Stargate SG-1 fans should instantly recognize Bill Marchant as Adrian Conrad, a rich man with a dark fate in Season Five’s “Desperate Measures.” When he’s not on set you might find him in the classroom, as Bill is also Head Instructor of Acting and Writing for Film & Television at Vancouver Film School.
We recently had the opportunity to chat with the Vancouver, B.C.-based actor about his experience on the show.
GateWorld: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Bill! Can you tell us how you hooked up with Stargate SG-1 and landed the role of Adrian Conrad?
Bill Marchant: I have been acting in Vancouver for ten years, doing shows like Millennium, Dead Man’s Gun and Mysterious Ways. My dad was visiting from Ontario in May, 2001, and I got the call from my agent about the part. I was so wrapped up in my family’s visit that I didn’t have much time to spend on the part. Sometimes too much time can make you nervous.
I hadn’t seen Carol Kelsay, the casting director, in a long while, so I wanted to make sure I did good work. We could choose any of Adrian’s scenes from “Desperate Measures.” I was torn between the coughing scene with Carter and the “emotional lie” scene with Diana. I knew that I could summon up the crocodile tears for the latter, finding the cold heart of a true Goa’uld … and figured that was my best choice.
GW: How did the audition go?
BM: During the actual audition I could feel them in my hand. I felt the power of a Goa’uld! For an actor, that is rare. I have always wanted to do the show, and knew I stood a chance.
Two days later my agent called me, and I was in. Two days after that, I was getting decked out in Armani pajamas, and touring the Stargate site.
GW: You play a terminally ill man who wishes to be implanted with a Goa’uld symbiote to save his life. How did you prepare for the role?
BM: I’ve battled with my health since I was a little kid, so I could understand the desperation of Adrian to be well again. The arrogance of the alien, my family will certainly testify, may come too easy to me.
Seriously, it felt good to put all my insecurities aside and play with the notion of absolute power. Maybe we all secretly think we have things truly figured out. If so, I tapped into that.
I must admit — I spiced it up with a bit of Bill Gates for fun. I wanted glasses, but they only let me have them in the file photos that they show at HQ when they profile Conrad.
GW: How much did you decide you had to know about the Goa’uld and the rest of the show’s mythos?
BM: Though I did a lot of research, mostly from the fan sites (thank you), I figured Conrad would have only a basic knowledge of the Goa’uld and a limited understanding of the SG-1 team.
GW: Tell us a little about the on-set experience.
BM: Though it may sound like B.S., I have never worked with a team that is so much like family, and still so warm to “outsiders.” I was fortunate, though, to know many of the team prior to the shoot. David Sinclair, propmaster, went to university with me in Ontario at Gulph University. We hadn’t seen each other in 13 years.
Ivan Bartok was a student of mine at Vancouver Film School, where I have taught writing and acting for the last four years. And, of course, John de Lancie, is … better to work with than I could have ever hoped.
GW: Was the cast fun to work with? Most of your scenes were with Amanda Tapping.
BM: Amazing. RDA [Richard Dean Anderson] may be the funniest guy with whom I have ever worked. And Amanda. Jeez. She made me feel completely comfortable, introducing herself before I had the chance to introduce myself. She is so down to earth. Totally real. Very easy to work with.
The day we shot the coughing scene, I was actually down with the flu, running a temperature of 103, and Amanda was there for me, gentle and kind, giving me focus, though I feared I might pass out at any time.
An actor like that gives you strength. She is an amazing woman, a true lady, and a great broad. I would love to work with her again.
GW: Any memorable outtakes from the set of “Desperate Measures” that we may never see?
BM: No, but here is a little secret: You may notice in the background of the hospital scenes, one of the monitors has lights that spell out BG. The prop guys were paying honour to the great Bill Gereghty — without a doubt, a great actor’s director.
GW: What did you like most (and least!) about this character?
BM: There was nothing to dislike. Playing a Goa’uld is a challenge and a treat. I finally saw the completed episode yesterday and was thrilled, giggling like a kid, to hear the voice and see the glowing eyes.
BM: I hope that I get to kick Simmons’ pompous ass across the galaxy.
GW: Season Five has finished filming. What are your hopes for Season Six and beyond?
BM: No spoilers here, but the season is far from over. My big hope right now is finding out what my Goa’uld name might be. I know a second film is in the works, and “Adrian / Goa’uld” (my name in the script so far) is the most formidable villain that O’Neill has ever met. Apophis is a sissy compared to me!
As we all know, it is in the hands of the fans. If enough people write the show begging for more Adrian, how can they refuse?
I would love to hear the fans’ reactions to the character. Please send thoughts and ideas to this site and STARGUIDE [GateWorld] can forward them to me.
GW: Would you call yourself a Stargate fan now?
BM: More than ever!
GW: Thanks again for your time, Bill. We hope to see more of you and Adrian in the future!
BM: Thank you. The fans make the show — and as Amanda says, there are no better fans than on SG-1. Peace to you all.
Bill Marchant is the Head Instructor of Acting and Writing for Film & Television at Vancouver Film School, and has been a professional actor, director, writer and musician for more than 20 years.