For the time being it appears that the hybrid Michael is out of the picture. But Connor Trinneer is still very much in the game, playing daddy to his three year old son and going out for gigs in LA.
GateWorld sat down with Connor just before Christmas to talk about the latest — and perhaps last — developments for his character in Season Five’s “The Prodigal,” to discuss what worked and what didn’t, and the subtext behind Michael’s motivations.
GateWorld’s interview with Connor runs 27 minutes, and is available in video and audio formats. It is also transcribed below. For the audio version you can listen online at your leisure, or download it to your MP3 player.
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net I’m David Read, once again here with Mr. Connor Trinneer. Reports of your death, greatly exaggerated.
Connor Trinneer: Somebody died probably!
GW: That’s right! Well it sure looks like Michael’s dead. Have you seen the episode?
CT: I have seen it, yeah. Sure, yeah, he did die, but if he didn’t clone himself — bigger picture of things — all of the stuff that they said about how intelligent, cunning, he is, it just wouldn’t make any sense that he wouldn’t have any sort of backup plan. It seems like he’s always had. But the reports of the death of Stargate Atlantis, greatly exaggerated, I don’t think so!
GW: Well they’re working on a movie right now.
CT: Well I mean for the series.
GW: Yeah, exactly. What did you think about that when you heard the show was cancelled? Were you surprised?
CT: I hate to say this, but no. I’ve gone through this before. We got 99 episodes out of Enterprise. Once you hit that century mark, or get close to it, and that means you’re getting syndicated …
I actually had dinner with Joe and Jason while I was up there doing this last episode and I asked them about that. I didn’t want to be the dealer of bad news but I was like, “Have you thought about the possibility that you guys are going to be at a hundred? How are the ratings?” And blah blah blah. Ultimately it turned out to be true. I think it was a couple weeks out there that …
GW: They made the announcement.
CT: I was not surprised. Nor would I have been surprised had it carried on. But in today’s day and age it seems that networks want to pull the plug kind of after they get that hundred shows. Once you’re able to sell stuff in box sets it changes the landscape of what it means to have a show for a long time. What’s a long time? It’s disappointing. It was nice going up to Vancouver two, three times a year.
GW: Well it will live on in syndication. That’s for dang sure. That’s one of the beefs that I had with it. If you looked at the story of the show, Michael was very important to the story. But we only saw him once or twice a year.
Did you regret not having more shows, more involvement episode by episode? Maybe four shows a year? Because some of those villains, they return often, and Michael would come out of hiding, and throw his weight around, and retreat again.
CT: I think he got talked about more than you probably saw him. Sure, it would’ve been nice to go up there. I’m not sure how to put this but I would like to have seen them expand his situation more in a sense that, “Let’s get over the fact that he’s upset at you guys. Let’s get over the fact that ‘You’ve done this to me.'” I don’t know how many times I said, “You guys have done this to me.”
GW: Yeah, yeah. Even in the last episode, “You did this.”
CT: Right. So it would’ve been nice to, if they were going to have that be a major part of the storyline, I think it was just a good story. I don’t think it was so much a major story. It was just one that people responded to. Yeah, by the end of it I was like, “We need to do something here. Kill him or shake it up.”
GW: Make him change somehow?
CT: Or make him more effective. Make the rest of that universe more affected by what he’s doing, as opposed to just being an occasional annoying thorn in the side.
GW: “Oh, Michael’s back. Eh, jeez.”
CT: Yeah exactly! “How’d he get in there? Well we’re not really sure.”
GW: They were going back and forth on what his plan was. His hybrids. He was going to basically conquer the galaxy. And a lot of us were wondering in the end, by the time that he came to Atlantis and basically planned on blowing it up, a lot of people were thinking that he really played a bad game of chess, painted himself into a corner. Do you think in the end he really had the resources to take over the galaxy or do you think he made some wrong turns and got himself into a bit of a pickle?
CT: I don’t know if the possibility wasn’t out there for him to do something like make a charge like that and I guess go for it. I never particularly understood why if that was his MO why go back to Atlantis?
I have to say this much. I really felt that it had to be — if he wasn’t in love with Teyla — it was never really written into it, but there had to be some sort of draw that he had to her. Well that child, obviously, had a special thing about it, but even beyond that I think that at least me, for the actor, had to anchor it personally. That was my little secret.
