Friday, April 9, 2010

Interview with Louis Ferreira and Brian J. Smith from SGU

Louis Ferreira and Brian J. Smith star in the hit series Stargate Universe. The latest addition to the 15-year Stargate franchise kicked off the second half of the first season last Friday and airs on Syfy at 9:00 pm.

In a recent conference call interview, Louis and Brian talked to us about connecting with fans online, the battle between Team Rush and Team Young, and some of their pop culture favorites.

Q: What has the experience been like now that you’re halfway through the first season and how is it interacting with your fans?

LOUIS: Okay. Well for me it’s been twofold. I think that what we have recognized and noticed that… some of the fans were going to be a little discouraged because their version of the old Stargate is no longer the same. For me personally, we were aware that they wanted to try to do something different with the franchise.

Many fans don’t get to have as much as 15 years of a franchise on air. That in fact is the case, that there are 15 years of that franchise already on. So for them to want to say we want to try something different to me initially was wow, that’s fairly bold considering you’ve got a built-in audience and success. So to take that risk was something that made me personally feel like hey, this is kind of neat just from that perspective.

To watch it unfold and then to watch [series creators] Brad [Wright] and Robert [Cooper] actually execute their plan has been really positive for all of us. And one of the things that we have noticed is that we are keeping those fans and for those we are grateful. But we are also hopefully attracting people that might not have come to a Syfy type show in the past and go “Hey, this is just a good drama set in space” and so I think that was part of their intention as well.

So it’s kind of nice to feel that we are - as much as we are part of a franchise that we are on our own sort of a unique original show. And I think that Brad and Robert, it says a lot for them for trusting. It was always their plan.

But what I’m basically trying to say is that ten episodes has just grown and there just seems to be a lot of growth happening forward from this moment on. And I think old fans who might have said, “Well it’s not the same show” might be surprised in fact with what’s coming… Over to you Lieutenant.

BRIAN: Well you can’t really make everybody happy, and… now that I’ve gotten to know a lot of Stargate fans and we hear from people and meeting people at conventions or whatever, you hear a lot of people saying that they… were kind of disappointed in the lack of character development in especially Atlantis.

And I think that’s something that we tried to address with the show this year, especially in the first ten episodes, is to say “Okay, this is still going to be a show that’s going to have action and adventure and sci-fi elements in it. But we’re going to take our time to really set up the chess board and to really set up who these people are and what’s at stake for them in the situation.”

And we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people saying, “That’s fantastic, this is great, now I know who these people are.” I just want to see where we go next… I want to see the gun to the head and I want to see the crisis situation.

LOUIS: And don’t forget the aliens.

BRIAN: Yeah and like Louis said, yeah, the aliens are coming and like Louis said, that was in the book.

LOUIS: The aliens are coming.

LOUIS: And these aren’t just regular aliens, we’re talking CGI District 9 type aliens.  

BRIAN: Yeah this isn’t some guy in a Halloween costume.

LOUIS: Yeah some guy with a big head and going, “Oh God, why did I take this gig, it’s so hot in here?”

Q: A lot of the producers and writers online have reached out to fans to ask what they would like to see in the second season. Do you know if any of that input is being implemented and how?

LOUIS: The answer is yes and how is for them to watch and find out perhaps rather than saying we’ve been told not to sort of really give away any plots. We can say things like, “The aliens are coming, the aliens are coming.” But I think as far as anything else… we’re told not to talk about it…

BRIAN: I remember sitting down and having this talk with Rob [Cooper] and he was saying that they have heard what a lot of people have had to say.

And look this is really a new show. This is not like a continuation of Atlantis or SG-1, this is a completely new series. And you can learn a lot as you go and I think that they have also learned from some of the more tasteful and intelligent criticisms of the show and I think you might see some of those things being considered as we move forward.

But as far as to how they’re integrated, they’ll just have to wait and see. But it’s actually really exciting to see… where they’re going.

I’m completely shocked with where they went in the second half of Season 1. I think people a lot of the concerns that people had were addressed before people even had concerns in the second half of the season. So it’s all there.

LOUIS: I think we’ve got an overall plan, but again one of the things that I was drawn to with the show is that these guys who had done 15 years of a type of show and there’s 15 years of series out there that they’ve done. And that’s rare for any show, to want to create essentially a new show within the franchise was admirable and I think we’ve all been very impressed with the execution.

It would have been easy for them to go back into writing exactly what they knew and continue that journey but they have definitely created a different type of show and we’re very grateful to those who have stuck with it. And I think because… their loyalty to that fan base is very, very evident to all of us as it does come up all the time. So to incorporate both has been a task that they’ve really tackled in the second part of the show.

Q: Do you think more people are on Team Rush or on Team Young?

LOUIS: Oh I don’t know. This isn’t Team Edward/Team Jacob fighting, I know that much. I think that yeah, maybe I’ll get Rush to take his shirt off the next time there’s a problem. That would be funny. It would come out but look very different.

Anyway, I think that… the intent is that not just with Rush and Young, with everyone you’re going to go from I love him to why, I hate him, I love him and I think that’s part of the natural progression of any order. So as far as Team Young, Team Rush, I don’t know… I don’t think about it. I have to play my role, he’s playing his role beautifully. Bobby and I are very dear friends and I feel honored to work with the man.

Q: Brian whose team are you on?

BRIAN: I have the Team Young flag. I wear his t-shirt. Yeah but again, that’s what’s hard about this show… you can’t just say one of them is right. I found myself going, “Why don’t they just freaking get along, try and find a way to get together?” But they’re complex, very driven people with very opinionated about how the circumstance should be handled.

