Rachel Luttrell Interview
Natalia K at comicon
When I migrated to Australia from Poland a time before the electronic entertainment age,I didn’t get to watch much Science Fiction in fact I found it scary!Instead we were told as children to go outside and play which is where my mind was set free to craft imaginary worlds of fun and youthful fantasy.I cultivated a love for reading over the years,mother would drive us to the local library each and every week. and for a few hours while she went shopping my mind would become an open receptacle ready to devour as much information as possible.Time would become abstract as the mind’s eye would become lost in literature.
Upon returning mum would take home not just me,but another of equal size and weight :p A massive bag of books, enough to wait out a nuclear winter.The literature included a broad range of genres,but the desired fruits for the Branular diet would always be healthy doses of young adult fiction and biographies.
Traversing the 90’s was awkward and sometimes difficult for my teen years and I slowly forgot about my old companion the humble book,substituting reading for a throng of uncouth teens and an alluring party scene.At that time I had a friend who was into computer games and science fiction I recollect thinking only the biggest nerd would get entertainment from these activities and boy was I wrong!!To my surprise I would become an even bigger fan making him pale by comparrison,this would reconnect me to my younger self.
Circa 2000 AD I was requainted to the fantasy realm via Dungeons and Dragons literature and R.P.G(Role Playing Games)on both Pc and Console.Being somewhat open minded I found the transition easy,enjoying it more than I could have imagined.The games were similar to books but with a twist this time I could be the protagonist altering how the story would progress and inevitably conclude.
My sojourn was also accompanied by the television series Star Trek from the 60’s and 70′ era, sci fi’s granddaddy.This would eventually branch out towards the more modern stuff like Red Dwarf,Stargate,Firefly,Eureka & the X files.
Having a strong but unique personality type I embrace who I am, not falling to the wayside or succumbing to the trends of public and peers.This I found made for an easier progression into what I call the”space opera” genre.
I see it this way break down your average sci-fi show and what you get is drama with a dynamic setting be that in space, another world and even here on Terra Firma, with characters coming from all walks of life,with.. for the most part very human emotions.For one moment place all the fantastical settings to one side and you’re left with its beating soul the core interactions of characters living among one another dealing with common issues I can relate to like love hate anger intrigue ,I find watching these shows soothes my savage beast.Piquing my interests towards reading biographies on the people who started it all like Gene Roddenberry the creator of the original series Star Trek during the 60-70’s age of the”Western”,making it a constant uphill battle for studio backing.The foundations which each episode are built sets the human race as new explorers to the galaxy ,seeking out new life and civilisations,sometimes working together for common goal or against each other out of fear and ignorance learning all the while how different we are but also how similar.
He was able to touch volatile subjects,that in the 60’s were delicate matters i.e appartheit.Star trek is well known for having the first interracial kiss on a U.S televisionchannel between Captain Kirk “Bill Shatner” and Lieutenant Uhura “Nichelle Nichols”.Nichols’was one of the first African American female characters on a American television not portrayed as a servant,this was groundbreaking for American society at that time.Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. personally praised her work on the show,proud of her involvement in a show which taught acceptance of others,and other moral codes.
Even though Stargate Atlantis was made numerous years later by another studio,many of Star Trek’s fundamental principles remain.Continuing to teach us strength through adversity and overcoming indifference by working together.
Stargate Atlantis character Elizabeth Weir (Atlantis Mission leader) played by Torri Higginson is a strong minded individual.What made her unique was her ability to hold her own in a primarily male dominated military environment while still showing a stalwart compassionate but feminine side.I feel the show empowers women without the need to physically exploit them,instead focusing on merit and strength of character. By being written this way I feel her leadership skills always pulled everyone together more like a family rather than a military team.
On that same note another character sticks out in my mind,and is also my favourite”Teyla Emmagan”(Rachel Luttrell)Leader of the Athosian people,a beautiful alien warrior,with formidable fighting skills and brings a sense of calm and compassion to the table,she too is also respected for her leadership skills.
Rachel Luttrell the nutshell
I had the opportunity to interview “Rachel Luttrell” who was born in East Africa,Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.Her family later immigrated to Canada and as a child she studied the piano at “The Royal Conservatory” and ballet at the “Russian Academy of Classical Ballet” Toronto.
As a little girl RL’s father was a fan of the scifi genre starting her off on a healthy diet of science fiction and fantasy novels,her favourites were Star Wars and Lord of the Rings..She told us life as a child in her house was always filled with the sounds of happiness love and laughter
Pre Atlantis career –
Her first film role while still studying in high school was for the movie Courage (1986), also starring Sophia Loren. In 1995, Rachel moved from Toronto to Los Angeles to continue to pursuing a career in film and television. She guest-starred on several popular TV shows, including ER (1994) and Charmed (1998), and in the short- lived but well-received show Sleepwalkers (1997).She has also appeared in the Canadian movie, A Dog’s Breakfast which was directed by her fellow “Stargate Atlantis” co-star David Hewlett.
