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Creation Stargate Convention, 2008

November 22-23, 2008

Burbank, California

by Michelle

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I attended the Creation Stargate Convention in Burbank on Sunday, November 23rd only. In fact I flew into Burbank for the day, just to see David Hewlett, Jason Momoa, and Rachel Luttrell! So this report will cover only their appearances, which after all were quite memorable. I didn't attend any of the Firefly convention going on in the next ballroom, although I did catch site of Gina Torres in the ladies' room, and Adam Baldwin in the lobby. I also heard a second-hand story that Paul McGillion was at the con hotel on Friday, eating dinner with Jewel and her husband. Alas I was not there! Jewel was there for the Firefly convention.

Anyway, on to the talks! Each of the three were on stage alone for about half an hour, then they shared the stage for nearly an hour more. So it was over two hours of fun, hi-jinx, and even a few answered questions.

Rachel Luttrell

Rachel looked lovely and very fit. Her son was backstage with his dad and occasionally made his presence known via some unhappy noises. Rachel had wanted to bring him out but he seemed to want to avoid we hundreds. She mentioned how his presence and cuteness is a big benefit to her, even getting her into fancy boutiques for shopping. She's clearly crazy about her "little guy".

Right off the bat, someone asked her to sing, and she sang a slow country song that she that she sings as a lullaby to her son. It had lovely lyrics like "Go to sleep, little man". Her voice was very pretty, though perhaps a bit uneven key-wise. As she noted, she wasn't warmed up. She seemed a bit embarrassed, but the audience loved it!

Asked how many SGA movies there will be, she said she heard of at least one, but that the powers that be haven't contacted the actors about it officially yet, so she really doesn't know.

Someone asked whether the cast changes over the years were disruptive to the actors, and whether those changes had something to do with the cancellation of the show. She said the fact they lost friends and co-workers was tricky for them, because they all had a great working relationship and genuinely like each other. She doesn't think it really had a lot to do with the cancellation -- other things were going on that led to that decision.

Someone asked if there were any other characters she would have wanted Teyla to be paired with, besides Kanaan. She said they kind of got it right, and that when she watches a show she doesn't necessarily want the characters to get together, but would rather it be left up to her imagination.

In terms of creating the character Teyla, she drew a lot from her own experiences. The character spoke to her right from the audition. Her mother is from a remote, mountainous part of Tanzania, and Rachel was born in East Africa. So when she came to North America as a child, she was the same but different from the people she met here. So there were elements of that experience she drew upon to create Teyla.

As far as favorite episodes, she enjoyed "The Gift" for the Wraith connections it added to Teyla. But there are many moments she really enjoyed. She had a lot of fun with her cast-mates, and there wasn't a day they didn't laugh.

A woman pressed her very hard to choose between Kanaan and John for Teyla, but Rachel laughed and pled the 5th and said both actors are very good friends of hers. She kept saying she really couldn't say. The woman didn't want to let up on the question, illustrating how some fans can't seem to see these issues from the actor's point of view. She never got an answer, anyway.

Rachel said the production asked her if she'd like to use her real son for Teyla's scenes with Torren, but she wasn't interested in doing that. So as most of us know, Torren is not played by her real son. She talked about preparing for the Wraith make-up she wore in "The Queen" and how she tried to get her nursing son used to the idea by smearing on different cleansing masks, like chocolate or avocado. She was nervous, but when her son first saw her in complete Wraith make-up, he just laughed and laughed. She has photos of herself as a Wraith nursing him. Also, it is true that Joe teased her about the harm she was going to do to her baby, the future psychiatric bills, etc, but it was all in good fun. She worked a 19-hour day on that episode!

As far as whom she most enjoys beating up on the show, among Ronon, Sheppard, Michael, etc, she enjoyed kicking Joe's butt the most. In general, portraying that aspect of the character, and the fight sequences, was something she loved doing.

She said it was very easy to play the scenes against Michael in which he was threatening her child, because she could bring those feelings and get into that mind-space very easily. On the one hand, it was hard to think about something bad happening to her child, but it was very easy to bring those emotions up.

