Amanda Tapping and David Hewlett talk astrophysics over antipasto as new Stargate episodes begin.
Step in to the cozy Amacord Restorante Italiano in the Yaletown district of Vancouver and pull up a chair, because you’re about to have lunch with Amanda Tapping, who plays Lt. Col. Samantha Carter on Stargate SG-1, and David Hewlett, who plays Dr. Rodney McKay in the successful spinoff, Stargate Atlantis.
Their astrophysicist characters originally crossed paths in the SG-1 episode “48 Hours,” where they immediately locked horns and shared some palpable sexual tension before saving the day. Depsite their mutual attraction, these crazy kids have never gotten together on the show, so SCI FI invited the actors to connect for lunch to relax and chat about their shared experiences as actors andfriends working in the Stargate universe. (At the time of their meal, a new season of SG-1 had not yet been confirmed, but now it has been.) Decidedly less fraught with danger than in most of their meetings on screen, Tapping and Hewlett only had to face the perils of the abundant northern-Italian-inspired menu and their own saucy tongues over the course of the highly entertaining afternoon. Seated in a quiet corner of the restaurant, the duo wasted no time in dishing.
ON WHOSE GATE IS BEST
David Hewlett: So neither of us has a clue what we’re going to eat.
Amanda Tapping: I just have no idea.
DH: Plus, we’ve got nothing to say to each other! We work on two different shows, for God’s sake! [Laughs.]
AT: We don’t even like each other.
DH: Your gate is made out of plastic.
AT: Hey ho, let’s not start the comparisons so early, shall we? Besides, our gate actually spins.
DH: I know, and I always liked the spinning.
AT: Yours just had little lighty-lights.
DH: Yeah, ours is like a bingo game.
ON THE PASSAGE OF TIME
DH: You know what I watched the other day? I watched the pilot of SG-1.
AT: Oh, no way! Oh my God, didn’t we all look young and innocent?
DH: No, you guys don’t look that different, and that’s kind of the weird thing. I know if I were to go eight years, I’d look a lot different. I wouldn’t be fitting through the gate. [Laughs.]
AT: See, I feel like I’ve aged tremendously.
DH: Although there is a Polaroid that I was shown by the director of the pilot… and you look like you’re 12 years old! It’s the cutest photo I’ve ever seen. It’s you and Richard Dean Anderson, and you just have this look like, ‘Woo-hoo! I’m in a movie! Somebody paid me to wear this funny hat!
The waiter enters to take their order.
AT: I might go pasta, because it’s lunch and I can. I’ve got to feed the baby.
DH: Oh, right. You’re eating for two.l [Tapping and her husband, Alan Kovacs, are five months pregnant with their first child.]
AT: [Chuckles.] I’m eating for two. Of course, the one person that I’m eating for is only eight ounces right now…
DH: And you’re going to eat a steak…
AT: … that is larger than my baby!
DH: “A 10-ounce steak please, for my 8-ounce child.”
ON THEIR SEXUAL ATTRACTION
With steaming plates full of Italian cuisine, the pair dive into their food and the nitty-gritty about their shows.
AT: David, who is smarter, Sam or Rodney?
DH: I don’t want to answer that. I don’t want to make you look bad.
AT: Because I’m smarter.
DH: I think the problem with that question is, if the truth were ever known, it would crush Rodney either way.
AT: Yes. [Laughs.] Is he still sexually attracted to Sam?
DH: Oh, of course! Come on!
AT: OK, good, good, good.
DH: Are you still pining?
AT: I’m pining terribly, but you know, when we sent you off to Russia that was a little “ha-ha,” but at least I knew you would come back at some point. Then we sent you off to the place of no return and, sadly, I think I was supposed to be part of your season opener next year.
ON KEEPING IT FRESH
DH: So, having seen the pilot of SG-1 and watching a number of episodes, I wonder, how are you still keeping it fresh and positive? I mean, it’s been eight years!
AT: It’s something that we are really lucky to have. Right away [snapping her fingers], we had this instanty chemistry, and that carries us through when things get really stupid or we get bored or tired or ask what the hell are we still doing here? Then we remember we’re having so much fun. I think the hard one was year five, because I was trying to find a new way to make my character interesting, to find a new way into her physicality and keep it interesting, but then the writers sort of do that job for you by introducing new relationships, new characters, and changing the dynamics of things. In season seven, we lost Dr. Fraiser [Teryl Rothery], and that shook things up. Plus, introducing a love interest for my character.
