It's taken four years, but on Friday, July 28, at 9 pm/ET, the crew of Sci Fi Channel's Stargate SG-1 visits their Atlantis brethren for a crossover episode all about what else? saving the galaxy. SG-1's comely scientific genius, Lt. Col. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), and Atlantis' annoyingly brilliant Dr. Rodney McKay (David Hewlett) must destroy the Ori's Supergate or they'll all be prostrating before false gods before they can say, "O'Neill, help!" We talked to Tapping and Hewlett, combatively acerbic buddies in real life, about the shows and their roles.
TV Guide: What's special about doing a crossover episode with the Stargate casts?
David Hewlett, Atlantis: I get an "A" after my number on the call sheet. I become 3A.
Amanda Tapping, SG-1: Unless we're on his show, then I'm 2A. On our call sheet, Ben [Browder] is No. 1, I'm 2, and Christopher [Judge] is 3, and on David's call sheet , he's 3, but when he comes to our set, he gets to be 3A. That's pretty much it for doing a crossover.
Hewlett: That's all we talked about the entire time.
Tapping: The interesting thing is that obviously David and my character mirror each other on our individual shows, and Ben and Joe [Flanigan]'s characters mirror each other. So it's sort of interesting to see who is better which is generally us! But really, it's a fun opportunity for the casts to play together because we never get to do that. We barely see each other even though we shoot on lots next door to each other.
Hewlett: It was nice to welcome them to Atlantis.
Tapping: They have a really nice set. It's always nice to go to a clean, new set!
Hewlett: I did a little dusting before they showed up.
TV Guide: Sorry Amanda, but Atlantis does have a really cool set. Great colors.
Tapping: I agree, I agree. It's much prettier.
Hewlett: C'mon! SG-1 has those long, dark corridors! You can't beat that kind of tubing.
Tapping: The hallowed gray tubing of SG-1.
Hewlett: And all those warning stickers. Those always get me.
TV Guide: Who is the biggest troublemaker when you all get together?
Tapping: Normally it would have been Christopher, who's the biggest practical joker, but he didn't get to come and play this time.
Hewlett: There is a theory that Chris Judge and I are the same person, because we're never seen on the same show together at the same time. Whenever I come to SG-1, he's always "stuck in a gate" somewhere. And when they all came to Atlantis, he was on another planet.
Tapping: I'm sitting in this room now and David's here, but Chris isn't! That begs the question....
Hewlett: I'm not at liberty to divulge any more secrets.
TV Guide: It sounds fun to do crossovers, but is it challenging?
Tapping: You get nervous walking onto another show's set.
Hewlett: I get nervous because I feel like you guys know what you're doing. We're just starting.
Tapping: We feel like we're the old farts who come on to the new show and make it dull and boring.
Hewlett: But you're younger and better-looking than all of us.
Tapping: We are.
Hewlett: Money can do that. We do face another challenge in that we both talk very quickly and use technologically complex language.
Tapping: And we're both very verbose, so get the two of us in a room together and no good can come of it. The rest of the cast yawns and sits back. "Oh, David and Amanda are about to speak...."
TV Guide: How hard is technobabble to spit out? Do you have to understand it?
Tapping: I think it's in your best interest to know what you're talking about. It would be easy to spout these big multisyllabic words and look somewhat convincing, but for my own edification, I study what I'm talking about.
TV Guide: Do you mean it's real science?
Tapping: It's based in real science that's the beauty of it and a lot of science fiction is fast becoming science fact. Our fans are the first to step forward and say, "You explained this wrong because in fact, if you did do it this way, you would blow up the sun." [Laughs]
Hewlett: Luckily our writers know this stuff. They have meetings where they go, "Wr-o-o-o-n-g ! You can't do that." They try to outgeek each other.
TV Guide: Is it special playing against each other, both as Carter and McKay and as actors?
Tapping: From Day 1, when David first appeared on SG-1 [during Season 7], there was an instant connection between the two of us as people and as actors.
Hewlett: We have the same kind of humor. It usually involves insults and sarcasm.
Taping: So we hit it off right away. [Both crack up]
TV Guide: During your last crossover, McKay undressed Carter at least in his mind. Any more of that sort of thing this time around?
Hewlett: I wish!
Tapping: He does refer to it, though, and it's a very funny moment.
Hewlett: I find myself thanking Carter for something she knows nothing about. In trying to explain it, I say, "There you were...."
Tapping: "... quite nude."
