David Nykl is among the cast and crew of Stargate Atlantis mourning the loss of their television series. After five seasons of adventures it feels we are saying goodbye to a friend far too soon.
However, there is still a great ray of hope in the form of DVD movies. The first is currently being written by Executive Producers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, and will make an appearance on the SCI FI Channel some time next year. Still, this transition is still very much a shake-up, both for the crew and for the fans.
In this interview, David updates us on production of the final episodes of the series. We discuss episodes we would loved to have seen, as well as the first Atlantis television movie. We also consider the popularity of the franchise, as well as Stargate Universe and the team who will soon follow in Atlantis‘s footsteps.
For more comments from Nykl, be sure to check out the actor’s blog!
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net, I’m David Read, and I’m talking with David Nykl. David, what episode are you shooting right now?
DN: We are shooting “Identity” right now. The third to last ever.
GW: So let’s talk about that. Last time we talked with you it was April and things were good. You actually were in the middle of filming “Ghost In the Machine.”
DN: I haven’t seen it yet.
GW: Which ones have you seen?
DN: Believe it or not for Season Five, zero. Not yet because the schedule has been such, I just finally got the first four about two days ago and I’m going to be watching them all at once. I’m off to Chicago tomorrow for the Creation Con, and then Atlantis the weekend afterwards. It’s just been a busy summer. No reason [not] to fit in a couple hours of TV but it’s just been the way it’s been going. Hard to explain but it’s been busy.
I’m really looking forward to seeing it because I haven’t seen any of them and I’m really curious as to how they’re turning out.
GW: Bob Picardo is great.
DN: Yeah, he’s great. He’s a terrific guy. We were just joking with him. We said, “Yeah, thanks for coming on our show. Now you’ve killed it.” [Laughter] I said “You did that to Star Trek. You did that to Stargate. What’s next? Star Wars?”
GW: So fandom just got word a few days ago that Atlantis has been killed. But, a quick turn-around, we’ve got an Atlantis TV movie that will polish off “Enemy At the Gate,” and then Stargate Universe. Thoughts?
DN: Well, wow. How do you put this into words? It’s almost like a grieving process in some ways. I just found out yesterday for one, and I was away the day the announcement was made, and [the producers] came on to set. I thought, “Wow.” I wasn’t really expecting it.
Once you go “Wow, I can’t believe it’s over,” I think what happened is they must’ve known that this was going to be the case and they were — this is speculation — they were waiting to get approval for Universe and the movie so they could say “Well, we’re ending this but we have this to go to.” So that kind of tempers it, obviously. There’s great hope that there will be something obviously for my character and for everybody we know and love to do on the movie. Who knows?
I noticed on the GateWorld link the “Nykl: I love this job” thing. I do! I still do, so I’d love to continue, but it’s the reality of TV. We move on.
GW: Yeah. We’re going to have to do another news story: “Nykl: ‘I loved this job.'”
DN: [Laughter] No kidding!
GW: So it was a shock and now you’re in the middle of the grieving process?
DN: In some ways, yeah. It’s disbelief, then it’s anger, then it’s loss, then it’s sadness. It’s compacted. I’ve had a day now to absorb it and consider what’s next. It’s no different for an actor than it’s always been. In some ways this is the exception that proves the rule. To actually have a gig to go on this long. You have to look at it from the point of view that that’s a stroke of luck to be able to do that.
So yeah, of course. I’m open. Hey, if anyone has a job out there! [Laughter]
GW: Hey, nothing wrong with that! These shows, like Atlantis, these are the shows where this is the exception rather than the rule, to have a gig like this that lasts so long and has such a huge passionate following while it’s on the air. Not after the fact like Firefly. Poor Firefly.
DN: Yeah, it’s insane flipping through some of the Web sites. There’s so much going on. So much dialogue and discussion going on as to speculation as to what’s going to happen, and what has happened, attests to the fandom out there. That’s fantastic.
GW: Does it feel like just yesterday you guys started Season One?
DN: It does. Especially since not too much has changed physically in the location. Like, we’re in the same studios. I mean, the cast of course has changed around a bit. But this environment is exactly like it was in day one in Season One. You might have heard it from actors that sometimes the episodes tend to blend together. So you’re going through the days after days. And here we go, four years later.
