SAN DIEGO — One of the most anticipated presentations of San Diego Comic-Con International was the “Stargate Universe” panel, complete with creators Brad Wright and Robert Cooper and the “Comic-Con virgin” cast.
“Universe” is the third television series in the “Stargate” franchise, and it centers on a melange of characters thrown together on a ship and forced to survive while at the same time embarking on the adventures that fans have come to expect from this particular science-fiction establishment.
The cast is comprised of all new faces to the series, a fact highlighted when a group of the actors, laughing, told the story of when they dropped by the “Stargate” booth in the Exhibition Hall. Not only were they not recognized by the booth worker, they were even asked if they were interested in entering a draw to win a guest spot on the show.
Blast spoke to two of the show’s female stars, Alaina Huffman (familiar as the Black Canary to fans of “Smallville”), who plays medic Tamara Johansen, and Elyse Levesque, who plays the character Chloe Armstrong. The conversation ranged from their thoughts on their characters, to “Battlestar Galactica,” to the oh-so-dreamy Robert Pattinson, and of course, geek culture.
The funny story of their trip to the “Stargate” booth was fresh in their minds when asked about their experience at the convention thus far. “That poor girl,” Levesque said. “We just didn’t have the heart to tell her, to set her straight. So we just kinda went along with it.”
Sympathetic, Huffman defended her. “Why would she know? Well…”
BLAST: Well she’s just working the “Stargate” panel, I dunno. You would have thought that standing in front of the “Stargate” would have jogged some memory.
Levesque: You’d think but no, no…
BLAST: Well how has your experience been so far? You’ve done the panel, you’ve done the Exhibition Floor…
Levesque: It’s unreal. It’s been such a trip! I didn’t really know “" I don’t know if any of us knew the enormity of this, how big this actually is. One thing that’s been so surprising is how instantaneous the information is. Like, words-you’re-saying-words, and they’re already on the Internet. People are finishing your thoughts for you somewhere online. It’s just so massive. It’s really impressive to see all the people, all the fans and they’re so committed and they’re standing in line for hours and hours at the crack of dawn to meet you… It’s just surreal, for me.
Huffman: I found wonderful reception at the panel yesterday, and also at the autograph signing on the floor. I mean, it was a big room full of people. The energy was wonderful.
Levesque: Really positive.
Huffman: Yes, it was really positive. Like Brad said, we were all comic-con virgins, despite, you know, some of our science-fiction backgrounds. I thought I was going to be very, very nervous, and then I was kind of nervous, and then Brad and Robert got up there and just did what they do and I was like, I’m fine.
Levesque: It was that initial open the mouth and hope that a sound comes out. Yeah, once you kind of get over that hurdle it’s smooth sailing.
BLAST: Well I imagine going into a show like “Stargate Universe,” with two previous shows, you have an inbuilt fan base. Is that intimidating? Does that make you more excited to join the project, knowing at least you got those people somewhat in the bag?
Levesque: I think we’re actually lucky. So lucky to have such a loyal fan following.
Huffman: You can thank Brad and Robert and SyFy and MGM for that. They’ve really put in the work and written over 300 episodes.
Levesque: I don’t know how they keep coming up with new stuff!
Huffman: Not only do they keep up with it, but they keep coming up with it in way that attracts more fans and keeps the fan base. And it’s very impressive to me, I mean hats off to them. I think some of the reception, or some of the fanbase “" you know there’s a population of them that are kind of like, “Oh, this new one, why is it dark, why is it different?”
Levesque: Um, 90210.
Huffman: Yeah, remember that horrible question about criteria, like, “You used to cast strong, intelligent women?”
(During the Q&A portion of the “SGU” panel, a fan asked this question, essentially wondering if these new cast members were up to the precedent set by actresses like Amanda Tapping)
Levesque: You know what’s funny is that it didn’t even really hit me at first, I was just like, tra-la-la and then I realized and went, “Aww.”
Huffman: But I think he just needs to watch the show and that population of people needs to watch the show. They’re the same guys. They know what they’re doing. They know how to develop great, deep women. These aren’t shallow female characters “" my character is a first lieutenant, she’s a medic, she’s very confident and capable in what’s she doing. She’s put in, we all are, we’re put in a very extreme circumstance. We’re literally thrown aboard this ship unprepared. And we are along for the journey to discover the ninth chevron, and this is what the “Stargate” fan wants… and along with it will come the circumstances that we’re all put under and the pressures and the stresses and survival and what we have to endure. And you learn a lot about these characters and the bonds they make and the enemies they make.