GateWorld concludes our 3-part exclusive audio interview with David Palffy, SG-1‘s Sokar and Anubis, on a high note! In this edition, David discusses some of the possible reasons behind Anubis and his cloak fetish, as well as the implications regarding an encounter with a certain ascended member of SG-1. He praises the cast and crew of the well-oiled Stargate production group, and discusses the future of Anubis and his real-life participation in the growing Stargate lore.
David also takes a moment to discuss some upcoming big-screen pictures in which he will soon be featured, including the highly anticipated Morgan Freeman film Edison, and (not mentioned in this interview) some stunt work for Vin Diesel in The Chronicles of Riddick.
GateWorld’s interview with David is available in MP3 audio format for easy listening, as well as transcribed below! The audio version is about 20 minutes long. Beware, some images below are pivotal and spoilery for the Season Seven finale, “Lost City!”
Be sure to take time to check out David’s official Web site, at DavidPalffy.com.
GateWorld: Are you hoping for Anubis’ return in Season Eight?
David Palffy: Hmm … Yeah, sure, I would! The thing with Anubis — it would be nice, I mean — I spoke, as has often been said, about getting some backstory on Anubis and eventually revealing his face, and things like that. But that would be very interesting and wonderful to get a chance to do. So in that respect I would love to come back. But again, who’s to say? I know that it appears that he’s gone, but again there has been some rumblings from beyond that Anubis may still lurk in the dark recesses of the universe, preparing for his return in Season Eight. But again, as I mentioned before, those murmurs, they belong to the writer gods.
But if not, I must say, hopefully, maybe there’s another instance where I’d love to be reinvented as a third Goa’uld. Again, perhaps with having his face sort of exposed. Because it’s always interesting. It provides kind of an interesting, how can I say, not so much an obstacle, but when you’re working under a cloak, as Anubis, with your face hidden, it does provide some interesting challenges as an actor — and especially, as I said, when your voice is also flanged making it unrecognizable.
But like any role you have to find a way to communicate through those obstacles as best you can and use them to your advantage. You have to consider them more as choices made by the character for a specific purpose rather than the ideas created by a writer’s perspective. It allows you, as a result — you have to find a way …
And sometimes when you find a way to act through that cloak, it gives you a sense of, “OK, this is a character thing.” For example: Anubis wears a cloak. Basically it defines who he is and what he represents.
But from my point of view you can’t play energy, so you have to define him briefly as being somewhat human and justify that he wears this apparel, this cloak, as a disguise, or maybe he’s hiding a physical abnormality that he doesn’t want to reveal, and all of which dictates why he moves the way he does or why he rarely looks directly at someone. Because Anubis doesn’t. He doesn’t ever look directly at somebody. The only time he’s done that is with Daniel.
See, these are my little things with Anubis which helps in the way he moves. Because basically otherwise he is just a black cloak, just standing there. You have to try to present him in such a way that — that’s why I said, every little movement, it’s minimalism. The smallest movement has to be weighted. He doesn’t move unless he really has to, and that’s why then, hopefully when he does move, it’s powerful. The slight move to the head, these kind of things.
GW: Everything’s with a purpose.
GW: It’s interesting that you said he only looked Daniel in the eye. Because Daniel was ascended and had been at equal, perhaps semi-equal standings with Anubis. And he was the only one that he would actually look in the face and take on honestly.
DP: Yeah, because that’s the only person that I think Anubis, in his mind, really feared. There was a fear factor.
DP: Yeah. It’s one of those things that — I think it’s one of those instances where you’re faced with somebody that’s perhaps your equal. Otherwise, Anubis, in his sort of demented mind, has no equal. And that’s why I think that’s why he’s able to do what he does, that whole thing. Not that he feared Daniel, but it’s like facing off with a worthy opponent. And that was the first time he kind of revealed — remember when the face, Anubis’ face, that’s they only time that you actually see that. Whether it was something grotesque about it, but that’s the only time that’s ever happened.
GW: Yeah, that confrontation, I think that’ll go down in sci-fi as one of the neatest confrontations for a really long time, even though it was really brief. One of the things that I’ve always wondered is Anubis dared Daniel to blow him away. Did he know that the Ancients would prevent Daniel from harming him? Or did he just say …
DP: No, I don’t think so. Not at that time. No, no.
