Chris Heyerdahl is like the Jekyll and Hyde of Stargate: Atlantis. The Vancouver native kicked off season one as the benevolent Athosian Halling, but later shifted gears by transforming into the conniving and deadly Wraith known as Todd. However, long before Heyerdahl even stepped into the Pegasus Galaxy, he encountered the Stargate SG-1 team as the misguided Pallan in the episode Revisions.
“It was interesting because I was never sure whether Pallan was actually a family man or married with no children,â€ recalls Heyerdahl about his character’s plight. “It starts off with them having dinner together, Pallan and his wife, and the next thing you know, he no longer has a wife. Did he have children once upon a time? Who knows what his history was. Did his father, brothers, mother, and sisters go before his wife? How long had this been going on? How much influence did he knowingly or unknowingly have in the deaths of so many people? He was ultimately responsible for keeping this machine working. He was the ignorant technician of evil, even though he was perhaps one of the most kind, gentle, and generous people you would want to meet. There was the transition of going from his own ignorance to his enlightenment, realizing he had been helping this machine help everyone survive but at the same time, killing so many people that he loved. To carry that burden is a heavy one. On the surface, he was a technician with a very intelligent scientific mind, but eventually he was indirectly responsible for the lives of perhaps hundreds of thousands of people. It was an interesting angle there – he was so much more than he thought he was, and so much more than he appeared. That was a big challenge on a human level.â€
Obviously, Heyerdahl left a strong impression on the producers. He next turned up in Stargate: Atlantis as Halling, an Athosian who, along with his people, moved onto the premises to keep safe from the Wraith.
“Halling’s thing there was, he was the advisor, the overseer of giving Teyla advice, bouncing ideas, being a protector, helping to run that society,â€ says Heyerdahl. “That is how I entered into that character. He’s a single father, and has the responsibility of the children and of the village. Then, after meeting these new people, suddenly the woman who has been the biggest influence and guide to his people is drifting away through this crisis of the big bad Wraith coming back into their lives.â€
Adding extra layers to the character were his religious convictions and more importantly, his son, Jinto.
“It was a lot of fun. I was able to play the father figure while the boys were the playmates,â€ notes Heyerdahl. “It worked as well behind the scenes as much as in front of the camera. Our relationship was much more father/son than playmate, but then he had that with all the boys from Earth. It is always a wonderful opportunity to create that father/child relationship. When you walk onto a set, meet somebody for the first time, and shake their hands and say, ‘Okay. We’ve known each other all our lives. Go!’ It’s a big challenge, and we were both up for it. It was pretty easy-going.
“That’s the thing about the set,â€ he continues. “You hear it all the time from every single person you talk to – walking on that set and working there is so easy. They work incredibly hard, very long days – many days are grueling with lots of pages to shoot, but there is nowhere else I’d rather be. People say that over and over again; it is just such an easy place to work because of the people that are in charge, that are writing, producing, directing, and starring. The crews are so cohesive because they’ve been together so many years.â€
Read the full interview in The Official Stargate SG1/Atlantis Magazine #22 on sale now.