FEATURE ARTICLES

IN A WORD: PASSION

An Interview with Stargate's Director/Writer/Producer, Peter DeLuise


Peter DeLuise "I love talking about the show," Peter DeLuise declares. "I can talk about the show all day. The show is my life. I mean, that's all I do all day long, all week long, all month long, all year long. That's the main part of my life. So I'm very stimulated by the show. I'm happy to talk about the show!" It has been said that one key to happiness is finding something you love to do, and then finding a way to get paid for it. If that's a philosophy, then Peter DeLuise could be the poster child. His enthusiasm for his work is evident in every word.

Having earned his stripes on earlier series as an actor, director, and writer, has he always been so consumed by his work? Peter admits, "Most of the other television shows that I worked on weren't very deep. They didn't have the level of detail that this show has, and they certainly didn't have the budget, which limits your ability to actually do anything that matters. So, even though I love my job, and I can't believe I'm being paid to do what I love, every once in awhile, if I'm directing, say, a less interesting show, I might think, 'Well, this is tedious.' You know, I show up, the characters walk into the room, we do a wide shot, then we do some close-ups, and then at the end of the day we go home. There's nothing very thrilling about it. It's actually kind of mundane work. And I know it sounds strange to describe directing a television show as mundane, but if it's not thrilling, if the characters aren't compelling and the actors aren't incredibly enthusiastic, it gets kind of old. If you've been on the set, you've seen the repetition, and how slow the process is. So if you're craving stimulation, and you're actually trying to tell a story that you yourself would not watch on television, if you happened to flash it up on the screen and you were watching it and you went, 'This isn't interesting to me, I'm going to change the channel,' if you yourself know this already about this, it's hard to get enthusiastic about the process. Whereas this kind of show, Stargate, I actually love this show! I would watch this show! And I wouldn't change the channel! And so a lot of my decisions are based on what I would want to see if I was watching a cool sci-fi show."

As both a writer and director on the series, Peter is especially delighted that as of season seven he has been getting to direct most of his own episodes. "That's Robert Cooper's doing," he smiles. "He's making it happen such that I'm able to direct my own episodes, which makes me very happy, because then I only have myself to blame if it doesn't come off right." Having more complete creative control makes the process easier as well. "I know what I meant when I wrote it. And there's only 45 pages in there, so you can't get all the detail that you want in there. So you put everything else in there that you meant to write in there but there was no page space."

That unscripted essence that makes a Peter DeLuise story what it is, goes back again to the enthusiasm he brings to his work. "The problem is I don't really have any style. I just go with the flow, kind of thing," he admits with a smile. "But the kinds of stories that I'm interested in telling are ones in which the characters are very caught up and passionate about what they're doing. They care immensely about what's going on, which gives our actors something to act. If some unknown guy wants to kill some other unknown guy, and it would be bad politically for us, then it's hard for me to get excited about that. But if I see that one of my characters is very, very passionate about the fact that his son has been kidnapped, and is being worked to death in a labor camp, and he needs to do something about that, that's a story that sounds good to me, because I know that that character's very interested. So, even though I would admit that a lot of my stories are not as strong structurally as some of the other stories that we've had, the passion of my characters is always there. I'm always going for the, 'What can we act?' 'How can we get our characters excited?'.

"So if Pee Wee Herman has his bike go missing, that's not such a big deal. But because his bike is his life, his world, and he cares so much about getting it back, and he goes on this giant adventure to go find his bike, they made a movie out of that. So if Pee Wee Herman cares enough to try to get his bike back, and they can make a movie about that, I'm writing something about a character that feels very strongly, and then hopefully my audience will feel as strongly about it, because my characters feel so strongly. So Teal'c can fight to the death, or be very upset, or can get involved. It's less subtle that way. It moves me, it's more visceral. And then if I can put some funny stuff in there, that's fine too," he adds with a smile. "But passion, I try to get my characters passionate about what's going on.

