What can we say except all our gratitude to Gary Jones, Creation Entertainment, MGM and Stargate creators for Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman! Airman Harriman! Airman! Sergeant Davis and acclaimed Starhole star. Here was the man who made the chevrons light up! LIVE at the Los Angeles Stargate 2009 convention! Gary Jones, the man who activated then lived to tell about the fabled seventh chevron and beyond. Even with the ninth chevron activated in Stargate Universe, Gary Jones performance Saturday November 7, 2009 is testimony to why he remains a Stargate legend to this very day!
Well folks it is all true, Gary’s appearance at the Stargate convention Los Angeles in November 2009 was all that and more! Included is a news clip that highlights the fun we had as Gary Jones re-enacted his beloved role of Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman! For the uninitiated, the news video is a two and 1/2 minute education of what Stargate is all about. Fans of Stargate, either at the convention or not, surely understand CMS Walter Harriman!
Of all the characters in Stargate, Gary’s portrayal of the person who finally became Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman ranks high in the minds of fans and this author for his enduring role in the Stargate franchise. Dating back to the earliest episodes when he was referred to as just ‘Airman’ by General Hammond, it was then Gary shared that he began his quest for a name to his character (although that never officially took shape for many years to come).
As one of the longest lived non main characters of the Stargate series, his staid and steady performances spanned the entire Stargate series and the movies too. For me Stargate was not quite Stargate unless Walter was at the dialing computer! Although it took many years, who can forget the Stargate SG-1 episode ‘2010’ when we heard General O’Neill, Richard Dean Anderson, first utter the proper name of Walter? How many times did we hear Gary state “Chevron Seven Locked”? According to a variety of sources, Gary stated the fateful words at least 100 times over the course of the Stargate franchise history.
Where would we be without these fateful words ‘Chevron 7 Locked!’? Nowhere that’s where! That’s right fans, without Chief Master Sergeant (CMS) Walter Harriman we might never have gone anywhere. It was Walter who knew the seventh chevron must be “locked” to engage the Stargate and Gary had helped make it all happen.
CMS Walter Harriman, aka Gary Jones entered the Creation Entertainment stage at the LAX Marriott and immediately mused that the audience looked like we were sitting in a game of musical chairs or bingo seats! The audience warmed up to Gary right away as many in the audience recalled from the evening before when Gary Jones and Dean Haglund had appeared in the Creation Entertainment Starhole Improvisation Theatre at the convention.
Gary commented on how much fun it was for him. He stated that really liked the special sound effects that all sounded like a screaming cat! The audience who were present the evening before roared with laughter at the fond memories of the Starhole Improvisation Theatre originally started years before by Gary and Dean at a convention in Germany known as FedCon. He and Dean Haglund had carried on the show all through 2009 at each Creation Entertainment convention in Vancouver, Chicago and here in Los Angeles. We hope to see more of Gary, Dean and Starhole in the future.
Many stars (in fact most people) sometimes have uncomfortable first moments on a stage. Not Gary Jones. His personality literally bubbles forth in such a humorous manner he quickly endeavors to put the audience at ease. It was a delight to observe his easy style before the fans of Stargate. From his deportment and presentation, it was clear Gary was a veteran of convention appearances and knew the ‘workings’ of an audience for maximum enjoyment for all present during his panel appearance.
The next sequence that Gary related reminded me of a time I had purchased a battery powered drill while out of town in Austin Texas. I too had left a suspect item in my carry on baggage only to be confronted by overwrought security guards. Gary shared his own adventure about the time he was going home from a convention. “I was going through security at the airport and I had purchased something for a friends young boy. I had left the toy in my carry on suitcase. The security guard was sitting there, and I placed the carry on bag to go through the scanner. Suddenly the security guard jumped up! The guard scanned the bag several times back and forth (on the conveyor belt). All of a sudden the security guard called a supervisor over. I noticed that they had a hushed conversation.”
Gary Jones continues: “Next thing I knew the airport security staff supervisor comes over to me and says “Sir is this yours (referring to the bag)? Would you mind opening it for me?” So I opened up the bag , and the toy is on the top of the items of clothing!”
The supervisor asks “Excuse me sir what is that (pointing to what appears to be a weapon)?”
Gary Jones: ”I responded respectfully ‘That is a Star Trek toy. It’s a Phaser’.”
The security supervisor immediately looked over to the guard who called him and said “I am going to kick his butt”.
