Ellyssa at the Armageddon Expo!

Last weekend I attended the Armageddon Expo in Melbourne and took advantage of the opportunity to have a quick chat with a few of the Stargate guests.  Andee Frizzell plays all the Wraith Queens in Stargate Atlantis seasons one to four.   Frizzell spent 10 years in the modelling industry and I asked her about the transition to acting…

Andee Frizzell: Actually it was quite a natural transition, you know, from travelling around and stuff with the modelling industry but then I was able to move to Vancouver and sort of stabilise in one place and I still do a bit of modelling I just don’t do it internationally.  So the transition, it’s a different medium, it’s a different expression of art.  I find that when you do modelling it’s a bit of a two dimensional, you know, you’re more of a two dimensional character and then when you get to act you get to be a three dimensional character.  It’s still another form of creativity.  It’s still another form of expression of artists so it’s just a different one.  I find the transition, I still go back and forth, it seems to be alright.

Question:  Do you find it ironic after spending years modelling to sit in the makeup chair for hours at a time in order to be made somewhat unattractive?

Frizzell: I actually find that you know, not so much… I find it curious actually, I’m like “how did this happen” [laughs].  No, I think it’s a pretty interesting… again, you said how is the transition, well it’s pretty easy to look in the mirror and look like that and think, “well I’m now scary” you know.  I don’t’ get mixed up that I’m on the runway in any way when I have that makeup on.  It’s pretty neat.  It’s cool to be able to build a character like that and play in that genre and not recognise your own face.  I think it’s pretty cool.

Question:  Speaking of recognising your own face, do you get recognised in public?

Frizzell: No.  Oh, well I do get recognised in public.  The few times I’ve been recognised I’ve been thought I was Uma Thurman, somebody thought I was Cameron Diaz and somebody thought I was Trisha Helfer.  I get recognised, just not for me.

Question:  You regularly update the blog on your website, do you enjoy the direct fan interaction?

Frizzell: That’s one of my favourite things to do.  That’s what I do here at cons. That’s why I have the blog up and going.  I love that, reaction with the fans and being able to find out what they like about the show and what they don’t like about the show, the feedback about the characters, I find that amazing, it brings a personality to the audience.  So when I’m doing something, you know, I’m one of the characters, along the line of the story I can think, “Oh, you know, Hannah from Australia, she loves when this happens”, or “This is exciting she’ll look for this episode”, so you know, it gives a personality to the audience.  I love being able to connect to them like that.

Question:  Have you had any uncomfortable experiences as a result of fans feeling like they know you because of your blog?

Frizzell: Well now that you just said that I think something really creepy is going to happen to be in the next five minutes because we tempted fate there.  No, no I’ve been very lucky that my fans have been very respectful of my personal space and yet at the same time been very open and felt that they have the freedom to come up to me and talk about stuff but never uncomfortable.

Question: What do you enjoy most about an event like this?

Frizzell: The immediate reaction with fans, to be able to personalise the audience, to be able to see who’s watching the shows, why they’re watching the shows and just get that immediate feedback, you know, about what they thought about the show, why it went a certain way, what they like about it, what they don’t like… I come from a theatre background and when you perform on stage you get that immediate response of the audience.  You give out. They give back. You give out and they give back and so this in film and TV, that’s a big space that’s missing… is that audience participation, so by coming to these things I get that.  It’s backlogged by a couple of months, but I still get that response back so that’s one of my favourite things about these events.

Question: What’s in the future for you?

Frizzell: Well, you know, I’m a Canadian actor, so…. Trying to do the best I can, working on projects that are coming up.  Right now there’s a big shift happening obviously with the economics of the world and things that are going on and so what that’s doing, it’s a big sive, and it’s you know, kind of shaking off a lot of the bigger projects and you get down to the grass roots projects and stuff, which seem to be… you know we’ve got “Pan’s Labyrinth” going up for awards, you have the Coen brothers with their “No Country for Old Men”.  These kind of really independent and different stories are now being filmed and told and those are my projects, those are the things I like to work on so that’s what’s ahead of me, you know, back on the path of trying to get more jobs and just trying to get that artist out there.

Question: As most people listening to this will know, season five will be the last one of Atlantis, is there any news on whether or not you’ll be in the new movie?

Frizzell: It takes place in space, and that’s all I’m going to say [laughs].

Question:  Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans.