"I get the characters worked up. Rarely does Teal'c get upset unless he's doing one of my stories because I always write to that end. I always write to try to get Teal'c to get upset or excited about something. I mean, he was being tortured to death in one of my first scripts, in Serpent's Venom. I mean, that's a lot of fun to do! Chris just standing there all day long cocking his eyebrow, that can get kind of tedious for him. But you pull his shirt off, put him in some chains, and then you have a guy torture him, mentally and physically, that's good fun! That's something you can get excited about! So, the actors are human too. They think, 'Oh, this is a boring story, there's not much for my character to do,' their enthusiasm wanes. But if they have a lot to do, and they're excited, and they're testing the limits of what their characters are about, 'Wow, this is great! I'm defining my character through his passion! This is wonderful!'

"A lot of times in series television the characters are what they are, and the audience already loves them. That's why we call it a series, because we don't have to reintroduce the characters every week. That's one of the great things about series television, is you don't have to spend all that character development time on the show, because the audience already loves the characters. That's why they keep coming back. In a feature film, the whole first part of the show is devoted to character development and identifying your characters, whereas in a series you can just go straight to the story. And if you pepper in some character moments, that's great.

"Threshold was a great example. This is what Teal'c's life used to be. I was like, 'Oh, man, what a great idea!' And we showed him marching down the hallway, and being a lieutenant, or a warrior private, when he was just a grunt, very low on the totem pole. Man, this is great! This is great fun! And the imagery that Brad wrote with the snow and the training, and all the kung fu stuff, a la kung fu, where the master is training the young protégé, this is great! This is great stuff! We're getting to see Teal'c from the old days. This is great!

"I still want to do an O'Neill show just like that," he adds, "when he went to boot camp or something. But we were trying to figure out how to get it to work. We had a time travel story that we were trying to make work, and the whole office almost exploded into time travel logic. Oookay! Well, we'll come back to that, maybe, some other time. Couldn't quite work that out!" he sighs, clearly still searching for a way to solve the dilemma of the time-space continuum.

Affinity

Affinity

Despite his excitement over death camps and torture, when asked about the style of his favorite episodes, he answers simply, "Funny! The funny ones. I like Wormhole X-treme! very much, and I love Avenger 2.0, love that one. I had nothing to do with that one, but, man, do I like that episode. It's very funny." Yet in his own episodes, the humor tends to be more subtle. "This show takes great pains to create a balance between funny and drama," he explains, "because if it's too funny, then the drama suffers, and if it's too dramatic, then the funny parts just don't belong there. So, some episodes are just, 'okay, this is just a funny episode.' There's nothing at stake here, or there's so much at stake here it's just funny. Avenger 2.0 is a good example of that. But if we did Avenger 2.0 every week, I think people would start to lose interest. The series has witty banter in it, although the episodes I end up with are a lot of Jaffa and Tok'ra people doing formal-speak. Those are the ones I end up with, talking about honor and togetherness, and team player type mentality stuff, which I'm happy to do, because those are themes that I think are important to talk about."

Episodes like Avenger 2.0 can also serve to address some of the special scheduling circumstances that the series has faced in recent seasons. "It's light," he continues. "It's a light episode, but in my mind it's really funny. But if you did that every week, you'd go, 'Come on…' Carter and Felger have quite a lot of screen time, and these are the kinds of stories that you're going to be getting when you don't have access to your star five days a week. I think it's a good thing, because the formula was, in my mind, getting a little tired, a little old. Every week, our four core members would experience something that they needed to deal with, some sort of conflict. And then we would tell the story through their eyes, in first person, as they were receiving the information. We would rarely go to the bad guy and give him a chance to twirl his mustache, and we would rarely follow a supporting character and what they were doing, going off and doing their own thing. And so the stories are very linear. Some might even say that they lacked the kind of multidimensional feel that the audience has come to expect, because they're very sophisticated. Well, by design, Brad Wright and Mr. Glassner decided that that is the way to garner sympathy for your core characters. You can't sympathize with the bad guy if he doesn't have any scenes by himself. And so you can only see the story through your core characters if they're the ones who get all the screen time and you're experiencing the story through them. Which is good, if you have access to all your characters all the time. But since we don't have that with Richard Dean Anderson, what became necessary is that you'll start to notice that the group will split up. Two of the characters will go off and do some investigation, and that means we've got some time off for some of the characters. And the show becomes less wordy because it's not four characters minimum in every single scene. So once you split the group up, then you can ping pong back between the stories, and advance the stories off screen. So if Carter and Daniel go off and try to do some investigation, and O'Neill and Teal'c go off and do some investigation, you have both, Team A found this, and then Team B found this, and the next time you come back to Team A they've acted on that and they're in the next place, and so forth and so on, you ping pong back and forth. And that's a way of telling a story.

