Stargate Universe's Robert Carlyle reveals new episode details

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Robert Carlyle, star of the upcoming SCI FI Channel original series Stargate Universe, told SCI FI Wire that the show will be more character-driven and feature fewer aliens than its Stargate predecessors. (Spoilers ahead!)

Stargate Universe follows the adventures of explorers who start off on a reconnaissance mission to the Destiny, a ship built by the Ancients, only to wind up on a never-ending mission when the crew learns the ship can't return to Earth. The Destiny, her crew in tow but not actually in control of the ship, then traverses the universe, bringing them in contact with new worlds and various races, as well as potential allies and enemies.

SCI FI Wire caught up with Carlyle at SCI FI Channel's upfront presentation for advertisers and the media on Monday in New York. The Scottish actor, whose credits include Eragon and 28 Days Weeks Later, spoke excitedly about Stargate Universe, which will premiere later this year and also stars Justin Louis, Brian J. Smith, Alaina Huffman, David Blue, Ming-Na and Lou Diamond Phillips. Following are edited excerpts from our exclusive interview.

How much did you know about the Stargate universe before joining Stargate Universe?

Carlyle: Not a great deal, to be honest about it. I'd seen quite a bit of SG-1, plus a bunch of Atlantis. I was aware of the franchise and how successful it was. The fan base, particularly, love it.

Give us a preview of the show. What kinds of stories are we going to see?

Carlyle: I think this one, while it's retaining the features that made the other ones successful, hopefully, it's slightly different in the respect that this is about a struggle for survival. The guys, everyone's been transferred onto this massive spaceship, the Destiny. They think it's actually a planet, because it's so big. The Destiny is where the story then really takes off, and it's how these guys survive. ... Simple things like life support, air ... The first three episodes are called "Air," the struggle to breathe; "Water," that's another title; "Fire" is another; "Earth" is another. So there's something quite basic about it. There's not so much, maybe, alien interaction. It's maybe a bit more drama this time, a bit more character-driven.

What kind of a figure is your character, Dr. Nicholas Rush?

Carlyle: He's a scientist. He's kind of the head of this project. They have discovered the address of the Ninth Chevron, and the Ninth Chevron is like the Holy Grail. So you're never sure with Rush whether he's doing it for the right reasons, whether he's doing it for the Stargate team or for himself.

The previous Stargate shows ran for many years. How prepared are you play Dr. Rush for four, five, perhaps even 10 years?

Carlyle: I'm more than prepared for that, to be honest. I've had a long career back home, did an awful lot of what you'd call gritty drama, kitchen-sink type of stuff, and it was time for a change, maybe do something different. When I met up with [Stargate Universe executive producers] Brad [Wright] and Robert [C. Cooper], I was just really impressed by them as people. And, to be honest, at first I was very much like "Why do you want me to do this?" But when they explained the steps and their take on the drama they were trying to do on the show, I said, "I can understand why you wanted me to do this now." And the cast they've assembled around and about me is the top class.