“It’s Stargate on steroids.”
That’s how Christopher Judge, who plays the muscle-bound warrior Teal’c on the long-running series Stargate SG-1, describes the new direct-to-DVD film The Ark of Truth.
The steroids bit comes from the fact that since the production company wasn’t limited with a single-episode budget, and they could make a bigger film. “I just didn’t think it could be done,” Judge admitted. “I thought it was ludicrous, and I made sure that that was known.”
Even though the filmmakers were given more leeway with the feature-length film, they were still operating with limited resources. Even though they were able to shoot on 35mm film rather than the show’s HiDef video format for a more cinematic look, the slim 15-day shooting schedule was tight. Still, the movie was done on time.
“In true Stargate fashion, Brad [Wright] and Rob [Cooper] showed that they are smarter than I am, and that’s why they’re the boss,” Judge explained with a laugh.
The Ark of Truth ties up many of the loose ends that were left unraveled at the end of season ten of Stargate SG-1. It serves as the conclusion for the Ori story arc, and there are plenty of familiar faces (some good and some bad) and the return of some familiar enemies. Still, the movie also serves as a lead-in to the upcoming saga to be told on DVD, starting with Stargate: Continuum, a time travel adventure to hit the streets later this summer.
In the mean time, you might see some familiar faces popping up in the Pegasus galaxy, where Judge made a cross-over appearance in the spin-off series Stargate: Atlantis. In the episode, he was paired up with Jason Momoa, who plays the Teal’c-ish character of Ronon Dex. Of course, after spending ten years on his own series, and looking at the show as an older man, Judge had his reservations.
“I was afraid. Yes, I was. I was scared,” Judge said with a belly laugh. “That kid is a lot younger than me. That kid is younger, better looking, bigger and faster than I am.”
Of course, fans of the show would be happy to know that this episode came as a result of them asking the basic question, “If Teal’c and Ronon had a fight, who’d win?”
Judge explained, “This is the level of relevance that our producers and writers have for our fans. That episode came from that. That’s why that episode was done because that was something that the fans wanted to see.”
Ultimately, Judge is not at all like his on-screen persona. Where Teal’c is stoic, quiet and barely cracks a smile, Judge is a playful, exuberant character. He’s one of the driving forces behind the show’s light-hearted feel. When asked who is the first to crack up on set, Judge said without hesitation, “Oh, it would be me.”
Judge is full of stories from behind the stargate. The subjects range from his battle with the hair on his head (which started when he auditioned with long hair that he had cut right before his call-back), to his facial hair (he flirted with a bleach-blond soul patch in season four, only to shave it off after a producer showed him how ridiculous he looked), to refusing to shoot in the Arctic for fear of being confused with a seal by a hungry polar bear, to being terrified of wolverine attacks during the filming of The Ark of Truth (he said, “They told me, ‘We’d like to say you’ll be 100% safe.’ And I said, ‘You’d like to say that, but you can’t.’”)
Judge and the rest of the cast is looking forward to a fruitful life on DVD with the upcoming films. It is, as Judge pointed out, the original plan for the series. “The original plan for Stargate was to do five years, and then start doing movies,” Judge explained. “Truly from day one was in the grand scheme of things that Stargate was ultimately going to go back to the movie format.”
Stargate: The Ark of Truth hits shelves on DVD tomorrow, March 11th.