People Got A Lotta Nerve by Neko Case[audio:https://wormholeriders.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/19-track-19.mp3]
Andee Frizzell is a wonderful person in her own right, but in the world of the Wraith, she’s a true Queen! In fact, she’s more than one! Andee was behind every Wraith Queen the Atlantis expedition encountered over the course of 5 years except the very last, in the episode entitled “The Queen”. I’ll let Andee explain why!
Andee was wonderful about taking questions, and she got a good variety. So, here we go!
Please Note: Though I have used quotations, this is not word for word exactly what was said, only as close as I could get by taking notes so messy and shorthanded that no one else could ever decipher them, not even Daniel Jackson! No video or audio recording is allowed at Creation conventions.
Which Wraith queen is your favorite? Andee was particularly fond of the queen from “Allies”. Why? Because she loved that beautiful traveling robe she got to wear! The shoes were to die for also, though she was forced to take them off after that prolonged walking shot in which they were featured. She also enjoyed playing up on the primal instincts of the queen from Submersion as she menaced Teyla and discovered Teyla’s pregnancy.
How did you differentiate each Queen from the others? Was there anything you did as an actress to make each one distinct as a member of their race? “I should try telling people that. ‘I played a race’. The context of how the Wraith in that specific story line was going to create or forward the story, that’s how we would create that Queen. So the Queen from “Submersion” has been trapped under water for 10,000 years, so she’s not going to chat. ‘Oh, so the food now thinks!’ No, she’s gonna, (stabs the air with the palm of her hand like a Wraith feeding and makes a kinda scary face) eat you! It’d be like if I just started talking to an apple. I made her much more primal because that was the story. And then the one with the chenille traveling dress, she’s going in and trying to say, ‘I want to be friends’, . . . “
Do you foresee your role as the Wraith Queen being used to [the poor guy was nearly stammering trying to get the question out, and Andee couldn’t seem to resist interrupting] “promote products? (Puts out a hand like she’s holding a product in a commercial) ‘Use Lipitor!’ (Laughs, then shows us a feeding hand) ‘Or I’ll kill you.’ . . . Sorry.” Andee lets the guy finish. “I was just thinking it would be really useful for intimidating small children.” “Oh my God, (shifts into to growling Wraith voice and shows us a clawed feeding hand) ‘Eat your broccoli! Clean your room!’ For sure!
“You know I was thinking more like, you could have it open up on the hair (flips her hair around), and then she turns, (puts on a scary grinning Wraith face). ‘Don’t hate me cuz I’m green’ or some kind of salon selectives. ‘I love beautiful hair’ or something like that. I could see some products coming out of that, for sure. ‘How to keep luxuriously oiled’. That was something about the prosthetics, because they wanted to have this shimmery shiny, ‘tadesquepole’ [your guess is as good as mine] reptilian glaze.If there was one product I could say, ‘I use this on set’, it would be KY. A lot of boxes of KY were used on the Stargate Atlantis set. This could be a future trivia question. Trivial Pursuit: ‘What item was most used . . .’ We went through boxes of KY. So I can say (pretends to be doing a commercial holding the KY box) ‘And I’ve used it myself!’ (and then wipes her face like it’s all over it).”
They obviously put the Wraith voices through some changes in post production, right? “(Growls like a Wraith) No. My voice does go through a synthesizer after we tape because of the teeth. The teeth over the series got smaller so they can actually fit in your mouth. You know that one with the white hair? I couldn’t even close my mouth! (Smiles with her mouth wide open to show us what it was like) It was like (mimes dripping drool) yeah yayayaya. I was like a pit bull. I was like, ‘she doesn’t need any more KY on her face, it’s all saliva!’ So when on set, (takes her voice to a crazily low octave) I can pretty much do whatever I want with this voice, (comes back to normal) but they would still have to put it through the synthesizer because it was like, ‘Eth Ferthst’[Earth First!]. I was like, ‘I fink I thaw a putty cat!’ (She grimaces and wipes off the microphone, checking to see if the MCs are watching) The next guest is going to be, (grimaces at the microphone and tries to shake it out). ‘I put some KY on the mic, here ya go!’ (pretends to hand it off, smiling) Next guest please! Yeah, so I sounded pretty much like Tweety Bird. ‘I fink I thaw a putty cat!’ So, it’s not very menacing when you’re like, (in Wraith voice) ‘Kneelth!’ So it went through the synthesizer basically to get rid of the ‘listhp’. “
What Queen did it take the longest to get ready to play? “The Pilot, because it takes five hours to get in, and it takes two hours to get out. So that’s seven hours. Then we’re usually on set for 12. Yeah. Zits. I could do acne cream! (In Wraith voice) ‘Before, and this is after,’ shiny KY face. The makeup, because there were a lot of changes happening on set – trying to create the atmosphere, the new sets, the wardrobe – everything was so new, and the excitement, I think I was in the makeup for like 21 hours in one day. To this day I still think that if I die of unnatural causes and they do an autopsy, I’m sure that in my large intestine they will find a big ball of undigested Barbie hair. Because I ate more wig during those five years of shooting. It just gets stuck, and what are you going to do? It’s KY! (Demonstrates wordlessly it getting stuck, covering her mouth and pretty much eating it. Eeew) Yeah. There’s definitely plastic Barbie hair lodged somewhere in my body.”
