No one could have anticipated that Patrick Currie‘s performance as the naive Replicator Fifth would strike such a chord among Stargate SG-1 fans, expressing a vulnerability (and at the same time a dangerously unrefined strength) unlike any other science fiction villain. Introduced in Season Six’s “Unnatural Selection,” Fifth was betrayed at the end of the episode — and immediately viewers empathized with his predicament.
Currie returned to play him at the beginning of Season Eight in the two-parter “New Order,” finally bringing Fifth’s vengeance full circle, and once more in “Gemini.”
In this interview, Patrick sits down with GateWorld to discuss the evolution of Fifth, the origins of the artificial being’s thinking, and the struggle to develop his immature emotions. He also talks about his first prosthetics experience, falling in love with the role of Eamon (“Space Race”), and taking the reigns of Chaka (“Enemy Mine”).
GateWorld’s audio interview with Patrick is available in MP3 audio format for easy listening, and is about 30 minutes long. It is also transcribed below!
GateWorld: This is David Read with GateWorld.net. I’m on the phone with Patrick Currie. How are you doing, Patrick?
Patrick Currie: I’m good.
GW: Glad to have you with us.
PC: Good to be here.
GW: How aware were you of Stargate before appearing in Season Six’s “Unnatural Selection?”
PC: I was pretty aware of the show. I’ve watched it sporadically when I’ve had a TV over the last nine years, or eight years. And I’d auditioned for the show since the very beginning. I think I probably had about 15 auditions before I finally got a role.
PC: Yeah. I went out for a lot of stuff but I was always short-listed and in consideration, but they always told my agent they wanted to wait for the perfect episode to use me in. They didn’t want to spoil it, they wanted to come up with me later. I’m really glad they did because Fifth turned out to be a great character.
PC: You know, I actually didn’t see “Menace” — intentionally.
PC: Yeah, I had seen the Replicators just having watched the show in the past in their spider-like form, and I knew a bit of the history of their culture on the show. And when I did the audition I hadn’t seen “Menace” and I didn’t know about that episode.
So I prepared for the audition, and that was a pretty intense preparation. And once I got the role I spoke to [director] Andy Mikita about it, and he said that he really liked the direction I was going in and he liked what I was bringing to the character. And I didn’t want to taint it or start mimicking someone else because it’s really easy to second-guess yourself when you see another actor’s performance. So I decided not to watch that episode.
GW: Have you seen it since?
PC: No, I haven’t.
GW: Really? OK. Obviously the human Replicators — they’re a step in a different direction from their bug-like counterparts. Were there any particular differences the producers wanted to make out in terms of movement or personality characteristics?
PC: No, I think the casting process on the show is so dead-on. I really brought a lot of that physicality to the audition, and they were obviously pleased with it. And then when I met with the other actors on set and we were all in costume — and the costumes were amazing. They sort of dictated a little bit of the movement for us. They were quite static in the torso, and with the high collars in the neck. They informed a bit of the movement. And you could see some similarities between all of us on set already, so I think it was there for them.
GW: Right. Has Fifth taught you anything in terms of your performance as an actor?
PC: Yeah, actually, he taught me a lot. Like I said, I’d auditioned for the show a lot over the last 10 years. As an actor I’ve auditioned hundreds of times. And you tend to — it’s not ideal, but we all fall into a rut sometimes when you start to play particular types, like professional, the geek, different characters. And often that’s enough depending on the size of the role and the show because you’re just serving the script.
And I actually fell into that trap when I was preparing for Fifth. I thought, “OK, he’s the guy who’s really young and innocent, and then he gets hurt, and … Sure, got it.” But something wasn’t sitting right with me. And I was like, “You know, I’m not feeling like I’ve nailed this.” And I couldn’t figure it out.
So I called over a friend of mine. We did this scene together. The hardest scene was the one with Amanda when I take her into my mind and we have that conversation. And my friend said, “You know, it’s good, but it doesn’t seem real.” He was like, “This character seems to me like he needs to be super-real. He needs to remind us of what it’s like before we learn to play games and pretend.” And I went, “Oh, that’s the key to this character.”
It’s not a fun place to go as a person to have to be that vulnerable and that simple. And it’s challenging as an actor because in the audition it was tough — and then on-set it’s even tougher. Everyone’s standing around in their military gear, plus the crew is there, and your fellow actors, and you have to just maintain this wide-eyed innocence. And it feels a bit — you feel a bit stupid at times. But that’s what the character needed, and it reminded me as an actor that I’m there to serve my character and do exactly what he needs to have a full life on camera.