TV Guide: So you keep your clothes on, Amanda?
Tapping: It's hard to keep your clothes on around David Hewlett, but I do.
TVGuide.com: In this crossover, what crisis are your characters involved in?
Hewlett: It's kind of a humbling experience for both of us because we're reliant on each other to solve a problem that's bigger than what either one of us can solve.
Tapping: We have to combine our brain power and we kind of mess it up, so SG-1 has to come up with a new plan to destroy the Ori and the Supergate.
TV Guide: So that their fleet of ships can come through?
Tapping: Right. But we need Atlantis' help. We need their zero-point module... and we need McKay.
Hewlett: Which, of course, makes McKay's day. In fact it makes McKay's life.
Tapping: There's a crossover of our enemies, too the Ori and the Wraith. We talk about them, which is the best and least expensive way to do it. "Look, out that window there! There's the Ori!"
TV Guide: Say something about each other's character
Tapping: Wow, that's hard. McKay is brilliant, arrogant, nihilistic, narcissistic, annoying and, as a result, just a tiny little bit sexy. I'm just throwing that last part out there. I never, ever thought that, but I just thought it would be fun to throw that out there.
Hewlett: I've never heard "tiny" and "sexy" used together in a flattering way. That's me tiny and sexy. As for Sam, she has this fantastic combination of street smarts and brilliance, this great ability to take control of situations. And looks never hurt.
Tapping: They're very similar but very different, and in a way that they compliment each other really well. Sometimes I think Carter is a little too competent; she needs somebody to knock her down and force her to reevaluate and question herself.
TV Guide: McKay seems to have the hots for Sam, doesn't he?
Hewlett: Damn right! Who the hell doesn't?
[Tapping has to leave for a bit.]
TV Guide: What's coming up for McKay in future episodes?
Hewlett: This [crossover] actually leads to another collaboration later on, with Carter coming back to Atlantis. It's kind of exciting. Now that she's out of the room, I'll say that Amanda is my favorite person to work with in this entire Stargate universe. It's so much fun because you never know what's going to happen in a good way. That's the highest compliment I can pay an actor.
TV Guide: Can you give us a hint about the next crossover?
Hewlett: Sam is responsible for introducing another McKay into the Stargate universe.
TV Guide: Another McKay, or another scientist like him?
Hewlett: I'm not sure what I'm allowed to tell you.... Amanda brings McKay's sister into the fold, who's actually played by my real sister [Kate Hewlett]. What's funny is that the poor woman had just finished playing my sister in my debut directorial film that I did in January, so she has spent all of 2006 thus far playing my sister in various ways, shapes and forms.
TV Guide: What does McKay's sister do?
Hewlett: She was a scientist, but she's now a housewife with kids, and she suddenly finds herself solving one of the biggest problems that McKay's been trying to solve for years. This season, for me, is about McKay having to deal with himself. It's great.
TV Guide: I hear you hired half the cast of both Stargates for your film?
Hewlett: If Stargate is the giant shark swimming through the water, we're like the little fish picking the stuff off its teeth. We got this fantastic crew, made up mainly of SG-1 people and a few from Atlantis. Cast-wise, we've got Christopher Judge, Rachel Luttrell, Paul McGillion, and Kate, of course. It's a small little insane comedy.
[Hewlett says goodbye to us as Tapping returns.]
TV Guide: Amanda, what kind of trouble will Sam get into after this crossover?
Tapping: The funniest thing coming up is the 200th [episode]. It's the most fun I've had filming on this show. We just laughed our heads off. But for my character specifically, we're doing a story where I get shot, and through my "dying," I have to try to fix a situation by explaining it to Michael.
TV Guide: Who shoots you?
Tapping: I don't know if I'm going to reveal that. But it's bad. And apparently there's an episode coming up where Carter ends up on her own in an alternate universe and proceeds to change the course of things in that universe.
TV Guide: Do you get to wear anything different? Say, sexy?
Tapping: I hope so. Maybe the alternative universe has me in Manolo Blahniks and a swishy little skirt. That would be sweet.
TV Guide: How was it having Richard Dean Anderson back for the 200th?
Tapping: It's great to have him back. It feels like the old show, with, you know, that sense of humor, that snarky, wry wit. He did the 200th and then another episode, and three of Atlantis.
TV Guide: What's happens on his other Stargate episode?
Tapping: Something happens to Daniel. That's all I can tell you. Otherwise, I'd have to shoot you.
Send your comments on this Q&A to email@example.com.