.
That’s great. What’s been like your favorite moment like scene that you’ve filmed so far?
Blue: Oh that’s a loaded question. You know, that’s a hard one. I think and this is just kind of a selfish thing as an actor – I love group scenes. I love scenes where it’s all of us together in a room because everyone is really, really deeply talented. And we all get along; we’ve all become friends and we all have really good senses of humor so we just have fun.
Sometimes too much, sometimes people have to kind of whip us back into line. But for the most part any of our group scenes there’s always some interesting thing that somebody brings to it you weren’t expecting and it makes it exciting and it reminds you why you’d want to do this for a living, you know.
Okay, yeah, well thank you. I saw the pilot it was very good so…
Blue: Oh thank you.
I was wondering are you kind of in heaven with this role? I mean you’re a sci-fi [guy] and, you know, sort of the self-proclaimed geek of sorts right?
Blue: They’re listening; if I say no I’ll get fired. No, actually no I absolutely love it. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t walk on the set and multiple times during the day I have to pinch myself. You know, as an actor it’s a dream job because it’s a steady gig. It’s, you know, it’s a fulfilling show.
There’s some scripts there that really allow me to showcase different parts of myself and my abilities from a fan point of view. I get to act with some people who have existed in this franchise before. From a sci-fi fan point of view I’m seeing, you know, technologies and special effects that I never in a million years could have imagined.
And when I have to imagine during a scene usually miss the market entirely from how cool it actually looks. And then from a, you know, TV fan point of view, you know, from what I’ve seen of the show – we watched the three-hour pilot, we all got together cast and crew and did a movie theater screening actually day before yesterday.
And just seeing how proud everyone was of it and seeing that – this thing that we all love and believe in and it’s actually good TV. And it will keep people entertained and I think, knock on wood, be a success. I mean, it kind of fulfills all of the aspects of myself that I never thought I’d get out of one job.
Right. Okay and this is sort of for the both of you but you can go ahead and answer it, Scott and Eli seem to hit it off pretty early and quickly. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that dynamic and did you and Brian do the same thing?
Blue: You know, it was kind of nice because it was two-fold; on the one hand there was just a small amount of banter between the two of them from, you know, Air Part 1 when Eli first arrives because they’re kind of both young, they’re kind of both new to this side of things.
And it could have very easily, you know, just been a surface thing but they wanted to make it deeper. And then on top of that Brian and I get along very well and have become friends. And I think that translates to the screen.
When we tried to make our characters find connections because when you’re in a situation like these people are on this ship you desperately want to find connections whether it be friendships or romances or in a weird way rivalries. And so these two people who are both sort of new, kind of have more responsibility than they wanted and in a certain way can kind of realize how ridiculous some of these things are, can really find common ground.
And I think since then every episode we’ve done since then any time I have a scene with him I’m always looking for moments between Eli and Scott because I think the friendships that people have on these shows will really be what people connect to when they watch it.
Do you enjoy getting the fun zingers you get and are we going to see a more serious Eli in future episodes?
Blue: I will say and I’m very proud of it that the writers are great about giving more depth than just the occasional, you know, funny line. I’ve got to say as an actor, you know, it’s fun to bring that to a role but the truth is, you know, I’d prefer a challenge and I will definitely say they challenge me a lot especially in episodes that you haven’t seen yet, there are really some really deep interesting emotional things that happen to everyone including Eli.
As far as the funny stuff I love it, I love making jokes, I love making people laugh. And oh we’ve got a surprise coming up. And I love especially the TV film references because that’s very much something that I do in my life because I’ve watched so much.
So, you know, there are so many different aspects of the character and I get to exercise them all and that’s why it’s awesome.
Blue: Should I tell him? Oh I hate – is everybody listening right now? Hello?
Marian Arias: What’s going on?
Blue: We have a little surprise guest coming in on the phone call so…
Arias: Oh great is Brian joining us?
Blue: No actually. It’s a different cast member is going to join us because we don’t know where Brian is right now.
Arias: Can you tell me before we start sharing who it is?
Blue: Yeah, it’s Elyse.
Arias: Okay great. Is she on the call already?
Blue: Carol is calling in right now.
Arias: Okay thank you.
Blue: Is that okay?
Arias: That’s fine.
Blue: Okay, so, you know, the more the merrier and, you know, she’s kind of quiet anyway so just laugh at all my jokes.
I just wanted to know what do you enjoy about playing Eli?
Blue: Oh that’s a rough one. What do I enjoy about it? There’s really not a lot that I don’t. I love – it’s very challenging, you know, there have been many times that I didn’t quite know how to approach something and that’s what really excites me a about acting is having to figure things out.
And then I get to work with some amazing talent out there nowadays. I mean, not just Robert Carlyle who is a great guy and an amazing actor but, you know, Ming Na and Louis Ferreira and Brian J. Smith and Elyse Levesque.
They really are some of the top people at their game right now. It’s amazing to work on a show where you show up and you don’t have to worry about if somebody else is going to be prepared and bring something to the table. All you have to worry about is your part and are you going to be able to live up to it.
And it’s exciting and that’s what’s great about it; that’s what’s challenging about it, you know.
What I wanted to know was during the first couple scenes was that little voice in your head saying I’m talking to MacGyver right now?
Blue: Little voice in my head? It was a screaming blaring bull horn. Yeah, actually I, you know, because I think we were both – we were set up to do like hair and makeup and all that stuff a little bit further away from the location where we were shooting so we both had to ride in the van together to get to the set.
And the whole time I’m sitting here talking to him and I’m just like oh yeah so, Richard, oh people call you RDA, did you come up with that? And like I’m asking him all these mundane questions about his life just wanting to be like dude, I know exactly who you are.
