It has been more than five years since Jonas Quinn departed Stargate Command to help his people, the Langarans, rebuild a peaceful and prosperous civilization. During that time, fans of the character — who was a regular member of SG-1 during Season Six — have made actor Corin Nemec one of GateWorld’s most requested interviews ever.
Now we’re excited to finally bring you a special video interview with Corin! We caught up with the actor at Creation Entertainment‘s official Stargate convention in Vancouver, and talked about Corin’s casting on the show, his decision to bulk up for the role, and the challenge of replacing a well-loved character. He also answers the question of whether he thinks Jonas’s story is complete.
GateWorld’s video interview with Corin runs approximately 15 minutes, and is also available for your listening pleasure in audio format. It’s also transcribed below!
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net, I’m Darren Sumner. David Read and I are here with Mr. Corin Nemec, Jonas Quinn on Stargate SG-1. Thanks for being with us today!
Corin Nemec: Yeah, right on! What’s up, GateWorld? All you GateWorlders. Crazy GateWorlders …
CN: Yep. The casting process for me for Stargate was really cool because I didn’t have to audition for it. [Laughter] Which was surprising. It was a “right place, right time” moment.
I was actually at MGM — they don’t have studios anymore, [but] where their offices are. And I was auditioning for this little independent film. I was out in the courtyard area just rehearsing my dialogue. The casting people from Stargate walked by. They knew me from previous stuff. They just stopped and we had a chat for a little bit. They were like, “God, he looks so much like Heath Ledger.” [Laughter]
They were looking at each other and, “Yeah, yeah, he looks like Heath Ledger. Yeah, yeah … We just got in today. We’ve got this part for a show called Stargate. They’re going to have a new series regular you would be awesome for it. You look like you would be perfect.” They literally had just got it that day. They were just starting to talk about casting.
At the time I was sitting there going to audition for a little independent film that was probably going to pay 100 bucks a day. I’m like, “Am I interested?” [Laughter]
GW: “Are you kidding?”
CN: [Laughter] So it was really cool. They sent some tape over, a reel of some work that I’d done. They sent it up here to Vancouver. The guys, Brad Wright and all them, checked it out and it worked out. It worked out great. It was really cool. Really, really cool.
GW: So when you look back on that experience now, the whole season that you spent there — and you did an episode before and a few episodes after — what stands out in your mind when you remember Stargate?
CN: It’s interesting because working on Stargate, it’s as cool as the show is to watch. The whole adventure of it, all the adventures that you go on, the obstacles you have to get over, the predicaments that you get caught in, the great writing, the dialogue, the different relationships. What I remember is I feel like I was on SG-1. You know what I mean?
As silly as that sounds, that’s what it feels like. Because you film all those scenes you do, everything you watch on the show, you actually physically get to do. So it’s like you lived it, in a weird way.
GW: I’m sure it’s hard work, working 12 to 14 hour days. But it’s still fun playing space hero?
CN: Actually, on this show, they’re such a well-oiled machine. Twelve hours is the average, [but] sometimes we’d even get out before 12 hours. Plus it’s an ensemble cast, so it fluctuates on how much time you spend on set. If your character is a principle character in that episode, you’re going to be on set more, but you still might end up with a day off. It was pretty rare that every cast member shot every single day of every episode.
GW: You were pretty dramatic in your change of physique. Was that your idea or were you asked to get “pumped?”
CN: No, the physique change, actually, was my idea. When I did the last episode of Season Five, I was much trimmer. But when I worked with Chris Judge — number one, just seeing how big he is. I realized that if I didn’t bulk up I was going to disappear on screen. Richard Dean Anderson is, like, 6’3. He’s a really tall guy.
I just knew that with the cast being as big and as tall as everybody is … even Amanda Tapping, she’s like, 5’10. So I knew I had to bulk up.
So I spent the three or so months between when they wrapped that, before they started Season Six, drinking four weight gainer shakes a day. I’d go to the gym twice a day. I’d go in the morning and in the afternoon. I literally was in the gym almost six days a week, practically for that full three months. I put on like close to 25 pounds or something like that.
GW: It was substantial.
CN: Yeah, it was huge. The clothes — I went up four pants sizes. Literally. So I put on all that bulk.
And it’s funny, because I bulked up for the show and everything and then it took me a while to finally get it off. Once I trimmed back down to what my weight pretty much was before going on to the show, everybody was, “Are you sick? Are you OK? You look so thin.” I’m like, “Check me out in everything I did previous to Stargate. I look exactly the same.”
GW: So, you didn’t like it that much to keep it on afterwards?
CN: I didn’t see the point of it because as an actor it’s about versatility, and for me the majority of the parts that I played didn’t require the necessity of that kind of bulk. And now, with memory muscle I can work out for three and a half weeks and the difference in how I look is crazy.
I don’t really worry about it too much. If I need to get big for something, I can get big; in the meantime, I run a lot. I stay healthy. I keep myself trim and in what people call fighting shape, fighting weight.
GW: Now when you got on the show, you and Jonas both had a tremendous burden replacing a popular character, a popular actor on the show. Do you think that Jonas was given a short shrift by fans?
CN: No, actually. I think, initially, the initial backlash from a very small core, outspoken group of the fandom had a bit of a volatile reaction to it, which is totally natural. But at the same time, that’s not my line of work. I’m an actor and I’m coming in to do my thing, so it wasn’t challenging in that respect.
Interestingly enough, I’d say 95-plus percent of the fan base grew to like the character and accepted the character overall. Especially by the time Season Six ended, I think people were pretty much, “Eh, OK — I’m cool with that.” For the most part.
