Two Wraith paid a visit to Chicago at the Creation Stargate Convention . . . and they came hungry! Actors Andee Frizzell and Christopher Heyerdahl came to the Windy City for the first time this year, and received a very warm reception!
Let me tell you right now that Andee is very talkative, a fact that she readily admits! I first saw her in Vancouver in 2009, and she had everyone rolling on the floor with her hilarious stories from both on and off the Atlantis set! Christopher, however, took a little while to warm up. I have said before I have not always appreciated how Creation will sometimes pair actors on the stage to get more guests in on a given day. Because Andee is so very forward and chatty and Christopher is not, Christopher kind of got run over. It was hard to feel like we really got to meet him. Reading this, it may seem pretty balanced to you, but that’s just because I couldn’t always keep up with Andee as I was taking notes!
Christopher got is first words in, saying to Andee, “You told me while we were in that back that you are quite shy.” Wow. Andee? Shy? Pfft!
Andee immediately launched into a commentary on how she and Christopher took the same plane to Chicago but didn’t notice each other! “The stewardess was like, ‘Did you see that hot guy in the front?’ I’m like ‘What guy? Give me a blanket! Here’s $35!'” Chris was equally confused about how he missed Andee, so Andee joked that she dresses as an old maid to fly incognito. Chris said, “Oh you were the old man!”
Andee then claimed that her sweater top was a turtle neck before Steve Basic saw her. Isn’t it great how they all know and make fun of each other?
Soon Andee and Chris were commenting about their pictures on the banners, and Andee told us that early in her career she realized that no one was ever going to come up to her and say, “I thought you’d be bigger!” Look at them! They’re so tall!
Andee was definitely trying to back off and give Chris a chance to talk, something we all appreciated. She asked him if he had any good stories from the show. “I remember um . . . Who’s not here? Jason Momoa! I think it was one of the first times we actually did a scene together. You know that gun he’s always flipping around? He’s very fidgety. He really wanted to make his big stand with Todd that day. He had his gun out, and the really big part of the scene was when we pulled out his gun, but it was at the beginning of the scene. So he comes out and he’s got his gun out like this, he’s looking at me, staring at me, eyeballing me, he’s really trying to stare me down. Of course we can stare down anybody because we have contact lenses in. Our eyes never get dry. You could close them and still look like you have your eyes open. He’s standing there with his gun out and he’s staring at me, and staring at me . . . and of course we had to do it take after take after take. You see his hand slowly . . .” Chris showed us how Jason’s gun hand started drooping! “So in the scene I actually go,” Chris reached out and pushed Jason’s hand back up into position! Apparently Jason complained, “This gun is so heavy, man!” He even asked the director if he could switch hands! “He’s such a whimp!” Chris laughed.
Andee said, “You only said that cuz he’s not here!”
“No I’d say it if he was here.”
“And then I’d get to see some man wrestling!”
Apparently Andee was denied at the airport, a statement that received a collective gasp from the audience! “I was like, ‘Do you know that in some other space and time I could kill you with my hand? I’m going to go away for 5 hours and when I get back, you’re in trouble, because my hand-gina will be in place then.'” Yep. Andee calls the sucker on the Wraith’s feeding hand a “hand-gina”! It turns out her passport expired! Not only did the guy examining her passport tell her that she wasn’t going anywhere, he ripped her passport in half! So what did Andee do? She started to fake cry! But it didn’t work! She went to the Canadian passport office, “Because they’re nice in Canada. You know, I don’t think it’s Aaericans, I think it’s the American boarder. When you’re born they’re like, ‘Are you evil? You have to work at the boarder!’ But not Americans in general! It’s just the people at the boarder!”
Chris said, “I always have trouble getting home.”
“Oh I know! It’s like, what? Everything we want is out of this country! We’re not smuggling c%@& back in! We’ve got everything we want!” Long story short, Andee got herself a super express passport and was on her way without missing her flight!
Andee mused aloud about the prop auctions that have been going on since the end of Stargate Atlantis. “No one wanted to come near me during season one because of all that KY we used to shine ourselves up. I wonder what they got for all those boxes of KY?”
Chris said, “I think it was only Andee who was actually covered in KY. Nobody had the heart to tell her that it was just her! I guess the makeup guys, the really wanted to . . . .”
Soon Andee and Chris were comparing Wraith costumes, going through the things that Andee had to deal with early on in the series before the costuming improved, and the things that Chris was lucky enough to miss! Andee had to wear great big gloves for the pilot. Between the latex material they were made of and the sweat that inevitably was left in them, they smelled really really bad. According to Andee the smell alone could kill someone! Chris was familiar with the gloves and he said he was afraid of them.
After remarking that these were historic facts and in 2035 it would be part of some old TV show trivia game, Andee said, “Can you believe I’m sober?” Actually Andee, I can!
