GateWorld: This is David Read for GateWorld.net talking with Brad Greenquist. Brad, thanks for chatting!
Brad Greenquist: Oh, thank you for having me, David. It's a pleasure being here.
GW: How you doing?
GW: Good! I just wanted to start off here: I personally have seen you in several episodes of Star Trek, and then you came along for Stargate in an episode called "Resurrection." What attracts you to science fiction roles?
BG: Well, you know, I don't particularly go out seeking them out, but they kind of come to me -- and I'm lucky in that respect. They're fun because you can do just about anything you want. You know, from an actor's perspective, as long as there's some truth to it you can express yourself in pretty wacky ways. You know, there's a wide range that you can play with, and that's a lot of fun for an actor. And it's especially true of, you know, when you play an alien with a lot of alien makeup you can really go to town with it. And nothing is too much, you know.
With someone like Keffler in Stargate, you know, of course, it wasn't the alien deal, so I had to be a bit more realistic. But even there it's a lot of fun, because you're dealing with a bit of fantasy, you know. So as long as you're grounded in the truth you can play around with that as much as you want. Make sense?
GW: Yeah! Do you like working with alien makeup?
BG: No. (Laughter) No, I've done so much of it -- sitting in that makeup chair for, you know, five hours, getting stuff put on and then, you know, an hour or two to get the stuff taken off. It makes for very long days and it's very taxing physically to have a lot of makeup on your face, especially where your skin is covered entirely for like a 14 hour shooting day. It's very, very draining and very, very difficult. Often your ears are covered and you can't hear anything, and so it's difficult to know when it's your turn to talk, for example! It's real hard. It's fun in that you can do anything, but wearing the stuff and getting it put on -- the first time it's fun but then it gets kind of, it becomes drudgery.
Brad plays the Arkonian captain Khata'n Zshaar in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Dawn."
GW: So Keffler must've been ideal.
BG: Oh yeah, it was terrific. Keffler was great. There wasn't any big makeup stuff. I didn't have to move around much, I was sitting at that table the whole time.
GW: Just smokin' along, you know.
BG: Right! So it's fun, you know, I can really just concentrate on my acting, on what's going on in the scene.
GW: How did you win the role of Keffler?
BG: Well, I just, you know, I just went into the audition and it was for the casting director and it was put on tape and then they send the audition tape up to Vancouver, where it was shot, for the director and producers. And I just happened to do something that everybody liked. That's all. Nothing special. It's how we all get roles: we just audition, and by the luck of the draw what I did happened to fit with what they were looking for. No magic wand there. (Laughter)
GW: GateWorld's episode guide, our episode guide, opens this episode including the words "ruthless scientist." Would you describe this character as "ruthless?"
BG: No. No, not at all. That's the way he -- it's an interesting script, because that's the way he has to be portrayed at the beginning through the eyes of the Stargate crew. They see this real evil guy. But if you listen carefully you see that, no, he's just being very practical and logical. And he's trying to save millions or billions of people by doing this experiment.
It's not that he's selfless, though, he has a lot of self-interest in it. And that's the only mean streak in the guy. He's not ruthless. He's simply a scientist conducting an experiment. What makes him come across as ruthless is that the experiment is a human being that the viewers get to know, and it becomes a personal thing, then. But you don't get to know the billions of people he's actually trying to save. You know what I mean?
GW: Right. So you don't agree with Anna regarding the darkness in his heart?
Carter and Barrett (Peter Flemming) confront Keffler, locked in a cell with his cigarettes.
BG: Well, that's her point of view. And of course she would see that because she's being tortured. From Keffler's point of view, he needs to get at the information of this alien species in their DNA, and it's one way he's figured out how to do that. And, he's very logical. I mean, it's unfortunate that it causes her such pain, but she is his experiment. And it's kind of cold-hearted, you know. But I didn't -- I never approached it as some ruthless guy or even as an evil guy or a villain at all. As just a scientist conducting an experiment.
GW: Man on a mission.
BG: Yeah, uh-huh.
GW: Well, and he did create her with a built-in kill switch. I guess there is a little bit of care there.
BG: Yeah, a little sympathy. (Laughter)
GW: "Hey, if things get too rough, I can push this little button ..."
BG: Right, yeah! Yeah, exactly.
GW: How did you get inside this character?
