Slipstream Interview - Lexa Doig


Dlouhé interview o Andromedě z období přelomu druhé a třetí série. Věděli jste třeba, že Lexa kromě gymnastiky i tancovala?


Zdroj: Slipstream Web
Autor: Michelle Erica Green
Převzato: Slipstream Web

Andromeda's title character often appears onscreen in two or three different incarnations per episode, so actress Lexa Doig has had some of her toughest moments upstaging herself -- she plays the holographic avatar Andromeda, the android Rommie, and the ship's AI as it appears onscreen and within the computer core. Despite her phenomenal intelligence, Andromeda has been struggling with the ramifications of life within a humanoid body, and with the limitations of the programming given her by the High Guard more than three hundred years ago in a safer universe.

Doig, who says she grew up in a household of Star Trek fans, can currently be seen onscreen alongside Andromeda co-star Lisa Ryder in Jason X. Here she talks to Slipstream Web about the difficult journey of Andromeda last season and her hopes for next year.


Slipstream Web: The last time I talked to you, you had jelly boobs, and now you have anime-blue hair.

Lexa Doig: Yes, I managed to get out of the jelly boobs, and got myself into a wig. I love the blue. I remember I talked to Allan Eastman about having blue hair before we did the first season. But the way I saw the blue hair was something subtle, with streaks in it. He said no, right off the bat. It's an ongoing process, my look. The notes kept coming down, not directly to us, but Lisa and I would walk into the hair trailer or the makeup trailer and we'd hear, 'Okay, we're trying something new today.' Why? 'Well, we got a note about the last episode.' I've always wanted to have something funky going on with my appearance on the show. I wanted dreadlocks, but I met Keith Hamilton Cobb and thought, 'I'm not going to get dreadlocks.'

Slipstream Web: Now Laura Bertram has dreadlocks.

Doig: Laura gets to have Lisa [Ryder]'s and my hairstyles, because Lisa wanted red hair. Laura gets both. Robert Wolfe had wanted something slightly more like 'Star Trek hair,' if that makes any sense -- that was his vision. But when the notes came down, they were about wanting to make the show look a little cooler, updating it a little bit. So I started pushing for the blue hair, but the argument was that it was not military. And I thought, 'This is eight thousand years in the future in another part of the universe. Vedrans have hooves! I don't think they're going to care if an avatar has blue hair.'

We actually had a hairstylist come up from L.A. to style everybody's hair. I had all kinds of extensions put in, just to have ideas -- some were blue, some were electric yellow, some were red. We tested them all on camera, but nothing ever came out of it. Then when we came back from hiatus second season, we had a new hairstylist who came up with this idea for a wig. At that point, I was all for the idea of being wigged, because they kept changing their minds about my hair. I'm thinking, wig me and I don't have to worry about it anymore! So not only did I get nailed with the blue wig in a style that I wouldn't have chosen, though I will defend the hairstylist's decision to cut the wig like that because it's different -- it's a bold choice, she was trying to go for something edgy and anime -- instead of getting the blue extensions, I got this wig and I had to keep my own hair this way for Andromeda.

Slipstream Web: How do you rationalize the look for Rommie, who sometimes seems to be trying to relate more to humans, yet she has this very artificial appearance?

Doig: My rationale was never addressed in the scripts, and I really wanted it to be addressed in the scripts. But at the time the wig was introduced, there were some bigger issues on their plate regarding Robert Hewitt Wolfe. He hadn't departed yet, and I don't know the internal politics about what happened, but it was a little bit tense at that time. It wasn't so tense around the set because Robert's in L.A. and we shoot in Vancouver, so it was kind of a filtered-down effect. I can't imagine what it was like in the writing office. At that time, I think it was in 'Ouroboros,' I wasn't going to press for the odd concern that I had about my wig being acknowledged in the script.

My feelings on it were that she's kind of embracing her artificiality, just in the sense that after everything she's been through so far, the more she wants to remain an android, the more human she becomes. There have been small moments in episodes like 'Star-Crossed' or 'All Too Human' where she's forced to confront being artificial and what it means to embrace that as opposed to trying to eschew it or become something that she can never be.

Slipstream Web: Do you think we'll see her fighting more for android rights?

