Beware of SPOILERS for Season Four of Stargate Atlantis in the interview below!
Kate Hewlett had a busy 2007. Living in three different cities in two countries, the actress somehow managed to squeeze in time for, not one, but two appearances on Atlantis, which features her real-life brother David (“Rodney McKay”).
Finally settled back in to her home in Toronto, GateWorld got the chance to catch up with this busy lady just before the Christmas holiday. In our latest interview with the actress, she updates us on her life as both a writer and actress, and discusses how the role of Jean Miller has progressed since her first appearance.
GateWorld’s interview with Hewlett is available in MP3 audio format for easy listening, and is 28 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 once again on the phone with miss Kate Hewlett, who has just gotten out of a blizzard! How are you doing, Kate?
Kate Hewlett: OK! Yeah, it’s really, really snowy here. I don’t know what is happening.
GW: Is that not normal for Toronto?
KH: It is, yeah. It always surprises me, because Toronto is one of those places where it’s boiling hot one day, and then all of a sudden it’s winter. A Christmas wonderland.
GW: Sudden climate changes. Well that’s kind of cool. You get a little bit of a variety, but it’s got to be frustrating on the wardrobe.
KH: Yeah, and the mascara. [Laughter]
GW: Well I don’t really think about that, but yes I can understand it!
GW: Beyond your brother, who would you like to share more scenes with in future episodes of Atlantis on the show?
KH: I would love to work with Carter again. I love working with Amanda, but also she has a similar rhythm that David and I have, and it’s really fun. The banter is really fun with her, and that rapid-fire dialogue, I really enjoy that, and I think she’s also a really great actress.
I would love to work with Sheppard some more. I think that’s a really interesting character. He’s got this great dry sense of humor. Really I only had one brief scene with Joe in the second episode, and it was fun. I really like him a lot. He’s a great guy. It’s a very interesting character, too.
Also I think Teyla is a really interesting character. I’ve really never worked with Rachel except in those lunch room scenes in Season Three. And she is wonderful, again, wonderful actress. She’s really very talented. I’d like to write something for her, actually.
GW: Multi-talented. She can sing and dance and just do everything!
KH: Yeah! Yeah, she’s very talented and she’s the sweetest woman. She really is. I’m not giving you a very good answer, am I? I’m saying everybody! I really like Jason!
It’s a great group of people. I’ve really only worked with David and Amanda. In my second episode it was mostly with Henry Wallace.
GW: Yeah, what a great actor that is. Steven Culp.
KH: Oh, don’t even get me started. He’s amazing. He’s amazing. He was just incredible to work with, and a lovely person. I’m actually still in contact with him. It’s nice when that happens, when you work with someone and you really click. I’m determined to write a part for him, because I think he’s the most interesting man.
He’s such a good actor and he has so much going on in his face. He can do so little and there’s so much going on in his eyes, and I find that really fascinating to watch. He also is a really hard worker. There were so many notes in his script, for every single scene. The kind of work people often do in theatre, he does that on his TV and film scripts as well.
GW: Yeah. He really wants to get it right.
KH: And he also gets the giggles. Like I do. Which I appreciated! It’s terrible. We had a terrible problem with that.
KH: That’s a tough question. I think they’re extremely different. I thought the first one was more of an establishing episode for the relationship between the two characters. There’s a lot more humor in the first one. In [“Miller’s Crossing”] there was a lot more action, which I think the fans probably appreciate. There was a little bit of banter but it didn’t dominate the episode.
I don’t know. For me personally …
GW: Both of them Martin Gero wrote.
KH: Yeah, he’s such a good writer. I think they’re both great. I think maybe I preferred “McKay and Mrs. Miller.” … No, I don’t know. I actually don’t know. I like the darkness of “Miller’s Crossing.” A lot. I felt more comfortable as well on set. I felt more comfortable. Sometimes watching “McKay and Mrs. Miller” I’m more critical. In “Miller’s Crossing,” well, I’ve only seen “Miller’s Crossing” once, so maybe I’ll be more critical!
GW: Well, you’ve established that character. You know who she is more than you did a year ago, you know?
KH: I think so. Yeah, I think so. Hopefully if I get to go back she’ll just continue to grow. She’s not just McKay’s sister. That’s not enough to build a character. I think that “McKay and Mrs. Miller” was establishing “This is McKay’s sister” and going back to “Letters From Pegasus.” Referring back to other episodes. There was a lot of anticipation about Jeannie, and I think this newer episode is nice because it’s seeing how she fits in now.
GW: Right, exactly. And it shows that that relationship has grown. He didn’t just forget everything that she tried to get across to him.
