Sci fi fans, have you been watching Sky1’s Stargate Universe? It follows a team of explorers headed up by Dr Nicholas Rush (our very own Robert Carlyle). When their hidden base comes under attack, desperate survivors board an ancient ship, which is locked on an unknown course and unable to return to Earth.
The group must unlock the secrets of the ship’s Stargate to survive. The series also stars Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba) but it’s very much all about Dr Nicholas Rush. Or at least, it is for me. Here’s what Robert Carlyle had to say about his new US show.
What attracted to you to this series?
It was the creators of the show [Brad Wright and Robert Cooper]. When it was first suggested to me I wasn’t interested, it was well out of my world and everything I’d done before, it seemed a bizarre thing for me. But when I spoke to the guys, the first thing I said to them was, “thank you, I’m flattered, but why do you want me to do this? Are you sure you have the right guy?” And they said they’d come to me because I was unexpected…
I’m unlike anybody they’ve had before. So that got my attention. Then they said they wanted someone to make Rush’s dislikeable side seem quite attractive. And that is something I’ve done before with different types of characters.
Can you describe Dr Nicholas Rush?
This character is very, very difficult to like. And that’s gold dust for me as an actor, to try to present this picture to an audience where they’re constantly changing their mind on whether or not they like him. He is probably the most maverick guy I’ve ever played. You’re never quite sure what this guy’s motives are. He’s fun to play… There are a thousand stories that could be told about this character, if he’s capable of that, he’s capable of anything.
Have you had any trouble getting to grips with the Stargate terminology?
The techo-babble is difficult. Shakespeare is easier! It’s literally a different language, it’s science-speak. I always ask if I can change this, that and the other in the script, but I’m told I can’t because that’ll change the whole show. The very first line I had to say in the first scene we shot in episode four was "orbital insertion transjectory". And that’s a question, believe it or not.
But I need to get this stuff because if I don’t sound like I know what I’m talking about, the audience won’t have a chance of understanding it. To date, that is the most bizarre line I’ve ever had to deliver.
Were you a sci-fi fan before getting involved with Stargate?
I wasn’t a great science fiction fan, but I did love Star Trek and Doctor Who when I was growing up. And there have been films from that genre I’ve enjoyed over the years: 2001, Forbidden Planet, Alien. And with SGU you have that 2001 and Forbidden Planet quality with the prospect of not coming back, that these people are up there, somewhere in space, and they might not ever be returning to Earth.
Have you encountered the loyal, fanatical, fans sci-fi brings?
We went to Comic Con in San Diego and that was incredible. We were just there to say hello as the new Stargate Universe cast and 4,500 people turned up for the panel; it was jammed packed. All we did was say hi and then bye. I love that there’s an audience already there wanting to see this stuff. And that was part of the major reason I wanted to do this series as well.
We’re used to seeing you in Brit flicks.
I’m fed up of low-budget independent British cinema; I’ve done it for too long. You tear your heart out working on these films, they’re really heartfelt stuff and then they’re seen by about 12 people. And that’s depressing. It’s really depressing. Does the British cinema-going public want to see British cinema? Or is it that they can’t get to see it? I hope it’s the latter. There are probably things that can be done to rectify the problem.
A simple suggestion is that in multiplex cinemas a screen should be reserved for British product only. Any other country in the world would do that, but with us nice Brits, we have to put the foreign films on ahead of our own. It doesn’t matter that £1,000,000 has been spent on a film, which then gets lost. The lunatics have taken over the asylum and I’m not prepared to take any more part in it for a while.
Is this part of the reason so many British actors are now starring in American dramas?
It’s precisely that. There’s a team of us now, so many that you forget they’re all over there. Another reason is simply the quality of the work in the States. Our film industry is pretty much on its arse and the American one, even though it doesn’t seem like it, isn’t that far off either, they’re producing fewer and fewer movies. So there’s a community of writers, producers, directors and actors who have moved over into TV. And this is all high-end TV. It’s no surprise so many Brits are in the US, it’s where the work is.
If could travel through a Stargate to anywhere in the world where would go?
I’d have it in my garden so that I could travel to where I needed to without flying. And then I’d always be able to get home easily too.
Robert Carlyle stars in Stargate Universe on Sky1 HD & Sky1 every Tuesday at 8pm.
Today I am mostly hatin’ – Seven Days On The Breadline. How dumbed-down is TV these days, eh? Celebs lodging with the poor in order to make a woeful excuse of a reality show. Minging.
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