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Interview: Rachel Luttrell - SciFiNow - The World's Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Magazine

Interview: Rachel Luttrell

SciFiNow speaks with the leading lady of Stargate Atlantis.

0000039131_20070413145212SciFiNow recently sat down with Rachel Luttrell, who plays Teyla Emmagan on Stargate Atlantis, to talk about the show and her character.

Now that Atlantis has finished as a serialised television show, have you been pleased with what the show’s accomplished, and more importantly, the development of your character?
You know, there are many things that I would have liked to do with Teyla. I like the direction that she went, certainly, but I still think that there was room to do a lot more in terms of exploring her culture and the fact that she was native to the Pegasus galaxy. I think that there could have been, potentially, a lot more mythology and history woven in there. I’m not going to say that it was a missed opportunity per se, but I just really feel that there was much more depth that could have been explored and it could have been really fascinating.

So do you feel that the show ended prematurely?
On the one hand, yes. I do. But on the other hand we had five years and that was great, and doing five years of one character can be very rewarding – obviously for an actor it’s great to have that kind of consistency, but, you know, you get to a certain point where if you’re not really on a par with how everything’s developing, it’s kind of time to perhaps move on.

Did you ever disagree with the writers on the direction of the character, or were they amenable to you making suggestions?
Yeah, the office was always quite open, but they pretty much had a solid idea as to where they wanted the season to go at the beginning of the season. So while there was a little wiggle room, they were pretty sure about what it was that they wanted to accomplish. The doors were open, but they had their way.

What were the highlights of making the show, for you?
Oh good grief! Obviously, number one would be the camaraderie between myself and my fellow cast mates, as well as our wonderful crew. We just had a terrific group of people to work with. It was very fortunate, it doesn’t happen very often…but we all got along with each other. Certainly in the early days we would spend a lot of time with each other and that was a ball, and our crew was great, so the sense of family was fantastic. I also loved being able to play such a strong, vibrant and intelligent, physical character… Teyla wasn’t a cookie cutter, kind of [character]… she wasn’t sexy without intelligence, or smart without the physicality, she was really well-rounded and that was great. It was wonderful to be able to take on such a physical character as well, I hadn’t done that before and so the whole aspect of martial arts and fighting was something that I very much enjoyed as well.

Did you have to do a lot of training for the martial arts aspects?
Oh goodness yes. My background was dance, so while I could pick up the choreography relatively easy, I still had to come home and really work on it, and ask for extra help for our stunt coordinator and various performers that were involved, but I really enjoyed it. Before I got cast actually, I remember sitting and having a chat with a few friends of mine and saying, “God, I’d love to take on a character that was action-y, and vibrant in that respect…” and then, boom!

Coming back to your previous point of your character being strong, physical and intelligent, do you feel that female characters such as that are still underrepresented in television and film?
Yes! Yes I do, and it’s so strange in this day and age that that still is the case. I mean, more and more we’re seeing characters like that… I wish I could name a few, but sadly I haven’t been to the movies in forever, but I still think that it’s an underrepresented area, yeah.

Have you ever had any thoughts about going behind the scenes in television, or are you mainly focused on acting?
No, I’ve definitely had thoughts about potentially directing, but certainly producing and writing. That’s definitely something that I’m interested in doing. I’ve always enjoyed writing, although it’s tended to be short stories and that kind of capacity, but as of late – meaning the past couple of years – I’ve been turning my attention, silently, to the art form of screenplay writing, and it certainly is an art form. And so my husband and I, and other like-minded friends, are putting our focus towards creating our own things.

Are you going to be submitting anything soon with a view to production?
Yes, absolutely, there is something that we’re hopefully going to start shooting in July. It’s a short, but it’s meant to be either the first instalment of a series that maybe I will take on myself and start to launch on my own website, or that we will pitch and see where it goes.

picture-1Stargate Atlantis
Price: £59.99
Creators: Brad Wright, Ronald C Cooper
Starring: Robert Picardo, Rachel Luttrell, Joe Flanigan
Released: Out now