Beware of SPOILERS through Stargate SG-1’s eighth-season episode “Gemini” in this interview!
Long-time viewers of Stargate SG-1 will recognize Patrick Currie right away as the Replicator “Fifth” — a complicated character who Patrick managed to make both menacing and vulnerable. But do you know that the actor also played two other roles on the show under prosthetics?
Like many actors who appeared under prosthetics on the sci-fi show, Patrick was a man with many roles and many faces — and only Fifth used his own.
Elsewhere Patrick has made guest appearances on Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica, Smallville, The Outer Limits, and more. Lately he has turned his attention to writing and producing, and in 2016 he directed his first short film. He also recently appeared on Project Blue Book for The History Channel.
In this special, pre-pandemic conversation GateWorld sits down with Patrick at Gatecon: The Invasion in 2018 to talk about his work on Stargate. He shares about finding Fifth’s unique voice as a childlike Replicator, and he talks about working under heavy prosthetics when he stepped in to play the Unas Chaka (after actor Dion Johnstone was unable to reprise the role in Season Seven). Patrick also played the alien Warrick’s brother Eamon in “Space Race,” and has fond (and funny) memories of that experience.
GateWorld’s interview with Patrick Currie runs about 18 minutes. Watch the full video below or over on our YouTube channel. You can also listen to an audio-only version by clicking on the player above – or subscribe now to the GateWorld Interviews podcast!
GateWorld: Patrick Currie, so glad to have you on GateWorld. We know you of course most as the Replicator Fifth, though you’ve played lots of roles on the show. I want to talk about the different kinds of experiences that you’ve had on SG-1 over the years.
But first, we’re here at Gatecon: What’s been your experience of interacting with fans and meeting the people who, maybe when you’re shooting the show, feel like they’re at such a distance on the other side of the screen?
Patrick Currie: Well, it’s great. I mean, it’s overwhelming, and it’s shocking. The fans all use the word “family,” and after having been to I think 12 conventions now — you get it. These people have been together for years. I’ve seen their relationships grow. And it’s hilarious because they start forming these bonds with us. And we unconsciously do as well. It’s just a familiarity. So all of a sudden, they find themselves behind the scenes of the profession that we have. And we start to actually appreciate how lucky we are to do what we do.
And now I think it’s on Netflix — Stargate is on Netflix (at least in Canada) — there’s a whole new world of fans who are like … I’m a lot older than I was when I shot the show! But they’re still treating me like “young Fifth.”
GW: Yeah, and they’re discovering it for the first time.
PC: Yeah, and you can see in their faces, right? And it’s just the magic of acting. It’s amazing.
GW: OK, so here’s my story: My wife and I, our very first time to set at the Bridge Studios was at the start of Season Eight of SG-1. They were shooting a little episode called “New Order,” and we were totally green, fresh off the boat, walking on our first Vancouver lot. And here comes this guy walking across dressed like a Replicator … and it was Fifth!
Start us if you would with Season Six, with “Unnatural Selection,” and figuring out who not just Fifth was with respect to the other Replicators, but who he was as — this was the birth of a new species with the human-form Replicators.
PC: Yeah! Andee [Frizzell] was talking yesterday about this yesterday (she’s the Wraith Queen). You kind of get to create a race. You get to establish how this character is, right? And the big thing about Fifth was that he was the fifth … he was the first one that the experiment was human emotion, right? And I’m an actor, so it’s like, “Go for it!” And I did. I got to play all the heights of emotion.
He’s pretty much an adolescent brain. He’s just feeling all of these feelings for the first time ever. And I didn’t have to be guarded; I didn’t have to be — an adolescent in our world has to feel their feelings, then monitor them and adjust them for the environment that he’s in. Whereas Fifth didn’t have to do that. He just had to get the information, feel the feelings, and respond. Which he did. Which is why he ends up looking like a villain in some people’s eyes. But he really is just responding to our childish inability, I think, to deal with emotion when we’re not taught to express it in a way that’s healthy.
