Multitasking is no issue for Stargate Universe actress Alaina Huffman (“Lt. Tamara Johansen”). While filming the series as a regular cast member for two years, Huffman also made repeated appearances on fellow genre series Smallville. In addition to her screen appearances, Alaina was also actively developing her current MTV comic book series — Agent Mom — while simultaneously juggling all those industry ventures with real-life motherhood of her three children (Huffman’s last pregnancy was written into SGU‘s storyline). Long story short — Huffman is an ambitious force to be reckoned with.
We caught up with Huffman at Wizard World’s Chicago Comic-Con event in August, where she was seated directly next to fellow SGU alum — and last week’s exclusive GateWorld interview — Julia Benson. Our time with the actress was limited due to the size and high attendance of the event (if you’re able to attend one of their conventions, I’d highly recommend it). But our conversation with Alaina Huffman is fantastic as she chats about another upcoming addition to the Huffman clan, her personal highlights for Tamara Johansen in Season Two of SGU, the response to her comic series thus far, and more!
GateWorld: How are you, Alaina?
Alaina Huffman: I’m good, Chad! How are you?
GW: Not too bad. Plus it’s always a good day if I know we get to chat!
AH: Awww…thank you!
GW: It’s been about a year since the last time I had a chance to talk to you.
GW: What’s been happening in between?
AH: Well, we finished the show, and we got canceled… [laughs]
GW: There is that. [laughs]
AH: My other show, Smallville, also ended in May. So I’ve been looking for a job. I’ve been looking for the right job. I had several opportunities this year that I, for one reason or another, passed on. I’m just sort of looking for the right opportunity.
I’m still continuing to develop my comic book with MTV and I’m hoping to release that in graphic novel soon. And I did an episode of Alphas and that was really fun. I hope it sticks around for a long time. And … I’m expecting another baby!
Huffman had no issues pulling from her own maternal emotions to play the range needed in T.J.'s baby storyline.
GW: I was wondering but I didn’t want to just come out and ask. Congratulations!
AH: Thank you! Number four. Keeping it real. [laughs]
GW: The last time that we talked was prior to Season Two, it was actually the summer prior. T.J. had a very interesting Season Two — her arc, especially in the very beginning, with her being unconscious and the vision she had about her baby and so on and so forth. Was that difficult to play, being a mother yourself?
AH: Yes and no. I feel like it’s very relatable to me in one sense, the horror of the reality of what T.J. went through. But on the other hand, T.J.’s whole baby story is completely different from mine. I’m married. I have three children. I have a great career. I have a wonderful family. And she’s stuck in space and has a child with a lover who’s married. It’s a completely different experience. But that being said, I feel like my innate maternal instincts I absolutely could draw on.
GW: What would you say were some of the highlights for T.J. over the course of the entire season?
AH: I think her coming into her own. The first season was really about how we had to find what our purpose was on the ship, on Destiny … how we could contribute to the solution and not the problem. The second season, I feel like her overall arc was coming into her own. Even though she met with bigger challenges, like operating on Volker and Greer and doing things that she was uncomfortable with, including dealing with the baby and the whole love triangle with her and Varro, I feel like she sort of was coming into her own.
I would have loved a third season for all of us to develop a deeper character. More of a personal character, because really, the first two seasons was about us discovering our character as we are on the ship. Not relaying our own personal experiences.
GW: A lot of [the series’] fans and also Brad [Wright] went to bat for a very long time, trying to get some sort of closure to the show after it was announced in December that it was canceled. Up until mid-April, actually … when Brad finally came out publicly and said there’s absolutely no shot. When all is said and done, where do you think you would have liked to have seen T.J. go if there had been some sort of continuation?
AH: I really hate to think in terms of my own vision for T.J., because they [Brad and Rob Cooper] are the creators. And I trust them. You know, there’s some really great writers on that show who wrote beautiful character pieces. But the obvious one … I really would have loved to get her cured!
When the script came out with the whole ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) storyline with T.J., Carl Binder — who wrote it [“Epilogue”] — came up to me and said, “I just want you to know, you’re not being killed off. If we go ten, fifteen, however many seasons — you’re still on the show. We just wanted to come up with something that would be an interesting story arc. I think you can play this.”
So that was really exciting to play and I would have loved to explore it … those emotions … dealing with knowing. Because in reality, she wouldn’t know. It’s just because of the alternate universe and the Kino footage that we had that she found out.
A promo cover for Huffman's online comic series for MTV, 'Agent Mom'.