GW: Because he put out his hand, and then Herak was like, “Oh, you are really powerful.” And then Anubis was like, “Ahh, that wasn’t me.”
DP: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. That was a discovery also for Anubis right there, that, “OK, there’s something more at work here,” you know. And I think that, again, it’s one of those things that’s — OK. He’s like some of these villains. They encounter something, and then they discover something, and then they quickly move on. A character like Anubis doesn’t dwell on the fact that “OK, there’s something more here.” He makes a decision, goes for it, and then decides what to do next.
But it’s kind of interesting, though, I mean with Anubis. I was reading some time ago online that to some people, Anubis seems over the top. I have to say that whether he’s a caricature I suppose is open for argument. If that’s what makes him come over the top.
I suppose, the fact is it does make me chuckle when people say that, because I know that that in itself would indeed flatter Anubis. He would be flattered by that, simply because of who he is and how he says things and what he says, and what he represents. I mean, Anubis is a god — he’s not fully ascended, he’s basically an outcast. And as I say, this resulting displacement of energy that’s evil, that has been temporarily harnessed under a hood to give him physical form. He’s the image of death, the figure of death incarnate, and he’s surrounded by a black robe. That symbol in itself has been around since the dawn of time. That in itself is over the top.
So somebody says, “Well, Anubis is over the top. Why is it?” Well, look what he represents. I mean, his whole existence is basically predicated on living up to that theme, and that’s a theme that’s time immemorial. And of course, as an actor, you’ve got to work with that. To do otherwise, to underplay that, will work against the idea of what he represents.
Because he’s a colorful — regardless of whether you like him in the show or not — he’s definitely a colorful contrast to the Stargate team who represents what is good in humanity, and it’s that time-al struggle of good versus evil. And there’s a reason why I think that he’s, like I said, dressed the way he is. Otherwise, well, OK, if he isn’t — and of course, because he’s symbolic, I mean, just like Sokar. Sokar is seen as the devil. These are very strong figures, whether they’re mythological or not. They are very strong figures that are symbols, and they’re very symbolic. With all these gods, they’re very symbolic in what they do. Even the way they speak and the gestures, again there’s a certain grandeur about who they are.
Again, not all of them, but definitely with Anubis and Sokar. Because I think, with both of these gods, they see them above the others. Whether they are or not, that’s questionable, that’s open for debate. But what would be very interesting is to get — I’ve always wanted to have Anubis and Sokar sit opposite each other and play a game of chess.
GW: Who would win?
DP: Yeah! And that’s a question, because those two would be very worthy opponents. It would be very interesting.
GW: Let’s say you never returned to the Stargate stage. I personally am hoping that that’s not the case and you’ll be back. But has it been a good run? Have you enjoyed yourself?
DP: Oh, absolutely, David. I’m grateful — I’m grateful for the journey. I would hate to say that the journey has ended or will be ending soon. Again that’s up to the writers to decide. But I have had a great time playing these characters and also being a part of the cast and crew, and come across and having met all these people that make the show. Because I don’t believe a show would be half as successful as it is without the cast and crew.
They’re a good show to work with and for, and it starts with I think Michael Greenburg, and it starts with Richard [Dean Anderson], who are, first and foremost, very professional. And they know what they want. And at the same time they’re very open people. They’re very good and personable people who, not only do you respect, but you like. And I think that’s important when you’re working on a show. Because it’s like an extended family. You’ve a little bit of an extended family for however long it lasts away from home.
It’s good to enjoy yourself on a show. Because I’ve worked on other shows where, for whatever reason, the dynamics were not very good with the producers and the directors, hence the cast. And it makes for a very uncomfortable working environment. That’s definitely not the case with Stargate. And I think that’s one of the reasons why, among many others of course, why it’s been successful up to now.
GW: Yeah, that creativity is allowed to flow because of the relationships.