The audience immediately broke up in laughter
Gary on a roll continued: “Is everyone here was from Los Angeles?
A few in the crowd nodded, including one fellow who said it only took him five minutes to get to the Creation Entertainment Stargate convention. Gary immediately ad-libbed and responded
“Oh you live at the Hilton Hotel? Very nice!”
Gary Continued: “You’re in the penthouse suite, but you could not get a front row seat?”
Another fan said they were from Australia.
Gary Jones: “That does not count!”
The crowd burst into laughter and Gary had succeeded in breaking the ice with the convention attendees. Gary then engaged another Australian fan asking where they were both from. Gary asked both if they knew where the other person was from? The fans responded in a humorous fashion. Both said yes. One indicated the other was south and the other fan said she was north!
Gary continued to heckle the audience as he searched for another audience member to “target”! It did not take him long. It quickly became obvious Gary was a professional in all aspects of interacting with his fans! Gary picked out a poor unsuspecting fan:
“Sir are you pissed off? You have yours arms folded, or that is your normal look?”
The audience was warming up to Gary quickly as many chuckled in their seats.The poor fan answered something “Fire Alarms Installer”, but I did not catch the entire response,
Gary quickly quipped: “If you’re going to talk to me don’t use that accent. That’s why your wife is here isn’t it, she translates for you?”
The crowd roared with laughter.
Gary then teased the fan about his pronunciation of the Fire Alarm installer came out as Fiirre Alllarm IIIIInstaller”. “Oh you didn’t feel like putting your hand up when I asked where everyone was from?
The fan, in good humor, then told Gary he was from England.
Gary moved on from the good natured fan to tell us about the Saturday Creation Entertainment breakfast and that he met many people. Gary went on to mention that he had missed the Karaoke being busy with Starhole and that he did not even know that there was one!
Only a few minutes into his stage appearance, the Los Angeles convention fans began to migrate to the microphones to ask questions. Naturally the first question had to do with how Gary finally got his name ‘Walter Harriman’ on Stargate SG-1. Having read many interviews on this subject, I expected the story to be essentiality the same. What I did not expect was the animated nature in which Gary related the now legendary tale of how his character evolved over the many years of Stargate.
Gary Jones: “It was completely at the whim of the producers of the show. My character went through so many changes over the 10 years that I became a completely different ‘person’ from the original who started out as a technician, Norman Davis in the script.”
“But here is what Stargate fans need to know. I was never referred to as Sergeant Davis in the early shows. My character was always referred to as ‘technician’ or even ‘hey you’ especially when Don Davis used to say “Open the iris”.”
Gary digressed for a moment: “Don Davis was the best!”
The audience went silent and also observed a brief moment of silence for the now deceased Don S. Davis, the much loved George Hammond of Texas and always remembered as the “General” of Stargate!
Gary Jones: “My character was referred to as Norman Davis for the longest time. Then one day the producers said to me “Hey you’re Sgt Norman Davis” I said great and asked are if they were going to call me Norman in the lines? The response was quick: “No, but that is who you are!”
The audience chuckled as Gary continued: “This went on for years until one day during filming of 2010, Richard Dean Anderson ad-libbed the famous “Walter” question when struggling to remember my name. Richard was just winging it.
After the shooting sequence had stopped I said [deadpan] “but my name in the script is Norman”. The script person said “That’s right his name is Norman”.
Gary Jones: “Richard (Dean Anderson) looked at me and said” “Norman? Not anymore, now you are Walter!”
The audience roared at Gary’s impersonation of RDA!
Gary Jones: “So due to Richard Dean Anderson, after 4 or 5 years I was finally going to have a first name! Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman. All thanks to Richard Dean Anderson winging [ad-libbing] it on the set one day. But I was not there yet!”
Editors Note: As mentioned I have read many reports on Gary Jones ‘name evolution’, including a fine report by PlayItGrand. However it is the acting talent Gary brings to the stage that truly makes his story come to life right before your eyes. When Gary “played” RDA acting out on stage, one can just imagine RDA knowing he had the perfect shoot and not wanting to change anything, simply named Gary “Walter” on the fly.