GW: Right. In “Unnatural Selection,” it was almost obvious that he was made out to be this “ugly duckling” because he was the one that was programmed without the flaw. And there was a lot of confrontation between him and First, kind of like a father-son attitude. What did you feel about that? Did you feel that that performance came off well?
PC: Yeah, I think it went really well. I think he was definitely the outsider. I mean, I felt in filming it, even. Ian Buchanan is such a great actor. He was so much fun to work with. The father-son relationship was definitely there. I felt like the awkward teenager who didn’t get the “table with the family.” Doesn’t know if he should speak up because he’s probably going to say the wrong thing, and he’s a bit panicked by it. You’re so unsure about everything you do and say, and I really got that sense just from working with the other Replicators.
GW: Right. Great. Tell us about working with Amanda Tapping.
PC: Amanda is so great to work with. It’s such a treat to go into the trailer — I generally worked mostly with Amanda on the show and going to the trailer in the morning and just giving her a big hug and saying “Good Morning,” and getting that real generosity and friendship going on. It’s great, and it carries through into the characters. It was really easy to fall in love with her, as Fifth.
GW: [Laughter] Is there a poignant memory you have working with her?
PC: A poignant memory … Well, it was funny doing the head-to-head thing: the Replicator head-butt at the end of the table in “Unnatural Selection.” We were laughing about that quite a bit, trying to get the details right with the camera and, “How am I going to do this?” She would make funny noises as I was going into her during rehearsal. And then you try and keep a straight face, and it’s like, “Oh, is she going to do it again?” I don’t know!
GW: Did you prefer playing opposite Carter or RepliCarter? They’re two definitely different characters.
PC: Oh, it’s really hard to say, because the relationship even, as Carter, went through so many drastic changes. I’d have to say Carter, because we did explore that relationship much more.
GW: OK, in “New Order.”
GW: Definitely. The scenes in “Gemini” were just so good. Replicator Carter obviously was playing a double layer, not being completely honest with Fifth, and in the end we figure out what it is. And he’s just — we’ve seen him betrayed already and now it’s even worse.
PC: Yeah. He hasn’t had a lot of luck with women. [Laughter]
GW: Do you prefer playing good guys, or bad guys, or someone in between?
PC: You know, it’s playing the good guy who turns bad that is the most fun. Going through the evolution. You never really play a “bad guy,” because bad people don’t know they’re bad. If they did they’d have the ability to change their actions. But they don’t — they just know that what they need is what they need, and it’s the people on the outside who realize that that doesn’t work or that it’s wrong. Of course, they always realize afterwards what they’ve done.
Like in the moment when I choose not to put my hand into Carter’s head. That’s the moment where I’m just fulfilling my need, and my need is vengeance. And I’m realizing that I’m upset and I’m feeling better because she’s crying, because now we’re sharing that pain. And that makes me feel closer to her. But then it goes one step further and the good side of Fifth comes back and goes, “Wait a minute. This doesn’t feel good now.” And that’s when he becomes aware of his own evil side and he chooses to stop. Then he has to go through that whole process and figure out what’s next with her.
GW: Right. And in the end he lets her go.
PC: In the end he lets her go.
GW: Do you think Fifth is a bad guy?
PC: Oh, not at all. Not at all. He’s misunderstood. [Laughter] I mean, he’s an alien whose got human DNA now in his makeup, and he has no one to help him on his journey. But he’s been, in the initial episode, he’s been with the other human-form Replicators and had no other contact, so there’s been a limited amount — almost no emotion he’s experienced.
GW: Kind of like the blind leading the blind.
PC: Yeah. And then Amanda — Carter comes and he feels that first connection, but then she leaves him. And now he’s got this fire started inside of him and no one to help contain it and direct it.
GW: They’re all basically making fun of him anyway, so that doesn’t help.
PC: Yeah, exactly!
GW: The basic premise of “Gemini” was that RepliCarter was coming to give the S.G.C., and basically the entire Milky Way, advanced warning that Fifth was going to come and wipe them all out. Would he really have done it? Was he really that angry that he would have destroyed the entire galaxy, or tried to rule it?
PC: I don’t know. I mean, it leads to a lot of questions about what actually happened on the planet after he stopped the time-dilation device. Are those other guys still there? Are they not there? Is he working with them? There’s a whole bunch of different directions.
I don’t know if that’s the end of Fifth. When he created RepliCarter, what did he put in her? How much of this mission that she’s on is really her own? I mean, I know the scenes are there with the two of them conversing and things like that, but in a science fiction show we don’t know where it can go. But no, I don’t think Fifth would have annihilated the universe.
GW: You think he would’ve come to the brink of it and decided, “Hey, what the heck am I doing?”
