With his role as geek Eli Wallace on Stargate Universe, David Blue has created a fresh take on the sci-fi staple character long used in television and film. From Val Kilmer’s Chris Knight in Real Genius to Zachary Levi’s Chuck Bartowsky of Chuck, these guys bring the funny when the world is falling down around everyone. And so it goes for Eli, a man-child in his early twenties who admirably stayed home to take care of his HIV infected mom. Only problem was that he was fine doing little else. But it turns out his prowess with a video game based on an Ancient’s math problem brings him to the attention of the Air Force which recruits him to far off Icarus Base to help solve a bigger Stargate problem.
Of course nothing goes well in space for long, and the base gets attacked sending all the civilian and military residents through the gate to an Ancient starship named Destiny. Now stranded on the ship, Eli and the rest of the survivors spent the first half of the first season just trying to exist. With the return of the second half of Stargate Universe’s freshman season on SyFy (Friday 9/8c), the new crew of Destiny are in for a lot of changes. Self-avowed film and TV nerd, Blue talks exclusively to Newsarama about the evolution of Eli and how you should be watching his show!
Newsarama: While old school Stargate fans are still on the fence about SGU, everyone seems to agree on their love of Eli. Congrats you passed the nerd litmus.
David Blue: I feel really lucky that the roles I have played have been accepted. It’s really kind of cool especially with this show. There’s a huge fanbase so we just hope they don’t throw tomatoes at you.
Nrama: Do you think it helped that you were actually a Gater before you got on the show?
Blue: Yeah, knowing this show ahead of time helped. It’s funny because I end up explaining more things to my cast mates. They’ll call me after a script comes out and ask what’s going on or what something means. It’s ironic considering that Eli is the one that doesn’t know anything.
Nrama: As a pop culture junkie do you share your character’s quote-filled language skills?
Blue: I do share that in common with Eli…I’m ridiculous. I think I quote movies and have related my life to movies like a 1,000 times more than Eli ever will. I’m like “Oh this reminds me so much of what happened in that one episode of Smallville.” [Laughs]
Nrama: Do the writers let you improv your own additions?
Blue: They don’t let me do that too much. There are some instances where they let us improv or ad-lib a little here or there. I don’t have to do it much, because the way they write Eli I think they are closeted nerds like I am. However I do think Eli might be a little too obsessed with Planet of the Apes. It’s fun but ironically it was the first movie I was ever spoiled for. It’s why I hate spoilers for everything!
Nrama: There have been some pretty iconic nerds on film and in TV. Did you have any of your own favorites that influenced your take on Eli?
Blue: There are probably only a handful that go into Eli. I love Matthew Broderick in Wargames, the little kid in Cloak & Dagger. He definitely has some Xander from Buffy. Another would be Zach Levy from Chuck, although I do envy him because he is the kind of nerd that every girl looks at. People love him and love to look at him. I love his performance. But at the end of the day I found that those kinds of thoughts only really help when you are first breaking down the character. It’s more of a trick than a technique. After the initial audition I made a three-page character description and I still keep that in the back of my scripts just to remind myself.
Nrama: Before the series when on winter hiatus, Eli was usually pushed around by Robert Carlyle’s Dr. Nicholas Rush. Do they evolve past that in this round of episodes?
Blue: I definitely think you’ll see a different dynamic. Because of the dynamic that was created and ended in “Justice,” I think Eli and Rush are going head to head. I think it’s a Mozart/Salieri relationship. Although because of everything that’s happened, you’re going to see more of Eli not just doing what Rush says. Eli is going to ask, “Tell me why you are doing this? Or, I’m not doing this for you because I need to know what’s going on.” Eli is coming into his own and that frustrates the heck out of Rush.
Nrama: Are you aware that there’s a contingent of fans out there that want to see Eli with Chloe?
Blue: I’ve heard about one around Eli and Scott. [Laughs]
Nrama: Do you think a romantic relationship should be on Eli’s radar at this point in his growth? You guys did kiss in “Earth.”
Blue: Well Elyse (Levesque), who plays Chloe, and I have become really good friends so it’s come to the point where it’s hard to imagine making out with her. I will tell you right now in the episode “Earth,” it was a very weird experience because she was so drunk when she kissed Eli that it wasn’t as pleasurable then one would think. [Laughs]
It’s hard on television these days…let’s use Chuck. Chuck and Sarah getting together has happened like what, 35 times? I think Battlestar did it better with Starbuck and Apollo. But even then they get together and it fizzles out so you don’t want that to happen. But at the same time unrequited love can only go so far before you eventually want to stab yourself in the eye with a spoon. I love Eli and Chloe and it’s part of the reason I loved the pilot because Eli could have very well been written as a character who flirted with the girl but was so scared of her that he never said anything. But from day one, he’s been open. They safe flirted together sitting at that table so I think there’s chemistry and a connection there now. Yes, it’s kind of hard to compete with Lt. Scott (Brian J. Smith) because he’s a shiny candy. But there’s a lot to him as well, so of course she’s attracted to him. I don’t view it as a triangle. I view it that she chose Scott and unfortunately Eli is also friends with Scott. He has both a girl he is interested in and a friend he doesn’t want to hurt so I think it’s about that growth continuing. He’s going to have to figure out what’s more important: a best friend that I’m also attracted to or I have a best friend. It will evolve as the season continues to a point where it will come to a head for sure. Now if it goes the way people want, I’m not going to say. I think Eli and Chloe would be a combination, although I prefer the name combination of Scott and Chloe. I call them “Chlott.” [Laughs]
Nrama: Is there an episode in this second half of the season that has you most excited for fans to see?
Blue: “Divided” which is the second episode back, when I read it, to me, it was another one of our cool episodes. It wasn’t like “Time,” which as soon as I read it I went “Oh my God, I love this episode!” I emailed [executive producer] Robert Cooper and said it was the most brilliant thing I’ve ever read in my life. With “Divided” I didn’t think it was going to be this groundbreaking thing but then I watched it and I turned to my friend and said, “I love my own show.” I can’t wait for fans to see it. Even just the first ten minutes are beautiful.
Nrama: So for the fans who were unsure about the premiere episodes of the series, what’s your pitch for why they should jump on or try again?
Blue: I love the new and the old fans alike and they are starting to realize that we aren’t an offshoot of a previous show. We’re not trying to make Stargate Part 2. We are making Stargate Universe. We have our own tone, our own feel and the people who have come to accept that will be amazed with the rest of season 1.5 into season two. The ones who didn’t like it before, I’m telling you it’s like a roller coaster ride.