Gary Jones mocked himself: “Before that I was always referred to as ‘Airman’ in all the episodes because I was supposed to be in the Air Force. ‘Airman’, ‘Airman’, ‘Airman’! Hey ‘Airman’!” [Gary growls a fake order at the ‘Airman’ of Stargate SG-1]. AIRMAN! After a time it somehow morphed into Harriman as actors quickly spoke the lines in the scripts instead of saying Airiman….. it often came out Harriman! I remember actors also saying what sounded like Harriman several times on set. One of the directors and Richard said “Where did that come from” “Harriman?” “ A discussion ensued about Airman, Harriman and how it was written in the script as Airman. DA asked “Why did you keep calling him something else? Harriman? ” Then the next thing I knew RDA was saying: “Hey! Let’s just call him [Walter] Harriman” At that point I had a real name in the series and I thought to myself ‘they could not get rid of me, they cannot replace me, I have a name’!”
Gary suddenly gestured to a friend who entered the auditorium, it was a person named Michael, the creator of special sound effects for the Starhole Improvisation Cabaret the night before. Gary asked for a round of applause, which was quickly answered by the fans who had attended the show.
Gary Jones: “Mike I just want to say [imitating the sound of a screeching cat in several tones of voice] RMeoooooww, or was it Rrrrrrrroewwwwww, or maybe you said it Meowrrrrrrr. Oh so funny. Thank you Mike!”
The audience roared once again at Gary and his delightful performance.
Gary Jones continues the “name” story chuckling: “So OMG, that’s what happened. They had named me and couldn’t kill me of or kick me off! Although I did die in the show. But it had gotten to the point where you know, [Walter] is a secondary character so I said to myself ‘You WILL read the scripts so you can do your scenes’. I remember one time there was one script [Avatar] where I did not read it and I showed up on set. I knew I was on that day, kind of flipped through the script, saw a line or so, and did not read the rest of the script. So just then the make-up lady says to me ‘So how do you feel about dying?’ I was absolutely silent you know, but [faked it] saying ‘Yeah, yeah [stumbling] I mean you know … I am okay with all that’. I rushed to read the script and said to myself ‘What the hell’. So I am going through and through it, scanning and scanning and then I see where it says ‘Walter Harriman falls over backwards, DEAD!’ Because I had not read the whole script, I am like ‘Dying? I’m dying?’. Then I saw Martin Wood and we were talking and went like ‘so Martin what’s with Harriman dying?’ Martin said ‘that’s the way it in the computer game simulation is you dumb bell!’
During this sequence Gary acted out like he had missed the script references, only read about the dying part, acting out his role playing of both Martin Wood while feigning his begging to Martin for an answer only to be blind-sided with Martin Wood’s response. The audience erupted each time Gary morphed into yet another character impersonation on stage.
Gary Jones continues: “BOY I SHOULD HAVE READ THAT STUFF TOO before asking Martin Wood! I then read the script to you know find out what was really going on, that it was in a computer game sequence in the Gate Room where … … Dan Payne, you remember the super soldier [Kull Warrior] kills me? Oh this is a favorite of mine. Dan is just a massive guy, dressed up all in black and is coming in to kill everybody. This is the episode directed by Peter [Deluise] also one of the producers. And Peter comes in and says ‘Dan Payne is going to come in and just waste everybody in the control room. You know just like walk in and [Gary imitates sounds of Kull Warrior weapons fire] just blow everybody away. He motions to the [other] technicians, you know you guys are just working away on the computers, and you turn around and see the Kull Warrior and get hit all over the place.’ So I asked, what do I do? He responded ‘ You just sit in your chair and die!’ So all I have to do is sit in this chair and…? Peter said ‘just swivel [in the chair] and just DIE!’ But I said to myself ‘In the chair when there is the sound of machine gun fire in the room, and I just die in my chair?’”
Once again Gary’s smooth acting skills played out the role of a defeated actor told to ‘simply die in his chair’. The audience roared as he recreated his inner emotions to the fact of his characters now found out to be ‘simulated death’.
Gary Jones: “So yeah, I was told ‘ just swivel around to see who was firing a machine gun and then DIE!’ I was like everybody else, flung around the room, riddled with machine gun fire, and all I get to do is swivel around to see who is firing and die and ‘just fall backwards!” I asked like I was checking e-mail and logged out and then swiveled in the chair?’ Peter said ‘no just swivel and die!’ So I thought to myself over the years of being in the control room chair in Stargate I would ‘Live by the chair, die by the chair! So there I was confronted with my fate of the ‘chair’!”
