During our visit to Chicago earlier this summer for Creation’s official Stargate convention, GateWorld had a chance to sit down for the first time in over three years with Tony Amendola, the man who made Bra’tac his own.
Life continues to be busy for Amendola after SG-1‘s end. Having a recurring role on the series left him free to pursue other projects simultaneously during the show’s ten year run — a trend that continues to this day.
In our interview, Amendola discusses the character development of Bra’tac during the final two years of the series, the OOri story arc, areas of the character’s life that he would have liked to have seen explored, as well as his current projects. He also discusses his thoughts on the passing of Don S. Davis — as Tony graciously filled in at the convention as a replacement for, and as a tribute to, Davis, who was to have been a guest at that specific event.
GateWorld’s interview with Tony Amendola runs nearly 11 minutes. Listen online at your leisure, download it to your MP3 player, or subscribe now to the iTunes podcast! The full interview is also transcribed below.
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net, this is Chad Colvin, and I have the pleasure today of speaking with Mr. Tony Amendola. Tony, thank you again for taking time to speak with us.
Tony Amendola: You’re welcome. Thank you.
GW: It’s been three years since we last talked with you, back just prior to the premiere of Season Nine of SG-1. And since then, obviously, SG-1 concluded its run. Were you aware of how long and full of a run the character of Bra’tac was going to have?
TA: Not at all. I thought going in it was just a “one and out.” As all good things are surprises, they seem to be. And this was a major surprise because you’re told so often “Oh, this is going to be this or that.” And they just kept coming, and I never took them for granted. The second one was great fun, and then the third one. I tended to do one a season for maybe the first three or four years. And then, two and three. And by the end, it was four or five a year. And it was a real treat.
GW: Were there any stand-out moments in your mind for the character over those last two years?
TA: In the last two years? It’s always a pleasure to be with Chris [Judge]. To sort of deepen that. So that final scene in “Talion” was a nice sort of closure. But also, it was a chance — finally — to spend a little time with Beau [Bridges]. You know, we had an episode where all the guys would go off on an adventure. So that was nice. It always felt comfortable. It always felt right.
Also, occasionally, it was fun to be up there as well as having everyone … you know, the gang. It was nice. Carmen [Argenziano] was up there, we’d be the two bachelors out of town and most of the other people had to go home to their families and stuff. We would sort of burn a little bit of the midnight oil. [Laughter]
GW: With the Ori story arc in those last two seasons, Teal’c and — to a much higher degree, I think — Bra’tac seemed much more dedicated to keeping their people free. You’ve just finally overthrown the Goa’uld, and now here’s this new race of alien posing as gods. Except these ones are able to much more believably fulfill that god-like image.
The Jaffa High Council is conflicted with which way they are supposed to lean. Yet Bra’tac stays strong in his resistance to following Origin. In your mind, did he question that direction at all, or was it simply a case of “We will not submit again”?
TA: I think it was a “We will not submit again.” I think it was just as simple as that. And it was sort of wonderful, in the movement of the character, to go from the sort of warrior/trainer/mentor to the politician or to the statesman.
GW: It’s a logical progression.
TA: Politician is probably not a good word. But to the statesman. And that was very, very interesting. And to see the struggle with that. You know? Just the struggle to be able to convince people. It’s so much easier to convince them with a staff weapon! [Laughter] I don’t mean to harm them, but just to knock a little sense into their head, and the discipline of that, you know? Of an almost military “my way.” And now he’s in an arena where it’s about persuasion. And it’s about factions. And I found that very interesting.
And also there was a difference. We found a difference in the sort of visual look of the character from … even from the use of the cap, which is a warrior-like thing, to no cap. And into robes. And that was fun. That was fun. I enjoyed that. I got a chance to work with Lou Gossett [Jr.] and to watch Chris do his … to watch his character shift, too. It was really, really nice.
GW: Were you happy with the overall character development in those final years? Is there any place that you would have liked to have taken Bra’tac that you weren’t able to?
TA: Oh, no. You know … Yes. There are always places that you wish you could take your character. But, you know, the guys — Brad [Wright] and Robert Cooper — they developed my [character]. They gave me a wonderful ride. So I have to be very, very thankful.
