Vancouver actor Kirby Morrow has had his share of stints on Stargate in the 15 seasons of the franchise. From a soldier in “Cor-ai” to the infamous “Stick boy” (Tara’c) in “The Warrior,” Morrow became a recurring member of the Daedalus crew as weapons officer Dave Kleinman in “The Siege, Part 3.” He would reprise the role seven more times over Atlantis‘s run.
We caught up with the actor at Creation’s 2009 Stargate convention in Vancouver, taking a load off on the roof of the Hilton to talk a little about his career, his voice work, and time on the Daedalus bridge.
This interview runs approximately 12 minutes and is available in video or audio formats. It’s also transcribed below!
GW: Kirby Morrow — Dave Kleinman on Atlantis. You also have an extensive voice acting background.
KM: Yes I do.
GW: Pleasure to be with you sir. Thank you for coming.
KM: It’s good to be here.
GW: How is the Stargate con?
KM: It’s pretty cool! It’s interesting. The first Con I’ve been to that’s all Stargate. I’ve done animation ones, I’ve done animation / sci-fi, now it’s all Stargate. All Stargate all the time.
GW: Here in Vancouver?
GW: You definitely have a voice for radio.
KM: [Changes voice] “You’re listening now to some dozy tones.”
GW: What is it that you like about voice acting?
KM: I get to play a very diverse range of characters. Even different sexes, different ages, you know. [Change pitch] “You can get your voice anywhere.” When you’re acting on camera you’re pretty much isolated to what this looks like.
Voice acting, you can wear what you want, and there’s no heavy lifting. So, it’s a pretty fun job to go in, sit in a studio with people and just be really animated.
GW: Have you done a lot of prosthetic work?
KM: No. Actually, not a lot of prosthetic work at all. I think maybe twice I’ve used little bits of prosthetisc. But [change voice] “I don’t want to mess this up.” [Laughter]
[change voice] “Why would you want to prosthesize this?” Yeah, just little things I’ve done in some shows. But it’d be interesting because it’s funny — I do do so many different voices and play a range of characters. But on camera, I’m pretty much this.
GW: It’s usually you unless they change you with makeup.
KM: Yeah. There hasn’t been much of that. I’ve been beaten up a lot. A couple times where they put scars on me and I was … I can’t remember the show, but there were aliens that kind of … monsters that attacked me and I was all cut up.
GW: Why do you like to work on Sci-Fi shows as opposed to other genre shows? Vancouver is the nexus of Sci-Fi shows. Frankly it’s cheaper to shoot up here and they’re expensive.
KM: That’s the thing and we do. Our CGI, which is Computer Generated Imaging, is very cost effective here as well, I’ve been told. Which is why Sci-Fi goes so well. We have a pretty diverse landscape around the Vancouver area. So, it’s been working well for Sci-Fi.
I love comedy. I love doing stand up.
GW: I hadn’t noticed. [Laughter]
KM: I have a steady comedy background. I’d love to audition for sitcoms. We just don’t make them here. Although there is one in the works I just auditioned for. They said they might come up and do it here. And they just called my agent and said, “Can he work in the states?” and I don’t have the working permit.
GW: You don’t have a visa?
KM: Per se. But I’m going to have to get that in the works because …
GW: Yeah I know. All my bread and butter comes from up here but I can’t move here. So it’s frustrating. You can visit but …
KM: [change voice] “What are these borders? We don’t need borders. What are they for? Crazy.”
GW: So, you were … was it captain?
KM: I started of as a captain. And then they moved me into major status at one time. And there was actually a talk with my agent. “We have the story line.” They were thinking about developing it with the character. But there are so many A-story lines that are very prominent in the show. It never really came to be.
And I think at first the way my name came about as Dave Kleinman was just one of the … I think it was a crew member. And it was kind of a joke that they stuck Dave Kleinman on me. And it stayed that way. And it was kind of like, “OK.” And then I started to be known. People were talking about it on the internet and I was Captain Dave. “Captain Dave, man.”
GW: Well, you know, they’re not just putting a name tag there. It’s not blurred out. That’s an identity. Once your name tag is there, you have … It’s not just the Kirby Morrow character.
