GateWorld continues our celebration of 10 years of Stargate SG-1 with Part 2 of our interview with Don S. Davis!
In this segment, Don tells us about how the life-changing experiences the United States military offered him. He discusses his feelings for the changes in the show since Season Nine, and also tells us how he met his wife, Ruby.
Don also reveals to us that his health problems weren’t the only reason he chose to depart the show. The loss of Teryl Rothery in the tear-jerking “Heroes” left a great impact on him.
Part 2 of our video interview with Don lasts 20 minutes, and is transcribed in full below. The audio version of the interview includes both parts together in one easy download for your listening convenience!
GateWorld: You said that Hammond was influenced by your experience in the Army. How has the Army influenced you?
Don S. Davis: Well I’m one of those people that I wouldn’t have the life I had today if I hadn’t been in the service. I never believed that the Vietnam War was justified. It was a lie. It was built on a lie. I think the Iraq problem is the same thing. But the military doesn’t start wars. Politicians do, either to line their pockets or because they’re stupid or because they’ve obligated themselves to somebody who has said, “I need a war. Go fight one.” And so they are in control of the military. And they put out propaganda, and say “We’re threatened unless we do something.” And then a war starts.
The people that have to fight it very often know that they’re going into harm’s way not for a valid reason, but they’ve got to do it. And it’s been that way throughout history. “Into the valley of death rode the five hundred.” They knew they were riding into the valley of death. Today’s no different.
I get very angry when I hear people abuse the American military. Sure, there have been some incidents of some mistreatment of prisoners, but how can today’s public be so short-sighted not to remember the atrocities that these people were committing?
How can the public forget the Japanese treatment of prisoners in World War II? What the hell right does Japan have to complain about a couple of bombs when they were the instigators of the Bataan Death March? Men, women and children. And the Germans? They may make a good Volkswagen, but how can you ever forget what happened in World War II? And Bosnia, and Serbia.
One of the problems with mankind is that we are an animal that distrusts animals not like our pack. And there is always going to be someone with their own agenda that’s going to cause our pack to try and kill the other pack. That’s the nature of the beast. But within each pack, there are good people who take up the sword to defend their kind.
Boy, that’s going to get me in a lot of trouble! [Laughter]
GW: The show has taken on a drastic transformation since the beginning of Season Nine. Have you watched any of these episodes since? Have you caught any of them?
DD: I honestly don’t watch a lot of TV. I would have the same answer for about any show. I watch golf matches and the World Poker Tour. I’m not good at sitting still, looking at a screen. I watch old movies. I don’t know what was on last night, but I watched a poker game and then I watched “The Ex-Mrs. [Bradford],” which is an old film from the 1940s that happened to star William Powell, who was in the “Thin Man” series. And because it was set in the 30s all the sets were art deco. So I watched it. I’m sure there was some brilliant currently-made drama that would have been much better for my soul, but I laughed. And that’s what life should be.
GW: Then in terms of the show’s transformation from what you’ve been told by the producers from what you come in, do you think this is a healthy direction the show has taken in order for it to survive, or do you think it’s long past its time? SG-1, not Atlantis.
DD: I don’t think it’ll ever be past its time. The bible for Stargate is based on the whole lexicon of human mythology. That’s the spine. So the next conflict fought by the next addition of the four people that went through the gate is still going to be valid. Once the show starts being all about, if it ever does, mechanics and special effects, then it’ll be past its time. You’ve got a bunch of really outstanding, creative minds that work on the show. I don’t think they’ll ever let it go there. And the fans I’ve talked to feel the same.
GW: Good. It’s funny how life changes our plans, like you’ve said. I remember watching on one of the Stargate DVDs an interview where you said you would play Hammond as long as RDA was involved with the series. When was it that caused you to make the decision that it was time to move on anyway?
DD: My health problems, which I haven’t hidden those. One of the reasons I am so loyal to Stargate is they were so loyal to me. In 2002 I had, just at the start of the season, a major operation. I had an abdominal aortic aneurysm, and they had to remove a large part of my aorta.
Most shows would’ve cut me off. Stargate stood by me. I never missed a single paycheck. They scheduled the episodes around me, and when they brought me back they made sure that there was nothing that I was asked to do that might put me in harm’s way. But there comes a time where you really can’t, if you’re in my condition. I’m a heart patient. I’m a diabetic. I’ve got other minor problems, and it’s really time to slow down. I joke, but I really am.
One of my doctors said I’ve got more scar tissue than anybody he’s ever worked on. Because I’ve done stunts. I was in the military. I was an athlete when I was a young kid. And then I’m just stupid and clumsy. And now I’ve got arthritis along with other things. I take a lot of pills every day. So I’m very aware of my mortality. And especially after Season Seven … And especially with the loss of one of the family.
DSD: Yeah. It just wasn’t the same for me.
GW: Was “Heroes” hard to do?
GW: All the fandom was affected.
DSD: I think it was a good episode, the two-parter. You know, we went from Showtime to the SCI FI Channel and they wanted to see a major thing. That’s an arbitrary decision made by some stupid bean counter. But of course, Stargate had no option to refuse that. So somebody had to go.
