GateWorld: Let’s get into season two a little bit more and some of the highlights on that year for Eli. I think one of his probably more emotional episodes comes early in the year with “Pathogen” when he returns to Earth to see and comfort his ailing mom. Some of those hospital scenes between you and Glynis Davies were phenomenal.
David Blue: Aww.
GW: How did you prep for them? Was there anything that you drew upon prior?
DB: You know, it’s funny. That’s actually the first episode we shot back in Season Two. We shot out of order. It was supposed to be another one. It was [Robert] Carlyle directing and I was terrified because of that. Because, you know, he’s a friend and I also look up to him as a person and as an actor. And the first things we shot were those hospital scenes. So it was like, I hadn’t played the role in a few months, I had just gotten over an extremely bad cold, I was working with Robert Carlyle, and it was one of the most emotional episodes we had done. It was like the world was stacked against me.
But it was actually great. Especially working with Robert Carlyle because he’s a great actor’s director. So we had a lot of great time rehearsing and working on the scenes and Glynis … who was an amazing actress was wonderful to work with. It was … it actually ended up being more fun. It felt like playtime, which I think is the time acting is best.
And, of course, it was freezing cold. And you can’t see it in the episode, but it’s raining. So when Ming-Na and I are out at the table my hands were turning essentially pink and were numb because we were sitting in freezing cold … probably twenty or thirty degree rain. It was ridiculous.
GW: You mean Vancouver has cold rain? Are you kidding me? [Laughter]
DB: I know! Who knew? [Laughter]
It’s funny, though, because we were like, “How are you guys gonna be able to use this shot because it’s raining and we’re dying right now?” But in the end, you can’t – it doesn’t even look like it’s raining. I don’t know how that’s possible.
GW: Shortly after that episode we get to “Trial and Error” and we see Eli developing an intimate relationship [with Ginn]. And I think most fans were for the most part happy to see Eli kind of stop pining for Chloe because I think it was pretty obvious by that point nothing was going to happen. And just kind of embrace this new relationship.
And there’s definitely a really decent on-screen chemistry between you and Julie McNiven. But I don’t think …
DB: Woo hoo!
GW: But I don’t think anybody could’ve anticipated how short-lived that happiness was going to be. If you would, just talk with us a bit about Robert Knepper’s portrayal of Simeon and how he kind of brought about Eli’s dark side.
DB: It’s funny, though. We didn’t know how short-lived it would be. Every time they brought Ginn on, we always used to joke — Julie and I because she’s a fantastic woman — we would always kid. We’re like, “Well, this’ll probably last like two minutes and then they’ll get rid of you again.” And, like, every time we had this wonderful moment, I’m like, “Yeah! Eli’s gonna get some!” The very next episode — taken away.
Robert Knepper was great and I love that aspect of it. Because like I said that was really the catalyst for Eli’s change. I loved being able to have Eli, you know, in “Malice” be pissed off and I love that scene. Not only was it fun to act with Louis Ferreira … the one where he essentially finally stands up to Young and he yells. And he’s like, “What do you think we’re gonna do?” It was so cool to see that aspect of Eli. The confidence kind of simmer up and boil a little bit and really enact change.
And as an actor I was very jealous because I wanted to go to the cool desert planet and hunt and try to kill Simeon myself. But I wasn’t allowed.
GW: Now they shot that … that was in New Mexico, right? Was it White Sands?
DB: No. It was somewhere else in New Mexico. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go. White Sands is where we shot the “Air, Part 3.”
GW: That was “Air, Part 3.” Right.
DB: Somewhere else in New Mexico. I can’t remember the name of the city. But apparently it was fun and not quite as hellish as White Sands was for us. Which was beautiful and amazing. And it was cool being on the Air Force base, but it’s a special kind of hell to be doing a scene in full camouflage while in 117 degree heat.
GW: I’m sure. [Laughter]
DB: Yeah. Actually, Robert Carlyle, as a gift for all of us because we all survived it, made us t-shirts that say, “117 degrees” it.
