Alaina Huffman Nearly Played A Different Character

Tamara "T.J." Johansen (Alaina Huffman)

Stargate Universe: “Faith”

The early days of Stargate Universe presented a challenge not only to the characters on the screen – ordinary people who are stranded on a derelict ship on the other side of the universe – but also for many of the cast. For actress Alaina Huffman it started with her casting, when she was offered an entirely different role on the new series.

Huffman would play medic and Air Force Lieutenant Tamara Johansen — “T.J.” to her friends and colleagues. But after originally testing with SGU‘s casting directors she was offered another role instead, and had to fight for the chance to play T.J.

“Originally I read for T.J., and I liked her — I thought she had a little edge,” Huffman told “Dial the Gate.” But after negotiating an initial deal, the show’s production team asked her to test for Chloe Armstrong instead.

She said that the part of Chloe just didn’t feel right, and she almost wasn’t on the show as a result. Check out this clip from the conversation:

Chloe was a civilian and Senator’s daughter, and very different from Tamara. The character would be played by Elyse Levesque.

Of course it wasn’t all smooth sailing after Huffman convinced the Powers That Be that she was more of a T.J. In this conversation she also talks about her early challenges with finding the character, who audiences learn in the first episode is coming off an ill-advised romance with her commanding officer.

Early on in the show’s run, Huffman said, her character also struck her as complaining a lot.

“I just was annoyed with her a lot,” she said, “because she was just like, ‘I can’t do it. I don’t know how.’ And every script it was T.J. fighting herself, basically. And then I realized it was T.J. utilizing her community in this situation that no one has ever really been in. And she didn’t go in — she went out” and sought help from others.

“It was a big life lesson for me, at 28 years old,” she said.

T.J. discovers that her baby was not rescued ("Visitation")

T.J.’s journey through pregnancy and the loss of her child required an emotional intensity.

T.J. was certainly put through the wringer during the show’s all-too-brief run of 40 episodes. After she and Colonel Young break off their adulterous affair they are stranded together on Destiny, on the other side of the universe. Then she discovers she is pregnant with his child.

Her storyline ended up incorporating Huffman’s own real-life pregnancy. And it ended up being one of the most developed character arcs on the show, which Syfy Channel cancelled after just two years of a planned five-season story. T.J. required a deep well of emotion, and we sure can’t imagine anyone but Alaina playing her.

Head over to “Dial the Gate” on YouTube to find the full interview with Alaina Huffman. While you’re there, subscribe to GateWorld’s YouTube channel for more Stargate content!

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