KH: Yeah. I sometimes go online and read what people say about the episodes. I’m a glutton for punishment. I think a lot of the fans have trouble with how mean Jeannie is to her brother, and I think for me — you should hear David and I talk. We’re brutal! We’re brutal to each other. But we love each other a lot, and I think that is how siblings interact sometimes. I think the banter is how you cover up the true feelings. You can’t be, like, “I love you, man,” all the time. No one functions like that!
I like it when they go at each other a little bit. I think it shows that there’s something else going on.
GW: Yeah. “I’m frustrated with this right now, but in the end I do love you and everything’s going to be OK. … If we can survive!”
KH: Yeah, “If we can survive! And the nanites don’t mean that I die.”
GW: Yeah, exactly. Now Rodney, who doesn’t have children, was far more interested in escaping, while Jean was genuinely concerned for the young woman’s health. Now given the situation, which side could you relate to more?
KH: Who knows what I would do in the actual situation? I’d probably be out of there so fast. I don’t know. But in my ideal world, if I was the person I hope I am I would have stayed, I think. I understand that. I felt a lot of sympathy for Henry Wallace, and again, maybe that’s because Steven Culp has those sad blue eyes. But I think there’s a lot of pain in that character. He didn’t seem like a bad guy. He seemed like a good guy. He was going about things the wrong way.
GW: Well he lost his wife, and now he’s losing his child. At his wits end! The resolution to that episode was a stirring one for many Atlantis fans. Sheppard guilts himself into sacrificing himself to a Wraith by using pictures of Jean’s family. Many fans have different opinions to this. What’s yours?
KH: I thought it was great. It was dark and it was surprising. It was vibrant.
GW: Yeah, it was very different.
KH: Oh yeah. And I think he wasn’t necessarily guilting him into it. My take on it was Henry Wallace wouldn’t have lived very long anyway. He was completely broken and he lost everything that was important to him.
I think there was a connection between Jeannie and Wallace. I think there was a definite connection there. The only thing he could do to make his life worth something was to give something back. So I felt it was actually very clever. Sheppard barely even had to mention it, and he agreed. So I really liked that. I thought that was nice. I like those darker moments on Atlantis.
GW: What can you tell us about your return in “The Last Man?” We know Sheppard returns to Atlantis to find the city deserted in the middle of a desert, but as far as Jean’s character is concerned, what can you tell us?
KH: Well it’s sort of a “blink and you’ll miss me.” There’s a little montage and I’m in it. That’s basically it. But it’s a great episode. Very exciting episode. And David’s got lots to do, and he’s really good.
GW: Cool. This montage, does it connect into Season Five? Is there a chance that you’ll be in the premiere?
KH: I hope so? I don’t think so. It’s more about — that depends, actually. I don’t know. I hope so. Let’s plant that seed!
GW: OK! There’s a chance? I don’t know what your scene in this episode involves, if it’s just a flashback or whatever.
KH: Yeah, it’s more of a flashback. But it could relate to other episodes. I’m being mysterious. Am I not mysterious enough?
GW: Yes, you’ve got it down, girl.
KH: Three weeks ago I did an interview and it was before the episode aired. Every question she asked me I was like, “Well, something happens and then someone reacts.” It was the worst interview because I thought I couldn’t say anything. And at the end of the interview she said, “Oh, no, this will come out after the episode airs.” I just came across like the most boring person! Terrible!
GW: Well, you want to come back!
KH: Yeah, yeah. I certainly do.
GW: It’s been a year since we last spoke with you. Is there anything new going on? You told me before we got started a couple of things happening.
KH: Yeah! I’ve been moving a lot. For some reason I move all the time. I was in Vancouver for five months, and then I was in New York for five weeks, and I just got back to Toronto two weeks ago. Been moving around. It’s been exciting.
GW: Now do you have homes in all of those places or are you just moving from place to place, and after that just not going back?
KH: I have homes in none of those places, actually! [Laughter] I’m eternally homeless. I don’t know why I do that. I was actually renting a place in Vancouver from my dad, which was very reasonable rent. It was beautiful, beautiful house in Kitsilano.
Then in New York I was there doing a show, so I was there for five weeks and I moved pretty much every few days. I was staying somewhere different because I was staying with friends, or in hotels, or in short sublets. That kind of thing.
GW: Oh, OK. Did that have something to do with your play?
KH: Yes, Humans Anonymous, that I wrote for their Fringe Festival a couple years ago, or I guess a year and a half ago. A woman from New York came to see it. She really liked it and was interested in producing it there. The Bridge Theater Company. They’re amazing.
GW: Yes, I’ve heard of them. The Stargate people speak very highly of them.
KH: They’re really, really good, and their mandate is to do Canadian plays in New York. To move the two cultures together. They do both American and Canadian work, but there’s always some element of both. It’s great.
Yeah, she saw it and she liked it. So she took it there. We did a reading of it last year, and that went over well. They talked to me about the possibility of expanding it into a 90-minute play. I worked on that while I was in Vancouver, and I now have a two-act version of it. And that’s what we did there.