But again it’s one of the beauties of the show is you can’t say this person is 100% right, this person is 100% wrong. There’s truth in what everyone is offering and it kind of pulls you both ways. I love that.

Q: How deeply did both of you get personally involved with fandom and the audience, the Twitterverse and all of that?

BRIAN: Well I started actually, [David] convinced me to get on Twitter and I wasn’t really sure at first and that’s something I’ve been doing. And I actually like it because you have a lot of control. You know, if someone gets on and they’re kind of nasty and they’re negative and they’re like why aren’t you [Joe Flanagan] I can like block them immediately and go on with my day.

I think it’s great because there’s so much positive energy out there and there’s so many people who are appreciative of the show and also just appreciative to get any kind of interaction with the cast.

And I know when I was a kid and I was watching TV, I would have been thrilled to have been able to communicate in some way even if it was through a Tweet with someone that I watched. And so it’s a real trip for me to be able to do that and conventions and all that stuff. I love it. I love it for now. It’s great.

LOUIS: And for me I’ve been acting for 25 years and pretty steadily and I’ve never been really privy to this fandom thing and it was almost by choice because it’s one of those weird things. I love what I do but I don’t necessarily - my own personal views on any actor standing and getting uncomfortable.

But what I do love is a good party and what I do believe is that I’m some inner geek. So I would be much better as part of the audience portion being amidst that celebrating that aspect of it rather than to be there taking questions or anything. So if I can find the way to make that work I will.

Q: Have you been at all surprised by anything that you’ve seen in the media or on the Internet about the show?

LOUIS: I just without it sounding a bad thing, it’s sort of my take on reviews. If you read the good ones you’ve got to read the bad ones and vice versa, so for me I just try to stay on track with my job and my life and I find that keeps me busy enough. Because that ultimately doesn’t affect who I am or what it is I do and I don’t want it to.

BRIAN: Yeah and the thing too that’s funny is it seems kind of important especially for me. I’m just getting started here. You’ll read some kind of nasty and it can’t help but have an effect. But the great thing about our show is that we get on set and it’s like that… whole outside world just doesn’t exist.

We’re there, we’re working hard for each other, we’re pulling through for each other, and I’ve got to be there mentally and physically for the director and the crew and for anyone who I’m in a scene with. It just doesn’t really come into play. In the big picture of things it really doesn’t impact much.

LOUIS: We have a very special group of people. That’s not always the case as someone who’s done 11 series before. I’ve seen too many times where egos get in the way and spoil it for an entire production. That is not the case. That is the thing that I personally am most grateful for. The motto on the show is we play our roles, not our egos.

And I think it’s important that we all stay on the same page, especially with a lot of times as time goes by that’s when things start changing. So I think we’re a good support group and what we had as far as a first season experience was a group of dedicated, professionals who were respectful to one another and came to work.

And so in the context of knowing what a bad production could look like and run, to have that experience as something that with all my heart, [not] just myself, but I think most of us are fighting to keep and maintain and know that is key.

Q: Louis, were you a sci-fi fan before the show?

LOUIS: Negative. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, it just was… my journey as a child growing up and stuff. But what I have said is that when I did get the show I did watch a lot of the SG-1s and the Atlantises and I quite liked SG-1 a lot. I thought it was a great show. I enjoyed that one. Atlantis, not as much but I did love SG-1… I had done one episode of Star Trek before, I did a Voyager, but that wasn’t really my genre.

But saying that, again, for me, it was going to be pretty much a drama set in the space backdrop. So for me on my personal journey as an actor it definitely was something that I had not done before and… it’s one of the criteria I look for myself in doing something, I always try to do something that I haven’t done in the past.

Q: We always like to know what celebrities think about pop culture so we’d like to ask you both - what are you listening to on your iPod, what’s next on your Netflix list, and what are you Tivoing this week?

BRIAN: Oh boy, I’m pop culture ignorant. I’m really bad. I listen to classical music on my iPod, I don’t have a DVR nor do I have a Netflix account.

LOUIS: Me neither. We’re old school. Yeah.

Q: Can you just tell us a little bit about any of your favorite music or TV shows or movies?

BRIAN: Lady Gaga, I love the Lady Gaga.

LOUIS: Sugar Hill Gang, Rapper’s Delight. Yeah, “the hip, the hop, the hip don’t stop to the rock, bang bang boogie, say up jump the boogie to the rhythm.” You know? I’m there. It’s about ’84. See I’m a time warp, yeah. I got in my Hot Tub Machine and I’m still there. There’s a reference, I just pop referenced Hot Tub Machine.

BRIAN: I haven’t even seen that movie yet.

LOUIS: Me neither but I think it’s out.

LOUIS: I’m a big jazz guy… I like old school rap, and once in a while my 16-year-old son will play me something that’s kind of hip and current and I wonder what’s happened to music. That’s my take on things. I rented from Blockbuster Man on the Moon yesterday. That’s what we watched here.

BRIAN: Sorry.

Q: No it’s great.

LOUIS: Brian is apologizing, so cute. Don’t apologize Brian. Sorry. Lady Gaga, that was awesome.

BRIAN: I actually like Lady Gaga.

LOUIS: I know, I love that you do. She just had like a billion hits on something so like she’s the first person ever to get like a billion hits on that thing those kids are using out there nowadays, Twitter.

BRIAN: Good for Lady Gaga.

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