How Stargate Enlisted A Comic Legend

Dom DeLuise as Urgo

Stargate SG-1: “Urgo”

How did the legendary comedian Dom DeLuise end up guest starring on a cable science fiction show of all things? DeLuise’s starring role in the Stargate SG-1 episode “Urgo” was a comedic tour de force, and it came late in the actor’s career — longer after he had become a household name through classic films like Blazing Saddles, The Cannonball Run, and All Dogs Go to Heaven.

It was thanks, of course, to the fact that his son Peter DeLuise was a director and producer on Stargate. But the idea was pitched by “Urgo” writer Tor Valenza, who wrote for the show during its early seasons and served as SG-1‘s story editor.

“I do gravitate towards comedy,” Valenza told “Dial the Gate.” “That was my ‘imaginary friend’ episode. That’s how it came out … what if SG-1 walked into the gate, and then came out and they’re confused because they think they never left, and it turns out they’ve been gone for 16 hours. That was the window into the episode — ‘OK, what do I do with this?’ What happened on the other side in those 16 hours that they were gone?”

The “imaginary friend” hook shared by all four members of the team then evolved into Urgo himself — an artificial intelligence implanted by the alien Togar for the purpose of learning about other cultures. And it became clear pretty quickly that Dom DeLuise would be perfect to play both roles. One was a curious and distractable A.I. who reminds you of your Uncle Irving, and the other a stern and somewhat xenophobic alien scientist.

“I think halfway through … talking with the guys and they were saying, ‘You know, Peter has been looking for something for this dad. Maybe this will be it.’”

Check out this clip from the conversation:

“Dom DeLuise did a lot of ad lib!” he remembers. “… To the credit of the actor and the editors they put it all together. That’s the magic of film, and really terrific actors who can roll with that.”

Valenza’s credits as writer and story editor span some of SG-1‘s best seasons and fan-favorite episodes, from “Holiday” to “Past and Present,” “Urgo” to “Divide and Conquer.” He sat down with “Dial the Gate” host David Read for this rare interview, speaking about his own draw toward comedy and the chance to write for the legendary performer.

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

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