Best known for his roles in La Bamba and the Young Gun movies, actor Lou Diamond Phillips will next be seen as Colonel Telford in Syfy's highly anticipated new series Stargate Universe.
"The landscape of the television and film industry is different these days," notes Phillips. "It used to be if you were a film actor, you were exclusively a film actor, and you didn't do television. I think things have evolved to a no-holds-barred arena where everybody goes between television and film as well as making guest appearances or doing reality shows. It's interesting. You have Oscar winners carrying shows or doing miniseries."
With genre credits that include Wolf Lake, Supernova, The Triangle, Bats, Mercy Reef, and The First Power, Stargate: Universe seemed like the perfect fit for Phillips.
"I have to be honest," says Phillips. "In the pilot, I don't appear that much, so it wasn't what was on the page that was appealing to me. It was conversations with the creators, Brad Wright and Robert Cooper, that encouraged me that there would be more for me to do. I don't want to mislead anyone who thinks I'm the star of the pilot or the show. That's not the case. I've had a good relationship with Syfy in general, and a regular television gig wouldn't be a bad thing for me right now, so I bit."
Stargate: Universe finds a group of civilians and scientists trapped on the ship Destiny and trying to survive the rigors of space.
"It's an interesting situation," reports Phillips. "Telford was supposed to be the commander of the away group who is going through the Stargate into the ninth address, which is an address that has yet to be discovered previously. The base is attacked, and Telford is unfortunately relegated to Earth. As you know, the rest of the crew, led by Robert Carlyle and Louis Ferreira, end up stranded in the far reaches of space. Telford, whose entire mission was to be front-runner of this crew, is now incredibly frustrated with not being part of that. His mission is now to get these people home and to somehow get himself on that ship. He's definitely a career military guy, and, at least presently, that seems to be his end-all and be-all."
Furthermore, creators Cooper and Wright wanted Stargate: Universe to contain plenty of personal conflict as well as the requisite science fiction elements. For Phillips, that translates into a love triangle among Telford, Everett Young and his wife.
"I don't know where it's going," admits Phillips. "That relationship was introduced, but it hasn't been developed at this point. It's part of Telford trying to get back on the ship, and at this point he will do anything to insert himself with the goings-on there. As you said, Brad and Robert have tried to create a more personal drama that hinges on the interaction between characters. It was really nice to have Telford's very focused approach and his point of view coming from the military and what the government needs. That's juxtaposed with Robert Carlyle's very scientific, almost emotional approach to what's going on aboard the ship. Some of the scenes I had with him in that episode I'm thrilled with and hope that's the kind of stuff I'll continue to do."
The Stargate itself may be the iconic object that links the original 1994 movie and three spin-offs together, but Phillips hasn't had the opportunity to step through it yet.
"Sadly, that's part of Telford's frustration and mine," smiles Phillips. "The Stargate is not presently in his future; the only way Telford is able to get onto the ship is by using the stones. All he can do is transfer consciousness with other people on the ship, which is also what leads to the love triangle. I inhabit Col. Young's body on occasion. Telford's access to the ship is pretty limited, but I am hoping the writers figure out how to get me more involved."