That said, I’ve always said that it would have been interesting, because Bra’tac never had a true relationship with a female. It was always because of the warrior ethic. Nor did Don [Davis], I don’t think did, either. So, I always thought it would have been interesting for someone like that to pop up. Because Bra’tac was always around when Teal’c was [with] a wife or … he was always sort of into that mix, watching Teal’c.
And it would have been interesting to have seen this woman — you know, my age — show up. [Laughter] I always thought that would have been fun.
GW: If future Stargate movies are in need of your involvement, can we expect to see you? Or as an actor, are you happy to put a little bit of distance behind the character and do other things?
TA: I do enjoy doing other things. But you have to remember, I always had that liberty. Because I wasn’t there full-time. So I would love to do some of the films, if they came up. It’s always been a pleasure. My enjoyment has always been to sort of switch hats. To go from one genre to another genre. OK, Stargate, now let’s go do “Blow,” now let’s do a play. I’ve always enjoyed the variety. What’s been my fondest comfort zone is that.
GW: Fans were saddened earlier this summer to learn of Don S. Davis’ passing. Over the last decade, you also have spent quite a bit of screen time … and off-screen time with him.
GW: Do you have a favorite memory of him? Something that sticks with you?
TA: You know, there’s so much. We spent some time together in London on an event where we got to see a bunch of plays. What else? He dragged me to all of his favorite art book stores. He was always in search of something. And he had such a hunger for the artistic. It’s an overused word, except with him, I think. Because, and the reason I say that is not only [that] he’s an actor. But he painted, he sketched, he did woodwork. He was amazing.
GW: He was a true Renaissance man.
TA: Oh, really! Truly! And he seemed to have so many other lives, too. He was a teacher. He was in the military. He lived in the States. He was born and raised in the States. And then he landed [as an] immigrant in Canada. There were many, many, many fond things. We would always gravitate toward having lunch together when we were on set together. It was terrific. And to watch him, particularly when he met Ruby — his wife, his current wife — he changed. He changed. She had such a wonderful effect on him.
Now, previous to Ruby, Don was always such a romantic, you know? I always used to call him and we’d go to these events. [We’d] be in London [and] look at all the beautiful women. He was a true appreciator of women.
I don’t have, like, a dead-out … Well, I have one, but I really don’t want to [say] that one. [Laughter] I should save it. He was just a great guy. And he was an unassuming actor. A lot of actors, [he] would just tell you “Oh, well, you know I’m not really an actor, and you guys are just lazy.” And you go on stage, or on-screen, and he just cleans your clock. Because he is the real item.
There was something uniquely American about him. His experience. His look. His size. I don’t know. There was just something that was just purely … really, really truthful about what he presented on-screen and in life. So, he will be missed.
GW: Absolutely. You remain busy lately, with a few movies and episodes of both Dexter and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles under your belt. Any upcoming projects? I know you talked a little bit during the Q and A session [you did earlier] about Dollhouse.
TA: Yeah. Yeah. I’m doing an episode of Dollhouse. Today is Saturday, and I’ll be doing it on Monday, which is exciting. Because I love Joss [Whedon] and his work. What else? I did an episode of Raising The Bar, which is a new [Stephen] Bochco series, and Lincoln Heights.
And I also did sort of an independent series which I hope takes off called 26 Miles. Which is sort of a family-type drama. It takes place on Catalina Island. So I spent the summer shooting there. We did six episodes.
It doesn’t have a home yet. Which is remarkable. Seeing as how they went out and made them anyway. Generally, you go out, and you pitch, and you get all this money. And these guys just got the money from other independent sources and went out and made it. And now they’re going around trying to sell it. But that was fun.
GW: If you could tell Stargate fans one thing, what would it be?
TA: We’re not finished yet. [Laughter] There are many, many stories to be told. And you know, just to simply thank them for taking the bait of the show and staying with us and making us better. Their support was huge. To be able to go from Showtime to SCI FI. And when it was on SCI FI, it really exploded. Because those first couple years, it was almost more of a European phenomenon than it was [here]. It was much more popular in Europe.
GW: [Almost] 33 percent of reruns of the shows being part of the [SCI FI] programming [at one point] kind of helps, too.
TA: Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! But the fans have been terrific, and it was really my first experience with fans. It was for this show.