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Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview from August 5, 2010 with Lou Diamond Phillips and Ming Na from Stargate Universe.

Lou Diamond Phillips

Question:
Lou, can you tell us are you going to be on a lot of the episodes this season?

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Well I mean presently I'm still technically a recurring guest star. Without, you know, without giving too much away, I mean I will be much more present in the second season. But, don't look for me in every episode.

Question:
Your character has kind of been compromised. Are we going to get to see the evolution of him dealing with what he's done?

Lou Diamond Phillips:
I think it's more in how he responds and reacts and deals with the people on the ship, you know, on the Destiny. He certainly has a history that's hinted at. What we've seen is a - I think a change in the dynamic especially between himself and Colonel Young and, the lovely Ming Na is with us and she becomes a bit of a confidant to him because I think they both care very much about the welfare of the Destiny and how the decisions are made, you know, aboard the ship.

So we'll see a side of Telford that we haven't seen yet but yet it's all very true to the character and very layered into what we've seen of him before. The fact that we're going to see more of him I'm actually very happy about and we get a little bit more insight what makes him tick. But it's not about him. I mean the storylines don't revolve around him. So I mean there are definitely, you know, he's definitely a team player in that respect.

Question:
Ming, you've got certainly one of the meatiest roles on TV, let alone on this show. Was it the original plan that Camille was going to be such an integral character to everything or did that kind of evolve as you went along?

Ming Na:
Well I'm very happy that the character has evolved the way she has. And it's probably one of the most complex roles I've had the opportunity to play.Yes I'm, you know, that was something that was proposed to me very early on that Camille Ray will be a more integral part of this series. And so far that's come true. I certainly - I don't have any say as far as where the character goes. And I don't certainly get paid to be a writer. I'm thankful for the writers for bringing such a strong female character to light.

Question:
Ming, what is it about your role keeps challenging you?

Ming Na:
Wow, I think it's Camille is interesting because she starts off someone who really wanted to maintain the status quo of what she was used to on Earth and on Icarus Space. And she's had to really learn to throw that book away and be more instinctual and think more on her feet.

So for me I find it fascinating that here's a woman that she feels like she can compartmentalize her two worlds, her personal life and life in the workforce. And now it's kind of meshed into where her life and her work is just on Destiny. And so she's kind of had to let her hair down. She's kind of had to resort to tactics that she normally wouldn't use and finding allies and making friends with people she normally probably wouldn't make friends with especially the military I think. She works alongside them but it's interesting how those challenges have been brought to light with the character.

Question:
Why do you think people keep turning in to watch the show?

Ming Na:
Oh because it's so good. Am I being modest? I am so proud of our show. I just watched the season two trailer. And I never - I'm not the type of actor that like toots her horn or, you know, or like oh please, I'm on this commercial or oh I'm going to be on this talk show and I email and bombard everyone with an email.

But I just watched the season two trailer and I'm so proud of our show and everyone who works on it that, you know, I'm sitting here this morning like sending out this trailer say you guys you have to watch this trailer. I'm so proud of my show. So I think that an actor that's actually in it gets so excited there must be something that's happening that's right.

Question:
There's such a online support for this show, and Lou you're an active participant on Twitter. Why is that such an important place for you to connect with the fans?

Lou Diamond Phillips:
I've actually loved connecting with them on Twitter. That way I'm never quoted out of context. I can say what's on my mind. But at the same time I'm not given to ranting or going off on long dissertations. It allows me to share some thoughts. And I think I hope, it allows the fans to get a peek not only into my life but into what they might be interested as far as I'm doing.

And when it comes to SGU the fact that so many of us are on Twitter I really, really do feel as if it's a little gift to the fans out there to be able to peek into our real interpersonal dynamics and get a little bit of scuttlebutt about what's going on behind the scenes without spoiling anything. And it makes the relationship very special. And interestingly enough I think the relationship between a science fiction show and its audience is different than any one of the other types of shows that are out there.

Ming Na:
Yes. It's so intimate, yes.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
It's very intimate. It has this loyalty to it. It has this trust. They care about the characters and where the stories go. And it continues long into a future. It's got a very long shelf life. So it is, it's like a little romance that we're maintaining with the fans of the show. And, like Ming said, I'm incredibly proud of the show. I'm a fan of the show even in the episodes that I'm not in. I think the entire cast is just brilliant.