Next she got talked into trying to sing the song she sang in "Critical Mass", and she gamely went along, having the audience remind her of the lines since she hadn't sung it since the episode. Amazingly, there were people in the audience who knew the lyrics by heart. She did a few lines, and it was lovely. She then got asked to sing Happy Birthday to a woman who was about to turn fifty, and led the audience through the song. At that point I was hoping no one would bother her to sing again, and the didn't.

Rachel said she's recently started working out again, and is doing a regime called "Cross-fit" twice a week. She sure looks like she works out more than that, and she attributed some of it to mommy muscles.

She was very happy with the way Michael's story ended in "The Prodigal". She loved working with Connor, but she can't see how it could have ended any other way. Teyla couldn't leave Michael out there; there was no more compassion. She laughed that there was no body, so maybe he could be back? She really enjoyed working with Connor and felt the writers really understood that relationship. She enjoyed those scenes as an actor.

At that point, Jason stepped onto the stage, unannounced, and after a brief hug sent her back stage to await the joint appearance.

Jason Momoa

Jason looked great in his eclectic outfit, knit cap, and sun glasses. He spoke about his injuries right away, and how "some young gentleman hit me with a pint glass. He's in prison right now and probably has a lot of time to think." Jason said he's very fortunate to have kept his eyeball. His vision is impaired in his left eye, but that is temporary. In reference to the many stitches and reconstructive surgery, he said, "Chicks dig scars, right?" to which there were many cheers. He appreciates fan concern and was very happy to be there, only a week out of the hospital. Jason looked very good. It was only later in the autograph line when I was very close that I could see the faint line through his eyebrow, on his forehead, and on his left cheek. And that's after only a week of healing. He must have had good surgeons work on him!

Jason was very funny and quick-witted, and more willing to joke and tease than when I saw him a couple of years ago. He explained that the large tattoo on his left arm is a Momoa family tattoo. It is a guardian, and a shark, and the black arrows are meant to drag the darkness from your soul. All the men in his family get the same tattoos, from the same artist. He also has his genealogy on his leg, but wasn't inclined to show it.

He does most of his own stunts, unless he has to get thrown into a wall. A boy asked how Ronon likes getting beat up all the time. Jason didn't like the premise of the question, saying "I don't know what show you're watching!" But he did agree Ronon gets beat up in the process of getting the bad guys. He said he laughs when he reads the scripts, thinking they must be the dumbest people out there saving the universe. "Let's walk right into this booby trap!" And Ronon always warns them, they don't listen, and then he has to save them.

Someone asked if there is anyone on the show he wanted to be paired with. The person didn't really specify that she meant Ronon, not Jason. Jason said very calmly, "At first, Joe Flanigan. Once I felt David Hewlett's hands... We just bicker all the time, but you know, that's like pulling each other's hair. It's really you saying, 'I love you, and I want a piece of you.'" Then he said he wanted to be paired with no one on the show, absolutely no one. (See this snippet here on YouTube.)

Asked whether he or Joe is the better surfer, he said definitely Joe, who has been doing it much longer. Jason has introduced Joe to paddle surfing. Joe lives in Malibu and can ride his golf cart down the ocean, while Jason is "stuck in the mountains," so Joe gets more surfing time. Jason noted he'd give Joe credit for surfing, "but he sucks at everything else".

He talked about how sad he was that he couldn't lose the dreadlocks permanently in "Broken Ties". At the beginning of the season, after having the cut off ones reattached over two days, he was in horrible pain all the time, because they pulled on his scalp. After four days he told the producers he had to get rid of them even if it meant being fired. So instead they made him a wig, which was heavy and uncomfortable, but at least he could take it off at the end of the day. There was one guy at MGM who said Ronon wouldn't be Ronon without the dreads, or he could have been rid of the wig after "Broken Ties". He would have loved playing that scene, where Ronon gets them cut off as part of his torture by the Wraith.

Someone asked, since Ronon is always trying to pry open doors, didn't it occur to him to every bring along a crow bar? Jason talked about how when he does those scenes, he's really pushing, and there are guys behind the door fighting against him so that he has to use his muscles and it looks real. They suggested he just "act" it, but he said he needs to do it for real, even if it looks like he's taking a really hard poo.