Doig: I would love to see that. I don't know if we actually will. I feel very close to Andromeda; she's very close to my heart. I see those potentialities for her character and have a great fondness for A.I.s, so in the universe where Andromeda takes place, I do see them as equal, just a completely different race. I don't know that everybody on the show does, which is just a different perspective. Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz completely get Andromeda from my perspective. They completely understand her and the whole idea of having a race of artificial intelligences. But there have been scripts by other writers where I pick up the phone to make the odd suggestion here and there.

Slipstream Web: Harper seems to have gotten less proprietary of Andromeda and Tyr seems to have gotten more proprietary.

Doig: I love working with Keith Cobb. We didn't get to do too much in the first season, it one one of the relationships that weren't really explored, which I have no complaints about because we've got four more years to look at them. But I was really thrilled to work with Keith in that way. He's such an actor. He's so about the work, which is great. He's also a very stoic person, so it's kind of fun, pardon my French, to [mess] with Keith a little. He's lightened up a lot in the sense that he tells jokes out of the blue, non-sequiturs, when everybody is kind of sitting there reading newspapers, doing their own thing, around the cast chairs. All of a sudden he'll come up out of complete left field: 'Okay, a guy walks into a bar...' Where is this coming from! But they're funny! That's Keith. He is pretty fantastic.

Slipstream Web: He looks pretty fantastic.

Doig: I think Keith likes to take his shirt off every opportunity he has, and you know what? Good for him. For no other reason than that he works really hard to maintain that physique. If I worked as hard as he did, I'd be walking around naked, saying, 'Look at me! Do you have any idea how hard this is to do?' That's not Keith by any stretch, but if it were me in that kind of shape, I'd be doing it! Yee hah!

Slipstream Web: It seems like we've seen less of Tyr's Nietzschean aspects this season, and less of Andromeda as opposed to Rommie. Are the actors happy with the changes on the show?

Doig: I think the last half of this season was difficult for everybody involved because of Robert's departure. Matt and Joe had to step into the position, and I think they handled themselves beautifully, but they were probably getting phone calls from every direction. Plus they had material that wasn't theirs, material that I don't even know how fleshed out it was at Robert's departure, whether it was scripts or treatments -- I don't know how much information they actually had. The option of input is available to all of us. Anybody can pick up the phone and call the writers, which is wonderful. But I don't know that it's an easy thing to cope with.

Slipstream Web: What about you? Were you personally happy with your episodes the second half of the season?

Doig: I don't love them, to be honest. I see where improvements could have been made, but like I said, it was incredibly chaotic. I'm impressed that we got anything done. And that's just my perspective. When Robert left, we did it mid-season, and that's a tough thing for a show to handle. You can't prepare for what's about to hit you in the face. It's kind of like changing runners in mid-stream instead of taking a break. Between seasons is a different story, because we've got four months off to prepare.

Slipstream Web: Had they prepared you for the fact that Rev Bem was leaving and they were making major changes in Trance?

Doig: We knew Brent had left long before anybody else did, simply from the standpoint that Brent's a friend of ours. He had explained it to us himself. I think production actually was living in a little bit of denial, going, no, he'll come back! But we knew pretty early on that Brent was going, and wow, do we miss him. I was talking to him on Saturday and I said, 'We miss you!'

Slipstream Web: I wish the Spirit of the Abyss would just transform him a little so he looks more like Brent and less like Rev, and then he could do guest shots.

Doig: Brent actually had a great idea for how he could come back -- which I don't know if I can tell you, because they might do it! Part of his idea was to come back half-Magog, half-human, with a lot less makeup. I know Brent's been talking to Kevin about it so I hope it can happen. It's not the same show without Brent, and it's not the same show on the screen without Rev Bem. Lisa Ryder pointed out that Rev Bem is like Dylan Hunt's conscience. Without him, Dylan runs rampant throughout the universe. Which isn't a bad thing, but there was a balance, and a visual balance as well in that you've got the poster child for the Aryan Nation, Kevin Sorbo, this beautiful specimen of a man, and then one of the ugliest creatures on the planet -- by which I mean Rev Bem, not Brent, who's very handsome.

We knew for a long time that they didn't like Purple Trance. We just couldn't for the life of us figure out how that was going to change. Then the makeup tests started. There had been a picture of Laura that had been digitally changed with all of these different projections of what New Trance could look like. Poor Laura! They ended up hiring somebody just to go through the makeup tests instead of making Laura do it, because it's more than four hours of makeup for each test. It was a long and convoluted process for poor Laura.

Slipstream Web: Kevin Sorbo keeps talking about how he really wants the other characters more directly involved, but Tribune seems to be marketing this show as Dylan Hunt, action hero. Is that affecting your characters?