Ming Na:
We have such amazing writers and directors and producers.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
t's a complete show. Everybody is bringing their A game.

Ming Na:
Yes. And being a Syfy geek like when I watch that trailer because a lot of times we're just looking at green screens or we're trying to bring something out to the - from the page, on to the set. And then when the vis effects people are adding this amazing tableau of artistry it blows my mind as a Syfy geek. I'm looking at the ship, I'm looking at the aliens, I'm like oh my God this is my show. It's fabulous.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Exactly.

Question:
One of the things that really stands out about Stargate Universe is the fact that it's an ensemble show, which is typically okay if you bring a bunch of unknown actors together and put it together. But here we have a show where there are people who stand out. There are people that, you know, we've known like, you know, we know Lou from other things, we know Ming from other things. I mean how is it as an actor to try to help maintain the dynamic of keeping the ensemble nature of the show?

Ming Na:
Well Lou and I try to keep them down as much as possible, right Lou?

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Oh God yes, absolutely.

Ming Na:
Right King?

Lou Diamond Phillips:
I won't let them look us in the eye.

Ming Na:
King Lou. No, I mean Lou and I are both from the theater background. And I think for us an ensemble is key to any successful endeavor in art especially in creating a show or a play or a musical. So I love it. I love the dynamics of an ensemble.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
And I think we got very, very fortunate. I mean sometimes the chips fall differently and you get different personalities put together literally from day one. And all of us Ming and myself included worked from day one on this show. No matter the level of experience, the ensemble treated one another with respect, had expectations of high standards and nobody was a diva. And that hasn't changed. And, I mean that comes from Bobby Carlyle. That comes from Louie Ferreira, the people with a lot more, you know, more experienced than others. And yet, the actors with perhaps not as much experience on their resumes still come with their A game and they come with a lot of respect. And everybody is very supportive of one another. And I truly feel like that's reflected in the final product.

Ming Na:
Yes.

Question:
Lou, one of the things that you have done is you've really reached out and tried to keep this group cohesive off-camera. You have your famous cookouts and everything else. What are some of the things that you guys do off-camera to keep that ensemble feeling there, that teamwork feeling there?

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Well you know what I'm going to say, it's not by design man. It's not like we're trying to achieve something that doesn't exist already. The truth we all like each other.

Ming Na:
Yes.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
We actually like hanging out with one another. And so many of us have families. Ming's got a family, (Alanna), and so it's just a natural thing that we become tribal.

Ming Na:
Yes. Yes tribal, that's a good word. I've known Lou for so many years and what a treat to finally have a chance to work with him at length rather than just meeting him, not clandestinely, that's not the word. What is the word I'm looking for? You know, just like we just meet each other at these events or at these parties and, you know, and it's just for a couple of minutes here. And it's just so great to finally get a chance to work with him and Lewis Ferreira, well before he was Lewis Ferrera. But yes but I've known some of these people for a while and it's just fabulous to have this forum to play with.

Question:
Can you talk about how you came to work on the show? I mean did you audition or were you offered the part?

Ming Na:
Yes well I don't know - I mean I met with the casting director to find out because I was very hesitant about wanting to do a show that shoots in Vancouver. I haven't taken a job outside of LA in a while since my kid was born. So that's like what, eight years. But after speaking with Robert Cooper and him describing the character and the direction that they wanted to go with the show I was pretty much convinced from that conversation to come on board. What about you Lou?

Lou Diamond Phillips:
No, my experience is almost exactly the same. I got a call saying they were interested in me, went to MGM and sat down and had a conference call because the boys were already in Vancouver. And, the same thing. They just sort of told me, that yes Telford started out very slow in air part one and two. And they just let me know that there would be a future with the character and that he would have some interesting things to do and would become a player as far as the dynamic of the show is concerned. So, I definitely took a leap of faith and jumped in there. And it didn't hurt that they were bandying names around like Ming Na and, Bobby Carlisle and I just got at the kind of show that they were going to do.

Ming Na:
That's right ding, ding, ding, yes. That was another enticement I should say, yes.

Question:
Can you both talk about acting with the green screen and how that's challenging?