GW: So, there you go. You spent a lot of time working with Mitch Pileggi, [Colonel Steven Caldwell] I’d imagine?
KM: Yes. Mitch is great. He’s a lot of fun.
GW: Very cool.
You were in several episodes of Atlantis. Always on the Daedalus bridge. A lot of things exploding.
KM: I did this a lot [shaking his chair] “We’re getting hit man!” Actually there were two times when I was able to get out of my chair and walk and talk. Those were big days for me. [Laughter] But it was pretty easy. I could actually take my lines and put them on my console when they’re filming this angle.
“Oh OK, here are my lines.” But there were a couple of times when I had to walk and talk and I felt much more extended as an actor. Like I could really delve in the process.
GW: Are you disappointed that … Now that Atlantis is over, are you disappointed that there wasn’t an opportunity to further the character anymore? Besides Major Dave Kleinman.
KM: Of course. Of course you always have the dreams of grandeur where you believe “They’re going to make my character something great.” He’s going to do what the cigarette smoking man became in X-Files. He was just this little piece and all of a sudden he becomes a pinnacle part of the X-Files.
You always kind of hope your character is going to become something. [Change voice] “A renegade that changes sides and gives you diversity to be able to act things. And then you get horribly scalded. And then you get the prosthetics. And then it all builds into something more. And then there’s lots of love affairs. It’s always about the love affairs. That’s what we’re looking for, yes.” [Laughter]
GW: You were Martin Christopher’s [Major Marks] counterpart for SG-1. Martin did the Odyssey. He was the crewman on the Odyssey and you were the crewman on the Daedalus.
KM: Oh OK.
GW: And I will be honest. Sometimes I mixed you guys up. Do you ever get that? “Oh, he was the one on the Odyssey,” “No, the Daedalus, I was on the Daedalus.” Has that ever happened?
KM: No, it’s the first time I’ve heard that. But if he was that much like me, then he must die. [Laughter]
[Change voice] “There cannot be two! Only one.” Yeah, so first I’ve ever hear that.
GW: OK cool. Now I know. I’ve never met Martin, so now I’ll definitely … I’m kidding. I knew it was you. No, it’s great.
What’s on the horizon for you right now? What can we expect to see you in? What’s going on?
KM: Well, I am doing a couple of cartoons right now called Death Note, the other one called Gundam 00 doing voice and characters in that. I just had a meeting with a director yesterday for a movie called The Good Wife. So I am hoping that materializes.
There is a pilot out of ABC that I think if they film it up here I could be the guy. But if they’re talking about doing it in LA it’s going to be … you know, are they going to give me the work permit to come down in LA? Go up there … down to LA and do it?
Other than that, I’ve been working. I’ve been writing some scripts and keeping busy.
GW: Oh OK, you are. So you do a little writing?
GW: Sitting in the trailer, nothing else to do. You have your lines ready so, you got to write.
KM: Yes. Pretty much. “OK, it’s time to write something. Make me the central character, lots of love scenes, perfect.”
It’s a balmy -9C here in Vancouver. Actually it’s not too bad for — What are we? — April 2?
GW: April. They’re saying it’s been colder than normal. It was snowing the other day and I’ve never been here when it’s snowed.
KM: Right. And it was one of those snows that just kind of showed its face and disappeared as it often does.
KM: [Change voice] “Like the scared child it is.” Vancouver is good. We’re a rain forest, it rains a lot.
GW: What kind of stuff do you like to write? More drama? More comedy?
KM: Bits and pieces. I love to write comedy. It got a little tedious in my younger years because there was not much of an avenue for it. A lot of people said “Well, we don’t normally make comedies in Canada.” Although so many funny people come from this country. I’m not sure why that happens. Actually the script I am writing now, it’s got serious undertones but it ends up being a comedy. Kind of a buddy gangster film with a lot of funny things that happen.
GW: So how do you pitch a script that you’ve written to the studio? How do you go about doing that?
KM: It’s all on who you sleep with really.
GW: I bet. [Laughter]
KM: “So, I want to show you something right now.” You got agents that you give things to and you show it to people and I’ve had interests from scripts before and people go “Yeah, yeah we want to make this. This is so great.”
