How would you react if you were told you could never go home again? That’s the situation the heroes of Stargate Universe are faced with when they are marooned in deep space, a long way from Earth. Naturally, the news is a difficult pill for everyone to swallow —except for Dr. Nicholas Rush. The scientist seems oddly content with the prospect of spending the rest of his days in strange, and often dangerous, surroundings. Why does he feel this way, and, more importantly, what is his real agenda? No one knows for sure, including Rush actor Robert Carlyle. “Dr. Rush is certainly a complex individual,â€ says Carlyle. “You’re never sure what his motives are, and to be honest with you I don’t know what’s happening with the character either.
Brad Wright and Robert Cooper [Stargate Universe creators and executive producers] are obviously telling me everything I want to know, but I’d rather not know it all, which is how I’ve worked over the years. When you know how your character is going to end up, you’re tempted to play his heroic side.
In fact, what you should be doing is playing the moment and each scene as it is, which is fresh. Just like you shouldn’t look too far ahead in your [real] life, you shouldn’t look too far ahead in your acting life. “So with Rush you have this man who’s driven by something. What we know so far is that he’s been married, but his wife is dead. The fact that he was married is the only thing that actually roots him in reality, because he ‘lives’ in a different type of reality, one, I believe, in his own mind. Rush is by far the biggest expert on Ancient technology, and when his wife dies and he gets the chance to go on this exploration of the universe, he jumps at it because there’s nothing left for him [on Earth].
As far as our story and where our people end up, it’s Rush who tells them that there’s no chance they can ever go back, and he thinks there’s nothing greater! This is the best potential for exploration that mankind has ever known. That’s what’s driving Rush; and therefore he’s probably not to be trusted by anyone on the crew.â€ Excellent Drama A familiar face on the small and big screens, Carlyle has played a diverse collection of characters in over 25 years as an actor, including a policeman in UK TV show Hamish Macbeth, Adolf Hitler in Hitler: The Rise of Evil, and —most prominently —an unemployed-steelworker- turned-male-stripper in The Full Monty. His experience also extends to the fantasy and horror genres with Eragon and 28 Weeks Later, but Stargate Universe marks his introduction to the worlds of TV science fiction.
With no need to submit to an audition, Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper offered Carlyle the role of Dr. Rush —an offer that came as bit of a surprise to the actor. “The first thing I said to Brad and Robert, was, ‘I’m quite flattered by this, but why me? Why do you want me to come do this?’â€ recalls Carlyle. “They then went on to explain the unfolding series that they had in their minds and I thought, ‘Now I understand why they want someone like me to do this.’ The thing about Stargate Universe, as opposed to prior incarnations of the series, is that it’s a lot darker —that’s certainly what I see anyway —and more about survival, as well as how these characters interact with each other. Obviously there’s alien interaction and stuff like that along the way, but that’s not the main event. This is a character-driven piece, not to mention excellent drama. “The first three scripts were what I accepted the job on,â€ continues the actor. “The pilot, entitled Air, is actually a threeparter and absolutely excellent. It’s followed by an episode called Fire, which was originally supposed to be a single story, but it overran.
However, Brad and Robert are so happy with it that they’ve decided to turn it into a two-parter. By that you can probably tell that there’s an awful lot of cerebral material and drama that’s impossible to cut. So if they feel that an episode needs more space, then they’ll turn it into two. That’s a brave thing for them and a fantastic thing for an actor, because then you don’t have to be as worried about time and getting your lines out quickly. You can take your time and tell the story the way it should be told.â€ Big Project Opening episode Air sees Colonel Everett Young (Louis Ferreira, previously known as Justin Louis), commander of a secret off-world base, lead a hasty escape to an unmanned and experimental spaceship called the Destiny, launched by the Ancients at the height of their civilization.
