GateWorld is proud to continue our series of 10th anniversary SG-1 pieces with one of the show’s finest guest stars. While in Vancouver earlier this year we had a chance to sit down and interview JR Bourne, the actor behind the Tok’ra Martouf, just before he went on stage at Creation’s Vancouver Convention.
JR discusses the chief reasons why we have not seen much of him in recent years, addresses the relationships between Martouf and Samantha Carter, as well as Lantash. He also discusses what might have been had he been able to appear in Season Five’s “Summit” — as the producers were hoping he would — and what may have been in store for him had the Tok’ra not been killed in “Divide and Conquer.”
Our interview with JR runs 12 minutes. It’s also available in audio format, and is transcribed below!
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net, I’m Darren Sumner, here with David Read. We’re talking with Mr. JR Bourne. “Burn?”
JR Bourne: “Born.” Got it right, yeah.
GW: I got it right the first time. Martouf from Stargate SG-1. Tell us how you originally came about to be cast in this role back in Season Two?
JB: Uh — [to Cliff Simon] Uh, hey, come on now. Look at you, Cliff Simon, the evil doer over there.
GW: I’m glad we found a quieter room!
JB: I was originally auditioned, I forget the guy’s name now but, another character. The evil one in that first one that we did.
JB: Cordesh, that’s right. I was auditioned for Cordesh originally. And, I believe, Rick [Dean Anderson] looked at the tapes and said, “No, no. I think that’s our good guy. He should be Marty.” And it was being directing by a fellow that I had just previously worked with, and played a kind of evil character, so I think that’s how he was seeing me. But I believe it was Rick’s suggestion to cast me as Marty, so. Yeah.
GW: Martouf received some great character development for an occasional guest role, especially through his relationship with Samantha Carter, with the loss of Jolinar. What are your thoughts about those two years on the show from seasons Two to Four, when you look back on them now?
JB: I never ever expected any of this, and the longevity of it. It’s pretty amazing. Still, to this day, when I have other projects come out, it seems to be Stargate is the thing that I’m most recognized for and people still, all this time afterwards. It was a blast. I’ve made friends that are still in my life today. Just overall on and off. In the industry and outside of the industry. It’s a great experience.
GW: Is there any one particular episode or scene, a day on set, that really sticks out in your mind as “That was just a great time”?
JB: Yeah. All the days on set kind of stick out in my mind. I think when we went to hell — that episode — “The Devil You Know,” that’s right, and “Jolinar’s Memories.” I think those two were among my favorites, because we went on the space ship and jettisoned down to the planet. And I wasn’t in the Tok’ra outfit. Which was never really one of my favorite things to put on. I much preferred to be in the SG outfit.
GW: It’s so rare that we see the characters kind of on their downtime. An example, for “Jolinar’s Memories,” before their mission. Was it a different atmosphere preparing for that? Was it more comfortable to be able to sit down with them in an off-duty atmosphere recording these scenes?
JB: Yeah. Specifically speaking about the costume, I was never comfortable in that tripe. In that outfit. Just being out of it was more comfortable. And the feeling of all [of us] kind of sitting around. It did have a bit of a different feeling, and I never really thought of it, but it did. I don’t know if I felt more like a part of the team because I was dressed like everybody, but it was definitely fun. And to come back and do “Ripple Effect” was a highlight as well. Again, be in the SG outfit. Yeah.
GW: We’ll talk about it. First walk us through your experience on “Divide and Conquer,” Martouf’s fatal episode from Season Four, from the day that you first received that script.
JB: Yeah. Well Peter [DeLuise] called me beforehand, to sort of give me a head’s up to what was happening. And, again, at that time I didn’t really know that Marty was even a character that was sticking out to the fans. I wasn’t surprised. I just was like, “OK. It’s been a lot of fun. This will be it. I knew I’d have to die eventually. And this is the episode to do it in.”
And I loved the way it was — it was beautifully. There was a real respect in the way it was shot. Peter did such a nice job. Everybody having to try to take a shot at me and it finally being Amanda. Very meaningful and significant, and sad. And in that beautiful camera shot pulling up, and looking at everybody standing around. It was nice. It was really nice. Sad, but still nice to do. If it can be nice to do a death scene.
GW: Did you feel it was premature at all for this character, that he still had a lot of ground to cover?
JB: You know, again, I was sort of expecting it. I wasn’t expecting this to go on or have this kind of interest that we found out after he died. And then it came to a head about there being a following after him. The question has come up since. What would I have done if I’d stayed on longer? What did I miss?
