Joe Flanigan was scheduled to come to Chicago in 2007, but had to cancel at the last moment. Since then fans have been clamoring for him to come to the Windy City, and they were not left wanting for long!
A number of Joe’s stories were repeats from Vancouver, and when I recognized them I took the opportunity to give my poor hand a break and enjoy the experience. Those stories and more can be found in my 2009 Vancouver Report.
Having Joe on stage is actually one of the few times when having a second row seat is a disadvantage. Joe moves around quite a bit. One minute he is sitting, the next he’s at the side of the stage talking to someone who asked a question and facing completely away from you, or he’s smack in the middle of the stage, but right where the two heads that frame your view block him out. I had a much better time getting good pictures of him in Vancouver when I was 5 rows back and at the far right! Therefore I got the best pictures I could, and I wish I could have done better.
Joe had a seat and cut right to the chase. “When I do these things, I like to answer questions. I know some people, like (clears throat) David Hewlett, like to get up here and talk about things, and talk and talk and talk. But I would love to answer any questions you guys have.”
So, as requested, fans ran to get in line at the microphones on either side of the stage. I was happy to hear that the first question, while not terribly original, was one I had not heard asked before.
Do you prefer dogs or cats? Joe answered that he is a dog guy and he has dogs. “I’ve got complete control, they’re wagging their tails. I like that. Where I live, cats make nice little nibblets for the coyotes. I’m being totally honest! I lost 2 dogs last year to coyotes. And those are dogs, so cats are even tastier. (The questioner suggested that it is advisable to declaw cats, which caused many cat lovers in the audience to pipe up, saying “No!” Joe, sensing the incoming can of worms, made a joke of it.) Oh, well you could declaw them. You could. You could shave them and paint them purple. Or you could just let my four dogs out and watch the fun! I don’t think a cat would survive in our house.” Hmmm, best cancel that trip to go visit Joe, huh Adria the Cat? Yikes!
Randomly, Joe had this little lesson to share about actors. Apparently, Joe’s chair on set was shorter than the others by a good six inches or more! “I like to put my legs down. We were trying to figure out the history of the tall chair, so we thought, ‘well maybe it’s hair and makeup.’ And then we realized it’s probably just like actor’s outsized egos, like literally, and they’ll tell you stories, that some people have to have higher chairs than others. Which is probably why my chair is down there (points to the floor)!”
Are you being considered for or are you interested in being Robert Jim Rockford in the remake of ‘The Rockford Files’? Fans who are familiar with the original series (1974) seemed intrigued by the idea. Joe . . . looked at the fan who asked, mouth open, and nodded for a good minute before answering, clearly surprised by the question. “Naw, I mean, I thank that they just announced that. I don’t know. I would love to do Rockford. I’d be curious how they are going to remake it. They seem to have really destroyed every attempt at remaking a good show. So it’s a good question. Rockford is one of my favorite shows, and James Garner is one of my favorite people. I did a series with him and I love the guy. I would call him tomorrow and say, ‘Call everybody you know and tell them I’m going to be the next you! But I don’t – they just announced that. But Rockford is a great character. He’s a good archetype. I can recreate that archetype on another show; it doesn’t have to be Rockford. But good question.”
Have you considered making the transition to the big screen? “If it were in my control I would! Let’s just be honest, that there’s a thing called (waving an arm flippantly) career management. It’s kind of nonsense. There is no career management per say. There are very few jobs for a lot of people. It’s got to be the right place at the right time, and sometimes there are elements that are just out of your control. I have no doubt in my mind that I think I would do very well in movies. I would love to do movies. And yet they are amazingly short-sighted about who they go after. It’s really weird. They want to discover new stars, but they don’t want to take the risk in giving any of them a chance. So they reach for the same thing over and over and over, and they close the doors consistently to other people. I was kinda hoping that the show, since we’ve sold so many DVDs, would kind of change that, but we’re in the middle of a really deep recession and I’m not sure that that research is being done and people are looking at those particular numbers and seeing that (gesturing at the crowd) we have a really amazing fan base, and I think the fan base could push us all to the next level. (Shrugs) We’ll see what happens.”