GW: Later in the season it’s basically a meeting of the geeks and what was for the most part a successful crossover episode David Hewlett came on board to reprise his role of Rodney McKay in the episode “Seizure.” Now, with you being a professed Stargate fan prior to getting the role, was there any special thrill working with Hewlett as he played a role alongside you that you’d only enjoyed watching on TV just a few years back?
DB: Yeah! You know, it’s funny. The hard thing about loving television and film as much as I do, is I watch everything. So, the more you work, the more you run into the people who you watched forever.
I had actually spoken to David beforehand. We had spoken before. You know, because I was friends with Claudia Black who introduced me to Lexa. And, you know, met everyone along the way. So, it wasn’t our first time speaking. But when I first heard that there’d be a scene with us, which was actually at Comic-Con. That’s the first time I had heard it. I was just hoping there was a scene with him. I didn’t know if there actually would be. I was just hoping there would.
So, when the day came for his episode, I was so excited. And when I picked up the script and I’m like, “One scene?!” I was really hoping it would be this big, massive, you know, we had to do things together and figure things out. And I was really disappointed. And then we went and shot it and I realized it was perfect.
It was so cool to have this meeting of the brains. And this challenge between the two. And I liked the idea of Eli challenging McKay. And actually, you know, trying to see if maybe there would be a throwdown in the future. In my mind, had there been future episodes, there would’ve been.
And then working with him is great. I think he’s just a great guy. We’ve been following each other on Twitter already. We sat down and talked about writing projects and what have you. And it was kind of cool. I was a little struck … a little fan-struck. And I definitely have a few pictures of him and I on set together in costume just being silly. But he’s such a great professional guy and fun to work with. It was just kind of casual. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. He’s awesome.
GW: Two of the series’ probably strongest episodes came very close to the end, with “Common Descent” and “Epilogue”. Rob Cooper and Carl [Binder], they wrote a pretty amazing story. What were your thoughts as you looked at the scripts for the first time?
DB: I thought it was great. It was so … I think it’s actually probably two of the favorite episodes of all the cast because it was fun as an actor to dive into. And I love the story they told.
In the end, I actually am a little frustrated. We did all these make-up tests for us as older. And the one they did for me actually had me much, much older because there was a scene that was in the script that was never shot because we ran out of time. And in that scene, it’s an older Eli talking into the camera saying how he and … oh, Barnes are getting a divorce. But their kids are gonna be fine. And they think it’s better. And I loved it. I absolutely loved it because I thought it left this impression that Ginn was his soulmate. And because he never had her, he never really was able to recapture that.
But they cut it out and it was just like Eli found someone else and moved and lived the rest of his life. And he was happy. And I was like, “No! No! I’m a hopeless romantic. It needs to be unrequited love!”
GW: Eli Wallace: womanizer.
DB: Exactly. I really … I was really … and, plus, I thought I looked really awesome as an old man. So, I was hoping to have to do the make-up.
GW: Brian mentioned that he was a fan of the location shooting basically throughout the entire series, but that one specifically. A good chunk of that was on location. But not so much a fan of those age prosthetics.
DB: I’m a weird actor. I’m a fan actor, I guess. Like, the things that most actors hate, I love. I love shooting on locations that’s like really hot and torturous. I love long scenes that … I would rather be on set for 20 hours than at home doing nothing because I have the day off. So, I love the make-up stuff. So, I love weird costumes and having to run around and action stuff. So, I’m a little bit of a different actor than the other guys.
The locations were pretty cool, though. By that point … actually pretty much from the beginning, we’d all formed such a family that locations were great because it was like a day trip for all of us. You know, sitting around having coffee, talking around the table.
Louis in his old-age make-up jumped into the catering truck and was serving us lunch as an old man. Kinda looking like the Six Flags guy in a weird way. But, you know, we were silly and it was fun.
Those two episodes were a great blast. And I love the way they turned out in the end.
NEXT: Filming the SGU finale — and a message to all fans and fandoms