And, you know, trying to play it cool. I think he believed me because he hasn’t mentioned it since.
Now as opposed to your work on Ugly Betty so what’s it like to work with all the green screen stuff?
Blue: You know, as opposed to Ugly Betty it’s completely different. But the truth is, you know, because somebody asked me recently, I think a fan asked me like what’s harder, you know, doing the green screen stuff or the emotional stuff. And they’re both challenging in their own way.
In a way anything with green screen to me is like playing in a sandbox because I’ve always been a child at heart and imagining things, pretending to be things, pretending to be a ninja or what have you it’s not much different than staring at a huge green screen trying to imagine a planet or staring into space trying to pretend like there’s a 3D holographic projection screen in front of you.
And the truth is, you know, the testament to Mark and all the special effects guys because it’s never as cool as it ends up being when I see it on screen. Like what I imagine in my head is like, you know, $1 million less than what they put up there.
It’s fun, it’s nice. It’s an extra challenge more than just, you know, when you’re being emotional and at the same time having to interact with something floating next to you that isn’t actually there it’s even more challenging; it makes you feel like you’re doing Shakespeare all the time. I love it.
Elyse Levesque: Okay.
Blue: Oh here she is.
Blue: Sorry, that other voice you hear is Elyse Levesque.
Levesque: That’s me, Elyse. Hi.
Levesque: Oh. Who am I speaking to?
This is…. And actually I was unprepreared to have anything for you.
Levesque: That’s perfectly all right. This is kind of at the last minute. I was just hanging outside the trailer and Carol grabbed me and threw me in here so…
Levesque: I’m just as thrown off as you are so don’t worry.
Blue: You’ve got David and Elyse; you’ve got a two-some.
Arias: Wait just one second. We’re sorry about that. The change was with Brian J. Smith so Elyse Levesque will be stepping in. And certainly if you have questions later down the line if you don’t have them right now we can get to those.
Oh I’ll be back in the queue you can count on it. David, in the package that came with the pilot it mentioned that Eli is not the most confident guy and that he resorts to sarcasm to hide that. But once he gets into the alien ship he seems a lot more comfortable. I mean, he busts Dr. Rush’s chops.
Is that just self preservation or does… is he so gassed by being in this new environment that he’s overcome that sort of lack of confidence?
Blue: Well, you know, honestly I think it’s in the original sentence – his lack of confidence I think is more in his own abilities. Like the way that I always broke it down, you know, a lot of times you have to remember that the character breakdown is used to cast the role and doesn’t necessarily reflect what the character is in the actual episode or ends up being throughout the season.
And I think of his confidence and his problems with his confidence is just kind of in his fear of failure and his worry that he’s going to let people down especially, you know, in situations like when he went to MIT or his mother or what have you.
When you get onto a situation where you’re fighting for your own life I think it’s a natural instinct to suddenly flare up that you want to protect yourself and you want to make sure that you take care of yourself. And I think that’s where – and he’s kind of a little distrustful I think of Rush from the beginning.
And it’s a matter of that, it’s a matter of not knowing if this guy is going to kill me right now so I need to stand up for myself and for these people around me who I am starting to grow feelings for who I also feel aren’t being represented.
And then I definitely – the lack of confidence, trust me, I mean it’s a constant problem with Eli; it’s not knowing if he knows the right thing or not. But when you’re thrust into the situation like being stranded on a spaceship with people counting on you and people you count on you kind of have to learn how to raise that part of yourself.
And that’s what I love about the character of Eli growing it’s just very much, you know, it’s seeing the arc of the character, seeing it really change and seeing him really kind of have to grow up.
Actually I have something for Elyse.
Okay, Chloe is [in] way over her head here. She wasn’t supposed to be there. How do you see the character adjusting and developing in, you know, from being a complete outsider with no clue how is she going to fit into the mix do you think?
Levesque: Well you know, at first I think, you know, she doesn’t fit in at all and for her that’s a real big problem. You know, she I think really has to start to come to terms with who she is and sort of step up her game because, I mean, it’s kind of like, you know, do or die in this situation.
And, yeah, she definitely was not prepared for this. So, yeah, it’s kind of like a challenging journey for her. But I think slowly but surely the relationships that she makes on board the ship kind of help her get through it and she begins to find footing.
And who knows, I mean, she’s kind of I still think, you know, as the episodes progress she still is maybe in a way lacking a sense of direction but she’s trying to figure out where she fits in in all of this.
And she’s made a couple of connections by the end of the third episode so how do you see those particular connections playing out?
Levesque: Oh certain connections. Well I think, you know, one of her first connections is obviously Eli. I think just on the basis of that he is probably the – one of the only other people on the ship that has, you know, never really experienced anything remotely like this.
You know, so I think in that sense they really sort of share a lot in common. And in a way it’s kind of a kindred spirit. And he’s looking at me lustfully right now. Throwing me off.
But, yeah, no and I think that that’s actually one of the biggest and most important relationships for her. I think Eli is kind of the first true friend that she’s ever had. And, yeah, I mean obviously there’s certain other connections with other people; I don’t know how much I’m allowed to reveal so I’m just going to keep tight lips on some of those.
But, yeah, yeah, there’s definitely a lot of interesting things going on for her.
Anyway if I may, a question that I can address to both of you actually which is what has been challenging for you with this series that’s been different from other shows that you’ve been?
Levesque: Well one thing for me – this is kind of the first time that I’ve played a character for this length of time. So kind of finding new things out about the character, you know, kind of keeping on my toes with that and not getting lazy with it is a constant challenge to keep finding new ways of bringing the character to life.
