Bill Marchantís initial appearance in Stargate SG-1 might only have seen him as a character so desperate to live, that he paid Maybourne three million dollars to secure a Goaíuld symbiote, but filming that particular episode Desperate Measures turned into a labour of love.

 

 

ďMy contribution to the actual filming was supposed to be three days, but ended up being four,Ē he says. ďThe inside scope on this is, the day where we shot the stuff in the hallway I was fine, and then the day of the Ďaliveí bed scene when the Goaíuld gets Diana to release him I was fine, but the day when sheís (Amanda Tapping Ė Major Sam Carter) strapped down to the bed and we have the discussion abut why Iím doing this, and Iím coughing and I break down Ė I was very, very sick that day, I had a flu bug and I was running a temperature of about 103,104 and Iíd thrown up all evening long, and I finally got to sleep about 5am and I thought, okay Iím going to be alright! So I got to sleep about 4am, and I had to be up about 5:30am to be on set by 7am. I went to sleep, woke up and started throwing up again.I phoned my agent and said what do I do? He said well, if youíre sick enough to be in a hospital go! Otherwise youíre on set and, itís showbiz, right?Ē

 

He expands on this by explaining thus. ďThe cost of them missing a dayís work because I didnít show up is about $100,000 or more dollars. I donít know what they specifically spend for episodes but itís got to be a million, a million half, maybe as much as two million, for an hourís science fiction show, thatís at least a million dollars Ė so for me to not show up would have cost them, and ultimately cost me. They might have continued shooting, but their desire to have me back might not be so great, because you are throwing hundreds of peopleís lives into a flux because of all the planning that goes on.Ē

 

 

ďWe shot the episode at Riverview mental hospital, which is out past Burnaby, itís this big creepy place Ė to secure a location like that costs a lot of money, so if youíre not sick enough to be in the hospital then youíre on set.So I showed up at 7am, luckily had a very nice trailer and people were very kind, the craft services guy had like every kind of vitamin imaginable for me there, none of which I took because I couldnít keep anything down.I crawled to makeup and wardrobe, they were very kind to me there, I got in the wheelchair, I stayed in the wheelchair for a couple of hours.This was a $35,000 wheelchair from Switzerland, really incredible.Itís better than most cars, I told them I wanted to keep it and drive it to work every day Ė but that day I was very sick, it was all I could do to get on set.They have a medical advisor on set, I think her name is Jackie, sheís a nurse and Iím sick, sick and sheís like, I think you should be wheezing more and coughing more, and I could barely get my lines out. Coughing when youíre well, not a problem for an actor at all. But coughing when youíre actually sick, every take I almost threw up on, just because I was coughing and coughing and coughing and it gets that reflex going.I was supposed to do another scene that day too, a short little bit the scene on the bed when I regain consciousness, the line where I say, ďThe pain is gone!ĒThey sent me home and let me go, so I luckily got another day out of it.Ē

 

Visiting Bridge Studios

 

ďI was on location the whole time in that creepy hospital. It was very exciting for me though, when theyíre showing the slides that were shot up in the board room at Bridge studio Ė I went for my costume fitting and normally that would be downstairs so I wouldnít have gotten to see the set, but I had to get walked through the set, to get the shots of Adrian as a business man,Ē he explains, with all the enthusiasm you would expect from a long time fan.ďSo I got to see the Stargate, and I got to see the control and everything.Those sets are so convincing that I was getting walked from wardrobe over to get my hair and makeup done through the corridors, and Iím okay this is nice industrial building, and I had no idea that was the set I was getting walked through until Iíd done hair and makeup and they walked me back through and I realised those were the Stargate halls, because they looked so real with the pipes and the electrics and the lights and everything Ė it looks exactly like the real thing.

Itís so fun and convincing Ė it looks as good as it does on TV, itís real.Ē

 

Researching the show

 

ďIíd seen around five,Ē he says. ďI saw the pilot and the four episodes after that, so I was familiar with all the lead characters Ė I was a little familiar with the Goaíuld, Iíd checked websites on that. Up until that point I really wasnít clear on Christopher Judge, what kind of a Goaíuld he was, I really didnít understand the whole Jaffa thing. Iíve figured that out now, but that was the fun part of doing the research was I got a clearer idea of whatís going on!Ē

 

He laughs as he makes the point. ďNo way I know as much as the fans Ė I donít think any of us actors ever know as much as the fans.Ē

 

 

Who is Bill Marchant?

 

ďWell, I do a lot of different things, as well as being an actor; Iím also a writer and a musician too. I put an album out with a friend of mine Ė Michael Chase, our album, "Odlum" was released independently three years ago and a second one is in the works for release in the spring. We have had a lot of interest from the labels, but nothing confirmed just yet.We did, however, sell songs to 'Higher Ground", "Queer as Folk" as well as two prominently featured tracks in the feature film "Suspicious River". I produced the album with Michael, I co-wrote all the songs, and you can get copies online from Michaelís site.Ē

 

Does this very versatile artist make huge contributions?