Maybe it wasn’t that much of a secret. I really had to play that relationship with her. When she says, “No, he got unhinged about the whole thing, about her not coming back, then why was he so obsessed?” Not only was he obsessed but the choices he made surrounding her seemed like an obsessed boyfriend to be honest.
GW: Even Tame was talking about, he was borderline psychotic. When we last saw you the Season Three episode “Vengeance” had aired and he was basically going to experiment on her and probably kill her in the process.
She [Tame] was in the podcast discussion where we talked about this episode where Tame specially raised the point. “This is odd. He was going to kill her and now he’s basically asking her out?” Not exactly that, but that, for me, made more sense because that went back to the first episode and how he seemed to really connect with her.
CT: I don’t know. Again, the leaps that were taken, it seems, with scenarios like that made me wonder. Are we paying attention to this timeline? Are we paying attention to the arc of this story?
I’m sure they were. Of course they were. It made it difficult to make that organic in that situation. Now I’m … really? Am I really going to do that or am I just saying that? It was kind of an interesting acting exercise because I would have to make choices. “Now am I telling the truth?” Just for my own sense of it.
GW: Either that or he’s just shifting priorities. He’s not exactly sure what he wants. Which I think is the case with this character. Once we meddled with him I don’t think he knew what he wanted after that.
CT: He was. He was a man without a home. I think that that did play into everything that happened. He was grasping with straws, all of them. There was a time when he was working with [Atlantis]. It was for his own benefit. He was somebody who just didn’t have a lot of grounding. It was a hell of a lot of fun to play.
GW: Oh yeah! Exactly! I was amazed with the visual effects in this episode which we can get to in a minute, but the fight scenes. Do you like to fight? Are you a fight kind of guy? You didn’t do a whole ton of that on Enterprise but there were episodes like “Dawn” and the finale.
CT: No, I did a lot on Enterprise.
GW: Oh you did?
CT: Yeah. Yeah, I do. It is more difficult with all that goop on. The heels that I wound up wearing, the boots that I have. But BamBam’s fights are much more involved than anything I’d ever done before, especially wearing that. I didn’t have a lot to do. Also, the way the scheduling worked out we didn’t have a lot of time for rehearsal. It was a hiatus that had happened
At any rate they didn’t have a lot of time. I had enough time to sort of learn some of it. I think where the space dictates a lot of what you’ll be able to do anyway. My stunt double’s awesome. And I did do some of it.
GW: Oh you did?
CT: M-hmm. I did do some of it. Not a lot. But the way they shot it you couldn’t tell.
GW: But it really was you in some of that. Some of those wider shots with Joe and you on the balcony? That shot? Is any of that you?
CT: Yeah, I did portions of all of those fights. The full-on gymnastics stuff, that wasn’t me. I’m talking about the flipping and flying and doing moves I have no idea how to do.
GW: Well it was impressive. I think you and I talked about this in our last discussion. The fans who have really liked the Michael/Ronon dynamic. We’ve been waiting for this. There is some bad blood and there is some hair that needs to be yanked and this was coming. This has been coming for a long time ever since that grudge with him. So that had to have been satisfying as an actor from the story standpoint. You are going down.
CT: Yeah! I would have liked to have had a little more exchange with him. No, it was nice to have some relating to that angst.
GW: That was one of the complaints that was raised about “The Prodigal.” We finally see you and then we spend 20 minutes of the episode figuring out what the hell is going on.
I’m like, “What’s going on with Michael? Take us back to Michael! What’s he doing with Teyla? What’s going on with that?” And it was kind of quick. The fight scenes did feel just before the end, “Let’s throw these in there.” But I thought they were pretty rewarding. And you kicked Ronon’s ass.
CT: They’re good fights. They were fun to watch. Also the way that they shot them, especially the one with Joe, it was really cool to see the camera way back at the end of the sound stage, and green screen, and to see all of that happen with the whole scope of the city right there.
GW: The hybrids changed significantly since we last talked. They no longer look like alien bugs. They’re human beings. What did you think about the direction they chose to go in with that? We talked about how if they’re not done right they’ll suck. “The monsters suck!”
CT: I hadn’t really thought bout it but I have to say he had to have interaction with them. They couldn’t just be these predator alien bug things that he directed to go in certain places. And since its television they have to speak English. I think they solved that problem pretty effectively.
