GateWorld: “Subversion” and “Incursion Part 1″, that was the reveal that Telford had been brainwashed by the Lucian Alliance, like you said, since then he’s been kinder, gentler, definitely a more respectable character at least from an audience viewing standpoint. What’s more fun for you? Playing him as the guy who everyone hates, someone who’s even willing to cross personal lines like purposely striking up a relationship with Young’s wife? Or to play him a bit lighter and personable as a man who knows he needs to make amends on several aspects in his life and the issues that he’s caused?
Lou Diamond Phillips: What’s wonderful is that every one of those approaches is valid. Whether or not he’s being a jerk, or whether or not he’s reacting to the guilt and the history that he now has to be accountable for, all of that is highly playable and adds layers. What I really love about this ongoing process, first of all it’s like one long movie because it’s not so episodic that what happens in each episode has not had precedence or doesn’t build upon things that we know from before.
That’s what’s really cool about playing a character like Telford and having it evolve and who’s to say that’s not in his character in the future? He’s still an ambitious guy. Every new script that comes along, I see a little touch here, a little touch there. I’m informed by the history that has already been committed to film and the potential of what could be in the future, which is always very interesting. It’s a bit like life — you never know what’s coming down the road and you don’t always know how you’re going to react to it or comport yourself, for that matter.
GW: This season, in the episode “Awakening”, Telford ends the episode essentially M.I.A. as he’s now stranded on that Ancient seeder ship populated by a new race of aliens with unknown agendas. Without giving anything specific spoiler-wise away for the year, because obviously there’s a lot that hasn’t aired yet, from a character standpoint, would it be fair to say that this experience and what he’s doing now is going to change him a little bit? That the separation, not just from Earth and from Destiny, but from human-kind in general, that it might affect him a little bit when we do inevitably see him again.
Will Telford's time on the Ancient seeder ship with a new race of aliens change him? Phillips has some ideas.
LDP: You know, I think that it galvanizes who he is as a soldier and that’s one thing that we see a lot. We were talking about the Greer character and their history has never been revisited, which is a shame. There’s certainly relationships to look forward to as the show continues and should we be so blessed as to have a Season Three and should I be so blessed as to still be around for it.
But there are different dynamics there and obviously the dynamic between Young and Rush and Telford is one that, I think, moves a lot of storylines. But there are the relationships with Greer and with Camile Wray and with some of the other people on the ship that Telford doesn’t have as much traffic with. David Blue and I have hit it off very, very well and always bemoan the fact that since the original couple of shows, haven’t had a lot to do with each other.
It’s very interesting, but as far as what’s going on with Telford right now and the aliens, like I said, I think it will only strengthen his resolve. Every once in a while, we see how intrepid and brave the soldiers really are and that includes Young and Greer and Brian Jacob Smith’s character, Scott. These guys are willing to sacrifice themselves and put themselves in harm’s way for the benefit of everyone else.
I think this was, ultimately, at least up to this point, Telford’s moment to step forward and go, “No, I am still a team player, let me prove to you that I am a team player and do something to try and save these people.” But once again, it’s in keeping with his agenda from the beginning and that is to be the hero, to save these people and to get them home to Earth. That is his ultimate mission. If he accrues some glory along the way, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind that but he is, at least in this episode, willing to be selfless and show that he’ll be the one to go into the fire if he has to.
GW: Having shot all but a fraction of it now, how would you say that Season Two is superior to Season One?
LDP: Well, I think it’s like any relationship that deepens with time, with the fact that people get more familiar with what they’re watching. It’s interesting, I’ve read a couple of things that Brad has said. The writers are not immune to what the fanbase is calling for. I know that there is a lot more action in the second season. I think they’ve made a definite attempt to bring a little more humor and not just through David Blue’s character, but through some of the other people.
We’ve all managed to, I think, grow within our respective characters and show different sides of them and a sense of humor, I think, is necessary for survival over the long run for any of these people. So, I think we’re seeing a little bit more of that and I think that some of the big questions and some of the ideas that they bring up, in conjunction with the fact that they’ve underlined a lot of the sci-fi aspects of it and the adventure aspects of it, have just allowed the series to grow. I think we’re seeing that in fan response, certainly in a lot of the responses I’ve heard from people who are watching the show.
GW: Alaina [Huffman], Brian, David and Elyse [Levesque], they’ve all been hitting the convention circuit semi-regularly now. I know Jamil [Walker Smith]‘s planning on doing one or two next year. Have you given any thought to stepping out into that?
LDP: You know, I went to one in Bournemouth, England, which was very, very polite sci-fi fans, I must say, but then again, they are English. I would be interested in going to a few. Since I’m not a regular, technically I’m a guest star on the show, I don’t believe I’ve gotten as many invitations as others, but it’s certainly something I would be interested in doing. Meeting fans and shaking hands and getting to know people who are watching the show or my work in general, that’s always been something very important to me.
Phillips has a love for the game of poker, and occasionally plays professionally in various tournaments.
It’s one of the reasons why I love doing theater and I go back to it still. It is such a personal expression, not just in the performance and in the sharing of the performance, but in the moments afterwards where people can literally come up and go, “Thank you, I enjoyed that.” You can shake a hand and I can say, “Hey, thanks for the support.” That’s something I’ve never wanted to lose touch with throughout my career. I’ve never wanted to feel like I was existing within a bubble.
GW: You’re a poker aficionado, having played since college I believe, and you’re a gifted player to top it off. What’s the draw of the game for you? What’s its appeal? I’m asking because I love blackjack, I think I’m pretty good at it myself, but I cannot play poker to save my life.
LDP: It’s interesting. I think, as far as poker’s concerned, one of the things I happen to love about it — yes, luck plays a part in the turn of the cards and there’s always that fate that gives you a rush, because you don’t know what’s going to happen. But there is a part to Texas Hold ‘em that is strategy and is perception. Knowing your outs, what are the possibilities that this is the best hand? What are the possibilities that someone else has got a better hand? Are they on a draw? And it’s not just knowing the cards, it’s knowing how a player bets, what their strategy might be, what kind of player are they. Are they aggressive, are they weak, are they sneaky?
All of this plays into it and in some respects, as an actor, it’s a wonderful way to try and quickly gauge a person’s character. Figure out who you can play and how you can play them. And beyond that, it’s like, “Okay, is it the best hand and how willing am I to either place money on that or bluff at it?” For me, it’s a constant strategy and it’s not just about the luck and it’s not just about playing the best cards. It’s about playing the player as well. And, quite honestly, having the patience. A lot of people like to sit down and they think being a good player is playing every hand and getting lucky. It’s actually much more of a marathon and how you perform over the long haul.
NEXT: The autobiography that isn’t happening and a message for fans
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