Christopher Heyerdahl’s entrance set the tone for the “Sanctuary—League of Extraordinary Individuals” panel in the Atrium Ballroom (American Sci-Fi Media track) at 2:30PM on Friday. He surprised the show’s fans first by appearing with a full head of hair, in contrast to his completely bald character, then danced across the stage and mugged for Dragon*Con TV. Heyerdahl and costars Robin Dunne and Amanda Tapping teased each other throughout the hour, keeping the atmosphere in the ballroom relaxed and open.
When asked what the set is like when the cameras aren’t rolling, Tapping responded, “We’re all idiots.” She added that they’re the same way when the cameras are on. She described her costars as “the finest cast I’ve ever worked with, and that’s saying a lot.” Dunne later commented that the cast really is a family, and Heyerdahl added that they have a great rapport with the crew as well.
Interspersed with the teasing, however, was news for fans of Sanctuary. The cast has just wrapped the fourth season, and Tapping hopes they’ll have time to do more podcasts in the off-season. A fan asked if Dunne’s character, Will Zimmerman, will resume wearing glasses and was told the glasses are permanently gone. Zimmerman’s current girlfriend, however, will be staying around for a while, a change from his previous bad luck with relationships.
When a fan asked whether Zimmerman’s disastrous romantic history was revenge for that of Samantha Carter, Tapping’s character on Stargate SG-1, Tapping replied, “Yes.” Dunne then asked, “So I’m paying for someone else’s sins?” Grinning, Tapping again said, emphatically, “Yes.”
In other relationship news, there will be developments in the friendship between Tapping’s character, Helen Magnus, and Jonathon Young’s Nicola Tesla. A fan asked Tapping why Magnus allows the evil genius Tesla to “go his merry way.” Tapping responded that Magnus and Tesla have been friends for more than 150 years and that Magnus trusts him implicitly not to do anything that would truly hurt her, even though he might do things that annoy her.
A fan who has been buying the episodes as they appear on iTunes asked about the possibility of getting special features similar to the ones included with the DVD releases. Tapping called that “a great idea” and made a note to look into it.
Heyerdahl was asked where he feels his character, John Druitt, is going now that he has evolved from an enemy of Magnus to an occasional ally. He said “nice John is always there” but sometimes loses the battle with “evil John.” He added that he enjoys the variety. Tapping described the relationship of Magnus and Druitt as “explosive,” and Heyerdahl promised the first episode of Season four would have “a lot of surprises in many relationships.”
In response to a question about whether green-screen work saves money, Tapping indicated that it tends to balance out. She added that 60 to 65 percent of this past season’s sets were virtual and Sanctuary recycles its “built” sets. Heyerdahl said such recycling is virtually unknown in television, with sets usually trashed after use. Dunne added that the crew members who build the “practical sets” make a small parking lot into Mumbai, World War II France, or any other location the show needs, with Heyerdahl noting that green screen use allows the show to set stories in exotic locations for minimal cost. Tapping said she likes working with green screens because she finds the atmosphere more intimate, as it is in a small theater. With “no scenery to chew,” the emphasis is on the characters.
When a fan asked Tapping about the charity Sanctuary for Kids, Tapping said the charity has raised almost a quarter of a million dollars and is committed to work in Somalia with Save the Children, which has been a partner for the charity in Haiti and Palestine. In Haiti, Sanctuary for Kids works with a school that provides hot meals in the area and with a group that provides trauma counseling. The annual auction isn’t ready yet, but the charity is assembling information about things fans have done to support its efforts. Information is available at sanctuaryforkids.org.
At the end of the panel, a fan noted that Magnus has never had to explain why she, a woman, is in charge. The fan asked whether there was any behind-the-scenes discussion of doing so. Tapping responded that there was never any such discussion. “Magnus is just Magnus” and never had to justify her authority, something Tapping wishes could be true for all women in film.