So, I mean, that’s been probably one of the greatest challenges and also, you know, some – a ton a fun and probably one of my favorite parts about being on the show.
Blue: For me in a strange way it’s a challenging thing and an exciting thing at the same time. It’s that we’ve been shooting so much without having premiered yet. You know, we started very early on this year and just went – dove straight in to make things as good as we can.
And we’ve kind of developed this love for our projects and our excitement for the things that we do and really pride in what we’re doing and then we keep having to remind ourselves that we’re not even on television yet.
So Friday for me is something we’ve been building towards and at the same time scary because it’s kind of bringing you guys all into this world that we’ve created and are proud of and hoping you feel the same way.
So that’s something new to me. I’m used to doing, you know, a show and within a few weeks it’s on TV so it’s kind of odd. You know, we had the casting crew screening this past Saturday it was kind of odd to go back in time and watch something that we shot so long ago and see it for the first time put together.
It’s a little different. I kind of like it though because it makes you not judge your own work as much and it lets you move along with your character without freaking out about how it looks.
Levesque: Yeah, you don’t have all that outside influence.
Stargate fans have a high level of anticipation for this series not least because it’s a departure in some ways from what Stargate has been before. So I was curious about whether you – or both of you are aware of that on a day to day to basis on the set?
I mean you kind of said that the premiere coming up is – you’re a little nervous in a sense to see how people are going to react to that. Is that something you’ve sort of been aware of for the whole time that you’ve been filming?
Blue: You mean aware of how people feel about it or aware that it’s…
Levesque: Aware of the…
Aware of the level of anticipation.
Blue: Yeah, you know, in a way if I can speak out of turn it’s kind of one of my favorite things about it. I kind of feel that every time a piece of a trailer is released, every time that there’s an interview with Robert Carlyle or one of us that gets out there or a picture from set it kind of changes the mind of somebody or it kind of eases the anticipation and the worry that somebody had out there.
I know for a fact actually I saw a Website today which has a few things in the past where people were like oh God I’m worried, I don’t know, it’s going to blah, blah, blah. And somebody actually just went out and asked what do you guys think now that you’ve seen all the trailers and the press. And every single person responded pretty much said oh well, you know, I’m excited for the show and I’m going to give it a chance.
And that’s so great to hear people start to sway towards realizing this is the same Universe, this is the same world, this is what they love. And I love that – I feel that there are more open warm arms than there are people who have doubts. And that’s a great feeling to go into when you’re starting a new show.
Michael Simpson: Awesome. Thank you.
I’m glad to see you sound enthusiastic about what’s going on here.
I have a question for my boy David. How is your – like the Website said that they wanted to make this show edgier and younger in tone. Since you’re knowledgeable about the show like how is your character relatable to younger viewers?
Blue: You know, in a way – and I don’t mean to say this sounding like I’m touting myself but in a way I am the viewers. In a way Eli is – and not even necessarily young, I mean, you know, young, edgier, darker all these are words that people have to use, you know, when they’re advertising something.
When you really watch it you kind of get the feeling that it’s actually just more real, it’s more relatable which is exactly what we want. And Eli is the viewer; Eli is the person who has been sitting at home who loves TV, loves movies, loves, you know, technology. And that’s a lot of the people who watch.
Actually anyone who watches TV is usually someone who watches TV. I think I just redundantly embarrassed myself. He is kind of the eyes and ears, the hearts of the audience and that’s – how can you get more relatable than that? You know, at least I hope that’s what he ends up being.
And in a way so is Chloe.
It’s exciting. How did you prepare for your role on the show? I read that you acted on a lot of like – like TV movies and stuff like that. Like what it like preparing for a different character?
Levesque: Well first of all I had to read the script about three times to kind of wrap my brain around what was going on. This was a whole different animal than I had ever experienced before. And then I had to ask a lot of questions for starters, yeah.
And kind of I brushed up a little bit on some of SG-1 and then I just sort, you know, sort of had to break down the script and kind of, you know, created a background for my character. And, you know, luckily I felt fairly instant connections to the material even just from the sides that I was given in the audition.
I could relate to, I think, a lot of the things that she was going through maybe not necessarily the life that she had lived but a lot of the things that the character was talking about even in just the four pages of sides I had were stuff that I had going on my life and that I could relate to.
So, yeah, I just kind of delved into how I could relate to this girl and then kind of just built her from there.
I have a question for both of you; what do you think makes your show stand apart on a lineup like that? I think it’s on a Friday night am I right?
So what makes your show stand apart?
Blue: You know, you know that’s a good question actually. Well done.
Blue: Well it has us – no other show can claim that. You know, I know this is going to sound kind of strange and a (unintelligible) answer but I think more important is what makes us belong on TV right now. And I think, you know, there’s some great characters that you can really invest in and maybe that’s what makes us different too.
It’s like these are characters everybody on this ship – you will not just find oh I relate to, the girl. I relate to the soldier. You will find pieces and aspects of their personalities and their relationships and just the way they approach things that you can relate to.
And in that you start to grow these attachments for the characters and I think especially on the night we’re on and, you know, just on TV in general it’s a show that you can grow with and into and not just something you’ll watch, you know.
Was it difficult to channel these multifaceted characters or does everybody kind of bring their own piece to the table?
Blue: We have – these people that we’re working are so talented and experienced. I mean, you know, Brian went to Julliard, Bobby comes from the theater world, has been around forever. Like everyone is really, really trained and is, you know, some of the top people in their craft in their age and their genre right now.
So people come and they – everyone has their own process but everyone comes ready to play if you will.
Levesque: …just to kind of add to that, there’s such a great dynamic between us as people as well as I think really lends itself to the characters and the relationships of the characters in the show.
