CAM-ALOT A CHARACTER - Ben Browder Talks About Stargate:SG1

from EclipseMagazine

by M R Reed 11/21/2005

The hit Scifi Channel series, Stargate: SG-1 has recently been renewed for a tenth season, making it the longest running scifi series in North American television history. Ben Browder, the talented actor who plays Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell the newest leader of SG-1, was nice enough to take a few moments out of his much deserved down time to talk to Eclipse Magazine about his first ‘journey’ as a member of the cast of Stargate: SG-1 and what it was like to join the long running, highly successful scifi series.

EM: Did you have any reservations about joining an established show like Stargate: SG-1? What concerned you the most: coming in as the ‘new guy’ or knowing that you were going to be following in the footsteps of Richard Dean Anderson and his character of Jack O’Neill?

BB: Anytime you join an existing group/company there will be the usual reservations... will this work?... will you fit in?... ect... Doing this in front of a few million Stargate fans would be a very daunting proposition if you stopped to think about it. Luckily I don't think too much about such things and fall headlong into the abyss... I believe in the credo "Fail gloriously and fail with a swagger in your step!"

EM: Having now completed filming season nine, was the experience anything like you expected it to be going in?

BB: Well... my expectations were limited by my own ignorance... aside from any expectations I can say I had a fantastic time with everyone in Vancouver. The SG folks are a very tight family and a heckof a lot of fun to hang out with.

EM: What do you think your biggest challenge was? How did you overcome it to make the most of your character and your place on the show?

BB: The biggest challenge, after figuring out how to navigate SG command sets without getting totally lost, was to figure out which way the current was running and swim with all the other fishes. Every set has its own kind of flow and rhythm... learning to swim with the flow is essential. In fact... it’s something I'm still learning.

EM: How did you work with the writers to flesh out your character and what did you bring to the table that you felt was important to add to the character’s personality?

BB: Like all actors... sometimes I have my own ideas... some of these I would run by the writers, some I kept to myself. At the end of the day... the "story is king" and you service what is on the page to the best of your abilities (some might say limited abilities). But any character is a collaborative construct... whenever I have an idea, I try to remain receptive to what the writers, directors, other cast members, ect... have in mind.

EM: What aspects of the character you were hired to play have changed or evolved for you as the episodes progressed? How different is Cameron Mitchell now from when he began?

BB: I've pretty much given up publicly describing the characters I play... They exist as a function of the story and the audience perspective... anything I say just gets in the way.

EM: The producers and the other actors on the show have remarked that you really throw yourself into doing the stunt work. Is this something you feel is important to the presentation of your character and why?

BB: It’s probably not that important... but its fun! Plus you can achieve certain shots that you would otherwise not get in TV. In film, where there is much more time and money, you can fake the things we do for "real"... The trick is knowing when to step aside and let the stunt guys do their thing... there are a number of stunts that there is no call for me to be doing. However when it makes sense for me to be in the shot, I hope it’s a value added kind of thing.

EM: Was there anything done with your character or a direction that you really enjoyed

BB: I loved the boy stuff... fights, uniforms, getting knocked down... and I like how Mitchell lets his hair down when he's off the base.

EM: What was the one thing that you felt might not go over well or you had reservations about?

BB: I'm an eternal optimist... reservations are for when you need to hedge your bets.

EM: There were some portions of Stargate fandom that felt Mitchell was not brought to the forefront as strongly as he could have been. They felt that he was too laid back in the introduction. As the actor behind the character, what are your thoughts on this and do you agree or disagree.

BB: Too laid back?... suppose its worth thinking about.... Nah, can't be bothered.

EM: There was some mentions on the internet that the gate room showdown between Kahlek was suppose to be done with Mitchell firing the kill shot, but that you felt this should be done by Daniel Jackson. That you gave this part of the scene to Michael Shanks. Is this true and if so, what made you feel this was a better way for the scene to be played out?

BB: That was the writer's idea as far as I know or remember... certainly makes sense in regards to Jackson's position on Khalek.

EM: What has been your favorite episode in the first half of the season?

BB: I like Avalon pt 2.... Burnings.... Swords... lots of Vala/Jackson... and Dr. Lee!

EM: What episode upcoming in the second half would you like fans to keep an eye out for and why?

BB: Camelot... though I have yet to see even a cut of it... but the movie had some nice songs. "It’s sure there's simply not, a more congenial spot, for happy ever afterings than here... in... Cam... o... lot!" I just realized I mostly like the episode cause it's titled after Cam Mitchell.

EM: Now that the series is going into a tenth season, do you have any plans to write an episode? If so, would it be something about Cameron Mitchell that might give us more back story or would you rather write a more team focused episode if possible?

BB: The show is going to season ten. I have not been invited to invade the writing sanctuary and would be loathe to inviting myself to their party. If I did write for SG-1, I'd lean towards a team episode with a contained, non arc, plot.

EM: Can you share your take on how you view your interaction and that of Cameron Mitchell’s interaction with the other actors/characters on the series.

BB: Maybe next time... besides there's only so much gushing that should be allowed in any one interview.

EM: There have been Stargate/Farscape character comparisons made by some of the fans of both shows. What is the one thing you would like to say in response to these comparisions?

BB: I’ts a little like apples and potatoes... they're both roundish, but are they both fruit? I don't know... they taste different to me.

EM: Given that, what is the one thing you think sets Cameron Mitchell apart from John Crichton?

BB: Mitchell is a couple of years older than Crichton and the Air Force won't let him grow sideburns.

EM: Tell us a little bit about Ben Browder when he’s away from the production studios. Do you hang out with any of the other members of the cast (been to one of CJ’s infamous poker or karaoke parties).

BB: I can't hang with Judge at ANY party. I don't have that kind of energy... that man will have engraved on his tombstone "This Man LIVED!" After work I go home and collapse with a script on my face... so there is little hanging out with the cast. We pretty much do that five days a week, 12 hours a day.

EM: How do you relax away from filming?

BB: I go home, try to stay there, and sleep. Its kinda like the whole mature wisdom thing... it would be mature and wise to rest up and prepare for the big work week ahead... but what appears to be mature wisdom is actually just being tired.

EM: Thanks, Ben.

Viewers can catch Ben Browder as Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell on Stargate: SG-1 Friday nights at 8PM (EST) on The Scifi Channel, which is currently airing repeats of the first half of season nine. New episodes of season nine are scheduled for start-up on January 6th, 2006. Season ten begins filming in February of 2006.