Carl Binder: It’s fun because Keller is the new doctor on the show, and her character is introduced at the end of Season Three. We see her in “Adrift” and “Lifeline” and “Doppelganger” and throughout, but this is a chance for us to really explore her character, find out about where she’s from, who she is, and what her character is. And so it was fun to explore that character in juxtaposition to Teyla.
Keller is the small-town girl, completely out of her element in this forested planet being hunted. And Teyla is the warrior who is perfectly at home in that environment. It proved to be a lot of fun. We’re just getting ready to do it, with Andy [Mikita] directing it. Visually, it’s going to be a beautiful episode. We’ve got some great locations.
GateWorld: Among the writing staff, I imagine with that episode you have done a lot of the writing for Keller, and figuring out who she is as a character. How much of that comes from the writing room, and how much of it comes from you, in terms of fleshing her out?
CB: Well, I had some ideas when I first pitched the story. And we talked about the basics of the plot and whatever. I just sort of said, “Here’s what I think for the character.” Because you start thinking, is she an only child? Where is she from? Which city? And interestingly enough, the city that I wanted her to be from is Blaine, Missouri — the small town from the movie Waiting for Guffman. It didn’t clear with her character’s name, from the legal standpoint. So I had to find a different hometown for her.
That’s part of the game that we have to play. And also, her first name. We went through so many names for her. She was introduced as Dr. Keller mainly because we could not clear a first name. Because that’s what we have to do on all these shows is get legal clearance to be allowed to use a name. So she was originally Stephanie Keller. We just went down a whole list. Natalie. None of them cleared. Finally, it ended up being Jennifer. So Jennifer Keller it is.
But anyway, these are all the things we talk about. And also, the basics of what she is as a character. What is she afraid of? Is she somebody that’s at home in the woods? Is she not? Is she a city girl? So all these things had to be — I had what I wanted to do with the character, and everybody else agreed. So I was lucky. Nobody had any resistance to what I wanted to do with the character.
GW: Are you excited about having Jewel Staite on the show?
CB: Incredibly excited! I could not be happier, from her first day of dailies on “First Strike.” She is a total pro.
We are all huge Firefly fans here on the show. We used her once before on “Instinct” as a Wraith, and knew she was great then. So when she came in as this character, it was terrific. And then, before we start shooting, we always have the cast and producer dinner, and I was able to talk to her for a long time. [She’s] just a real sweetheart and a pro, and has been a really nice addition to the show.
GW: And the show also gains Amanda Tapping this year.
GW: Tell us a little bit about writing for her. Writing Sam Carter.
CB: In “Lifeline” … she’s not huge in “Lifeline.” “Adrift” and “Lifeline” are all about bringing Samantha Carter into the Atlantis universe, and sort of organizing everything for the season. And she’s not in “Missing.” So I really haven’t had to write for her yet.
But just from the read-throughs … we’ve started having read-throughs! And we saw the first cut of Robert [Cooper]’s episode, “Doppelganger.” She provides such a great presence for the series. I’ve been very impressed. And she brings that piece of SG-1 to Atlantis, which I think is really interesting.
Although, being there — she is Samantha Carter but she’s in this new role, so she’s almost kind of a different presence in Atlantis than she was in SG-1. So it’s interesting to see her as the leader. And we’re hoping to explore … We have a lot of episodes — not a lot, but her coming into this new role. Into this leadership role. And the struggles that she has initially when she first comes. You know, some clashes with certain team members. The decision-making that you have to make in moments of crisis. That’s going to be brought under the microscope for her. So it will be interesting to see her in those things.