A Chat with Robert Carlyle of “Stargate Universe”

To the world at large, Robert Carlyle is best known for his roles in “The Full Monty” and “Trainspotting,” though James Bond aficionados likely remember him more fondly for his villainous turn as Renard in “The World Is Not Enough.” Since 2009, however, sci-fi buffs have been thrilling to Carlyle’s work on “Stargate Universe,” where he plays the ever-scheming Dr. Nicholas Rush. Premium Hollywood had a chance to chat with Carlyle just as the series returns for its second season, and in addition to offering up a few ideas of what we can expect to see from Rush in the near future, he discussed his opportunity to direct an “SGU” episode, which actor on the show he’d like to work with more often, and what led him to venture away from motion pictures and take this gig in the first place.

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Premium Hollywood: Hello, Robert, how are you?

Robert Carlyle: Very well, thanks.

PH: It’s good to speak with you again. You and I chatted briefly a few years ago when you were at the TCA tour.

RC: Oh, right, okay!

PH: Well, you’ve been talking up Season 2 of “Stargate Universe” since Comic-Con in late July. You’ve got to be glad it’s finally here!

RC: Yeah! You know, it’s one of these things where suddenly it’s upon you! You get in the middle of it up there in Vancouver, and then it’s, like, “Okay, we’re on!” (Laughs)

PH: I’ve read some of the reports about your panel there. It sounded like you guys had a good time.

RC: Yes, absolutely! But, I mean, I enjoy everything about this. I really, really do love everything about this job. There’s nothing at all that’s upset me so far, or else I’d be gone. I wouldn’t be here. (Laughs) I’d be off doing something else. But this is all good .

PH: Do you enjoy the Comic-Con experience?

RC: Well, you know, you’re supposed to say that you don’t. Actors are supposed to say, “Nah, I hated it.” To be honest with ye, the first time ‘round, the first year, was a wee bit strange. It’s a strange, strange world. This time, I really enjoyed it. I really began to understand it a little bit more, what the convention’s about, and understanding that a lot of these people, the fans that come to these things, they meet each other at other conventions, and there’s kind of like a little community…and I felt kind of honored to be part of that this time. So I enjoyed it. I sat beside my wife one night, and the zombie parade came past…like, a thousand zombies came past the table. That’s not something you’re going to see every day, you know? (Laughs)

PH: Plus, you’ve got zombie street cred, thanks to “28 Weeks Later.”

RC: Well, you know something? I’m sitting there, I’ve got my shades on and my beard, but there were still zombies who stopped to shake my hand as they walked past. (Laughs) I thought, “My God, you’re real fans of that genre, aren’t ye?”

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TCA Tour: Caprica

Although Syfy’s “Caprica” is a prequel to “Battlestar Galactica,” the fact that the series are separated by 58 years and an apocalypse (give or take) doesn’t mean that the two don’t share similar elements. Indeed, writer / executive producer Jane Espenson immediately offered up two words that link the shows: moral complexity.

“There’s no stark bad guys and good guys,” she explained. “This is a world that is perceived by some of its residents as sort of sliding over the edge, there’s a whole bunch of people who think they’ve got the answer, and it’s not at all clear that any of them have the answer. The guy who believes in technology thinks that’s the answer. The person who believes in religion thinks that’s the answer. And if everybody has moral shadings, we can tell very complex stories as a result.

Espenson’s fellow writer / executive producer, David Eick, clarified another similarity: the two shows take their genre very seriously. “We really do try to involve depth of character, realism, grounded-terrestrial naturalism to a science fiction world,” he said. “That sort of came from what we always admired about the greats and the classics, from Asimov to Heinlein to Philip K. Dick, this idea that science fiction was not just fun and games. We wanted to go sort of the opposite direction of George Lucas, if you will. We wanted to make it less about escapism and more about moral complexity, as Jane was saying, and great characters.”

For those who have seen the pilot to the series, which will air again tonight on SyFy, you may be wondering if its tone and content will remain consistent when the series officially kicks off next week. Apparently, so were stars Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales. According to Eick, both actors wanted some reassurance that the pilot was not going to be a one-off, with the series going in a different direction altogether.

