Earlier in the week SciFiPulse along with many other blogging and genre websites took part in an exclusive conference call with Lindsay Wagner, who took time out of her busy schedule to discuss her role in Warehouse 13 and chat a little about The Bionic Woman.
During the course of the hour, Wagner gave out some extremely thoughtful answers, and was more than happy to talk about her philosophical approach to both life and acting.
In Warehouse 13 Wagner will play the role of Doctor Calder, and when asked if there is any similarity between Dr. Calder and the character of Dr. Rudy Wells from The Bionic Woman, who was Jamie’s doctor in that show, Lindsay said that the thought never really occurred to her.
“It never entered my mind, to be honest with you. Rudy Wells was more of a physical, technical doctor, and Dr. Calder is being based around what’s happening today and what is generally referred to as the Energy Psychology or the Energy Medicine – I should say Energy Medicine field. It’s working with the energy system directly to heal the physical instead of focusing so much on trying to fix the physical only.
“It’s becoming more and more clear to not only people who have been talking about this for years with the necessary engagement of body, mind, and sprit to heal – or some people would refer to the spirit part as the energy of the human body to heal anything, physical or emotional. And to truly heal it. I mean, we can shift it and change it by way of – we can shift and change a demonstration by way physical intervention, but if there is not some kind of a shift on the energetic field and the physiological views of the person, either about themselves or the outside world, then either that will come back – that condition will come back or it won’t be a complete healing and something else will manifest as disease, or some problem with the body.
“So, that’s the type of doctor that Dr. Calder is, as well as being fully trained in doing what’s necessary on the physical. But, she would always start working with the least invasive processes first, if it was appropriate.”
As to how she got involved with Warehouse 13, Wagner revealed that it was a matter of a simple phone call to her agent that got the ball rolling.
“They said they had a role and would I be interested in and willing to play it. Quite honestly, I’ve been so busy. I do workshops and retreats all over the world now with – it’s called Quiet the Mind and Open the Heart, which is helping people with some of the things and the techniques and the concepts that have helped me in my life. I share that very directly now through these workshops and retreats.
“I had never even seen the show. I hardly have time to see anything. But so, I watched it really quick on the Web, and I found it to be just a really fun and – concept. Very creative. And, the visuals – the way it’s shot and the chemistry of the actors just really impressed me. It’s really fun. And in its own way, very current and very today, but it had – it felt a lot to me like the Bionic Woman in that – which is what attracted me to want to take the part and do a little cameo, which of course now is kind of turning into somewhat of a recurring Warehouse doctor.
“But, in that – it’s got a exciting and kind of sensationalistic parts to it, but it’s not so gory and violent, and you know there’s moments where it gets violent, but it’s not something that I would not want my kids to watch. And, there’s a whole lot of stuff on TV today that I would not want my kids to watch if they were little. I have no control over them today, of course. But, it’s something that could be fun for kids after a certain age of course to start watching, because there are a few scary things in there. But, it’s something that a family can enjoy and talk about, and kind of stretches your imagination.”
One thing that pleased Lindsay was the fact that the writers of Warehouse 13 had re-written parts of her character to include her real life interest in alternative medicine, and used information from her website, (lindsaywagnerinternational.com) to pad out her character.
When asked if Dr. Calder would be a long-term recurring character, Lindsay couldn’t say, but she did reveal that Calder will make at least two appearances this season.
“There have been no real long-term conversations, but I have done a second episode now, and that’ll be on towards the end of the season. They said,’Well, we’ll see you later,’ when I left, so I don’t know what that means.”
When asked if she ever gets frustrated being associated with the role of Jamie Sommers, the actress revealed that she was extremely thankful for the recognition and the opportunities that The Bionic Woman has given her as both a performer and a human being.
“I know some actors feel that way, but for me – we put so much of our heart and soul into that and trying to make it something meaningful, that to me it just says it worked. It doesn’t say to me that I’m stuck in that image, because I went on to do you know, 40 television movies, and series, and features, and you know mini-series; all kinds of things, playing all kinds of different characters.
“I was well prepared to do it, so I consider that whole thing to have been a gift to my life. And, I love it when people share with me that it was for them as well. That makes me very happy.”
As we all know, things have changed a lot since the 1970′s in terms of production and acting, and when asked about some of the more specific changes that have taken place over the intervening decades, Wagner was more than happy to give her thoughts.
“One is that they have two units. The second unit does the stunt work and they’ve gotten very good at having the second unit director and the first unit director being in sync with each other so that they can set it up and work together so that the interfacing of the acting, with the way the stunts came off becomes seamless. And, that’s a lot of credit to the second unit directors whose job it is to help make that happen.
“To be honest with you, I haven’t done a lot of action stuff or sci-fi stuff. And the particular things that I’ve been doing on Warehouse haven’t put me in the position to be able to experience some of that. Although my son, Dorian Kingi, who does a lot of stunt work, he’s involved in a lot of that. And so, he talks to me about what they’re doing. You know, what the various movies that he’s worked on.
“He was the stunt double for the Silver Surfer and lots of other movies. So, he’s very tall and slender, so they like his body type for a lot of these things … even creatures and things like that that they do CGI over. And he’s presently working on the Green Lantern, which I’m not allowed to talk about much because, you know, movies are becoming very hush-hush these days about all their techniques and stuff.
“I don’t think I’m the best person to talk about how – about the hows, because I haven’t had that much direct contact with it. But, it has changed significantly, because I – you know, with the – we had blue screen — what we used to call blue screen. I guess its green screen today — back then where you could put in a background that you weren’t in and do some acting in front of that.
