Second, finish up The Etched City because author K.J. Bishop will be dropping by later in the week to field your questions. I’m very much looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this very interesting entry.
Third, actress Janina Gavankar (a.k.a. Sergeant “Dusty” Mehra from season 5’s Whispers) is here to respond to your questions. A huge thanks to Janina for taking the time.
Fourth and finally – Il blog di oggi è dedicato ai “fan” italiani di Stargate. Conoscete chi siete!
Over to Janina…
Hey all! I’m writing this as I road-trip from Cincinnati to Chicago. So. I was telling my friend (heidi.deviantart.com, a fan of SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and scifi in general) “sure I’d be open to answering questions, if anyone even cared”. She basically smacked me upside the head and told me that real scifi fans embrace n00bs.
So here we go! Sadly, in an attempt to answer all your questions (who knew there’d be so many!), I had to make the answers short. Also, if you don’t see your question answered, it’s probably been covered already. Stargate Atlantis WAS actually the most fun I’ve ever had on a gig, and I hope you love the episode as much as we do.
MaggieMayDay writes: “For Janina, what was the best part of the costuming and what was the worst? Anything you’d like to take home and wear in the default world?”
The best is definitely the P90. It’s quite a gun. Walkin’ around with it attached to your vest makes you feel pretty rad. I’d love to take a fake one home, but I don’t see customs handling that well!
The worst was that even with a million things to wear, I was still cold. I don’t know how it was possible. Long underwear, your normal black uniform, a big tech vest, hand warmers stuffed in everywhere, and I was still sniffly.
Wraithfodder writes: “Question for Janina: Lots of scifi is full of green screen. Did you get the opportunity to work with lots of special effects? Thx.”
Nope. No green screen for us. Just good ol creature killin!
Caitlyanna writes: “What was a memorable moment that happened on the set of Whispers?”
Lots of moments. Christina has some hilarious stories. By the last day, we were all a little bit giggly. Keeping straight faces for some of the drama was impossible.
Archer’s Angel writes: “1. who would you like to have a scene with on sga that you didn’t yet have one with?
1. Everyone else! Our episode felt like it’s own little show b/c the only regular characters were Shep and Carson, which was fun, but we missed the others.
2. what did you like about your character?
2. I loved that Dusty was a silent killer. All guts and glory.
3. if you wrote an episode that focused on your character what would it be called?
3. Hm. Oo! How bout a silent film-esque episode?? it would be called “…”
4. do you like sci-fi? if so, what sci-fi books, movies and tv shows do you like?”
4. I do like scifi! I love X-Files, Lost, (if you consider that scifi), BSG, of COURSE Stargate and all it’s permutations. I now love Neil Gaiman, but I grew up reading Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Michael Chrichton. I read Sphere waaaay too young. Scared the pants off me…. Wow… typing this makes me realize how much of a fan i REALLY am.
Morjana writes: “Question for Ms. Gavankar: Had you ever fired an automatic weapon (P90) before appearing on SGA? If not, what was your reaction? For example, you had fun, you didn’t have fun, you thought of borrowing one for that “special occasion?” And the ever popular Stargate generic question — what does Paul McGillion smell like? Irish Spring? Oh, I guess that should be Scott Spring!”
I go skeet and trap shooting with my boyfriend often. I’m a strangely good shot with a .357 magnum, of all things, but this was my first time with an automatic weapon… and it was teh awesome. And Pauly? He smells yummy for sure.
Namiko writes: “My question for Ms. Gavankar is, did she watch any episodes of SGA to prepare for the audition (or for the role, once she got the part)? What did she think of the show? If she didn’t watch any episodes, why not?”
I had seen Atlantis eps before auditioning, but I didn’t watch more before going to work, because I didn’t want to overanalyze, or “try to fit in”. Things are totally different once you arrive on a set.
K8T writes: “1) Is Joe M really as nice a person as he seems to be?
1. no comment. I keed I keed. Anyone who invites n00bs to his chocolate party is ok in my book!
2) What was it like to work on an scifi show? Do you have any prior experience in this genre? How is it different from the other shows you have worked on?
2. This was my first foray into scifi. It’s different because you have to use your imagination a bit more. ex 1: This actor in front of you is your neighbor, who you have a crush on. ex 2: This actor in front of you is an alien…who you have a crush on.3) Were you a fan of SGA/SG-1 before getting the part?”
Leila Philips writes: “Having been in the military I can say that the first time I fired an automatic rifle freaked me out. Soon, though, I was wanting to shoot everything. The machine guns were the best!
