Beware of spoilers for Stargate SG-1‘s tenth season episode “Insiders” in this interview!
He has one of the most recognizable faces in showbiz. Now he’s the leader of Stargate Command on the longest-running science fiction series in American history. Beau Bridges continues his role as General Hank Landry on Stargate SG-1 in Season Ten, and was kind enough to take time out of his busy shooting schedule for GateWorld.
While pausing in-between takes for “Insiders,” Beau sat down with us in the S.G.C. control room to talk about where he’s come since last year, and where he’s going to be taking the character in the show’s landmark tenth season. He praises the writing staff for their unending knack for kicking out good stories, and drops a hint as to where those stories will take us this fall.
GateWorld’s interview with Mr. Bridges is available in MP3 audio format for easy listening, and is 11 minutes long. It is also transcribed below. You can also download the interview to your MP3 player and take GateWorld with you!
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net, I’m David Read and I’m here with Mr. Beau Bridges, General Hank Landry on Stargate SG-1. Beau, good to be with you — finally!
Beau Bridges Yes! Nice to meet you, David.
GW: Nice to meet you. Tell us about the episode you’re shooting right now, and Landry’s involvement in it.
BB: Well, it’s Baal again. He’s giving us a bad time. In fact, there’s more than just one of him. And I also have the N.I.D. to deal with. Barrett is back again, giving me a problem, like he always does. He’s lurking very close to me right now, as we speak.
GW: [Peter Flemming listens to his iPod] He’s zoned out!
GW: Stargate SG-1 ran for eight successful years before you joined the cast. Tell us what challenges you faced joining an established show like this.
BB: Well, I figured I was really lucky to join such a vastly popular show, coming up on our 200th episode this year. I just consider myself lucky. It’s like jumping on a moving train. It’s a great group, and they welcomed me with open arms. [I] sort of hit the ground running. It’s been a ball ever since. I’ve had a great time.
GW: What’s different about this year than last, or is it the same for you so far?
BB: Well I think that — obviously this is my second time around so I’m a lot more comfortable. I think it was great that we had the opportunity to get a little bit of a jump on the stories — on the scripts — because we got a green light enough time in advance, so Robert and the rest of the writing team could start working on the scripts. I think that’s where a show starts.
Like Shakespeare said, “The play’s the thing.” And I think Robert is certainly one of the best execs in the business. I think the reason this show has been a hit for so many years is because he’s writing them and he’s watching over the guys that are turning them out — and I like to say the words! [Laughter]
GW: Your career boats an impressive list of film and television. What made you choose to add an ongoing role on a science fiction series like Stargate to your body of work?
BB: Well, I’ve always been a fan of science fiction. I enjoyed it. I think, maybe, they had an idea to come to me because, I think MGM used to do this show or used to be involved. I did the two-hour movie called “The Sandkings” which kicked off their Outer Limits franchise, which ran quite a few years for them and was very successful. I think they almost went, like, ten years — that franchise. And I did that with my Dad and my son, who’s about your age, I think you said. Dylan. That was a great experience. I enjoyed doing that show. I’ve always liked science fiction, so this was fun to be able to come and do this.
GW: That show was shot here. Was it nice to come back to your roots, because you’ve been here before?
BB: Yes. Vancouver’s a wonderful city. I do live in Los Angeles, so sometimes I miss being home, but if you’re going to be away working I can’t think of a better city than Vancouver. It’s just a beautiful place. All the water, yeah.
GW: What’s your single favorite memory from last year, Season Nine?
BB: You mean in terms of the shows themselves?
GW: In terms of your involvement, even if it was off-screen.
BB: Well one of the shows I really liked was the “Ripple Effect.” It really involved big time sci fi technology with all those clones going around. They’d done that type of thing before on Stargate but it was the first time I was a part of that, so that was fun. I enjoyed the episode. I just saw it recently, as a matter of fact.
GW: What is it about series television that you enjoy?
BB: Well when you do a character that runs through a whole series, it gives you the opportunity to evolve that person through different kinds of situations that you wouldn’t get to in a two-hour movie, or an hour show. General Landry was particularly interesting for me because when I was hired for the job to play the character, he was basically just a blank page. There was nothing there. So, Robert invited me to work on the character with him, to flesh him out, and we created a biography between the two of us. I always like to do that with characters that I portray.
So he has a real back-story. And then the writers have filled it in with stuff that happens — my daughter, played by Lexa Doig. So it gives you a place to start, and I like that.
GW: It’s not canon yet, Landry’s back-story is still relatively obscure. It’s been said that he’s a Vietnam vet who married and had Carolyn with a Vietnamese woman. Would you like to see Landry’s personal relations explored further or do you prefer to remain on the professional side with this character, or both?
BB: Well when I was researching generals — which is what I did, and that helped me find the back-story for General Landry — first of all, I was amazed by their education. These guys, several of them have several Masters degrees. They really come from all walks of life. And also I found that, as much as the whole challenge of command confronts them, they are people in the end and they have all kinds of human problems just like the rest of us.
So I do like that, when Landry gets involved in that kind of personal stuff. And I hope that that’s going to happen in the future shows. We don’t really learn about him much more than you guys do in terms of lead time. It’s just like life, kind of. I don’t know what’s going to pop up for General Landry in his life.
BB: No, I think there will only be one Jack O’Neill. Richard Dean did a wonderful job with that character. I like the fact that he was part of the reason I came to SG-1. I thought that was clever of them to do that.
GW: Hand-picked you.
BB: Yeah. But no, right from the get-go, I think General Landry stands on his own. He’s his own person. Like I said, I was able to have a hand in creating that with Robert Cooper — that character — so it’s been fun.
GW: Is there anything that you want to do differently, or something new that you would like to accomplish this year, or do you plan to just do what you are given?
BB: Yeah, I have total trust in Robert Cooper and his team of writers. They’re vastly talented. I’m sort of just waiting to see, with baited breath like, hopefully, the fans are, as to what’s going to happen. I’m sure it will be exciting. I know we have Baal in our midst again, and the Goa’uld and the Ori are still around, so those guys are happening. But there’s some other interesting things that happen. Pretty soon I suggest that we all take a little R&R, [and] go up into the mountains to a cabin. That gets pretty interesting.
BB: Mhmm. I won’t say any more about it.
GW: OK, OK. What can fans look forward to from Landry in Season Ten?
BB: I think that the kind of leader Landry is — I think he likes to empower his team. He realizes how challenged they are. It’s a huge burden to protect their country from the entire galaxy, but he also recognizes that, like himself, they are human beings. Except for Teal’c, I suppose. But he’s kind of human in a way, too — as portrayed by Chris Judge.
I think he values them. But he sees them as human beings, so he wants them to feel comfortable in what they have to do — as comfortable as they can, given these circumstances. So he’s watching that very closely. I think he also realizes that Colonel Mitchell is in such a crucial position. He is also somewhat new to the group, like General Landry has been. So he wants to make sure that Colonel Mitchell feels empowered that he can do that job.
The fact that Mitchell was able to bring together the old team as he did, I think was impressive to General Landry, and he wants to preserve that fighting spirit that SG-1 has as the lead group. Sometimes he does that with a bark, and sometimes with a bite, but he also has a sense of humor, this man. And he likes to fool with people.
GW: [Laughter] Nerus.
BB: Yeah. Whenever he can fool with people. Especially the people that represent the establishment. The N.I.D. Those guys. They kind of “irk” him, so he likes to mess with their heads a little bit — like I’m doing in this show right now with Barrett and the N.I.D.