PC: I would like to think so, yeah!
GW: Well, if we’re lucky we’ll see that explored in some way.
GW: GateWorld reader Dustin would like to know, “What did it take for you to not only portray a non-human villain, but one whose intentions have become completely driven by human emotion?” Where did you draw on for inspiration?
PC: Well, like I said, one of the first things as an actor you have to acknowledge that you can’t play a villain, so I couldn’t see him as being evil in any way. And I guess I would have to draw from my own adolescence, basically, and then all those things that have informed that would be movies that we’ve watched, the times seeing people go through that awkward, growing-up stage. Because that’s really what we’re watching with Fifth.
GW: Do you agree with Fifth and his rage toward Carter? Do you agree with the agenda from where that stemmed? Did he have a right to be as angry as he was?
PC: No, I don’t think he had a right to be that angry, but I can definitely understand where he’s coming from. It’s not his fault that he doesn’t have any experiences to help him figure out what happened. For him it was really direct. He said, “I’ll give you something if you give me something,” and she said, “I promise.” And then she screwed him over. So he doesn’t really have any other — it’s an impulse. It’s like, you get slapped, you slap back. That’s the sort of way it is.
GW: It’s a very raw experience, and he had no other input, except for the other Replicators who were just nothing but taking over the universe to begin with.
PC: Exactly. You’re not really going to turn to them for a hug. [Laughter]
GW: Amanda Tapping, she spent a great deal of time getting into “torture mode.” My buddy Darren was on set at the time and she was introduced to him, and she said, “I’ve got to go off and I’ve got to get ready for this scene” that the two of you were filming. And in my opinion it’s turned into some of the most potent moments in Stargate history. What did the two of you do to prepare for these difficult scenes?
PC: Well, when I read the torture scenes I was pretty excited, not because I got to torture Amanda but because — well, when I was coming back obviously, which was great. But I thought he needed an extreme reaction to what the Stargate crew did to him. He’s taking out every bit of anger he’s ever felt, just being directed at her. And they were written really well, and I thought Amanda and I would get together on set and really discuss how we were going to get into it.
And as soon as we started blocking the scene, I don’t know if your friend Darren told you but it was a really small set. That Replicator room that we’re in is like 10 by 12 feet, and they just removed one wall and the camera uses that wall as its access point.
So the rest of the crew is gone, which is a bit rare. Just Amanda and I in there, and in the blocking of me being taller than her, walking towards her and her having nowhere to go, immediately set us both up. We immediately fell into the — the threat was there. I started feeling really bad, so in between when they called “Cut,” I would sort of touch Amanda’s arm or just look her in the eyes and say, “You good?” She said, “Yeah, fine. Good.” “Anything you want me to change, or anything you want me to do?” There wasn’t anything, but that was her opportunity to say it to me.
Yeah, our characters just know each other. We talked about the last moment we saw each other in “Unnatural Selection.” Refreshed our memories, and it was sort of like, “You’d done me wrong.” And she was like, “Oops!” [Laughter] And then we went for it.
GW: Yeah. Not only the acting was done so superb, and I say that humbly, but the photography done in that shot: When she looks into that wall and the metal surface turns into a liquid and she sees her face, and you come through there — I had a shiver down my spine. Because he means business and he’s going to go after her, and there’s nothing that she can do about it. That was a very powerful moment and you guys executed that brilliantly.
PC: Thank you.
GW: GateWorld reader Sally would like to know if you could tell us if you and Amanda joked in between the torture scenes to alleviate the gravity of the situation, or did you guys just keep it serious to make the performance more convincing?
PC: Like I said, we kind of checked in with one another just to make sure that it was good, because you know, I mean, emotionally getting to the place she had to get to is challenging. And then you have to remember we’re also at work and there’s all these people standing around, and like your friend Darren said, she said, “I have to go off to the side and prepare for this moment.” Because, you know, there’s 40 people there.
Generally when we film together we do joke around a lot in between scenes and have a really good time. But that date for the torture scenes, we pretty much both just walked to our chairs when we had extended breaks and were by ourselves.
GW: OK, so to keep it in that frame of mind.
GW: Do you believe Fifth truly loved Carter or was she just an unlucky lightning rod while he began to explore his humanity?
PC: I guess she is an unlucky lightning rod because she’s the only one that he’s — he believes he loves her, but he doesn’t have anyone else to compare that to. It’s the first good feeling he’s ever had, and that feeling, being by itself, is being nurtured and growing inside him. So he knows nothing else, and for him that’s love.