Gary Jones continued: ” So to die in the chair, they wire you with [fake bullet wounds] called squibs, that is the technical stage term for it. So they go ‘ hey you are going to have like 10 squibs on you’. So when they fired on me the all just go off at once and you are dead! But it takes a whole lot of time just to set that up. During the filming we did it several times when Peter said ‘Let’s do that again’.
Gary completed his improvisation skit with sound effects and by acting out all of the roles replete with machine gun fire, screams of death, Kull Warriors and ending with his own humble ‘place of death in the chair’! The audience howled at his antics on stage! Gary was a one man show of sheer humorous entertainment! His sequence was elongated some eight or nine minutes with the gesticulating Gary all over the stage. The crowd was hooting and hollering so loudly it was hard capture every word. I for one in the crowd belly-laughed until my sides figuratively split.
Gary Jones: ”The other thing I think about is an action figure of me, or should I say [from chair death experience] an INACTION figure of me?”
Gary acted out swiveling in the chair, knees bent like an action figure going to an ignominious death one more time to the delight of the clapping and cheering audience.
Gary Jones: ”The action figure comes with me looking at the control room sheet of Plexi-glass. Yeah, that’s right with a little recording saying Chevron One encoded .. Chevron Seven LOCKED! I spent so much time in front of that glass [in the control room] it was hilarious. I like thought that everyone was laughing after eight seasons of me saying Chevron One encoded .. But they never did. It got to the point where my character did not say it much anymore and cast members would come up to me and ask ‘Please say Chevron Seven LOCKED’ one more time. You do it the best! No one can say it like you, no body. Please say it again! So I did just because I happened to be the guy!”
In fact Gary was a self propelled action figure of real life human proportions all by himself! It is difficult to describe the detailed acting Gary engaged in, but all of these answers came from asking just one simple question. Seeing Gary on stage was equivalent to the many soothing years of what we all knew: That CMS Walter Harriman was in fact always in the control room saying Chevron Seven Locked sending ever more SG Teams on their missions! Now as an aide in Stargate Universe to General O’Neill in the Pentagon, Gary Jones was integral to the feeling of Stargate family at the convention. Without prompting for another question:
Gary Jones: “It was always cool to open the gate. There was once when I opened the Gate, it was in the first season where we are all sitting around a table with the early scripts before a lot of concepts were being worked out. The table meetings ended as the series took off, but anyway here we were all sitting around a table reading the script and it got to the point where I started reading chevrons, you known Chevron 1 ..2 … 3 encoded… When Michael Greenburg asks me ‘Now is it supposed to be Chevron Seven Encoded or Chevron Seven Locked?’
Gary Jones continues: “I was amazed because for this guy this stuff was quite real. I said ‘I liked it when it was written ‘Locked’ .. Chevron Seven Locked’,. Martin looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said ‘Okay, okay, Locked, Yes that’s perfect for the Stargate’. I looked at him again and then said to myself ‘I know it’s not real, it’s Stargate it is not really real!’
So with that we learned how the phrase stuck with Gary’s alter ego Walter Harriman all these years. It was a very entertaining rendition of the fabled story. Now some 20 minutes into a 45 minute panel, what was amazing was how well the crowd had sync’d with Gary, myself included. Gary then noticed that there were fans at the microphones and engaged the bravest of Stargate fans; those brave enough whom dare to stand toe to toe with the quick witted Gary Jones! Gary then recognized the first person at the microphone as a fan he referred to as Teal’c from his appearance on stage as the audience member who played the Teal’c character in the Starhole Cabaret the previous evening. Gary gave him a round of applause as did the audience. Many remembered the fun of the Starhole Improvisation Cabaret.
Gary Jones: “Hey. Good to see you! What is your name?”
Fan Teal’c: “Hi Gary my name is Martin. I heard that Chevron 7 locked is your favorite line. It is also my favorite Stargate line. Did you ever have to practice different ways of saying it?”
Gary Jones: “I once tried ‘Seven Locked Chevron’, but no, I could not really do much of anything with that line.”
Fan Teal’c: “It seemed to me that you always put always put so much emphasis on the word “locked”
Gary Jones: “Locked. Well yes I guess I did do that. I wanted to give it something. It was like ‘we are away’ [the Stargate] is happening! That’s really what I bring t it. Fans have mentioned to me that Chevron Seven Locked brought something to them that was related to the opening of the gate. I used to ask ‘You relate me to the opening of the Gate, how?’ I later realized what my performance was doing and thought ‘Okay, I get [know] what I am doing.’ I did not realize it before. It was only when I saw myself [later] doing it that I really got it. Okay, okay I see it. I got it! I realized it was for people like an everyday job, like changing the air filter in a car. You know like tightening down the bolts, that is what I did for Stargate fans, the real everyday Stargate job. I tried to treat the listing of the chevrons the same way.”
