After our interview with Simon earlier this year, Cliff was convinced the script elves must be shining down upon him. He could not be happier with the episode. “It’s very strange that we had that whole interview and then I received this script and it was all just so written for me!” Simon told GateWorld. “Whether they know or they have seen anything, but it was exactly what I wanted Baal to become. And it’s just amazing that it worked out that way.
“When I received the script I was like ‘I can’t believe it.’ If I had to write a script, if they said ‘Cliff, write the script,’ I would’ve written something like [‘Ex Deus Machina’]. It was pretty cool. So it went exactly the way I wanted it to, bringing more dimensions into him, a little bit more humor, and turning him exactly to what we were talking about last time.”
Simon was certainly glad to be back on the set of Stargate. “[It was] excellent,” he said. “I got to see Amanda Tapping’s little baby, which was great. She’s so excited and she’s exhausted as a mother. She’s shooting on set [and] her baby’s in the trailer with the babysitter. But she’s doing well and she’s looking great. I just happened to see her, Michael, and Chris. I spoke to them. They’re good.
“Besides that, it was great to work with Martin Wood again, who was directing the episode.” With the exception of the Season Eight episodes Simon appeared in, Wood has directed Cliff through the entire series.
Cliff Simon returns as Baal in Season Nine’s “Ex Deus Machina.”
With eight previous episodes under his belt, “Ex Deus Machina” probably managed to set a record in terms of the length it took Cliff to shoot the show. “It took a long time to shoot this episode,” he said. “I started working on it on the 25th of April and finished on the 25th of May. I would work in the week, then a week back in L.A., then a week back up there, then a week back in L.A., then a week back there!
“I think it was mainly to do with people’s availability. We were working with Beau Bridges and Lou Gossett, Jr. and their availability. They [usually] weren’t around. So it was sort of doing scenes and then going back and doing other scenes. So it was completely mixed up. I shot the beginning of the episode at the end of my whole schedule. To put it that way, it was pretty strange! Nothing was in sequence.”
And what about working with the principle cast? “Not directly,” the actor said. He only got to visit with them briefly, but the scenes with them were recorded in an entirely separate place. “They’re actually just watching me on a screen. I was talking to them. I was with them in the studio at the time. What we do [is] we shoot it live. So I’m actually sitting in front of a camera shooting, they’re watching me on a screen, on a monitor.”
Two scenes are being directed in two different rooms simultaneously to bring about the best reactions in the performance. “It’s called a live feed. It’s very, very interesting. I haven’t actually done that before. I’m not pre-recorded and then shown to them when they shoot the scene. It’s actually all live, all going, so it keeps the energy up, which is great! All live, as if it’s happening.”
Richard Dean Anderson’s departure from the show has set a different stage. Cliff tells us that the tone of the show is slightly different, even from the perspective of a guest star.
“I felt it a little bit,” he said. “I’m not obviously there every day like Chris and Michael, so they can definitely see. I found the crew, I think, to be a lot more relaxed, and in general the people on set were a lot more relaxed. Even though the show goes like clockwork, like a well-oiled machine, everyone seemed a little happier for whatever reason. I never really felt that with Richard Dean there that he was very hard on people or strict or that kind of thing as the producer. He can say anything he wants about the show. Now that he’s not there, I don’t know … People are a little bit more relaxed and easy-going.”
This Friday expect to see a side of Baal that has not been shown before, and a climax that’s going to have viewers out of their seats before the episode’s end. “People [around him will] look at him as if he is human, but he’s not. That’s pretty cool.”