But coming in on the set and everything, it could have been more difficult, except that everybody is just so cool. All the actors and everybody, everybody is so welcoming and laid back. Also they wrote the character in really well. They gave a nice arc, where the character had to prove himself, and the push and the pull of it all.
GW: Especially to Colonel O’Neill.
CN: Yeah! So they allowed that organic arc to take place which also assisted in the development of the character relationships.
GW: Jonas does definitely have his followers, though. He has his fan base. Tell us about your interaction with those guys and gals.
CN: It’s interesting. The most extreme fan base for Jonas was the “O.J.B.s” over in England and Europe, which was the “Order of Jonas’s Banana.” It’s a little phallic. But they would show up at the conventions with capes on that say “O.J.B.” on the back in yellow. They constantly gave me gifts of bananas, and things that have to do with bananas, and pictures of me superimposed as a banana.
One time over in England, they brought me a 10-pound bag of sponge banana candy. You know the little spongy bananas? It was like a 10-pound bag. And I’m like, “This is hilarious.” So, that’s probably on the most extreme side.
GW: Do you even like bananas?
CN: Well, the whole banana thing came from an episode where I’m eating the banana in outer space. The funny thing with that was the scene itself, which was just a scene of me and Teal’c in outer space having a conversation [“Descent”]. I was walking around [thinking], “Dang, how can we make this scene interesting? There’s got to be something.”
Fortunately, Peter DeLuise was directing that episode, too. I was over by craft services. I’m standing there, walking around, and I see a banana. I’m like, “A banana in outer space. That’s it!” In the middle of the conversation he pulls out a banana, he starts eating the banana and at the end of the conversation, he offers it to Teal’c.
I went to Peter DeLuise with the idea and he [said], “Yeah, a banana in outer space. I like it!”
GW: That’s right up Peter’s alley.
CN: Yeah! So we shot it and it made something interesting out of what otherwise would have been a pretty standard, “two guys talking” scene. I do believe I’m probably the first banana in outer space. I think I might be the first guy to eat a banana in outer space in any film or television show known to man.
GW: There’s a distinction! So you did about 26 episodes of the show, some you got to be featured in pretty prominently — [including] “Descent” and “Prophecy.” You contributed the story for “Fallout.” Which episode really stands out in your mind, or maybe part of an episode?
CN: It’s interesting. One of my favorite episodes is “Nightwalkers,” which was more of an X-Files-ish kind of feel. It got the characters off base. You’re still in the U.S. There was this real mysterious thing and there was a lot of character development, some interesting scenes. That, to me, was one of my favorite episodes to shoot.
GW: What can you tell us about coming up with the story idea for Jonas’s return in “Fallout?”
CN: Brad Wright, Rob Cooper, all those guys, they’re really, really cool guys. They said they are always open to storylines. If I ever thought of anything, to come to them and pitch it. I spent a greater part of Season Six doing just that. I’m like, “Yeah Brad, it’s me again. I’ve got another idea for ya!” [Laughter]
GW: “What have I done?”
CN: Yeah, exactly! I probably pitched five possible [storylines]. They were really cool. They helped me. They gave me, like, how their beat sheets, look how their pitches, how you pitch the episode. They were really cool about it. So, I could write them correctly, I could write the pitches correctly.
Then me and Rob Cooper beat around a little bit of one of the stories, which became “Fallout” — which, initially, my working title was “Deep Core,” because the core and all that. I just had a working title. So from that they bought that story from me, which was really cool because writing is like my second greatest passion. So to finally get a story credit and get a little something out there as a writer was a big win for me.
GW: Was it about first the core? Did the Goa’uld [“Kianna Cyr”] come in later?
CN: If I remember correctly, the original storyline that I had was there was a coup happening at the same time that Daniel Jackson’s character gets caught up in, while I’m stuck under in the core thing. They were going to sabotage the mission and they have to stop them.
It was just too big of an episode, really. But the idea of the Goa’uld was primarily their introduction. [It was] an introduction of that character in the storyline. Yeah.
GW: Do you think that Jonas’s story is complete? Did you generate any pitch ideas after “Fallout?”
CN: After “Fallout,” I tossed around the idea of pitching some more possible storylines. Other things got pretty busy for me at that time. I would love to do more stuff with them as a creative team.
As far as what happened to the character, Jonas, after “Fallout” … who knows. I think there’s an episode later in that season where they mention his planet or something.
GW: Yeah, it was occupied by the Ori. Conquered by the Ori.
CN: Yeah, something like that. So there’s something interesting you certainly could go back to, even from an Atlantis point of view. Because they at least established that this is a planet that they knew some people on, and now it’s occupied or whatever. It sounds like there’s some storylines, some possible storylines, in there.
And now that I’ve got this crazy look, you find me on this stranded on a deserted planet …
GW: Jonas has gone underground.
CN: Yeah, totally.
GW: So what other projects are you working on now that fans can look for you in?
CN: I have a couple projects coming out. I have a film called “High Hopes” coming out in the next couple months from Lions Gate with David Faustino. It’s a comedy. And then later on in the year “Ted Bundy” [Bundy: An American Icon] will be coming out. I play Ted Bundy. That’s going to pretty cool. That will be interesting.
Then outside of that, I have a production company with David Faustino, from Married, With Children. We have a pilot that we shot, that we put together with a guy named Sam Kass, who is a writer from Arli$$ and Seinfeld, and some other stuff. We’ve been shopping that. We’re waiting, this week, to hear back from networks, if we’re picked up. We pitched to about five of the major networks.
GW: Well, we wish you all the best.