His favorite episode is "Broken Ties," especially for the infirmary scenes where he is tied to the bed. He really had to go to the dark side, which is a great thing for an actor. He broke two gurneys trying to get out of the restraints. Finally they had to beef one up and screw it into to the floor. He was really restrained, and really trying to break out.

As for future work, he is looking forward to finding a new gig. He's auditioning and taking acting classes, falling in love with acting again and wondering, half jokingly, if the scars will get him different sorts of roles.

Someone asked how he could explain David's character getting more women than Ronon, to great laughs. He said, "It's sci fi -- it would never happen!" The woman said, but you had that dead one, and he pointed out, that hey, that was his wife, you insensitive woman! He really didn't want Ronon to have a woman. Although he thinks it would have been cool if Ronon could have gotten with Dr. Weir. Like "Ronon, I need to see you in my office," or, "Dr. Weir, can I see you in my quarters."

Jason's parents are artists, and his dad is still a working painter. So he loves anything to do with the arts. He'd like more time for art himself. At that point he mentioned that he wanted to auction his own guitar to the audience to benefit the Make-a-Wish foundation. A woman offered $500 off the bat, which sort of quieted everyone. The audience asked to hear him play, which thankfully he did, a cool blues tune he played very nicely, using a slide. Then sadly, perhaps because people were just sort of taken off-guard, or he didn't give enough time, no one else bid on it! So the first lady got it for a very reasonable $500.

At that point Jason thanked the crowd and made way for David. They exchanged hugs but no kiss, as Jason noted that David loves Paul McGillion too much.

David Hewlett

David arrived to raucous cheers and plenty of teasing from Jason. The crowd was yelling something at him having to do with Kavan Smith and his eye, but I had no idea what they were talking about. David pronounces Kavan "Ka-VAUGHN", no doubt to annoy him.

David told the story of Baz and his adventures in swimming the day before. Jane kicked the two boys out of the room and down to the pool, where David discovered that 1-yr-old Baz doesn't float and has no self-preservations skills. So they swam around a bit, David doing all the work. As they were drying off, Baz fell and split his lip, bleeding all over the place. David washed him off in the pool and then had to call Jane to explain before she saw him that "it's not as bad as it looks". Very funny, and you can see most of his in this video, which was interrupted by a fan asking me a question. Dratted fan!

As far as his newly shorn hair, he said he went into the barber shop thinking he'd come out looking like Daniel Craig, but ended up looking like Forrest Gump. So one reason he teases Joe Flanigan is that he has so much more hair. And the thing about Joe is, it's impossible not to tell a story about him without talking like him. David did only the briefest of imitations, but said Joe knows it's "out of love".

A woman asked if David being a father might make Rodney a more patient, nurturing guy, but then noted that Keller seemed to have made him a little more social. David said he wouldn't call it more social skills, but he can afford to be a bit more social. David wasn't too sure about the question, honestly.

Jane has given David permission to get an iPhone, but he feels too guilty to get one. He'd rather whine about it, like an iWhine.

David is "writing up a storm", or perhaps more a "small tempest", working on a couple of things. They have some new ideas about Starcrossed that would bring it to a film format. That will probably be the focus for the near future, although he's working on a couple of other things. They're going to seek private financing, similar to what Amanda Tapping has done with Sanctuary, to try to make movies outside the system. He's also auditioning, and in fact just the night before had Jane film an audition with him in the hotel bathroom, in which he was pretending to be the king of something or other. Later he referred to this as an audition for a Disney film, if I didn't misunderstand.

He had some lovely, detailed advice for a woman who is studying to be an actress, starting with: no, just don't! Then he stressed that an aspiring actor should make their own movies and get involved in the industry from the beginning. Get a camera, write your own stuff, film your own movies. Because otherwise, sitting around waiting for the phone to ring makes for a very boring career. Write your own scripts, because nobody knows better than you do what you can or want to do. He gave the same advice to his sister Kate, who is now a playwright as well as actor. Also having done production yourself, you're going to look like you know what you're doing when you get to a real set. David finds it very rewarding to be more than just the actor, who is one small part of a huge thing.

