STARGATE MAR/APR

For season nine, Claudia Black redily reprized her role as the fiesty - and occasionally fickle - Vala Maldoran.


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"She will lie and steal and do whatever, but she has a moral compass."

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I got a test drive. I had received a couple of enquiries about my availability for Stargate SG-1 guest roles over the years, and obviously I was busy doing other things, and finally they asked at a time when I could fit it in.

I got on a plane with a couple of days notice and did Prometheus Unbound. It was a small, self-contained story, and it read like a little bottle show. It felt achievable that I could come over even though I'd be incredibly jet-lagged and do the scenes with one actor. So I had a very gentle, warm introduction to it, and it was very different to what I had been playing full time with Aeryn [Sun]. It was nice to explore some of the comedic story rather than always being at the center of the dramatic arc. And so it was a very refreshing experience for me.

"I knew that they had expressed all along that they would love to have me full time if it was possible somehow. And the opportunity came

up to just have me do at least a six-episode arc. It's fantastic that the show has been going so long. I remember one of the producers said to me on the phone before I accepted the gig,

'You don't get a show running for nine years unless it's a happy show'. So I knew that it would be a pleasant experience, and that always helps performance-wise. For both Ben [Browder] and myself, having been with Farscape from the very beginning, we were part of developing the tone of the show, which has teething problems. So it was just an interesting experience, to come and see something that is such a well-oiled machine. It's been going for long enough that it knows what it is.

"She runs the risk of being a one-trick pony if not integral. Fortunately, she was driving the story forward to a great extent. As we started to get into the more macabre elements, such as when she's burnt [in Avalon], I was actually very impressed. I really didn't think they would go that far with it. I know that that would have been disturbing, because it is an early time slot and it's got a big family audience. So in terms of the story telling I was very impressed that they took that risk and they took it that far, because it's rare to be surprised in television these days. So that's when I started to feel as if I was edging more into the Aeryn territory, when things were getting a bit more tragic and serious. But it's a welcome texture and shade to her as well, and I think it's important for Vala to have those layers and levels of complexity. I think that she operates in a very childish way, In a superficial level. But she's had to survive a lot. Rob [Cooper] and I have talked about this. She has been damaged. A good liar always keeps as close to the truth as possible, so I would say a lot of the time when she is talking about what's happened to her, most of it is true. She will lie and steal and do whatever, but she has a moral compass."

 


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