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
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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.