Originally it was 55 minutes because it was for the Fringe. All the plays in the Fringe are under an hour, unless you get a 90-minute slot, but I didn’t. Yeah, it was 55 minutes. To me it felt like it was finished. I felt like there was no way of making it longer, and I actually sent an email to the company saying “There’s just no way!”
I was freaking out. I was trying to write. I couldn’t come up with anything. I’m like, “There’s no way! It’s impossible! I can’t do it! I can’t write anything else! I just have to write a companion play instead!” A day later I actually sat down and started writing. And then I was just writing and writing and writing and writing, and I had all these ideas for how to expand it.
GW: It clicked.
KH: It was like, “OK, so we’ve got 45 new pages!” [Laughter]
GW: Well that’s got to be hard! If you’ve got a manuscript that’s done, adding another 35 more minutes to it, or more, that’s got to be painful.
KH: It’s very interesting. It’s a really interesting project because it has a beginning, a middle and end, and I couldn’t just add time to the end of it. I had to find places where it needed to be filled out … and I gave myself a monologue.
GW: Oh, so you’re in it!
KH: That sounds like a cliché. Oh yeah, I was always in it. Yeah. I have one of the smallest parts. It’s just a fun little character that comes in. In the original it was just basically all joke-joke-joke.
And then in the new one I had to give her some kind of real story, real back-story, and all of that. So she has her own little monologue about her mother passing away. I think it went over really well. Now I would only produce the longer version, and probably not do the shorter version anymore.
GW: You’ve really allowed that to augment the play and make it more of a drama.
KH: Yeah, it’s very different. It’s still very-much a comedy, but it’s got a lot more heaviness to it now. And I like that.
GW: Have you been pleased with the reception of A Dog’s Breakfast? It’s been just doing so well!
KH: Oh, it’s amazing, isn’t it? I know. His first movie! I was really happy about Warner Brothers, that we got to have the Lion at the beginning of the movie now. And yeah, the DVD release and everything. Sometimes I go into Best Buy and I put it in front of the pile.
GW: Yes, I did the same thing, except I’m not on the cover. I had to go to Best Buy to get it. “I can’t believe this! This is on DVD!”
KH: I’m like, “Why is it hidden behind all these blockbusters? Buy David’s movie!”
GW: Oh you mean on the rack, not in your cart!
KH: No! No, on the rack. I was shameless, I know, and I don’t know why I’m telling you. I moved it forward. They only had two copies of it!
GW: That was good! They got rid of the others, probably.
KH: Maybe! Maybe. Or the only ordered two. I’m not sure.
GW: Oh, I bet they ordered more. There was a bunch at my Best Buy, and my Best Buy’s a big one.
KH: Oh good. That was pretty exciting. It’s such a good movie, and it was so funny. I’m so impressed with his direction and the writing and everything.
GW: It’s just a clever picture. I think my favorite moment is when you start sawing and David’s standing outside, and the light flickers? I just die when I see that. So the whole film is just great. What are some of your favorite scenes from the film? From a viewer’s perspective?
KH: I’m biased because I don’t particularly like watching myself, and I know people say that all the time. It really is difficult to watch myself. A lot of my favorite moments are with David. When David goes into the back yard. It’s a really long shot, so he’s walking away, walking away, walking away, and he trips. A lot of the slapstick stuff that he did just killed me.
GW: That was great! Was that really him or was that [Stunt Coordinator] James Bamford or someone?
KH: Oh no, it was really him. I’m surprised he didn’t break every bone in his body doing that scene. He literally sat under a car and he did all of the stunts himself. He was manic. He was so busy, and wearing three hats and all of that. He just went for it, with all the stunts. He just really went for it. That’s why I like it, because he actually hurt himself. [Laughter]
GW: It was effective! Lemme tell you. What else have you and David worked in together besides A Dog’s Breakfast? Is there anything, because it’s hard to dig up stuff like that.
KH: Well, I don’t know if I told you this last time, but he did actually hire me once to write music for him. And he fired me. The first time I got fired!
GW: What was the project?
KH: I don’t remember what it was for! I think it was for a Web site. He wasn’t an actor at that point. He took a few years off, just one time in his career, he took his time off from acting, and he was doing computers and Web design, and all that kind of stuff. I came on board to write music for him, but I didn’t really … show up. [Laughter] Kind of my fault.
As far as acting goes, A Dog’s Breakfast was the first time we ever worked together. I think because David’s career has been going since he was really young, and I got into acting early on, but professionally probably not until after university, I would say. And maybe even not until after theatre school. That’s when I actually started getting auditions.
