In the brand new Syfy original movie Doomsday Prophecy, Jewel Staite (Firefly, Stargate: Atlantis...but you knew that) plays an archeologist who teams up with A.J. Buckley (Supernatural), a book editor, to hunt down the mysterious author of novels predicting the future; it turns out the author has a device enabling him to see the future...and the end of the world. We were lucky enough to participate in a conference call with Staite and Buckley who told us all about their characters, working on one of those famous Syfy originals, sci-fi fans and their own feelings on doomsday prophecies. Staite even weighs in on Firefly and how big a fan her co-star Nathan Fillion really is.
[Newsarama Note: Not all questions were asked by Newsarama, but are listed that way to allow easy readability.]
Newsarama: Can you both talk about your characters in the movie?
A.J. Buckley: Sure. My character – he's...this book editor guy fought, you know, he didn't really know his past, and has had somewhat of a troubled life growing up.
Bounced from home to home, but wasn't really connected to anyone that he could remember. And this sort of journey that he goes on, I think answers a lot of questions for him really quickly. And of course the end of the world is coming so he realizes that he's the guy that has to do this. And he needs a partner in crime, has to be Jewel. I'm like, "Sweet, this is going to be fun." And it is our job to save the world.
Jewel Staite: I play Brooke (Calvin) who is a young Archaeologist -- emphasis on young. She is very much out of her element on this crazy journey that she's going on, and is really excited. And that's kind of what I wanted to play the most, was how there's disaster going on all around her and the world's falling apart, but she's really excited about everything that she's discovering. It's her passion. It's her passion in life. So yes, she's a lot of fun to play. And A.J.'s all right too.
Buckley: I am all right.
Nrama: So how did you both get involved in the project?
Buckley: I just got a call randomly from my agent and they'd mentioned there was some interest. And I said two things. I said you know, "I love disaster movies," and then they said it was going to be shot in Vancouver, which is my hometown. And it was on my hiatus from CSI. And going home to film is kind of like a paid vacation because I rarely get to see my family and working as well down there, it's kind of like a double bonus. So I read the script and spoke with the director and I was excited. And with CSI I'm so confined to this character that lives in a lab. So I just knew that there were so many times in the script where you just read things were exploding or falling apart or racing in a car, and I was like, "Oh this would be actually really fun to go and do," you know, get out of what I've been doing for so long. So I was real excited to go and do it.
Staite: I was kind of the same thing for me. I'm from Vancouver as well, and I'd been living in LA for the last few years. And any time I get to work in Vancouver I totally jump at the chance. But I'd done a Syfy movie before called Mothman, everybody knows it, award winning. And I had so much fun on that shoot. I had a blast. So I knew that I was going to have a good time. And then they mentioned that A.J. had been cast as the lead. And I'd always heard about A.J., because we're both from Vancouver and we kind of know all the same people. And I was like, "Oh cool. I finally get to work with this guy."
Nrama: What did you both found challenging about your roles.
Buckley: Working with Jewel.
Nrama: Yes, she sounds like a challenge.
Staite: I was waiting for it. No, I was going to say the same thing.
Staite: I was like, "Who's going to say it first?"
Buckley: Go ahead Jewel, you answer that one.
Staite: The most challenging thing for me, I get really nervous - A.J.'s going to laugh, I get really nervous around guns. And a lot of the time...I get put in these sci-fi movies and whatnot where I'm battling various alien races. And they put a gun in my hand and I have to kind of look like I know what I'm doing. So for this one, every time a gun was aimed at me, I would go into panic mode, especially since they were giving the gun to Rick Ravanello, who plays Henning in the movie. I mean any time you hand an actor -- who's not really trained in weaponry -- a loaded gun, you get a little nervous, even if it is blanks, I don't care. So I would say those were the most challenging days for me. I definitely had to curb my anxiety somewhat.
Buckley: And I think probably my challenging thing is when a gun was pointed at Jewel, I was trying not to laugh because she was freaking out so much, and we're trying to play the panic. And she keeps freaking out... probably the most challenging thing was to make it through a lot of takes with not laughing...I felt like we got good performances out of it but there were a lot of days where it was lashing rain and we were freezing out in the mud, digging up whatever we had to dig up and I think it helped pass the time. But it was definitely hard to get through takes with keeping a straight face.