Chris and Andee finally realized that they should probably take some questions. If you thought things where silly before, you ain’t seen nothing yet! They had an interesting way of approaching questions, but it failed. They decided to try having Chris go behind the stage curtain and answer the questions while Andee acted it out! The result was that Chris decided to stick his head through the curtain, and go up and down! He effectively looked like a disembodied head! Everyone thought it was so funny that no one asked any questions! Even Andee was laughing, saying, “I’ve just been upstaged by a head!”
Then Chris started running back and forth from mic to mic at the side of the stage while fans ask questions, but a couple of fans were a bit intimidated! Let’s face it, between how tall he is and the roles he’s played, ie. Todd the Wraith and Jack the Ripper, it’s a little hard not to be intimidated when he’s standing right next to you! Finally Chris sat back down and questions began in earnest.
The first question was for Chris (queue Andee pouting). He was asked about the difference in personality between Holling and Todd. After Andee made fun because she thought the fan had said “hung” not “Holling” . . . . Chris answered that Holling didn’t get to develop much and so he never really had a chance. They had actually asked him to return and play the role more often than he did, but he couldn’t because of a project he was filming all the way over in Montreal. Chris revealed that there was an instance where he was asked to come back and play Todd, but because of his project in Montreal he couldn’t come. “So they just asked some other guy and put a mask on him and away they went!” Obviously it was a small part or we would have noticed . . . right?
Chris asked us what role of his we like best, and there was a smattering of “Druitt” and Todd being shouted in answer.
Both Andee and Chris have had roles on Supernatural, so a fan asked them about their parts. Andee was asked about her non-speaking part, which is when she revealed that she did in fact have lines. They were cut! I have not seen it, but apparently Andee did a lot of moaning and groaning. While Chris picked on Andee for this, Andee took a jab at Joe Flanigan. “He didn’t like to get down on his knees without knee pads.” Going back to Supernatural, Andee said she auditioned for a role as a police officer. They had already picked a much older woman to play the – dying woman? ghost? – that Andee eventually played, and poor Andee didn’t even know why they gave her that role instead of the police woman! But then the police officer apparently got cut from the episode all together, so maybe it was fate?
Oh but it gets funnier! Andee’s mom wanted to watch the episode! Andee told her when the episode would air, she recorded it, and then got all her friends together to watch it! She called Andee afterward and said, “We all sat around and I can’t believe that in the whole thing all we saw was your ankles.” Andee checked what the episode was, and she had given her mom the wrong date. “It was an episode where a chick drops her towel and all you see is her ankles and she runs up the stairs, and my mom told everyone it was me. How did that audition look? I don’t want to know!”
Chris’ Supernatural question had to do with the voice he used for Alastair. The fan asking was curious about how well it worked to have the voice carry from one actor to another because Chris took on a role previously played by another actor. “I went into the audition and did the song and dance the way I wanted to do it, and was hired. I didn’t know that Mark Rolston had played the character before, and he’s a very strong actor, so I took a peak at what had come before. When I saw the episode, he did this voice at times, just occasionally this thing would come out, and I started to jump up and down like a happy kid at Christmas.”
Unable to resist this one, Andee said, “Show me. I don’t believe you.”
So . . . he did! Just picture a 6 foot four inch grown man jumping up and down on a stage going “Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!” That was Chris!
Andee said quietly, “I believe you. Continue.”
After seen the episode, Chris decided to bring some of the previous actor’s influence into his portrayal. “I was obviously quite excited by his performance, and so it was as if the soul, the essence, whether it has a meat to it or not is irrelevant, that would be the element that would be brought in.”
Chris’s next question was very hard to hear, but Andee’s rephrasing was very clear. “What experiences do you draw your evil from?”
Chris answered sincerely, with assistance from Andee, “I spent the first 18 years of my life-“
” – In a penitentiary.”
Andee was pleased with herself. “I guessed it! It’s the way you walk.”
Chris explained that the evil characters are so much fun to play. “Alistair, he gets to do whatever he wants. He runs the torture chamber down in hell. I think he get’s to express his creativity everyday when he goes to work. He goes to work with a big smile on his face! With those kinds of characters it’s just fun. I think that everyone who wants to be a little bit naughty and maybe just a tiny bit nice, when you get to do that and get paid for it and have people respond to it. I loved Alistair. You saw the dance. It was like getting a birthday gift.”
After Chris teased Andee about her French tipped toes, asking if she painted them while she was waiting for her passport, Andee was asked what actor or actress she would like to work with in the future. “I guess Philip Seymour Hoffman. I think he’s just insanely awesome. And Cate Blanchett because she’s hot. I mean how old is she? She is so gorgeous and so talented. Those are the two I can think of off the top, but later I’ll be like, ‘Oh I should’ve said . . . !'”