So, how was your first time firing the weapons on Atlantis? If they did scare you at first, did you get to like firing them? Whether you survive on this episode or not would you like to come back and do future episodes? This isn’t as crazy a question as it might seem – just ask Jewel Staite and Paul McGillion.”
Joe shot my first time shooting the P90:http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=4944063432214550648
It wasn’t scary, but it was more power than expected. (You can see from the first shot, I feel the kickback.) And I would LOVE to come back! I had a BLAST!
Sylvia writes: “Questions for Janina Gavankar” 1. After filming SCIFI Atlantis – how would you compare your experiences with this group to other productions?
Well it’s hard to compare the Stargate production crew to other shows, b/c they’ve been together for over a decade. They’re a level of fluidity that they have that is only achieved through years of dedication.
2.. After your experience with Atlantis, in general, how would you characterize your opinion of SciF? Has your opinion changed? If yes, better? or worse?
My opinion of scifi has always been high. That hasn’t changed.
3. Frequently, we have heard comments like – “…I only am familiar with my scenes and not an entire episode…” Have you had the opportunity to watch any of the episodes you are in?
I’ve only seen little snippets of “Whispers”, but nothing cut together.
4. What is your reaction to the variety on Atlantis? Meaning – Atlantis Horror? Atlantis humor? the human drama of the personal interactions?
I love the variety. So often shows stick to their tried and true format, w/no delineation, out of fear. The stargate family and fans have been together for so long that there’s a trust that factors into the creativity. “Whispers” was so exciting b/c it felt like a totally different show for 2 weeks.
5. So far, what is your favorite or one of your favorite actions/scenes/episodes on the show?
6. What are your favorite “catered foods” while on set? Special drinks? Water, other?
I only accept green M&Ms in my trailer. j/k! Well there was this one day when the caterers made this gynormo-cake that was more than a foot high. It was Amaretto. And since my favorite thing in the world is marzipan?… I kinda almost didn’t fit into my uniform the next day.
7. Do not want to put you on the spot…so if you prefer not to respond, that’s ok. Have you formed friendships with other cast and/or crew? Would you care to share names? And, do you guys do things off productions..like sports or other activities?
Absolutely! We all got a long really well. Sadly, Leela lives in Canada, but Nicole, Pauly, and Christina and I all live in LA, so we’ll will definitely keep in touch.
8. What are your thoughts on attending conventions? Like an Atlantis focused convention?”
I’d go in a heartbeat!! But I’d probably be too busy going from booth to booth to sit at one myself!
AV Eddy writes: “For Ms. Janina: Thanks for taking questions! We’ve seen quite a few creepy pictures from the set of Whispers. When you’re on set and working “in the moment,” does the set feel as creepy as it looks to us viewers? Or does the set feel like the unreal reality it really is.”
It depends on where you let your mind go. In that fog, you could only see about a half a foot in front of you, so it was disconcerting.
Flygirl writes: “Question for Janina – Did you do any type of prep work or research to understand what life is like for a woman in the U.S. military? Did portraying a military member, of a key team, give you any insights you didn’t have before taking on this role? I spent 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, so I have a personal interest in how military women are portrayed.”
Wow. I wish I would’ve known you! If we go back, I’ve got some questions for you! I unfortunately didn’t have enough time to delve into the research like I’d have liked to. But my brother in law was a Marine, my grandfather was a general and and my grandmother was a war nurse, so I went off what I know.
NeKo writes: “What is your most memorable moment? In relation to your time filming that is XD”
My most memorable moment was seeing my nerdy boyfriend and 2 of the mastermind engineers behind deviantART get a personal tour of the SG stages. They came back to my trailer, showed me pics on iphones, and were so geeked, I took a moment and went “wow. the people making this show are awesome.”
David writes: “Why would you say working on Stargate Atlantis has been your “most fun gig ever” (stated by Joe M.)? Thanks”
B/c it WAS!!! Ok. I’m a she geek who got to run around for 2 weeks shooting a sub machine gun. um. yeah. THE MOST FUN EVAH!
Skypig writes: “Janina, hi!
How many episodes are you in this season? If more than one, how much character development will Dusty experience? And, also, does she have any amusing/significant scenes with Ronon?”
You have to ask Joe how many eps I’m/we’re in…. *nudge nudge*
Sadly, no Ronon scenes. But you guys seriously need a tour of his trailer. It’s like a pirate ship.
Nebulan writes: “Heh, as a DeviantArt addict, my questions for Janina might get kinda silly with stuff like “What’s it like dating a deviantArt god” or “If Dusty fanart started popping up on deviantArt, would that freak you out?”
