Alaina Huffman on the 'Stargate Universe' Season Finale, Season Two, and More
by Mike Moody, posted May 21st 2010 3:08PM
Life is tough aboard Destiny, the wandering spaceship that's home to the crew of Syfy's 'Stargate Universe.' The food is bad, the morale is low, and there's always a chance that a gang of creepy blue aliens will attack the ship or kidnap you from your quarters.
Life is even tougher for Tamara Johansen, aka T.J., played by Alaina Huffman. She's the ship's only medic, she had an affair with her commanding officer, and she's also pregnant. That last storyline came about due to Huffman's real-life pregnancy (she had a baby girl last December), which the 'SGU' team decided to work into the show.
I spoke with Huffman recently about T.J.'s pregnancy, the fan reaction to the show, and about what we could expect from the first season finale and the upcoming second season of 'SGU.' Click through for the goods, and to find out if she plans to slip back into that tight leather costume again to play Black Canary on 'Smallville.'
It's interesting that the writers and producers of 'SGU' decided not to "shoot around" your pregnancy, but they instead decided to make it part of your character's storyline. What motivated that decision?
Originally, the storyline between Young (Justin Louis) and T.J. was just gonna be, like, the elephant in the room. It was going be, "so here you are with a guy that you had an affair with in a spaceship that you can't get off." And then about episode three or so, I was, like, "Guys, I'm pregnant!" And they were wonderful. They said, "Well, you know, we actually thought a pregnancy storyline would be amazing, but we didn't really want you to be pregnant," and I'm like, "Yeah, I know." But they ended up writing it in, because it made sense with the history that Young and T.J. have. So I'm glad they didn't hide it. I do think that it makes for an interesting storyline, and it makes for a real life scenario.
Are we gonna get to see T.J. have her baby on the show?
You have to watch (laughs). That's a spoiler, I can't tell you.
T.J. is one of the strongest characters on the show and could easily become a leader on the ship. Was that strength always a part of the character, or was that something that was written to suit you and the way you play the role?
That's a great question. That would be a question for (executive producers) Brad (Wright) and Rob (Cooper). They have said to me in the past that when there is an opportunity for T.J. to be in control and in charge, they love to see her in that position. And it does happen more in the second season, now that we're shooting the second season. But I actually don't know. I think it's a little bit of both. I think maybe they thought that she could have a strong presence on the show and then possibly what I brought to the table has influenced it.
What has interacting with the 'Stargate' fans been like for you as part of this new cast that's taking the franchise in such a different direction?
As far as meeting the fans personally, I haven't yet. I've got a nice little following on Twitter, and most of them are previous 'Stargate' fans as well as 'SGU' fans, and they've been nothing but lovely. I'm going to the London Expo next week around the 30th, or 28th through 29th of May, and that's the first time I'll be interacting face to face with fans, other than Comic-Con last year.
But there is a lot of negativity. I'm not sure exactly what happened. I think, maybe, they had the idea to develop this show and take 'Stargate' in a new direction, and it was completely separate from 'Atlantis' getting canceled, and I don't think the fans can separate the two. I think the fans are like, "You canceled 'Atlantis,' and you gave us this and we're not happy!" and that's not the case.
'SGU' was being developed, and then 'Atlantis' got canceled. Those were two completely separate things, and I don't think the cast needs to be punished for that. We got hired, and we're doing our job, and the writers are doing their jobs too. I don't know if maybe they should have left the 'Stargate' name out of it and just made it a drama by the creators of 'Stargate, I'm not sure. But either way, it's a show that stands on its own. Sure, during the first season we rode the coattails a little bit because we're following the franchise, but we've been on almost an entire season, and people are starting to realize that it's a good show. It's not the same as the other 'Stargate,' but it's not any less of a good show.
Was there a concerted effort halfway through the season to do episodes that move a little faster and offer more sci-fi concepts?
Actually, no. That's another kind of funny fan thought, that we changed everything because the fans complained. We had shot the entire season before it aired. We wrapped October 28 and the show aired October 3, so we were almost done with the entire season. I think the purpose of the show was to make it character driven, to introduce the characters, to serialize the show, and then bring on the explosions and the guns and all of that kind of stuff, and that's exactly what they did.
Were you a fan of the sci-fi genre before, and did you know it had the potential to be more than just, say, lasers and people wearing latex alien costumes?
No, I actually didn't have a thought either way about sci-fi. I did a show called 'Painkiller Jane,' which was sci-fi, a few years back, and that was my first experience in the genre. And then playing Black Canary in 'Smallville,' I got very interested in the comic books, because of my research for Black Canary and Dinah Lance. And then 'Stargate' came along and it's a whole new world. It's really its own genre altogether, because it has such a history. But, no, I had no idea the potential it had. I actually was of that mindset to, that sci-fi didn't have a whole lot of real life elements, and I was wrong, because a lot of the sci-fi shows you see now are very mainstream, like shows like 'Lost.' It's not just aliens; it's anything that defies imagination.
What are a couple of your favorite episodes of 'SGU?'
I loved 'Faith,' it was a personal episode for me and my character; so I thought it was a really beautiful episode ... our writing team is really great. We're really lucky, because they're on the lot with us, so we get to kick back and forth ideas with them and they tell us what they're thinking, and they get to be around us, so they get to absorb our strengths and our weaknesses and write to them.
l also thought 'Time' was a phenomenal episode. Rob Cooper wrote and directed that, and it was just, like, such an amazing, great science fiction episode. I loved it.
Will the season one end on a cliffhanger?
Are you satisfied with how the season ends and what do you think fans will think about the finale?
I think they'll be pleased. There's some 'Stargate' mythology, and I think the fans will like that. There's stuff that blows up and there's guns that fire, so I think that will please the fans. And then more than that, I think because we did the work to develop the characters and the relationships, all of those things pay off when things blow up. And when we travel through the gate, it's not just about traveling through the gate. It's about "why are these people traveling through the gate to do this?" And that's the depth you get because we've developed the characters.
So what can we look forward to from the show and from T.J. during season two?
The baby story gets ... taken care of. I can't give any big spoilers away, but it definitely is dealt with. There's more action, and there's a lot of depth to the characters, so every storyline has much more meaning. Right now we're shooting episode six, and there are personal issues that T.J. deals with, both with Young and relationships between Chloe and Scott, and Eli, of course. It's just an ongoing story.
Are you returning to 'Smallville' to play Black Canary anytime soon?
They are going for a season ten, so I let them know that I would be more than willing and available if need be for a few episodes next season. I'd love to do it. It's such a great show to work on, and it also shoots in Vancouver, so it's awfully convenient for me.
(Watch free episodes of 'Stargate Universe' on Slashcontrol.)
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