BG: Boy, I don't know. It's just some kind of magic, quite frankly! I really don't know. The script was kind of wordy, and kind of philosophical, and the words just struck me in this way: "Well, you know, if the guy just talks and sometimes -- he'll be talking to somebody explaining something, but then go off on his own thing as if he's constantly playing a chess game and he's about 20 moves ahead of everybody else," you know? And sometimes he's playing these moves through his head, and he's saying them, either to himself or to confuse everyone else, or to give them clues. Everyone is a little -- it's all a little game for him. And that's how I approached it. It was kind of a chess game where he's just way ahead of everybody else, and he loves ...
GW: Kind of enjoying it.
BG: Oh, yeah. And he loves throwing these little clues out. He doesn't really deceive anybody, he just misleads people. And it's kind of fun. He baits them into making wrong moves.
GW: That must've been a ball to play.
BG: Oh, it's great fun. (Laughter) It was terrific fun, you know? Because the guy doesn't really take any of it too seriously either -- the character. So, yeah, it was great fun. I had a wonderful time.
GW: Your performance has Hannibal Lecter written all over it. Even in the script it mentions Dr. Lecter's name. Did Anthony Hopkins strengthen the direction you wanted to take with this role?
BG: No, no. No, not directly. I didn't even think of it. I think somebody on the set mentioned it and I thought, "It's kind of funny, it's similar" -- and just laughed about it and forgot about it. But Anthony Hopkins' performance in "Silence of the Lambs" was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. But we're all doing, kind of, versions of Peter Lorre, really, you know. And this kind of soft-spoken, brilliant scientist type has been around since forever. I don't think any of it's so original, really. We just all come up with our own versions of Peter Lorre, really. (Laughter)
GW: Tell us something you found tantalizing about this role.
BG: Well, just the joy, the fun that this guy has in playing with people, you know. That really was the most enjoyable, just the word play and throwing people off the track or on the track and all of that. That's really where all the joy of it was for me, and it was great fun.
GW: Sure. Yeah, you looked like you had a blast.
GW: Tell us about your experiences with the cast.
Keffler confronts Anna (Kristen Dalton), who is possessed by the remnants of the Goa'uld Sekhmet.
BG: Oh, well, you know, most of my scenes were either with Amanda or with Peter Flemming, who was -- I guess he's recurring on the show.
GW: He's appeared a couple of times before.
BG: Yeah. So most of my scenes were with the two of them in that room. And, oh, they were just wonderful to work with, really wonderful to work with, because they were always right there -- whether we were all on-camera or if they were off-camera and it was my close-up, you know, they were right there. They didn't just throw line readings at me at all for my close-up. They really did the scene. So it was a really good feeling amongst us, of a real ensemble. And also working with -- I had one little scene with Michael Shanks, who was also the writer, and he's great fun. He was so distracted, but it was terrific, you know, because then when we were shooting he was like right there, right there.
And then with Kristen, but Kristen was kind of funny. She played Anna, and she was -- my scenes with her, she was mostly in this box, this glass box. So we had that separating us. Plus the fact that she was kind of in these two other worlds, that separating us, which was all very interesting, you know, because she was so removed from me, which gave a very interesting conflict in the scene for me to play -- all these levels of "removement" and trying to get at her, you know. But the cast was terrific, really terrific, great fun to work with. It's an actor's dream to work with people like that.
GW: What were your feelings playing a character from someone's first attempt at writing a Stargate episode?
BG: You know, I had no idea it was his first attempt. I had no idea. I couldn't tell. But also, I'm an actor, I'm not a script analyst. I take whatever's given to me and my job is to bring it to life, not to judge it. So, I only found out after a few days of shooting that it was his first script, and I was quite impressed by it. I think he did a great job. It's not easy writing for episodic television. It's very difficult because you have to follow a very strict structural pattern, and it has to be timed exactly for the commercials and all that. It's not easy. You've got to get out a lot of information, especially in the science fiction stuff, in a short period of time. I thought he did a great job.
GW: Yeah, we were very impressed with the show, all of us at GateWorld here. A very enjoyable episode.
BG: Yeah, you know, I can't tell that it's a first writing effort at all. He did a wonderful job.
GW: You just recently saw the episode yourself.
BG: Yeah, yeah. (Laughter) I missed it when it aired, but they sent me a tape.
GW: So what did you think of it as a whole?
BG: Oh, I thought it was great fun. I can't really look at it objectively, because you know, as soon as I see a scene I think about the day and what we were doing and all that. So it's a little hard to fully dive into it. But I thought it came off wonderfully. I thought it was terrific.
