'Stargate: Continuum' Cast Recall Being On Ice


On Monday, July 21, now-brunette "Stargate SG-1" and "Stargate: Atlantis" star Amanda Tapping appeared in Beverly Hills, Calif., at the Television Critics Association Press Tour to promote her new Sci Fi Channel series "Sanctuary."

But in May of 2007, Tapping was still a blonde and still hard at work in Vancouver, Canada, playing Air Force Col. Samantha Carter in "Stargate Atlantis" and two "Stargate SG-1" movies, "Ark of Truth" and "Continuum."

"Ark of Truth" was designed to wrap up storylines from the end of the show's 10th season, but "Continuum," due out Tuesday, July 29, on DVD, represents the first stand-alone movie based on the long-running TV franchise (started on Showtime and continued on Sci Fi Channel), itself based on the 1994 movie "Stargate."

And, speaking to crowds on Friday, July 25, at Comic-Con International in San Diego ("Continuum" premiered in San Diego on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Midway on July 24), executive producer Brad Wright hinted that more movies might be on the way.

For the cast, more movies mean more adventures; although it would be hard to top the trip a couple of them took to a location on the ice of the Arctic Ocean, at the northern reaches of Alaska, during the filming of "Continuum."

Speaking in her trailer during work on "Ark of Truth," Tapping recalled, "It was life-altering. It was so beautiful up there and so clean. No airplanes overhead; no microwaves; no cell phones; no electrical anything. It was just so pure. You felt really clear-headed up there, and everything was simple.

"You got up in the morning; you ate your meal; you chipped ice to make water. You went off and shot a couple of scenes, came back and ate lunch, helped to clean up. Days were simple. I loved being part of the camp. I loved helping out. I loved KP duty.

"I did dishes, stuff like that. The worst part of being up in the Arctic was the toilet situation."

More on that a bit later.

Ben Browder, who plays Air Force Col. Cameron Mitchell, had a somewhat less romantic view of the Arctic, saying, "We arrived in Prudhoe Bay on Alaska Airlines. It was 35 below. It was cold.

"We flew 200 miles out onto the ice and landed in a little cargo plane, on the ice. The base which is there basically wasn't there two weeks before.

"We landed on three feet of ice, which I thought sounded thin for a plane to land on, but three feet of ice was pretty thick. The only thing we had to worry about was whether our ice floe separates from the runway, and they have to send the raft there to get us out.

"So we're over 3,000 feet of freezing water, on an old ice floe. The camp was constructed on site, with basically insulated plywood."

According to Browder, the camp was built for the Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station, a joint venture involving the University of Washington and the U.S. Navy.

"They're working on sonar systems and submarine communications systems," he said, "and all kinds of things we're not really allowed to know about."

Other than the secrecy, Tapping said the Navy was very accommodating, "(They said), 'We'll pop a nuclear submarine up on the ice, and let you come on board and film.' Uh, OK! Go, Navy! They were awesome.

"Three times we did a surfacing on different days. The third time, they actually hit the mark perfectly, which was amazing. We're on an ice floe, and it's moving. It's just a mark chiseled out of the show, so the sunlight comes through."

They also went on the sub, and Tapping said of the atmosphere, "There's a distinct smell to submarines. It's sort of a combination of food and socks, and it's got a texture to it. It's almost oily, but you get used to it super quickly."

Getting back to the toilet situation, Browder said, "We were there for a week. We had the benefit of a couple of outhouses, unheated at 35 below, interesting. Things they didn't tell you before you get in -- toilet paper doesn't work at 35 below. You use wet wipes."

Apparently, accommodations were snug.

"We were in huts," Browder says. "There would be six of us sleeping in there, six bunk beds, so I had the captain down there and [director] Martin Wood over there. I was on the top bunk."

Not on the trip were Michael Shanks, who plays Dr. Daniel Jackson (and was filming a stint on "24" at the time), and Christopher Judge, who plays the alien Teal'c.

"I don't know why anyone would miss it," Browder said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance."

Judge knew why he didn't go, saying, "I've never even been camping in my life. I didn't think my first camping experience should be in the Arctic.

"I actually said yes, and then we had an orientation. In an orientation, you want to hear that you're going to be perfectly safe. There's nothing to worry about. Let's just say, that's not what I heard."

Turns out there was a chance of polar bears.

"There was actually one safety meeting," Tapping said, "about, if the polar bear comes from this end of the set, it's smelled us, and it's coming in to investigate. If it comes from this end, we're going to surprise it, and that's dangerous.

"Either way, if you see a polar bear, make a run for the guy with the gun, be as loud as you can and congregate."

Upon hearing this, Judge said, "Yeah. That's things I don't ever need to know."

Since the end of "Stargate SG-1" wasn't really the end (as "Continuum" may itself not be the end), Browder was philosophical about saying goodbye.

"I'll cross that bridge when I come to it," he said. "We don't say goodbye. 'Stargate' means never having to say goodbye."

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