Transcript of Ben’s responses to the questions from Stargate Command interview (Parts 1 and 2). It is classic Ben and the interview is very casual with the three actors Ben, Beau Bridges and Chris Judge ( sort of hosting) very comfortable and laughing a lot. The last 2 parts will be completed next week. The access for 1 month is $20 USD and if you are a big Stargate fan likely worth it.
Chris Judge : How did you get into acting?
Ben : (following Beau Bridges who refers to his Dad getting him into acting) I didn’t have any familyin the business. I didn’t know anyone when I was growing up that was an actor. I grew up in North Carolina. I went to college in South Carolina. And you are talking about the sixties, seventies when I grew up. But I had a friend who was into the “theatre” when I was in junior high school. He’d say come do a play and like Beau I was, you know, I was playing football, basketball, baseball, track. Then I played football in college, oh I guess all of us did our college athletic tour.
Chris Judge : Well some us went to Furman (referring to Ben) and some went to Oregon but but continue ( with humor)
Ben : Absolutely (laughing)My concussions are as good as your concussions trust me.
Chris Judge : Isn’t that the truth!
Ben : You know the University of South Carolina and Georgia Tech gave me my share. But when I was in college I’d continue doing theater ever — I’d do a couple of plays a year and of course the football coaches thought I was insane! And probably, you know not oriented in their direction. But I was I was I got talked into ( looks off camera and says that’s code for gay) Browder why are you spending so much time in the theater? Some of the fellas are worried. I literally got called into the coach’s office and he said “Browder some of the guys are concerned about the time you are spending in the theater.
Chris Judge : No!
Ben : Oh yeah. And I said what do you mean coach? And he went, You know in the theater. And I said Coach there’s 110 guys in this locker room, and they have girls in the changing room at the theater. And he weny Oh, okay I guess that’s alright. But later so I got talked into taking an acting styles class, which you know I had never taken an acting class in my life. And members of the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) did a week long workshop–
Chris Judge : Okay so you can’t just give abbreviations – Just go ahead
Ben : Okay so the RSC is the Royal Shakespeare Company. Ok, so in England, in the U.K. they send a touring company around the States and it’s a half dozen actors. And they do – we do scene work, and then we watch their productions and we talk about stuff. And I was doing scenes with members of the RSC, some Shakespeare. And at the end of the week I took a couple of the actors to one of the football parties. And we’re sitting around the keg because the drinking age was 18 in those days, and I said so do you think I can make a living at this? And they said Absolutely. And I went Ok. So I finished playing college football, and I went out and started trying to find a gig somewhere. And I was doing summer stock. And I was singing and dancing in the chorus.I was, you know, trying to pick up extra work somewhere on a on a film. And one of the guys I was in a dressing room with had an application for RADA. I said wek what is RADA? It’s the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. I said Where’d you get that? He goes Well, I am not going to use it — here take it. So I took the application, I sent it in, and I went to visit my brother, who was in the Army in Germany, and stopped in London and auditioned for RADA. I didn’t get in, but while I was there I hooked up with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Webber Douglas, LAMDA,all the English schools, Guildhall and I auditioned for a number of those. And I got into a couple of them. So I went to Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and did the classic English route, where I trained for three years and did nothing but learned – learned the craft, which is exactly how it’s , it;s viewed in England (looks at Beau who said acting is a craft not an art). It’s viewed as a craft, you know. I never – never thought about anything beyond where I was, which is well let me learn this. So I started – I started there. So I got into it by accident, happenstance and other people are saying What about this?
Chris Judge : Wow
Ben : And so yeah
Chris Judge : mm so what was your first gig in America?
Ben : Uh I left drama school. I did a small part in Memphis Belle and then, there was a transfer from the West End to Broadway of the Merchant of Venice with Dustin Hoffman. Peter Hall directed it and Judi Dench had directed the last show I did at drama school. So Judi worked with Peter and I knew exactly his style , how he liked the verse spoken. So when I went in to audition for him and he said but you’re an American and I was doing it English because I was playing English all through drama school anyway. And he goes, you know, well yeah great I want you to join the cast when you go to New York. So I went — my first gig in America was on Broadway.
Chris Judge : Wow
Ben : Mostly carrying a box and understudying, but it was still a gig, And I was standing on a Broadway stage, which you know, when you are coming out of from where I came from, where I didn’t even know a working actor, I was I was somewhere — I was in The Land of Oz you know. I was Through the Looking Glass down in Alice in Wonderland time, so. It was just a world away from anything I ever thought.
Chris Judge : On to the Stargate stuff — did either of you interact with your predecessors?
Ben : I did. I can’t wait for this one. The first thing I did was I watched all eight seasons of the show–
Chris Judge (laughing) : Okay wait. So okay we have okay we have a story. Tell how we first met. Do you remember?
Ben : I am trying to remember was it when did we first meet? The first time we ever spoke..
