GateWorld: Is it personally refreshing for yourself though, to be able to step away and now have some distance from it? It’s a role you’re hugely associated with.
Cliff Simon: You know, I don’t mind that. I kind of miss playing the character, I do, and it’s something as an actor we can’t really stop. If you become recognizable as one character that’s just the way it is. But it does stop you getting work — that’s the only regret.
That’s the trade-off sometimes, even if you’re a regular cast member in a show like, let’s say, David [Hewlett] and Michael [Shanks] and Chris [Judge] and those guys. They’ll also struggle because they’re so recognizable as those characters. That’s the trade-off though. You can be a regular cast member, you can earn the regular income, but there might be many years when that show ends that you don’t work at all. You just do one job and then people will see you differently.
GW: When you look at the last six or seven years where you were actively portraying Baal, what do you feel were some of the highlights? Was the time that you spent overall on it worthwhile?
CS: Yeah, the whole show was just highlights. It was great, and the conventions and traveling around the world and just meeting the people who watch you. I’d probably say the conventions and the fans is the highlight because before I went into Stargate, as I said before, I didn’t know that this happened. I’m still going to conventions which are new, that I’ve never been to before, which is great.
I haven’t done all of them, and there’s are a lot more conventions happening in Los Angeles, which is great. The highlight is actually getting to meet the people who watch you because, generally, actors never get to meet the people who watch them. You forget people are watching you.
GW: It’s a great way to connect and actually see the influence and the impact that your character has.
CS: Right. And you get feedback, because only a stage actor has immediate feedback from the audience. But film and television, you don’t know. You don’t know how good you were or how bad you were. But eventually, over time with the fans, you get feedback from them and you realize, “OK, I did a good job.” It’s great, it’s a good feeling of satisfaction.
GW: Last time we talked to you, we talked a bit about Karma Rescue. Are you still associated there?
CS: Kind of. I haven’t done too much them lately, unfortunately. My dog died in June of 2009. He was my boy, I’ve always spoken about him. Since he’s been gone, I miss him every day of my life. It’s terrible, he was like my son. He was with me every single day for 15 years.
But I’ve spoken with Karma again about being what’s called a Guardian Angel, where you take on one dog at the rescue center. You go visit there like three, four days a week, whenever you’ve got time, take the dog for a walk or take him to the beach. On the weekends, you can take the dog back to your house for the weekend but then you take him back to the rescue center. Just to get them out of the cage.
So, that, I’m going to start doing. I just needed to have a bit of a break because I kind of felt guilty about bringing another dog into my house. I needed that. It’s like anything, when you lose family members or whatever, the mourning period is a year, it really is. I’ve been through it so many times before. So, I’ll start doing that a lot more, when I can.
GW: Are there any other charities that you’re working actively with?
CS: No. I actually called the California Wildlife Center again the other day about volunteer work up there with them. Also the Marine Animal Rescue in Los Angeles, which are guys who’ve got trucks. I have a truck, and what they do is they teach you to rescue seals, sea lions that have beached themselves, or dolphins and that kind of stuff. There’s quite a lot of work to it, but they like people with their own trucks and in different areas. I actually called the other day in Malibu and a guy came out in his own truck, he had all the gear, and he rescued the seal off the beach and took him away to the rescue center. So, that kind of stuff I’d really like to do.
I’m just really busy with the work, with the writing and all that now, so as soon as stuff settles down, that’s what I’d like to do.
GW: If Continuum was it and it was the end of involvement for Cliff Simon and the Stargate franchise, what have you taken from your association with it in the past almost decade, both personally and professionally?
CS: Well, Stargate was really my introduction to America, even though of course it’s filmed in Vancouver. It really got my name out there, and I was very lucky to get it because, coming from a new country and starting from scratch again, I could have just been for the past six or seven years doing guest star roles on this show and that show and nobody would know me, still. So it really got my name out there big time, and especially in the sci-fi field. But even where I live, I have people coming up to me, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen Stargate and you’re on it.” and they’re not what we’d consider the fans. They’re just people who’ve caught you on the show and they recognize you.
So I’m just thankful that I had it. That’s why I don’t regret playing the character for so long and if I have to go for a few years where nobody’s hiring me for any major roles, that’s fine. Because I’ve got my name out there and the important thing is that casting directors know who I am. And all the sci-fi casting directors know who I am, so when the right role comes around, it’ll come around.
It’s given me a great sense of accomplishment and I can kind of say I was successful. A lot of my friends who came from South Africa many years ago are still not working at all, so I’m very lucky. Then, obviously, to have conventions as a spin-off is amazing.
GW: Is there anything for both GateWorld readers and fans of Stargate in general that you want to throw out there? Any message?
CS: Yeah. I feel like I haven’t done that many — I know last year I didn’t do any shows — I hope things turn around and I start to do more conventions. I haven’t seen the fans, a long time ago I closed some forums down.
GW: Even I’ve been trying to see you. I’ve been working for GateWorld for over three years and I’ve been a fan of Stargate since forever and as soon as you were announced for this con I was like, “Yay!”
CS: Oh, really? Great! Cool! Thank you. I’d like to get out more, get out to some more shows again and do all those kind of things. It was just a time I think, I did so many shows in ’08 or ’07 I think I did like 11 conventions and it was crazy. It was a crazy year and then the following year I did one. But it was a good break, but I feel like I need to get out and see the fans.
I’ve been to some great shows. I was a France a while ago, in Paris, and a whole new group of fans that obviously I’d never met — there wasn’t one person there that I knew. Generally, we see the same faces so it was pretty refreshing. It was really nice and they were so happy because I’d never done a convention in Paris. Like Montreal. Hopefully, we can get to Montreal.
GW: We appreciate your time.
CS: Thank you, thank you very much man. And just let me say “Thanks!” to GateWorld and the people there. I know I haven’t had an interview on GateWorld for so long, so “Hi” to everyone and thanks for all the support.
Interview by Chad Colvin