Doig: The one fight that I've always had for my character in regard to Dylan has been happening since the beginning of the show, which is Andromeda's unrequited love for Dylan. And that didn't change. I don't have a problem with a crush, because my theory is that a crush is an ideal that you will always come back to. It doesn't prevent you from living your own life. You have a crush on the perfect senior in high school but it doesn't mean you aren't going to date the cute sophomore sitting in the desk next to you. When the cute guy sitting next to you turns out to be a jerk, you can still go back to the crush because that's the ideal, never tarnished for you.

The problem with an unrequited love is that it makes Andromeda kind of an appendage to Dylan Hunt instead of a character with her own journey. That's her whole character arc, her journey, and it's so easy to fall into the trap, 'But I'm in looove!' I don't even think the concept of unrequited love is true love, because love is something that's a dynamic. It's passed back and forth. So that's a fight that I've always had. I mean fight in a good way, in the sense that there are times when it comes up and I've got to lighten up a bit because she does love her captain; it's just that I disagree with making moony eyes at him all the time.

Slipstream Web: I'm horrible at episode titles, but the one that ends with the two of them after the zombies...'Dance of the Mayflies' I think? You had two of Rommie's biggest character-defining moments all season, at the beginning when the kid is dying and everybody is running around in a hysterical panic, and at the end with Dylan...

Doig: I'm horrible with these titles too. That was my least-favorite episode, I can honestly tell you! With the number of script changes it went through, I don't even know what its initial incarnation looked like. I remember looking at Laura every day, clapping, because she's one of the sweetest people in the world and a wonderful actress and there was no doubt that she could go to this place of being possessed, but some of the dialogue was very clunky. I say this with a lot of love for the writers because I couldn't have done it any better -- they work really hard -- but I think on that episode there were a lot of outside forces saying 'What about this, and what about this?'

We kept thinking that they should have superimposed the music from the 'Thriller' video. We were all over that -- the whole cast with our hands on our hips, singing. All of those zombies were stunt people -- something like 22 stunt people. We usually have, like, two stunt people in different costumes because we don't have the budget for big guest casts. And we had a new director. You could see the line producer pulling his hair out. Everybody that entire episode had their heads in their hands, going, 'Oh god!' I think that onscreen it didn't turn out nearly as ridiculous as it could have.

The first scene I shot of that episode was the last scene with Kevin. And I had a disagreement with the director, because his attitude was, 'Underneath all this, you're telling him that you're in love with him.' And I said, 'No. I think it's a more interesting choice for her to be pissed off, because she doesn't understand it.' At this point I look at Andromeda kind of as an adolescent, and we all know teenagers are extraordinarily angry people. It's because a lot of what they've been told, what they believe about the world, as you experience it, it doesn't make sense with what you've been told. Even as an adult I experience this. Especially if you've had a really lovely environment growing up, which I think Andromeda has, to some degree. When you see the inherent unfairness, it angers you: 'This doesn't make any sense!' And then you hope that wisdom comes later on in your life, when you see that the unfair moments are just moments.

So I had this whole disagreement with the director, wanting it to be played from a different place. That's the ongoing struggle that I have with Andromeda. As far as Dylan-centric episodes, I've talked to Kevin about that a little bit.

Slipstream Web: He's the captain, so of course the action is Dylan-centric. But they had Rommie practically declaring her love for him one week, and Beka practically declaring her love for him the next week, and in between he was sleeping with the chick on the cruise ship.

Doig: I know! A little, 'Okay, stop it!' But at the same time, I get the impression that it's a bit of a case of broken telephone with Kevin. This is a scenario that I've imagined, not one that I've witnessed, but I think Kevin may make a suggestion or notes and go to one person with them, and that person going to another person, going to another person, going to another person, and then that person going to the writers and saying, 'Make this change happen, it's what Kevin Sorbo wants' -- you can see where it could turn into a case of broken telephone.

There are a lot of chefs that go into making this, and blissfully I don't know all that much about the politics behind the show. I don't want to know. I really like everybody that I work with -- I really like the writers and the production people, I like the people from Fireworks and Tribune that I know, I like the cast. So I don't want to know who's fighting with whom about the direction. You definitely get an impression, just occasionally, from people's expressions on their faces and sudden script changes, and you go 'Ooo-kay, something must have happened.'