Chris Judge : I just happened to be going to the production office before we started season eight and the production meeting room was full of people. I’m like that’s odd. Like I wasn’t told about a read through or a production meeting or anything. So I just go in and say Hey why is everyone here? I see Browder like —
Ben : I remember this now, yeah
Chris Judge : And my first words to Ben were You already got the job quit kissing ass. Those were our first words and what did you say back?
Ben : I don’t remember
Chris Judge : I don’t remember either! But i thought we are going to get along great.
Ben : I think it was something like why don’t you bleep off Jaffa! Anyway so I watched all eight seasons and thought this is going to be fun. So I called Richard Dean Anderson. I called Rick and said so give me the lay of the land. What’s it like up there? And I got Rick-speak (laughter from the other two) Basically we talked for 20 minutes and he told me nothing.
Insert of clip of Mitchell and Landry saying Didn’t Jack tell you?
Chris Judge : So after 20 minutes did he say Who is this?
Ben :: He is like why are you calling? But I understand because I , you know I’d just come off a scifi show, and I know how scifi, science fiction fans feel about their shows and particularly the characters they love. And I was you know when I showed up to play Cameron Mitchell there’s two things I was aware of. One it is that I am coming into a team which had already been operating effectively for 8 years, that being Stargate as a production and you guys (indicating Judge) the actors, directors and everybody else. And the other thing is that I didn’t think the fans would be the least bit interested in someone who was trying to replace Richard Dean Anderson. So very early in the show, the first episode in the script, at the end of the first episode the screen direction is And we push in on Cameron Mitchell’s face. And you I was having the discussion when we shooting thethe scene, I said,Don’t let’s not push in on my face. Please don’t push in on my face. You can push past me and show the Gate because this show is about the team and it’s about the gate. And I don’t want the audience or anyone else to think that I am here to replace Richard Dean Anderson, that was my take on it, that it was becoming part of a team, not replacing Richard Dean Anderson which is a question that I’ve answered repeatedly at conventions. “How did it feel to replace Richard Dean Anderson?” You don’t replace Richard Dean Anderson. His name was above the titles. You know
and he was the guy for 8 years. And you don’t walk into a place and you know, assume the role of Papa Bear.
Chris Judge : Ben what were you reaction, observations when you first started working with us and our lack of traditional
Ben : well, what I remember is that, you know, I think it was and it may have been my first day on set was that you and I had a walk and talk and you had all the dialogue! Which is not traditionally Teal’c’s job. And you know it was — it was awesome. You would have to speak for 3 paragraphs and I would go Now what about this? And watching your frustration in having to say all the words, and I am just kind of walking along and enjoying it and you getting more and more pissed off. And the — but the other thing is that if is that I would do stuff and you would go you’re not going to do that. Really, really you are not going to do that. We were locked in that room in the with the (hands up and down –shrinking ceiling)and you started shooting the script is you shoot the gun at the wall. And I am going whoa, whoa, whoa man. I felt like it was very friendly like challenging. It was like okay can you step up to this game? This is our game. This is how we play it. Now are you ready to step up. And you know and here is the thing. It’s like my first day working with Beau how to, Beau is challenging to work with as well because he knows, technically heis about smart as they possibly come. So if he wants to do a scene a certain way, he will do stuff and you’re like That sucker just made the scene go. Day one and he is like , I’m like – He is forcing the cut. The man is forcing the cut. I remember saying to you(Beau) I don’t know if you remember me saying this or not I know what you are doing. I know what you are doing because I have a scene and of course you walk into a scene and you go The scene is all about me right? So I walked into the scene and it’s all about me and Beau walked into the scene and it is all about him. You know who won? (points at Beau). So you know he is doing this stuff where he is moving around the room right? And it’s like the director —(looks askance at Beau) did the director know or not that he was forcing the cut and I’m like He’s totally forcing the cut cause look he is moving on his line. Now they are going to have to move with him. They’re not going to cut back to me. I knew exactly what was going on so I said okay here’s my answer, I am not going to move at all. I am going to stay so still that they are going to that they won’t know when to cut away from me because I am not even going to blink because normally they cut on a blink or a head turn. They’re going to have a problem here, but it was wonderful because I just went Wow this man knows the craft of the camera and how these things work.
When Beau Bridges was explaining part of what made him accept the role was he would be allowed to help “form” the character. Ben interjects about Party of Five : I once I once was on a show and I had been on the show for 10 episodes before I found out my character was racist. It was Oh by the way you’re racist. I’m like what? I’m a what? And we’re writing you out. Like you’re killing him off for being a racist? It was, like, it was awful. If you, like, I have been playing this person and I didn’t have I didn’t have a racist thought in my head. And the audience is going , Yeah I knew it! I knew it all along. Look at his blue eyes.
Some photos that I am adding to accompany the talk —- mosy of the video is Ben looking to his right at Beau Bridges and Chris Judge so I am adding one from the front step at London (now Royal) Central School of Speech and Drama and from the Broadway Playbill.