So yeah, it was thrilling to be able to create him and then have him take such a turn so fast.
GW: There’s that vulnerability that he has in that first episode. Is that easier to play, or harder to play because you have to kind of feel your way into — like you said –a sort of childlike view on the world.
PC: It’s up to the individual, depending how you work. I’ve always worked from a very emotional place. And I let that guide characters more so than like “working beats and units,” I find — which is a process of breaking down a script. It’s easier if you can access those emotions, so it’s not difficult for me.
So I prefer to play a character that’s led by their emotions. I auditioned for Stargate to play military characters like 16 times. And I just said to my agent, “I’m not doing this any more,” because it’s not who I am as an artist. It doesn’t ring as true.
I was getting amazing feedback. Peter DeLuise one day looked at me after I did a scene of a military technician and he was like, “How do you do it?” And I was like, “Why don’t you cast me?” But the truth was he knew. He was like, “This guy’s got something else that will find his home in Stargate.” And he did. It was brilliant. I loved Fifth, and it’s endured for so long.
GW: I think one of the reasons for the show’s longevity and its success was that Stargate casting was so good at not just identifying good actors, but identifying the right parts for them.
PC: Yeah. And you’ll hear a lot of stories in this town about actors who went in a million times until they finally got the right role. And this one was perfect casting. I mean I cannot believe that I’m doing conventions and that I get like random e-mails and contacts from people who are affected by the performance.
GW: So Fifth is left after your first episode trapped in a time dilation bubble. Did you think you would ever come back to the show? What was it like when you got that call that Fifth is coming back?
PC: I was shocked — I had no idea that he was coming back. I guess just because, at some points in your career as an actor, you start to anticipate the worst. You don’t think it’s going to happen. So I was just thrilled. I was thrilled, and I didn’t know where I was going to take it or where they were going to take it, and it was just exciting to see what they came up with.
GW: They didn’t know they were going to do a Season Seven, then they did. They didn’t know they were going to do a Season Eight. So they got to explore all the characters in all these corners that a show with a shorter run might not have gotten to.
GW: But you spent some time with a lot of the cast. You spent, of course, most of your time with Amanda Tapping. Can you just share a bit about that experience of working with her?
PC: Unbelievable. I mean, the relationships that you form on set are not “real world.” They’re real relationships, [but] they’re not real-world relationships. And that’s not a negative thing at all. It’s just that when you go to work in an office, you’re a certain kind of person; and then when you go home you’re a different person.
With actors, we’re all very much who we are. We’re doing our work together. Amanda and I had a great bond, and then we were able to work again. She was my mentor for my first directing gig two years ago. I won a contest, and they got Amanda to come and be my mentor. And we had an amazing four days. There were moments we looked at each other and it was like, “This feels oddly familiar …” And strange out of context. Yeah, it was just an incredible artist bonding experience, and I’ve learned a lot from her.
The very first thing we filmed was — maybe it wasn’t the very first — but the speech where I’m talking about carrying them all back to their ship, and she and I are talking. They’d run out of time that day, so they had to film us both at the same time. So Amanda was standing here facing the other way, and I was facing this way, and we had two separate cameras on us. And we had to do the scene as though we were talking to each other. And I’d never experienced anything like that before. And she was just really patient and encouraging when I kind of kept turning my head to actually make eye contact like a human being. But she guided me through the little tricks there, so it was great.
GW: So speaking in terms of playing this character from a place of emotion, when Fifth comes back in Season Eight, his emotions are obviously in a different place. And it does turn him into kind of a villain — but I think he’s still a sympathetic villain. Share a little bit about coming back into the role and having Fifth be so different in where he’s coming from and what he wants to do.
PC: It’s interesting. Because when the fans talk to me about Fifth, they always reference him being evil and cruel and things like that … because they love Sam, and he hurt her. But they love Fifth at the same time!