Post Atlantis Career –
After Atlantis finished, Rachel had guest appearances on True Justice (2010), NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service (2003), NCIS: Los Angeles (2009), No Sleep Till 18 (2015) and Arrow 2016 Season Four“Code of Silence“
Not only is she a accomplished actress & singer who has worked in film and television she has also performed on on stage.
Rachel currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband Loyd Bateman a stunt-performer and award-winning cinematographer,and their two children.
Rachel arrived early morning on the the eve of Oz Comic Con weekend and she left on Monday morning.Although she had just stepped off the plane she was fresh faced and delightful to talk to.
Early 2000 Rachel would land the role of Teyla Emmagan in the Sci-Fi Channel’s Stargate(SG1) spin off series, Stargate: Atlantis , a show that ran for five seasons (2004 – 2009)giving us a new beloved character to the Science Fiction universe. She spoke about how she was really lucky playing such a well rounded character that didn’t have to abandon femininity in order to be strong,sexy and intelligent.Her time on the show made even more memorable working amidst other talented and skilled actors.
When it came to the subject of character roles Rachel enjoys both the villain and good guy with the adage of “playing the villain you get to be super nasty and let out your dark side ….your shadow.On the flip side playing a hero like Teyla is also a delight”.Recently she got to explore her “darkside” and play a bad ass in “Arrow” known as Rosie The Riveter founding member and leader of mercenaries called The Demolition Team.Currently in jail hopefully getting out soon:D.Wielding a nail gun as her weapon of choice is pretty brutal but added to the overall experience of that particular role.
When it came to the stunts on the set for “Arrow” Rachel was able to perform a portion of the fight sequences before handing Kimberly Chiang her stunt double the reins for the more difficult scene’s.During the Atlantis years she was able to do a ton of her own similar fight scenes aligning those experiences to working with current co-worker Kimberly Chiang having much respect for the stunt performers craft being not just immediately involved but having direct industry knowledge from her husband who lives and breaths the dangerous lifestyle everyday.Saying that he is in great shape is an understatement since he is able to get into the studio on a dime of time to fill the role as a stunt double.Yikes that would be hard to maintain that level of fitness.
Being cast as a strong woman archetype Rachel walks over familiar ground with studios who see her as the perfectly candidate to fill such roles,although in retrospect her day to day life she sees herself as more of a laughing smiling jovial type rarely showing her tough guy wings.Remembering Rachel is not just an actor but a caring wife to her husband and mother to her children.Rachel likes the duality saying “variety is the spice of life“.
I’ve always admired Rachel for being very fit and at 45 she looks amazing!She stays in shape by doing many different things at the moment she is using an app called Freeletics which you can do anywhere all you need is your yoga mat.I understand how handy Freeletics workout routine could be useful, specially for an actress who travels a lot.I may have to download it as well from the App Store!Maybe it will make me as fit as Rachel capable of splitting open Walnuts with one flex from the sixpack made from steel.The combination of cardio push-ups and sit ups is what makes her one foxy lady.
I love animals so I asked her whether she has any pets?She adopted a year and a half ago a little adorable Fawn Coloured Chihuahua/toy fox terrier rescue dog who was found on the streets of Los Angeles for 5 months,her husband named him Hero after the doggies backstory saying “he went from zero the hero”.Rachel and I bonded over our love of small dogs as I myself have two chihuahuas.What a beautiful story awww.RL tells me the ideal plan would be owning 3 dogs a big one a wee one and an in between one.Sounds like a plan !!All I know is I want more,it’s called ” A Chihuahua Addiction” yes it’s a thing.Currently RL is holding off getting anymore as her kids already keep her busy.I can relate as puppies are so much work and with her work as actress mother fitness women there wouldn’t be much time left.
The last time she was in Melbourne was about 10 years ago and only for 2 days so she hasn’t had much time to explore our great city.Im currently stationed on the foodie frontline fighting the good fight so I thought it be obligatory that I enquire about whether she has time to check out our local food and cafe culture ,RL told me that herself and Paul Mcgillion were going to have lunch together granting them time to explore the citys many treasures.Is she a sweet or savoury person?Well that depends on the mood at the time,but she did reveal she loves sweet! A woman after my own heart.
Rachel says she’s “a work in progress and Her Mantra is just be yourself and live in the now” telling me it’s taken her a while to arrive to that point.She tries to impart this mature wisdom to her children reminding to be in the present and embracing the day which I think we could all do more of.
Final words..in my time speaking to Rachel I felt she was a genuine,warm down to earth person and having children of her own I felt a maternal instinct from her.She made me see how amazing we as women are!We need to to see more powerful women like Rachel Luttrell, who are great role models for our younger generation.