Ming Na:
I always feel like there's two - two things that I feel sometimes. One is wow, I'm really being a five year old kid pretending that I'm in outer space and how great is that to be doing it as an adult. And then two, just when it's such dire life or death situation that challenge is to really believe in that moment and selling it.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Yes I would say the same thing in that you truly have to commit to what you're supposed to be seeing because if you're apologizing for it or if you're distancing yourself from it then the audience will never buy it. Then the effect itself will never work.

Ming Na:
Right.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Everything has to go to that place of completeness and utter believability. And as a result what's really nice is that not only are the directors very descriptive in what we're supposed to be seeing and they help set up the shots, but many times the art department and the effects department will have renderings and can show you at least in a two-dimensional plane what it is you're going to be looking at.

Ming Na:
And then other times it's just director yelling while we're looking at nothing.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Exactly.

Ming Na:
He'll be like okay you see something light up and now it's coming at you really fast. And now it zooms up overhead, you know, it's, yes.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
I've got to relate one story. Was it (Andy)? I think it was (Andy McKee) talking me through something once. And sometimes it's really hard to keep a straight face because it's like and oh, okay here, here comes one here. Oh Jesus well oh my God they're all around you. Over there, there's one. Oh, oh, no. And you're having to keep a straight face. But, you know, really appreciate your enthusiasm and support but you're cracking me up.

Ming Na:
So maybe I don't need it right now, thank you Andy. Yes that sounds like Andy.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Just tell me where to look and I'll take it from there.

Ming Na:
It's either Andy or Peter they both are - yes.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Exactly.

Ming Na:
Hi.

Question:
Lou, since Telford has had such an interesting journey can you talk about how you really get to know him as a character? Like what do you hang on to in terms of consistency?

Lou Diamond Phillips:
I think the writers have done an incredible job of maintaining a core of integrity to Telford. His mission from the start and even through season two quite honestly is very, very specific. And that is to be the hero to save these people to get them home. And whether that's true or not he still feels very, very committed to this mission. I think that he feels very frustrated that he was not able to perform the duty that he was called to perform.

I think when it comes to being a soldier and an officer that he has a very strong code and must adhere to that. I think we get to see him operate a little differently once the brainwashing has been taken away. But once again at his core he's very, very focused and he doesn't waiver from what he wants to achieve ultimately. What's been interesting is that we get to know him a little bit better. We sense the dynamic between himself and (Rush) and Young and Camile Ray how he operates with them become slightly different. But what we haven't discovered about Telford yet -- and I don't think I'm spoiling anything ??? is we haven't gotten a lot of details about his personal life just yet so that I find that very intriguing and that, you know, we'll see if it ever becomes important to the storylines.

Question:
Ming, can you talk about coming back to Camille for season two and the challenges of finding where she is emotionally at the start of the season?

Ming Na:
Yes I think for Camile, she has to come to terms with her situation. I think for season one her ultimate goal was to get everybody back home including herself back to earth and back to a world that she's comfortable in, she's familiar with. And now I think with season two it's the realization that perhaps there is something else that is going to take over as the more important mission in her life and to just start moving forward and embracing that as her world for a while. Because if she can't then I don't think she's capable of leading the civilians to adapt and have a better frame of mind. So I think that's going to be a new change for a lot of the characters for season two is having this mission that they feel genuinely will help Earth and protect Earth from, you know, of a Alutien Alliance attack.

Question:
Of the episodes that you filmed for season two so far which would be your favorite and why?

Ming Na:
You see, when you ask questions like that you're just fishing.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Nice try. We're used to subterfuge and manipulation. We know how to handle that.

Ming Na:
Well my favorite episode is the one that I get to do a lot of stuff. What about you Lou?

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Yes, there's been a lot of really cool stuff going on. I will say that a number of the episodes have an increased amount of action in them. I think that there's a definite membership out there in the fandom that will appreciate the action adventure aspect of some of the episodes coming up. We blow a lot of stuff up. And, yes, get into major firefights. So, I mean that's always fun, the bang, bang. I mean it's certainly something I've done my entire career in features and other things. So that's always fun to get back and feel like you're an action hero. I will say that early in the season there is an episode that involves aliens. And I've recently seen it and just amazed and thrilled about what Mark Savela and in the effects team do. It's really, really beautiful to watch. And what these guys do for television, it's comparable to anything out there. And I'll go on record saying Mark should have won the Emmy. I really think so.