DH: Yeah, all of your relationships are doomed, but that’s the nature of the show, too. It’s the unrequited that’s the interesting thing to people.
ON MUTUAL ADMIRATION
AT: OK, what do you most admire about Stargate SG-1?
DH: Well, obviously, you most admire me in Atlantis, and I most admire you in SG-1.
AT: Yeah, that pretty much seals that one. [Chuckles.]
DH: Well, what do you like the most about SG-1?
AT: The cast chemistry and the mythology. We’ve been going at this for years, creating the rich tapestry that is our show. I can’t even read the lexicon now – it’s huge! What do you most admire about Atlantis?
DH: The sense of humor. Without the sense of humor, I think straight sci-fi can be very alienating to people who aren’t into science fiction, and I think what’s nice about SG-1 and Atlantis is the humor.
ON SURVIVNG STUNTS
AT: Do you do your own stunts?
DH: I would love to say I did, but no, we’ve got a great bunch of stunt guys who do anything that could be contrued as dangerous. I got to do a couple of falls the other day.
AT: I actually do a lot of my own stunts, just so you know.
DH: Do you? Shut up!
AT: Yeah! And then we always questions whether I should do it again.
DH: [Clears throat.] Of course I do my own stunts!
AT: Ha-ha, you lie like a rug.
DH: I can’t walk down the stairs without me hurting myself. [Laughs.]
AT: See, this is the amazing thing about me. I’m a complete spaz! Our stunt coordinator, Dan Shea, often has me do my own stunts, and then I always get hurt. And then we always question whether I should do it again. And then he says, ‘Well, it’s not that hard, do you want to do that one?’ And I always want to.
DH: Oh, that’s nice. [He smiles.]
ON RUNNING WHILE PREGNANT
AT: I never did sports a lot either as a kid, I did loner sports.
DH: Really? The loneliness of the long-distance runner.
AT: The loneliness of the long-distance runner.
DH: Do you run?
AT: I did. I was actually, before I got pregnant, talking to my trainer about training for the New York Marathon.
AT: And then I got pregnant, and it was brilliant. ‘Cause I said, you know what, I really can’t do the New York City Marathon.
ON STARGATE SURPRISES
AT: What was the biggest surprise for you working on the shows?
DH: I would say the biggest surprise was the fact they actually invited me back after that first episode!
AT: Um, for me it was killing Martouf [JR Bourne]. I was totally shocked by that.
DH: Did they ever hide anything from you in the script? Did they ever go, “Nope, can’t tell you!”
DH: Well, why won’t they tell me what’s going on?
AT: ‘Cause they don’t trust you. [She smiles evilly.]
ON BECOMING THEIR CHARACTERS
DH: This is what I wanted to ask you, actually. How much of Amanda is Samantha?
AT: We’re a hugely symbiotic relationship now. It used to be a lot more Samantha in Samantha, and now there’s a lot moer of Amanda in Samantha. She’s warmer. She’s got a better sense of humor. She’s a little lighter, and I think that’s because of me. But I also think there’s a lot of Samantha in me. I’m a little bit stronger now and a little bit more able-to-stand-up-for-myself-ish, because that’s a terrible thing. I’m terrible about that…
DH: But when you normally act… I know that when I act, I look for things in me that I could bring to other things. Do you do the same thing?
AT: Absolutely. You draw on what you know, and you use parts of yourself.
DH: There’s some times where it’s just hard to be sad. When someone’s just fallen off a ladder and you’re laughing at them, and they’re being taken away in a stretcher and you’re laughing, now suppose you have to do a crying scene–
AT: Well, that’s ’cause you’re cruel. You cruel, cruel, vicious man. [Laughs.] How much of David is in Rodney?
DH: I like to think I’m a slightly nicer person than Rodney. I definitely find myself being a lot more snarky, a lot more, a lot more sarcastic and grumpy than I used to be. It’s so much fun, like, just having an excuse to be in a bad mood all the time. Which I kind of like, you know, ’cause I think crotchety is where I’m going to go with my old age.
AT: You’re beginning to become crotchety?