I think what ends up on the screen is someone's interpretation of what somebody else wants. I think Kevin did say he wanted to have a little bit more fun; he said something about Captain Kirk, but I don't think Kevin wants exactly Captain Kirk. You look at Captain Kirk and every female alien that came on the ship, he boned. He was a cavalier sort of character. So interpretation is subjective. There are a lot of intelligent people working on our show, and a lot of people with pretty good taste -- in most departments!

So I don't know what's happened. Honestly, while I don't love the show from the second half of this season, it's hard to dislike something that you had a part in creating. Last season, there were a couple of episodes, like 'Rose in the Ashes,' where I really went...hmpf! But that wasn't really as much about the story or the dialogue as it was about having to wear a studded leather bikini top when I was in a cave. There were a number of things that made me go hmpf, and probably number one in that episode was my performance. I feel like I dropped the ball. I don't want to be an actor who blames the writers, the production, whatever. Before you lay blame on anyone else, you have to make sure that you're pristine, you're perfect. And nobody is.

Slipstream Web: If they call you between seasons and say, 'We're putting together the third season, what would you like us to keep in mind about Rommie...?'

Doig: I kind of want a new wig! But on a logistical level, something to explain some of the changes that have gone on with Rommie in particular. Some clarification as to what her arc is supposed to be in the grand scheme of things. To me it's not about doing a lot of A storylines, I just want to make sure that what I do do, whether it's A, B or C storylines, I don't care about screen time, but the time that I'm onscreen should make sense. There are going to be episodes, and I have no problem with this, where I'm not in too much and I just spit out information. That's not a problem for me, that's a necessary part of science fiction.

Slipstream Web: Do you like playing Matrix Rommie? How much work did you have to do to prepare?

Doig: Oh, that's fun. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun. 'All Too Human' did well in the ratings and I was really proud, because it was the first A storyline that I've carried. So I was bopping around the set going, 'I did good, right?' I still look at the performance and go, 'I could have done better,' but I was proud of what I did manage to do. I did a lot of training, and that thankfully has carried through -- I don't have to keep training. I should, but I'm too lazy to go to a trainer and actually train. The reality is that everything I do is choreography, and since I was a gymnast and a dancer for many years, it's just learning the choreography and I'm a pretty quick study in that department. The harder things, like the wire work, they don't want me to do anyway. My stunt double does. Marnie makes me look amazing. So I know as much as I need to know to do what they require of me, but I can always improve.

The fact that it's become a thing, now, where it seems like Rommie goes up on the wires every episode -- it's kind of like a kid in a candy store. After 'All Too Human' there was 'Dance of the Mayflies,' there was 'Lava and Rockets'...

Slipstream Web: That was a cool scene, running around on the ceiling!

Doig: That was very cool and I actually did go up for some training on that, but Marnie did the wall run. It's fun to do, and it looks cool, but at the same time it can be a little overkill, the Jackie Chan style Matrix-y getting up on wires kind of thing. If you see too much of it, it loses its cool quotient. You get jaded, cynical.

Slipstream Web: My favorite 'Lava and Rockets' moment is when we discover that Rommie can be a lie detector. Will we see that again or does it become a problem remembering all the things she's supposed to be able to do?

Doig: You know what my biggest one is? There was an episode first season, the one with all the kids, 'To Loose the Fateful Lightning.' Rommie, after having just been created, in the buff, walks on and drops all the kids to the floor with her artificial gravity field. My question is, why doesn't she do this whenever the Magog are on board or every time there are bad guys around? Why doesn't she drop them? Apparently, this is not an option to explore!

Slipstream Web: I suppose there's the real reason, not having enough money to shoot it, versus the plot rationalizations.

Doig: And the money ones you can't fight with. 'You've got a point, don't take it out of my salary!' The MO is for the director is to go to production with the question if there's a continuity problem, and then come back with the answer for whoever's asking. But in 'Dance of the Mayflies' it was very funny because he did that once or twice, and then the last time I asked something, I got a big, 'Don't go there.' So we went, oh dear! I kind of miss Robert from that perspective -- he always had an answer. You never got a 'Don't go there' with Robert. It doesn't actually happen that often on our show, but some of the explanations are pretty darn funny!

It's difficult when you get something and go, 'Huh?' We know our characters pretty well. I couldn't tell you the specificities of Beka Valentine, but I can tell you the specificities of Rommie, and Lisa can tell you the specificities of Beka. Robert was always really good at the explanations, and Ashley and Zack are really good, which is not to say that the other writers aren't -- I just don't have that much discourse with them except when we're hammered at the wrap party. They just have to tell me, 'Look at it from this perspective and then it makes sense.' And then I'm a happy camper; I don't have to have my way, I just have to have it logical to me. I've got to have an angle to do it, an understanding so I can then portray it properly.

