Actress Jennifer Spence has been leading a distinguished career as a Canadian actress,having played the recurring role of the brilliant yet chatty scientist, Dr. Lisa Park in Syfy’s Stargate Universe.
With SGU having recently drawn to a close after two seasons and Jennifer being kind enough to participate in a interview with us, we decided to take the opportunity to discuss playing the role of Lisa Park, the actress’ experience in interacting with fans as well as her favourite episode of Stargate Universe. We also discuss what Jennifer’s reaction to SGU’S cancellation has been and the factors which she thinks contributed to the show’s end. We also discuss the actress thoughts on what her hopes for Dr. Park’s relationship with Sergeant Ronald Greer [Jamil Walker Smith] were as well as her thoughts on the future of the Stargate franchise.
Jennifer also talks about her recent work on a feature film with her finance entitled, Down River and the actress discusses her role on anAmerican documentary series, Exes & Ohs and her hopes for the show’s future as well as her work on a recent pilot presentation supervised by SGU’S Visual effects Supervisor,Mark Savela.
Abbas Karimjee:Were you a fan of Science fiction prior to being appointed the role of Dr. Lisa Park and how familiar were you with the Stargate franchise, in particular?
Actress Jennifer Spence as Dr. Lisa Park
Jennifer Spence: I always fear answering this question cuz I hadn’t been a fan of science fiction prior to Stargate to be honest! But SGU proved to me that it was possible for science fiction to be moving, funny and realistic – everything that I ever wanted as an actor in order to tell a story of what it means to be a human being..
AK: How did you relate to the character of Park ?
JS: I related a lot to her nerdiness, her desire to do the right thing and her need to prove herself.
AK: What challenges were associated with portraying the character of Dr. Park and how did you overcome this?
JS:I think the biggest challenges associated with playing her had to do with the sex scenes I did in season 1 – always a bit nerve-wracking but ultimately fun to do! Also in “Blockade” as part of the fire and water in the dome sequence, I had to put my head under water while still in my space suit helmet and water would always seep in. So I had to keep myself submerged as long as I could during a take while water filled my helmet! Fear of drowning was definitely with me but knowing I could just stand up at any time and open up the helmet was what allowed me to overcome the challenge. Bam Bam (stunt coordinator extraordinaire) also talked me through it and made me realize I was in control.
AK:How do you think the character of Lisa Park has developed over the course of the series and what aspirations did you have for the character?
JS:I was so happy to see the aspirations I had for her actually come into play over the 2 seasons! I think she came more and more into her own and found her own strength of character and value as an individual and as a team-mate. She proved her worth to both herself and others.
AK. What was your favourite episode of SGU and why?
JS:I can honestly say I’ve loved every episode and each for different reasons – part of the excellence of the whole team we had. One episode that I think is one of the best hours of TV you’ll ever see is “Epilogue”. When we got this script (penned by the fabulous Carl Binder) we knew how incredible it was and also how ambitious it was but the whole team far exceeded all expectations and created this mini-movie of sorts that left me sobbing in the way that the last episode of Six Feet Under left me sobbing! Just because it all comes down to that same basic stuff: love, connection, family, friendship, leaving your mark, faith, action, survival, doing your best, the journey of being a human being.
AK: Science Fiction fans have been known for their great passion and loyalty towards genre entertainment. What have been the various ways in which you have connected with fans and could you please, briefly describe your experience in interacting with the fandom?
JS:Science fiction fans are the best! They’ve all been so supportive of us and the show and I’ve loved chatting with them on Twitter and seeing them when we did the Innerspace special on Space channel and on Canada AM. After the last episode of season 2 aired, fans of the show tweeted hundreds upon hundreds of standing ovations. I was blown away by that. I’m really looking forward to meeting more of these folks in person when I go to some conventions. First up Starcon!
AK: Back in December, Syfy announced the cancellation of Stargate Universe, once the show concludes in its current second season:What was your reaction when you discovered that the series had been cancelled and why do you think SGU was unable to attract the audience needed for the series to continue? What was your perspective on the decision of the producers to have SGU take the Stargate franchise in a new direction, with a strong emphasis on character relationships and survival?
JS: My reaction when I heard we got cancelled was shock then anger then grief. I remember Patrick Gilmore and I were chatting on the phone right after I heard and we were commiserating on experiencing the feeling one gets when a relationship ends. Denial. Anger. Negotiation. Etc.
