Interview: Elyse Levesque

We talk to the Stargate Universe actress about the show’s upcoming episodes.

elyse-levesqueSciFiNow recently had the opportunity to talk to Elyse Levesque in an interview, to promote the new episodes of Stargate Universe that begin their run shortly in the United Kingdom and United States.

Thanks for taking this so early, it’s about nine in the morning there isn’t it?

Oh no worries, I’ve been up for a while now, I’m already at the studio. They’ve got us working away.

Oh right, you’re at the studio for Universe?

Yeah.

So you’ve started shooting already?

Well we start shooting tomorrow. Today was just a day where they have us all coming in, ask us to do some read-throughs, do some hair and make-up tests, all that kind of stuff. It’s so good to be back, I’ve missed everybody. We’re such a little family, we call ourselves the SG-Unit!

So the show is about to start airing again after a particularly long hiatus, are you excited about getting the new episodes out?

Oh yeah. Honestly, I think the back half of the season is… it kind of kicks up full gear and it’s just go-go-go-go-go for the last ten episodes. I think that the back half of the season has a lot of things that the fans are just going to go crazy for, so I’m really excited to see the fans’ reaction to what we have in store.

It’s funny you should say that as it’s been… not a criticism, but commented on that the show had quite a slow pace for the first half of the season.

Yeah, I think that was to establish the kind of show that we were really going for, to make it about the characters first rather than the drama, the action and the danger. I think they wanted to kind of build people’s empathy for these people.

The show received an early renewal from Syfy, which was of course a big vote of confidence in it. Were there any points where you weren’t confident about it returning?

You know, I don’t mean to sound like we were pretty confident right away, but maybe we were banking on the good luck that the past two shows in the franchise had. They ran for a really long time, SG-1 and Atlantis, 15 seasons in total. And so I think we felt pretty confident that we would at least get a second season out of it. And of course, when you get adverse reactions from the show you start to question that, like “Oh maybe not”, but the overall response was very positive. We were greenlit pretty soon, sooner than we were supposed to find out. It was our Christmas present actually! I got a phone call right before, saying we had a season two pickup.

Has it changed the mood on the set at all, perhaps changed the creative planning to be a bit more long term?

Well, it certainly took the pressure off during the downtime to book other jobs. It was like “Whew, I’ve got something to go back to! It’s all good!” It’s so funny, because we shoot for a really long time – we go for about eight months, it’s a long haul. But I think having time off was good, it means you’re all reinvigorated and ready to go again, we’re all very excited and we’ve got the first five scripts. It’s looking pretty good and we’re eager to get back at it.

Has there been a slight concern over the fact that the show has had such a long absence from screens, that it might lose some of its audience?

Right, you mean the break in airing? Yeah, I suppose that would be possibly a concern, but from what I understand, ratings in television for the past while have been quite low. Over the Olympics and a bit before that, sci-fi shows that were launching didn’t receive the ratings that they’d hoped. I know that we were all apprehensive when we found out we were taking that big break, but I think it actually turned out to be of benefit, because I think word has spread a bit more about the show since then. So I think, we’re hoping anyway, that it will keep its audience if not increase it after this time off. And maybe coming out of the Olympics, hopefully the ratings for television in general will start to go up. Fingers crossed, you never know, it’s a gamble and hopefully you come out on top.

In terms of character development, Chloe had a fair bit in the first half of the season, particularly in ‘Earth’ when you were alongside David Blue for a lot of it.

My partner in crime!

Can we expect more Chloe-centric episodes in the near future?

Oh yeah, in the next back half. There’s a pretty monumental thing that happens to the character that carries throughout the remainder of the season and into part of what we’re about to start shooting. I can’t give too much away, but for me it’s been a really fun thing to be able to play and I think the fans are going to eat it up. That’s all I’m going to say about that!

Obviously, acting on a show with such a large ensemble cast is its own challenge, but has it been markedly different from the television series you’ve been a part of before?

It’s been very different in a number of ways. For one, I’ve never worked on anything that’s been so intense, with such a gruelling schedule. And I’ve also never worked on something where everyone from cast to crew just genuinely got along and was excited to come in every day and work. It’s really rare and special I think; it’s been an experience, also just getting to play that character for this length of time. Most of my experience in television has been coming onto a show that already exists, you have your one episode, the cast already has this rapport with each other and you’re just the new kid in school. So it’s a fun experience to be in something that I’m such a large part of. It allowed me to be comfortable and really just enjoy it. To top it off too, the world of sci-fi, I’d had a bit of experience with it but nothing of this calibre where we’re going to conventions and meeting fans, and all the other wonderful perks that come along with this.

Part of the challenge for any new show, particularly one that’s so steeped in a franchise as Universe is, is establishing its own identity in moving forward. Do you feel that the show has done that already, with just ten episodes?

I think it did it in the first episode. Visually, the style of it is very different, the plotlines… there are certain things that carry over for sure, the mythology and some of the cast, but the tone and the feeling of the show is different, it’s darker.

Do you think that existing fans have now accepted the show’s differences from the rest of the franchise?

Yeah, I think there’s been a bit of both. There have been some people who have come on board right away, and some people who didn’t, and some that it grew on. I think, to be honest, with this kind of show you can’t expect necessarily to get your own fan base. What I think we wanted to do was to appeal to people who may never have watched an episode of the old shows. I think that was part of the idea in making this show.