It has been too long since our last interview with Rachel Luttrell, who has been keeping busy both on and off the sound stages of Stargate Atlantis in recent months!
Rachel gave birth to a baby boy, Caden Dar, in October of 2007. Partially due to the pregnancy, an intricate arc was threaded through Season Four involving Teyla. In our latest interview with the actress, Luttrell talks about having a meaty multi-episode story to sink her teeth into, in addition to the life-changing whirlwind that is being a parent.
GateWorld’s interview with Rachel is available in MP3 audio format for easy listening, and is 12 and a half 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 here with Darren Sumner. We’re talking with the lovely Rachel Luttrell. Lovely and radiant as always.
Rachel Luttrell: Ah bless you! Even with minimal amount of sleep, huh?
GW: Yeah! So what’s been going on in your life?
RL: Oh my gosh!
GW: Tell us.
RL: Well I became a mom! I think you know…pretty much … well I think you guys know. Yeah.
RL: Thank you so very much. So my world has completely flipped on its head and, yeah, everything is new. My little guy is now six months old so for the course of the hiatus, which for me started about a month before the rest of everybody else wrapped, was about, you know, becoming a mom and surviving, as you well know, Darren, how that feels. So yeah, that’s what’s new, but it’s massive. It completely changes your perspective on everything, as you know.
GW: Even work?
RL: Oh yeah, even work. Very much so. I love my job, I very much love my job, and I love Teyla, but I was so concerned about coming back to work. I was just, you know, I was very nervous about it, how it would work and getting my little guy up at four in the morning.
GW: He usually gets up anyway, I bet.
RL: Actually well, now, no. Now he pretty much sleeps until … left to his own devices, he’ll sleep until 8 a.m.
RL: Yeah, it’s great. I mean he’s six months so it’s good. Yeah. You know, there was that, but everything has kind of worked its way, and I’ve got a nice little rhythm, and it’s lovely to be back here. It’s very much like home here. In fact it is home it’s just an extension of my home and I forgot that when I was fully engrossed in my little bubble of being a mom and being at home. So now it’s…
GW: It’s easy to forget everything else.
RL: Yeah, yeah. But it’s great and everybody here is so wonderfully supportive so it’s been a pretty seamless transition.
GW: Transitioning back in to the workplace.
RL: In to the workplace, yeah. As a Momma!
GW: So the last time we saw you, you were…
RL: Huge?! [Laughter] Oh my God I had some friends, they saw the show, and they were like, “Rachel your breasts were these massive orbs and they were glowing!” Woo, yeah! I just think it’s so funny. But yes! Yes, I was with Michael and in a bad state of affairs.
GW: So I take it you made it back?
RL: Yes! Yes, I did.
GW: Teyla’s still on the show?
RL: Teyla is still on the show, yes. Yeah, yeah, Teyla was in a bad way when we ended the season last and Teyla is in a bad way when we start the season. Season 5.
GW: Is Connor back with you?
RL: Connor is back, yeah. And I love Connor.
GW: Isn’t he awesome?
RL: Yeah. He’s such a sweet guy and he’s a wonderful actor and he’s so wonderful to work with. But, yeah, Connor’s still … well no Connor. Connor doesn’t still have me but, Michael, Michael still has Teyla and the rest of the…I don’t know how much I’m actually able to say, but nonetheless they do manage to find me and, you know, a little baby comes. A little baby comes , which apparently is a wild and wooly scene. It was certainly a wild and wooly scene to shoot.
GW: The filming of Season Four lined up almost exactly with your pregnancy, tell us about that whole experience.
RL: It lined up perfectly with my pregnancy. It was a little bit of a surprise but a wonderful and happy surprise. And I went and spoke with the producers, Paul and Joe upstairs, specifically, about a month before we started shooting Season Four and they had this wonderful elaborate storyline planned out for Teyla and how she was going to go and it was going to be the season of Teyla. And I knew that.
I sat them down and I said “OK, well this is what’s going on, you guys,” and actually they found out before a lot of my friends found out because, you know, as you know you don’t talk about it for a certain period of time until you’re certain that everything is wonderful and hunky dory.
So I told them and so they had to kind of shift gears and go in a completely different direction. But I think that my pregnancy, what was happening in my life, lent itself wonderfully to Teyla, and some really great stories and some great connections with the other characters and, yeah, it just played perfectly.
GW: Well, Paul was very intent on making this season, finally, a season very Teyla-heavy.
GW: Do you know the direction they would have gone in had the pregnancy not come in?
RL: Not really. Not really. Because, you know, I spoke to them about it and before they had an opportunity to tell me …
GW: Oh this was pretty early.
RL: Right. They did suggest that they were going to make Teyla a little darker, perhaps, but I think that they still managed to incorporate a lot of that in Season Four with the disappearance of her people and with the realization, the potential, that her child might very well be the last of her people.