Gary Jones continues: “But actually your question reminds me of my first audition. When I first auditioned, that was all there was, the listing of the chevrons, no other dialogue. I knew I had to make a good impression, [Gary goes off reciting the chevrons to the chuckles and giggles in the audience] but I did not even know what the chevrons were. I was clueless. I had been told to watch the Stargate movie, so I watched the film, but I still did not get it. I read the script and saw that Chevron Seven was the big thing in the lines. I say ‘Okay that’s the big one’. But my background had been mostly in comedy, I was working with Second City back in Toronto so when I got the Stargate audition it was a bit of an anomaly with my comedy background. I mean to be in an action SciFi sounded cool, but not having a clue as to what had been going on being away for like ten years. So at the audition, my agent said ‘bring something to the table, show up with something’ and I said well I’ll be funny, that is what I do, I’ll be funny. Can you imagine? Right like here I am kind of leering ‘chevron one encoded, chevron two encoded … ‘ while someone is reading Daniel Jackson lines … ‘chevron three encoded …’ by this time I am putting a little spin on it ‘chevron four encoded …’
Gary continued the story with a new series on improvisations about audition day. We have tried to capture the essence in still photography, but the real fun was watching Gary share his comedic background in every subtle gesture and facial expression.
Gary Jones: “I acted becoming upset as I continued ‘chevron five ENCODED’ until I got to the big one and let loose with a [comedic] holler ‘CHEVRON SEVEN LOCKED’. I swear, I looked over at the directors table and they were all laughing hard, heads down pounding the table. I thinking ‘ Hey cool yeah this is a good sign.’ Then they tell me what the show is like ‘you are a serious technician’ ‘we are looking for a little different emphasis on the phrase Chevron Seven Locked’ I looked over and there was Richard Dean Anderson, you know, like McGuyver.”
Gary then went off again with a dead pan, ‘poke fun’ impersonation of Richard Dean Anderson.
Gary Jones continues as RDA: “Hey could we focus a little on me here please?”
The crowd erupted once again in laughter as Gary poked at RDA in good fun.
Gary Jones continues: “So I left the first day with nothing, really started thinking there were a lot of other ways to say Chevron Seven Locked. I got a call-back and thought I had better do almost the same thing. But the director was a different guy The first guy had directed me in Outer Limits saying that I would be great for the role in Stargate. Saying I was ‘in’. So when I got the call back I got this new director who did not say anything and looked like he had been drugged! And he is sitting next to the new producer, Jonathon Glassner! Both are like Stonehenge. No emotion or nothing, not moving at all! When Jonathan finally spoke he said ‘now just read the lines, NOT with any of that stuff like you did before’. Panic. I was thinking ‘wow I got to do something!’ I was stuck. I figured I would hold back until I got to like chevron four, then I let it go. So I started out ‘Chevron one encoded, chevron two encoded, chevron three …’ Before I got to the end the director said ‘We’re signing, that’s it we’re signing!’ I went like to myself ‘Wow, I am so doing this, rushed through all the chevrons including eight, was told there was no eighth chevron [yet], did not even get to do my chevron four gig and I got the part’. So there you go. That is how it happened. It was a nightmare audition you know, but the rest is history.”
The Stargate fans applauded loudly for their beloved Gary Jones, CMS Walter Harriman!
New Fan Questioner: “Where there any love interests for Walter?”
Gary Jones chuckles : “Any love interests? Well… Errrr .. it was really hard to get any girlfriends into the control room, so no, there were love interests for Walter.”
The audience howled at the answer imagining Walter with a girlfriend in the Stargate control room.
Gary Jones: “I did have the hots for Amanda for Carter, but uh she’d always do that thing where she show up and I would think ahhhhhh [drooling], she would say her line ‘Have we contacted the planet yet?’ And I’d think ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, then have to say my line like ‘No we have no communication with the planet’ or it’s all broke down or something like that. And she’d be Amanda and I’d go like … bing! Then I’d realize she was working her ass off and we would sit and go over it with her saying there you go Walter. I respected her.”
Gary then turned to the next fan questioner: “Do you have a question?”