We knew that they had superhuman strength. It seemed to be more his crew of zombies as opposed to his crew of bugs. I think that was probably a good move. Yeah, definitely.
GW: A lot of fans raised questions like, “What do they do? They pilot his ships and they kind of serve as his ground forces but what do they really do? What’s really going on with them? Are they is army? Is that basically what they are?”
CT: Absolutely. They’re his minions. They are there to serve whatever purpose he puts them out for. They have to be mindless, soulless things that whatever he says they do and they’re afraid of him.
This really genius scientist who has the ability to take this information and translate it to him and how it can help him. He would have been able to mutate this thing to be that specific. He must’ve been. It makes it interesting. In the world of TV he has the perfect skill set to be able to achieve this though we never see it. I guess the difficult part is do you buy it?
GW: Well hopefully there’s a copy of him floating around out there somewhere.
CT: There has to be. There has to be several. I’m serious! You know what he probably did? He probably put them on ice where some sort of trigger, if something doesn’t happen, if he doesn’t have some sort of contact, radar, the light goes off or something, and one of them is going to wake up.
If they’re true clones they’re going to have the exact same sentiments and sensibilities that he has. There’s no way that he would have gone to such a dangerous place risking everything when he could’ve just sent somebody who’s him. It would make no sense to me whatsoever. It would literally, as far as I’m concerned, fracture a portion of this character.
GW: Did it occur to you that he possibly sent a copy of himself to Atlantis?
CT: The second I read that script. My first thought. Absolutely.
GW: He made a copy too lead the others? Because they’ll only respond to him.
CT: Well, yeah, whatever. Either he went and made copies or he sent a copy. There were cracks in the armor of that guy in that episode that you hadn’t seen before for Michael. He was definitely more unhinged than any other time you’d seen him before.
Truly, if he doesn’t have a six-pack somewhere of Michaels in cold storage then shame on Michael. I just don’t think that …
GW: Well it doesn’t make much sense. He really did want to go back there and get that kid. He’s been gone for so long and we’ve already come across a couple of planets where he mutated several people and was working on various stages of his experiments. Something’s got to be out there that’s left over.
CT: There’s a wizard behind the curtain. So that’s my feeling. Maybe we’ll see it again in one of the movies. I don’t know!
GW: Well if the first one is successful … Have you been contacted at all for the Atlantis movie?
CT: No. No, I think if they put that character in there that will be the movie. I would think if you’re going to throw Michael into the mix he can’t be a part of the Fantastic Four. It’s kind of got to be about Michael.
That’s part of the thing that I think had me not up there as much. When the shows were involving that character that’s what they were about. He wasn’t showing up and saying, have [other enemies] going, “Well what are you doing here?” “I know something. I’ve got to tell you something.” He’s a rival.
GW: Todd kind of took that place. Early on it was Michael with bringing in the hive ship at the end of “Allies,” which you did the voice work for. And then Todd, played by the great Chris Heyerdahl —
CT: He’s awesome —
GW: — he is. He kind of took on that role as the leader of the Wraith, where as you’re kind of out there on your own, the Flying Dutchman as Brad Wright liked to put it. Trying to find his home.
GW: I really wish there would’ve been more, not so much “I’m coming and I’m going to take something from you.” More like he’s in a situation where he needs them and he needs to put his tail between his legs and go back to them and maybe offer up something in exchange for this. But now he’s messed with Teyla’s son.
CT: And bear in mind he’s already got the DNA. He already said it. He said it to her. “It doesn’t matter that I don’t have your kid. It doesn’t matter at all.”
GW: “I can make another one.”
CT: Yeah. “And not only can I make another one …” Even if in the odd possibility he is the only one, he didn’t clone himself, he would have instructed his army to do his bidding with this child. Yeah, the fact that he fell down to his death, there’s so much going on with that, the remainder of that story. I’d be curious to know if they have any interest in supporting that.
Frankly, I don’t have a lot of time. I’ve watched my episodes. I’ve watched the occasional episode here and there. I really wasn’t well versed on the world of that show. I don’t know how much he came in to play, how big a part in all that he was.
GW: He was mentioned every two or three episodes. It was a lot.
CT: I didn’t watch every Enterprise episode and I was in every Enterprise episode.