Some of them ask me about it. Like someone yesterday got up and said, “Thank you so much — I never thought I could love a Replicator.” And I started laughing.
And I guess, like I said, you just play the truth. If you have a friend who’s become a horrid person, but you’ve seen what they’ve gone through and you can’t help them — and you know they have to find their own way, and you have to watch them make terrible mistakes — you do it. You don’t stop loving them. You don’t like it. But you just do it. And that’s what I find with the fans. It’s a life imitating art; it’s really interesting to get all their perspectives.
GW: Yeah. I’ve got to admit, I was sad when Fifth’s story came to an end in “Gemini” in Season Eight. Because he’s betrayed by Replicator Carter, who he’s created. Can’t Fifth just settle down on his own little planet with a Replicator girlfriend that he made?
PC: You would think, right? [Laughter] No, I mean, I wish they would, that would be nice too. But no, that burst of light was the end of me.
GW: But it was a big point in the evolution of the series and the development of the bigger story arc, with the Replicators being of a major force in the Stargate universe. And then the Replicators, just after your last episode, they participate in dealing the death blow to the Goa’uld.
Fifth’s part in that was sort of moving the train further down the line to tell the SG-1 story.
GW: It’s been a few years now since Stargate. Where has your career path taken you since Stargate?
PC: I’m writing and directing now. A broadcaster has shown me interest in a pitch that I gave, so they’ve contacted me for a second pitch, which I’ll be taking to Toronto in the next few months. It’s dystopian sci-fi, so that’s exciting.
And then I’m working on a series that is a comedy series that I think we’re going to try and self-fund, so we have control over the content. But it’s Dan Payne and I, playing two guys who are inadvertently married. And I think the Stargate fans are going to have a lot of fun with it. We’re going to screen it today at the convention.
GW: Cool, very cool. So you did multiple roles on SG-1. You did some under prosthetics …
GW: Tell us who you played in secret, who the people might not know.
PC: I was Chaka. I can’t remember the name of the episode, but it’s the one with the naquadah on the planet …
GW: The naquadah mine … “Enemy Mine” was the episode. So this is Chaka’s return, right? Because Dion Johnson played him first.
PC: Yeah, he was off doing Shakespeare and he couldn’t get out of the contract long enough to come and do it. So they just asked me if I would do it and I said yes. And it was an amazing experience. But back to back — actually, I did Eamon first. I played Eamon in “Space Race.”
GW: Yeah! Warrick’s brother.
PC: … and then Chaka. Which is good, because the costumes got bigger, so I had a chance to get used to them. But yeah, it’s an interesting experience.
My first experience with prosthetics was horrible, so I almost didn’t take the role. I’d done another sci-fi show, and something had happened with the prosthetic guy, and he had some personal problems and he used half the budget for some other things. So he doubled up our headpieces. So I wore a piece that I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to wear. And it didn’t fit my head. When I took it off, my nose was black because there was like a blood bubble at the end. It was terrible … but funny in retrospect, and a good learning experience.
But I ended up doing Eamon anyway, and that team is so professional. They were amazing. And I had a great time. Both times I had to wear contacts which was the scariest part because they’re the size of a silver dollar.
GW: You can’t see out of them very well, can you?
PC: You can see fine, but you’re also seeing the design of the iris as well. So it’s disorienting, especially when your head’s encased in plastic. And then in the case of Chaka, you can’t use your hands. And your mouth has false teeth in it.
But you’ve got two assistants with you at all times — two helpers with you. I had to have one to help me go to the bathroom, and one to take out my teeth whenever I started choking on them. So it was very romantic!
GW: How long were you in the makeup chair for, say, Chaka?
PC: Four to five hours.
GW: So you got the first call time in the morning?
PC: Yes, 3 or 4 in the morning I think were my call times. I think … maybe it was 4 is the earliest.
GW: Chaka was such a physical character, not just because of who the Unas are but because of what Dion had done in setting up the role in Season Four [“The First Ones”]. At this point in Chaka’s history, though, he’s evolved a bit — he’s become sort of an Unas politician almost.
