Every time you think, “stick a fork in him, he’s done,” he shows up practically unscathed. He’s always prepared for an attack, but he never sees the women coming after him. His team is made up of the most assorted personalities possible, but he still has a knack of finding common ground with each. John Sheppard is one heck of a lucky guy, and so is Joe Flanigan.
Joe told us that he hadn’t been back in Vancouver since the show wrapped, and hasn’t been to a convention since then either. After that, Joe was pretty quick to start taking questions, which was good because there were plenty of them! Right off the bat, Joe was asked if there are any future plans for him and Davit Hewlett to work together. “I had lunch with him not too long ago, and we definitely have a few things we’d like to do, and I’m not sure exactly how those things will take shape, but we’ll see. I’m sure we’ll work together many times in the future, David and I. I’m going to miss smacking that guy.”
As per Paul McGillion’s request, Joe was asked to explain the rocks-in-the-bag prank he played on Paul. “Yeah, what a sucker. That’s like the oldest lamest trick, and it works. (Shrugs) It works on suckers. We’re sitting out there one day – it was one of the first times that we’re in an exterior location. I like exterior locations. I like to get outdoors and stuff. –David Hewlett and Paul had to carry stretchers. Which you know, that’s a big deal. After take ten they’re like, ‘We have to carry a real body? Can’t we carry a fake body? Can somebody else carry it?’ I was amused at that, so they’re b^#%&ing together, kinda at each other, trying to see who can whine more. And while they’re doing that I’m just filling up Paul’s backpack, filled with rocks. I don’t think he even figured it out til the next day! It was hilarious.” At some point, Joe said incredulously, “Paul? Got me back? (Laughs)”.
Joe was asked what he thought of how Atlantis ended. “This is something I talked to Jason [Momoa] about. We always thought that perhaps Atlantis will or will not continue as a TV show, maybe just as a movie, I don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows, but I think that I thought a good place for use to end would be Jason and I are bounty hunters in space. And we’re just kicking @$$ and (pretends something is exploding in front of him) Whoohoo blowing things up, and chasing Wraith . . . and other bad people . . . guys in suits, maybe. We thought that would be fun, and we still think that’s a good idea. It’s a good kinds of evolution of the show, and (looks out at all of us like he’s just realizing how many people he’s actually talking too) I should probably pitch that idea before I share it with 2,000 people!” Well, so much for getting serious answers out of him on serious questions!
Someone asked a question about Jason Mamoa that prompted Joe to tell this story. “I met him in L.A. because they brought me down to audition with those guys, (chuckles) and when he showed up on set what was funny was it was the first time he had talked in years, apparently, according to the story line. Which is totally possible with Jason. So Martin Wood goes, ‘you know, you haven’t talked in along time, right? Just remember that.’ So (laughs) Jason is like (mutters something in a deep tone, mouth barely moving, impossible to understand). Next thing you know, Brad [Wright] and Robert [Cooper] are like, ‘You’re friend doesn’t know how to talk, for Christ sakes!’ I was like, ‘Wait a minute, that was the direction that he was given, that he hadn’t talked in a long time!’ I thought it was really funny. It was one of those classic cases, and I think he learned a lot also, which is when you come on a show it’s important to own the character, and to not necessarily dictate everything they’re going to do, but to spearhead things and just say ‘this is what the character would or would not do’. And he started talking a little bit better after that, actually. But it was fun having him show up and I immediately was like, ‘Chewbacca!’ it was a good dynamic, it was fun.”
What did you think of ‘Vegas’? “Yeah, that was Robert Cooper’s idea, and I liked it. I was all into that. I mean he had a lot of ideas, I had a lot of ideas, we were on the same page on that one. The ‘Vegas’ was a lot of fun to shoot, and I really wish we could have done a few more of those things. It was a brutal, absolutely brutal shoot. You know when you’re crew, all veterans of 30 years of film making, are . . . (like it’s the understatement of the year) really grumpy, saying this is the hardest shoot they’ve had in 30 years, you can imagine how tough it was. We had dust storms, really long hours. The great thing about Robert is (laughing) a lot of directors come onto the show and they go, ‘oh, I’m on a timeline, I’ve got to do this, and maybe I should skip the coverage here and go to this’. Robert is the boss, right, so Robert is like, ‘(muttering, looking around lazily) you know what, I don’t want to shoot that, lets shoot this over here’, and of course the AD and the DP are like ‘(rubbing his face) Argh!’ And it can turn into an awfully long shoot, but he gets a lot of good coverage. So ah . . . I guess the moral of the story is to be the boss.”