GW: What were your favorite episodes from last year? Zelenka episodes and episodes overall?
DN: I loved “Adrift.” That was a lot of fun floating through space. And the way that shot turned out was just amazing. It was just a really cool shot. The jump with me and Joe [Flanigan.] I have some fun scenes with “Lorne” this year in the Puddle Jumper. A lot of actors don’t like doing the Puddle Jumper scenes, but I love them. I think Puddle Jumpers are fun.
The control room is bread and butter for me. I’m up there a lot! And we’re back to some more classic McKay-Zelenka heated exchanges this year, which I’m very happy to see.
GW: Now that you’ve had time, even though you haven’t seen them but have had a chance to film some of the stories, what have been some of your favorite stories you guys have told?
DN: Oh, my goodness. “Ghost in the Machine,” I remember that. That’s an awesome one. I’m really looking forward to seeing this. Jeez, I should’ve brought those DVDs in last night. I got them the other day to see them. That was a terrific one. The two-parter, “First Contact” and “[The] Lost Tribe,” the Gero extravaganzas, were once again extravaganzas. They were really cool.
The new bad guy that’s been discovered is really cool.
I’ve read the last two. I’ve read the season ender, basically the series ender, already. “Vegas” looks to be really good, too. I’m looking forward to those.
GW: Was Michael Shanks a refreshing pleasure to have on set?
DN: Oh, really nice, yeah. I talked with him a couple times when I was on set. I didn’t unfortunately have any scenes with him. He had most of his scenes with David Hewlett. We hung out on set a lot together and kibitzed around. Man, it would’ve been cool to have been on the series with him and worked with him more. I’ll probably see him at conventions and stuff like that but it’s really nice to get to know him.
GW: What other episodes? The back half is full of interesting surprises. We know about an old foe who returns in one, a great story.
DN: Yeah, well these ones that we’re doing right now, “Identity,” right now, is a pretty interesting Zelenka episode. I’m not wearing my regular clothes!
GW: No, you’re in a hospital gown.
DN: Am I?
GW: The last person we saw in a hospital gown was Beckett.
DN: I don’t know … I’m not supposed to give it away. Another good one was “Remnants,” the Joe Mallozzi script. We just finished that one also. Bits and pieces of it last week. Yeah, good ones. Pretty good for the back half. I think I’ve counted, I’ve got 11 episodes this year. Pretty much the Zelenka average.
GW: Yeah. It was 11 in Season Four, I think it was 11 in Season Four, but one year you got 12 or 13. Show’s been really good to you.
DN: It has.
GW: Is [“Enemy At the Gate”] it a satisfying ending, what you’ve read, for fans, or is it going to leave them on the edge of their seats for next year?
DN: I would call it a satisfying ending, yes. It goes in big style. It really does. The last one, everybody’s in it. Let’s put it that way.
GW: OK, good. Did they write it knowing what would happen to the show with that in mind?
DN: I don’t know. I would speculate that perhaps they might have.
GW: OK, so it’s organic.
GW: OK. We fans like organic.
DN: Oh, no. It’s not jarring. Some things get resolved, some things don’t. I think “satisfying” would be a good way to characterize it.
GW: OK, great. And you have a big role in “Identity.” More than usual?
DN: As usual, let’s go with that.
GW: But it’s interesting things.
DN: Interesting things, yeah, interesting things. You’re really good at teasing out the spoilers, aren’t you? You know more than most people. You’ve talked with Brad Wright so you’re probably privy to a lot of upcoming information. And you don’t necessarily release all of that, do you?
GW: No. For instance, we got these extra pages where Zelenka dies in the last episode that we’re not able to share it with anyone.
DN: Whatever. Ha ha ha. Maybe! You’re trying to throw me, aren’t you?
GW: No, it’s cool! How do you think Season Five stacks up against the previous four seasons, looking back on most of it being done?
DN: Well you know, the big change in Season Four was with leadership, and the big change in Season Five was with leadership. It’s almost like Four and Five have been different years in and of themselves because of Amanda and now because of Robert, as opposed to the — Weir — first top three years. I think that’s the biggest characteristic change for the series as a whole.
