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Feature: Stargate Atlantis

Fighting Spirit

Rachel Lattrell Her kinetic connection to the enemy and physical abilities make Teyla Emmagan one of the series’ prize assets in the war against the Wraith. Rachel Lattrell tells us what lies in store for Teyla in the second season…

Teyla Emmagan and her people, the Athosians, are all too familiar with the scourge of the Pegasus galaxy, otherwise known as the Wraith. For centuries, these creatures have been culling planets in order to feed on the Humanoid life forces of the inhabitants, including Teyla’s race. As a child, she was taught by her parents to fear the Wraith. However, this second season on Atlantis, Teyla learns that not all Wraith are the enemy, or at least they don’t start out that way.

“We recently finished shooting an episode called Instinct, which is an especially interesting one for my character,” notes actress Rachel Luttrell, who plays Teyla. “In it, our heroes encounter a young female Wraith, and apparently that’s quite rare. Before this, I don’t think Teyla had even seen one. The female Wraith in this story has been raised by Humans and is humane. She’s called Ellia and doesn’t feed on humanoids, nor does she desire to. In fact, this Wraith is very sympathetic to Humans.

“Of course, Teyla’s initial reaction to Ellia is one of hatred. This creature is part of a lineage that’s been raping and killing her people. However, my character is able to eventually get past all that negativity and in doing so finds that she can be compassionate to this Wraith. I enjoyed that exploration into what was a form of racism. You have these deeply entrenched beliefs about a group of people and then suddenly you meet one who’s very different. It was wonderful to play that out. To top it off, Jewel Staite [Kaylee Frye] from Firefly was cast as Ellia. She’s an amazing actress and I’m a big fan of Firefly, so working with her was really cool.”

As part of Lt Colonel John Sheppard’s exploration team, Teyla spent the show’s first season going on off-world missions and facing all manner of dangerous situations. It was one big adventure, and continues to be for her as well as Luttrell.

“I was very pleased with my character’s story arc last year,” enthuses the actress. “This season I’m hoping to dig a little deeper into her culture and find out what she brings from that and how it fleshes her out as a person. When we first met Teyla she was this interesting sketch of a wise and powerful leader. Then slowly during Season One we learnt, among other things, that she can sense the Wraith and establish a two-way mental link with them. She’s always known this, but up to now her abilities weren’t as acute. They’re gradually growing stronger and it gives me yet another facet of my character to explore.

by Steven Eramo

Get the full interview, plus Claudia Black in Stargate SG-1 in
Starburst #328

Photo © Sci-Fi Channel
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Starburst #328, see below for ordering options
Starburst #328
October 2005
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