I don’t like change. I’m old. There’s enough change. Every day they invent a cel phone that I have no idea how to use, or a computer that I buy and, a week later, it’s obsolete and it’s worth pennies on the dollar for what I spent for it. When I was a young guy a computer had to be housed in a building. The whole world’s changed.
GW: Ruby Fleming, your wife …
DSD: … has restored my life.
GW: Yes. Tell us about Ruby. How did you meet her?
DSD: I write as well as do the rest of the thing, and years ago some friends of mine asked me to write a script for them that would be set here [in Vancouver]. And I wrote a detective story called “Blues in the Rain.” But again, I’m a very stubborn guy. You’ve got to remember: I’m a Redneck hillbilly from the Missouri/Arkansas border, next to Oklahoma. It ain’t sunburn. I wrote it for my friends. So I wrote a [Codicillus] to the thing that, to be produced, it had to star my friends.
Ruby and a woman that she was partnering with, producing at the time, optioned the script, thinking “Well, nobody’s dumb enough that they won’t let you cast a name in the lead rather than his friend.” Well, I’m that dumb. So they had several nibbles on having the money to produce it, but they had to use somebody else.
And we remained friends. And as my first marriage fell apart, and only after I’d left my first wife, did she ever tell me. In fact, I had no idea that she thought that I was anything but dumb and ugly. But she took me in. And she is the most nurturing person I’ve ever known. And I love her more than anybody I’ve ever loved in my life.
GW: You tell a story at conventions every once in a while. I think you were over at Teryl’s house, and I think you two were dating. Could you please tell us that one again?
DSD: Teryl’s mate is a great guy named Cal Krustine. Calvin is an RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] officer. At that time he was the head of the homicide division in Burnaby. And there were a bunch of house invasions that had occurred — more in one small span of time than had ever occurred before. Ruby and I had arranged for our first date. And it was going to be on, I think a Wednesday night, or something. Calvin had been just killing himself at work, and Teryl and him had decided they needed to get out. They were used to calling me and I was always the fifth wheel. Well, this time I had a date!
Calvin said, “Well we want to come with you.” And I said, “OK.” We went to a wonderful local steakhouse. The two women, by the way, at the time smoked. Anyway, we met at the steakhouse. We arrived in different cars. We got there, and Calvin and I started talking, as two guys will. And the poor women kind of got ignored. We had our salads and we had some wine. He and I got to talking about crime and injustice, and all this crap. In general terms, of course, because he couldn’t tell me about ongoing investigations — never would do that.
As a result, we kind of neglected the two women. So between one of the courses and the main course they decided to go outside and smoke. And Teryl asked Ruby how long had we been dating. And Ruby said “Well, it’s our first date. We’ve known each other for ten years.” And Teryl said, “Well, you know, he’s a good guy.” And Ruby said “Yeah, I really like him.” And Teryl said, “Well, I don’t think he knows that.” Ruby said, “Well I’ve given him plenty of indications.”
And Teryl said “… He’s not very bright. You’re going to have to hit him over the head.”
They came back in, and Calvin and I finally realized that we had irritated them, or something. So we tried to pay more attention. We finished the meal, and Calvin decided that we should come over to their place for a night cap. So we went over to their place, and immediately upon arriving — Teryl and I disagree about this. She says Calvin went to the bathroom, but no. She went to the bathroom. And Calvin got a call from work. And he had already poured these humongous tumblers full of scotch to the brim. And they both left the room. And I told Ruby. I said, “Honey, I’ve got to get some ice and water in this thing or I’ll be a dead man.” And she agreed.
Now, when we left the restaurant, as I opened the car door for her — which gentleman from the south always do for their women — she turned around and kissed me.
GW: [Laughter] Over the head, Don!
DSD: Yeah, but it wasn’t [Imitates a slobbering smooch]. It was [imitates a polite kiss]. It was on the lips! And I thought that was kind of funny. But I didn’t want to insult her, so I just gave her a peck back. But anyway, I thought “Hmm …” I said we had to have some ice. And she followed me in the kitchen. And when I handed her a glass she kissed me again! [Laughter] Well that’s like putting fresh meat in front of an old dog. I set my glass down and I had her on the floor.
And Calvin walked in — [Laughter] — and he grabbed Teryl and brought her in. Of course, Calvin and Teryl wanted to complete visiting with us, but I now had gone in heat! And so, I guess, as we stayed in the living room talking — they weren’t about to leave us alone again — I started coming out with some strange lines. They weren’t lines, everything was from the heart. But Calvin, at one point, started laughing at what I was saying so hard that he fell off his chair. And they never let me forget that. But it’s been good ever since.
GW: Good. Glad you’re happy.
DSD: I am.
GW: In the years ahead, as Stargate continues to grow and transform, what would you like fans to remember about your involvement — your footprints, if you will — in this franchise?
DSD: Just that he was a good man who took care of his people. That it was a true portrayal.