GW: Right. Fifth makes a comment that he realized he was superior to his brethren. Do you think the reason that they don’t appear subsequently is because he basically annihilated them? Because there’s one Replicator, human Replicator that we see [in “New Order”]. And we’ve never seen it before. The others are all gone, so either they were sucked into that black hole, or he did something to them, or they’re off somewhere else.
PC: Oh, you mean the Replicator who was beamed onto the ship?
GW: That was the only one that we saw. I’m talking about the others from “Unnatural Selection.”
PC: Right, I think they’re gone. You know, he set the time dilation device and he had a millisecond on them. I think when he turned that machine off he just exploded and just took them all out.
PC: Yeah, because he’s so threatened in that last moment when they’re all crowding around him in “Unnatural Selection,” when the time is slowed down.
GW: So you think he blew them away.
PC: I kind of do. [Laughter] They can take it in any direction they want … but I would.
GW: Yeah, I guess, now that I think of it, that look on his face was like, “OK, getting over the ‘She promised’ part. Now I guess I’m going to have to kill my parents. They’re not supporting me here.”
PC: Yeah, and if they’re not going to hurt him, they’re at least going to probably, maybe stand in his way — or he thinks they might.
GW: Yeah, well you know, that would’ve come in handy before the whole thing started. Get them blown away, get it over with, and then leave on board the Prometheus. It’s too bad he waited!
Out of the dozen or so characters that were introduced in “Space Race,” Eamon was definitely my favorite. Did you find anything appealing about this guy who built garbage dumpsters for the Food Service Division?
PC: You know, I loved Eamon. He was so much fun. It was my first time in prosthetics.
GW: Uh-huh. Oh, really?
PC: Yeah. Originally they had asked me to come in and play the role of Warrick, and I declined because it was such a heavy role just in terms of screen time. And Dion had already played him — I believe it was Dion. And I wasn’t sure that I could handle prosthetics because I’d heard horror stories from friends of mine who had done prosthetics in other shows. I said, “You know what, I don’t think I have enough experience under my belt to take on such a large role, ’cause I don’t want to let you guys down.”
And they came back and said “Well, we’d love it if you take the secondary character and play his brother.” And I said, “Sure, let’s give it a try.” And it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because Warrick was already established. But Eamon? I had free reign.
GW: Yeah, he’s a blank slate.
PC: And I wanted to have fun with him. You know, I watched a lot of science fiction as a kid, watched a lot of TV, saw lots of aliens, and I wanted to do something a little different. So I got into the makeup, and the makeup crew on that show is so phenomenal. They take such good care of actors when you’re in heavy prosthetics. I had this lizard-like face on, huge contacts, the costume.
And what I wanted to come through was that he’s the bratty little brother who’s so tired of hearing his older brother getting all the accolades, and is just a little bitter and mad. And so I did that and I played it up quite large to see how much I could push the makeup. And I was really happy with the end result.
GW: Yeah, well Warrick disappeared for a few years, and that must’ve put Eamon on the map.
PC: Yes, exactly! And now he’s back to his old position.
GW: Would you come back and play Eamon if it was required?
PC: Absolutely. I would if it was the same makeup crew, because Todd Masters and Michelle Lemieux were my makeup people on that one, and they just made it so easy. But I can see how someone can have a bad experience from prosthetics if they’re not done well.
GW: Right, right. It can be almost painful, I imagine.
PC: It is. I mean, that stuff is glued to every muscle on your face. If you have tons of movement, all your expressions really come through. You have to work a little harder, so your face is tired at the end of the day.
GW: Right, so they come out. Dion Johnstone was unavailable to play Chaka in “Enemy Mine.” Were you encouraged to take the character in a totally new direction, or were you asked to emulate Johnstone’s performance to a degree?
PC: You know, we filmed “Space Race” first, and then “Enemy Mine” started. I think I had one day in between them. I’d met with [director] Peter DeLuise before filming “Space Race” and then we didn’t have any contact while I was working on that one. And then we had a phone conversation the day before filming. And then the day of filming, it was seven o’clock in the morning, I got full Chaka makeup on and Peter comes up to me on-set and he’s like, “OK, let’s talk about this character and how I want you to play him.”
And he was amazing. He walked me through the physicality that he saw for Chaka. He never said, “I want you to be Dion.” But I knew there were some big footsteps to fill. And Peter really made that easy for me. It’s following Dion’s lead and then doing my own thing with it.
GW: Right. Peter originally created the role, so that must’ve been very gratifying to have him around.
PC: It was. It’s so nice when you can trust your director a hundred percent.
GW: Right. Were you happy with how that show turned out?