Blue: And trust.
Levesque: I think we lucked out really.
Blue: We all get along as people and we all, you know, met early on and just kind of developed our own friendships as people and as actors and that led to a certain amount of trust. So when you go to set I don’t have to worry about, you know, what is Elyse going to bring to the table? Will she drop a line? Will she not be emotionally ready for me?
Instead it’s just a matter of being there and working together and that’s kind of an exciting thing that I think translates to the screen.
So for both of you: what got you started in acting?
Levesque: Goodness. Well I don’t even really know where it began for me. I feel like I always just kind of was acting even from like infancy. There’s actual video footage my parents have. But I guess what kind of really officially got the ball rolling was in Grade 6 my teacher told me a about this open casting call for a children’s television series that was shooting in my city and really just insisted that I go.
And so I did and was fortunate enough to be one of 40 kids to be part of this repertoire company and I kind of just started from there.
Blue: I – this is David by the way in…
Blue: I, you know, I’ve always been acting since I was a kid. Like – and I think it says that in my IMDB that I was in the Nutcracker when I was in the second grade. And I pretty much every year…
Levesque: Did you take ballet?
Blue: Yeah. Well just second grade it was more just little kids running around in costumes. And, you know, I did lots of plays after school and my brother actually did a little bit. And I still don’t remember I saw him in a play when I was in middle school and I was like – I had stopped for like a year or two and I saw him in something and it just made me re-fall in love with it.
And it was always just something that I loved doing on the side and I never really considered as a career. You know, I love TV, I love film. I watch so much stuff that I would watch these people and these icons that I would look up to and I never in a million years thought I could be in the same league as them.
And then somewhere around college I thought you know what if this is what I love to do and it’s not just something, you know, a hobby. If I can actually make a living doing this and grow as a person doing this why not give it a try.
And it’s kind of taken off from there. You know, got training in theater and done TV, done film, continue to do theater and it’s just been something that it’s a passion inside of me that it love to cultivate. And for some reason someone out there is stupid and they think that I’m good at it and they pay me to do it. And I don’t understand why but I’m not – don’t tell them.
Well on that note for both of you then too, which do you enjoy better, film or television?
Blue: You know…
Levesque: Television has changed so much. I mean I think a lot of the best work that’s being done right now is on television. There’s great networks out there that are creating these really well-written interesting show. And so I think that that whole kind of line of what’s better, film or television, has sort of blurred over the past couple of years.
Blue: You know it’s funny when you look back at the industry a long time ago, you know, you would never see film people want to go to TV or you never thought TV people could go to film. And that – like she said that line is gone. You know, you’ve seen Holly Hunter, you’re seeing Kyra Sedgewick, you’re seeing Robert Carlyle.
Blue: You know, God rest him, Patrick Swayze. You know, just people on TV and it’s because it’s no longer about are you this or are you that. Now it’s like this is what I do for a living; I’m an actor. And so you can do TV, film, theater. Look at Taye Diggs, you know, theater and film. Look at Idina Menzel, Christian Chenoweth. It’s – and that’s exactly why I got into this industry is I’ve always wanted – people would ask do I do theater or do you want to do TV/film? I’m like I want to do it all.
Levesque: I want to do it all, yeah.
Blue: And we’re growing into that kind of world nowadays where entertainment is
entertainment, reality (unintelligible). And – I hate reality television. And…
Levesque: You stole my line.
Blue: And it’s something that can all be encompassed as one big thing I hope, I hope. And the good thing about TV if I may just be even more verbose, the good thing about TV is that with film you have a character that you grow with for an hour and a half and then you have to say goodbye to.
With TV you meet a character, you grow with for 20 hours, 23 hours, whatever in a season maybe over a few seasons and you really get to see the character change and develop different relationships and have things happen to them.
And it’s like you’re welcoming someone into your family instead of just paying your – what is it like $40,000 for a movie ticket these days. And just seeing them for an hour and then having to say goodbye.
You talked about doing it all, are either of you ever interested in writing or directing in the future?
Blue: Yeah, actually, sorry, that’s…
Blue: Yeah actually, you know, I was writing and pitching some stuff around town right before I booked this role. And the producers very much know that in the future I’d love to direct.
And in a weird way a lot of the people in the cast I think we’ve spoken about it, a lot of people really would love to direct down the line, produce down the line. And I know Lou Diamond, you know, he has a lot of projects he’s writing and pitching around right now.
I think a lot of these people that we’re working with are renaissance people and that’s what makes them interesting.
Oh! You didn’t answer yet. I cut you off.
Levesque: Oh that’s fine. I was just going I concur.
No, no what about you?
Levesque: No, well I know who knows? Right now I’m sort of just – I’m really starting to just, you know, slowly but surely get the hang of this whole acting thing so I’m still working on that. And then maybe one day I mean who knows; I would love to. I would love to branch out into directing. You know, I don’t know, we’ll see.
Is there any scene… like funny thing that’s happened on the show that you think should be included in the blooper reel that you would like to see?
Levesque: Oh no.
Blue: There is so much.
Levesque: Oh no.
Blue: Here all – just like I’ve said we all get along and we all have…
Levesque: We get a long a little too much to the detriment of actually getting work done sometimes.
Blue: Yeah, there was actually a scene, if I may be so bold as to embarrass ourselves…
Levesque: Oh just do it, it’s probably…
Blue: We were shooting a scene not too long ago on the Destiny where Elyse and I were kind of having to be cohorts and conspire with each other to convince someone to allow us to do something. And so we just – I never wanted to break on camera and I pride myself in that but this went over…
Levesque: I break over everything.