Joe was asked a question about how he acts as a member of the US Air Force versus how Air Force members would react to conflict in real life. “When I was in the F-16 for the first time – or maybe it was a puddle jumper . . . maybe it was my own car, I don’t know. Martin Wood again – I love Martin Wood – said, ‘these guys are always in control, they’re always controlled, like (in a low calm monotone) they barely get excited. They’re about to die but they talk like this. Yeah, we’ve got an enemy engagement, 3:00.’ You know, it’s that type of thing. Where I was like, ‘(fast, and if he wasn’t whispering it to avoid defining us, he would have been yelling) Enemy engagement, 3:00!’ They’re like, ‘No, they’re not like that, they don’t panic, they’re cool heads.’ And I know that for a fact, having flown with those guys too. . . . And yet it makes for really boring television. So you do take a little artistic license, but without one, well, I don’t know what to say. Did I just get court marshaled? Wow!”
I have no idea where this story came from, but it’s funny! “Jason and I lived at Sutton Place (pointing as if it’s nearby) and of course we had all sorts of visitors. I mean our hotel room was really very bizarre. And that hotel is also where everybody in the entertainment business comes. So you actually get some pretty interesting characters coming in and out of the place, and you end up in your hotel room playing guitar, and all sorts of crazy things. Sure enough Paul [McGillion] is up there one night – probably uninvited, but he was there – and he’s talking about wrestling and of course I’d had a few too many drinks and I was like, ‘(talking like he’s drunk, going into a crouch like he’s ready) ya can’t wrestle. Ya wanna wrestle, I’ll wrestle ya.’ Don’t wrestle Paul McGillion. Oh, he can take Jason and I down with just – he’s got some weird Scottish thing. ‘(Talking in what I assume is his attempt at Paul’s Scottish accent) I’ll kill ya, I did!’ and the problem is this, I kinda got him back though. He had me in a choke hold. Now, only I can turn this around. I’m in a choke hold, I can’t even breath, right? And he said, ‘you’ve got to tap out.’ I’m like, ‘(talking like he can’t breathe) no I don’t’. He’s like ‘no, you’ve got to tap out, Joe.’ ‘(Can’t breathe) No.’ He’s like, ‘no seriously, I can’t hurt you, number one on the show. You’ve got to tap out.’ I was like, ‘(can’t breathe) go to hell!’ So, I never tapped out, so I don’t think he technically got me. But like the next week I was like (pulls up his shoulders like his neck hurts).
How did you find out that Atlantis was cancelled? They were very nice, I walked to my chair, there was a guillotine there. And I was like ‘alright’. No, actually what happened was, to me it’s kind of funny because I would ask questions. I always want to know what’s going on. I assumed that if they were going to do a third show, they would need the companion show. I thought that was logic, that that was pretty much a certainty. I think I even said something to that effect at ComicCon. And as I said that a few more times up in the office because we would speculate – it was the big sport to speculate what’s going on. That’s what you do. You get picked up and then you speculate for the rest of the time about what’s going to happen to the show. So I said, ‘well if they’re talking about this third series that pretty much going to need a companion show, which would be ours,’ and I was met with kind of a (humming noncommittally, shrugging). It was one of those (again, but with a waving I-don’t-know gesture thrown in). I thought that was a little strange. So I wouldn’t back down, and I went to David Hewlett and I said, ‘I’m picking up on some strange juju up in the office here. It doesn’t sound right, there’s something weird going on here.’ So I asked them a few more questions and things got even a little more weird, and I think that they just finally thought, (chuckling) ‘we can’t just slip this one by them, and we’ve got more weeks to shoot. Maybe we’re just going to tell them and hopefully the rest of the season won’t implode. They’ll just charge on professionally.’ Which is funny because of course we would. We always would. We shoot under any circumstance. And no matter what happens, whether it’s a professional setback or personal setback, you shoot and you work. So that’s how we pretty much found out. It was . . . it was a bit of a shocker, I gotta tell you. I was surprised. Having done a lot of different lpilots and a lot of different shows I thought that this was a surprising choice. I thought we had a couple years left for sure.” I heard fans saying, “I did too.” I bet that much of the fandom feels that way.