PC: I was. Yeah — that was really challenging. Those prosthetics are incredible. It’s hot, and you have full prosthetic body-ware as well as the head and the contacts. And one of my contacts split while we were filming. Again, the crew was great. The makeup crew ran around during lunch and found another one — because they’re all custom made — got me another one. People have to take care of you. You can’t do anything. You can’t eat, you can’t even go to the bathroom by yourself. You have to have an assistant with you at all times.
GW: After Eamon and Chaka, what are your feelings now on the makeup process? Is it as daunting as some of your friends have said?
PC: Not as bad as they made it sound, but I can see with the wrong people how it could go bad. You really can’t eat. When I was doing Chaka, the makeup person who took care of me was this girl named Lise. And she had to, between each take, come and take out my fake teeth, so she had my drool on her hands and I’m like, “Here you go.” She takes out the teeth, and then I’m like, “I have to go to the bathroom.” And she’s like, “OK, I’ll tie your coat behind you and point you in the right direction!” [Laughter]
You have to be a good sport about it. You have to be good to the people around you, you have to be able to trust them. But I would definitely do it again.
GW: And in that entire process you’re trying to bring yourself down to the level of an Unas.
PC: Exactly. It’s like, “Here’s all of these things … and now act!”
GW: Yeah, “Now act this out!” Did you watch the other Unas episodes or did you jump into it like you did with Fifth?
PC: No, I watched both of Dion’s performances as Warrick and Chaka. I saw “Beast of Burden” and …
GW: “Beast of Burden” and “The First Ones.”
PC: “The First Ones.” That’s the one that I watched most closely. He’s great in that.
GW: Right. That’s when Chaka was first introduced.
Regrettably, “Gemini” might’ve been Fifth’s final appearance. In your honest opinion, was it a fitting end, or do you feel that you were cheated of this grand finale?
PC: Well, I’d like to hold out hope that it’s never over. And if that is where it ends, I can’t say I feel cheated. I did get to bring him to life in three episodes and we did get to explore a full relationship with Carter. I think it would be exciting to explore that relationship further with him and RepliCarter now and see where that goes, and play him really evil and have them work together to come back.
But they really have to focus on their core cast, and I understand that. And Fifth was a great character to give Samantha, and Amanda, some acting challenges. Her getting to play two Carters was, I’m sure, a blast for her. And I feel like he served the show well. I would like to see him come back if they can figure out a way to do that that’s believable.
GW: Right. With a ninth season now, the sky’s the limit.
GW: GateWorld reader Denise would like to know: “Do you believe there’s any chance at all that Fifth survived?”
PC: I think so. I think they can bring him back if they want to. He is a Replicator!
GW: Right! He could’ve transferred his subconscious along the subspace link before it was demolished. You know, I spoke with Michael Adamthwaite about this: You never see them die. You never watch the villains die. A couple of times, like in “The Tomb” — but other than that, not really. There’s got to be a reason behind that.
PC: Yeah, I guess they never want to close the door fully.
GW: Right. Are you open to appearing on Stargate Atlantis?
PC: Yeah, that would be great. I’ve been so wrapped in Stargate SG-1 that it hasn’t even come across my agent’s desk for me at this point. I guess, obviously, I would love to be on the show, period, to play whatever character they have. But I don’t know if they can cross over my face to another show at this point.
GW: Well, a couple of folks have already done it. The gentleman who played Narim also played Simon, and there was no prosthetics behind that. So I imagine they could pull it off.
PC: Yeah, I’d totally be into it.
GW: Would you be interested in playing an alien or perhaps a more permanent role as, maybe even a human, on the base?
PC: The aliens are so much fun. But you’re right, a human on the base is a steady job. [Laughter]
GW: So you would be open to that?
PC: I would be, yeah.
GW: OK, great. GateWorld reader Carina would like to know: “Have you ever been invited to appear at a Stargate convention, and if not, would you accept the invitation?”
PC: I’m actually going to be doing a Stargate convention in February in London, England, at the Heathrow — somewhere in Heathrow. A hotel. It’s a Wolf production. So I’m doing that for two or three days in February.
GW: OK. Are you excited?
PC: I’m really excited!
GW: Are there any horror stories that you’ve heard about that that you’re hoping to denounce?
PC: You know what, I don’t want to hear any horror stories because I don’t want to taint the experience. You get what you put into it, so I’m going to go there with a positive attitude and be excited to talk to all of these people who are so excited about the show and my characters and my work, and just have a good time.
GW: That’s really the whole point of the conventions. They really want to share that experience with you. We’ll definitely look forward to seeing you get up on stage there, and hopefully there won’t be too many horror stories.
PC: Hope not! [Laughter]
GW: Patrick, thanks a lot for talking with us. We sure hope we hear from you again in the future.
PC: You too.