Robert C. Cooper directs the penulimate episode of Stargate Atlantis, "Vegas."
Following this weekend’s news that long-time Stargate writer, producer, and director Robert C. Cooper will leave the franchise after his appearance at Comic-Con next month (story), we contacted him to find out just why he’s made the decision, what Stargate has meant to him — and what he plans to do next.
First things first: Cooper clarified that, at least for the remainder of SGU Season Two, he won’t be entirely absent. “I’m not leaving completely, actually just stepping back to more of a consulting role for the end of this season,” he said. “However, my credit will remain Executive Producer. We’ve already developed most of Season Two and I feel very confident leaving the show in good hands.”
In addition to the already filmed “Aftermath” and “Malice,” he told us: “I will be writing one more episode for late Season Two. as well as giving notes on scripts, cuts and mixes. The guys won’t be getting rid of me that easily. It just might be a little easier to ignore me.”
So why is Cooper calling it quits — especially now, after Stargate Universe was supposed to give the writers a different kind of show to work on?
“To be honest this has been a very difficult decision,” he said. “I love Universe as a show and working with this cast and crew has been the best experience of my career thus far. However, it’s been a long time working on one franchise and a number of factors have contributed to my feeling that it’s time to move on.”
Cooper with actor Joe Flanigan, at the New Mexico location shoot for "Vegas"
Cooper said that he isn’t being lured away by another project that is already lined up, but will take advantage of a break to make some decisions about the future of his career — be it in writing, producing, or doing more directing. “My head has been so full of Stargate for so long I’m really going to need some time to figure out exactly what I want to do next,” he said.
It would be hard to over-estimate Cooper’s contribution to the fabric of this franchise, which spans all of Stargate‘s 14 years of production, 17 seasons (including the unaired second season of Universe), and two DVD movies — including The Ark of Truth, which Cooper wrote and directed. He began as a writer and story editor in the first year of Stargate SG-1, and went on to run that show and to create Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe with Brad Wright.
So it’s no surprise that Stargate and its faces leave an indelible mark on Cooper, as well.
“It’s been almost my entire career,” he told GateWorld. “It’s meant the world to me. So has the support of the fans, you and your site. Some highlights looking back would have to include ‘200’ and the party that went with it; ‘Unending,’ as much for the experience as the final product; ‘Vegas’ because of Vegas; ‘Time,’ one of the most challenging and yet smooth and easy shoots I’ve ever been a part of — the cast was amazing; and most recently, ‘Malice’ in New Mexico.
“I can’t really say directing Robert Carlyle [‘Nicholas Rush’] is a privilege because it’s not so much directing as it is just getting to watch a great performance up close.”
Rob on the set of his 2008 movie Stargate: The Ark of Truth
Cooper added that his decision is not the result of any conflict with the network or the studio. “I feel lucky to call Charles Cohen at MGM a friend,” he said. “He has never been anything but a whole-hearted supporter of myself and everything Stargate. And I owe a great deal to the support and confidence from everyone over at Syfy including Mark Stern, Dave Howe, Tom Vitale, and the always awesome Erika Kennair.”
Whatever projects await the multi-talented writer, producer, and director in the years ahead, Cooper has cut his teeth and built his career on that Ancient portal to other worlds. And he isn’t leaving Stargate with the firm intention of never coming back.
“I keep telling people this is not good-bye,” he said. “In fact, I can’t rule out returning to Stargate in the future.”