GW: SGU, like Caprica, were both short-lived shows spawned from two very established franchises prior. But both has such a very, very serious tone. Do you think that serious sci-fi — as a whole — is in danger right now? In real life, there’s already so much that’s depressing that we have to deal with … like the economy and current world events and tragedies. Do you think maybe people are just avoiding heavier fare because they want genre programming that’s more light-hearted?
AH: Upbeat? Yeah, it could be. It very well could be.
I also feel like maybe [Syfy] isn’t the place for that darker tone of sci-fi, because it’s kind of separate from the whole rest of the genre, in a way. Maybe it doesn’t have a place on the network of Syfy … at least not anymore. Maybe, and I’m just saying “maybe”, maybe that serious sci-fi belongs more on a network like TNT — like with Falling Skies. Or direct to someplace like Hulu where people who appreciate it and want to watch it can.
GW: Some sort of business model that’s different that can be established to support it.
AH: Absolutely! I truly don’t feel that it was just that we had bad numbers. I really don’t think that it was specifically a numbers and ratings thing. The numbers didn’t help — they weren’t great. But I think there were a lot of elements here. Firstly, MGM. They were in dire straits financially. There was no money. And almost no advertising. So when our night was changed, no one knew about it. And then they were bought by Spyglass.
GW: Spyglass doesn’t seem to be interested in doing anything with the franchise.
AH: Exactly! So there was no support, really, to push it any further. I also believe that, in my opinion, the networks are where the record companies were ten years ago. It’s a changing business and the revenue model — the advertising model, the ratings system — is not up to date. Not terribly long ago, you didn’t have streaming on Netflix. You couldn’t catch up to your favorite show on Hulu. I personally don’t watch anything on TV. I watch it all on Netflix, all on my HBO GO. I would much rather turn on my TV and see a bunch of apps and pay for what I want. I feel like that’s the way the industry is going.
GW: I don’t think even good ratings numbers matter any more. Eureka is a prime example. It still gets ratings that are phenomenal for Syfy. They have great numbers, but they’re also a show that’s five years old with smaller profit margins because of its age. So despite great numbers, it’s still canceled.
AH: Well, apparently that was a Comcast decision. And again, who knows why they’re making these decisions?
I’m excited, to be honest with you. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity, I think, with YouTube and with Hulu, it opens up a whole world for independent film makers and television makers. To be able to do webcasts, like Sanctuary did, and like Riese is doing. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for growth and it’s going to force the big networks and the huge conglomerates to follow suit.
GW: Where are things heading for you right now with Agent Mom? You talked about the graphic novel coming soon, but how has the response been to what’s been released so far?
AH: The response I’m getting? It’s all been really positive. I mean, that’s my Twitter! I don’t go looking for people who hate it, for sure! [laughs]
But I love it. I’ve got a great, great team. Tony Lee is a fantastic writer and he’s killing it. Every week, he’s releasing amazing pages and we collaborate on the story, but ultimately, he writes. Ciaran Lucas is our colorist, Dan Boultwood is our artist. They’re all out of the UK, and they’ve got a huge comic book following. They just announced they’re doing the new MacGyver series. [Tony Lee’s] comic book, The Gloom with MTV is also doing really well.
As far as “will it build beyond a graphic novel?” … I would like to release it in hard form, in a graphic novel form. I know a lot of people have a hard time viewing it in other countries with MTV.com. I mean, I can’t view it on my iPhone because of the Flash. But my deal is with Viacom, it’s with Paramount.
Huffman poses with GateWorld assistant editor Chad Colvin post-interview.
GW: So potentially it could get optioned for something larger.
AH: Absolutely. I could call J.J. Abrams, maybe. [laughs]
GW: Yeah! Cause he’s got absolutely nothing going on right now! [laughs]
AH: I think him or maybe Joss Whedon, you know. Let me know! Call me! [laughs]
No, I really believe it has the potential. The idea of it was never to turn it into a big, huge franchise. It was to do something fun, to keep myself creative, to build a business. If it goes somewhere, I can absolutely pursue those options. I would love to see it as a show. The title is a little deceiving. Because it’s not campy, cheesy, or corny. It’s a spy [story].
GW: It’s like True Lies.
AH: Yeah, it’s like True Lies, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, sort of an Alias meets Chuck kind of thing. It’s a really witty, cute, fun, light-hearted science fiction genre comic book. And she just happens to be a mom.
GW: Any message for fans, of not just SGU but your entire body of work?
AH: Well, you know you can follow me on twitter, @AlainaHuffman, I always try and tweet what I’ve got going on. Thanks for all the support, thanks for all the love and for those of you who came around to SGU, we really appreciate you.
Interview and supplemental transcription by Chad Colvin.
Main transcription by Lahela.