Not long after arriving, the team discovers that the ship is on a preprogrammed course and is unable to return to Earth. With a Stargate on board, but no access to Earth, Young and his team are stuck and must fend for themselves as the Destiny continues its travels through space. Arriving on the Universe set for the first time to begin work on Air was an eyeopening experience for Carlyle. “It was like walking onto a James Bond set,â€ he says. “It’s that big, it’s that good, it’s that spectacular; that’s the best compliment I can pay it. This show has wonderful craftsmen, set designers, and props people. They spent a tremendous amount of money on this set and it’s all there on screen. “My first impressions were, ‘This is the real deal and a big, big, project.’ From there, it was a matter of everyone getting to know each other and how each other works.
I know this is going to sound kind of corny, and I’m not a corny guy, but this cast gets along extremely well and it has been that way from the start. With Louis Ferreira and myself, it was like meeting a long-lost brother. We’ve been inseparable since day one, and the same goes for the rest of the cast. “I don’t know, but I feel as if I’ve been given something of a reward for 25 years of hard work in the business because this is just a terrific experience. I’m almost frightened of waking up one morning and someone taking it all away. It’s a great way of working and the reason why I became an actor in the first place. I’m enjoying going to the set, working with my fellow actors and the directors, reading each new script, you name it.
I can’t speak highly enough of the cast as well as the crew and this particular creative process.â€ Along with the Universe cast, Carlyle has also had the chance to work with former Stargate SG-1 leading man Richard Dean Anderson (General Jack O’Neill), who, in addition to SG-1’s Amanda Tapping (Colonel Samantha Carter) and Michael Shanks (Dr. Daniel Jackson), will guest-star in an episode. “It was lovely to work with Richard Dean Anderson,â€ says the actor. “I’ve been a big fan of his for a number of years and have a great deal of respect for him and what he’s achieved as an actor. Richard and I got on really well and I think he was very happy to be back with the Stargate family.â€ Escaping Destiny Unfortunately, the congenial mood on the Universe set is not mirrored onboard the Destiny, particularly in regard to Dr. Rush’s relationships with his colleagues. “If we start at the top in terms of crew ranking, Colonel Young is my character’s nemesis, there’s no doubt about that,â€ notes Carlyle, “and it’s quite serious. These guys are not having a petty conflict. Without giving too much away, there’s an episode, which we’ve yet to shoot, where a tragedy takes place aboard the Destiny and Rush tries to frame Young.
They hate each other that much. Young is a soldier, while Rush is a scientist, and they just don’t get one another. As soon as they end up on the Destiny, the colonel is all about getting everyone home, and Rush is all about ‘How do we avoid that?’ So they’re against each other from day one and that’s been developing beautifully over the past six or seven weeks of filming. “The other main character who Rush has most of his dealings with is Eli Wallace, played by David Blue. He’s a young guy who, as the Stargate people put it to him, won a ‘competition,’ so he comes with us on our spaceship and help us explore the universe. Eli is given few options with that, and Rush is more or less in charge of him.
The way Brad and Robert spoke of the relationship between Rush and Eli is a bit like Salieri and Mozart. I know that sounds grand, but by that I mean someone like Salieri was obviously a mega-intelligent man, yet he needed someone else [Mozart] to help him. With Rush, he can’t actually do what he wants to do without Eli. So he’s dependent on this young genius, even though Eli’s youth frustrates my character.
Their relationship has a long way to go, but like Young’s and Rush’s, it’s bubbling very nicely at the moment. “In terms of Rush’s relationships with other characters on the ship, like Lt. Scott [Brian J. Smith], Sergeant Johansen [Alaina Huffman] and Sergeant Greer [Jamil Walker Smith], these are military people who Rush doesn’t concern himself too much with. In fact, he’d be happy to see them put into an airlock and shot out of the ship all together.
So my character is a man alone; I suppose that’s what I’m getting at. Rush doesn’t understand them, they don’t understand him, and as I said he’s really serious about this. He does not want to return to Earth.â€ When asked about his favorite Universe episode to have worked on so far, Carlyle refers back to Fire. “One of the interesting things about these episodes is that the first three are, as you know, entitled Air, Fire, then Water, followed by Earth, so it’s very much about the basics,â€ says the actor. “These characters are ill-equipped for this mission. None of them are supposed to be there [onboard the Destiny], and therefore have no additional resources when they get there.