‘Vegas’ has become such a huge fan favorite that many people wanted to hear more about how that script came about, so Joe told us, “I was just really jazzed because I don’t think I was getting a lot of scripts written for me and I think Robert [Cooper] felt that. I want everyone to have their own episodes. I think it’s a great thing for each actor and it takes a little of the load off the other actors scheduling wise, to have one person do an episode and another person do another. I didn’t think I was getting a lot of episodes so when I read it I was just jazzed. I was also really happy to go on location, and to be on Earth, and play a character that was not set in space. I thought that was kind of refreshing after so many years of being in, you know, plywood spaceships. And we had fun shooting it. I think there could have been a whole series. I think that’s a great feel. We could have made that a separate series connected to the Stargate realm of physics, but it’s a parallel timeline, and everything else. (With a hand on his head) Oh, I’m confusing myself.
What did you do to do that kind of John Sheppard that was different but the same? “Well Robert and I had the discussion. We just said, this is interesting. We can’t play him too different otherwise the joke is not there. It’s not a joke, but the device is that, ‘that IS Sheppard. I am following Sheppard. Wait a minute. It’s not quite Sheppard. Wait a minute. What’s going on?’ So it was just a fine balance that we had to strike where you could lead the audience in to follow Sheppard but then reveal that it was a different Sheppard. So we just struck that balance, it seemed to work, and we didn’t want to make him too gnarly and cynical and eaten-up and alcoholic . . . like the other Sheppard.
The gentleman who asked this question, I believe, was from Germany. At least that’s what his accent sounded like! That and the fact that he was having a little trouble with English made it difficult for Joe to get what the question was, but in a nut shell it was, when Teal’c and Ronan were fighting and you were taking bets, who did you bet on? “I was kind of hedging my bets, playing it by ear, seeing who was really going to beat who. Actually it was funny. I, you know, Ronan. He’s my boy, come on. I don’t want to be hurt. But um . . . Teal’c is big, man. I think that he in is prime, probably, physically, is stronger. But Jason’s pretty nimble. He’s surprisingly nimble for his size. So I was voting for Ronan, of course I was. I’m not supposed to bet on my own guy in those fights, but we decided that that was kinda funny. At least I thought it was. They were really into it for a while. I meant there was a little competition going one, there was a lot of man energy on set. A lot of starring down and stuff. It was pretty funny, I was laughing pretty hard. Once again, just gun (patting where a berretta would normally be holstered to his right leg). (pretending to be pointing it).Gun! (Changing fighting pose robotically to emphasize each word) This Is Too Much Work!”
How much did you bet? “As much as the props department would let me have. It was real money, and it did wind up in my pocket.
Someone asked about outside interests, and Joe told us that has is building a downhill mountain biking course at his house for the previous 2 days! “I pursue a lot of different interests outside of acting, and I think that we all do, as a cast. There’s a tendency sometimes on some shows and various places in Hollywood to just talk about acting, and this and this and that, and it becomes pretty dull after a while. Pretty self-evolved. As I sit on stage with my own microphone (shakes his head).
When the team has to run and leap to escape through the gate, do you ever land on each other or anything? Joe laughed and said, ‘Stay out of Jason’s way. It’s a funny question because yes, it has happened may times. You just did all this heroic stuff (pretends to be running, then uses an arm to indicate leaping through the gate, complete with ‘shwooo’ sound effect’) and then you pass through the horizon and everybody is like (makes a somersaulting motion with his hand and a ‘crsshhhh’ sound effect). We’re like off the mat. It’s actually very funny. I always thought it was funny. And I always made a point of kinda shooting off to one of the sides so I didn’t get crushed. And Jason was always like 15 feet in the air (crouches, looking up) and you could see him and all that hair. ‘Gah! If it’s not on camera it’s not good! I gotta get out of the way!’ And then he would crash, you know, big guy, would crash on the mat, and we’re all fine but he’s like, ‘Aw man, I hurt my back! I need a massage, man.’ He was king at getting massages. The production would pay for the massages. I was like, ‘d@#*, that’s such a good little scam you’ve got going there! You’re like action guy but you’re not really action guy, you’re getting a massage and they’re paying for it!’ It’s a good deal. Good question though, it was actually funny.”
Other actors have their own websites but you don’t. How come? “Does anybody here have one of my domains? (A woman in the front row volunteers) You own one of my domains? Can I have it back?” The woman explains, but I couldn’t hear her because she’s not using a mic and someone coughed near me when she said the domain name! Talk about bad timing! After having a very short conversation with her, Joe suddenly said, “No I don’t know what to do. People have asked me, they say ‘you’ve got to have your domain, you’ve got to get in charge and that stuff, and um . . . I’m too busy building my mountain biking course!” Joe then launched into a story about honey from Malibu, the context of which I have lost. If anyone remembers, I’d appreciate the help! “Malibu Ocean Honey. So I secured the name, malibuoceanhoney.com, so in case you’re thinking Joe Flanigan, John Sheppard, just thing malibuoceanhoney.com. I has the same ring. (Someone in the front asks what’s there) I don’t even have a website, I’ve just got the domain. I haven’t made it yet. (Referring to the woman who asked)She points her camera at me, and scowled, and she’s like che (pretends to take a picture). Regarding domains, Joe said, “Do I have to pay for those things?”
