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Last Friday, Stargate: Universe made its debut on Syfy (pronounced "please change it back to the original spelling"). If you didn't catch it, you can view it on Hulu. And yes, it is worth watching. When it comes to making my inner geek convulse with excitement, I put this premiere right up there with Battlestar Galactica and Lost. From the outset, Universe's big allure, and this going to sound odd, is what it doesn't tell or show you. Like Lost, the show is largely a mystery, filling viewers' heads with questions that will likely be debated and theorized until the show airs its final episode.
On top of being a great show, Universe speaks to gamers. One of the main characters, Eli Wallace, is quickly painted as a huge gamer. In fact, his gaming addiction fuels the plot, and is used to paint the show's most accurate statement – gamers are smarter than scientists. It would be unfair of me to spoil the plot or Eli's motivation, but let's just say he finds himself making Star Wars and video game references in a quadrant of space man has not seen.
David Blue, the actor who plays Eli, is an avid gamer himself. I recently had the chance to interview David for the magazine. I usually cut out all pleasantries from interviews, but I decided to leave them in for this one, as David proved to be a riot. And yes, I thought he was going to hang up on me after my second question.
GI: Hello David, how ya doing?DB: I’m good; I’m flipping through a Stargate: SG-1/Atlantis magazine and am looking at photos of us. It’s kind of surreal.GI: You’re looking at photos of yourself?DB: Oh, no – mainly Robert Carlyle, I’m just in the background [laughing].GI: Right, right. So I just got off the phone with Brad Wright; nice guy, told me a ton about the show.DB: Oh, good – you want to pass it along?GI: More than he was supposed to actually; it sounds fantastic. Now I should tell you right now, I’m calling on behalf of a video game magazine...DB: Woohoo!GI: So we’re going to be talking a lot about them. I don’t want you to think the world has finally turned cool and people are talking about video games – that’s what we do...DB: [Laughing]GI: Let me begin with a quote from Brad…DB: Uh-oh. “David was awesome, and we’re going to miss him on the show…”GI: [laughs] We were talking about your character, and he said, “My daughter’s a gamer, and so in a way, Eli represents her and her friends,” and then he just started laughing maniacally.DB: Oh, God [laughing].GI: No he didn’t laugh, but I did. Your character is based on a girl.DB: [laughing].GI: How much are you bringing to the character? I’ve heard you’re a huge fan.DB: Yeah – you know, I’m always hesitant to go too far deep into saying that I am, because – like I’ve seen all the SG-1s and all the Atlantises, but I don’t want to call myself a huge fan because I’ve met some huge fans, and I’m nowhere near as devoted as they are. I can’t quote to you episode titles and stuff – in general if you say a plot, I can figure it out. So it’s kind of the same way with video games. I love video games, always have, I have an original PlayStation, Super Nintendo, original Nintendo, Xbox 360, original Xbox – although I gave that to Goodwill when I moved here since I have that 360 now – I’m going to be getting a Wii soon, and I might be getting a PS3 just because I want the frickin’ Blu-ray player. So I love my video games; especially the more I’ve worked over the past few years it’s harder to find the time, but – hell, two nights ago we had a Rock Band 2 get-together at my place, with myself, Brian [J. Smith] and Elyse [Levesque].GI: I talked to Grey Munford and he said that usually when studios start writing scripts with video game references, they have to bring in a consultant and stuff like that, but he said they don’t have to do that with you.DB: [laughing] I feel bad for them because that’s probably true in general – anything about quantum physics I probably know about. Anything about the show the other actors usually call me to get me to explain to them. And then video games – hell, just upstairs Brad was telling me something about a storyline, and I made a Star Wars reference before I realized I need to be careful that they don’t actually think that I am Eli. GI: [laughing] You’re a method actor, right?DB: Yeah, that’s what it is – I’m actually a crazy cool motorcycle guy, but I only pretend to really be a geek because I’m so into the role. GI: [laughs] So I guess the character does kind of – as you were saying – hit home for you.DB: Yeah, it does. I think that’s a cheat that helps me and hopefully makes the character even more believable, is that I can definitely find different points to connect to Eli with, so when I’m playing him it kind of becomes a shorthand that you can just kind of jump into that mindset quickly. I mean there are huge differences between Eli and myself, but the stuff that we share in common we sure as hell share pretty strongly.GI: I saw your character plays an MMO at the beginning of the show.DB: Well they actually – I believe they had somebody from an actual MMO design the game in the show. So they kind of designed a game, and that’s what they Eli was playing. It’s not like they just kind of created a random video, they used elements of an MMO that they had designed, and then put it into a Stargate-type world. So in a way I kind of was, and I definitely would play that game, having played a little clip of it [laughing]. If they ever release it I will be online to buy it.GI: Whenever you see video games on TV, they are usually accompanied by the old school Pac-Man sound effects, and they jam on the controller like a keyboard…DB: Exactly, like Cloak & Dagger-style with an Atari…GI: It kills me.DB: We use good special effects, definitely in the style of today. I mean it’s not like Gamer or anything like that, but it definitely looks good. I would assume it’s probably pretty close to what Stargate Worlds would’ve been, or will be, or whatever.
GI: What’s it been like on the show? I saw you were on Ugly Betty, now you’re on a spaceship, probably lots of explosions…
DB: [laughing] Yeah, a little different. And before that, a vampire on
Moonlight, so I’m kind of rounding out the gamut of acting choices.
It’s great, it’s selfishly awesome, in that it’s a great cast; we’re
all friends, we all hang out, so we can be comfortable with each other,
which allows us to be open and comfortable on set. So get a reallycreative
environment where you’re not afraid to take risks, which I think
translates to the screen. And then, you know the dork side of me loves
the explosions and the guns and the spaceships and – the ring itself,
seeing theStargate spin is awesome.
GI: I would kill to see that.
DB: Oh, God, it’s amazing. One of my good friends – I’ve said this
story before – but one of my good friends asked me what it’s like to go
through the gate, and I so wanted to tell him, “It was awesome! I ended
up on P3X!” But you know, you’re just walking through a huge prop,
essentially. But in my mind when I dream at night, I was transported to
another planet. [laughing] I think actually the fans probably have it
better, because they get to pretend that the things that they see and
the way they cut it together with special effects is way more real than
we actually get to see, the inner workings when we’re actually shooting
it. But it’s cool; on behalf of dorks I will say that it’s pretty
badass to be on the show.
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