Frizzell: Thank you.  Thank you.  I mean, the Coen brothers said when they accepted their Oscars.  Thank you.  What more can I say.  You guys are awesome.

The Hub Productions hosted two of the Stargate guests at the Armageddon Expo.  I joked with Gary Jones, often referred to as “The Chevron Guy” from Stargate SG1 but officially “Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman” about hating conventions…

Question:  I’ve seen videos of you at conventions in the past – and obviously you really hate attending them, what did they have to do to convince you to visit with fans down under?

Gary Jones: I don’t hate events like this, I love them.  What did they do?  They said, “Would you like to come to New Zealand and Australia?” and that was pretty much it.  I’d been in Europe visiting my 16 year old with my wife and we’d just got back from Austria and I was in the parking lot of the Vancouver airport looking for my car and I got a call asking if I could come down so I said OK, but I had to be on a plane the next day, that was the only snag.  I mean it was such a last minute thing that there was no time to even get a poster for me, all the other actors had big colour posters of their characters behind them on the wall, and I had one that said… it was a big white poster and it just said , “Special last minute addition, Gary Jones from Stargate” hand written in magic marker so that was pretty nice.

Question:  Are there any “convention moments” that particularly stand out for you?  Good or bad?

Jones: I was in America once and I took a photo of a fan that came to my table and he said to me “You just took a picture of your first Hillbilly”.

Question:  You appeared in more than 100 episodes of SG1 and a handful of episodes of Atlantis did you find much difference between the two?

Jones: The main difference was the title.  One was called Stargate SG1 and one was called Atlantis so I was able to really discern the difference between the two just by thinking of what the tile was.  Stargate SG1, I mean I’ve been on that show for 10 years and that’s like a cosy old… it’s like operating the Stargate in your living room you know?  Even though it was a military bunker. But Stargate Atlantis was more space age and shiny and I didn’t know the cast members as well as I did on SG1, but you know I still had my character and so I just transferred from one to the other and it was pretty easy.

Question:  Can you tell us a bit about the book you’re writing?

Jones: It’s called “The Splendour That Is Me” and it’s just about stuff that happens to me in my life, funny stories that have happened to me over the years and yeah, I’m just working away at that.

Question:  Are you working on any other projects right now?

Jones: Well, I’ve got more conventions lined up and back in Vancouver auditioning and like everybody else just looking for work.

Question:  Do you have any final thoughts or comments for fans?

Jones: Yeah… I’m way taller than I look on television.  They say television adds ten pounds, I’m actually ten pounds lighter in real life than what I look like on television so just know that.

I had a short chat with Kavan Smith who plays Major Evan Lorne in Stargate Atlantis at the end of a very long and tiring weekend and asked him if this was his first visit to Australia.

Kavan Smith: Yes it is actually, when I first came over, I was in New Zealand last weekend, and then I came over and spent four lovely days on Hamilton Island.  It was great, scuba diving, beaches, sun… it was fantastic.

Question: How do you find the whole convention experience?

Smith: I haven’t done very many of them and I tend to just like to do the ones where I can travel, so … I mean, how bad is it to  have people want to say they like you, you know, it’s absolutely a  pleasure.

Question: Have you been surprised by fan reaction to your character?

Smith: Absolutely surprised.  A secondary character that gets this much attention?  It’s great. I’d be afraid to be a primary character.

Question: Before joining Atlantis you appeared in a couple of episodes of SG1 – how do you compare the two experiences?

Smith: I thought it was pretty much the same, same sort of camaraderie on set, same type of sense of humour, the crew are all the same, it’s actually a very similar experience.

Question: Do find it frustrating that there hasn’t been much opportunity to develop your character?

Smith: Yes, I do find that very frustrating.

Question: You’ve appeared in a lot of science fiction – is this an area you’d like to continue working in or are you ready to move on to something different?

Smith: I live a lot of the time in Vancouver.  I split my time between Vancouver and Los Angeles and Vancouver happens to cater to a lot of sci-fi shows so I have a feeling that I’ll continue in the genre whether I want to or not … and I do want to.

Question: I’ve heard you got into a bit of trouble as a kid, obviously you managed to get your life on track, do you have any advice for young people who might be going through something similar, or parents whose kids might be getting into trouble?

Smith: Patience.   And find something that motivates you.  Get focused on something positive whatever that may be, yoga, skateboarding, karate, anything.

Question: Thanks very much for your time.

Smith: You’re very welcome, pleasure.

- ELLYSSA HARRIS