The Stargate franchise—one of the most lucrative in television history—is heading back to Egypt. The hit 1994 movie with James Spader and Kurt Russell spawned three small screen series, an animated show, books, comics and games. Now, seven years after Syfy’s Stargate Universe, the new digital series Stargate Origins is emerging on MGM’s “Stargate Command” subscription service that is home to everything Stargate.
Stargate Origins comprises 10 10-minute installments and takes place a decade after the first part of the original film, when the Stargate is discovered in Giza, Egypt, in 1928. Aussie newcomer Ellie Gall plays young Catherine Langford, the daughter of Professor Paul Langford (Connor Trinneer), who discovered the Stargate. In Origins, evil Nazi Dr. Wilhelm Brücke (Aylam Orian) and his men kidnap the professor and take him through it, leaving Catherine behind to formulate a plan to rescue him. The show certainly starts off with a bang.
What can fans expect as the franchise update plays out? We spoke with 21-year-old Gall to find out what it’s like to carry the storied franchise—not to mention its complicated timeline—on her shoulders.
Were you a Stargate fan before this?
I didn’t know much about the franchise before I booked this role. I knew that it was a huge movie back in ‘94. I’m a '96 baby, so it’s a little bit before my time. I watched the movie once I booked the role. I did a bit of research on the TV show when I did the audition and realized that it took place after Origins, so I probably shouldn’t watch what happens to her after the show that we make because it’s not going to serve any purpose in knowing my future or getting it into my head what she’s like later on. I made it my own based upon who she was in the movie, especially as a young girl. I built a foundation around being a young girl in Egypt, working with her dad, being into archaeology, history and languages. That’s where my inspiration came from.
It’s interesting because this is a prequel that takes place after the first few minutes of the original movie, and before the rest of it and the subsequent series.
I know, right? There was not really a lot for me to take from the younger girl except for the fact that she had brown hair, so we dyed my hair brown. That was the biggest link to me and the young Catherine in the movie. And the [amulet with the Eye of Ra] necklace is a big deal.
In the movie, the Stargate doesn’t get opened up until 1994, and here it gets opened up in 1939. How did you react to that when you first read the script?
I was wondering how they were going to cover up the fact that it was opened and then my character goes on, and then in the movie she doesn’t know about [what lies beyond] the Stargate. I was wondering how they were going to cover all that, and [later] make it believable that I would not know about the Stargate opening, and being this serious archaeological find that we still hadn’t figured out.
I try not to think too much about what happens after my character’s story because it’s nice to go on a journey, it ends and we go our separate ways. I know there’s another actress that plays her in the show, and she goes on another journey. I don’t want to fill any spaces between. I don’t know if there is more of a story between the end of Origins and the beginning of the TV show.
“I was like, 'Oh, my God, I’m making something that people actually will watch.’”
Do you think the fans will be satisfied with this series?
I think so. We did a couple of alternate endings. I think there’s enough there that they’re going to get excited about what happens next, and there’s also enough there that it’s a little bit open to interpretation. People will take things away and make up their own story about what could happen to Catherine or what happens in Egypt after all of this goes down. It’s always fun to watch something and be allowed to have your own opinion about what the ending means.
Your series seems to be more character-driven, rather than relying on crazy effects.
Yeah, I think it is a little more character-driven. It’s not set on a spaceship. It’s not set in a world that doesn’t feel too unlike our own, so there is a little bit less of a demand for special effects. Definitely later on, we get your typical sci-fi elements, but it’s not super heavy on the effects. But they’re definitely in there. I think you’ll be very invested in the characters based on their relationships. There are a lot of really strong relationships that I think people will really like.
What was the sci-fi experience like for you with Stargate Origins?
It was fun. There’s a lot to think about when you’re making a sci-fi show, especially a sci-fi show that already has a lot of rules established. There are a lot of things you have to make sure that you get right, so that was challenging.
How do you relate personally to Catherine?
Catherine is very fiery and impulsive, and she’s stubborn. She doesn’t want to listen to anyone else if it’s not really what she wants to do. I’m pretty young, and she’s pretty young, and I think that helped me tap into doing something that other people are telling me not to. I can relate to that a fair bit. She cares a lot about everything that she’s doing, and I think that I care a lot about the things that I do and the decisions that I make and how that affects other people. But she thinks a lot faster than I do, and she is a lot more intellectual than I am. There are similarities and differences, and it’s fun trying to figure out how to portray a person that doesn’t have the same brain as I do.
You’re also appearing on the new season of Ash Vs. Evil Dead.
I am—it’s out now. I play Rachel, who is the best friend of Brandy, who comes into the show. She’s Ash’s daughter. It’s given away in the trailers what happens to me, but basically, I’m the best friend, and [Deadites] come to school and try to kill us. They’re out to get Ash, and they find out he has a daughter. Stuff goes down, things happen to me and it makes my best friend realize that she has to fight evil, too, with her dad. I’m in the first and fourth episodes.
You’ve previously done comedy and drama for years, and now you’re going into “genre” fare like horror and sci-fi.
I know, right? It’s cool, it’s fun. It’s the kind of stuff that people get really excited about it. The fans in these genres are very loyal and really care about what you’re making and are very invested. It’s nice to know that you’re making something that people are responding to even before it is out in the world. It’s really nice.
Was it like that at San Diego Comic-Con last year?
Oh, yeah. They were really sweet. That was so cool. I was like, “Oh, my God, I’m making something that people actually will watch.” You make a show and are not sure if anyone’s going to see it or will care about it or like it. To have people come up to you who are so excited to see what you’re doing [and] having that immediate feedback is really inspiring. We were still filming, and I got to go back to set and understand why we are doing this. It was really special.
Stargate Origins is streaming on Stargate Command.