SG-1: Beyond The Gate - Part Two -


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SG-1: Beyond The Gate - Part Two

CINESCAPE discusses the future of STARGATE SG-1 with the show's creators

By Miwa Hirai     June 13, 2002

Richard Dean Anderson leads the cast of STARGATE: SG-1 as Colonel Jack O'Neill
© 2002 USA Networks
Now that STARGATE SG-1 has found a new home for its final season on the Sci-Fi Channel, it seems the potential for quality stories, performances and special effects is better than ever. Today we conclude our chat with executive producer Robert C. Cooper and director Martin Wood about the continuing adventures of Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) and the SG-1 crew.

While one STARGATE team is busy shooting an episode called "Frozen," another is being led by director Wood for "Abyss" on another stage nearby.

Richard Dean Anderson leads the cast of STARGATE: SG-1 as Colonel Jack O'Neill

"Brad [Wright] said that he would like to turn in a gravity show," says Woods. "I said, 'Fabulous! I can't wait!' When we sat down to prepare the episode, we had to work with the change of gravity. They climb down the slopes to get into the next shift. They turn on the side, then you can cross the gate room. We actually built the set to tip up and down. For every scene we had three different sets, so it's been a Rubik's Cube of trying to figure out where we are going to be, which time, how the shoot section is off, how this section on the set is, and make them all blend into one set. And the whole trick to this is to be able to take normal gravity and show how it would look with abnormal gravity in the same shots. People are standing up right where somebody's head is facing them, standing on what seems to be a wall. That's how you really get a sense of gravity. It's more than just turning a camera upside down, which doesn't work very well. When you tell the actor, 'Okay, now you are standing on this wall, ' sometimes it's difficult for them to sit there and think, 'Where am I standing now? I'm standing on the floor? This wall becomes my floor?' That kind of thing happens all the time. That's really where this show in particular has given us trouble. I spent a week and a half sitting with my hands on my head, just looking at how I was going to do it. Walking out, taking my video camera, turning it around, moving it around things to see how we might do it. Then I have to impart that to the crew, get them to see what I'm seeing. It's always backwards. They're always on the wrong gravity."

"Abyss" challenges the director with many technical difficulties and also requires some emotionally heavy performances from the actors. Wood watches the monitor and checks the take that he has just completed, where O'Neill collapses against the cell wall, murmuring.

Richard Dean Anderson leads the cast of STARGATE: SG-1 as Colonel Jack O'Neill

Wood stops to explain the scene. "Now we have the ascended form of Daniel. He comes back at a time of great need for O'Neill and offers him a possible solution to a desperate situation. It's perfect timing to have Daniel come back in now. What is happening to O'Neill is a kind of Groundhog Day where things keep happening over and over. O'Neil has been brought back to life in the sarcophagus. Every time he awakens he is in a torture chamber and gets killed at the end of it. There are three scenes where he dies and three scenes he comes back to life. Each time a little piece of him is gone, a part of his soul is missing. He realizes it. Daniel tells him this. He tells Jack, 'You can't keep doing this. You can't keep dying. It's not just the pain.' It's also losing who Jack O'Neill is."

"It's very difficult to shoot these two scenes, because one character is being tortured and another one is conforming," says Wood. "In the past week, Richard has had to flip back and forth from dying, coming to life, dying and coming to life. For an actor that's very difficult because in this scenario he has to be able to 'die small,' and then the deaths get bigger and bigger until he finally gets fed up with it. That's a wide range he has to go through, very emotional, very difficult for him to maintain the mindset that he has just died and come back. We had this discussion a few times, 'Remember you just died and came back to life. Remember the pain you just went through.' And then he sits in his cell and talks to Daniel. Richard has done a wonderful job."

As we know, Season 6 will be the last season of STARGATE SG-1. Cooper comments that the season finale is episode 22, possibly the two-parter of episode 21 and 22. He thinks the show will conclude in a positive way. There will definitely be a resolution of the series, but they plan on leaving an opening for a feature film.

Richard Dean Anderson leads the cast of STARGATE: SG-1 as Colonel Jack O'Neill

"Brad and I have been talking about that for a couple years now how we would wrap up. Actually, another interesting thing for us is knowing where we are headed in the series so we can really set it all up. We can have fun with it. I think that 'Frozen' is a good example of that. We'll learn several interesting things in the script, some revelations about humans and where they came from, where the Stargate came from, so we can start building towards the bigger dramatic things that will come up in the movie."

Cooper says he is eager to produce the feature film after the series concludes. Does he already have an idea what the movie will be like?

Cooper laughs. "Ah... It's got a Stargate in it. It's got Jack O'Neill, too! You know what? It's not just another STARGATE SG-1 episode with a lot more money. It's not an episode of the series. It changes everything dramatically. We learn about the secrets. All the years we've been doing the series come to a head in the movie, because the movie isn't intended to be a springboard for us," smiles Cooper. "It's tough. It's been a bit difficult for us to balance being true [to] the series, re-include the mythology we've developed over six years, and still make it something that would be entertaining for someone who has never seen the show before. We've actually been criticized quite a bit for that recently, for becoming more and more serialized. I think it's something that devoted fans appreciate, because they get to see things grow and they get to see the characters grow from events in the past to the future. It's also makes it hard for new viewers to join it. I think we are trying to strike a nice balance for the movie, between making an entertaining, thrilling science fiction adventure that anybody will have a good time watching, and also make it something that devoted fans of the show will really get a kick out of. So hopefully we will work on both of those levels."

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