Yesterday we brought you Part 1 of “Destiny Rises”, our feature on Stargate Universe‘s Lou Diamond Phillips and Ming Na. Our feature continues today with Part two, celebrating tonight’s Season 2 premiere!
Both are really enjoying the ensemble nature of the show, and their familiarity and camaraderie is helped offscreen by gatherings with each other’s families on location in Vancouver. Na thinks the ensemble is key to any successful endeavor in art, especially in creating a show. “I love the dynamics of an ensemble,” she says. Phillips thinks they got very, very lucky. “Sometimes the chips fall differently and you get different personalities put together,” he says. “Literally from day one, no matter the level of experience, [this] ensemble treated one another with respect, had expectations of high standards and nobody was a diva. And that hasn’t changed.” He says everyone shows up with their A game and a lot of respect and support for each other. “And I truly feel like that’s reflected in the final product. [We] all like each other … and [we’ve] become tribal. I’m a fan of the show even in the episodes that I’m not in. I think the entire cast is just brilliant.”
Both are very appreciative of the fans and are active Twitterers. Phillips likes it because he’s never quoted out of context and can say what’s on his mind. “I think, I hope, it allows the fans to get a peek not only into my life but into what they might be interested as far as I’m doing,” he says. “I really, really do feel as if it’s a little gift to the fans out there to be able to peek into our real interpersonal dynamics [of the cast] and get a little bit of scuttlebutt about what’s going on behind the scenes without spoiling anything. And it makes the relationship very special.” They both agree that that relationship between a science fiction show and its audience is much more loyal, trusting, and intimate than other fandoms.
Neither would tip their hands about what’s to come this season, except to tease that it will be awesome. Phillips has to look at whether Telford is an entirely different character because of the brainwashing. “I think the writers have done an incredible job of maintaining a core of integrity to Telford,” he says. “His mission from the start and even through season [is to] be the hero to save these people to get them home.” He says it’s been interesting to get to know him a little bit better and watch the character dynamics change. Na says in season two, Camille has to come to terms with her own situation. “I think for season one her ultimate goal was to get everybody back home,” she says. “And now, I think [there] is something else that is going to take over as the more important mission in her life and [she will] start moving forward and embracing that as her world for a while.” Phillips and Na see the new mission in season two is to help protect Earth from an Alliance attack. On top of that, Phillips teases that there will also be major firefights and they’ll be blowing stuff up.
There will also be an evolution of the relationship with Telford and Young that delves into the fact they were once friends, were in the academy together, had served together, and respected one another as leaders, before everything went sideways in the events of the first season. Na adds that anybody who comes on board Destiny has to really face their own demons and this season will offer more of that.
Jumping into a long-running franchise with an established, well-oiled production team along with the pedigree of cast members Justin Ferreira and Robert Carlyle (whom they affectionately call “Bobby”) gave both actors an extra layer of comfort. Na says the production team helped avoid the bumps and hiccups that can occur with a new show. Without that panic or frantic energy, she says the actors were allowed to come together, be relaxed, have fun and really figure out the tone and the feel of the show. “The focus was very different,” she says. “I really appreciated that [because] I really didn’t know that much about [Stargate prior to being cast.]”
Phillips also didn’t have a touchstone on the series but knew of the film from his friendship with Dean Devlin. “I certainly had respect for the tradition and the legacy of it all. [It] was a win-win because [I] could tell that they wanted to do something different … they were going in a different direction than they had in the past.” He also liked the security of a franchise show. “In today’s television landscape, you see how quickly [shows] come and go. They can promote the hell out of something and then it’s gone in a month,” he points out. “If anything had a chance to survive, it was certainly something that had [the] track record of a Stargate. [As] far as future employment was concerned, it was a good bet.”
Na points out that one of the main elements of this show, as for all three shows, is that there is always an attachment to Earth and in its current timeframe. “It’s not set in the past. It’s set in the now. And it’s quite important [to] the Stargate fans to always have that reminder and to maintain that connection with Earth,” she says. “We are a show that stands on its own in its style and in its storytelling. [Our] show is quite serious and dramatic in a really dark way.” Phillips adds that the show raises the big questions. “Good sci-fi does that [against] a backdrop that is virtually Shakespearean or larger than life [and] asks very human questions,” he says. “[Where] do we come from? Where are we going … why are we here? Stargate Universe attempts to do that and yet bring in the introspection of how do we survive … how do we relate to one another in a way that’s going to ensure that we stick around? I would like to think we [do that with] a great dose of humanity and, perhaps, philosophy.”
Na adds you don’t have to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy the show. “It has a lot of action and great writing and acting [and it] just has so much to offer,” she says. “It’s got the love stories … life and death situations, [humor, and] some really great characters to sink [your] teeth into. And it’s just a great looking show.”