I would like Rommie's artificiality addressed, and I think it needs to be addressed. I think that would be an interesting avenue to explore because I don't know if there's been an android that was happy being an android.

Slipstream Web: Did you watch the Next Generation Data episodes? I think Rommie needs a 'Data's Day.'

Doig: I'd love to have that. I thought Brent Spiner was just a kick. I think they have a bit of a mandate, though, about it being an action hour. But at the same time I think they want to look at the causes of the action -- the story creates action and motivates the characters to do something. I can speak for myself, it became very confusing to me toward the end of last year. I think their biggest mandate is to address any glaring problems, and Rommie is not going to be high on their priority list initially. I'm a pretty patient person and I don't have a large ego in that department. I have no idea how difficult everybody else's jobs are, and I don't want to be the person on the phone going 'It's all about me!'

Every actor would love to see character-driven episodes. But if the concern is about budget, they can have a talky episode where there aren't any explosions. I would love to see seatbelts on Andromeda, actually, and I think the whole cast would really like to see that because every time there's a boom, we go flying. They have fun making us shake. 'And...SHAKE! And...BOOM! And...BAAAAH!'

This is an idea that Robert had that was in the Bible: the Eureka Maru also being an artificial intelligence, and Andromeda kind of viewing it as a pet, because it wasn't bright in the same way as she is. I'd love to see that kind of relationship be explored. I'd love to see the world of the AIs a little bit more, because it has so much to do with my character. We did it a little bit in 'The Knight, Death and the Devil.' Michael Hurst and Chris Judge are both in that episode, and Chris is a friend of mine, so it was really fun to work with him -- he kept teasing me about how I was always the first on set. Which really annoys me because the ADs say they're ready for me on set, and I believe them! And I walk on set and all the crew looks at me and goes, 'You're the first one here!' Everybody teases me about it.

But there was a different focus in that episode, like when you look at a story being told through a particular character's eyes. That story was told through Dylan Hunt's eyes, it being Kevin's show. We went to rescue a POW camp of High Guard ships, and I thought that it would have been more interesting to tell the story from Rommie's perspective, because those are her people. But there was nothing that really addressed that in any way. So although it was a really fun episode to do, and I thought it was a really good episode, very well-written, there wasn't actually that much for me to do. I'd like to see more stuff like that develop.

I find that particularly in episodic television, as an actor, if you become attached to a particular course of action or outcome, you're bound to be disappointed because it's not your decision to make. I actually enjoy finding out what's in store. But at the same time, there are certain pitfalls that I'd like to avoid. This is something that I think I'm going down to Los Angeles soon to have lunch with the writers to discuss and see how they're all doing. I don't know if I'll be able to, but I'd like to discuss the pitfall of the character of Andromeda becoming an appendage of the character of Dylan Hunt. It's not specific to our show -- you see it happen on television shows all the time, where a female character becomes that. Or any character, actually; there are other characters you see in that relation to a main character, the nature of their relationship.

Slipstream Web: Have you stressed to the writers your character's goals, or is the focus supposed to remain on restoring the Commonwealth and defeating the Magog?

Doig: The Commonwealth has already been restored. That was done at the end of the season, which I thought was kind of funny -- that was another one of those, 'Oh really!' moments. There hasn't been the remotest follow-up of the Magog world ship either. I think it has to do, as I said, with there being multiple cooks. Everybody has good intentions. I think what happens is that it ends up with a little bit of confusion as everybody tries to carry out everybody else's wishes, and that confusion sometimes translates to the screen in the second half of the season. I watch episodes on television and go, 'What episode is this?' and have to figure it out, and go, 'Oh, OH, ohhhh, oh!' That's an actual quote, commentary of Lexa watching an episode, 'Oh, OH, ohhhh, oh!'

Rommie, I think, has never had an issue with being artificial. She likes it better, in fact, than the concept of being human, because everything she's witnessed so far about being human hasn't been particularly pleasant. I don't think you've seen a character that was artificial and didn't want to be human, that didn't have the Pinocchio complex. Why? She can live for thousands of years. So I think it's interesting that the more artificial she wants to be, the more human she becomes. That's what I like to explore.