A woman noted that in the history of Stargate, McKay and Keller getting together is the first unambiguous "love connection" on the show, the one where the writers didn't beat around the bush. David made some jokes I couldn't quite catch, and noted it was very fun being with Jewel in the Lear Jet, although not really because it was a miserable jet. (They are very small inside, so I can imagine filming would be tough!) But, he said, for the most part, unrequited love is much more interesting to watch than the full-out, "in your face ones". Someone from the audience yelled out "no they're not!" to much laughter. But, David said, where do you go from there? What do you do after the smoochy-face, have a whole hour of smoochy-face?

As far as favorite episodes to work on, sometimes he loves episodes for silly reasons, like when he got to shoot a gun. He can't believe they give him a gun to shoot. He really enjoyed filming "Brain Storm" because it was such a departure from the usual SGA work day, from the usual sets and situations. He also loves any episode not filmed in a Puddle Jumper. As far as who from the cast he'd like to work with in the future, he'd honestly want them all. He even spoke to Joe the other day about working on something. Here's David's answer in video form, which is much better than I can explain it!

Someone asked about what Jewel had spoken about the day before, the shenanigans on the set of the episode "Trio" in which they made up a whole concept of a Wraith musical. David went on a tangent about how he loved Firefly before meeting Jewel and how excited he was to work with "Kaylee". Then he went into the whole musical thing, which would involve an unhappy Wraith flying in on cables. It was silly and funny.

He went on to talk about how he had a temper tantrum on the set of "Trio" and blew up at director Martin Wood. Things were rushed on set, and they wanted David to do a scene instead of stunt man, who wasn't around. After Martin called "action" David stood in the chaos and lost it, yelling, "Sometimes, there's a fine line between directing and bullying!". Jewel teased him about it for months. See the full, hilarious version here:

David said he'll go surfing with Joe and Jason "when hell freezes" over, based on the stories he's heard about Joe taking Jason into the middle of the ocean and leaving him there. Plus... there are sharks and all sorts of horrible creatures under the surface. So he swims in the pool. Also, he has chest hair, and he doesn't believe rubbing your hairy chest on the wax of a surfboard would be very comfortable. (Note to David: Joe deals with it somehow!)

As far as plum roles he would like, he makes no bones about how much he'd love to play Dr. Who. As soon as he heard the role was open because Tennant is moving on, he called his agent. He's a geek about such roles. He heard they are re-making V and called his agent about that too. He imagines his agent saying, "oh, the nerd is calling about this." His English accent is not good, yet. He later said he has no word at all whether the BBC are interested in him.

As far as auditioning now, having been in Stargate, you can be a bit more picky about what you go for, a bit more specific about what you're looking for. But until you get a project, you don't really know what it's going to be like. Sometimes it can be very unglamorous, like making an audition tape in a bathroom. In the end, you know you can act, but it's a question of whether you fit into their world or not.

And now it was time for all three to share the stage.

Jason, David, and Rachel

The three were great fun on stage together. Rachel tended not to answer the questions directed at all them at length, but spent more time laughing and being scandalized by the antics of Jason and David. Jason is also brutal to David, especially making fun of his weight, which really, he's not fat, he's solid!

Jason refused to imitate Joe because Joe is one of his best friends, and "this shit ends up on the internet." But he did admit he can and does imitate Joe when telling stories about him.

As far as their favorite other characters, Jason said his is Zelenka, and David's is Rod. Ha. Rachel couldn't really answer that one. Jason said he'd say her if she said him, but she didn't believe he would keep his end of the bargain. David asked Jason if he'd changed his sunglasses, and Jason said yes, because each pair presses on a different set of scars. David said if that had happened to him, there is no way he'd be at the con. He'd be home whining. Jason got a big round of applause for being there.

They didn't really have embarrassing moments they could remember, although Jason referred to David letting himself go, and David referred to Jason getting the area below his eyes shaded in make-up so that, in case he was hungover, he wouldn't look any different. Jason said it was because Ronon was a sleepless runner.

Asked again their favorite episodes, Jason said to David, "The one with you and Paul kissing." It seems the teasing over that one has not ebbed! He then teased David about being naked on the lawn in A Dog's Breakfast and about how he'd said earlier than he'd want Ronon to be paired up with Rodney. At that point he petted David in a suggestive manner, to the delight of the crowd. David said, "No wonder you get attacked in bars," at which the audience roundly booed him.

