The economic crisis of the past few years has made things interesting not only for Americans but for much of the developed world. Vancouver entertainers are no exception, and journeyman actor Michael Kopsa
doesn't mince words. GateWorld caught up with him at this year's Creation
Vancouver Stargate convention!
Kopsa tells us about his journey as an actor, his experiences as General Kerrigan
in the Stargate SG-1
and "Proving Ground,"
the fan convention phenomenon and some of his most recent projects!
This interview runs approximately 20 minutes and is available in audio. It's also transcribed below!
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net, I'm Darren Sumner. I'm here -- pleasure -- with Mr. Michael Kopsa.
Michael Kopsa: Thank you, very much.
GW: General Kerrigan on Stargate SG-1.
MK: That's right. Happy to be here.
GW: We appreciate you taking some time with us. Before we talk about Stargate, just run us through the high points in your career and what led you up to your work on Stargate.
MK: Well, thanks. Iím a working professional here in Vancouver, so we've have had lots of chance[s] to do some really nice projects. I think folks would recognize me from "Fantastic Four" as the banker that Doctor Doom eventually does in, in the car park, a big hole in the socket. This is what my friends tell me -- they recognize me from that. Also from "Watchmen." I was proud to be part of the "Watchmen" project. Not as much screen time as I would have liked to have seen.
GW: "Watchmen" brought a lot of people to a lot of work.
MK: Iíll tell you. Recently, I worked on film with Jennifer Aniston, and Aaron Eckhardt and Martin Sheen was the co-star. It was at the time it was called "Taveling." I think it is being released under a new name, which I havenít seen yet.
Kopsa appears as General Kerrigan in "Proving Ground."
Yeah, doing a lot of film and TV projects up here. I was recurring on a project up here called Falcon Beach. It was a made-in-Canada series. It did OK for a couple of seasons. Canada is a tough country to produce TV in. It is just not a big population base. So, we do a lot of American productions. Obviously Outer Limits, I am like a veteran of. I think four or five episodes of that.
Dead Zone was good for me, I ended up being a recurring character. Jake Truax, or "Treau," depending on how you spell it. Actually, the writers didnít know how to pronounce the characterís name. So, we were continually improvising with it. So, that was a great gig. Stargate, I enjoyed it. I just didnít get enough air time on the show. But I had a great time on set. Peter Deluise was directing and he is fantastic.
GW: I imagine you have seen a lot of change in the Vancouver film industry over the last few years.
MK: Yeah, even in the last few years. Definitely. When I came out here in 1994, it was a hay day. X-Files of course was the big show among others.
GW: Were are you from originally?
MK: Toronto. I trained in New York [at the] Circle in the Square Theater School. The North Shore at Lions Gate Studios, Canal -- Is it Steven J Canal? I never knew how exactly to pronounce it, and it is terrible since he kept on hiring lot of us -- they were producing lots of different kinds of series. Boy it was the hay day. Everybody was working.
When 9/11 happened, there was a significant decrease in productions that were being shot here. At the same time that year, those that can remember back, there was a writers strike in LA. Also, SAG [Screen Actors Guild] was threatening to have a massive actors strike in support of the writersí strike. The combination of 9/11, that writers strike, and the uncertainty with SAG, virtually cut our production in half.
Since then, like most industries in the world, whenever there is a shortage of work you can discipline the labor force. Meaning, you can offer them a lot less money and we will take it because that's the only game in town. Since the year 2000, I would say, on the average day a working journeyman actor, like myself, we have clawed back around 75 percent. So, for us we have taken about a 75 percent cut in pay over the last [few years] and instead of it going up we've been continually going down. But having said that, Vancouver remains pretty strong. Lots of shows going on.
GW: You are back up to 70 percent?
MK: No, 75 down.
GW: You are up to 25 percent?
MK: Yeah, basically, on an average day. That's been a bit hard. But it's everywhere. I have friends that work in LA and same thing. In fact, there's less work. So, we're still lucky here. Like so many of my fellow actors on the panel today, we do a lot of voice-over, cartoons, we do everything. You have to, to make a living. We've been fortunate.
Though they've known each other mere minutes, Kopsa must establish a convincing deep-seated relationship with Samantha Carter.
GW: Your character on Stargate, General Kerrigan was introduced in the fourth season episode "Prodigy."
MK: There you go. I knew it was the fourth season, I have to say I was cheating today. I was looking up my IMDB resume, going "OK, what episode was that?" It was fourth season for sure. That was great and my scene primarily with Amanda Tapping, who is got to be the sweetest.
GW: Did you enjoy working with her?
MK: Oh, she's fantastic. She is Canadian, and I donít think it's because she is Canadian but maybe it helps. She would welcome every actor on set warmly. There was never a sense of "I am the big star here and you are just a fill-in for the day." There was never a sense of that, and both on set and in the make-up and hair room. You know, it was very positive. And, to this day, she'll remember me. If not by name, then by "we did that, General Kerrigan, right?"
GW: He was a significant character even though you didnít do a whole lot of episodes or have a lot of screen time. General Kerrigan is a significant character in Stargate history because of this connection with Samantha Carterís back-story at the Air Force Academy and that he eventually gets brought into the inside. Then during your next appearance in "Proving Ground" in Season Five, now he knows about the Stargate program.
MK: Well there you go.
GW: He has finally gotten the secret told.
MK: I admire your research.
GW: Well, it's necessary as a fan of the show. That was an interesting switch for the character and it happened completely off screen. There was never a point that General Kerrigan was sat down and briefed on screen.
MK: Really, it got down to me for one good scene. I bet you know this: the name of the actress who played the cadet?