Next Fan Questioner: “I do. It has to do with the fate of the Seventh Chevron!”
Gary cocked his head sideways and the audience howled when he said teasingly: “We talked about the seventh chevron, we really cannot have any more chevron questions sir!”
Same Fan Questioner: “As a character and an actor, how excited were you when they were dialing the Gate to Atlantis to talk about an eighth chevron and now the ninth chevron in Stargate Universe?”
The audience howled at the question which took Gary a little by surprise since he was expecting a standard seven chevron question! The fan and audience continued the laughter for nearly thirty seconds. Everyone was obviously delighted that the fan had caught Gary flat footed! Gary rolled right with the punches with his quick retort.
Gary Jones: “Well obviously not as excited as you!”
The crowd howled again as Gary and the fan pleased with the exchange, continued.
Same Fan Questioner [pressing the moment]: “Also when Jack got his brain downloaded with the Ancient knowledge and you dialed the eighth chevron, your only line was ‘chevron seven encoded’?!?”
Gary Jones: “Did I really say that? Oh, I think I was just excited to get paid! You know the Stargate checks always came through the Gate, they never bounced. But seriously, how excited was I when the eighth chevron became known? Well no matter what happened I was always excited to be on the show. What was very cool about Stargate was because I was on the show for so long. After a while I got to know the actors and the producers. I mean it was a long haul, over the ten years they gave me more stuff to do which was fun because in the beginning I was just delivering information like an expositional character. But over the course of the years I was part of the whole docking and entry crew, and I got to say ‘Open the Gate’ ‘Close the Gate’ that sort of thing. And what else, well that is pretty much it, it was the writers mocking me! And when I read about the eighth chevron I laughed so hard because I would get to say it, I could not wait to do it. I am going to love this! It was great! And Peter [Deluise] was there and he was laughing so hard when I said ‘yeah that’s all I do! Yeah that’s it! With his eyes rolling saying ‘Walter’s eighth chevron Stargate’ ”
A fan who came late asked Gary if he had already talked about his Stargate Airman – Harriman name change.
Gary Jones replied: “Yeah I have already talked about that. Is there something else you would like to ask?”
Fan Questioner: “I was wondering if you would ever take Starhole to a Northern California convention?”
Gary Jones [jokingly]: “Well as soon as I get the trucks and crews and limo’s like Creation Entertainment has. Seriously I would like to, I enjoy doing the show for Creation Entertainment If they would ever ask us to do so it would be fantastic.”
Next Fan Questioner: ” Was wondering since you were on the show for such a long time, did you ever do a prank on another cast member or did they ever do any pranks on you?”
Gary Jones replied: “Um … well …. yeah.. People will tell you about practical jokes. I was not so much part of that, but I’ll tell you I just loved it since the first time and later when I am settling into this family and one time Don Davis was standing behind me and Peter Deluise told me to just improvise for a simple quick scene he needed. [Doing a General Hammond impersonation ‘Open the Iris’] Don was going like contact the planet and I was like dialing the Gate, like a super simple scene, and everything was fine. Then Peter Deluise comes up to me after shooting had completed and says let’s do it again but with some improvisation, kind of tell Don ‘screw himself’ with a Captain Kirk characterization. And I go ‘really, are you kidding me?’ I had never done anything like that, it was my first time and I asked again ‘Are you sure?’ Peter goes ‘it will be hilarious, just do it!’ I was like okay and next thing I knew Peter was calling Don back saying ‘we have to do it again’ even though crew people were saying, hey I thought we ‘had that one’ [meaning a perfect shoot]. Peter harrumphed and said ‘No he made a mistake, something was missing and we needed to do it again’ So I am thinking wow, filming costs like [exaggerating] two million dollar a minute, and here I was playing practical jokes with the producers with like a hundred people on set! And of course Don is not told what is happening, so the setup prank scene goes forward with Don [Gary again does a General Hammond impersonation ‘Open the Iris’]. So we get to the scene, [pauses] now I am going to swear so cover your ears if you are offended. So Don says ‘Open the Iris’. I turned to him as if to say ‘yes sir’ but instead I said ’Hey, why don’t you open your own F__KING IRIS?’ I continued to rant for the stunt going on about “Open the Iris, Close the Iris and with this character I can’t take it anymore! Like I said why don’t you open your own f__king iris!’ I had gone off on stage for like a two minute rant with Peter laughing and Don looking at me going ‘Oh my god’.”
