TV GUIDE FEB 27 - MAR 5, 2006

by Ileane Rudolph

Out of the blue, Claudia Black's vixen Vala returns to Stargate SG-1 - with child

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Claudia Black had a secret, and she didn't know how her bosses would react. Earlier this season, the Australian actress burst onto Stargate SG-l a saucy intergalactic thief Vala, a bodacious babe who immediately clicked with viewers. The former Farscape siren vamped it up while series regular Amanda Tapping was on maternity leave tending to her infant daughter. But then Black herself announced, "I'm pregnant."

"I was so worried the producers were going to be disappointed," says Black, who hoped to return for more episodes. As it turned out, Blackís pregnancy couldn't have come at a better time. Executive producer Robert Cooper told her he'd been toying with the idea of bringing Vala back this winter, and using pregnancy as a way of creating a new villain.

Black, who gave birth to a son in December, "adds a new dynamic to Stargate," Cooper says. "As an alien outsider, she creates a different chemistry among the team." Most notably: the Tracy-Hepburn banter-fueled relationship between Vala and scientist Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks). "1 don't think the teasing will ever stop," Black says. "He's such an easy target."

The actress, who'll be joining her former Farscape love interest Ben Browder as a regular on SG-1. next season, says it's fun to play the "naughty inner child" for a change. "Vala's grating, frustrating, irritating, but she's equally delightful. On Farscape, I was the tragedienne. Here I'm the comedian."

But comedy's in short supply in this week's episode, which finds Vala trapped in a village run by religious fanatics. When a recently celibate Vala learns she's mystifyingly with child, she marries a kindly local man (Tim Guinee) after fooling him into believing he's the baby's father.

"It's an interesting turn for Vala- she genuinely cares for the man," Black says. "She does something wrong, but she must in order to survive. Kind of like Jessica Rabbit Iím not bad, I'm just born that way."

Q&A: Ben Browder

You and Claudia Black had a sizzling affair on Farscape. How does it feel to see her hooking up with another guy on SG-1? Iím just happy to have her around. She's a fantastic actress and a good friend.

What's most fun about playing science-fiction heroes like Stargate's Cameron Mitchell? The physical stuff: getting blown up, shot at, falling down and kissing the alien girl.

Your SG-.1 colleagues call you enthusiastic. Being dark and broody is kind of passť. It's always easy to find the negative. I love getting out of bed and going to work.

As a kid, did you want to work for NASA? Yeah! I wanted to be an astronaut.

What got in the way of your dream? I got sidetracked. Theater girls were really cool.

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