It seems like everyone wants a piece of Christopher Heyerdahl
! With appearances on shows like Smallville
, he is a familiar face to the Sci Fi world. Chris has now played three distinct roles in the Stargate
franchise, and GateWorld felt we were long overdue for a chat with him!
In our interview with Mr. Heyerdahl, Chris discusses his origins on the series in the SG-1
and later returning for the Atlantis
pilot episode "Rising"
as the gentle Halling
. Chris also explains why Halling disappeared so abruptly in the middle of Season One. More recently, a dream to play one of the Wraith has come to life for Heyerdahl, who now plays a critical portrayer of the species.
GateWorld's interview with Chris is available in MP3 audio format for easy listening, and is over 38 minutes long. It is also transcribed below. You can also download the interview to your MP3 player and take GateWorld with you!
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net I'm David Read and I'm on the phone with Mr. Christopher Heyerdahl who has played, I think, three characters so far in the Stargate franchise. Chris, welcome!
Christopher Heyerdahl: Thank you very much! It's a pleasure to talk to you!
GW: Pleasure to talk to you. Are you a fan of science fiction?
CH: Always that question. The fan of science fiction. I'm a fan, I would say, of fantasy. It's something my girlfriend told me the other day, because sometimes I can be dismissive of so many genres. And then she said "What are you talking about? You love this stuff."
I love anything to do with the boundaries, or lack of boundaries, of our own imagination. And the possibilities that are within us all. Who knows what's out there. I would say I am a fan of fantasy, and science fiction would definitely fall into that category.
GW: Do you think Stargate is at its best when it's pointing a mirror back on us?
CH: Always. Or itself.
GW: Right. It's very good at being self-effacing.
CH: It is! And so it should be! Anything that travels in this genre that takes itself seriously, I think, is a big mistake. That's one of the great things about this franchise. It doesn't take itself seriously. It's perpetually poking fun at itself. It happens on screen, it happens behind the scenes, it happens everywhere. And it's notorious for a place where everyone has a lot of fun.
GW: How much Stargate had you seen before appearing in Season Seven of SG-1?
CH: I think I'd maybe seen an episode here and there. I'm one of these people that doesn't have cable, so I watch these shows on YouTube. YouTube is now my friend, and all the advertisers out there are going to hate me for it but I'm thankful for everyone who downloads these episodes on YouTube because that's how I get to watch it.
GW: Even your own episodes?
CH: Oh yeah. I watch my episodes in extremely poor resolution.
GW: I've talked with actors who have guest starred. If you contact bridge I'm sure they'd be more than happy to send you a copy!
CH: I'm sure they would, but the amount of things that I do over the year, if I'm chasing down every episode ... Sometimes I do it and sometimes I just leave it for a few years and I get stuff from years back and it's actually more fun to watch it. It's like reading an old letter that you wrote ten years ago. You think, "Who the heck is that person?"
SG-1's "Revisions" was the birth of fruitful bonds, many of which made their way into Damian Kindler's Sanctuary.
GW: I know!
CH: So it's the same thing when you're watching old footage of yourself, whether it be family footage or a higher production value. It's kind of fun to look and say "Who the heck is that?"
GW: Have you seen "Revisions?"
CH: Yes I have. Yeah. Long time ago.
GW: Tell us about your original experience working as a guest star in that episode.
CH: Well it was all new to me. I didn't know anybody at that point, and that was really the beginning of quite an adventure, because I met Amanda [Tapping] on that. I met Martin [Wood] on that, and it turned out that we were all neighbors. So that started a whole adventure into friendship that has led on to where we are today [with Sanctuary].
It was a great start because they're wonderful friends and wonderful people to work with. That was a great day walking in there. It was an odd thing, especially because we were on this very bizarre lot known as "Fantasy Gardens," I think it was called, which was started by a rather odd premier here in BC, and his wife. This Dutch garden. It was walking into a very surreal world out of somebody else's imagination. It was a timeless little world and strangely realistic.
GW: Yeah, that episode was a very gorgeous location that they chose for that.
GW: You've done a tremendous amount of television and movie work. How does Stargate compare to other sets that you've been on in terms of their production value, the emotions, the strain on the set?
CH: Depends which studio you're in as far as strain on set. There's a studio that's been talked about a couple of times. It's where the Wraith hive is. It's the most hated place by everybody. It's where everyone gets stupid. If you compare that to Bridge where SG-1 is shot and most of the rest of Atlantis is shot the difference is made, because everyone is much happier, where as when we have anything to do with the Wraith, the hive, everyone thinks more slowly, is not in as good a mood. It's a nasty bit of business in there.
GW: Jason Momoa has told us they come away coughing and hacking at the end of the day! Like they're catching something!
CH: And still it's a good place to work because it's this family in the worst case scenario. It's basically the rich family slumming it. It's a family that has been together for so long and has bonded so well, has lived high on the hog, and every time they go and shoot anything in that studio they're back to the slums. And it's great. It's still a good time in spite of the fact that it's [a] horrific situation. It's very unhealthy in there.
It's funny, this summer I was going back and forth a lot between Montreal and Vancouver, and doing all sorts of night flights. Doing a series and a feature in Montreal, then another series here in Vancouver, and it was just madness. One day I came in and I was just so tired. I was having such a hard time with my lines and getting them out and thinking straight. "What's my name?" I couldn't remember my name. I was getting really frustrated. And that's when I learned the whole history of this place.
"OK, I know that you're tired, Chris." Everyone was saying this to me. "But everyone gets stupid here. Just watch. Just watch." And I started taking a step back from my own drama and looking around, and going, "Oh! I'm probably stupider than everybody here, but they're all acting really ... kind of stupid! Maybe it's not so bad."
Chris reveals that everyone gets a little loopy on the Norco sound stages.
It's an amazing place. And I think it bodes well for the energy of when anybody has anything to do with the Wraith. They're terrified. They're terrified, truly terrified, of the Wraith and everything that they represent simply of where they have to go to deal with them!
GW: Exactly! You have to go to that nasty place to shoot. [Laughter] Atlantis was a pretty major new production going into its pilot movie four years ago. How did your casting as Halling come about?
CH: That's a good question. How did it come about? I went in. I did the usual song and dance. You go into the audition. Everyone gets called in to do their auditions. I was called in for Halling, and I'd actually wanted, instead of playing Halling, I wanted to play the Wraith.
CH: Yeah. I had no idea, really, what the Wraith entailed, but I just loved this idea of this odd, vampiric kind of space-alien life-sucking creature. I thought it sounded pretty cool, but I didn't get to live my fantasy of being a space vampire. And I got picked for Halling. I got to be one of the nicest guys in the universe instead.
It's fun because so many people ask me, "Heyerdahl, do you ever play good guys? Have you ever played a good guy?" So this was one of those opportunities where I could say "Oh yes, I get to play nice people like this guy."
So yeah, I walked in, did the song and dance, and they decided I was the guy for the part, and away we went!