Across The Universe

As fans slowly get over the news that Stargate Atlantis will not be continuing to air for a sixth season, behind the scenes the wheels are beginning to turn on the franchise’s third live-action series. Entitled Stargate Universe, the show will follow the fortunes of a group of Stargate Command personnel who unexpectedly find themselves manning an Ancient ship, the Destiny, which is on a mission to the far reaches of the galaxy.

With the concept green-lit for production, co-creators Robert C. Cooper and Brad Wright are hard at work on fleshing out the series before it goes before the camera. There’s tons to do, but Cooper found enough time to give us an update on the exciting progress of Stargate Universe.

“We’re writing the premiere episode,” he confirms. “Brad and myself are spinning that story, and we’re coming up with new episodes for the first half of the season as well. We’re also in the preliminary casting process, and designing the sets and looking for key crew members – it’s full steam ahead right now. Our target is to start shooting early February and be on the air in July of ’09.”

Casting notes leaked online several weeks ago, revealing that the producers are looking for a core cast of six – four actors and two actresses – to launch the series. Though the team is lead by Colonel Everett Young, who is described as being in his forties, the rest of the characters – Tamara Jon, a field medic; Chloe Carpenter, daughter of a US senator; Eli Hitchcock, mathematical genius; Jared Nash, a lieutenant at the SGC and Ron Stasiak, a US marine, are listed as being in their twenties. Some fans have queried the wisdom of having such young characters, but Cooper points to the youth of Stargate SG-1’s cast when it launched.

“The SG-1 cast were quite young when they started,” he argues. “Michael Shanks and Amanda Tapping were both in their early twenties when they first started the show – it just was on for ten years! So I don’t think we’re doing anything different than what we’ve done before when we’ve started a new show.”

The writer confesses to being particularly excited about the series concept, and thinks it has a lot of potential to return to the early style of the Stargate franchise.

“One of the things I’m really excited about is that we’re looking for people who are a little more identifiable and contemporary,” he explains. “I always thought one of the things that was attractive about the original series was the ‘everyman on the street’ point of view that O’Neill had to science fiction. It made the characters identifiable. They were more like we would be in a science fiction situation, and how we would react. And that’s what we’re trying to do with the new show – create characters that are going to be challenged by the situation. The team that ends up on the ship is not really who was supposed to go, and in some cases they’re very unprepared and unqualified to be in that situation. So they don’t have all the answers as quickly, and the challenges are greater than they would be for people who have seen it all and don’t have as far to go as characters when they encounter an incredible situation.”

Though casting is still in its early stages, Cooper rules out the permanent inclusion of any well-known characters from the two previous Stargate series.

“It’s an all new cast,” he confirms. “There will certainly be plenty of opportunity for cross over, and there certainly might be some familiar faces in the premiere and in subsequent episodes. But the core of the show is all new.”

Though it’s too early to reveal any of the names that the producers are considering for Stargate Universe, Cooper hints, “We’re certainly looking at some [well-known] names, for one of the lead roles in particular. But for the most part many of the cast will be either new faces, or people you’ve seen in other stuff but maybe aren’t as aware of.”

So, until everything is finalized, fans eager to know will just have to sit tight. Cooper, however, promises it’ll be worth the wait.

“It says Stargate in the title, but it’s also going to be something that is very different in tone,” he says. “It will certainly have a Stargate in it, but is going to be unlike anything Stargate we’ve ever done before.”

News article courtesy of the official Stargate Website