"Since we didn't really have access to Richard so much, it was more like, we kind of find out what's up with Team A. Well, this is what we heard, but we haven't seen them. We don't see them, but we know that this is what they're working on. So there's a lot more off-camera stuff. And then also the big challenge was to figure out how to tell a story without Richard in every scene. So there were the obvious ones where he's sick and dying, he's been captured and we have to get him back, and then I tried to come up with something as unorthodox as humanly possible, which was, he is here, we just don't recognize him. And that was part of the genesis of the Fragile Balance episode, the Mini Me, a younger version of O'Neill. So we'd have the O'Neill character, but it wouldn't be Richard Dean Anderson who was playing him. I was inspired because I was looking right at Robert Cooper, and beyond him were these beautiful pictures of his gorgeous children, and I thought, you know, we should see O'Neill young. And so that was one way of getting around not having to see Richard Dean Anderson in the whole episode, but not being denied access to the O'Neill character."

Orpheus

Fragile Balance

Indeed, Michael Welch, as Young O'Neill, was so convincing in the role that many felt they WERE watching O'Neill. When at last both O'Neills appeared together on screen, many viewers remarked that the scene felt as if it were a split-screen moment. "I'm very flattered to hear that," Peter smiles. "I had to put them in a two-shot, but it was a straight 50-50 shot. I hadn't considered that this was a pretend split screen, but I did purposely put them in the same Air Force sleeping shirt by design. When he was taken, he was sleeping, and when it came time when Michael was in his bed clothes, he was also in an Air Force shirt. And they ended up to be accidentally, conveniently wearing the same exact shirt. That was the only thing that I was considering. I think quite by accident, because they were standing next to each other, instead of in a shot where one was more foreground than the other one, they had no choice but to kind of deal with each other in a 50-50 arrangement, like you would have in a twinning shot, but that was completely by accident. The only thing I had to do was put them in the same shirt and just say 'Go'. And of course Richard is so wonderful with that, and then Michael just picked up on what Richard was doing, and it just was a lot of fun."

Richard Dean Anderson had joined the episode only for the few final scenes. "We had done most of the episode, and it was now time for Richard to join us, because he joined us late because of his availability. And I said, 'Okay Richard, you're sleeping.' And he jumped in the bed, and wouldn't you know, there was nothing but ass pointed at the camera. And I said, well THAT's funny. And it was a funny episode, so I said, okay, let's go with that, just because of the way that Richard jumped in the bed, in a super comfortable way. He always finds these very disarming things to come up with that are completely unorthodox that you wouldn't traditionally do on television. But there he was with his big old bum, so I went, 'Perfect! We'll start on the bum!' So I guess in a way you could say he made that up. He offered us the bum, we took the bum."

Peter would love to see the return of Young O'Neill. "Michael Welch, from Joan of Arcadia, is a wonderful, wonderful actor. He's just so great. He's got wisdom and experience beyond his years. He's just a pleasure to work with. I wish we could have done another Young O'Neill thing, because he does have all the information that Older O'Neill has, and maybe one day we'll need that information when Older O'Neill's not available to us. But so far there are no plans in the works to have another episode. We had talked about it, but right now it's not on the schedule." In fact, Peter and Michael Greenburg had pitched a story that would have paired Young O'Neill with Maybourne. "Yes, that was a story that we came up with, and so far it's in limbo. Michael and I were working on that together. It was called You Ain't Jack. I don't actually think it's going to end up being on the schedule at this point. Either Michael will have to be not on Joan of Arcadia anymore, for him to come back, or we'll just have to have so little access to Richard Dean Anderson that we'll have no choice but to have that kind of story. But I'd hate to see it be another actor other than Michael Welch, because he's just so good. Since Michael's on Joan of Arcadia, he's not really available to us at this point. But you never know! Could be!" Taking the concept of working around a missing O'Neill one step further, he muses, "You know, his brain could be downloaded into an Asgard! That would be a little bit more difficult to do, but it's still possible. Because of sci-fi, everything's in the realm of possibility. You never know how we're going to experience the O'Neill character next! He could be in a box! Remember when Spock got his brain stolen? 'They stole my brain! I don't know why! I barely use it myself! I don't know why they needed it!' I can see it all now! It's writing itself as we speak!" he jokes.

