Beware of SPOILERS for Stargate Atlantis‘s first season episode “The Siege, Part 1” in this interview!
Anyone who watched the first season of Stargate Atlantis will recognize Craig Veroni as Dr. Peter Grodin, an experienced British scientist who often worked alongside Elizabeth Weir in trying to save the city from the latest disaster. Perhaps most importantly, Grodin was the character who gave “The Siege” meaning.
Craig took a few minutes out of his recent convention schedule to tell GateWorld about the impact the show has had on his career, the friendships he has made — and what he would have liked to have seen before Grodin bit the big one. We also discuss possible alternate outcomes for the character that fans have devised, as well as the consequences of drawing the short straw for the sake of dramatic impact.
GateWorld’s video interview with Craig runs a little over 12 minutes, and is transcribed below. The interview is also available in audio format for your listening convenience!
GateWorld: This is David Read with GateWorld.net. I’m with the great Craig Veroni. How you doing, Craig?
Craig Veroni: Hi, I’m good! Welcome! Hi to everybody out there.
GW: We’re glad to have you with us.
CV: Thank you.
GW: How did you first learn Grodin would not survive to meet Season Two?
CV: I actually got a call from N. John Smith, one of the producers, who was very kind and gracious enough to give me a call before I had picked up the script. He phoned me and said, “I don’t know if you’ve gotten the script yet.” I said, “No, I haven’t.” And he said, “Well, I’ve got some bad news. They’re killing off Grodin.”
There was a long pause and a bit of silence … but these things happen. It’s the business. The writers have story and plotlines and sometimes characters die.
GW: I think one of the big things was, in “The Siege,” we obviously know Atlantis will not be destroyed. The main characters are not going to be killed — in most cases — at the end of the season.
CV: Unless it’s The Sopranos or something. [Laughter] Which it’s not!
GW: But I think your character’s death gave “The Siege” meaning.
CV: Well, as Martin Wood said, that’s what they wanted. When the writers were writing the story they wanted to have a character get killed in the episode, but they also wanted that character’s death to have weight with the audience. So they had to pick a character that had been through the season that the audience cared about and knew that wasn’t one of the main characters, but would have some impact on the audience when he was blown up in the satellite.
And my character fit the bill, I guess. Fit the description for the one to go.
GW: Well, you know, some fans have been tossing around the fact that there were a lot of Darts in the vicinity, and maybe he got beamed aboard.
CV: I’ve heard many different rumors and speculations from fans about what has happened to Grodin, and that he’s not dead. He didn’t blow up in the satellite. He’s on board a Wraith ship. He’s being interrogated, or whatever.
GW: They could conceivably do that!
CV: It’s all conceivable. It’s all very logical. But like I say to the fans, it’s in the writers’ hands. They have story and plotlines for Season Two that they’re working on and going with and if they decide that Grodin fits into those plans somehow then that would be great.
It’s a fantastic show to work on. The Stargate family is literally that. It’s a family. The producers, the writers, the directors, all the crew are incredible people and they care passionately about the show and what they’re doing. And they care passionately about the people they have working for them.
So I really miss being there. It was a wonderful opportunity. And I’m thankful to have been a part of it for Season One.
GW: You were in “Rising.”
CV: Yes, right at the very beginning.
GW: You were in fact one of the first who actually had lines. Did you know that this would be a recurring role?
CV: I did. Yes, yes this was part of the character description, that he would be a recurring character. Now, when you hear those words you never know how much the character will recur in a season.
And I was fortunate. I was in about, I think, ten episodes out of the 22 of Season One, which was fantastic. It all depends on, like I said, the writers and their story and plot-lines as to whether your character will be there, in what capacity. So I was very happy. I have no complaints.
GW: What is your most poignant memory of working on the show?
CV: It would have to be filming the scene in the space station where I’m looking up at the camera and it’s pulling away at me, because that was the last scene of my last day of filming.
GW: Oh, they left it at the end?
CV: It was the final scene to be shot, so the last half of that day I was literally by myself. It was just me working with the rest of the crew filming that whole scene where McKay is talking to me and I’m responding, and there’s lots going on. I’m trying to fire the weapon and what not.
That would probably have to be the most poignant because I literally felt on my own. But it was great. It was great.