“I think, if anything, we go towards that even more rather than shying away from it,” said Stoltz, “because that’s what interests all of us as actors: playing these ambiguous, conflicted people living not in a black-and-white world and trying to find their way in it. We wanted to be exactly like that, so we’re all striving to make it as good as possible.”

“Also,” added Morales, “the naturalism in what I see from my fellow actors and their acting, it’s very unlike anything I’ve seen on television. The atmosphere of the show as well. The planet feels like it has a presence, a consciousness, in a sense, that I think is taken from the pilot, and it moves. It’s rooted in the pilot, but I think the show will evolve from what you saw in the pilot.”

Rest assured, however, that you don’t have to have to know “Battlestar Galactica” to appreciate “Caprica.” In fact, as Eick is quick to point out, the network’s marketing strategy for the series involves a notable lack of the words “Battlestar” or “Galactica” in the title of the show. Still, it’s not as though there’s a single article that’s been written about the show that doesn’t mention the connection, so why should newbies join in the fun?

“The same reason they come to any well-marketed and, hopefully, well-executed television show,” replied Eick. “That it’s compelling in its own right, that it has ideas embedded in it and a visual style that looks inviting and exciting. On that front, I’m not terribly concerned. From the standpoint of the execution within the show once you’re in, new viewers will find that there’s virtually no tether to ‘Battlestar Galactica’ from a storytelling standpoint whatsoever. There are the occasional Easter eggs and nods and acknowledgments for the faithful to enjoy or maybe deepen some of their appreciation for it, but I think legitimately the show stands on its own. Other than the fact that, if you happen to know ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ you know that that show had its roots in some of the stories we’re telling now, there really is no relationship between the two shows whatsoever.”

“Imagine you were watching a show that you knew nothing about and they were developing sentient robots,” added Espenson. “You might very well get a glimmer that these sentient robots are going to be trouble down the road. You don’t need ‘Battlestar Galactica’ to tell you that. In a storytelling sense, (‘Caprica’) tells you that.”

“I have a lot of friends who have never seen “Battlestar Galactica,” don’t like sci-fi, and they watch it because of me,” admitted Magda Apanowicz. “But when they actually end up watching it, they love it. Like, they’re shocked, and they’re, like, ‘There’s so much that you can take away from it. There’s so many different storylines that you can relate to.'”

“We just have fun, guys,” said Morales. “We hope you do, too.”

  

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A Chat with Saul Rubinek

Saul Rubinek is one of the most versatile characters actors in Hollywood, able to move from sitcom to serious drama without a moment’s hesitation. As a result, he’s one of the busiest guys in the business, a fact which is easily proven by taking a gander at his IMDb listing. It’s been awhile, however, since he’s taken on a role as a series regular, which should give you an idea of how special he believes his new gig, Sci-Fi’s “Warehouse 13” (premiering July 7th), to be. Bullz-Eye spoke with Rubinek about how he came aboard the series and what we can expect from his character, and we also chatted with him about his experiences on “Frasier,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and “The Outer Limits,” and the legacy of “True Romance.”

* “I adore (‘Warehouse 13’), and it’s a pleasure to be able to talk about it. I’ve had so many times in my life where I’ve had to sell a show, you know, and do my due diligence as an actor and try desperately to look for something positive to say. Here I am in a kind of heaven.”

* On doing “Frasier”: “I had to pinch myself. That was one of the most amazing times I have ever had, where you feel like you are doing this little one act play, no interference from anyone, anywhere. We’re just doing this little one act play, and then 23 million people showed up.”

* “That world of Lewis Carroll, Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson is a world that I threw myself into as a kid. And also, even darker, into the world of Lovecraft and Poe as well. I loved that. As a child, I was able to throw myself into a world of make believe where I actually was in that world, because as a kid, boy, it was really easy to believe it when I was doing it.”

To read more, click here…or, if you’d rather, there’s the big graphic below that’s a bigger target:

And as a Premium Hollywood bonus, here’s Saul’s death scene from one of his very first films, one which he discusses in the interview:

  

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