Gary Jones: “Later as I continued, Peter in a prank would have me do so many of my scenes but as [William] Shatner, like Captain Kirk. I went OMG! OMG! It’s like SC-TV again since I had played Kirk in the comedy show. Peter always saying it would be funny, just do it. So one day I walked up to Don Davis after his line with my best character impersonation of Captain Kirk and said ‘General Hammond we seem to have lost contact!’ We often caught Don, but he was a good about it. So the fun went on with the Captain Kirk stuff to the point where the crew and everyone would know what was coming. We all had a lot of laughs.”
Gary Jones continued: “But that was nothing compared to what they wanted to do on the very first day of shooting with Beau Bridges. I said ‘Now wait a minute, Beau is a movie star, let’s not do this’ But Peter was persistent and we went ahead with the prank with me saying ‘General Lamdry, that’s one f__king planet, you are no General O’Neill, buh, buh, buh pa buh, like yelling orders ‘this is getting a little old my man’ At which point I raised up paper sheets with the chevrons printed on them and went through them handing him one at a time and then called ‘cut’ [like a regular shoot]. Peter nodded and Beau just stood there dumbfounded looking like this [Gary makes a blank expression for the howling audience]. Beau was like staring at me like … ‘What?’ He just looks at me like I was running the show. I got up and walked over to him and said ‘Just go with it Beau, just go with it! Beau continued to look stunned when Peter came by and Beau said ‘Oh I see that’s how it was on this show.’ It was fun.”
Next Fan Questioner: “This young lady over here wants to know if you were aware that Walter was compared to Walter ‘Radar’ O’Reilly [from MASH]?”
Gary Jones: “Yes. That was like such a coincidence because way back when Richard Dean called me Walter he did not have that in mind, but then cut to like season eight when it was like his last full season, yeah season eight, he was going to be the General and said ‘ if I am going to be General, I will be on the base much more often and I want Gary to have a relationship like Radar from MASH has with the General. Where he was like helping me, appearing in doorways, that kind of stuff.’ So it turned out to be a total coincidence not originally thought out that way. So even if I was not called Walter, I would still have that ‘Radar’ like personality. It was so much fun to play that character because Stargate SG-1 was so tongue in cheek with Richard Dean’s personality being sarcastic, you know like in your face kind of cracking lines. He was like that and basically added that to our relationship experience with sayings like ‘I am going to have some fun, so wait for me!’ So that was how I got to be like Radar.”
At this point the Creation staff gestured to Gary and we knew we had only a few minutes left with this wonderful performer. Gary nodded and motioned to the next questioner in line.
Next Fan Questioner: “Did they [creators] ever just use the same symbols over and over and over again?”
Gary Jones: “No. They were quite serious about that. OMG they were so on it. When I used to see it for each show on the set, the computer displays were all different. In fact they wrote an entire other language for the show. Everything was different for each episode. It was amazing. Shaking his head and facing the fan [as if to answer question] No. They were very much on top of those exact reasons, what the fans were patriotic and wanted [unintelligible]. so no there was no way. They didn’t do that [re-use the symbols]. Another question?”
Next Fan Questioner: “Who has the puppet version of you?”
Gary Jones [sincerely]: “My wife.”
The audience howled at Gary’s perfectly timed humor, yet with proper deference and respect to his wife.
Gary Jones [continues]: “Well you know it was done for the 200 th episode by the same people that did the Team America stuff? They did all the puppets for Stargate. We shot for them in Vancouver and in locations, then voice over, and shipped it all down so I never really saw the puppets so I do not really know. I guess someone has the puppet version of me out there somewhere. Hey sorry but I guess that’s it. My god I need like two hours to catch up with you guys.”
This was in fact true as the audience had warmed to the point where perhaps a dozen or more fans were still in line at the microphone stands.
Gary Jones: “Well hey thank you all so much. Feel free to say hello if we see each other in the halls and I’ll be seeing you all tonight for the midnight cocktail buffet. Thank you, you are all awesome!”
And with that Gary Jones was whisked off the stage, signing the convention banner near his photographs and then Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman disappeared off stage to a roaring round o f applause and the theme music from Stargate SG-1!
We knew we would see him later briefly at each table of the cocktail dessert party, but it was like an old trusted friend saying good bye for now. Thanks Gary for a great convention appearance! For those who may have missed it, catch our WHR interview with Gary Jones at DragonCon 2009!