Though it has been several years since his appearance on Stargate SG-1
, Charles Shaughnessy's
portrayal as billionaire entreprener Alec Colson
is still a role which resonates with many fans.
Colson's character sounded an interesting note in Season Eight's "Covenant."
Should the truth, for truth's sake, be known? Even if there was nothing you could do about it, and even if it would only add worry to your existence?
GateWorld discusses this very question in our interview with Shaughnessy. He talks about the experience of shooting on set, his hopes for returning to the franchise, as well as his current endeavors. We also discuss the phenomenon of the TV sitcom, The Nanny
, in which he starred.
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net, this is David Read, and I'm talking with Charles Shaughnessy. Welcome! Thank you for being with us.
Charles Shaughnessy: Sure, thank you!
GW: I have to say, my mother about fell over backwards when she found out who I'd be talking with today. She has the opening theme to The Nanny memorized.
CS: Oh, that's sweet. [Laughter] It's catchy, it's a catchy tune.
GW: It is a catchy tune. [Laughter]
CS: It's a catchy tune, and it was a funny show. You know, I sometimes catch it again on reruns every now and again. I have to say, it was a funny show. We had some really good writers on that show. And it was never really appreciated at the time. But the fact that it's lasted ... we finished it ten years ago. And it's still running, and still popular today.
So it shows the kind of quality in that show that was never really given any credit when it was on. It was always considered a sort of rather broad, silly sitcom. And I always thought at the time it's smarter than that, and one day they'll realize its smarter than that.
The Nanny remains very popular on the syndication front even after 10 years.
GW: I remember occasionally coming across a review for it, where they thought it was like too low brow, or just really goofy. But I would catch it when she would watch it and I would just laugh my ass off. It was really good!
CS: Right. It was, it was funny. It was as low brow as any classic comedy was. Fran [Drescher] really based a lot of it on ... She watched Lucille Ball very carefully. There was a big sort of Lucy style to it. If you consider Lucy low brow then The Nanny was low brow. I think if you know your comedy, Lucille Ball was a genius. She was a master at it. You may as well call Molière and [Georges] Feydeau low brow.
GW: I completely agree. And you're right, the show has withstood the test of time and that's the real kicker right there.
I was really excited when I heard that you were going to play Alec Colson on SG-1. It was a particularly special character for the show. The Stargate team had always faced Earth-based threats from like the government, but no one from such a public figurehead, a speaker, a good guy who really just wanted the truth to get out. What attracted you to this character?
CS: I have to be honest, it was a part that came up and I went and read for it. It was a gig so I was delighted to get a job. But having said that, I've always been a fan of the sci-fi genre anyway, and SG-1 particularly.
I really liked the character, I thought the idea of this brilliant entrepreneur, a kind of Richard Branson crossed with Bill Gates, was a fascinating character to play. And have him stumble upon this huge conspiracy and want the truth to get out. And then be caught in the haunt of this moral dilemma ... does the truth get out even if it costs you so much? [It] was just an interesting thing to do.
And then when I flew up to do it, I was just so entranced with the whole SG universe that they had up there. I love Vancouver, I love Canada, the cast couldn't have been nicer. There was a real history and a sort of legacy that was so much in place. You really felt like you were part of a very special universe doing this show. The whole thing was a really wonderful experience. I was really hoping that it would continue, because he kind of ends up going off planet, sort of lurking there, ready to be called on when they need some genius engineer at any time.
But then, the circumstances changed and a lot of people left the show, just after my episode, so that story line got dropped. I was very disappointed it didn't go on further, because I would really have loved to have been a part of that universe.
Alec Colson presents his evidence of extraterrestrial life to the world.
GW: I re-watched the episode ["Covenant"] last night, and I thought he's probably on an off-world base, in a lab, working on his next thing, most likely.
CS: Right. And ready to be called on. You remember Thunderbirds, did you ever see <Thunderbirds Are Go, the puppet show, the Thunderbirds puppet show?
GW: I can't say I did.
CS: Before your time. But he's the scientist, he's brains, working in the lab. And when the warriors all need some special gizmo to help them traverse the black hole. They go to the lab and he comes up with it. I thought that's what I'd be. I'd be like the David McCallum character on NCIS. I thought that would be a great way to go forward. And I think that was kind of the plan, because when I was there they talked about getting a file open for the character. It was in the air that Alec Colson was going to become, not necessarily a very important character, but certainly a recurring character on their team. But it wasn't to be.
GW: Well, the franchise is still going, and all the shows are in that same universe. So you never know, you never know, Charles.
CS: You never know.
GW: I always thought of him as Tony Stark from "Iron Man."
CS: Exactly, yeah.
GW: Billionaire guy, he can put anything together. But he's transformed, where Tony Stark was this weapons maker and manufacturer and then his experience changes. Colson was always a guy who just wanted to get to the truth. You feel a real sympathy for him because, yes, he is a threat to the program, but it's all coming from the right place. So that's the real conundrum.
CS: Right. Yeah, it was a very interesting episode.
GW: And then he loses his best friend, so he really has to ask himself in hindsight, was this all really worth it?
" Because it's science fiction, you can bend those rules to serve your storytelling. To serve the stories about moral dilemmas, personal decisions, and human frailty. "
CS: Right, is it worth it. This is the great thing about sci-fi, why I love it as a genre. It's such a pure storytelling genre. You can tell stories about the human condition, which any story worth its while since the time the world began has been about. Because you're in science fiction, you can bend the rules to suit your storytelling. You're not hidebound by the fact that people can only drive 60 miles per hour, or can only be in one place at the same time. Because it's science fiction, you can bend those rules to serve your storytelling. To serve the stories about moral dilemmas, personal decisions, and human frailty.
And that's kind of what this is, this was a classic human frailty story and moral dilemma story. But it was able to be couched around this amazing universe where intergalactic flight and trans-dimensional travel is possible.
GW: [Laughter] Yes, exactly.
CS: Which is great. It's like animation. Say when you're telling a story in animation, "Oh, you want the monster to eat the city? Okay, we'll have the monster eat the city." Because it's animation you can do that. You can't do that if you're doing an episode of Brothers and Sisters. [Laughter] You can't suddenly have Calista Flockhart eat the house. But with sci-fi and animation you can. You can change the rules to serve your storytelling which is just fantastic.