I thought Amanda did a wonderful job directing it. She was terrific to work with. As an actor you always think that, "Oh, if another actor is directing something they may try to manipulate your performance a lot." But actually, what I've found is when actors are directing they tend to leave the other actors alone out of respect, and that's -- Amanda did that. And sometimes she'd give me adjustments which were wonderful, wonderful adjustments. Otherwise she wouldn't tamper with it too much, which is something I personally really like.
GW: It leaves room for you to make your performance what you want to make it.
BG: Yeah, and if I go too far off-course, you know, she would say, "Ah, Brad, bring it back this way a little bit," or "Kick it over that way a little bit," which all actors need. We do need some direction -- but as little as possible in my case is what I prefer. I thought the episode was very good. I haven't watched many episodes of the show, so I don't have a lot to compare it with, but I thought it was terrific.
Daniel Jackson confronts Keffler with what he's discovered.
GW: Were you pleased with the care put into producing the show?
BG: Oh yeah, yeah. It was very good crew, very good cast. Somehow on the set there was a very relaxed atmosphere. And that's really important for an actor, and I think for everybody. And generally I think that atmosphere is generated, in television, by the director and producers. They can either create a really tense atmosphere or a really relaxed atmosphere, and on this one they created a really relaxed atmosphere which gives an environment where the actors and the crew can all do their best work.
GW: Right, must've been easier to work in.
BG: Right, and then it's much more efficient, much more efficient when things are relaxed. Sometimes on big-budget films things can get really tense because so much money is involved. And that tends to slow things down. And the really good directors know how to create a very calm, easy set atmosphere. And Amanda, I don't know if she was going that consciously or not, but her personality is just like that. Her and Michael Greenburg, one of the producers, and the rest of the producers -- they were all very kind, very gentle, very soft-spoken, and everyone was able to do their best work.
GW: Yeah. Well, it definitely came through in the performances.
BG: Ah, thank you!
GW: Do you believe Keffler's end is fitting?
BG: No, I didn't want him to get killed because I wanted him to come back. (Laughter) You see, that's the problem with building a career on bad guys. I always get killed off at the end of the episode, so they can't bring me back. I would have preferred that he would have been captured and hauled off to the pokey or something, or become an experiment himself where the good guys were examining him. That would have been kind of interesting.
But you know, this is the way it was, so I got shot up and I think that's satisfying for the audience that, you know, some person that's kind of seen as evil is defeated in the end, once and for all. But I don't know. Killing off the bad guys, I don't think is ever a fitting solution.
GW: Well, this is sci-fi, so you never know.
BG: Yes, yeah, you've got to satisfy the genre. And, you know, maybe I can come back. Maybe I had one of those little chips inside of me, too, that I can like -- in reverse, that I can like, repair myself and come back to life! Anything can happen, right?
GW: That's right, that's right. Were there any moments of humor on the set that you recall fondly?
BG: There was a big -- I don't think this is funny for anyone else, but there was a big controversy about the bullet holes in my costume at the end, after I'm shot.
Anna kills Keffler before taking her own life.
GW: It was pretty bloody.
BG: Yeah, and the costumer did it one way and then somebody on the set said, "Oh, that doesn't look like gun shots. It should be blah blah blah," and they got into it a little bit. And I just said, "You know, it doesn't matter. It's just going to be so quick, you're not going to see it." I mean, you didn't see the bullet holes in my costume.
So there was a lot of stuff -- every day, little things like that. As I said it wasn't a very tense set. It was very easy-going, so everybody was able to have fun. You know and that comes across, I think, in the show.
GW: Do you have any projects in the works you'd like GateWorld readers to keep an eye out for?
BG: Well, I don't have any science fiction stuff coming up. I hope it's not too long before I have another one, because they're so much fun. I did work on a film, a low-budget spoof of low-budget Kung Fu movies. It's called "Eighteen Fingers of Death," and it's great fun. I have a little cameo in that where I play a German film producer. And it's great fun. The script is hilarious. I haven't seen it yet, I think they're still editing. And I hope it comes across on film as hilarious as it did on paper.
GW: Well, we're going to have to look that up.
BG: Yeah, yeah. I don't know if they have a distributor yet or not. But that, again, was great fun to work on. Because it was a spoof, so you can do anything, again. So that's all I've got in the works right now.
GW: Well, Brad, thanks again for taking time to talk with us, and we hope you return to Stargate in the future.
BG: OK, well I'll do my best to get back on the show, alright, David?