Staite: But we're very professional guys -- very, very professional actors.
Buckley: Yes, very, very...
Staite: Very professional, yes...make sure you write that down.
Nrama: What is going to make people tune in to see Doomsday Prophecy?
Staite: Because it's a disaster movie. Who doesn't love disaster movies? I know I do.
Buckley: My beard...looks awesome in the movie. No, I think you know...
Staite: It does. It's a very thick beard.
Buckley: I got to see a screener of it. If you're into 2012's coming and any sort of conspiracy and it definitely touches - there's some stuff on there that I responded in the script like, "Oh, I've heard of this before." So they did a nice way of tying in some really good conspiracy. But it's a fun little film. I think people would really enjoy watching it. It's action packed and a lot goes on and yes, it's fun.
Nrama: A.J., what about this film do you think makes it unique and innovative? And what makes it stand out from other science fiction films?
Buckley: That's a great question. The thing that I thought was really clever was how they tied in Nostradamus and made it relevant today with somebody, and sort of that bloodline. And the concept over that, instead of just like the earth is exploding. But they kind of follow through - they did a nice way to tie in someone who everyone has heard of and has made these great prophecies into someone living today and sort of pulling a connection between those two people.
Nrama: I know you've both done a lot of sci-fi work. Is that something you look for or is it just the way things work out, that once you do sci-fi you tend to get more sci-fi roles?
Staite: I mean, don't you think that once you're in the sci-fi family it just seems to come easier for you A.J.?
Buckley: Yes, I think so. The more that I've done it the more that I want to keep doing it. I would love to, like with CSI, whenever that ends, I would love to go into some sort of sci-fi series or some sort of thing. They're really fun and like Battlestar Galactica, that's an amazing show. Edward James Olmos and just that whole - it was so well written. There's unbelievable sci-fi shows that are out there. So I would jump at the opportunity to continue in that world. And going back to what we were saying with the fan base and how much they follow you on that, when you get that love and respect from people it makes you want to continue in that genre and do good work for them.
Staite: Yes, absolutely. I also think that as an actor I just look for really fun characters to play. And a lot of really well written female characters happen to be in sci-fi. I mean it just sort of works out that way. But I do know a lot of actors that are kind of chomping at the bit to get in with the sci-fi fans, so to speak, because they really are so loyal. And as an actor this kind of stuff is fun to do. It's fun to stretch...and go beyond the limits of your imagination and just sort of be in these crazy situations that you have to play out. And it's fun. It's always an adventure every day. And that's why I like staying in this genre so much.
Nrama: I'm actually curious about working with the CGI, because there are a lot of effects in this. And what sort of challenge does this pose for you?
Staite: Those scenes...with all the - yes, the green screen is tough.
Buckley: Those are always the toughest things to do, because it's the only time I think you ever really kind of break a sweat, as an actor, because you just feel so ridiculous. There's a monster behind you, there's - whatever it is, or this or that... I find that to be the hardest thing to do because you have 60 crew members looking at you and they know nothing's there. And you're looking at the other actors you're working with, and there's nothing there. So their interpretation of what they're thinking, it takes a little bit to kind of get into it to find out what we're all doing. Because the first couple takes are always a mess. People are all over the place. But green screen is definitely, I think, the hardest thing to do.
Staite: Yes, I agree. And it's the hardest thing to do without laughing too, because you do just feel so ridiculous. I remember shooting that scene where we were watching the Moai heads come out of the ground, and they're supposed to...rise out of the ground and then the beam of light shoots up into the sky. And you know we're standing there having to be totally amazed by this and... I just kept laughing because you just feel like an ass really. You feel like an ass.
Buckley: Yes and then you know I haven't actually, I saw the rough-cut, but I haven't seen the final...
Staite: Oh you haven't?
Buckley: No not yet. But I'm excited. I was going to watch it but then I was like, you know, "I'm just going to wait till the 13th..." But when you watch the rough-cut with CG they have template shots so it's kind of like a drawing of what's going to happen. So your imagination starts running. But those are definitely the hardest things to do.