Ming Na:
I concur. I second that. And I certainly think that by season two he will have one in hand. I'm going to petition really hard for that, yes.

Question:
You both have worked on a lot of different projects both in film, television, and as you mentioned before, even stage. Which medium do you prefer to work in?

Lou Diamond Phillips:
The medium that pays me.

Ming Na:
Yes I was going to say it really depends on, you know, from what perspective you want us to answer that, financially, emotionally? I mean I love theater and sitcoms because I get an immediate feedback from the audience. That's something that I always get a high from. So I think as an artist that's very fulfilling. But also for me right now working on a Syfy show where I pretend that I'm in outer space billion, you don't understand, I'm a Star Wars kid, you know? So to actually be able to say that I'm on a show where I'm billions of light years away is so satisfying. I don't know if that's the artist in me or just the kid in me but yes, very happy about this ensemble work I'm doing.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
And as far as I'm concerned I'm very grateful that I can work in all the different mediums. Like having a theater background and coming from that and being able to get back on the boards is truly invigorating and there's nothing like it. But there's also nothing quite like the experience of making a big film, you know, or being on this kind of television show. So it's like different love affairs there's something different to like about every one of them. And they feed you and inspire you in different ways, you know? So just to be able to apply our craft as actors and do something that we love, and get paid for it and have a career at it I think is something to be grateful for and it would be difficult to sort of say okay you know what, I will only ever do this for the rest of my life or, you know, I mean it's like saying I'm never going to write or I'm never going to direct again. I love both those things but not to the exclusion of acting, you know?

Question:
Ming, going back to last season could you tell me a little bit about some of the acting challenges you found playing the paraplegic role?

Ming Na:
Yes when that was first brought up to me I was quite nervous about playing a part where I really - I mean I've had no experience with someone with that condition or even just understanding it. So I had to do a bit of a research and I went on to YouTube and looked at Christopher Reeves. His was a little bit more severe because he can't move his head at all. And Camille was able to move just ever so slightly her head. So, you know, and the breathing, the breathing aspect. But ultimately I think for me the challenge was to portray someone who's not used to that body. That was the hardest thing and to be able to kind of not bring the sense of doom and gloom into being a paraplegic. Because I think as we see from someone like Christopher Reeves, even when they're in that situation they do the best they can to live the best life that they can. And he had such a positive approach to that. I wanted to respect all that. So and the challenge is pulling it off. So I hope I did a decent job. But it was very challenging. I was quite nervous about doing it all right.

Question:
Lou, could you tell me a little bit about the relationship between Telford and Young in season two and how maybe that further develops?

Lou Diamond Phillips:
It's interesting because in season one it was only ever adversarial. And once he kills me and brings me back, that tends to change a relationship. But we get a sense of the fact that they were once friends, that they were in the academy together, that they had served together and have respect for one another as leaders. And I think there's a window into that. And there, we see Telford sublimate himself to that. I mean the fact that he's on, I'm sure quite overcome by guilt, for the things that he did that were beyond his control he still has memory of them. And so it certainly affects how he approaches his position on the Destiny now.

Having said that, Telford's still ambitious. He's still full of confidence and cockiness to a certain extent that he is the best man for the job. And so that's - that edge never really goes away. I mean he does not 100%, you know, just bow down and say you know what, I'm not worthy. He tries to be a contributor to the survival of the ship and to the decisions that will hopefully save these people one day. I still think he's got a very high estimation of himself and thinks that, you know, perhaps fate led him down the wrong path.

Question:
Ming, I was very happy to hear you refer to Camile Wray as a strong female character because I don't feel like she gets talked about as such. And when it comes women in sci-fi, these are women who are, you know, leaders of state and physical fighters. And those are the ones that are usually anointed as strong female characters. And then there are women like Camile Wray who certainly are strong in other ways but they don't get talked about in the same terms. So what are your thoughts on Camile's strengths and how does that affect your performance of her character?