Chris answered the same question. “Tilda Swinton. You guys know Tilda Swinton?” Some fans gave a shout that they did. “She’s one of the most talented actresses out there. She’s amazing. And Ian McKellen is someone I’ve always wanted to work with. Sir Ian McKellen! My wife and I are going away for a dirty weekend in September . . . “
Andee interrupted, “Did you say ‘dirty’?”
“Yeah.” Andee looked at us like, ‘What’s that?!” but Chris went on, “I was booking the hotel, and they give you a choice when you sign up to book your hotel, the title you would like to be referred to as. Well, um, I chose ‘Sir’. First of all I chose ‘Lady’ but then I thought, ‘Naw, they might not take me seriously. Maybe they might actually think, ‘Oh my gosh, he is a Sir!'”
The fan asking the next question just did not speak into the mic at all, so maybe someone who actually heard her can explain to me why Chris started speaking in a very odd, high, and nasal voice and referring to himself in the third person, saying, “Um, no. Chris is so . . . so . . . . particular. I’m not. He’s tall. I’m not. He has a body. And I don’t.” I am very confused!
Chris was asked which one of his roles what the most memorable to him. Chris said, “I always go back to H.P. Lovecraft. He’s the most amazing dude that I’ve ever played. Ever. Very prolific. Most of the things he wrote were letters. He’s amazing, so when I played him he came inside me like no other character. I felt possessed by Lovecraft. As far as make-believe characters, Druitt I think is up there.”
This was a crazy question, but the answers were worth it! A fan noted how Chris and Andee make a lovely couple, and said, “If your Wraith characters were to have a wedding, who would you invite?” The question quickly boiled down to, “Who would we want to eat?” Andee said, “I would bring food. And food. And food. And that would be just about it. Lots of food.”
Chris said, “But who would we have as food?”
“I’m thinking. Who would be more filling? Because it’s life, the life-force. We need a big life.”
“McKay because we would shut him up!”
“That’s ‘big mouth’, not ‘big life’.”
A fan shouted, “You’d get indigestion!”
Chris said, “Michael Shanks! Because he just seemed to get bigger and bigger as the years went on!” Pointing to one of the pictures of Michael, Chris said, “Look at the pipes on him!” Excuse me Todd, but you’ll have to go through me to get to Daniel . . . and I have a rubber band gun!
Finally the question I was waiting for came up for both Andee and Chris: What’s the makeup process like? Chris answered first. “Certainly on Atlantis we had to come in very early in the morning, usually 4:00. The crew are quite an interesting bunch of folks. They’ve grown up on sets with blood and guts and zombies, so they’re really fun-loving folks. Strangely enough they are! So it’s a long process, but to be around people that are just so full of life, strangely enough again! We like zombies! They’re so much fun, and that really helps because if you were around people that didn’t seem to have a lot of fun in their job, it would be a real bummer to come in at 3:30 in the morning and to sit there for 4 hours and then to be poked and prodded for the next 12 and then have the stuff scrapped off your face at the end of the day and off you go home. So I think it’s all about the company that you keep.”
Chris then commented on his inability to recognize Andee, and vice versa because they never worked together, and any time they did, they were both in prosthetic faces! Chris said, “Todd was queenless. Though he had Ronin, it’s true. He’s such a sexy queen! But that’s right, Teyla is his queen, and he kind of felt respect for Teyla.”
After the five minute warning, a fan asks how Andee manages to be so very scary as the Wraith Queen when she isn’t the least bit scary in real life. Andee looked at him and said, “You don’t find this scary? Most people do! It’s because the room has exits, that’s why you don’t find this energy scary. Um, I am sometimes quiet. Maybe it’s the weighing down with the silicon mask face that made me . . . but that’s what acting is, right? Being something that maybe you’re not in real life. Quiet, mean, evil. I acted that quiet part out. I went to school to learn how to do that! ‘I’ll give you money to teach me to shut up!'”
Finally, someone wanted to say hi to Andee. Little Brady went to the mic, and Andee, recognizing him, coaxed him up onto the stage where he sat on her lap. Who can resist a cute kid? Andee told us about how she first met Brady. When Brady was three months old, his parents put him in a bassinet and placed him as the centerpiece for their table at the dessert party at the Creation Vancouver Stargate Convention! “And now I see you every year and you just get bigger and bigger and bigger like me!” Brady said “Yeah!”
“Are you going to be an actor when you grow up?”
“Yes I do!”
“Are you going to be an alien like me?”
“Are you going to die or are you going to kill other people?”
Brady said in toddler-talk, “I kill other people.”
“We’ll be in a movie together!”
“Yes we will!”
“Right here, future actor. Get photos now! And underneath, ‘I knew you when . . .’ Who’s on your pj’s?”
“What does Buzz say?”
In toddler-speak, “Infinity and beyond!”
“You sound just like me when I had the Wraith teeth in. I couldn’t say very much either!”
“I want to be Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!”
As adorable as this was, you know it had to end. Chris and Andee had to go take some photo ops, so we bid them farewell until they return to Chicago again, and it had better be soon!