Hee-hee! Well, he doesn’t consider himself a god, at ALL. I know he just feels honored to be a part of such a thriving community. And to me, he’s just my nerdy boyfriend who I like to play Dr. Mario with until 3 in the morning.
Are you kidding? Dusty fanart would ROCK! Anytime an actor gets to see one of their characters drawn, it’s exciting.
But more seriously: Janina: If your character doesn’t die, would you come back and play your role again? If she does die, would you be interested in coming back and playing a different character if the opportunity came up?
I’d come back in any shape of form you guys will take me!
What do you think of all the anti-all-women-team feelings that have been going around even before the episode airs?”
I think the anti-all-women-team feelings are kind of funny. No one’s even seen the episode, so I don’t take it seriously. Also, I’m surprised to hear that anyone would be AGAINST more strong female characters onscreen. And I’d love to see any of those nay-sayers show up to set and say the same things to our tech-vested, gun-slingin faces. 😉
Tina writes: “Were you the ‘victim’ of any pranks on set????if so….what happened!!!!!”
Tina!!!!!!??????? You’re so excited, but sadly I have no prank stories. 😦
Anais33 writes: “Connaissiez vous bien stargate avant d’être pris dans le casting?”
Oui. Je savais du film et les deux des spectacles. (Utilisé Google Translator)
Montrealer writes: “Couple of questions for Ms. Gavankar: 1) Did you expected the unseasonable weather during the shooting on location of the Whispers episode? Related to this, was the actor’s costumes adequate for the weather?
1. I had spent 5 months in Vancouver shooting The L Word in 2006, so I was ready for the weather. We were inside for almost all of our work, but it was still chilly!
2. Any comments on the Chocolate Tasting Party that Mr. M throw on the Whispers episode weekend?”
2. Zomg. I’m quite the chocoholic, so I went a leeetle crazy.
Scifi Girl writes: “Thank you for taking the time to answer questions!! Can’t wait to see your episode “Whispers” & the all-female team!!
1.) What was it like working with the All-Female Team, especially Christina Cox?
1. The all-female team is RAD. I think you guys are going to love em. We fit nicely. Ms. Christina Cox is a bad. ass. Anytime I felt iffy about something, I’d turn to her and she’d either nod or adjust me. She’s also HILARIOUS.
2.) And the “Chocolate Party” seemed wonderful, tells us about it & what was your favorite chocolate? Did you fight anyone for your favorites?
Thank You again Janina!! Keep up the great work!! =0)”
2. Hmmm.. what WERE my favorite chocolates. Joe? I think I may need to go to the next one to remember. 😉 I remember loving the lavender ones. Yum.
Ademaro writes: “A question I would ask from Janina: why did she decide to audition to a role on Atlantis?”
Simple. Who doesn’t want to be on Atlantis??
AMZ writes: “1. How did you get into acting?
1. Long story! But the short one is that I got hooked onto character building.
2. Could you briefly outline the casting process you went through for Whispers?
2. Sure! Funny story, actually. They sent me the material for Teldy. Then I got there, and found out I was reading for the wrong person. Took 2 minutes to learn the new material and just gave it a go.
3. What were the cast and crew 0f Stargate:Atlantis like to work with?
And finally…thanks for offering to answer our questions! I’m looking forward to seeing you in Whispers and more to come.”
3. The cast and crew are a jolly family. They’re so at ease, that they make you feel at home.
Chevron7 writes: “1. How does your character differ from the other officers we’ve seen on Atlantis – Sheppard, Lorne etc? Is she Air Force too?
1. Dusty is the quiet one that will save your ass in times of peril. You don’t know much about her, and she likes it that way.
2. Does your character have the ATA gene naturally, only after gene therapy or not at all?
2. I’m going with not at all. Unless writers tell me differently!
3. Can I ask a question about Ms. Dewey? I love it. What’s the craziest response they got you to give?
Thanks Janina and Joe for this!”
3. Ms. Dewey has such a plethora of craziness. She’s got a lot a skeletons in the closet. Ask her about guns. She has a collection. She also has a great cowboy hat. And have you met her manservant?
Neb writes: “Does Dusty represent one particular aspect of her team? For example Rodney is like the brain of his team, Ronon the brawn, Shep the leader and Teyla cultural expert… what about Dusty’s team? What role does Dusty play for her team?”
She’s the bodyguard. She’s always on high alert, and very confident in that role.
Dovil writes: “1. How often did Management come down to beat the actors? Were you beaten or did you manage to escape by cowering under the catering table?