GW: What were your original expectations for the show and your role within it?
CV: I had no expectations, really, because this was — I didn’t know much about the character other than what was written in the pilot, in “Rising.” At that point I didn’t have word yet that I was going to be in the next episode, or how many episodes I’d be in. For me it was literally episode by episode as to what was happening.
And I really didn’t have any expectations. I was told it was a recurring character. You hope you’re going to recur as much as possible. They certainly put me in a number of episodes.
I wish the character was fleshed out a little more. That was one of my — probably the only disappointment I have about working on the show for Season One would’ve been that the character wasn’t fleshed out more. And I think that’s simply because they had so many characters they were working on. There’s a lot of characters to think about, and plot-lines. It was just one of those things.
GW: You spent a lot of time with Dr. Elizabeth Weir, played by Torri Higginson.
CV: — Which I loved. And I wish that would’ve been developed more. Yeah, that was great. It was great always being alongside Weir and being amidst all the action.
GW: What is your opinion of Torri Higginson as an actress?
CV: She’s [a] phenomenally sweet woman to work with. Absolutely a joy to work with, yeah.
GW: Grodin had a strong relationship with Dr. Weir. What is your opinion about those scenes?
CV: I think they’re great. It’s one of the things that I really liked about the writing. I said earlier that I wish the character had been fleshed out more, but there were areas where things were fleshed out. That was one of the things I enjoyed, the relationship with Weir.
There was starting to happen — a relationship with McKay, which kind of got replaced when Zelenka was brought in. They really found someone to go at McKay with Zelenka. Yeah, my relationship with Weir, I think, was a great one. All the scenes were always very strong.
GW: Where were you hoping this character would go before you got the call?
CV: I was hoping that they would toughen the character up somehow, that they would give more edge to the character, write more of an edge to the character and toughen him up a little bit. I like the fact that he was sort of a contained, British persona, that in a crisis situation he’s there, focused. He’d get the job done. But I also wanted to have a few more flaws in him, a little more edge to him. Yeah.
GW: Are you hoping that there will be flashbacks to Year One where you will be included?
CV: Of course!
GW: Good! And that’s a possibility because that first year was so important.
GW: Like, in “Before I Sleep,” we had the flashback to the beginning of the show. Good. What do you think is Grodin’s most endearing quality?
CV: His most endearing quality? Well, that’s a question for the fans! I don’t know. His most endearing quality. For me personally, the thing that I liked most about the character was the dry sense of humor the character had. McKay is a very in-your-face kind of character. I wish that they’d been able to develop a little more of this acidic wit to Grodin, but I liked the fact that he’s got this dry sense of humor.
He’s not typically British but he’s got some British attributes that people identify with. There was a certain charm to the character that I tried to imbue him with that I hope came across.
GW: If you could return for only one more show, what would it be about, and what would Grodin’s function be?
CV: Only one more show? Hmm. Well I’d just hope he could come back. If it could only be one show I’d hope that he’d be able to come back and we could see the character fleshed out fully so that the audience is left with a really strong, clear impression of the character wholly. And then, if he has to die, that he dies in a heroic fashion.
CV: Again! Yes! Trying to save the people in Atlantis. Because he cares deeply about these people. Everyone in Atlantis cares about each other. They went on this one-way mission knowing that they’d never go back, so all they have is each other.
GW: Is there anything that you’d like to say the fans that are listening and watching right now?
CV: Well, the one thing I’d like to say is: Thank you for your support. The show doesn’t go anywhere without your support. You’re incredibly loyal fans. Stargate fans are incredibly supportive and loyal. I thank you for that.
Right now we’re at a Stargate convention in Vancouver, which is my first convention. And I have to say the fans that I’ve met here over the weekend have been phenomenal. They’re incredibly supportive, incredibly sweet. And I’ve got many people coming up to me saying, “We’re sorry your character’s dead. Why is he dead?” It’s been very touching and I really appreciate everything the fans do.
For those of you who write fanfics, this is something I wasn’t aware of before and something I’ve been introduced to in the last few months, and been able to go on and read certain fanfics which are hilarious and hysterical. So keep up the good work, and thank you! You guys are fantastic.
GW: Craig Veroni, thank you.
CV: Thank you!