Coaching for Geeks Stargate fanatic, Daniel Fine, heads to MCM Manchester Comic Con to meet Teal’c
MCM Manchester Comic Con took place last weekend and was attended by an array of different stars. Many were voice actors who’d been featured in video games and there were a few actors as well, including Manchester’s prodigal son, Benedict Wong from Dr Strange and Avengers Infinity War fame. But arguably the star of the show was Christopher Judge. Throughout the weekend, the line at his signing station was the longest and a huge crowd gathered to hear him talk at the live stage on both days. Most famous for portraying the Jaffa Warrior Teal’c, in Stargate SG-1, he has recently come back to prominence with his role as Kratos in the video game God of War. The reboot of the ultra-violent series was released in April to critical acclaim and record-breaking sales.
Despite his hectic schedule for the weekend, Judge still found time to speak to the assorted members of the press, to give us an insight into the process of God of War and offer tantalising hints of future Stargate series.
As a diehard Stargate fan – who owns the entire series and can identify most episodes within ten seconds – I was hugely excited and nervous to speak to Judge. But I was very impressed with how he instantly put everyone at ease, cracking jokes and speaking very naturally to the assembled journalists.
The God of War
First he talked about God of War, stating that when he first got the script he didn’t know that it was a video game. “I called my agent and said ‘why am I being sent this? This is like a big budget AA film that’s going to go straight to offer. Why are you wasting my time with this?’ My agent said ‘as a matter of fact it’s a video game, but before you say no, you’ll be doing all of it, including the motion capture. You’ll be doing the entire physical performance and they want to shoot it like a film.”’
Judge had previously been reticent about doing video games and while “the material hit close to home”, he admitted that he “was still kind of sceptical” and so sought advice from fellow actors. I asked him if he had spoken to Claudia Black, who starred with him in Stargate SG-1 and has featured in many different video games, most notably in the Uncharted franchise: “I really didn’t find out how extensive Claudia’s resume was till after I started doing God of War. I just kind of asked some friends of mine what they thought about it. And some of the big actors, like Norman Reedus, doing franchise video games that’ve really taken the stink off of it. And really it’s amazing what it’s done, it’s completely reinvigorated my career and if you’d told me that would happen before, I wouldn’t have believed you. At all!”
The Older Panther
Although Judge remains hugely popular among fans for his time on Stargate, after the show ended in 2007 he had struggled to get as many roles before landing God of War, which he admits came along at the right time. “I was kind of at that point where, look, do I keep being in shape or do I just kind of become a character guy? I had just not been seen for Black Panther and not been seen for Black Lightning, because they had this perception that I was older, that I looked a certain way or didn’t look a certain way, what have you. So I was really kind of at a crossroads. So I said I’m going to give this one more shot and I got into the best shape of my life, and then literally out of nowhere comes God of War.”
Throughout the press conference and the live stage interviews, Judge spoke a lot about Cory Barlog – the director of God of War – and was effusive in his praise for the American. “For the first couple years it was kind of blind trust, but I have such a great relationship with Cory that I did trust where we was going. Cory really changed my thinking about what it is to be a powerful man. It doesn’t have to be this physically aggressive, domineering thing. You know, you can speak to people and respect people’s opinions and thoughts, and it was a really transformative experience for me. It’s kind of also transformed the stuff I want to do.”
This invited the obvious question of ‘what is the stuff you want to do next?’ And to the surprise, and delight, of everyone in attendance, it was at this point the he started to talk Stargate. “If you saw any of the stuff from [San Diego] Comic Con that was the start of it. Whatever form Stargate takes next, I’d be very happy to, for the rest of my career, kind of just do whatever is going to happen with Stargate and God of War, and golf and spend time with my kids. I would be perfectly happy to not do anything else.”
When I pressed him on this, asking if something from Stargate was coming, he jokingly replied “Where’d you get that?” Before saying that he was not able to give any concrete details. Later, at the live stage, he simply told the audience “There’s cool shit coming.” Given that Judge was quoted at San Diego Comic Con saying that he wants to explore the state of the Jaffa after the conclusion of Stargate SG-1, I’d say it’s a decent bet that’s what he was referring to.
Regardless of the form that the next Stargate series takes, Judge clearly believes that the executives at MGM studios have the best interests of the franchise at heart. He repeatedly stated with amazement that they came to the SDCC panel and that they really care about the fans.
“I was sceptical for a long time, but I just kept seeing proof in the pudding, and then last week all these executives came down to the panel – which they weren’t scheduled to do – and took their own time to go down and thank fans. Executives personally thanking fans for their support! Get the fuck out of here! Now I know the world is going to end soon. [Laughs] But yeah, it was fantastic to bear witness to that. You give lip service to the idea that executives are listening to the fans and thinking ‘oh god I hope I’m not lying’, and that it’s borne out to be true is fantastic. It’s so rare but so appreciated that these people, who are going to be your bosses, have a vested interest, not only in the fandom, but in the show itself.”
Even from the short time we got to spend with Christopher Judge, it was clear that he’s an actor who is very invested in the franchises he works on and really appreciates the fans. When asked if we can expect more God of War at the live stage, he first said: “I would imagine there are going to be sequels. That’s just a guess though, I don’t know definitively…” before pausing, laughing and saying “of course I know, but I truly cannot even hint” he then covered the mic and silently mouthed “of course there is, yes.” Judge seemed to want to please the fans so much, that he couldn’t help himself from hinting at more God of War and more Stargate.
Hopefully, this means we’ll be seeing much more of him in the future…
Daniel Fine – Tweeting at @danielfine4