Another creative solution to the missing O'Neill dilemma came in the jello scene from Orpheus. "I got letters about that," he acknowledges with a smile. "Yes, I invented the jello moment. But Teal'c is hurt. He has to be visited by O'Neill. And Richard's not there! So what do we do? Well, let's see some jello, from the visit! That's exactly where it came from. Take Richard out of the finished thing as much as possible. Well, he can't NOT go visit. So, there was the evidence of the visit, the jello, and also hearing Teal'c's take on what jello is. Teal'c's observations become more and more like our own, more Earth-like, but every once in awhile he'll say something like, 'There might be a booby trap.' 'Booby? Why would we call it a booby trap?' Or, 'We're no longer in Kansas, Dorothy,' or whatever. 'I'm not Dorothy. Why are you calling me Dorothy?' It's just a figure of speech. We kind of lose those. I really liked those. But he's more acclimated to our stuff, so he questions less. I like when they question our ways." The jello moment served to add the term 'mojo' to Teal'c's vocabulary as well. "Well we know that O'Neill is an Austin Powers fan, because in Demons he did the Dr. Evil finger, pinky to the teeth. So it's in keeping with that. I know that Mike Meyers didn't invent the concept of the mojo, but he might as well have because it's become part of the English vernacular. In my mind, that totally justifies where it came from. Of course O'Neill would say 'mojo'. He got it from the movie!"

Season seven also served to tie up certain story threads, to build upon the rise of Anubis. A new, more sinister menace was called for, and Peter's episodes, particularly Evolution and Death Knell, helped to develop the Super Soldier, or Super Jaffa as they are often called by the crew, although they aren't technically Jaffa at all. Peter explains the thinking behind the creation of the new soulless creatures. "It's because killing Jaffa has become more and more distasteful over the years because we understand that they've been lied to and that they're just following orders, and that it's part of their religion, and that they really don't have any choice, because without the Goa'uld they're screwed. So through the development of tretonin, we're having to wean them off of their dependence on the Goa'uld, and more and more we're bringing them over to our side. So Anubis is like, 'Hey! All these Jaffa are turning! We can't have that! I'm going to make myself a foot soldier that doesn't do that!' They can't even conceive of turning against him. So these are all his version of Terminator, if you will. He was never physically alive as we think of a human being. He's got no soul. He's like a Frankenstein monster. He has a symbiote in his head, just like a Goa'uld would, and he's been manufactured to be a biological being that can be puppeted by the Goa'uld. So there's no soul, there was never any thinking human being in there, and they have been programmed by Anubis to be totally loyal and fearless." The REAL human within the Super Soldier costume, Dan Payne, isn't new to Stargate, and Peter praises, "He's a very cool guy. He's huge! He’s played several different characters on the show. He was, in fact, also an Ashrak, but he had the power of invisibility, which made him even more deadly [in Allegiance]. He was also one of the Jaffa in Metamorphosis. He was the one screaming orders in the pillboxes on the hill, and they were having to take them out so they could go and get to Nirrti's fortress. And do you remember the giant SF that's got Young O'Neill pushed up against the wall? That's him."

Evolution

Death Knell

Death Knell was an episode that was written quickly to take advantage of several situations. First, it acted as a bridge in the story arcs of the Tok'ra and the Jaffa. "It was such a quickie. We wrote it very fast," he explains. "'Death Knell furthers our plight insofar as we have no friends or allies. The alliance between the Tok'ra and the Rebel Jaffa is further strained because the Alpha Site has been blown up, and its location has somehow become known to Anubis. Even after Allegiance, because we've been working together with the Tok'ra and the Jaffa, we haven't been doing it as effectively as we could, because our ways are so different. The Jaffa and the Tok'ra and ourselves, we just approach problems in such a totally different way because of our various intelligence levels. Well, the lifespan of a Tok'ra is so much more than a human being that the way that they would strategize and the way that they would try to win in a conflict would be different from us. The Goa'uld can do the attrition warfare, but we can't because we only live for a hundred years, but they live for much longer than that. We attack the same problem in different ways. So we're having trouble working together. And this is to help tee up the two parter, the finale, where we're in dire straits and we can't just turn to one of our friends and say look, fix it. So Anubis is coming after us and we're not going to have any help this time. This is one of those stories that is helping to tee that up, and to further crush and disintegrate the alliance."