GW: Have you seen them all now?
CT: … No.
GW: Really? You don’t own the [boxed set]?
CT: I have ’em. I’ve started to go through the first season slowly but yeah, I mean, how odd, right?
GW: And like I told you in the email, the older that the show gets the more I like it.
CT: Yeah, I have to tell you, people come up to me all the time now. People who used to come up and say …
GW: “That Enterprise show …”
CT: Yeah, I heard this a lot. “I like you but I don’t really like your show.” “You’re not paying me so I don’t really care.” Since then I have to say that conventions or out an about … The airport’s a strange place. I probably get approached more at airports than anywhere else. Most actors do. I think people stopped complaining and learned to love the show.
I’ve gone back to see that it was a good show. Unfortunately it didn’t get a chance to have that one year where it got seasoned. I think in Season Four we were getting our sea legs. If we had one more it would have started to kind of sail.
GW: You know, I have to disagree with Jolene [Blalock, T’Pol] on this, and I know she was of course very vocal. And I’ve seen every series of Star Trek and most of the episodes. I have to see that Season Three in my opinion was the most cohesive season of Star Trek
CT: What’d she say?
GW: She wasn’t a whole big fan of Season Three, which I’m surprised at because it took T’Pol down a side road with you particularly.
CT: Was that the year that she had that addiction to whatever it was?
GW: Right. That’s right.
CT: Yeah, I think we all had a great year then. She had a lot to do.
GW: There were some great stories in there.
CT: I don’t know when you talked to her.
GW: I read this.
CT: Oh. I don’t know how much she liked the job to begin with.
GW: Do you keep in touch with any of those guys? Anyone in particular?
CT: I see Dominic [Keating, “Malcolm Reed”] fairly often. I see him at conventions. He lives just up the street from me. We’re neighbors. I’m going to Scott’s [Bakula, “Jonathan Archer”] Christmas party tomorrow night.
GW: Oh cool! Does he have a big one every year?
CT: He has a pretty good one, yeah. I saw Anthony [Montgomery, “Travis Mayweather”] recently. I haven’t seen Linda [Park, “Hoshi Sato”] in a while. I saw Jolene probably a year and a half ago. I saw John [Billingsley, “Phlox”] in the last few months. With the exception of Dominic I don’t particularly keep up with anybody. It’s tough with kids. Those that don’t have them just don’t get it.
GW: “Come on, hang out!” “No, I can’t. I’ve got to play Daddy.”
CT: “It’s nine thirty and I should be in bed.”
GW: “You don’t have a little guy getting up at four in the morning.”
GW: So what’s the next big thing for Mr. Trinneer?
CT: I don’t know! I’ve got a few things in the can that are coming out in the next few months. A couple TV shows. A movie of the week for SCI FI Channel.
GW: I think you were hinting at that a year and a half ago where you were working on that with someone?
CT: I couldn’t have. I did this in April and I found out about it two months before that.
GW: So you already filmed it?
GW: What is it?
CT: It’s called Termination Shock with James Kyson Lee from Heroes and some other Americans and some other Bulgarian actors. It’s shot in Bulgaria.
GW: Oh really?
CT: Yeah. That’s where they shoot all of them.
GW: They shoot all the SCI FI Channel movies in Bulgaria?
CT: The shoot almost all of them.
Tame Farrar: For the jungle aspect?
CT: The cheap money aspect. It’s cheap to shoot out there and they have a pretty good infrastructure for doing it. They’ve been doing it for 12 years now making movies out there. Besides that, after the holidays, pilot season kicks in. I don’t know. I’m an actor for hire, man. I’m just out there hitting the pavement and looking for work.
GW: Do you find yourself enjoying that type of insecurity? “I don’t know what’s around the next corner.” A lot of people just feed on that. People like me, I couldn’t take it.
CT: It depends. I probably used to more than I do now. My priorities are a bit different now. I’ll say this much: it’s a whole lot more comfortable to know that you’re going to work every day on a show than …
I don’t know how you’d describe it other than the picking and choosing of people giving you a job or not. That gets old. If you nail something and you think, “Man, let’s go into make-up.” Sometimes it doesn’t happen. That gets old and hard but I’m an actor. C’est la vie. That’s the way it is.”
GW: C’est la vie. Oui oui! [Laughter]