Ming Na:
Well I think in the beginning she comes off as someone who really wants to muscle her way into situations or have her voice heard. And I think it's just probably her reality in achieving the level of success that she's had at the, you know, in the IOA and going by the books and doing all the right things and being the right diplomat in all the situations. So in that sense I think any woman that - who has to play in a man's field and succeed in it is strong. But then now she's also in a situation where on Destiny there are really no rules. You have to sort of re-create the rules and the guidelines And it - like there's a word that Lou just mentioned, tribal. In a way we not, just the actors, but the crew aboard Destiny has to become tribal and learn to live with each other and work with each other. And I think in that sense she has to force herself to take that leadership role in guiding or helping the civilians. And the warmth for her to bring another side of herself out which is to care, you know, she cares about these people and actually to show it is also part of her strength to be able to be more herself.

Question:
Lou, in the season finale I was so impressed with your performance. There was one scene in particular where Telford was finally coming to terms with what had happened with him realizing he was brainwashed, realizing the actions that he had done under that brainwashing. I imagine there's going to be some fallout from that later on. How is Telford going to deal with this?

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Once again, I think that what's really sort of nice and it's one thing I really truly appreciated about the - those last three episodes which played very much like one long movie, and it certainly felt like it when we were shooting it, was the fact that we got a glimpse into the humanity behind Telford. We've seen him in an official capacity. We've seen him as a soldier and a figure of authority. ut to understand, you know, that this effects him emotionally on some levels as well I think was a real treat not only as, you know, for myself but for the audience. And I think it's going to become complicated as time goes on. He's certainly will have residual guilt. I think he certainly will have responsibility.

But in that respect that almost galvanizes him more into accomplishing what it is he set out to do. And that is to save these people and to bring them home at times almost at any cost. I mean in a way I really think this because his obsession, and in some ways a way to vindicate himself, to save others when he obviously has cost other lives in the past. So it he fortunately is not just a cardboard cutout of a villain or the guy that's going to be the fly in the ointment. Telford has very interesting motivations and a lot of very interesting layers, you know, to how he will continue to be involved with the people on the Destiny.

Ming Na:
And I think what is part of the great intrigue and fun of Stargate Universe, you know, for me I think whenever you are thrown into a situation where you have no other support system but what is in front of you it does bring you to have to have a better awareness of yourself. And I think, you know, for Telford now that he's on board Destiny. It's like anybody who comes on board Destiny has to really face their own demons.

Question:
Robert Carlyle directed an episode and I was wondering what it was like working with him as a director versus a cast mate?

Ming Na:
Oh he was just fabulous. And I had no doubt from the start that he would do a great job. I mean because he's just such an instinctual and yet at the same time analytical actor that I just knew that he would do a thorough job as far as what he was going to be as an actor and also bringing some of his insights to guide us as actors. But ultimately for me it was just fun to see Robert like he was a little kid in a candy store. He just had such a great time. And I really enjoyed him as a director.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Well here is the spoiler. I'm not in that episode. So I can't speak to that.

Ming Na:
Okay. Well I answered it so we're good.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Well there you go.

Ming Na:
Yes.

Question:
Do either of you have any plans to return to the theater?

Ming Na:
Oh sure.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Yes, you know, 100%. I mean it's interesting because theater is such a commitment. And it really it requires usually a lot of lead time and then in the performance of it it requires a lot of time. So it has to be something that you really love. It's not something that can happen, you know, frivolously. And the economics of the legit theater these days, you know, usually requires somebody get you to make a commitment, you know, a long time beforehand. So unfortunately you can't just say hey, I got six weeks off, you know, let me go do a theater piece. It doesn't really work that way. So for the time being this is my world. But, I would definitely love to go back to Broadway at some point. I would definitely love to do some intimate work in regional theaters. So it's certainly something I'm always open to and I get inquiries about it all the time. But it really is a matter of, you know, trying to carve out the time.

Ming Na:
Yes and unfortunately it's more tough to do it in LA because just the commute alone would kill to get to the 7 o'clock call.

Question:
We've seen a practical use of the ancient communications stones more in SGU than any of the other Stargate series. But body swapping can be seen as a controversial issue. What are your thoughts on it since both of your characters have experienced it?

Ming Na:
Controversial, hey bring on the controversy, you know, makes for a lot - more drama and more interest I think and intrigue for any storytelling. And I think because most of the Stargate's have used this, these ancient stones that's already been established. So if there were any controversy, you know, it had to have started up 15 years ago or whenever they did introduce those stones.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Well I mean I think it's interesting because it does put your consciousness into someone else's body. And, I know for Ming it's been very challenging and gives you a different perspective, makes you work very, very closely with the other actor, you know, you are inhabiting so to speak. I mean from my point of view it's the only love scene Telford's had, so hey I can't complain. But what...