The episode also explains the reason for the new location of the Alpha Site. "The Alpha Site that they were at is a new Alpha Site, and not the old Alpha Site from Allegiance. We move the Alpha Site because we know that Jonas gave up its location when Anubis downloaded his brain. But we didn't want the answer to be that simple, so we move the Alpha Site, and then THAT one got hit. Because, if it were that simple, it would be, well, there's not much of an episode there! 'Oh yeah! Jonas had the spiky thing in his head! Of course Anubis knows where the Alpha Site is! Aren't we stupid for not moving it!' So we dealt with that right in the teaser. Anubis knows about the old Alpha Site, so we can't be there without worrying about being attacked. And then they're attacked!"

The story also took advantage of clear cut logging that had occurred in the Greater Vancouver Regional District shooting location. "What happened was, the GVRD, is the forest where the episode of Allegiance took place, in that pit there. There used to be trees all around that pit, and the trees had been clear cut. Since we shot Allegiance, all those trees had fallen down. That pit was where the original base was, and even though it's a new base, we're going to use old footage of the Alpha Site from Allegiance, because that's what the place used to look like, with corrugated metal buildings, and the Jaffa and Tok'ra are hanging around doing their thing, and then that place gets attacked, and essentially gets blown up. And all the trees adjacent to the base, they fall down, just like in Siberia when the meteor hit. You know those awful pictures of all those dead trees for acres and acres and acres? It was like that! So, I knew that those trees had been clear cut around that area. So I said, half kidding, 'Why don't we do an episode where the thing is blown up, and all the trees have gone down?' And Robert said, 'Yeah! Let's do that!'"

Despite the serendipity of a forest of fallen trees, the episode presented major challenges from budget and scheduling. "Because this armor, this outfit for this soldier was so expensive, we needed to amortize it over several different episodes. And Amanda needed to be lite in this episode. It won't seem like she's lite when people watch the episode. We did most of her stuff in just the two days. But she was doing Grace. She's very heavy in 'Grace', which is all about her, stuck on a spaceship alone, so she needed to be lite in this episode because we were doing those simultaneously. So we shot the base, the SGC stuff of my story while she was doing the spaceship stuff of Grace. And then when we went on location, she was available to us, and we had her do two days of running around as one of the handful of survivors from the explosion of the Alpha Site. So she's on the run, and she's got no weapons." The episode also includes an important moment between O'Neill and Carter that Peter feels can be open to interpretation depending on how one views their relationship. "I'm hoping that both sides are happy," he says. "What is appropriate about that moment for me is she has gone through hell. She needs to be comforted. And yes, they have chemistry between each other. It might as well be him putting his arm around her. You know, she's been through hell, she deserves to be comforted for a second. And you care about her in that special way, so put your arm around her!"

To find his character moments, both on the page and on the screen, Peter draws his inspiration from many sources. An avid fan of both movies and television, he watches through the eyes of both a writer/director and a fan, and he admits to being a regular viewer of SG-1. "Oh, all the time I watch it! It comes on every night! I remind myself, oh yeah, I remember when this happened, I'm reminding myself about the mythology, and some interesting characters, maybe trying to get some good ideas. A very synchronous thing happened the other day. I was about to direct a sequence where we were going to put a MALP through the puddle. And it just so happened that Willie Garson's episode was on, and I was watching the end of it, and they sent a MALP ahead to Willie Garson's home planet. They don't show you what they see through the MALP video, and then Willie goes and sees that his homeworld has been destroyed by the Goa'uld. So it occurred to me while I was watching the show, oh, we've got a puddle pass-through of a MALP! And I was going to direct an episode where a puddle pass-through was necessary. So we'll just use that shot! So I was lucky, I was watching it on the air. I know exactly what show and when it is, so we're going to use that piece of footage. And we didn't have to re-shoot it, and saved the company a lot of money. Just by accident, I just happened to be cruising through the channels."

