Jacqueline Samuda has made three appearances as the Goa’uld Nirrti, whose genocidal mission is to seek a more advanced host. Aside from acting, she is also a talented writer and director. She has written three feature film scripts and has directed at least nine productions, and contributed to the story behind Season Six’s “Metamorphosis.” She teaches screenwriting at Vancouver Film School.
Jacqueline’s other acting credits include Wolf Lake, Night Visions, and the recent film Jam Space. She invites GateWorld readers to check out her Web site!
GateWorld: Jacqueline, thanks for taking time out to talk with GateWorld!
Jacqueline Samuda: It’s nice to be here!
GW: So … Nirrti’s dead! Any thoughts?
JS: Well, Nirrti is an alien, after all, and she died right next to a DNA machine, so maybe her “death” isn’t the end of her! Actually, I’d love it if she was brought back in some surprising and fun way, but I have no expectations of that happening. Who knows, maybe if enough fans ask …?
GW: How did you prepare yourself to play a god? How would you take that to the scene?
JS: I connected to that level of power by remembering what has the most value in those circumstances — knowledge. I make sure Nirrti always has a secret, something up her sleeve that no one else knows, and that’s always playing in the subtext. That way she always has the upper hand and is really enjoying it — at least until she was surprised by the events of “Metamorphosis!”
GW: What have you found to be the most appealing thing about Nirrti?
JS: This connects to the “having a secret” thing, and is what I would most want to explore if Nirrti came back … her sense of humor. It didn’t come in until “Rite of Passage,” and no question, it’s very subtle (Nirrti’s not a jokester, exactly!), but I really started to have fun with the power plays and one-upmanship. More and more, I started finding little reasons for her to have a little internal smile which usually only shows in the eyes for a quick moment and doesn’t even reach the lips. I don’t know why, but that was really fun!
GW: What was your favorite costume? Ups and downs?
JS: I’m always amazed at Christina McQuarrie’s incredible designs and the workmanship that the wardrobe team puts into the costumes, especially considering their deadlines. I think I probably liked the first costume (“Fair Game”) because of the incredible semi-precious stone-embedded fabric on the bodice, and the “I Dream of Jeannie” skirt that was so much fun to wear. And the shoes from “Metamorphosis” that end up kicking in the air when I’m choking — I loved them. There are no downs to any of the costumes, but I do have to get in character to feel comfortable with how low-cut they get sometimes!
GW: Of the shows you appeared in, which did you prefer and why?
JS: Each experience was better than the last, probably because I was even more comfortable with the show’s stars and could play with them more. Also, knowing more about how the “flange” (sound effect) makes my voice sound, means that I can control how I use and pitch my voice more, to ensure it ends up sounding a certain way. If I’d had more to do with RDA in “Metamorphosis,” that one would be the hands-down favorite, but as it is it’s a toss-up between “Rite of Passage” and “Metamorphosis.”
GW: Were you sympathetic to any of Nirrti’s objectives?
JS: I think of Nirrti as a scientist and an explorer in a way. She obviously has an end in mind that is nefarious, but she doesn’t think so. The desire to develop and advance technology, and to have a goal that you’re willing to do anything to meet, those things I can connect to.
GW: How deeply were you involved in “Metamorphosis?”
JS: That was a two-step process, with a long break in the middle. I pitched the concept of the DNA machine, its purpose and potential dangers, and that was probably a couple of meetings, after which Brad Wright said they’d like to save the pitch for future possibilities. I didn’t pitch Nirrti as the Goa’uld who possessed it. Thanks go to James Tichenor for that! My ideas went into a pot, and James incorporated them into a pitch he had for an episode. The ideas worked together well and got approval, and then James wrote the script. So I only saw the script when I normally would have as a performer in the episode. It was exciting and really fun to read it, even though of course it was sad to see that Nirrti finally meets justice in that show. Then on set, I talked to the producers about one small dialogue change.
GW: How would you pitch to bring her back?
JS: Top secret … If I told you, I’d have to rearrange your DNA until you blew up! (chuckle)
GW: Were there any off-camera experiences or funny moments you’d like to share?
