Those who have not seen the reimagined The Outer Limits have missed a special treat. The series ran for seven years and sported a plethora of wild, often ground-breaking stories. Tom was there for the second episode of the new series, “Valerie 23,” right when things were just getting started. When he played the same character in the sequel episode “Mary 25” (Season Four), he co-starred with Michael Shanks (“Daniel Jackson”).
In The Outer Limits,Charlie Rogers (Butler) attempts to convince Frank Hellner (William Sadler) to bring the Valerie 23 android into his home.
“The crew was very enthusiastic,” he told GateWorld. “For them, when you’re doing a series it has a crew. You’re in there for 23 episodes. So the fact that they got a new cast and a new story every week was thrilling to them. A lot of those guys were young, and we’re talking almost ten years ago. I bump into them now and then working on other shows and they’ve all moved up through positions and they’re still enthusiastic about it. They still talk about it.
“For me, I’m a very fortunate person. I get paid for playing, and working with very beautiful women, too. It was marvelous. It’s a good bunch of guys to work with. I did five episodes of The Outer Limits. Sometimes they get mixed up.”
SG-1 fans will remember Butler as General Trofsky, the dubious villain who eventually revealed himself to be one of Hathor’s goons after posing as a U.S. military officer from the future.
“You know what’s fun? It’s trying to fool the audience,” Butler said. “We were trying to trick Richard Dean Anderson into thinking that he was in safe hands and that we were going to look after him. You don’t want to give that away to the audience. That’s always fun. And it’s fun being on set with Richard Dean Anderson. There’s a case where they’ve been together for such a long time and they still love him.
“Oh, man, and then getting dressed up into costume where I’m not me anymore! There was one scene where I came around the corner and the S.G. guys were there with their guns, and they opened fire at me. I could feel the shockwaves from the blank cartridges. I could feel the heat. I had earplugs in. I was yelling at the top of my lungs but I couldn’t hear myself! I was thinking, ‘If I was in a real battle I’d be running so fast!'”
In “Out Of Mind”, Trofsky poses as the future General in charge of the S.G.C.
Even seven years since, Tom is reminded of how easy it was to act on the Stargate sets. “As an actor you don’t have to act when you’ve got all that stuff going on for you,” he said. “They supply this reality for you. You just have to exist within that reality, and it’s wonderful. There are times when you have to pretend — it’s your close-up and there’s nothing there to look at. But on that set it’s just wonderful.”
On-location shots are no different. “When we went out do the exteriors, where we had the gate set up [in a] barren, desolate area — it’s a lot of fun. Michael Greenburg [executive producer] was fun to work with, too. He was a good guy.”
Expect to see Tom in an upcoming film alongside J.R. Bourne (“Martouf”): “Everything’s Gone Green.” “It was wonderful,” Butler said. “The script was by Douglas Copeland. He coined the phrase ‘Generation X.’ It’s a light romantic comedy. I play the father of the main character. He’s going through his existential difficulties. I, as the father, I’ve lost my job. It’s a nice romantic comedy.”
He’s also appearing in a TV movie which is sure to stop viewers in their tracks, “Flight 93.” “It’s about the plane that went down in Pittsburg. I play the head military officer in the White House. We’re in the dark trying to figure out what’s happening. It wasn’t so bad for me, but for the people who played the characters on the plane — they said it was quite a cathartic movie for them to do. And also the women, a lot of the people had cell phones and they realized what was happening, getting information back. People on the ground, wives, mothers. For them it was pretty heavy-duty. I like the approach to it.”
By “Into the Fire,” Trofsky has given up the facade, holding Dr. Jackson (Michael Shanks) hostage.
Will we be seeing Butler any time soon on either SG-1 or Atlantis? “It sometimes depends on the availability of stuff, my availability. Last year I was out of town a lot. I did a lot of theater. I went back to Toronto and did a couple of plays. I did one up in Ottawa, my home town. First time I worked professionally in my hometown.”
Still, he insists that he wants to come back. “I’d love to do one. It’s been a while! I’m going away for a holiday so probably in the New Year I’ll chase one down. I’ll be back. I’ll tell my agent to get on it!”
We’re holding you to that.
The Outer Limits Season One is now on DVD (Region 1 – North America). Order your copy online at Amazon.com and you support GateWorld with your purchase! Tom Butler appears in two episodes in the first season, “Valerie 23” (written by SG-1 co-creator Jonathan Glassner) and “The Conversion” (written by SG-1 co-creator Brad Wright) As the series was also owned by MGM and produced at The Bridge Studios in Vancouver, look for several familiar faces from the Stargate universe in the popular anthology series!