Close Up With Bill Dow

Actor Bill Dow admits that he never expected Dr. Lee to find a new lease of life after Stargate SG-1 finished its run, despite appearing in a few episodes of Stargate: Atlantis’ early seasons.

“I lived in hope a little bit,” he says with a laugh. “I was surprised and very grateful – I’m glad to keep going. The Atlantis crew and cast are so much fun. It still feels like the same Stargate family. So yeah, I was surprised, but really happy that it came around this way.”

In the first of several appearances in season four, the character found himself aboard the Midway station in opening episode ‘Adrift’, working alongside Colonel Carter to get it online. Since the station was not yet fully functional, the script required a ‘no gravity’ scenario.

“I’ve been in a harness before,” Dow says, “But this one was tricky because they could only have one pick up point. When you see those Peter Pan-type flying things, they’ve got at least two and sometimes more pick up points, so that your weight is more evenly distributed and you’ve got a little bit of control. But this one it was more like I was just being picked up by the scruff of the neck and kind of dangling there,” he says with a laugh. “But everyone was really good and it was fun. The harness has to be really snug on you, to help distribute the weight, so you have to get cinched in really tightly. So it’s not the most comfortable thing, but it’s fun. I’m always up for a new adventure!”

Director Martin Wood was eager to get the right look for the scene, and Dow recalls some amusing directions as the cast and crew attempted to be, well… weightless.

“[His directions were] mostly just, ‘Can you look lighter?’ ‘Don’t dangle! I don’t want to see you dangling! You’re supposed to be weightless!’” chuckles Dow, doing an admirable impersonation of Wood’s broad Canadian tone. “He was actually very helpful, because when you found the thing that made it look as if you were floating, he was really quick to identify it and steer you in that direction.”

The actor is always eager to find the fun in any situation on set, and enjoys portraying his character as something of a geek – remember his memorable conversation with Doctor Weir about World of Warcraft? Filming ‘Adrift’ was no different, and Dow reports that there may well be a few interesting outtakes from the filming that could make their way onto the season four DVD box set.

“I wanted to do a thing where I smashed up against the window and kind of mashed my face into it,” he recalls with a chuckle. “I did that a few times, just because I thought it would be funny. I don’t think it actually ended up in there because we couldn’t quite work out the angles – they had trouble with the camera reflecting in the window. But I was just trying to think of what an inept and inexperienced person in space might do.”

Another new experience for Doctor Lee was setting foot on an alien planet, something he’s never had an opportunity to do before – but to which, in Dow’s opinion, he has always aspired.

“I was happy because it never makes it into the shows, but whenever we’re sitting in my lab and discover that there’s some kind of horrible problem that needs to be taken on off world, they all start packing up and heading out the door in their usual heroic fashion… and at the end, after the dialogue of the scene is over, I go, ‘Can I come? Can I come?’” Dow says, laughing, “and they all go ‘NO!’ So in the outtakes there’s always me going, ‘Can I come?’ And them all going ‘No!’ So I was quite happy to be out there!”

And, fans will be glad to know that besides the upcoming season four episodes featuring Dow and his alter ego (including ‘Midway’), it looks like Doctor Lee will be around for a good while yet…

“I turned up on my motorcycle at the studio one time, and (executive producer) Joe Mallozzi was there and saw me. He said ‘Oh, that’s great!’ I saw him a couple of days later and he said, ‘I think we’re going to have a scene next season where you’re in a motorcycle chase!’” Dow laughs, “I went ‘Okay… great!’ I think the writers love my character and they like writing for me because they can put me into situations that they can’t really put any of the more heroic characters into. They can let me be the bumbling person, and I’m happy to do that – it’s fun for me.”

Interview  courtesy of the Official Stargate Website