Most often, he admits, he finds some of his biggest challenges in some of the smallest scenes. "Well the briefing room scenes are what they are. I mean, we call it the briefing room, but it's really the "bored-room", I'm getting bored, it's the boring room, it's where all the boring stuff happens. In every series television show, the exposition is, this is what we're going to do, this is what we're doing, and this is what we did. We have to kind of help the audience along and help them understand what's happening. That's the ready room, Star Trek, the ready room, there's always the one place in these kinds of shows where they all go and they talk about what they're going to do, or what they should do, and what they're in the process of doing. I guess I'm reluctant to admit that I've stopped trying to make that room look interesting, because it's a bunch of people sitting around at a table. So I think if I just concentrate on their faces, which is what I do, and I'm totally guilty of doing too many extreme close-ups, but I want to see what these guys are thinking. So I go right in on their faces. How does this guy feel, or how does this girl feel about what's being talked about? And that's my one and only trick on trying to figure out how to make it fresh.

"In big sequences, it usually comes down to money, and availability, with a little bit of what looks cool on top. Let's do this shot. Well, we can't afford it. Well let's do this other shot, and this will look cool. This will help the audience understand what's happening. A lot of times I'll say, well how about this? And they'll say, oh, that's too funky, or that's too crazy, or that's not in keeping with what we're doing. A lot of times you go, well this shot would be really great, but it doesn't add to the audience's understanding of what's happening, and in the end, it's all about the story. In the end it has to be about, does this help tell the story better, or does it not make a difference? You have to make a decision. In Star Trek, or in lots of other sci-fi, in Andromeda, I'm doing some Andromedas, is it more important to see the giant ship moving through space, or can we see a dot on a screen, moving towards another dot? Does that help tell the story, and then we'll have more money to do the big explosion at the end? Those are all compromises that have to be made through the telling of the story. Visually, what is it that the audience ultimately has to get from this moment? Sometimes we do two dots coming at each other on a screen, and sometimes we do the big old spaceship is having trouble moving forward, and it's starting to smoke. That's important because the ship is in trouble. But you can do that with a fire extinguisher bursting through a wall, too. It doesn't have to be an actual CG effect. So there's many ways of getting that kind of thing done.

"I do big episodes, but Martin [Wood] does even bigger than mine. I mean, he did the finale, and he usually does the season cliffhanger and the opener. I tend to think my strength is character driven stories, but I love doing action stuff. Sometimes the talking stuff gets a little boring, and you want to mix it up a little bit. But then, conversely, if everybody's shooting machineguns at each other all day, that gets boring too. So you've got to have balance. Do I think I have an advantage, having been an actor turned director? Yeah, with actors! If my job is to do a character driven story where I need to depend on my actors to do a really great job, and I know, as an actor, how I like to be spoken to, I'm going to speak to my actors in that same way. And I will, wherever possible, try to help them with various motivations, and elicit their help in helping me tell the story, the way I want to tell it. That's an advantage for me insofar as I am an actor turned director.

"If, say, the shoot was incredibly technical and in need of tons of action sequences, Martin Wood would probably be a better choice for that because he has a much better knowledge of camera equipment than I do. I've relied very heavily on Peter Woeste to help me come up with cool shots and how to get them done. Many times I'll relate to my DP [Director of Photography], whether it be Jim Menard or Peter Woeste, I'll say, look, there's this movie… and I'll describe a movie. Then I would say, this shot happened, and I really want to do something like that. Some people might call it copying, and other people call it a reference. When you realize that a picture speaks a thousand words, and that there are 24 individual pictures per second in a film, I'm going to have to speak millions of words before I'm able to describe to a person what I want to see as a sequence. So it's easier, I find, to describe a movie, or a feeling, or a composition in a particular frame that I recognize from another movie. And I have an extensive knowledge and appreciation of movies because I watch quite a lot of television and quite a lot of movies. I love movies. I love to go to movies. That's my thing. It's my hobby.