We had very different paths and I think he really wanted me to make it on my own, which I really appreciate. I wouldn’t want my first job to come from my brother. I was making it on my own. I did 11 Cameras, and I did a bunch of different work. And it was like, “OK, we’re both actually in this business now.” We’re both working. I was working less, but we were both working.
So he wrote the part for me. I’m still so grateful for that. It was such a great role. I learned so much from being an actual lead on something as opposed to just doing a few days.
And 11 Cameras was different because I did 19 episodes, but it was all direct address to the camera, so it’s a very different style of acting and a very different set of skills.
So A Dog’s Breakfast was the first time, and it was such a good experience. I definitely want to work with him again in lots of different ways. I would love for him to act in something that I’ve written, and even more so I’d love for him to direct the first film that I write. I think he’s a really great director. And he has a good sense of comedy. A lot of people don’t have that. A good sense of timing, all of those things.
GW: Well anyone who meets him, you go away with your stomach sick, because you just laugh so much.
KH: Yes you do!
GW: You don’t necessarily expect that from seeing Rodney on television, and the fact that he carries so much of McKay in himself, sarcastically, is a real surprise.
KH: It’s funny because every time he has a large role in something people say “Well that’s just you.” People say that to him. “Oh that’s just you. That’s how you are in real life.” With Traders, everyone was like “Oh, he’s so funny, but that’s all he can play.” And the thing is he’s such a good actor that every single part he plays is so full and so realistic that people think it’s just like him.
It’s true, when you meet him he’s not very much like Rodney. There are definitely elements that are — the irritating parts — but he’s very, very funny, and he’s very kind and very generous.
GW: Yeah, I would have to agree. You do a tremendous amount of theatre work. Do you prefer it over television?
KH: I would’ve said Yes about three years ago, but now I would say I actually prefer film and television. I’m more comfortable. I don’t know when that happened, but at some point I became more comfortable on a film set than on stage. I love stage, and it’s different.
The stage work that I do now is mostly collective or things that I’ve written, different kinds of creativity. I’m working on a play right now with Unspun Theatre, which is an amazing company. Five of us wrote it together. It’s a very, very theatrical piece. I play, I think, five different characters in one hour. That kind of thing you can’t really do in film.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing theatre but as far as just straight theatre goes I would rather do a movie than a play.
GW: I shot a film before I left school and I’ve worked with actors who all they did was theatre, and then when you switched over to film they didn’t look right, they didn’t sound right, because they’re so used to over-exaggerating everything and projecting for an audience that’s far away. It’s a very different skill set.
KH: It does take a while to adjust.
GW: So the most recent play you’ve been working on is Human’s Anonymous. What else do you have planned? Or is that it for now?
KH: Well at the moment I’m doing The Collective, and it’s called Don’t Wake Me. And it’s at the next stage theater festival in Toronto.
It’s the one I was saying I co-wrote for the writers. It’s about a man who gets in a fight and loses his eyes. He gets blinded with a bottle, and he descends into the world of his dreams because he can see there. He’s blind in real life but he can see in his dreams, and his dreams, they all take place in a film noir type of world. The language is great. It’s very old-fashioned noir language. Yeah, and that’s happening in January.
GW: Oh, good! You guys kick these things out. Man!
KH: I know! Work pretty hard. Actually Brendan Gall, who plays Kaleb, is one of the co-writers. We worked together for a few years, Brendan and I, and he is going to take over the world. That’s my theory. One of the best new writers in Canada, him and a woman named Cana Moskovich are two of my favorite up and coming writers in Toronto. But he is also an amazing actor and a fantastic director, and I just can’t wait to see where he goes. I’m glad he’s on Atlantis as well because he’s now moving into TV and film.
GW: And every time he appears there he’s tied at the hip with you, so you get to see him. Get to work with him.
KH: Yeah, it’s great working with him. We actually don’t act together very often. He’s directed me a couple of times, and we’ve written together a few times, but I haven’t acted with him other than some improv that we’ve done and also Atlantis. I was glad to see that in this episode he had a bigger part, because that was a nice scene, I thought, with him and David. The scene where he was saying “Just bring her back. Just bring Jean back.”
GW: Yeah, exactly. I wasn’t expecting a scene like that.
KH: No. Again there was a darkness to it, you know? There was a bit of a conflict. He blamed McKay.
GW: Well at least Rodney knew his name now! There’s progress! Are you scheduled to appear at any upcoming conventions?
KH: I actually haven’t figured this out yet, but I was supposed to go to England for Pegasus 3. I just got a lead in a movie. I’m trying to figure out if I can make my schedule work with the two projects, but I may not be able to. I really hope I’ll be at Pegasus 3 because I had a great time there last year. I’d love to go back, but I’ve go to work out the scheduling. After that, I don’t know! I don’t have any other conventions planned, but I did one in New Jersey and I really enjoyed it, and I’d like to do more.