DH: I’ve made a commitment to crotchety. Yeah!
ON MAKING MOVIES
AT: I think if we don’t come back [for renewal], it’ll be like when you’ve graduated high school and September rolls around, and you feel like you should be somewhere.
DH: Right. It’s the time you’re supposed to be going back to school and you’re not, and then very rapidly you forget that. They’ve talked about other things, right?
AT: Yeah, we’ve talked about films for years now. There’s talk of miniseries, there’s talk of movies of the week, there’s talk of features. I think, like, the Stargate miniseries idea, it’s a great idea.
DH: Well, it’s the best of both worlds, isn’t it, in a way? You know, you’ve got work and you’ve also got time for kids. How long have you wanted kids?
AT: Well, the timing is pretty perfect, because I was just starting to show at the end of the season, so it sort of worked out great.
DH: I started showing the end of the season, too, but it was more about craft services than anything else. [They laugh.] OK, now tell me what you’re doing when you’re not shooting SG-1.
ON STARGATE CONVENTIONS
DH: What about these conventions?
AT: I’ve done a few…
DH: So you’re a media whore, I guess is what I’m saying [snickers].
AT: I’m not a media whore, thank you… you bastard.
DH: And that’s when the lunch turns. [He smiles.]
AT:[Laughing] Honestly, that when the lunch turned nasty pasta flying everywhere! [She jokes.] You crossed a line, McKay! See! I’m continuing to think you’re Rodney…
DH: I know! I was caught the other day, and I still don’t believe I did it, but apparently I snapped and pointed at my girlfriend to do something.
AT: Like Rodney?
DH: I did that [snaps his fingers], and fortunately she just said, “I’m going to forgive you because you’re half an hour after set, so you have an hour to get rid of him.” [Laughs.] You must find that, too?
AT: Yes, I’m giving orders now…
DH: But I cut you off with my media whore comment. Continue…
AT: Well, I honestly think [conventions], and this is going to sound hokey as hell, but truthfully, they are a great way to say thank you.
DH: You directed an episode. You’ve got to want to do some more of that.
AT: I absolutely want to. It was fantastic.
DH: So you want to direct now. What about features and stuff like that?
AT: Oh yeah! What about you? Do you want to direct?
DH: I do, yeah, yeah, yeah. I definitely need to, but I’ve got a lot of homework to do before I do it, I think.
AT: It took seven seasons for them to say yes to me.
DH: So I’m hoping to get some photos of some of the higher-ups in compromising positions, which you’re welcome to help me with…
AT: [Laughs.] I’ll do whatever I can! I have to say it was really fun to have you on our show again. And that episode was fun, and you touched my bum.
DH: Yep, but I asked first.
AT: You did. “Is it OK if I do this?” you said, while grabbing my bum.
DH: Well, the last time you grabbed mine without asking I was very put off.
AT: Did I? That was so rude of me! [Chuckles.]
DH: Oh I think it might have been a dream. Yeah, sometimes I can’t distinguish…
DH: I’m having the lemon sorbet.
AT: Lemon sor— you’re having lemon sorbet? But you’re allergic to citrus.
DH: But this is the thing. I’ve actually gone from a guy who doesn’t like lemon to, like, lemon meringue pie being like my favourite food. Let me ask you a question–
AT: No, you! You keep doing this, you keep asking me questions, and you won’t answer any.
DH: Yes, I’m a mystery wrapped in a lemon wrapped in a–
AT: Wrapped in a lemon shell.
DH: –in a light pastry–
AT: A light puff pastry with some cream on top and Belgian chocolate drizzled, and some crumbled biscuits.
DH: You make me sound so decadent.
AT: You are decadent, darling.
DH: Like a lovely dessert.
AT: Like a lovely dessert. Num, num, num.
After two hours of revelations and Amanda’s frozen lemon being thoroughly vanquished, the lunch comes to a close. The pair depart back to their respective Gates, probably not much wiser, but certainly more stuffed and fonder of one another than ever. What further adventures does the future hold for Carter and McKay? Only their producers know, but they and the viewers can only hope another bum grab is written in the stars. Stargate SG-1 airs at 9p.m. Friday and Stargate Atlantis airs at 10pm on SCI FI.
Source: Sci Fi Magazine