1. We got smacked once a day, if we were good. If we dropped a line, we got smacked for each line.
2. How was the food?
2. The food made the smackings worth it!
3. Would you describe firing the guns as super awesome, or awesome to the extreme?
3. firing the guns = teh awesome.
4. With that many squibs etc on set were any of the crew members inadvertently killed leading to a multi-million dollar cover up by the studio?”
4. What? How did you hear about… oops. i mean. heh. no?
Thornyrose writes: “A couple of questions for Ms. Gavankar. First, if you were to have a chance to be world famous in any one field of endeavor, including but not limited to your work as a musician and actress, what would it be?
Wow. Big question. Well, I don’t see it happening at this point, but I’d love to be a known for making waves as a technologist.
What moved you from music into acting, and have you considered or done live theater?
My high school musical changed everything. It’s when I changed my focus from music to acting. In Chicago, I did theatre first, and miss it, actually. I’d love to go back to it. It’s like hitting the reset button. It refocuses you.
Do you have any future engagements in the near future, and if so, what might they be?
I’ve got episodes of other shows coming up. “My Boys” just aired, but “Factory”, the new Spike TV show, is airing soon, and I’m going back to do some random time on The L Word.
What did you think of the um, debonair gentleman running around backstage taking photographs of everyone? Many thanks for your participation here, and to Mr. Mallozzi fo hosting. And apologies for not being able to count to two…”
Joe and his three piece suits become a permanent part of the Stargate experience. He’s discrete in his picture taking, which is scary, now that I think about it.
Airelle writes: “Question for Janina, What made you choose acting?, What is the hardest/easiest part about being in front of the camera?”
I was a musician first, and changed my focus right at the end of high school. Chicago kicked my butt, and got me on track. The hardest part is no getting caught up in the details of the work. And the easiest is finding the fun in it. (Ex: Here’s a gun. You are now a space cowboy/cowgirl. You will now save humanity as we know it from the bad guys.)
Green writes: “Ms. Dewey, just tell me…er…I mean
I’ve taken some time to read many of the questions here and realized that a lot of the introspective, in depth ones have already been asked. So forgive the scraping-the-barrelness of these. (Plus the fact that this was much better the first time around before I lost all the stuff I’d already typed…grumble!)
As a preface: You were fantastic in the L-Word. Really, very good :).
Q1: Did you ever watch Stargate regularly before taking this gig? If not: Will you watch it more, less, or just as much as you watched it previously? (No, I’m not addicted to filling out viewer poll surveys.)
A1. I didn’t want regularly, but I was very familiar with the show. Now I’m hooked.
Q2: Someone had already asked if you’d ever gotten a chance to fire a P90 before and how it was so I’m going to expound on that. If you did use some sort of weapon in this episode how many times did you get to do it? Did it get easier or harder to fire the weapon as filming progressed?
A2. I don’t remember how many times I shot the P90. It got easier b/c you simply get more familiar with the weapon, but there are lots of safety issues that have to be paid attention to, so you can’t relax entirely.
Q3: What on earth did you talk to Paul about between takes? I mean, there’s the customary “Nice hair,” and the obligatory, “So you don’t really have a Scottish accent?” but, really, where does one go after that?
A3. Pauly just makes everyone laugh. He’s adorable. We talked about American Idol… That, and we quizzed him on lines b/c he has so much scientific space jargon he has to spout quickly! I don’t know how he does it.
Q4: You have a very unique perspective acting in an already established series. In your opinion (separate from that of someone immediately involved in the series like Joe, here, or some other cast/crew member) what actors are most like their characters (from what you know about their characters) and who is completely different. And who are just weird.
A4. Since we only worked with Flanagan and Pauly, I can only give you deets on them. They’re both just as fun as their characters. Maybe even more so. You can tell they both love the show and have a great time making it.
Q5: I had a fifth question in the last draft of this comment but heck if I can remember it. All I remember is it including the words “bad arse.” Make of it what you will. Insert random bit of experience on set here, hm? Funniest event. Most enlightening experience. Favorite crew member. Scariest set piece. Any puns exchanged between cast or crew. Ionno. *pout* These questions were a lot cooler before!
A5. Favorite crew member? Rob Fournier. Ex-military. Weapons. Bad arse.
Ooh! Ooh! Here’s another question I hadn’t thought of before. One more and then I’m done.
Q6: Obviously Stargate is incredibly different than the L-Word in many ways. But was there anything that especially struck you as being different or that initially made you think “Wow, this is like nothing else I’ve done before.” Unless this was exactly like something else you’ve done. In that case, void this question.
Okay, I’m really really done, now.”