Where those stairs on the Atlantis set difficult? They are awful steep! Did you ever hurt yourself? “that hardest thing when you’re shooting a show and you’re predominantly the lead of the show, like in it a lot, is staying in shape. You don’t get to excersice and do things, and a lot of times you’re not eating properly because you’ve got weird hours you’re working and sometimes the food is not so hot, and you get tired. So the little things that would seem to annoy some people, like having to go up the stairs 20 times for a scene, to me, after a couple of years I was like, ‘Oh thank God, a little exercise! Whoo! I’m still here!’ So that wasn’t really a problem.
Tell us about shooting the scene in ‘The Shrine’ with you and Hewlett sitting on the pier drinking. “It was a really touching scene. It was a nice scene. Brad [Wright] was there, he wrote the episode. Which is rare to have any of those guys on the set. (Laughs) For a good thing! I mean times you’re thinking, ‘they’re on set. What’s wrong? Who’s getting fired now?’ But he seemed to enjoy it, and I always love being in solo scenes with other actors, to be honest with you. I think that [something I couldn’t catch, but it was probably synonymous with “one on one”) stuff with other actors always came off pretty well. And I think in that episode David did a really good job. In that whole episode! I actually, I got tired, a got a little drunk in that scene. We couldn’t get the fake beer. (Someone in front asked a question, possibly “did you get a say in what beer it was?”) No I did, they were going to go with Heineken. They called up and Budweiser said no, so they said we’re going to do some Heineken, and I said ‘No!’ because my dad worked for Budweiser! There’s no way we’re going to do anything other than Budweiser. So I actually called up August Busch the IV, who’s the chairman of Anheuser Busch, and I said, ‘Do you want to be the first beer in space?’ And they were like, ‘Hell yeah! Good idea!’ So we had beer (snaps his fingers) in set really fast. So it was real beer you spit at the end? Yeah, it was real beer. It wasn’t supposed to be. Usually they give you a near beer, but in Canada they didn’t have the fake Budweiser beer. So after a while I was like ‘(voice high, sounding a little drunk) How many takes are we going to do?’ Pretty funny. And thank God it was the last scene of the day, too.”
Someone asked about wrestling Rachel Lutrell. “Actually I had Rachel stay at the house last week. She brought her little guy and he’s a handful! I’ve got three boys, and her little boy, who’s hunger than any of my boys, he’s just like . . . he’s able to pick up like large objects (squats a little, and pretends to raise something heavy, one handed, over his head). And he’s just all over the place! But no, with Rachel, she’s looking pretty fit. I might have the gun nearby, just in case. But don’t think I wouldn’t like to try to wrestle her.
Now for the random notes I have left to cover.
Joe thought that the movie would have been shooting by then, as in last April, possibly for release in March of next year.
Joe said he’d had dinner with Jason Momoa the night before.
The backup gun in ‘Vegas’ was Robert Cooper’s idea.
Someone came up and told Joe that he doesn’t salute property. Joe said – jokingly, I hope – “Kill her.”
What will you miss, now that the show is over? “I’ll miss jumping on each other.”
Someone asked what happened to the Johnny Cash poster that Sheppard had in his room. Joe said they gave it to him. He thinks he might have put it on his garage and someone destroyed it, but they had a bunch on set.
A fan gave him a finger skateboard. “That’s really sweet!”
At one point Joe said, “I shoot them, Jason chases them.”
Joe said he was not disappointed that David Hewlett didn’t ask him to be in A Dogs Breakfast. He intends to ask anyway, but he didn’t want to be in it, really.
Something that Joe wanted to do in the series was to switch bodies with McKay, but he decided not to push the idea after the McKay and Beckett Kiss in ‘Duet’! I can’t say that I blame him! Oh, the possibilities!
Although I don’t agree with some of Joe’s views, it was a pleasure to see him and I hope that he will feel more optimistic about his future with the Stargate franchise – and be able to talk about it! – when he comes to Chicago!
Next up, you’ve only seen him on camera once, but the Stargate franchise would be lost without him. N. John Smith comes to talk about the casts, the sets, and the memories.