"Every once in awhile, Peter Woeste will tease me and say, 'Why don't we make up an original shot that hasn't been done?' And I'll go, 'That’s impossible! They've all been done!' In Orpheus there’s these guys, and they're running up the hill, and the mortars are going off all around them, and that's a scene straight out of The Thin Red Line, the guys going up the hill and getting their asses shot. And maybe there's a cool scene where we're watching the goings on of a death camp from far away, and that's more like a movie that I've seen, The Pianist, where we actually watch these things develop from far away. That was an incredible thing for me when I saw The Pianist, and I saw all these battle sequences that were happening, not in close-up, but from halfway down the street you saw the little men on the left shooting the little men on the right, and it was thrilling anyway. And you go, 'Oh my God, that's what it would look like for real!' We always see war pictures close up, right in the guy's face. But if you're an observer of a war sequence, and you actually lived through it, you probably need to be back far away to not get killed yourself! And that's what those things look like. So I thought, how am I going to do that? It's very difficult to shoot that stuff, that long lens stuff from far away, like you'll see in Orpheus where we're watching things through a sniper scope. But I was highly inspired by that, and then that was something that we made happen. Also, we didn't have a lot of time to shoot that, so we figured it would be easier to observe it from afar than to get right down there and do all the proper angles that were necessary to watch all these events unfolding.

"The drowning sequence in Descent, it was a lot like the James Cameron movie, Abyss. The chamber's being flooded. That's kind of cool. Gray Lady Down, another older feature film with Charlton Heston, as the water goes up and they have to succumb to the water. Pearl Harbor, another drowning sequence in which you're in a chamber and you can't get out and the water's filling up. I mean, that is some really hard core stuff. That imagery was ripe in my mind, and I said these are some of the movies that have inspired me, because I recognize this story element in this other movie. They had the advantage of having all this research and development. Let's look at what they did and benefit from it somehow. So that's what we do quite a lot. This is what we have to do, we don't have any time to do it, let's see how the feature guys figured out how to do it, and be inspired by some of the decisions they made." It would seem that some of that inspiration could work both ways.

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NOW IT'S YOUR TURN...

Many questions were submitted by fans hoping to hear an answer from the cast, crew, and production team behind Stargate SG-1, and several questions were selected for this interview. Here is how Peter DeLuise responded to the fans...

From: SirenRhapsody
Has there ever been a time when you couldn't do a scene because someone would burst into laughter every time they tried to say their lines?
Rogan

From: Xandera
What is the funniest thing that has happened behind the scene?
Xandera

From: Bodie37CI5
Are there any good practical jokes you can tell us about? Or what was your funniest flub/blooper?
Martha Peplinski

Peter DeLuise:
I can't think of something that is sticking out in my mind, except for some of the great bloopers from Avenger 2.0. Amanda does an incredible spit-take with Mountain Dew, and they had some wonderful, wonderful bloopers because Amanda just couldn't keep a straight face. There are other times where Amanda and Rick are in a two-shot together, and he's going off on some silly binge, and she's biting her tongue and trying not to laugh, and 'Straighten up, we've got to get this scene!' Yeah, that happens quite a lot. [In Rite of Passage] he went on and on and on about the chess piece, and he just kept babbling, which of course made her laugh. He was having to do, we'll call it a run. And he was describing the horse, the knight, the thing… But because it was a run, he would say sillier and sillier things. So Amanda went, 'Whenever you're done, I have a line!' But then she would start to hear what he was saying, and go, [smothering a laugh] and start to laugh. We needed a piece where she wasn't laughing where he was actually talking at the same time, and that took a long time to get. Yeah, that was a good one. That was funny. Yeah, that happens quite a lot.

From: vhump
Are there any stories you would really like to have done with the SG-1 team but couldn't be done realistically because of budget, length, actors not available, military regulations, etc?
Vicky Humphrey
ON, Canada

Peter DeLuise:
Well, I wanted to do a Quantum Leap episode, which was one of the earlier genesises of Fragile Balance. Old O'Neill jumps into his younger body, a la Quantum Leap. And he's in boot camp, but then he would be affecting the time-space continuum, and then it was, well, how do you put it back? And that's where the big fight happened about the putting it back thing. So we couldn't resolve that issue, and it was Quantum Leap and not Stargate, so that was kind of kiboshed then. And then there's also the alternate universe. I used to love the quantum mirror. The word quantum is in everything! The quantum mirror, because it was ripe for adventure, except the show's not called Quantum Mirror, it's called Stargate, so they kind of put that away for awhile, put that into storage. Stop touching the quantum mirror! The dialer is off in the alternate universe, isn't it? Well, Carter's pretty smart. She could probably figure out how to turn it on. We dial stargates without DHDs. Just put glowing seaweed on it and it works!

