Viewers first saw Jeannie Miller – neÃ© McKay – in season three episode ‘McKay and Mrs. Miller’, but the idea of the character has been around right since season one. Actor David Hewlett liked the idea of having his younger sister, also an actress, guest star on the show, and when an opportunity came along, he grabbed it.
“It came as a surprise that it was actually a real possibility,â€ recalls Hewlett, of hearing that she was to become Jeannie Miller. “Basically in ‘Letters from Pegasus’, David was supposed to mention a brother, and he asked the director and writer if they could change it to his sister. They said that was fine. So he sort of planted the seed, I think – he had a real bee in his bonnet about me coming on the show. Nothing came of that for a while. Then Martin Gero, producer and writer on the show, came to see me in a play, not knowing I was in it and not knowing I was David’s sister. He just knew the director from something else. I reminded him of David! So after that he decided to write the part for me. Actually, I still had to audition for it,â€ she laughs. “It was kind of a nerve-wracking experience. I was like, ‘It’s written for me, so if I don’t get it I must be really bad!’ But it was fine – I auditioned and I got the part.â€
The episode worked so well that it isn’t surprising the producers were eager to find another story for the bickering sibling duo to pair up for. This time, however, the story called for something a little more dramatic. When Rodney has no choice but to ask Jeannie for help, he has no idea of the jeopardy he is placing his sister in – not to mention himself. ‘Miller’s Crossing’ is much more action-packed than was ‘McKay and Mrs. Miller’, which the actress reports came as a bit of a surprise.
“In this one it’s much more high-stakes,â€ says Hewlett. “It’s less about how she feels about the situation and more about trying to get out. It’s always so exciting to read a new script. I think Martin is such a fantastic writer. You never know what’s going to happen. And I really like the character so I knew that it would be great. But when I read it, I was really, really excited! And yeah, a bit surprised, I think, because it’s a very dramatic situation. It still has those emotional moments, and it still has the banter between them, but it was great for me because I got to be involved in the action side of things, which I’ve never done before.â€
The actress was perfectly willing to throw herself into the action of ‘Miller’s Crossing’, but laughs when she recalls her first encounter with an on-set explosion.
“Everyone else does this all the time, but I was like (with a nervous voice), ‘Why are they are tying things to the walls? Why are there people running around in uniform? Why am I wearing earplugs?’â€ she laughs. “We had to all wear earplugs doing the scene, so we couldn’t really hear each other speaking our lines, which was funny. Everything’s very safe but they warn you, ‘There’s going to be a loud bang and then you walk over there and you go over there…’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I can handle this!’ My line was the first line after the explosion. So, the bang happened – and it was so loud. I was wearing earplugs, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to hear anything. But it was so loud! I kind of jumped a little bit and then just froze. The line was mine, and there was this awkward pause… and then I said my line and then the scene carried on. And when we’d finished – David was a bit grumpy that day because he hadn’t had enough lunch,â€ his sister jokes, “and he went, ‘What happened? What went wrong? Who was that?’ And I was like, ‘Um… it was me… it was really loud…’ So it was pretty crazy but it was exciting. They must have no eardrums left!â€
Without wanting to give too much away about the end of the season, the actress hints that this may not be the last time we’ve seen Jeannie Miller in season four. And in any case, Hewlett reports that she would always be happy to reprise the role.
“Hopefully I’ll be back – I haven’t heard anything,â€ she says, “I’d love a chance to go back, because it’s so much fun.â€
Interview courtesy of the Official Stargate Website