Asked whether they follow all the direction in the script (she was referring to what the emotions are supposed to be portrayed, I think), Jason said he often ignores the written stage direction (e.g. "drinks coffee") in favor of working it out on the day. He figures they hired him to figure out the right actions for his character. David agreed, saying they are paying you in a way for your personality and what you're going to bring to the lines. Rachel noted she would sometimes disagree with what was written, and Jason said you have to fill in the spaces between the lines with your actions.

As far as David's apparent willingness to be naked, he's not sure how that happens. When he wrote the naked scenes in A Dog's Breakfast he wasn't fully aware he was writing it for himself, until of course it was time to film them. He's really terrified and very uptight about being naked. Jason and Rachel, on the other hand, he joked, love to get naked or topless. Jason responded that that's because they are tan and alien. David said there are two types of people in the world, and they are sitting on the stage right now: people who look good naked, and people who look funny naked. He thinks he looks funny naked. Some of the more amorous in the audience told him they disagreed, which David accepted calmly.

David confirmed that if there is a SAG actors' strike, all of them would have to strike, since they are in SAG. That's true even when you're working in Canada on a non-SAG project.

As far as the cast seeing each other now, Rachel and David both live up north, and they bring their kids together for playdates. Jason sees Joe quite often since they live near each other. David calls Joe and tells him what he had for lunch every so often. As far as what they do for fun, David and Rachel both watch a lot of movies on DVD. David especially watches tons of movies via Netflix. Jason joked that he gets in fights in bars. Really, he plays his guitar and kisses his daughter 1000 times a day. Aw. He built a skateboard ramp and works around the house and on his garden.

Jason enjoyed working on Baywatch Hawaii, especially because he'd been working at a surf shop before he was cast. He misses Hawaii but thinks the chances of going back are pretty good, since there are so few Hawaiian actors.

Asked if he really carried David through the 'gate in The Shrine, Jason moaned and complained that David is heavier than he is. David said he's a very big-boned man. Jason said he's dense. Then he went on to describe how carrying David nearly blew out his hernia, and they only did one take. Here it is in video form:

David then explained that in "Brain Storm" he was supposed to pick up Jewel while he was rescuing Keller. They told him, "You run in, you scoop her up, you run out." But he simply told them, "I can't. No offense, she's not too heavy. I just can't." So that's why McKay doesn't lift Keller in the episode. David recommended that Jason try the same tactic.

Jason reminded the crowd about his first time working with David, in scenes in which David was hanging upside down from a tree. One of the actors in the scene kept messing up his line, which caused David to have to hang ever longer. So when he finally lost his temper, he told the actor, "If you can't remember the lines, just keep your mouth moving. I'll say the next line. You can 'freaking' dub it later." Meanwhile Jason was off in the bushes practicing for his fight scene.

Jason then recalled the time he tossed a water bottle at David and accidentally hit him right in the "jewels". David gave him such a mean look that he actually got scared. It was a great look, the look of a man who could be a psycho. Jason apologized profusely. David recalled that Jason's face dropped like a kid who had just been caught doing something bad. It cracked David up because Jason is four times his size.

With three minutes left, Jason launched into a great story about driving back to the hotel after a very long, hard day filming at the Norco studio. He was with Joe in a big truck, with David driving ahead of them in his little Echo. Jason was inspired to give David a full-on moon view, which shocked the heck out of David and made Joe laugh so hard he couldn't breathe. Again, a YouTube is worth a thousand words:

With that, the panel ended! Photo ops and autographs followed, and those were really fun, too. Creation was much more relaxed than I've ever seen them, letting people take pics from the side of the room all through the panel and allowing personalizations on the autographs for everyone even though the lines were long and moving slowly. They also let me cut in line so I could catch my plane (I had to show my itinerary to prove it, but that's cool.) I have to say, getting a photo with David was really memorable. He's more handsome in person than as McKay. His shoulders are really broad, and he has a way of making great eye contact. He also doesn't seem to take any fawning seriously at all, as he truly does see himself as a geek first and foremost.

Hope you enjoyed the report!

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