Close Up With Michelle Morgan, Who Plays FRAN

Ghost in the Machine” sees the return of guest actress Michelle Morgan, who first appeared as F.R.A.N in season four’s “Be All My Sins Remember’d”. The story goes that as soon as the producers saw the dailies of Morgan’s performance, they wished they hadn’t had the character destroy herself at the end of that episode. But, as the old adage goes, no one ever really dies in sci fi – particularly if the victim is a high-functioning machine.

In fact, “Ghost in the Machine” proves that saying twice over, as viewers also got to see what really happened to Dr. Elizabeth Weir following the events of “Lifeline”. Actress Torri Higginson declined to reprise her role as the Atlantis expedition’s first commander, but the hole left by her absence was perfectly filled by Morgan’s return.

Viewers may be surprised to learn, however, that even before “Be All My Sins Remember’d”, Morgan was due to be introduced to the Stargate universe, though in a very different role.

“I spent some time in Vancouver, where they shoot the show,” she explains, from the lunch tent of TV show Heartland, in which she stars as Samantha Louise Fleming. “I had been brought in [for auditions] a couple of times, and I was actually cast in an episode called “The Seer” last season, to play the Seer’s daughter. But I was involved in a film called Diary of the Dead, which had scheduled re-shoots, and the dates conflicted, so I couldn’t do it. I was quite upset because I really wanted to be on Stargate! But then they brought me in again and I managed to land the role of F.R.A.N, so that was good – it made up for losing that other part.”

Even at the conclusion of filming “Be All My Sins Remember’d”, the actress had an idea that she might see the character again.

“They had said, ‘Well, we can always create her again!’ So I thought that could be a good thing. And then my agent called me, just to give me a heads up that they might want to bring F.R.A.N back, and I was thrilled. And obviously, in this episode F.R.A.N plays a much larger part than I did last season. Although I have to say, I missed playing F.R.A.N – because this time I don’t play her, I play Weir.”

Morgan reports that she didn’t know that this new emergence of F.R.A.N would require emulating another character until she received the script.

“I wasn’t even sure how large a part I would be playing, or what would happen until I read the script a couple of weeks beforehand,” she recalls. “Then I had a couple of weeks to prepare to play the ‘resurrection’ of Weir. I had already seen some old episodes, but not all of them. So I watched the ones more specific to when the Replicators took Weir, and just tried to watch her mannerisms and her way of speaking, to try to understand her. But I also took into account that she’s a completely different person, a different being, now. The way that I thought about it is she’s transcended her body and she’s been through hell, and now she’s reanimated in another body. But she must be a completely different person – once she’s gone through that she must be different, she can’t be the same. I thought it was an interesting challenge for an actor.”

The events of “Ghost in the Machine” also allowed the actress to work with the wider cast – “Be All My Sins Remember’d” had mainly meant working with David Hewlett as Rodney McKay.

“I loved the idea of being with the other characters in the script and them trying to figure out whether it is Weir or not. I also liked the idea that she sort of double-crosses them, in a way. She tricks them, so that was an interesting challenge, because she convinces them that she’s split off from the other Replicators – and she hasn’t.”

While she enjoyed playing F.R.A.N as Weir, the actress freely admits that she’d love the chance to play her original part again. And obviously, we’ve seen Replicators re-animated from their deep space slumbers before, so there’s every chance that Morgan will get another call to reprise the role.

“I hope so! I definitely hope so,” she exclaims. “And the thing is that even if that version of F.R.A.N is dead, or gone, they can always just recreate F.R.A.N, because the template is there in the machine. So whenever they need to recreate a Replicator, F.R.A.N is ready and waiting. And I would love to play F.R.A.N again, because I loved the idea of playing someone who is a clean slate. She’s very childlike, in a sense. In the face of danger and tragedy she’s disconnected – she doesn’t understand. Whatever we get so worked up about, she just has this childlike joy about things, which was really fun to play.”

Interview  courtesy of the official Stargate Website