I don’t think I can ever fully know why the show was unable to attract the audience it needed for the series to continue. I do know it wasn’t a question of quality – that’s for sure. I think the biggest factor that influenced the numbers was when we got moved from Friday nights to Tuesday nights on the weekly TV schedule for season 2. We then had to compete with loyal, long-time viewers of “Dancing With the Stars” and “Glee” and so I think a lot of folks either missed SGU altogether and downloaded it later or PVR’d it. Either which way weren’t favorable to our ratings. It’s unfortunate because the Nielsen ratings system is no longer an accurate ratings assessment in this day and age with the way technology is. But my understanding is that it is still the predominant way of the industry.
I’m glad and grateful the producers and writers took the Stargate franchise in a new direction with SGU. Relationships, character and survival are what it’s all about for me and they created an outstanding show that will stand the test of time.
AK:With SGU having been cancelled as a TV series, Brad Wright engaged in a series of negotiations for SGU to continue on either in the form of a TV movie or as miniseries. At a recent convention in Chicago ,Wright reported that the negotiations were unsuccessful. What was your reaction to this and what do you think is in store for the future of the Stargate franchise? Do you think it will be revived at a later time. Why or why not?
JS:I was really grateful to Brad for his efforts. As I’m sure you’ve heard already, the SGU team is a family so we were all eager to work together again. I was really disappointed to hear the movie wasn’t a go but I still have this faith that we will all work together again in some form or another. I think the Stargate franchise will continue to be successful with DVD sales and like I said before, SGU will stand the test of time. I don’t know if there will be a revival. That’d be awesome but we just can’t know that at this time.
AK:In the final season, Dr. Park further develops a romantic relationship with Sergeant Ronald Greer, while being unaware of Dr. Volker’s romantic feelings toward her. Who would you have preferred to see Park with and why? What are your thoughts on who she may have ended up with, had SGU continued?
JS: I think I would have liked to continue to watch her relationship with Greer evolve just because they were so different yet like most everyone else in this world simply wanted love and intimacy. I thought it was also a nice symbol of the possibility of harmony between the 2 different camps: military and civilian.
AK:Reflecting on your experience as a cast member of SGU, could you please share some of your favourite memories of working on the show, either from on screen or off?
Shooting SGU’S season 2 episode , Malice in the deserts of New Mexico was one of the most thrilling acting experiences for Jennifer Spence
JS:Aw man, there are too many to list! I think one of the biggest thrills I got was when we got to travel to New Mexico to shoot “Malice.” Not only were we in the most beautiful surroundings and getting to experience some life experience/travelling on the side but I was so happy to have a close scene with Bobby. My parents have always been huge fans of his as have I and so the fact that I was acting with Bobby Carlyle in the desert was just so effing awesome!
AK:What message would you like to convey to viewers of the series, with SGU having drawn to a close?
JS:Sounds cheesy but gratitude. Gratitude and love to all the viewers and fans for joining us and supporting us on this journey. So glad they enjoyed watching it as much as we enjoyed making it. We’re proud of the show and it means so much to know it has been appreciated.
AK. Have you been working on any other acting projects which you would like to share with viewers and what aspirations do you have for the future?
JS: I’ve been working on a feature film with my fiancé called “Down River” which has been a hugely inspiring and creatively satisfying experience http://communities.canada.com/theprovince/blogs/reelman/archive/2011/03/21/memories-are-made-of-this.aspx
In terms of the future I would love for another show I did called “Exes & Ohs” to get a 3rd season. The 2nd season will air in the USA June 29th. Stay tuned for details! Besides that, I would like to continue playing roles that challenge me in the best ways possible. I recently shot a presentation pilot called “Echoes” created by the brilliant team of Mark Savela (visual effects supervisor on SGU) and Ken Kabatoff (production assistant on SGU and independent film producer/writer/director) that did just that. I play a woman who is forced by circumstances to become a strong, solid leader and it feels awesome to take the journey with her and stretch myself. I’m super excited about it and we’re hopeful of it getting picked up by a network. It was fun too to have all these scenes with the dreamy and talented Mike Dopud (Varro on SGU)! Most of the team that worked on it were SGU crew so it was wonderful to be surrounded by family once again. http://www.gateworld.net/news/2011/05/savela-sgu-vets-pitching-new-sci-fi-series-echoes/