“But that – I know that goes on a lot today, which is even more demanding than normal acting, because you don’t have the stimulus around you. You have to use your imagination even more and make it real for yourself so that you’ll be real as an actor. You have to dig much deeper. As an actor I can say that, having done some blue screen in the past and knowing how much actors have to do that today.”
In Warehouse 13 many of the characters have subtle supernatural abilities. For example, Pete has a sixth sense about things. When asked if Dr. Calder had any of these abilities, the actress remains fairly tight-lipped.
“ I think you’re going to have to wait and watch, you know. They hold certain secrets very private until they like to do them on screen. So, I’d love to answer your question, but I don’t think I’m allowed to.”
When asked about her favorite artifact and how the show tends to re-write history, Wagner revealed that she was not all that keen on the re-writing of history.
“I didn’t find rewriting history appealing. I do know that there are certain things, and unless one did their own deep research you may not know which ones are and which ones aren’t, but the show, they’ve done a lot of research, and some of the things that sound like they’re rewriting history are actually facts that they dug up about history.
“I find that exciting, that – just as in The Bionic Woman, when you have a sci-fi genre, you know you can say things that are not common knowledge, or that may be very true to you, and you may be even able to prove it, but it’s still not publicly accepted.
“But, you can talk about them because if people can’t deal with that, they just write it off that it’s sci-fi. Not real. It’s fantasy. And so, I find that appealing, because they have – that type of show has the ability to talk about things that, just as we back in The Bionic Woman, one of my favorite episodes, not because maybe it’s the best episode we ever filmed as far as cinematically or anything like that’s concerned.
“But because it was an important issue that I wanted to cover in our show, which was mind over matter. Again, which is commonplace conversation today, using your mind to create your life differently to bring about health, to get rid of a disease.
“You know, we have such amazing human potential. And so we did a show called The Feedback, and I had been bringing a lot of research in from people from our culture who had been researching India and Tibet, certain – the Yogi’s and Monks who had the ability to control their body with their mind far beyond anything we ever dream that we could do. People piercing themselves without bleeding.
“Tibetan Monks having certain practices that they would do as kind of a final exam if you will in one of the stages of their learning in the monastery, and that would be to go out into the snow with a wet blanket wrapped around them with very little clothes on at all and have that – and their job was to do this internal practice that they do which heats up their body, keeps them warm sitting in the snow with a wet blanket around them, and actually drying the – not only warming up that frozen – the blanket that freezes instantly because it’s so cold, but then drying the blanket with your own body heat.
“Those things were very real to me because at a very young age, I had ulcers. And, I – they got so bad at one point that UCLA wanted to operate. And some people helped me, who were — a doctor and a minister — who were both what I would call holistic in their own ways, worked together to help me learn to work with my mind to heal my body without the surgery. So, that was very real to me because I had experienced it personally.
“ I always wanted to do a story about that and tell the kids and the people in the world that there’s a lot of things that we don’t know that we don’t – you know, that we aren’t learning in our everyday lives that would be really beneficial to us if we were to learn. So, that type of a show is always appealing to me, because we did a story like that. So, they’re doing some things like that, and they’re talking about things. And, I think it gets people’s minds going about what may or may not have been written properly in the history books or in the media.”
When asked a little more about her character on Warehouse 13, Wagner revealed that the sort of energy healing her character on the show does draws a lot of similarities from traditional chinese medicine.
“It’s working with the life force. The life force knows exactly what it takes to keep any particular living organism – any organism alive. Anything in manifestation for that matter. Even a rock is a manifestation of some sort, and you know in physics and quantum physics, they know a rock is not even – not dead. It’s a very slow moving energy form compared to a human being or an animal or a plant.
“But so, one of the techniques that I teach in my workshops is based on acupuncture, and it is in fact what I do in the show at this – you know, the technique that I’ve used thus far in the show.
“And of course, that is based on the meridians – the electrical meridian system of the body and how the Chi flows. And, keeping it flowing freely, therein the body demonstrating its intended expression, which is a human being in a healthy state.
“Releasing the blockages in the energy field so that the Chi can continue to flow properly and be accessed properly to increase it if one was to want to do that, or direct it in a certain way are the techniques that I use, or that I’m using in the Warehouse.
“And the regents – obviously, if they understand that there is power in the universe that can be captured, utilized, and – it’s the whole premise of the show. That we need to be careful with that, because we think we’re very advanced as a species, but if you look at what we do with – unwittingly as well as intentionally sometimes with power, it’s kind of like how evolved are we really? Sometimes when you look around.
“So, I think that it says volumes about their understanding of – that the power of the universe can be harnessed certain ways in certain things, and certainly in people and through people.
“I think that they also – through some of the stories that I’ve seen – I haven’t seen all the episodes, but with some of them, they’re starting to show the interconnectedness between the human expression – the human being – the human body and the powers and what – the interfacing, if you will.”
Moving off from the SciFi and Fantasy slant, I felt the need to ask Lindsay about one of her film roles, which found her working with Sylvester Stallone and science fiction icon Billy Dee Williams on the movie Night Hawks, and when asked what it was like to work with Stallone, Wagner was very upbeat about the man’s work ethic.
“He was really incredible. That film – I mean, history has shown that he’s so talented in so many different ways. He had made Rocky obviously before that. But it was just incredible. We had – they had some difficulties. Whatever they were, I wasn’t privy to the inside information about it. We started with one director, and all of the sudden there was some problems, and he ended up having to take over the film and he ended up directing it.
“So just spontaneously, he just jumped into that role, and after then directed. And, it was incredible watching him and his multi-talented self whip that film into shape. It was quite educational in some ways. But, just kind of awe-inspiring watching him work on so many levels at one time. That’s not easy. Not many actors can do that.”
Warehouse 13 airs every Tuesday on Syfy.
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By Ian M. Cullen