PC: Yeah. [Director] Peter DeLuise is amazing — he literally came to my trailer that morning, and he was like, “Alright, show me your Chaka.” And so he wanted me to walk, and then he just like got in there with me and literally he was like a movement teacher. And he just walked with me, and he did it musically and rhythmically and helped get into my body. He’s a pretty amazing director.
So he really helped me capture that, because he’d worked with Dion and knew the spirit of the character.
GW: So much of the Unas, who they are as a species and their language and their culture, comes from Peter’s head, I think.
PC: Yeah. So he was the perfect guy to be directed by.
Eamon was funny … [Laughter] it’s just a funny episode. That’s all I have to say. I’ve read a few comments online, where people were saying it was out of context with the series kind of …
GW: It’s a different kind of episode. But I really liked it.
PC: Yeah. But as a standalone I just thought it was pretty damn funny. And my character … Chris [Judge] and Alex [Zahara] and I, there was a lot of laughing on set.
GW: You and Chris running around looking like bellhops!
PC: … with those hats! [Laughter] I swear, man, I couldn’t look at him. It was just like this “Bobblehead Chris” with the hat on. And it was hilarious. Yeah, it was good.
And then Alex, of course, we were at the — I think it was the hydro building, where we were filming at first. And the makeup was really hot, and we started getting really tired. And Alex started passing out — sorry Alex, if you don’t think you were passing out, but you were “getting woozy.” Is that better? So they had to lower his costume, so he was basically in like long johns. But it was just funny, because you know it’s your buddy who’s an actor in alien makeup in his underwear in the middle of a hydro plant. You’re like, life is surreal sometimes.
GW: Especially in Vancouver. The best comparison I’ve ever heard from Eamon as a character is Niles [from] Frasier. Have you heard this?
PC: I know, right?
GW: He’s the Niles Crane of the Stargate universe.
PC: I know. I’m kind of proud — somebody said to me, “I don’t know anyone who can make a lizard gay.” And I was like, Yes! Niles Crane, yeah. A fan said to me, “My mom had a bet going that that was played by Niles from Frasier.” And she’s like, “She lost!” And I was like, “Yes, she did!” And she’s like, “I knew it was you.”
But yeah, I don’t know — I honestly let the makeup inform that character. There were a lot of restrictions with the makeup in terms of head movement and stuff like that. So I just kind of went with that. And I don’t know where the voice came from, but it’s funny.
GW: To kind of wrap up here: How would you describe the Vancouver film and television scene these days? I know that over the course of the last 30 years it’s been a huge home for science fiction and fantasy television, right — everything from X-Files to Battlestar to Stargate. What does it look like now? And how do you understand yourself as part of the Vancouver scene?
PC: It’s busy — it’s always busy. But it almost feels like we’re trying to find our footing again. Because, with the whole online marketplace, it changed the way that movies are made and how many are being made. And that affects our union in terms of actors and who’s being used, and everything like that.
So you’ve got to find your place. I think I haven’t found my place again. I’m not really sure what direction to take, so I took control and started making my own stuff. I did shoot a little thing recently, and I had a callback for a series regular on another sci-fi show. Those would have been great, but I’m the kind of person who’s not going to sit around and wait for it to find me. I’ll create it on my own.
Because I don’t want to do nothing. I love this industry, and I love sci-fi. The show that I’m pitching in Toronto is going to blow your mind — it’s really, really good. So yeah, but Vancouver is a pretty sweet place to live. The industry is doing really well.
GW: Well we’re excited to see what’s next, whether it’s on-screen or behind the camera. Thanks for taking some time with us.
PC: Thanks for having me.
Catch up with the rest of our full coverage from Gatecon: The Invasion! Read all about the convention, find videos from the convention floor, and stay tuned for one final interview from the Vancouver event.
Subscribe to “GateWorld Interviews” for more audio conversations wherever you get your podcasts.