Teyla has faced many terrifying situations in her time as a part of the Atlantis crew: she’s been kidnapped by Michael, had her mind invaded by a Wraith Queen and faced an erupting volcano to name but a few. But this year, the Athosian has something a little more fundamentally challenging to deal with – becoming a parent.
“I think she’s completely changed,â€ reveals actress Rachel Luttrell, speaking from set during the filming of episode five, ‘Ghost in the Machine’. “Teyla is now a working Momma! She’s had to completely deal with a shift in priorities. She’s decided to re-join the team, but it was a large question for her. It was something that she had to spend a considerable amount of time mulling over. Now, every time she leaves the base, she’s aware of the fact that she might not be coming home to be with her son. So things are very different.â€
Teyla was always a feisty one – forever ready for a fight and willing to defend herself and her friends with physical force if necessary. Even whilst heavily pregnant, Teyla was a force to be reckoned with, as seen in season four’s ‘The Kindred, pt 1′ Now though, she doesn’t only have herself to look after, and becoming injured or worse no longer only affects her own life. Luttrell feels that this knowledge has certainly altered the character’s perception of the world.
“She has changed,â€ states the actress, “because in the same way that the world has shifted for me, I think perhaps a similar thing has happened for her, and in fact for her it’s been heightened. For me, the world has become – not more ominous, but a little more threatening. She’s more vulnerable because she has this other part of herself that she wants to protect: her son. But at the same time, I think she’s more willing to go out there and make the world where he will be growing up a lot safer. So it’s made her a lot more courageous on many levels, as well.â€
Luttrell is of course referring to the fact that she herself is also now a mother, mirroring the events that are occurring in her character’s life. Though the actress isn’t out there literally saving the Universe, she admits that returning as Teyla when the cameras began rolling on season five was a challenge in itself. Juggling motherhood and work is difficult at the best of times – even when ‘work’ means set hours in an office environment. Luttrell was returning to a job where she would have to balance the pressures of looking after the baby with learning new lines every week, filming action sequences, and the long hours required to produce a television series.
“I was petrified about coming back to work,â€ she laughs. “When I was in my little bubble of new motherhood at home, it just seemed like a rather daunting thing. But the truth of the matter is that once I came back I realised that this [set] is also home. There’s a tremendous amount of support here. But God, things are tremendously different. I run to set and save the Universe and then I come back and I bounce my baby and feed him and sing beautiful lullabies… And then I go back and don all the gak and fire my weapons and dodge explosions! Life is very busy.â€
However, Luttrell is quick to assure viewers that despite all these changes, Teyla is still capable of kicking butt when she needs to. In fact, just a little while after the actress finished chatting with MGM, she was due to film a classic Teyla-style fight. And there’s more to look forward to later in the season, too.
“There’s this one episode coming up that everyone’s been rather hush-hush about,â€ she hints. “We’re going to be shooting in a couple of weeks and Teyla is going to be doing something which is extremely, extremely dangerous! I haven’t had an opportunity to read the script yet, but let’s just say it has a lot to do with her Wraith DNA and her link to them. It’s going to be something rather dark and challenging.â€
In terms of what’s further down the line for the character, Luttrell says it’s too early in the season to say. But she does have some ideas for themes she herself would like to see explored.
“Where they will take her for the rest of the year, I don’t know. For me, it’s always been about learning a little bit more about who she is and her people and how that ties her into this galaxy. I just feel that there’s so much that Teyla knows about this place. There are some storylines there.â€
Interview courtesy of the Official Stargate Website