Generally I would say that the relationships have matured, we have matured, the interactions have become much more subtle — the interactions between Zelenka and McKay — because the relationship has been long since established. It’s at the phase where we’re finishing each other’s sentences and just getting by with fewer words and expressions.
I think for McKay and Zelenka “Remnants” is probably the best episode this year.
GW: I keep on waiting for the episode to come through where it’s Zelenka’s perspective.
DN: Alone on Atlantis. Walking around going “Hey, hello?”
GW: No, just a day in the life of Radek Zelenka.
DN: That would be cool, wouldn’t it?
GW: The crap that he has to put up with from McKay.
DN: The Zelenka P.O.V.
GW: We find out somehow that he’s keeping the whole base together. He’s the only one holding it all together.
DN: Well, Dave, quite frankly, we know that already. But proof! The evidence of that. The circumstantial evidence of that. I know, I know. What can I say? I’d love to see that happen. I’m happy for the work that I get. I hope there’s more.
GW: Zelenka’s such the underdog. He never gets to save the day, and we were all hoping for that episode where Zelenka saves the day.
DN: You know, it’s part of the dynamic. It’s a dramatic dynamic. You always have to have that kind of status, higher status, lower status, dynamic. It’s good for dramatic tension. It’s different styles of writing that Joe and Paul are putting out as opposed to Brad and Robert. I don’t really mind the aspect that they’re deciding to take that particular way.
Really it’s a character that I’m playing. I don’t have a relationship like that with David. It’s the dynamic set up. It might seem frustrating to some people that poor Zelenka’s getting kicked around. That might be an interesting dynamic to be setting up, to get more sympathy for the character. You get the sense of, “My God, when is he going to get a chance to do it?” And who knows? Maybe he will one day. It’s not over yet!
GW: Well that’s true. Sometimes I wonder if Zelenka’s actually more brilliant than McKay is.
DN: Oh, you don’t have to wonder. I’ll put that to rest. He definitely is.
I can alsto tell you, one of the episodes in the back half has a very strong clue for Stargate Universe.
GW: OK. Well you know, they’ve always been good about setting stuff up early on. For crying out loud, Atlantis was set up in Season One of SG-1, the first threads of it. I know that there are clues in the last season of SG-1 that will also feed into Universe as well. So that’s terrific.
Over the years, what has become easier working on Stargate and what has become more difficult since you’ve been here?
DN: That’s a really good question! What has become easier and what has become more difficult? You know what? Sometimes it’s just so automatic that I forget that I’m supposed to have an accent as this character. So there’s been times where I’m talking [and they are] rolling and I start to speak and I go “Gah!”
So in some ways, it’s almost been harder to remember that I have to speak with an accent, which is the most basic sort of thing. That’s a funny little thing. Remembering to speak with an accent. The way the group has sort of come together. Especially with Dave [Hewlett] and Joe where we know each other so well.
Working in this environment, it’s really pleasant. I enjoy coming here to work. We don’t have to do as many line runs as we did. David and I used to hunker down and do line runs. Now we just sort of show up on set and things kind of evolve out of that.
GW: You really know these characters.
DN: Yeah, that’s a neat thing. And that’s a real blessing to be on a show. To be able to do that. To be able to delve into a character and get right into that. So that’s it.
GW: What are your thoughts on Universe? What would you as a viewer like to see this show become?
DN: From what I’ve heard it takes place through the universe. It’s the Destiny going to seed Stargates throughout the universe. I like the idea that it has that “cut off” nature from Earth. It’s more of a traditional sci-fi “out there in space,” which is how Atlantis started out. Then we started having contact with Earth, and the Midway bridge, and now we’re able to fly back and forth to Earth.
There’s a romance to the idea that you’re out there, and you’re out there alone, and you’re dealing with what you can deal with. Other than that I have very little information as to who’s going to be in it, what it’s going to be about. I know as much as you do.
GW: Well as a viewer what would you like to see?
DN: Zelenka piloting the ship. [Laughter] You’re asking me what am I thinking about the show that’s going to come after us. I wish them luck.
I’d love to see the franchise go on that way. It’s an evolution of the franchise. I think it’s a great idea. I still think there’s a lot of Atlantis stories left to be told. I think Atlantis isn’t done yet. I think there’s a lot of stories left to be told.