 

ďI sing and play fairly poorly, so I donít actually sing or play,Ē Bill admits honestly. ďI sing a little on backing vocals Ė but my contribution is mostly as a writer, lyrics too Ė Iím not a great musician but Iíve been writing since I was 7 years old.

 

I play a little guitar and piano Ė but not enough to call, what I would call playing Ė more just to write.And I also teach, I teach at the Vancouver film school, Iím the head instructor of writing and of acting for their film and television program there, Iíve been doing that for four years Ė prior to that I ran my own theatre company with another teacher in town called Ďthe company we keepí, I did that for four years - like any other actor Iíve worked at four or five restaurants in town, I donít do that anymore thank goodness, hopefully I wonít have to go back to that.Ē

 

The roles you play!

 

ďActing wise, I did a couple of episodes of Millennium, Dead Manís Gun, a lot of smaller television, Iíve also done a couple of features, but mostly independent stuff Ė something called Debating Christ which hasnít been released yet.Ē

 

ďWhen I was a kid I did a lot of acting, my parents took me out and said when youíre 18 if you still decide, I was living in Ontario at the time and they didnít want to ferry me back and forth between Toronto, they wanted to have a life, so when youíre 18 you can go to school for acting if you want to do it, but we donít want to become showbiz parents.I was a little resentful at the time but not bad, and now I really respect their decision, it was a great choice!Itís not always a healthy thing to do.Ē

 

Theatre?

 

ďI love comedy, I think I have a flair for it, but thereís nothing like investing in the classics, the last role I took on, Iíve havenít done theatre in about four years Ė because of film and television work.But I did a play called Bent, I donít know if you know about it Ė but itís about two gay characters who are interned in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany even though they never get to touch each other, or look at each other, they manage to fall in love even despite what the Nazis are doing to them, so itís very much a political play, but itís also a love story, tremendously challenging play, tremendously challenging role and that was fun, and in a way almost one of the highlights of my career.In TV itís very rare that you get to sink your teeth into anything and that was the fun of playing Adrian, it was complex. I donít think Adrian himself was a bad person, not at all, I mean everything that the script would seem to indicate was that he was actually a very kind and loving person, but pushed to an act of desperation. Adrian in no way shape or form wanted to harm Samantha, and I think even though thatís just hinted at in the script, I think that to me hinted at how to play the character, that this guy was really kind, even though heís a millionaire and a lot of people have talked about him being Bill Gatesian, I think was/is a lot kinder and gentler than that, eventually if we got to see Adrian come back again, not that I want to sacrifice playing a Goaíuld, thatís the most fun Iíve ever had, as much as I like playing the dramatic roles Ė as an actor you never lose sight of the little boy, you know playing Cowboys and Indians is one thing, but playing Sci-fi is the other thing, and the fun it is to play an alien, itís fantastic, my eyes glow, my voice goes all distorted! It never gets any better than that.Ē

 

ďIím not allowed to give spoilers away, but I donít think weíve seen the last of Adrian, and I think we might just see him before the seasonís over,Ē he tells me cryptically. (And we did in 48 Hours!).

 

So, what is Bill Marchant doing now?

 

ďIím on sabbatical from the school; Iím just taking four months off to write. My mum has been quite ill, so Iím going to take a trip back to Ontario to see my family,Ē he says, as we sit in the grounds of a hospital in Vancouver, on a sunny September afternoon.

 

ďTo me the world situation right now puts everything into perspective, as actors we can get neurotic and quite self-absorbed, weíre almost forced to be by the industry because itís not like we have a regular job, even Richard Dean, or Amanda (Tapping) those folks, what happens after next year?Anybody can get laid off or fired, but for an actor thatís just a way of life.

 

So youíre constantly forced to look at yourself, and re-evaluate yourself, why did I get that job? Why didnít I get that job? You can just get really caught up in yourself.

I think the state of international affairs has really put things into perspective, not just for actors, but for everyone everywhere, I know that with my family and my friends weíre all a lot quicker to say ĎI love youí and to look at those relationships, and the good ones, I feel more committed than ever to keep them good, and then the ones that are not so good, I feel a commitment to make them better, and to make amends.Ē

 

His enthusiasm is contagious as he elaborates more.

 

ďShow business is fantastic and Iím looking forward to seeing how the industry as a whole responds to the state of World affairs, I think itís our job to entertain people, but I think itís also our job to enlighten people and hopefully both at the same time.

I really believe, as a teacher too, teaching young actors, I think weíve got a commitment to promote the ideas of peace and love and compassion and just humanity in general, is that too big, or too far reaching of an actor?I really donít know.Thatís why I really respect Richard (Dean Anderson) too, because heís taken his position, and quietly and subtly, without any attention to him, heís promoted a number of environmental and global concerns in the most eloquent, respectful ways I can ever imagine, I have so much respect and admiration for that guy, itís not about him, itís not about his ego, itís about getting the job done and drawing attention to something that needs help!Ē

 

 

Writing?

