With dance and music as her background, acting might seem to be an odd choice for Rachel Luttrell. The multi-talented actress, who plays Teyla Emmagan in the new series Stargate Atlantis, attended both the Russian Academy Ballet School and the Royal Conservatory of Canada, where she studied piano. And if that wasn’t enough talent for one person, Rachel also has a classically trained soprano voice.
GateWorld caught up with Luttrell briefly when she attended the recent London Film and Comic Con convention. The event took place in the immense, hangar-like space of the Wembley Conference Centre on a grey and chilly English day. Despite the threat of rain, the queue to get in stretched down the side of the venue. And while there were long-established genre stars like Jonathan Frakes in attendance, the Atlantis actors were clearly just as popular a draw. There were constant queues for the cast members, who laughed and bantered with each other all day.
The physical differences between the actress and her character are noticeable. For one thing, Luttrell smiles a lot more. She also has the natural grace of a dancer, where her character holds a more gymnastic posture. And Teyla has a hard edge that Rachel doesn’t possess, reflecting the life the character has had, seeing many of her friends and family taken by the Wraith, leaving her the leader of her people at a young age.
GateWorld: What made you decide to go into acting?
Rachel Luttrell: Ah, I don’t know. I mean it seemed like more of a natural progression to me because I always seemed to be acting, and you know I seem to have been through all kinds of things. I just decided to do it.
GW: Why not music or dance?
RL: Oh, but I have. And I’ll go back to it for sure. I’ve done quite a few musicals. I started off in theater as a dancer, and I love to sing. I haven’t hung up my dance shoes or my singing. No.
GW: What if Atlantis goes for eight or nine seasons, like Stargate?
RL: I think it can go that long, and I would like that.
GW: Were you a fan of Stargate SG-1 before you were case as Teyla?
RL: You know what? I first discovered Stargate because of the movie, and I absolutely loved the movie. I just loved the notion of being able to go through a wormhole into other worlds. It’s absolutely fascinating and I actually had watched episodes before. It’s very exciting to be able to be on board.
GW: Do you ever go online?
RL: [Laughter] You know what? No. I tend to stay away from that. I’m happy that they’re there, but I’ve gotten neurotic about reading things, so I stay away. Rainbow goes online a lot.
GW: Will we ever get to know more about your character or what you do? Any particular themes?
RL: To look forward to? We definitely get into why I am the way I am, my family, my ability to sense the Wraith. Other abilities I end up discovering, and where they come from.
GW: Is that ability to sense the Wraith the reason Teyla became the leader of the Athosians?
RL: Yeah, it is kind of the reason why she’s the leader. But we don’t really know — or my people don’t really know where I get my abilities from. It’s just something that absolutely helps, although they don’t know how. But we end up discovering why.
GW: As you might know there are people who always look for romance in any kind of film. What would be the best pairing for your character on Atlantis?
RL: Well, let’s see … Of our Earth characters, probably Major John Sheppard. We have gravitated towards each other and we have that flirtation at the beginning. He’s very protective and I’m able to trust him immediately. But you know, there are also those among my people who — there might have been something there. Maybe there will be something there. So we’ll see!
GW: Will we see that flirtation between John Shepherd and your character throughout the series?
RL: Oh yes, definitely. [Laughter] Nothing really awkward, but we have fun.
GW: Would you like to see Teyla in a relationship, or do you think it would detract from what the show is really about?
RL: I think it would take away. I think that it’s great to have a little bit of a tease or possibility that’s kind of always there, and because it’s sci-fi we can play with it. There could be an alternate universe where there could be something!
But I think to actually see them dive into it — maybe not. I might have a love interest and he might die [Laughter], someone who will come and have a few stories and then he’ll have to disappear.
GW: Is that a “might” or a “does?”
RL: Oh no, this is a “might.”
GW: So this is something we might see in Season Two?
RL: Yeah! Yeah, I think so.
Interview by Lynley Oram and Feli