The teeth discussion continued as someone asked, How did you manage to eat anything while on set and in costume? Did they feed you?“(Puts on a pouty face) ‘Please sir, I want some more!’ (Then puts up the feeding hand again) Why do you think I eat people through that? The Wraith developed that [referring to the maw of the feeding hand] simply because they’re like, ‘look at these! (pointing to her teeth) What am I going to go with these?’ The teeth did come out, and a lot of stuff went through a straw. The mask over time got thinner and thinner as well as the teeth got thinner and thinner. The first one was silicone, and it was thick, so only things that were the size of a quarter could go in your mouth. So you just squish a lot of food (demonstrates sticking food into a mouth she could barely open). Like a DVD player. That’s how I ate . . . a little. On set they have a catering truck, and they have this trail mix stuff. I don’t know what’s in there. It could be prehistoric animal’s bones, but it’s full of nuts, M&M’s, Smarties, and some sort of raisin and some sort of fruit. I ate a lot of that. That went down because it was easy to shove in there. So I think a lot of my victims smell chocolate, peanuts, when I come at them.”
Do you get recognized even though you act in prosthetics? At her first convention in Oklahoma, Andee said, a man started following her around, obviously nervous about approaching her. Finally he gathered his courage and asked if he could have a picture taken with her. After that he loosened up enough just so say that he watches her show all the time, and loves her role on Battlestar Galactica! Oops!
When asked why she didn’t get to play the last Wraith queen, Andee has a theory. She stood up, showing all six feet of her height, and then exageratedly demonstrated how tall actress Rachel Luttrell is in comparison. A short Wraith queen isn’t nearly as intimidating, and Teyla would have looked much too short, so they found another shorter actress to play the rival queen.
If you could get rid of one part of the prosthetics of your costume to make it easier, what would it be? “The face. (Shrugs like, No Duh) The whole thing (indicating the entire head portion of the costume).
Someone asked Andee to tell the “Wet Wedgie” story. Apparently she’s well known for this. If you have any concerns about what’s involved here, don’t worry. It’s all good clean hilarious fun! “Well you know the episode “Submersion”. I got a call and they said, ‘can you hold your breath?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah’ ‘For a minute?’ I’m like, ‘Dude, what’s going on? You’re going to pug the nose now?’ They’re like, ‘Listen, you’ve got to get in a tank of water, and you’re going to be underneath there, and then you need to hold your breath for one minute, we’ll tap on the tank and you’re going to come up’ (acts out the Queen coming out of the water, snarling) scary-like, right? I’m like, ‘Ok, I can hold my breath for one minute, not a problem.
“So, the day of shooting, we get there, there’s a big tank, it’s three feet high so I have to get super low. I guess they wanted to conserved water so they’re like, ‘ok, you’re gonna be in this little bucket, underneath the water. So there’s a weight that’s down there just so you know where you’re mark is, cuz it’s dark and your under water and you’re wearing prosthetics. But you have to be exactly on your mark because we have a crane shot coming all the way around and down right on this spot, so right on that exact spot you have to (does the Queen coming up, snarling, again), AND you can’t come up and be like (does the Queen coming up, but gasping for breath). You have to make it look like it’s totally normal for you to be underneath there. AND you can’t be down there like ‘Blub Blub’ (uses her hand to show bubbles rising). We’ll see that, so don’t let any air out.’ (Rolls eyes) I’m like, ‘ok, I can do this, it’s all cool.’
“I don’t know if you remember the outfit. It was long, black, beautiful, with a big neck on it. I get into the pool of water and it’s like here (shows it being at mid thigh deep on her). I’m standing there wearing leather pants, the whole thing. My wig is really long and they didn’t want it to float up so they tied it to the back of my pants. [People who know where this is going are laughing, so Andee whines “Don’t wreck the story!”] I take a big breath (literally . . .then pretends to dive) Down I go. I’m down there less than half a second when all of a sudden I realize my mask is made of foam. Ever tried to put foam underneath water? Not only does it want to expel itself out of the water, it is glued to my face (Demonstrates her face being pulled by the mask by squishing her cheeks in and scrunching it). All the sudden, from my clavicle up wants to LAUNCH out of the water. So I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God,’ so I grab the weight, a 50 pound weight. I weigh 140 pounds. It starts bobbing (bobs up and down on her chair). My face wants to shoot out of the water. Then the second sensation that strikes me – remember it’s one minute. One second and this started to happen! I have 59 more seconds to go! – I had a head piece in this one, so I had the wig, and they put a great big piece of foam on the top of my head to give me a beehive. That now wants to take off out of the water. But guess what? It’s tied to my pants! Suddenly, the third sensation is of a leather pair of pants sealing itself right into the crack of my butt! For the next 57 seconds, I am doing everything in my power to keep my face, my hair, and my @$$ from not flying out of the tank, and being the only actress ever to – without cables– fly across the Stargate set. So, moral of the story? Wet Wedgies SUCK!”
Oh my God, I was in stitches and tearing up, I was laughing so hard! She pulled off quite a feat there! I mean that scene was perfect! Way to go, Andee! Does Creation know how to pick their pinch hitters, or what?
Next up, he gets dropped through air vents, thrown through space, punctured by a micro meteor, zapped by electricity, and worst of all, is forced to play second fiddle to Rodney McKay. I have nothing but sympathy and appreciation for Radek Zelenka, but David Nykl no doubt has payback in mind for Rodney! After all, he saw fit to torture fan fiction writers. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read my “Cabaret and Cocktails” post. Laugh all you want. I haven’t found any video of me on YouTube yet, and it had better stay that way!