GW: And then they never call you back.
KM: Well, no, they call you back and they meet with you and then they put it on the shelf and they go “Hey you know.” And then, they give you a little bit of money and say “Yeah OK, we going to option this for a while.” It’s really hard to get things made sometimes. I need to make some more connections. Got to sleep with the right people. That’s what you got to do.
GW: That’s right.
KM: I got to make a whole new list. That’s what I’m going to do.
GW: Has the economy affected the industry up here at all from your perspective?
KM: It has. Definitely. It’s funny because I took 2007 off and I went traveling around the world. Because I hadn’t really taken a vacation in the last 12 years. And I was like, “That’s it. I am leaving.”
GW: Good for you. Well, 12 years. Yeah.
KM: I went to four continents, 24 countries, 106 destinations. I saw a lot of the world. It was fantastic.
GW: A lot of different women. [Laughter]
KM: Lot of women. I came back and I was like “OK, ready to work” and there’re no auditions. And I was like “Oh, OK.” I managed, I did The L word and there was a movie called “Death Among Friends,” except I am the one who dies in the beginning. And it’s all about why I died.
GW: Oh man.
KM: I’m in the whole first part of the movie and then I meet an unfortunate demise. I do a lot of radio advertising as well. The voices of …
GW: A lot of people knock it because you don’t make as much money but like you were saying earlier, there’s so much more breath of character creation.
KM: And it’s funny because if you get onto a series and you start negotiating wage to be a series regular you can make an incredible amount of money. But if you’re guest starring and stuff, the wage is really comparable for voice work. You go in, you do a cartoon in less than four hours and you make …
GW: And you go home.
KM: And you go home. You can make 1500, 2000 dollars in four hours work. Even two and a half hours.
GW: That’s good.
KM: Yeah, it’s not too bad. There are a lot of people who struggle quite hard to make that kind of money a month. Voice work is great because it’s so much fun to be these different characters. [change voice] “You get into voices.”
You see a picture of something and you can just feel the voice building inside you and go [change voice] “Ahah, look I sound like this, Hoho!” It’s great. I’ve annoyed many a girlfriend. [Change voice] “What are you doing?” — “I’m practicing, is it wrong?”
GW: “Well, stop it, you’re creeping me out.”
KM: [Change voice] “We’re in a restaurant. Stop that.”
GW: That’s right. Have you heard anything about Universe?
KM: I have.
GW: Other than they’re doing it.
KM: Apparently I was too old to audition for Universe.
GW: They do have a relatively young cast.
KM: What’s the deal? I’d like to say I was too good looking.
GW: They’re all just dogs. They just cast a bunch of dogs.
KM: An ugly, ugly cast. Actually I was talking to John Lenic the other day. I ran into him at breakfast.
GW: Oh yeah. Isn’t he cool?
KM: He is, yeah. My very first job ever back in 1996 — on-camera job — was a movie called “Girls Fight Back.” I played a football player who is molesting cheerleaders. True story. I think he was a lowly production assistant at that time. And now he’s worked his way to grand producer of Stargate.
So, I’ve known him for years and years and years. I saw him and one of the cast members at breakfast on Sunday I believe it was. And I’m like, “What’s the deal? When am I going to get onto this show?” He was like “We’ll have to see. We have some auditions coming up. What kind of characters …”
GW: It’s now harder than ever because they’re out in the distant universe and they never get home. Except for an episode or two where there’s a little bit of backstory. So once you’re on the ship … I don’t know how many characters are on the ship, though.
KM: Who’s the nemesis? Who are the evil people? Are they all prosthetics?
GW: There’s no clue. They don’t have an archenemy. I think the idea is that a couple of the leads might end up — or one in particular — might end up being one of the bad guys.
GW: Wouldn’t that be clever? And intense? And controversial?
KM: This kind of sounds like The Mole. Come on, who thought of this idea?
GW: It’s my opinion that Robert Carlyle’s character may end up being a little bit darker than everyone expected.
KM: I think if you’re going to pick a cast member, he would be a good choice for that.
Interview by David Read. Transcript by Kerenza Harris.