So there was a lot of heavier, kind of darker elements paired with the knowledge of this new life coming and a new identity for herself, so I think that there was a lot for me to play off of and I was very happy about it.
GW: Clearly this experience fundamentally changed Teyla, has it changed you as well?
RL: Oh God yeah! Oh yeah, absolutely … absolutely. I mean, well first of all, I don’t want to be too schmaltzy but why not? Who cares?
GW: Why not? We’re all friends here.
RL: Everybody always says you have no idea your capacity to love until you’ve had your own child, and that certainly is the case. I feel like I’ve always been aware of what’s going on globally but certainly now having a child and thinking towards the future I’m much more concerned about the world that he will inherit, and so subsequently I feel a more immediate need to be involved or useful somehow in making the world a better place.
That’s certainly shifted and …well not that it’s shifted but it’s broadened, it’s made it much more immediate. Yeah, I don’t know, I think it’s really grounded me in a way as well.
It’s funny for instance … this isn’t about grounding but it’s about becoming a mother bear kind of sort of. And the capacity to love. I am terrified of horror movies, I can’t watch them because I’ve got such a vivid imagination that they will stay with me.
RL: Oh, please! I mean, I can’t even watch trailers and I’ve seen like a couple of really horrendous trailers that have stuck with me. And there was a moment where I was alone with my little guy, it was a few months ago, and I started thinking about all those things again and I was like, “I’m alone and what am I going to do?”
There was a switch and I just thought, “bring it on.” I was like “Bring it on! I swear to God bring Freddy Krueger in here I will rip his head off!” and I started like really wanting it. I was like “C’mon!”. You know there’s this image of … what is it?! I can’t even remember what horror movie it is.
GW: What happens?
RL: Oh my God! It’s this… I just remember the preview and it’s this girl and she’s kind of disjointed and she’s like walking behind somebody. What is it? Oh crap! It will come to me in the end.
GW: Is it Stephen King?
RL: I don’t know if it’s Stephen King but it’s pretty scary anyway, and I used to be frightened of it and now I’m like “You know what, just try. Just try, I will mess you up.” [Laughter] So that’s changed, too. In a way it makes you more, not fearful of the world, but aware of the world but also just a hell of a lot more courageous. I will take it on for him.
GW: Speaking of horror, you were involved in some pretty graphic scenes in “Doppelganger.” Being a person of anti-horror at that point how did you react to seeing that episode? How did you react to the filming of the episode?
RL: Oh God! Yeah, that was pretty creepy because I was …
GW: Very graphic.
RL: Yeah, very graphic and I was obviously pregnant at the time and, you know, as to the whole element of having a creature kind of…
GW: An iratus bug!
RL: Right, exactly, coming out was…yeah, that was a very strange episode. I mean, obviously, I went with it and visually it looks very, very cool but, yeah, I’m not a fan of the whole horror thing. But it was a cool story and all is good and I survived. It was just a scary dream.
GW: Yeah exactly. What are some of your favorite episodes from last year? What really impacted you the most? Teyla episodes and in general.
RL: Oh boy what were my favorite episodes?
GW: It’s like a lifetime ago, I know. Especially with a child.
RL: I know, it’s so hard. I can barely remember names of friends at the moment. I remember moments. Let me tell you instead of saying what were my favorite episodes, I will say that I was happy with how relationships shifted. Between, for instance, Teyla and Sheppard.
Because what happened with Teyla and her whole pregnancy, it made those relationships all the more meaningful and it made how we felt about each other a lot more immediate, and it gave us as actors an opportunity to dive into that side of our persona.
GW: Sheppard became very protective of her.
RL: Yeah! As did Ronon and, yeah, I just felt like we were able to solidify a little bit more who we are and how we felt about each other and I remember that, as a whole, being something that I very much enjoyed about last season. So there you have it.
GW: Obviously it changed, your pregnancy and having a child, changed your perception of the world around you, what about Teyla? What’s this going to do to Teyla?
RL: Oh gosh, well in the beginning part of the season certainly she’s struggling with what every mother struggles with, every working mother struggles with. She has to make a decision as to whether or not she wants to be a part of this perilous journey and return to being a part of this team that essentially puts themselves, their lives, on the line every time they step through the gate or taking care of this gorgeous being that she was so desperate to keep.
So that’s the new challenge for her and that’s something that she struggles with in the first little part but everybody will be happy to know that she decides to rejoin the team.
GW: I take it that Michael wanting the child, that thread is resolved at some point here?
RL: Oh no! It’s not resolved. [Laughter] Oh no, he’s still out there. He’s still out there and he still has his diabolical plans to rule the universe. So no, it hasn’t been resolved. We’re safely back where we need to be but …
GW: Safe for now.
RL: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.
GW: May I ask if the child is on Atlantis?
RL: Yes. Yes, for the first little part of the season he’s very much with us.
Rachel Luttrell’s official Web site