Ming Na:
And you know we sign a waiver every time we have to use the stones.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Yes exactly. You won't to leave anything behind, you know, yes that kind of thing.

Ming Na:
Yes.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
But obviously for Telford it's really been his way to stay involved which is great, you know. I mean it's been very interesting, you know, device and one that, you know, I'm sure he finds very frustrating. What I think in the bigger picture what I think is very, very cool and I don't mean to spoil it is to say that in exchanging consciousness we are putting forth the theory that consciousness is something that can transcend space and time, that it can transcend the physical. And this is a concept that will play out in different scenarios during season two in a way that I find just amazingly thought provoking and interesting and intriguing. And it's one of the things that sci-fi does very, very well, you know, to give you an idea and then to expand upon it and make you think wow, is that kind of thing possible? It's very cool.

Ming Na:
And I think also it's really relevant and important for the Stargate franchise. Because one of the main elements of this show for all three shows is that there is always an attachment to Earth and in its current time frame. This show isn't set in the future. It's not set in the past. It's set in the now. And it's quite important I think to the Stargate fans to always have that reminder and to maintain that connection with Earth.

Question:
Talking about the Stargate franchise, since SGU is kind of different than the other shows with more of a Battlestar Galactica tone, how do you think SGU furthers the Stargate franchise?

Ming Na:
Wow well I, you know, in a weird way like we are a show that stands on its own in its style and in its story telling. And that's one thing that's very different from the other Stargates. But I think it pushes the envelope so much more. I mean our show is quite serious and dramatic in a really dark way. I don't know is - I think it moves it in a whole other direction but for the better in its storytelling and furthering the whole idea of what - who created the Stargate, what it's about, you know, what is it for, you know, what is the ultimate wisdom and reason for these Stargates. I think, you know, we're still searching for that answer.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
And, I think that's a very good point because it does raise the big questions, you know. And as I've said before, good sci-fi does that. It really against a backdrop that is virtually Shakespearean or larger than life asks very human questions. And, where do we come from? Where are we going? You know, why? Why are we here? And, without sounding too pretentious, Stargate Universe attempts to do that and yet bring in the introspection of how do we survive, how - you know, how do we relate to one another in a way that's going to ensure that we stick around. And I think that is the extension of the legacy that Stargate gave us previously. They had the action adventure. They had the larger than life characters. They had the sci-fi. And I would like to think that, you know, what Stargate Universe adds to the mix is a great dose of humanity and perhaps philosophy.

Question:
So kind of a more of a modernization of the franchise then so to speak?

Lou Diamond Phillips:
Yes and, you know, and, you know, these guys were bored. They were doing the other thing for 15 years and wanted to - they decided, you know, try something different.

Question:
What was it like for you all to step into an established franchise like Stargate? What did that mean sort of coming into something that there was a history there and you all were the next generation of it?

Ming Na:
I was just thankful to be coming into a show that was such a well oiled machine. Because, you know, a lot of times when you're starting a new show there's many bumps and hiccups and, you know, chaos in everyone figuring things out and, you know, what goes where and who does what. And I think when there is that - that - when there isn't that panic or frantic energy it just gave us all a chance as the actors to come together and be relaxed and have fun and really figure out, you know, the tone and the feel. And, you know, the focus was very different. So I really appreciated that coming into the franchise because I really didn't know that much about the Stargate franchise prior to.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
And to me it was, you know, it's very much the same thing. I was not all that familiar with the television series. The film was done by a good friend of mine, Dean Devlin. So, you know, I certainly had respect for the tradition and the legacy of it all. But it was a win-win because as I said before, I could tell that they wanted to do something different. I could see from the script that, you know, they were going in a different direction than they had in the past and the kind of people that were already attached. So, you know, you're dealing with something that has an expectation that has a through line to it but, you know, the added plus of saying okay we're going to do it differently. And, you know, in today's television lanDISCape you see how quickly, you know, things come and go. They can promote the hell out of something and then it's gone in a month. If anything had a chance to survive it was certainly something that had, you know, the track record of a Stargate. So, you know, as far as future employment was concerned it was a good bet.

