I am so close to the end of my Death Ray archive now. This interview comes from Death Ray #20. It’s with Rachel Luttrell, who played Teyla in SG: Atlantis.
For some reason, a lot of actors insist they are shy. And while that’s probably true of some, it’s hard to equate the bubbly Rachel Lutrell with a shrinking violet. She portrays Teyla in SG: Atlantis, one of the only characters who made it all the way from season one to season five, and one of only two humans on the regular team who were actually from the Pegasus Galaxy, where the series was set. It’s all over now, though a TV movie is coming our way soon. She tells us this as she chats easily away and laughs down the phone. We’re not buying the shy line.
“It’s true!” she protests, “I don’t trust very easily and so there’s only a certain aspect of myself that I will share. But I’ve gotten to a point where I’m more comfortable talking to people that I don’t know immediately, and I enjoy that.” Well, she’s doing just fine right now. We’re not getting any kind of stand-offish vibe here. Right now, she’s feeding her young son Caden, whom she had while on the show. It’s like ringing your sister.
DR: You’ve said you empathise with Teyla because she’s an outsider – she’s human but she’s not from Earth, she’s telepathic so she doesn’t really fit in with her own kind. Do you feel like an outsider yourself?
RL: Not now, but I was born in Tanzania, and my mum is from a very small village When we first moved to Canada, yeah I certainly did feel a little like an outsider. Thankfully in this day and age coming from a bi-racial family is like: ‘So what? me too.’ But back then it was a bit more unusual. My father is from Louisiana, he grew up with a lot of racism.
DR: Talking to my mum, she says that my dad was always harassed by Tanzanian men for taking their woman, it’s so silly! But he was very welcomed over there by her family, with the exception that occassionally a small child who had not seen somebody as fair as him would run screaming, they’d think that he was a man without any skin! When I was in Louisiana there was a lot of staring and ‘You know, what’s going on there?’ But not so much any more. I don’t want to paint Louisiana as a place that’s horribly backward! But there was a feeling from a certain element there, shall I say. So, you know, I don’t feel like an outsider, but I can empathise with Teyla.
DR: Obviously Atlantis the series is over, but you just appeared in a TV movie. Do you think your role as Teyla is going to run and run and it’ll be a nice pension fund?
RL: Hahaha! Oh God! If that happens, I certainly wouldn’t say no, I mean, why would I? But I have no idea, there may be just the one movie and everything might be neatly tied up… I’m not sure what their plans are to tell you the truth, but we’ll see. I would very much like to do my own thing as well, but if there does end up being more movies I would love to do them, because I adore Teyla.
DR: Were you a big SF fan before this?
RL: Yes, yes, yes! I love it. My family and I will always be the first in line for big blockbuster science fiction action. My father instilled that in us way back. He’s a big fan, and he just devours science fiction novels, and I’m that kind of a person now too. I couldn’t wait to see the new Star Trek movie.
DR: Would you like to do a Stargate movie like that?
RL: Oh please! That would be fantastic! And I think the fans would love it. In a way I think it’s a missed opportunity that they haven’t done it. And I think if they don’t do it, then in twenty years, someone else will.
DR: How was it when the show ended?
RL: It was a mixed bag, but it was sad. I think none of us were really expecting season five to be the last season, we were all anticipating that it wouldn’t have gone beyond six, but for it to all of a sudden come to an end like that, I was quite saddened by it.
DR: Do you know that that was going to be it then when you were filming that last scene?
RL: Filming the last episode we all knew. We had all been told about a month before. Maybe I’m exaggerating, maybe it was just three weeks, but we all knew that, okay this is going to be my last scene. we were all so keenly aware of it. And when it came time for my last scene I was so scared that I was going to lose it that I was just kind of steely , until they announced: ‘Alright, this is a series wrap’ and then oh, I just wept, and everybody was hugging everybody. It was very emotional, it was a big deal, a huge, huge part of our lives.
DR: Everything comes to an end eventually.
RL: Yeah, but do you know what? Change is a good thing.