JS: There’s one I’ve mentioned at a convention that really cracked me up. When I had Carter at zat-point in “Metamorphosis,” and my two big Jaffa are lying unconscious on the ground next to us … It’s supposed to be an intense scene and I’m threatening O’Neill, using Carter as my bargaining chip, and one of the Jaffa guys on the floor fell asleep during the take and started to snore very loudly, not just once but twice! We’d try to get through the scene, but hearing this snoring in the background was too funny. Everyone burst out laughing and Peter DeLuise gave the guy a jokingly hard time (this Jaffa is a regular extra on the show).
GW: What happened when it came time to try and seduce Corin’s character, Jonas Quinn?
JS: Basically I looked at him lying innocently on my bed of pillows and thought: “Hello, my pretty, you’re mine, all mine!” I just wish I could have done some of the scene on the bed actually looking into his eyes, because that can really get things crackling. It was a little more of a challenge with our faces side by side, but a pleasure all the same!
GW: What would have been Nirrti’s ideal storyline?
JS: Don’t you like your DNA the way it is? (evil smile)
GW: What was your initial reaction when you read Nirrti’s final scene?
JS: It was a little sad because it’s such a wonderful show to do, but I felt pretty matter-of-fact about it at the same time. I mean, this is a show with heroes and bad guys, and naturally the good guys have to win. Of course it’s nice when it takes several episodes for that to happen to your character, with a really juicy standoff at the end, but a girl can only dream …
GW: Do you feel Nirrti’s storyline served well in the scope of the Stargate saga?
JS: Yes, but I think Nirrti could have done more. It’s great when the audience has a chance to get to know a bad guy beyond a few episodes, so they get even more invested in the struggle.
GW: What would you have changed?
JS: The show works so well, it would be pretty bold to say that anything should be different, but again, I might want to see fewer changes of the antagonists, so that certain bad guys really get to take a run at it and develop even more complicated relationships with the star characters. Certainly there has been this continuity with a few of the baddies, but it would be fabulous if Nirrti had more time to play!
GW: What is it like to work the crowd during convention auctions? You obviously have a blast.
JS: You’re right — I do have a blast! I really enjoy the whole process. I love the idea of going up there and not knowing what’s going to happen. The fans really dictate the way my onstage chats go, depending on their questions and comments. So I just go up there, ready for anything and really prepared to listen and go with it. That’s what stage actors are trained to do, and since that’s my background but I only rarely do theatre now, it’s like going home for me.
GW: Are you planning on attending any conventions in the future?
JS: Yes, I definitely am. I was sorry to miss the opportunity to be in Germany in February. But there are a couple I’m planning to attend later in the year (not confirmed yet so I better not be specific until they are). Please ask for me at your local cons, and I’ll certainly come if I can!
GW: Are you currently involved in any projects?
JS: I’m focusing quite a bit on writing and directing right now. One of my feature screenplays is being optioned and will go into a development phase, and if everything goes to plan, I’ll direct it in the next year and a bit. I recently did a rewrite on another feature screenplay (not one of my own), and that one will go to camera in 2004 for sure. And I’ve started interviewing for TV directing jobs. That’s new territory for me, so it’s very exciting. I’m waiting to hear on one now.
GW: What are some projects you have down the road?
JS: I’ve been offered a fun pilot for a TV show that will shoot in March. And an interesting role in a feature film called “Eighteen” by Richard Bell that’s in the process of completing its financing so the dates aren’t set yet.
GW: Any words of wisdom for folks with the acting bug?
JS: Study! Find the best acting studio or program you can, and stick with it. You can have all the raw talent in the world, but training gives you consistency and the ability to deliver in those moments when your inspiration fails you.
GW: If you had to pick one thing fans could remember about your performance on Stargate, what would it be?
JS: The twinkle in Nirrti’s eye at the end of “Rite of Passage,” before she leaves through the gate. That’s Nirrti.
GW: Would you consider returning to Stargate in another capacity? If so, what?
JS: I would love to participate as a writer and/or director for the show. What a stimulating group of talented people. Excellent teamwork and a vibrant creative environment. Great actors. It would be a wonderful challenge and a privilege.
GW: Thanks so much for stopping to chat with GateWorld!
JS: My pleasure. Thanks for inviting me! All the best.