Torri Higginson – Interview

Torri Higginson

It was a hard act to follow, MacGyver was doing Stargate, and SG-1 was an outrageous success. It seemed unlikely that the proposition of a follow on would result in the same popularity, or indeed in a group of equally well written and well liked characters. Enter Stargate Atlantis, and against the odds, it was a tremendous success. Torri Higginson had the unenviable task of playing Dr Weir, Commander of the likes of Carson Beckett, John Sheppard and Rodney McKay. It’s a role she absolutely made her own, and the massive queue that formed to say hello to her at this years Collectormania at Milton Keynes is a testament to that.

She was kind enough to give us some time and answer our questions, and the Showmasters crew were as ever, brilliant in making things happen for us. It was an absolute pleasure talking to her, and at one point she turned the interview on it’s head and started questioning Abz on her writing and on what she hoped to achieve, but it was done out of genuine interest, and as a result we can only conclude that Torri is “made of awesome”.

You’ve said in the past you’re a little uncomfortable with “celebrity”, is that still the case or has it become a little easier to deal with?

It’s funny because I feel a little bit like a fake, can I say that? I feel a bit of a fraud. As an actor your life is very mercurial, it’s like a freelancer, and when you work, you work a lot, and then you have periods of not working. So right now, all the work I’m doing is non-paying. I’m writing stuff, I’m doing theatre, so my life is not at all like that of a celebrity. So I always find that when I come here, and I always said Sci-Fi was the best because you’re able to come for a weekend, and really feel like a celebrity, and then you go back, and well, nobody takes pictures of me drunk falling out of cars. I’m not treated like a celebrity, so I can have my privacy too. I think if I ever was a super celebrity, and I lost my privacy, I wouldn’t be happy. I think that would be really really tough. So I feel I get the best of both worlds, especially in the Sci-Fi worlds. There is something lovely, and I was just saying this earlier today, everybody should have an opportunity that one day a year everyone lines up and tells you how much they appreciate you. This is such a gift, what I’m getting from everybody right now. It’s such a gift, it’s remarkable. So that part I love. But everyone should have that.

Do you find that sometimes people have expectations of you to be like the characters you play?

Sometimes, it happened more so at the beginning. I feel now that because the show has been out for a while, and maybe because it’s been over for a while, that the fans are more savvy. But when you’re in a show that’s on air at the time, you’re more likely to get that kind of confusion. It’s very rare though, most fans are very sophisticated, but there are a few that do get confused a little bit.

The really die hard fans.

Yeah. But you’re very moved by it because they obviously like they know you because you’re “in their house” every week, and they feel that there’s this intimacy. So it’s interesting trying to navigate that. But I’m always very moved by that, and on very rare occasions, maybe a little uncomfortable with it.

Are there ever times when they reel back your lines to you, and it comes as bit of a surprise?

Yes! I mean, I don’t remember any of the lines now (laughs).

You were working on a project about the line between inspiration and obsession, are you still doing that?

Oh my gosh, you guys do your research don’t you! That was one of the first scripts that I started to write. I’ve always played with writing. I’ve always written bad poetry (laughs), but the last five or so years been trying to write scripts, and that was the first script which was inspired by my obsession with an artist, which is Patti Smith, and she in turn was obsessed with writers. So that sort of led her on her path, and my obsession with her led me on mine to become an actor. I became an actor because of her. So it’s still on the back burner, but because it’s my first project, it needs a lot more work. And also in an interesting way I was suffering with my own obsession with her to be able to write it properly, I had to take a step away from that. So it’s still a theme that exists, but I haven’t finished that one yet.

And what else have you been working on?

I just finished my first script, which you know, is all knew to me. It’s a huge learning curve, but it’s a historical action based on a real character in Irish history, and I’m also presently working on trying to develop a television series.

Do you have an agent for your writing? Abz is a writer too, and she’s just looking for a decent agent at the moment.

I don’t have any writing agents myself right now. Start writing scripts too, because we need more women writers, directors and producers.

Is it easier to act in front of cameras as opposed to in front of live audiences? You said you missed sometimes the audience reaction.

Yeah, that’s why I like these sorts of conventions because I really miss the interaction with the audience. I grew up in theatre, that’s what my first love was, my first exposure. The audience becomes the other character, and you’re able to gauge what you’re doing, and every night it’s a different experience because you have a different audience. So I really did miss that, and started doing these conventions, and realized that this is a wonderful way to meet the audience.

We had a massive glut of Sci-Fi series such as Star Trek, Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, but I wondered if you had any theories on why that’s all come to a halt now.

I have no idea, and it doesn’t seem to be because of a lack of an audience. One thing that I have noticed is that a lot of the mainstream shows are having elements of the supernatural in them. So in a way Sci-Fi and the supernatural have entered the mainstream, and I don’t know if because of that it’s watered down the pure Science Fiction. I’m not sure. But yeah, I’d like there to be more again, and I’d like them to hire me for it (laughs). Let’s work on it together, we can write it together, you can be the stunt coordinator (looks at Hunter), and what do you bring to the table? (looks at Sulaimaane).

His dashing good looks!

There you go! You can be the Leading man!

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