Levesque: I can’t – I cannot – I don’t think I could ever do comedy. I’d be the worst person in the world. I laugh at everything.
Blue: And we just – I think I was actually supposed to say Dr. Jackson, Dr. Daniel Jackson.
Levesque: I don’t know, you were having a little bit of like a meltdown around that line for some weird reason.
Levesque: …that line became an issue.
Blue: You know, you would think Dr. Daniel Jackson would be a really easy name to say and we were on like take like eight. And it wasn’t even like my close-up I think it was…
Levesque: It was Louis’s.
Blue: And I just tried to say it and it kept coming out Dr. Janiel. And I don’t know why. And it was so funny to us for some reason.
Levesque: It was also like what 9 o’clock at night…
Levesque: Like we’d been there like all day so we were getting a little punchy.
Blue: Yeah we pretty much blew a couple of takes.
Levesque: Brian was a little delirious and late on his cue which then just sent us into hysterics. So…
Blue: Yeah, Brian, Elyse and I get along very well. And I think that translates to the set and unfortunately causes some problems with shooting.
I was wondering what is the most surprising thing we’re going to discover about each of your characters as this season unfolds?
Levesque: Oh well, gosh, for Chloe I think – I think people are going to be surprised to see that she’s actually kind of a bit of a nerd. She really – she really embraces I think starts to embrace life on the ship and is actually for the first time kind of where she is meant to be.
I think, yeah, she really is sort of – likes to, you know, get her hands dirty and know what’s going on and be part of the action. So I think it’ll be kind of an interesting little surprise.
Blue: And if I can pat myself on the back as an actor…
Levesque: Oh God. Here we go.
Blue: I love that – of course everyone knows I’m probably ruining it by saying this. As far as everyone knows, you know, Eli is just the guy cracking the jokes. But the writers are so good that they really make the characters more in depth than that.
And especially later on in the season I really get to play with some really fun dramatic emotional things and you get to see Eli as he is which is not just the guy who cracks the jokes but maybe the guy who’s cracking the jokes to lighten the situation.
And there are things troubling him. There are things going on that are deeper than that. And I think it’s going to catch people off guard and also hopefully make them like the character even more.
Levesque: I just had a revelation that it’s almost like we switch a little bit. I’m the like emotional one… and I’m like the like funny smart one.
Blue: Yeah, I don’t know about that.
And from each of your character’s perspectives what other character do you trust the most and what other character do you trust the least?
Blue: You know…
Levesque: Oh. Okay I’ll go. All right so…
Blue: You? Me?
Levesque: Well I think I probably trust Eli the most. Because he’s proven himself more than once to be a really stand up good friend. And the person I trust the least – it changes for Chloe. I think initially Rush is definitely the person who she really does not see eye on a lot of things.
And then I think that starts to change as certain events occur on board the ship.
Blue: Yeah, I think that’s actually one of my favorite things about the show is that, you know, when you want to say how the show is more realistic that’s a total way that it is; in your everyday life you are constantly reevaluating your friendships and re-figuring out who you can trust and why you should trust them.
And that totally happens. I mean there are episodes where people I never in a million years thought that I would have any issue trusting suddenly become someone who I look at and go why – I don’t know if I should be around this person anymore.
And that’s what makes it interesting is the relationships aren’t – it’s not like these people are friends, great, so they’re friends for the rest of the year. It’s these people…
Blue: …what did that person just do. And especially from the beginning with Rush, you know, I mean, Eli has to look at Rush as somebody who’s been around longer than him, who knows more than him but is doing things and no one can – no one can figure out why he’s doing them.
And you have to kind of look at them sideways for a little while because of that. But then as you start to realize that this person might be able to help you maybe re-evaluate on a daily basis your level of trust it changes. I do think that Eli and Chloe have a good bond and I think that Eli and Scott have a good bond.
And, you know, there are relationships that develop on the ship and the trust is kind of a situation by situation basis if you ask me.
…as much as David made me laugh, you made me cry. I was blown away. You have…
Levesque: …have that effect on men.
You play some very heartbreaking scenes in that first few hours that were really good. I was wondering if you could talk about doing those kind of wrenching emotional scenes. And also for the both of you how – there’s a lot of stuff in this that wouldn’t even need – that isn’t even like genre-specific, you know, it’s not a sci-fi thing it’s just like this could happen on any type of show if you could sort of talk about that kind of.
Levesque: Absolutely. Well for starters the first part of what you were asking, yeah, you know, emotional scenes they’re always difficult because you can really get in your own way with them and worry too much about being emotional rather than just being real.
And there’s a very big difference and it translates when somebody is not genuinely being true about their feelings. So, you know, for me I just try my best to go to that place. I can’t really talk about the things that make me cry. But, yeah, I might be reviewing too much.
And, yeah, and just trust that the other people that you’re working with are going to help take you there.
Well there’s a lot of stuff in this that isn’t really sci-fi genre specific which I kind of like and I try to convince people to watch shows like this because you don’t have to be a fan of sci-fi. I was just wondering if you guys could talk about that a little bit and maybe help me convince them.
Blue: Well you know what’s funny is I was very much a huge fan of Battlestar which we are not which is awesome. But, you know, whenever I would try to convince people, trust me I got a lot of people to watch that show, I would always say I don’t watch it for the spaceships and for the aliens; I’m watching it because it’s good writing, it’s good directing, it’s good acting and it’s good cinematography.
And that always got people to watch one episode and then they were done. And all these people have watched every episode since. And that’s how I’ve been telling people. I mean, you know, family and friends come up to you when you’re an actor and you’re on a new show and go oh I’m going to watch it because of you.
