When SCI FI Channel cancelled Stargate: SG-1, MGM quickly greenlit two direct to DVD movies which would continue the storyline. The first of these, The Ark of Truth, out today, completes the series by wrapping up the Ori storyline. Actor Christopher Judge, who plays the alien Teal’c recently set down for an exclusive interview with MediaBlvd Magazine, to talk about the movie, the end of SG1 as a series, and his other upcoming projects.
MediaBlvd Magazine> Could we start with you telling us about the plot and setting for The Ark of Truth? We’d like to hear about that in your own words.
Christopher Judge> The Ark of Truth is very much the Omega of the whole Ori storyline. I had talked to Brad and Coop about what the movies were going to be about, and whether or not we were ever going to actually tie up the Ori storyline, or if we were just going to do two standalone movies. And they are so cognizant of what we owe the fans, and what the fans are entitled to, that I think when the movies were green lit by MGM, the first thing they said is we have to have a conclusion to the series. So that is what The Ark of Truth is. It is definitely a conclusion to the two year arc of the Ori storyline. I thought it was a daunting undertaking to tie up two years of story telling in one two hour movie. But Coop did a fantastic job, and I think the fans are really going to love it.
MediaBlvd> So timing wise, it’s set between the end of SG1’s last season, and this season of Atlantis, correct?
Christopher> Yes, I think the chronology is before Atlantis’ fourth season.
MediaBlvd> What have you found to be the thing that fans most respond to in your portrayal of Teal’c?
Christopher> I have a very enviable position as an actor. Teal’c doesn’t talk much, so that makes everything he says important. And as an actor, to not have to give background information, to not have to set stories up so that everything you say is important to the action, or so that everything you say is important to the plot, that’s a very enviable position as an actor. So every time that Teal’c would speak, especially in the first half of our run, it was a momentous occasion. So every line meant something. For an actor, how great is that?
MediaBlvd> I know the fans, and I include myself in there, are kind of an interesting lot. I was wondering if you’d ever had any interesting experiences off the set with your fans.
Christopher> Yeah, one of them comes to mind. At the really big conventions like Comic-Con, people wait for hours, not only to get into the room, but then they line up for the Q&A. So this young fellow in
MediaBlvd> I really enjoyed your appearance last month on Atlantis. Will Teal’c be coming back and making any more guest appearances over there?
Christopher> You know, I’ve always said, ‘Anytime you want me to come, I’d be overjoyed to come to the playground.’ I was just at the office a couple of days ago. And with the writers strike, it had been…. I hadn’t seen a lot of the guys since October. So Obviously this is the longest break we’ve ever had. And it was just so great to be back at the studio and to see everybody, to catch up and laugh and joke. A couple of days before that I’d actually talked to Joe and Paul, and we’d thrown around the idea of Teal’c coming back. But once I went to the studio, I’d just agreed to my deal for my new show, Rage of Angels, with me and Shanks. And so I got ‘I heard you made your new deal, where does that leave Teal’c on Atlantis?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know, if it can work out schedule wise, I’m willing to do it.
MediaBlvd> Now we haven’t really seen a whole lot about Rage of Angels out there, can you tell us anything about the plot?
Christopher> Well, I’ve been instructed by the powers that be…..
MediaBlvd> Not to tell me (laughs), fair enough.
Christopher> This is what I’m allowed to say. Gabriel comes to Earth, all hell breaks loose. That’s all I’m allowed to say.
MediaBlvd> That’s actually more than I’ve seen, so that’s great!
Christopher> I play Gabriel, Shanks plays Lucifer. Talk about being polar opposites of your characters! You know, we’ve been negotiating this deal since October of 2006. I’ve been told by everybody this is actually fast. I guess for a new show, if you’re not a Dick Wolf or a David Kelley, who has an established record and are already set up financially, to do a new show, from the time that time that a studio says ok, till the time that you go into production is usually two to three years, which to me is extraordinary. I was not prepared for that side of the business, I’d never seen it before, and I’m not sure I want to see it again. It’s agonizingly slow.
MediaBlvd> So is there actually a series order at this point?
Christopher> We’re going to do a two hour movie and a pilot. And we’ve already had quite a bit of interest from several networks. So the first thing we had to do was secure the deal with MGM, so now we can move forward with the network deals.
MediaBlvd> Do you think there are going to be anymore direct to DVD SG-1 movies?
Christopher> I can definitely say this. The fans are going to determine that. It is the movie business. So if they are as well received by the fans as we hope they will be, I feel very safe in saying there will be more.
MediaBlvd> Could you talk a little about what it was like shutting down production? You guys were together for so long on one of the longest running SciFi shows in history.
Christopher> You know, it was numbing. First of all, we didn’t expect it. For a network to cancel it’s highest rated show. It was weird. These movies have been in the works for a long, long time. After season 5, the plan was when the series ends, we’ll start doing movies. Then when SCI FI picked us up, we thought every year was our last year. Then in season 10, we kind of thought since our ratings were so strong, and we’d actually gotten a second wind and the show felt new again. And the fans were responding to it, so we thought we were going to have a season 11. We’d actually negotiated two year deals, for season 10 and 11, when for 5 years all of our deals were for one year. So we really did not see it coming. And the timing of it, for them to announce it the week we were airing the 200th episode makes you scratch your head. But it is what it is. It’s their decision and they have the right to pull it any time they want. It took a couple of weeks I think, and we really didn’t talk about it. Shanks was in my trailer and there was knock on the door, and it was Coop. (Robert Cooper). We were like ‘That’s weird, we’re on location and Coop is coming to our trailer.’ So Coop came in and made small talk then said, ‘Look, I just wanted to let you know before you read it or hear it anywhere, there won’t be a season 11, we’ve been cancelled.’ We kind of just sat there. It was weird. People don’t really realize the time commitment of doing a series. For 10 years, I generally did not see my kids. For ten years, I generally did not see my significant other. But for ten years, I had this great place to go everyday, and these great people to be around. So it was kind of a relief, but it was also kind of like ‘What do I do now?’ What do you do every morning when you don’t go to the studio? So Coop said, ‘But we’re pretty sure the movie is going to be green lit right away.’ So it was really pretty much business as usual.
We had a hiatus, then there’s New Years and I start working out and dieting again. Then we started the movies in March I think. So it was very much like still being on the series. And we did the two movies back to back, and I think for us; I talk to Shanks quite a bit, and Ben Browder’s kids and my kids go to school together, so we talked about it, and I think it’s really just hitting us now. I don’t think it really hit us last year, because we did the two movies. But now is when the finality of it is sinking in. We don’t know if there will be more movies, we don’t know if we’ll be in the Gate Room again, so the finality of it is just hitting us now. This is the first time, especially for Shanks and I, and Tapping, that for the first time in 12 years, there is no more Stargate in the future. Then again it’s werid too, because I just went to the studio and did a publicity thing with Amanda, and for Rage of Angels, the contracts are done. The pilot and movie order are done, so shanks and I will be working together again. And