Time marches on for both the regular cast of Stargate SG-1 and its supporting players. It’s a fact that also holds true for perhaps one of the most important recurring roles in the back-half of the series’ run, Baal, and the actor who brought the menacing Goa’uld System Lord to life: Cliff Simon.
GateWorld had the opportunity to catch up with Cliff during one of the stops of Creation Entertainment’s Official Stargate Convention Tour last year, and the actor was gracious enough to fill us in on what he’s been up to since Stargate: Continuum (to this point, his final appearance in the franchise). During our discussion, he talks about his most current projects, his enjoyment of his time on the series 24, the positives and negatives of typecasting, the highlights of his time on SG-1, and more!
GateWorld: So, how is life treating Cliff these days? What have you been up to? It’s been a while since we’ve talked to you.
Cliff Simon: Yeah, yeah, it’s good. Been auditioning a lot. A lot of auditions, no work yet, which is okay. I’ve been busy. I’ve got three projects which I’m working on with some partners. The first one, the biggest one for me, is a true-life story about a black athlete called Black Butterfly and that’s a movie treatment we’re busy doing. I have the life rights to this guy and it’s a sports story but it takes place in prison. Very interesting. So that’s just writing.
GW: I think when David talked to you last time, at that point you didn’t even have a title for it.
CS: Yeah, I’d already started writing that, so that’s nearly at the stage of, we’re getting the treatment just right, because it has to be pitched in New York.
GW: Are you still looking at maybe Will Smith for the role?
CS: Yeah, I’d still like Will Smith for the role. Yeah, hopefully. We need to get it to Overbrook [Entertainment], but the first obstacle is getting it into development and then getting the money.
And then I’m working on another project called Dust, which is a sci-fi western. It’s kind of like my baby and that I’m the lead in as well. That’s a great project because I’ve always wanted to do a western.
And we’ve just started up, like a week ago, I’m in contact with the Moulin Rouge in Paris — I used to work there — and we are going to be, hopefully with their permission, doing a documentary. I’ll be narrating the documentary as a previous dancer. So yeah, three very interesting and very different projects.
GW: And in all very different areas.
CS: Yeah, completely different. I’m trying to move more into producing my own stuff and writing and that kind of thing. I’m getting a little tired of auditioning for roles.
GW: We got to see you in the premiere of the final season of 24. Was that an enjoyable shoot?
CS: Yeah, that was great! It’s an award-winning show, Kiefer Sutherland was fantastic, a really nice guy. When it was time to work, he was all professional and work, but behind the scenes when we’re sitting around, he’s sitting there and we’re having a smoke. A very nice guy. And working with Brad [Turner], who was the director, a fantastic guy who is also the producer on the show. Very professional and a lot of fun, sitting on top of a building in downtown L.A. and shooting a sniper rifle. As it was all happening, which was brilliant, because that’s how they film it. I wasn’t shooting at nothing, I was actually shooting at a car that was racing down the street. Brilliant. It was real.
GW: I guess a chance for boys to be boys.
CS: Yeah, for sure! Guns and cars!
GW: I know you said you’re focusing a little bit more on production — is that where you see yourself moving more, into maybe less acting and more into production in general?
Simon as a Russian sniper in a still from the final season premiere of the FOX network series 24.
CS: Mmm, just developing my own projects, whether I’ll be in them or not. At this stage it doesn’t really matter. Dust, like I say, if we can get that off the ground as a TV series, for me personally, will be fantastic. That will be my vehicle, that’ll be my Rocky.
GW: It’s been two years since Continuum was released and there’s been some time now. Is it nice having a little bit of distance from the character of Baal? Not just in terms of having the time and ability to produce what you want to for yourself, but also from a typecasting standpoint?
CS: Yeah, that’s also been the problem. You know, I haven’t had one audition for a sci-fi show. Not one. In L.A. they’re filming sci-fi stuff all the time, and I know I went through this in South Africa as well — I was so recognizable as Baal from Stargate that sometimes other shows are a little scared to take you on as even the villain, because everyone will be, “Oh, there’s Baal.”
GW: When you walk into the casting room, if there’s somebody that recognizes you from there that can be a strike against you or strike for you.
CS: Actually, with 24, the casting director — all the producers were in the room — the casting director went out to the bathroom and when she came back in, she came up to me and she whispered in my ear, “Oh, I love your character on Stargate.” And I was like, “OK, great!” But it could have worked against me as well. But it didn’t, and there was a perfect example of where it worked for me. She, the cast director, really pushed me for the role and I just had to do a little bit of Russian accent stuff for them.
It’s just a funny thing. In sci-fi, nothing’s happened, which is a pity but it takes a bit of time. Sometimes it does take a couple of years.
NEXT: Stargate‘s career impact, and Cliff’s charity interests