And I always say you know what watch the first episode because of me but I promise you right now you’re going to keep watching for more than that. This show is not just about the science fiction. And it does have that for the fans. And what’s funny is shows like Lost and what have you are sci-fi and people don’t realize it. And that’s what I love about this genre…
Blue: …it’s encompassing.
Levesque: Sci-fi is so broad I mean even Lost kind of falls under that category.
Levesque: Strangely enough. I think really if you like a good drama you will like this show.
Blue: Yeah, I mean, there are characters that you will become invested in. There are plots that you will find interesting. There are people you want to know what are they good? Are they bad? What’s their deal? What is really going on here?
And, you know, I love the original Stargate and Atlantis. But in a way it’s more serialized so you can see a plot line unfold throughout the season which will keep you watching and guessing and wondering what’s going on as opposed to just okay that was a fun episode, end of the day, let me go out to eat.
You know, and that’s what brings the people really into it. That’s what makes it a good show. Some of my favorite reviews have said that and I love it that they were like this isn’t just a good sci-fi show this is a good show. And that is something that I will put on a flag and tout every day that we have the show going.
This is for David. I really liked your interplay with Robert Carlyle in the pilot; I liked the way that you’re – excuse me – your characters have very similar skills in a sense you’re both kind of scientifically minded. And of course you have to work together quite a bit in the pilot but you have very different personalities and very different motivations.
Is that sort of interplay something that we get to see quite a bit more of as the series evolves? And so can you say about how your relationship with Rush develops?
Blue: Yeah, you know, actually coming into it, you know, one of the first things that stood out to me when I read the pilot when I was up for the role or considering the role was Rush. I was like what is this guy’s deal? What is he really doing? I don’t – I want to know – the reason I wanted to get more episodes is because I wanted to know what he was up to.
So, you know, when I talked to Brad and Robert about the character of Eli one of the blatant questions I asked him was why do you need Eli? Why is Eli any different than Rush other than being younger? And what they have said has kind of played into how Bobby – or how Robert Carlyle plays Rush and how I play Eli in that in a way Eli is the one that the people on the ship maybe trust more because his intentions are a little clearer.
And in another way Rush kind of has a little bit of envy for Eli because he can have the same amount of skills, the same amount of genius and in some situations possibly a little bit more whether or not they’re actually attuned and honed to be better. But he can also get along with people and he can also make human connections and earn people’s trust; something that Rush might not be the best at.
So there’s a little bit of envy there. And then on the other hand Eli doesn’t trust Rush but at the same time knows he has all these skills. You kind of get this – if I can quote Brad – this Mozart/Salieri, you know, Amadeus-type relationship where there’s a lot of competition, there’s a lot of distrust but there’s a lot of respect and trust and envy.
So, you know, it’s an exciting thing to play. And I definitely think it grows, you know, like I said the trust is kind of replayed as you go on so they kind of learn how much they can trust each other; maybe some trust is lost and, you know, maybe some respect is gained and lost as you go just like a normal relationship.
Elyse, if someone asked you how would you say that SGU is similar – in what ways would you say it’s similar and what ways would you say it’s different from the previous Stargate series?
Levesque: Well, you know, I mean, I think in similarities there – the mythology is still the same. I mean it still takes place in the same time. But – and it still also kind – I think some of the humor has sort of shifted over. But I think, you know, it’s a lot more about the people and a little less about the problems.
And, you know, it’s a lot more character driven, it’s a lot more arc driven. And I think it’s almost steeped a bit more in reality than perhaps the two previous shows were.
But, yeah, with all that being said I think – I think it still maintains a lot of the elements that people loved about the first two shows. It just takes it to a different place.
Blue: Can I say something about that or is that inappropriate here? Do you mind?
Not at all.
Blue: You know what’s funny is I think having watched SG-1 and Atlantis some of the stuff that people loved throughout the, you know, 20 years that it was on, you know, like the Carter and O’Neil relationship and how they got little piece – like there would be fighting the Goa’uld and there would – you’d see a little spark of a friendship and then they’d be fighting, you know, with the Asgard and all the sudden there’d be a little bit more caring between them.
And what I always want to say is what if – what if instead of having to wait three years for you to see all these moments build up what if you got to see that more in depth and watch the relationship continue on? What if the focus shifted so the other stuff was still going on but now you get to see more of the character that you like and more of that connection burgeoning.
And that’s almost like getting, you know, having your cake and eating it too. You know, you get to experience more of those – I mean, can you imagine Carter and O’Neil if you actually got to watch their relationship develop over a season instead of over 12? You know what I mean?
Blue: Nine, sorry. It’d be different. And it’s still great and it’s still the same world and characters it’s just different.
The Stargate franchise is famous or maybe infamous for being among the happiest sets in television and film. Is that carrying on? Is that tradition carrying on with SGU? And do you have any good anecdotes from the set?
Blue: I definitely think it’s carrying on. I mean, we all get along as people from the beginning, from before we even started shooting. You know, we became friends first, you know, we’re playing paintball together, seeing movies together, playing Beatles Rock Band together.
And really enjoy each other’s company and I think that translates to the set and gives you more freedom to play. And then the crew as well, I mean, we’ve had picnics on the – as family park. We – the screening on Saturday we all went out after for dinner.
Like it’s a relationship that’s less like a work relationship and more like a family. And that only really helps to make the show look ever better I think.
Levesque: Yeah. I agree completely. You know, we’ve been doing this now for what like nine months?
Blue: Oh my God.
Levesque: It’s hard to believe and…
Levesque: We’re not sick of each other; we can still stand each other so I think that’s like a good sign. We’re also getting along and laughing and…
Blue: Speak for yourself.