Question:
You both said you were approached and you had sort of a general idea of what you were jumping into. Did they explain to you that the sort of, for lack of a better term, body swapping and the consciousness, swapping would be an aspect of playing your characters that there would be that back and forth where sometimes you were yourself but you weren't?

Ming Na:
No.

Lou Diamond Phillips:
No, I had no clue either. But I mean that's the thing, you know. I mean it's fun but it's a little daunting because sometimes you have no idea what you're going to get when you crack open that script. I mean Ming knows firsthand what that's like.

Ming Na:
Oh my goodness well, you know, the stone thing, even by the third time of doing it I was still thoroughly confused. I was really like wait, wait, wait. Now who - what - how - what?

Question:
So for you it's a little overwhelming every time?

Ming Na:
No not now. Yes, I might not be the quickest when it comes to, you know, coming to terms with because, you know, the way we shoot it a lot of times, you know, we put our hands there and then we have to like slide away and let the next person come in. And, you know, a lot of times to me it's like okay now okay, I'm wearing the other person's clothes there. But why is my hair up and her hair is down? And do we keep the same hair? Yes there's - oh no okay, I don't wear the jewelry because I'm not in my body. Okay I don't wear that jewelry. So, you know, it just took a little getting used to whose body I was actually in. I have to say that of all the shows I've done this has been the most challenging role because a lot of times, you know, whether playing a gay character or someone who's a quadriplegic and, you know, and some of the other stuff that we're doing in season two, it's great for an actor to be challenged this way.

Question:
For people who've never seen Stargate or people who haven't seen your Stargate, why should they tune in this season?

Ming Na:
Because if you're looking for a show that has a lot of action and great writing and acting and is even if you're not a sci-fi fan I think you would really enjoy Stargate Universe because it just has so much to offer. It's got the love stories. It's got the, you know, life and death situation. And it's got humor and just some really great characters to sink your, you know, teeth into so I think for all those reasons. And it's just a great looking show. It interestingly, it starts off with so much of the aftermath of the prior situation. And so I think there shouldn't - you know, I mean it's always good to start from the beginning so you kind of have a real understanding of who these characters are and you can care about them. And maybe if somebody catches the premiere episode of season two it will interest them and excite them so much that they're like oh I got to get, you know, season one and 1.5 and catch up. Because that's what I do with Battlestar. You know, I came into it in the middle and just like ah, I've got a watch it from the beginning.

Question:Ming Na:
I think ultimately it still should be Young because he has the persona and the personality for it personally. I believe Ray has tried out of necessity, not out of ambition, and realized that it's just something that she's not comfortable with, you know. I don't think everyone can handle making life and death decisions for someone else. It takes special military mind I believe. And I think Young can handle that. You know, Rush, he doesn't seem to have much of a consciousness for it. So and I think Ray has too much. You know, she would be too emotionally devastated if she has to send someone to their death, yes.

Question:
When you're on set do you still find it sort of fascinating how well built and detailed and almost believable things are?

Ming Na:
Oh yes absolutely. You know, I think because we do have to use our imagination so much when it comes to the green screens or the aliens and, you know, these situations that the writers put us in, it's fabulous that they have spent the time and the energy and the artistry to create such a beautiful set for us. You know, it helps. Every little bit helps. And, you know, there's this sense of importance in contributing because, you know, you see someone put so much work and detail into the set you're like well yes, you know, then I have to really put in my 200% to yes, to be respectful of it. You know, so although I have been in theater where, you know, we have just like a cheesy block and we have to make something out of it. But it does help. And it's so much fun. I just - I'm always tickled every time I go on our set and go wow, this is our sandbox. How much fun is it.

Question:
Is it fun having these great guest stars in?

Ming Na:
Yes. I think it's just - yes I mean Kathleen Quinlan and, you know - and I didn't realize French Stewart had been in the original. So I had to rent that movie again just to watch him, you know. And the man really, he hasn't changed that much, his face. It's all - it's still the same. But what a wonderful little bit of history that is. Yes so and, you know, watching it again it was just - it was great. I don't know, I had a new perspective, you know, on the film having been on the show now for a year and a half.

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