A6. In The L Word, there’s so much glamour, here we were in no makeup and the same uniform everyday. That, and there’s no girl on girl action. 😉
Amac251 writes: “Question for Janina: Will you tell us something about Joe Mallozzi that we don’t already know?”
You guys know more about him than I do, at this point! I gotta read all his blog entries to catch up. I think it’s pretty obvious that he’s a guy who loves his job, and the fans, immeasurably.
A couple questions for Janina:
. What kind of techniques do you use to get into your character? Method acting, etc.
1. I give a backstory to every character. It helps me consistently move like them, talk like them, think like them, etc. I use a variety of techniques. I’m not very method. By the time I hit the set, I pare my before-take-prep to a movement. For Dusty it was a clench of the jaw, and a mental check of my surroundings.
. What was your favorite scene to shoot during Whispers?
2. I loved standing next to the rest of the ladies and killin’ creatures.
Rebecca T. writes: “Did you get to touch the Stargate?”
I didn’t! We never worked on that stage. But I saw it, and it’s beautiful.
Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “Dear Ms Gavankar, greetings and welcome to the REAL Stargate Atlantis Hangout! If you could choose any role within the franchise, past/present/future (including guest villains etc) what would it be? And finally, are you a fan of FUEL restaurant? What a great place eh?”
Originally, I was kinda bummed that I was a “normal” person. I was hoping maybe I’d have some sort of face altering prosthetic work. But now I’m quite pleased to have been in my position. Killin bad guys aint a bad gig!
Fuel was super yummy. The food was just as amazing as the chocolate.
LB writes: “Did you have lots of stunts to do on “Whispers”? If so, what was your favorite and most interesting? Thanks for stopping by to answer questions!”
Sadly, no stunts. Just gun shootin’!
Mackenzie’s Momma writes: “For Janina- what was the WORST part about having to work on the set? (i.e. the fog, the trees, or the wild camera wielding maniac who wanders the set)”
Well the fog was a little breath-inhibiting. And it led to random moments of smacking into something/someone you couldn’t see!
Wraith Cake writes: “I really appreciate you taking time out of your hectic schedule to spend a few minutes here with us at JM’s blog. Thank-you, thank you very much in advance for this. Okay, I feel obligated to ask “the question” that most actresses will be at some point faced with in their career—beyond financial need, why do you use your sexuality as currency? This is a bold statement, but one I often ask actresses, especially those I know personally because it is an elephant in the living room issue often wrestled with. Personally, I wrestle with it because I love and at times feel ambivalent about film and actors. I have a good acquaintance friend who was recently in a successful film by a Canadian Director—two thirds of the film she spent in sex scenes. She hasn’t had much work since though she did acquired a slew of references as a result. In any event, she is one of the most affable people I have met in a long while. So, when I had the opportunity I asked her the same question, we had a wonderful ensuing discussion. Why would someone who can clearly act, and has such a charming personality feel she needs to bare her mammaries (and her nether regions for that matter) to find serious acting work—I asked her “do you fear being exploited–or at the very least being considered only in this manner?” I am a visual arts major (as well as an English major for those who know me), so nudity has always been a part of my artistic ethos, the nude human body is beautiful. However, I do take issue with “nakedness” and the intent to almost “basify” the audience. Let me clarify, clearly in this country consenting adults choose to do this. However, if you are a young woman who loves the field of drama, but does not want to use her body to titillate (I’m not talking about using one’s sexuality—everyone does this to varying degrees), why must she in order to be taken seriously? (it definitely seems this is the case in the culture of film right now.) The overarching concern I have is, if an actress does not feel comfortable with the “degree to which” she is asked by casting agents to “boob out” why does this limit her job opportunities. Also, think of the impact this has on the significant others in that actresses life—Personally, I would never be romantically linked with someone who chose to do a sex scene, no matter how many times I hear that it is “unsexy”—you are still engaging in specific acts with someone else who is not your main “squeeze”. Anyhow, I know these are heavy weight questions—people who know me, know I have never been considered “shy”. Thanks again, and good luck with the show—it is a fabulous one at that.”
I could write a thesis paper on this, and instead of doing a disservice to this subject, I’d love to answer you in a week…. after I come back from Vancouver… where I’ll be doing a sex scene… with a woman…
In the mean time, I’ll say this: I think it’s interesting that you wouldn’t be with a person who’s ACTED in a sex scene, but you’d be ok with being with someone who has had ACTUAL sex with people in the past. One’s real. One’s not.
DeeinSouthAfrica writes: “Question for Janina: What time does her day usually start, and end?”
It depends. On Stargate we were up at 5am and went about 14 hours. (Is that right Joe?) My normal life is more like 10 am to 3 am.