Levesque: What? And I forget where I was going with that. Great, David, you totally threw me off my track. Yeah, no, no, I think we’re super fortunate. We all just feel so lucky to be part of something that I think is just so special all around. So nobody really takes it for granted and I think that’s why we’re able to have so much fun and really get along and just enjoy the ride.
Any anecdotes, gosh…
Blue: I don’t know what an anecdote is. It’s a kind of deer. A good anecdote. Well, you know what… if I can say it I wasn’t actually there unfortunately, I think it was – it was a really intense episode for me and I had a lot of really emotional stuff going on so I was working on it in my trailer. But I heard about it later.
We, you know, there’s the cast and crew lunch usually between scenes and Robert Carlyle actually has a nice little trailer with speakers on the outside that he usually plays some good music on. And there was like an impromptu dance party…
Levesque: Oh yeah.
Blue: …that happened. There was a lot of people dancing around after eating lunch just enjoying the music and laughing and that’s not something that you typically see on a TV or film set.
Levesque: No, definitely not.
Blue: And probably we’ll hopefully never see on video for the sake of all our embarrassment.
Levesque: Some people like to pull pranks, you know, which always kind of keeps it interesting – Louis [Ferreira].
Levesque: He has this thing called a fart machine that he spends large amounts of time playing with on set. So it makes for really interesting days. And sometimes I think people get a little annoyed with us because we get a little bit carried away. But, you know…
Blue: You just ruined everyone’s perspective of Colonel Young…
Levesque: I just debunked Lou’s tough-guy persona. He’s totally like the class clown; you wouldn’t think so but yeah.
Okay. And one technical question going back to when you were talking about working with green screen. I did a Q&A with Amanda Tapping and Robin Dunne from Sanctuary and they were talking about how it makes things feel like theater like a play when you’re working against the green screen because you have to pay attention to the other person.
So I was just wondering do you find that when you’re working in the green screen in, you know, intense dialogue sequences that it makes you stay present in the moment and it makes you react better to the other person?
Blue: Well, you know, I think that’s definitely understandable from their point of view since their show is so hugely green screen with like everything, I understand where they’re coming from. With ours – our green screen is a little different; it’s more used for, you know, exteriors of planets or, you know, the Gate or looking out on it from the ship or what have you.
So for the most part if we’re looking out into the green screen there’s something going on and that’s what we’re looking at. So in that way, no, it’s not as much like a theater type thing; it’s more kind of like a playtime type thing. More like it heightens the situation definitely but I don’t think it really affects the relationships between the people who are talking, I think that pretty much stays the same.
It’s kind of added layer more than it is changing the entire experience if that makes sense.
So for both of you if you could write a storyline for your character whatever you wanted to have happen what would you have them do?
Blue: Oh wow. That’s hard because as soon as we tell you and you print it they’re never going to write it.
Levesque: They’re never going to write it, yeah. Oh man.
Blue: Well we’ve been joking… this would never happen, this is more humorous, but we’ve been joking for a while that one time we should dial the gate and walk through and end up on the island from Lost.
Levesque: Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Blue: I thought that would be really cool. Just like, you know, hang out with Sawyer and Kate.
Blue: You know…
Levesque: I like that plotline.
Blue: It’d be really cool.
Levesque: That’d be real interesting.
Blue: Crossover and it would extend Lost too so the fans would be really happy. You know, Brad, Robert, Carl, Joe, Martin, everyone they bring on I don’t understand where they come up with some of the worlds that they have in their heads.
Levesque: They’ve been doing this for like oh my gosh…
Blue: Yeah, yeah…
Levesque: …like 15 years.
Blue: So it’s hard because sometimes. We’re just like oh my God where did that come from?
Blue: So I wouldn’t even try to pretend like I know the world enough to…
Blue: …get something. I would love in future season to see us just develop our relationships more, to really, you know, interesting things just happen or our characters, different things grow about us.
You know, new situations arise that we just all have to deal with and learn who we can trust. And I mean I know it’s going to happen. I know the excitement is going to be there. I know the cool sci-fi stuff will be a part of it and I know that down the line I’ll find out that Eli feels different ways about different people that I never would have guessed and things from their pasts – I would love to revisit.
I would love to know more about Eli’s mom, his family. Why his mom is a single mom. I mean I know but I’d love for it to translate to the screen more. And how Chloe ended up working for her father and…
Blue: …the world she comes from. I mean we touch on it this season, we do…
Levesque: We do, yeah, but…
Blue: I’d love to see it more. You know, these are characters that I personally as a fan love so I just want to learn more about them. So anything that allows us to do that and eliminates the characters I think will be good television.
That’s great definitely. So can you kind of run us through a typical day on the set?
Blue: Oh that’s a hard one. It changes all the time.
Levesque: Yeah, day to day it’s a completely different experience. It depends on, you know, where we’re shooting and what kind of scenes we’re doing. But I mean if we were doing a full day I guess, you know, we kind of wake up at like 4:50, 5:00 am typically…
We still take public transit to get to work.
Blue: A lot of sky training from SGU.
Levesque: A lot of sky training. And then, you know, we rock up here looking disheveled and pale – well that’s me anyway. And then they slap some makeup on us and make our hair look half decent and then, yeah, you know, you go in you do a blocking and then you shoot and that’s pretty much kind of the pattern throughout the day.
Blue: I mean it’s hard with an ensemble drama I think especially compared to sitcoms or what have you because you can – as long as you quote me on this and say that I invented this word – I call it the tectonic plates of shifting focus.
Levesque: Tectonic plates of shifting focus.