 

ďRight now Iím working on a feature thatís come from an idea that I had last year, I donít have the money for it yet, but I do have a company who wants to look at it, so that looks good.

 

I want to combine everything together, writing, music, and acting, but I also direct.Iíve directed in the past four years, I think about eight short films.I donít know what the future holds, I think itís so hard wearing so many hats, itís funny, I really do want to investigate what challenges await me as an actor, Iím really excited about that, I think Iím at the top of my craft and itís taken me a long time to get here, I think I still have a ton to learn, but Iím confident, and Iím enjoying my work for the first time, instead of beating myself up every corner, I should have done that, I could have done this?For instance, with Adrian it was a big challenge and I felt I lived up to the challenge.

 

Iím really looking forward to where I go next as an actor; Iíve sort of broken that feeling that Iím classedÖ I donít know if you know the hierarchy in the acting parts is, but an acting part is generally two to five lines Ė a principle part is 5-11 lines and then youíre guest star, and lead stuff is after that, so I feel like Iíve broken that principle thing, which is where most of actors make their money, and people make their living, and people that you never heard of and you never will hear of, but their a face you see regularly on TV over and over again, playing cop2, or doctor1 so I seem to have broken that particular thing and moved up to guest star roles so Iím very excited to find where Iím going to go next.

But I was a writer before I was anything else, you know what thatís like, as much as I try to put my pen down, or stay away from my keyboard, itís in my heart and itís my favourite way of expressing myself.


Acting is an interpretive art; we take other peopleís words and other peopleís ideas and really try to do them justice.But as a writer you have complete control until other people take that away from you, but in the act of creation youíre just imagining worlds and ideas, and thoughts and feelings, so I can never ever abandon that.

 

I would like to marry all the disciplines; Iím a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson who wrote and directed Boogie Nights and Magnolia and a film called Heartache, which if you havenít seen, you should see, itís a magnificent film; Iíd really like to follow his path and create my projects from the ground up, starting with something smaller and more intimate, and then building up to larger projects if the funding is there.

 

Mostly what Iíve done is the past if short fiction, Iíve written a fair bit of poetry too, but mostly for my own devices.I hate to say it but I think poetry is a dying art.Unfortunately the only people who really read poetry are the poets these days, other people do, but I crave the late 1800s when people used to pass books of poetry around and it would be available like weíre up on our magazines Ė those days are definitely gone, I still write it.But primarily I write short fiction, and I feature a lot, Raymond Carver whoís an American writer, an American minimalist and I usually use ĎShort cutsí itís a Robert Altman film, itís based on Raymond Carver stories.

If you happen to like Raymond Carver, which you should, heís just, for understanding America, what North Americaís about; it even supersedes that, itís just beautiful English stories of real people, thatís what I like to write, spice of life stuff, kitchen sink sort of human drama.I like to investigate the minutiae of what it means to be alive, what do you and I have in common?

Iíve also been doing a lot of study into Buddhist thought, and the Buddhist notion of course is that everything is suffering, and as depressing as that sounds, I donít think thatís true, as I think we all know that we live with our heartbreak or some heartbreak every day, even just knowing that our lives on this planet are very, very short, that in itself is sorrow, so finding joy within that, I think, is the common goal of every human being, thatís what I like to write about.

 

Acting Goals?

 

I think I generally play the heavies and those are the juicier, meatier roles anyway, so I donít have any problem if I get stuck there forever, dream of all dreams Ė I aspire to have a career like Tom Hanks, in that Tom Hanks is not a good looking man in the traditional sense of the word, heís not Tom Cruise, or Brad Pitt, but I think he really represents an everyman, so it would be fun to play those kind of heroes, but if I never get that opportunity Iím more than happy to play bad guys for the rest of my life, as long as Iím working.

 

Who do you want to work with?

 

ďPaul Thomas Anderson for sure, Iím very eager to work with Tom McBeath, I just think heís a genius. I would love to work with Richard (Dean Anderson) more too; heís so fun to work with.Iím not the kind of person that gets star struck at all, but you know when youíre working with Richard Dean, you look at him and you want to break into giggles sometimes, because itís like, oh thereís MacGyver, you know? Thereís Jack, because heís a celebrity and a star, and he is a star I believe because he carries a very special and unique energy about him, and thatís what makes that show, all the rest of the cast? Great! Itís a great show with very talented people on it, but itís Richardís show and thereís absolutely no doubt about that in my mind, and itís Richardís show because he earned that!Ē

 

Will Adrian ĎThe dark Goaíuld friend of Simmonsí Conrad be back?

 

Bill Marchant smiles, and offers honestly. ďI hope to be back!Ē

 

©Jaclyn & Bill Marchant 2002