Nrama: Can you both talk about how you related to these characters?
Staite: Sure. Okay, well the thing that I like about Brooke, is that she kind of reminded me a lot of Dr. Keller who I played in Stargate: Atlantis. She's very much in her element when she's at work. When she's on a dig, she's totally relaxed. She's very smart and she's really in her element. But when she's not and she's in these crazy situations, she goes into panic mode. And that's the way I am too. I don't deal with any kind of peril very well. And it's always really important to me to play that as real as possible. I like that she's not a hero. She's a reluctant hero. And at the end of the day, she sort of has to step up to the plate and do what needs to be done. And I really wanted to put the realism, as much as possible. And so yes, I would say, "We react very similarly in certain situations."
Buckley: I would say that, just the fish out of water sort of element. I love the characters where you never believe that you can accomplish it. And I think a lot when I was younger, it was never that I didn't believe it, I just thought it was going to be really harder or impossible to do certain things. But then once I got into it I realized that I could actually make something happen, or do it. So it's that first instinct of, "Oh sh*t," you know really beat myself up first and then once getting into the groove of it that it was actually able to accomplish it. And we talked with Jason (director Jason Bourque) and stuff about incorporating some sort of fighting and stuff into the guy, so he wasn't just like a book editor - and I love martial arts and boxing and all that sort of stuff, so then we kind of changed the character a bit to have a little bit of an edge to him. Not that I have an edge by any means, but just to make him a little more interesting. And that's it, yes.
Nrama: You mentioned earlier that you're into these prophecies, Nostradamus and everything. I just wanted to know what you think about the Mayan calendar ending in 2012?
Buckley: I'm excited. I just think it's so fascinating that something so long ago and just the intelligence of this culture and this race. And just from their architecture and everything, they did - I'm excited to see it. I don't think that it's the end of days by any means. But I'm excited to see it and I hope that something really great comes out of it. I think that stuff sells movie tickets and stuff, the fear and propaganda of it. But I think that something great will happen.
Nrama: So you're not stock-piling Ramen Noodles and bottled water?
Buckley: I think I would be lying if I didn't say I had an emergency bag, because I live in LA and earthquakes might happen. But it's definitely gone through my head. And I totally believe in aliens. I think there's definitely some sort of intelligent life out there. I mean they just found water on Mars, didn't they? Yes, so I think we are in the embryotic stage of discovering what is out in the universe. And hopefully I'll be alive to get to witness something that we've talked about for so long. But I really think it's going to be something great.
Nrama: Jewel, your fans adore you, they'll follow you wherever you go and we look forward to seeing you in everything that you do. But for a lot of fans it'll be either Stargate or Firefly. And I was wondering, when you get fan reactions -- whether it's Tweets or people coming up to you -- do you find that more are from Firefly fans or more from Stargate or is it more even? And then, which of the two series had more impact on your life in a personal sense?
Staite: I think in terms of the fans it's usually 50/50. When - this is going to sound totally trivial, but when I did Stargate I was a blonde and when I did Firefly I had dark hair. So it's sort of based on that. And recently I went brunette again for my new show. So now I'm getting recognized for Firefly more so than Stargate. But yes, I would definitely say that it was more 50/50. And in terms of which show had a bigger impact on my life, I mean Stargate was obviously a longer job. I was on that job for three years, and I got to shoot in my hometown for a whole three years and see my family and see my friends and sleep in my own bed, which is really great. But with Firefly, it feels like unfinished business. It's like you know when you have this really amazing love affair with someone and then you break up over something stupid and you can't stop thinking about them and you always wonder, "What if?" It's sort of like that.
Nrama: No doubt. And with the comics we fans got more, but we always hope for another movie.
Staite: Yes, me too. I mean we're still holding out. And that's another thing we do in Nathan's big media room, we sit around and listen to Nathan talk about winning the lottery, which I think he said in the press at some point. And he was like, "If I win the lottery I'm going to buy the rights to Fireflyand we're going to make another movie." And we're all like, "Whatever Nathan." There is no bigger Fireflyfan than Nathan Fillion, let me tell you.
Doomsday Prophecy premiers this Saturday, August 13th on Syfy at 9pm.