And looking back now, sure I would’ve developed the relationship between Martouf and Lantash. The relationship between Sam’s a given. That would’ve been definitely a fun one to delve into. But I think that relationship between Marty and Lantash would’ve been a fun one to get into. The headspace. The difference of personalities between those two.
GW: The writers of SG-1 hoped to bring you back in mid-Season Five. Can you tell us a little bit about the story that never came to be?
JB: Yeah. I was off in Montreal shooting a movie called “The Favourite Game.” It was about two months shoot, and we were out five weeks prior for rehearsals. Once I got into Montreal and started the process of rehearsals, and then shooting the movie between Montreal and New York, it was a big movie for me. It was a substantial part and a substantial role and character and all of that, so I kind of got there and got straight into the head-space. It just didn’t work with scheduling to be able to come back and do [Stargate]. Unfortunately. It was, like, “Oh, you’re kidding. The timing.” Yeah. Which was too bad.
GW: So after far too many years of waiting, Stargate fans finally got to see Martouf again in “Ripple Effect.” Had you been hoping that the right story would come along where you would get to revisit this character?
JB: You know, I always trusted that the story would be right. I always trusted when and if it ever came back, the opportunity, that the story would be there. These guys are great. They know what they’re doing. There was never a doubt that it would be something that I wouldn’t want to do. It was always just about scheduling. These guys, they’re all like family. John Smith, I think, is one of the most — [I] adore them all. It was always just a matter of scheduling for me. I would jump right back on board at the drop of a dime.
And this was a fun one. To have so many, and to know that in that parallel universe — Amanda and I — Sam and Marty were together for a couple of years, and he’s a part of the SG team and all of that. It was great. It was very exciting. So many of them, too. Tons of Sams. Tons. It was great. It was very fun.
GW: Being back on set, was it a different experience with the new cast?
JB: I really didn’t have much with Beau Bridges. He seems like a wonderful man — great guy to work with. I didn’t really experience much of that. Chris and Michael, they have their presence. It’s well established. And they’re both friends of mine off the show as well, so it was nice. It was fun. I missed Teryl, obviously.
GW: She was there with you.
JB: She was. What am I saying? Of course. But not in that capacity as Dr. Fraiser. She was Dr. Fraiser, obviously, but not in that capacity of the old cast. Yeah, it didn’t have that different of a vibe. Peter was directing it as well, so it was kind of like “slip right back into it.”
GW: Tell us a little bit about your working relationship with Amanda Tapping. You, as actors, have a lot of chemistry, certainly, and the characters have a lot of chemistry.
JB: That was an easy one, right off the bat. As soon as we met right in that first episode, we just clicked. I had just gone through a rather big loss in my life. She was willing to share that with me off the set, which then transferred beautifully in front of the camera. So there was just an immediate click between us. The rest just kind of … you know what I mean? It just happens every once in a while.
GW: You had started “The Tok’ra, Part 1” and had never met her before. That first scene that you guys do you have to have this huge romantic undertone. Was that uncomfortable?
JB: Amanda kept farting throughout that whole scene. [Laughter] No, I’m just kidding. No. I kept farting throughout that whole scene. No. Chris kept farting throughout that whole scene. And that’s true. No.
You know what? That’s what we do. That happens. You walk on to set to shoot a movie with somebody for a month, and it’s with someone who’s been your wife for seven years and you’ve got two kids with [her], and you’ve got to immediately find that connection somewhere. Whether it’s the eyes [which] remind you of somebody who is in your life, or whatever it is. But you just make that immediate connection. And sometimes it comes easier than other times.
GW: Well as you said, we learned in “Ripple Effect” that Martouf and Samantha had finally had a romantic relationship — in a parallel reality. Is this something you wish you could’ve explored more in our universe before Martouf’s death? Sam’s attitude always seemed to be “I really like you but I’m not ready yet.”
JB: I know! Not off of set, though. No! [Laughter] Yeah, that would’ve definitely been a fun one to explore. Most definitely. Definitely one of the aspects of the character that I would’ve loved to have delved into. “What is that relationship? Are her memories hers, or her feelings, or are they Jolinar’s? Let’s figure this out.”
My feelings were, I felt, always going beyond what my feelings were for Jolinar. They were for this new person that just seemed to hold all the same kind of characteristics that were in Jolinar. You know what I mean? I loved her for her.
GW: Do you have any other projects that fans can be looking for?
JB: I have a movie coming out this year called Everything’s Gone Green, and another one we’re shooting right now called Sisters, which will probably come out the end of the year, I suppose.
GW: We’ll be looking for them.
JB: Thanks, guys.