Blue: Yeah, (unintelligible). It’s, you know, like, you know, some episodes you have to focus on a certain character; you reveal more about a character and then it shifts back to someone else, you know. You have to do that when you have a large ensemble of really interesting characters.
So it really depends, you know, yeah there are some days where we come in and, you know, we shoot one scene from 4:00 to 8:00 and then we’re done. For the most part especially like with the premiere which everyone will see on Friday, you know, there was a lot about introducing the audience to the show and to the world through Eli’s point of view.
And because of that, you know, my typical day was showing up 4:00, 5:00 in the morning, grabbing as much coffee as I could humanly get my hands on, having some wonderful breakfast from our catering, you know, the hair, the makeup and then a whole day.
We typically don’t do a lot of rehearsals because – and this is a blessing – our cast and crew are just so wonderfully prepared and the way the ship is designed it’s very much lit already. There’s only very few things you have to add to it; it’s very much a…
Blue: …perfectly designed ship. Yeah, so you block a couple of things, set up and then you’re ready to start shooting. And they – depending on the director especially people like (Andy) and (Will Waring) and (Mahita), they know exactly the shots they want so even if you’re spending a while on a scene you’re doing it for a reason; you’re not just getting coverage for coverage sake.
And it’s a very well oiled machine. I mean, we tend to shoot pretty quickly and pretty well. The thing that really takes a long time is the special effects. And when you see the pilot you’ll know why. I mean… it’s really insane.
I asked you about scenes you’d like to see in it. Are there any scenes that you filmed that were cut that you wished they hadn’t cut?
Blue: Actually on the pilot there was. Yeah, in Part 3 for me in New Mexico where we shot. There’s just an extended version of a scene that happens in New Mexico with Eli and a couple other characters. And the scene plays perfectly fine and I understand totally why it was.
It was just fun and funny and I just enjoyed it. And I think somewhere down the line when they do an extended cut I’m willing to bet money that it’s going to be in there. For the most part if a scene is cut I can understand why; I can see where they’re coming from.
Levesque: Yeah, no, I mean, I’m trying to think of…
Blue: I think all your stuff is in it. What is that? Why is my stuff cut?
Levesque: I don’t know. It explains a lot. I think in Air: Part 3 I mean there was some scenes with my mother that actually didn’t make it into the final cut but we actually are going to be privy of an extended cut this afternoon so I’ll get to see them.
Blue: We’re doing a commentary.
Levesque: Yeah, we have the commentary thing this afternoon so maybe we’ll get to see some of that stuff. But, yeah, it’s the same sort of thing, you know, sometimes for time sake or for, you know, not dragging the story down, keeping the ball rolling it’s important for certain things to…
Blue: If I can pat the show on the back though, you know, we had an episode called Fire…
Blue: …that ran over pretty much and they loved the material so much that they actually turned it into two episodes and wrote more. So I think that shows you how really, you know, devoted they are to showing the good stuff, you know. So if they cut something it’s for a reason; you can trust that you don’t have to miss it, you know.
You talked about Lost and I know you like different Syfy shows. What’s your favorite shows on TV for both of you?
Blue: Mine will be longer so you go first.
Levesque: Okay, yeah, I should probably just punch them out quick. Well my favorite show right now is True Blood, love that.
I just started getting into Madmen. I bought the first season and I’m almost done it and I love it; I absolutely love it. So those are kind of my two shows right now. Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time and I don’t have like TiVo or – in Canada I think we call it like TVR…
Blue: Yeah, they call it DVR in the States.
Levesque: Oh okay and I forget what it is up here. But, yeah, so I miss a lot of what’s on television. So I just have to end up going out and buying a lot of the episodes on DVD and all that stuff.
Blue: I however can’t live without my DVR ever since I got it. So I DVR way too many; I’ll try to narrow it down for you. I am a huge fan of True Blood and actually am halfway through the Sookie Stackhouse books as well because I like the show so much; which is different.
I love the Office, huge fan of the Office. I love Lost. I loved – past tense – Battlestar. 24 when it comes back on I’m going to be watching. Not just because Zach Levi is a friend but I do enjoy Chuck. Oh we just like set up our DVR for everything, Big Love, good show. I still watch Entourage because…
Levesque: I’m coming over to your house.
Blue: Yeah. I have every show. Like well at the beginning of the season especially I try to DVR any of the new shows out to see what it’s all about in case I ever am up for it.
You sound like me.
Blue: Yeah, no exactly. And, you know, fan of TV that’s just what we do because we want to see if it’s worth it. You don’t want to find out later like with Madmen, I didn’t start watching right away and everyone’s like, you have to watch.
And now I got to go back and get the DVDs because I only watched the first season and I really feel like I’m playing catch up. So to avoid that I watch them. Right now the premiere if Mercy I found really cool. Three Rivers, my new show – the new show with my friend Alex O’Loughlin from Moonlight – I can’t wait to watch.
I really loved the pilot of Modern Family. I just thought it was hilarious and that’s because again a friend, Jesse Tyler Ferguson is on that. There’s some good stuff coming out which excites me because I feel like we’re in a coliseum ready to battle it out.
Yeah, but there’s not a lot I don’t watch. I don’t watch reality TV. I’m sorry, as an actor I find it threatening. However I do watch So You Think You Can Dance because as an ex-dancer – as an ex-singer and dancer I watch it so that’s on there too. I kind of hide that when people come over though.
Oh and Glee.
Levesque: Oh, Glee.
Blue: How can we forget Glee?
Levesque: How could we forget Glee?
Blue: Love Glee.
Levesque: Oh my God that show is hilarious. Okay.
Okay. Well, thank you very much it was fun talking to you guys.
Blue: Thank you.
Levesque: Thank you.
Blue: Set your DVRs now.