Stargate Atlantis is coming to an end on Jan. 9, and before Stargate fans blast off into the new Universe series (beginning with a two-hour movie early in 2009), TVGuide.com asked Jewel Staite to help us countdown to the end of Atlantis by telling us what it was like to play Dr. Jennifer Keller, who she bonded with most in the cast and much more.
TVGuide.com: Congrats on your Gemini Award (Canadian version of Emmys) nomination! Can you tell us about your experience filming the episode "Missing," and did you know it was special right away?
Jewel Staite: Well, I knew it was freezing cold and rainy right away! This was the first "Keller-heavy" episode we filmed, so I was excited that I finally could do some serious acting-in-peril, which is secretly every actor's fantasy. But the whole episode was shot outside in the forest, and it wasn't exactly summer time, so there were a lot of layers involved — and I mean thermal layers, not acting layers! Luckily, Rachel Luttrell (Teyla), who co-starred with me in that episode, is such a joy to work with, and she has a wickedly sarcastic sense of humor that kept me going during those long days. I'm so pleased I was nominated for that episode, but a lot of the credit goes to the director, Andy Mikita, who has such a way with actors; he just lets you run with it and trust your own instincts, and I think that's why a lot of actors in his episodes tend to shine a bit more than usual. So, thanks, Andy!
TVGuide.com: On Firefly, you played an ultra-sweet (reluctant) tomboy — what did you like most about now playing a very brainy beauty, Dr. Keller?
Staite: Dr. Keller is one of those people who really likes her comfort zone. She's calm, cool, and collected in the operating room, and she trusts herself in the situations she's used to. But she becomes a bit of a loose canon when she's taken out of that comfort zone, and no matter how capable she is at dealing with those situations, she can't help but
doubt herself. I like that juxtaposition in her.
TVGuide.com: What was one of your fondest memories on set during your time on Atlantis?
We did a lot of laughing on that set. I loved that no one took themselves too seriously. We knew what we were doing was a fun sci fi action-adventure, and we made sure we had as much fun as possible.
TVGuide.com: How has the fan response been to your character and your relationship with Rodney McKay (David Hewlett)? What direction do you want to see your character's love life turn?
Staite: I'm not sure what the entire fan response has been. The fans I've had the chance to meet have been really enthusiastic about the Keller/McKay pairing. I really enjoy working with David, and we have a tendency to gravitate towards each other on set because we have the same work ethic, and most definitely the same sense of humor! I think the writers started to pick up on our natural chemistry and decided to go that route later on in season four. Off screen, we have a more brother-sister chemistry, so all the kissing scenes were kind of painful for us, but he was kind enough to lay off the onions on those days.
TVGuide.com: Who did you bond with most in the cast?
Staite: That's a toss up between David Hewlett and Amanda Tapping (Col. Sam Carter). I think we all have a mutual respect for each other, but we love to tease each other, too. And Amanda's just one of those really likeable people. She's gracious, professional, easy-going, lovely to be around, and besides that, she's really easy to crack up. The three of us did an episode together in season four called Trio that involved us and a filthy, dusty room that was rigged to tilt and shake. It should have been a miserable week, but I've never laughed so hard. I think the crew was starting to get a little fed up with us because we ruined so many takes, but it was one of the most fun weeks I've ever had on the job.
TVGuide.com: What do you miss most about the show since the series wrapped?
Staite: The people. The crew. It's easy to get attached to people you see more than you do your own family. We spent twelve hours a day together, five days a week, at minimum, so it's hard to have that end all of a sudden. It was a great time in my life, and I'll miss those guys a lot.