From: dc_wray
Any plans for Maybourne to return? He and Jack work so well together, even if they don't get on with one another!
Diana
London, England

Peter DeLuise:
Maybourne, we're trying! We are trying to make that happen!

From: bethm
Will the Replicators be featuring in future episodes?
Smiles,
Beth Manning
New Zealand

Peter DeLuise:
Yes, they're definitely coming back. At one point they were actually considering having the Replicators be one of the bad guys for Atlantis. And when they went ahead with SG-1, we said, well, we've already started them, we should [continue]. You know, Fifth was eventually going to be able to turn off the time dilation device. So he was always going to come after us, for screwing him over. That's a technical term.

From: Denethor's Wife!
I have a question for whoever the crew member was that came up with the Goa'uld language. From what I have been able to translate, there seems to be no "to be" in the language, is this true? Will there be a Goa'uld dictionary or language informational book coming out ever?

Peter DeLuise:
A book? I'll just leave it in the "Lexicon". What happened was, I only showed up at the end of the second season, and by that time there was lots and lots of Goa'uld that was spoken. Brad was the predominant writer of the Goa'uld-speak, and it had lots of hard consonants in it and so forth. It just kind of irked me that all they ever seemed to say was 'Kree!', just like German Nazi World War II soldiers, all they ever say is 'Achtung!' or 'Dummkopf!' There's always some German officer and he's coming to some private and he's saying 'Dummkopf!' Don't they ever say anything else besides that? So that was, 'Kree! Kree! Kree!' So I went back in all the scripts, and I did a word search for all the Goa'uld stuff, and I said, well this guy said this, and this is what happened. And then once in a while there'd be a parenthetical next to the Goa'uld-speak, this is what the guy meant. And so I began to write those down, and they weren't in alphabetical order, but I tried to come up with what I felt were logical explanations. There was the odd verb that seemed to be consistent, because Brad just had it in his head. He wasn't following any rule, but just possibly by luck, or just because it sounded right, or he recognized the word and he wanted to be similar to another episode that he wrote, there's a consistency here. So I think I figured out what Brad was thinking when he wrote this particular word every time. So if there's no 'to be' it's my fault because I could have just as easily written 'to be' somewhere. But I always think of Goa'uld as being just like glyphs rather than actual words. They are in fact concepts or ideas. They're not literally words that you can rearrange. They're more like concepts. The Unas language, it doesn't have to be English, it could be an idea. They use words like ideas. This is an idea, and then if you put a negative in front of it, it's the opposite of that idea. The word 'no na' is 'home', and so 'ka no na' is 'not home', some place other than home. And 'no na' doesn't have to be your specific cave. It could be your hunting ground or your planet. It all depends on what the context is. It's up to the listener to figure out what you mean. It's all very interpretive. But the Goa'uld language is out there. And there's different dialects of Goa'uld too, as we have established. So there are inconsistencies. We have 'cal mah' spelled one way means sanctuary, and 'kal'ma' the other way means child. Well, no one would ever use language like that, it's perfect! It's an alien language!

[Peter's sense of humor was evident in his original draft of a Goa'uld Dictionary, based on dialogue from the episodes. Here are some samples:]

Mol kek!

Kill them all!

Kreeka!

Kill them more! Really kill them!

Hree! Maachtrah!

Kill them! More than usual!

Yameth re.

Hey, come out of that belly pouch and see if you wanna implant yourself into this woman.

Chel kol, makka sha?

Hey Apophis why don't you implant Skaara because he's from the Stargate movie.

Rin tel nok!

Protect me while I take a Jacuzzi now!

Kel, mal tak, Tauri!

Let us kill the crap out of the Earthlings!

Kornak kree, keena aric Asgard.

You both should shut your pie holes and let the Asgard make their proposal.

Onak holka shakna.

You non-god pompous long haired ass, you look like the lead singer from Poison.

Treena arik croonaka, Sholva.

Traitor who wears a giant Mercedes emblem on his forehead.


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Ritter, Kate. "In a Word: Passion." July 25, 2003.


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