DP: Yeah! Exactly. Because it’s, you know — I mean, everybody’s open to discussing things if there’s a problem. I’m not saying there haven’t been moments of tension on the set, but I honestly have to say it’s very few and far between. And with the kind of show that it is and what they actually do on the show, you would think it would fall victim to a lot of in-house bickering, you know? Because you’re dealing with, right at this moment, probably the number one sci-fi show.
GW: Right, with Atlantis coming up and everything.
DP: Exactly. So in order for it to sustain that success you have to rely on a very clear chain of command that’s open to changes. But at the same time, the thing about this show — it operates like a fine machine. When you go on set, everything’s organized. You get there, you get to your wardrobe, everybody knows exactly what they’re doing. They do their job. Everybody’s very pleasant. They get their days, and then the day starts over.
Whereas there have been other shows that I’ve been on, similarly, that are completely the opposite. And what happens is, regardless of how good maybe the writing is or what concepts are being developed for the idea for the show, if there is a breakdown in command they don’t get their days. And it starts costing more money, and et cetera, et cetera. And, as you know, that’s the basic bottom line. “What kind of show can you make for this amount of money, and make it successful?” And I think that’s one of the reasons. And I think it’s also partly due to the main cast, because they’re a very easy group to work with. And they know what they’re doing.
GW: They’ve been going at it for sure a long time!
GW: Well, here’s hoping that you’ll get into Season Eight. And if not that, there’s a lot of Stargate Atlantis ahead. So, never know.
DP: Yeah, we’ll have to see, David. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. At least I’ll keep my fingers crossed anyway!
GW: We will, too. You mentioned you were on a film with Morgan Freemon. Can you tell us anything about that?
DP: Oh, sure. Well, I just finished doing a film, because I’m doing both of them at the same time — but I just finished on a film called “Premonition,” which is with Casper Van Dien. Do you know the “storm troopers?”
GW: “Starship Troopers.”
DP: “Starship Troopers!” I’m sorry, yeah.
GW: Yes! He played Johnny.
DP: If he heard that he’d kill me. So, yeah. And that’s basically about a detective who has a near-death experience while he comes in contact with a group of terrorists who’ve infiltrated a U.S. city. And they’re looking to put a bomb together. Of course, as a result of that, he has these premonitions about things that are going to happen. Of course, the story leads back to having an encounter again with this terrorist group, lead by a Czechan fundamentalist who I play. You know, it’s funny because I do play a lot of …
GW: Bad guys.
DP: Yeah, I do play a fair amount. And I think one of the reasons, partly, for that is a couple of years ago I did a pilot for a series, and it was a time-travel pilot. I had to play the descendents of this certain man through time. And what they had to do is they shaved my head, and they gave me a wig. And when I finished that project, unfortunately it didn’t get picked up, as is the case with a lot of pilots, unfortunately.
But I came back to Canada and I had this bald head, and within that first week I had two jobs with bald heads. And all of the sudden it’s like, “Oh, my God! I don’t think my acting has changed or anything …” But then again the type of characters I was going out for was certainly different. They weren’t the kindergarten teacher or the loving husband from next door who’s got three kids, or the handyman. But it just, all of the sudden, kind of opened up this new world, so to speak, for me. And it’s kept me working as a result.
Now of course, anything to do with either a terrorist — whether he’s Russian, or he’s any sort of European ethnicity, including whether he’s Syrian or — from wherever he is, even from the Middle East, as long as he had some sort of Westernized formal training or education — I’ll be there. It’s one of those things. I must say, some people say, “Oh, you’re going to get typecast.” Well maybe, maybe not. But the thing is it’s fun to play these characters.
The guy I play on “Edison” with Morgan Freeman. You know, it’s a very interesting script. I play a minor role in it. And again it’s about corruption in a police department, which involves a reporter who uncovers — how can I say — a special hit squad in the police department.
GW: Well, you’re an inspiration to receding hairlines everywhere.
DP: That’s the thing. If it’s receding, take it off! Take it off, you’re not fooling anybody.
GW: Well, we look forward to seeing you at Gatecon this year.
DP: Oh, yeah! You coming to Gatecon?
GW: I personally am coming to Gatecon and look forward to seeing you there again.
GW: You take care and I’ll be talking to you soon. Thanks a lot for everything, David!
DP: My pleasure, David.