Joe was asked about his appearance on SyFy’s Warehouse 13. “It was a really good group of people in Toronto. I enjoyed myself a lot. I looked at that and I was thinking to myself, ‘My God I didn’t do anything on that show!’ I just watched it the other day and I was like, ‘Right, well where’s the rest of it? That’s it?!’ I really enjoyed not doing a lot of things also because it was really interesting. I had a day off in Toronto. I didn’t have any days off in Vancouver, ever. I enjoyed that aspect of it. The two leads were pretty beat up from the season of shooting, and I just remember that so well that I was enjoying not being in that position. But, being egocentric and self-involved, I also said, ‘Damn. I want his job. Because I do! I like the premise of that show, and Eddie is an awfully nice guy.
“We all get into caveats because we’ve all – anybody who knows about developing a show knows it’s a long process. It may be working one week and not working the next. And yet I’ve done it successfully before and I’ve done it unsuccessfully before, so I don’t know where this will go. I know that I’m waiting for the right project. I just got asked this question which was ‘just get back on the air.’ I don’t really feel like that’s really my goal. I don’t really feel that I need to just get back on the air. I feel like I want to do the right thing. It’s a lateral move (waving his hand horizontally) or a move higher up, and I don’t want to fade into the background just to be on the air.”
How did you like working with Richard Dean Anderson? “I only worked with Rick a very very very little bit. I enjoyed it. When I first started working with Rick in the pilot I thought it was very cool because I had just done a series with Rockford, and I was like, ‘Yeah! Now I’m with MacGyver! I’ve got all the guys, man!’ So that was pretty cool. We were in a helicopter flying around, and I thought it was pretty funny. I handed him a paperclip and a rubber band. ‘If this plane goes down, here you go!’ I’m like, ‘Damn I’m funny, I’m funny.’ He just gave me this look (too funny for words, but included here!). Clearly he was like, ‘Who is this guy? Does he think this joke hasn’t been pulled on me before?’ So I realized the MacGyver jokes just keep coming at him. They weren’t as original as I thought they were. But I had a great time, and he’s got a good sensibility. I just saw him in Malibu, we both live in Malibu. He lives very close. He was playing ping pong [some fans chuckle, no doubt recalling the hilarious scene where Jack and Teal’c played ping pong.] Yeah, in like this open court shopping area. I was like, ‘You’re out of work too, huh? Here’s a paperclip and a rubber band!’”
Who is your idol? “My idol? Wow. I don’t have an idol but I have heroes. There is a distinction, I think. I think a hero displays sort of heroic qualities that you find bold that you’d like to have in your life. I think idols tend to be more of a blind worship thing. I don’t know that I idolize anybody in particular. My father-in-law has been a hero of mine for a long time. He’s a quadriplegic and he’s an amazing, amazing human being. My dad was a hero to me, and I have – there are so many people that I find interesting, and a lot of the times I meet people, (shrugs) they’re not famous. I just hear their story and I hear what they’re going through. It’s insane, it’s incredible, the adversity that people are able to survive without any glamour and any recognition. To me, I find that astounding, and because we’re in a public situation and we’re always given some weird affirmation about things and celebrities always air all their c%@& in public. There’s something a little disingenuous about that. I’m sorry I don’t have a specific answer. I could go through a list of people if we had more time, and people weren’t leaving right now because of this long answer, but literally I could go through so many different’ characters, well known and not well known, and why I like them and so forth.”
Everyone always wants to know what your favorite episode is, but I want to know what your least favorite episode is. “Probably that bug episode (holding a hand by his neck to indicate that he is talking about ‘Thirty Eight Minutes’ where we first encounter an iratus bug), with the bug on me. We had not built the sets properly. For some reason we built the space ships as though they were really space ships, and we couldn’t get in them (contorts his upper body around as if he’s trying to squeeze through a small space). We’re like, ‘but this is for TV. We need to get a film crew in there!’ So we were all shoved in there. It was like the forth or fifth episode, and it was hot and sweaty and they wouldn’t pay for the air conditioning; because they weren’t sure whether we were going to last, I think. They went, ‘(shrugs) I ain’t paying for air conditioning!’ It was hot, and sweaty, and miserable. And Rainbow [Sun Franks] – who I love to death – kept messing up all of his lines and my bug was stuck on my neck, and I was like, ‘(through gritted teeth) Come on! Come on! Get me outta here!’ And it was frustrating. But I learned. I have more patience now than I did when I was your age (indicating the young person who asked). I was about your age when I started the show.”
When you were on Warehouse 13, did you feel like they left the “character” out of your character? “I didn’t quite know what it was, and I realize it was very guest star-ish. I didn’t have time to talk to any of the writers, and had we talked about it I’m sure we would have tweaked it in an entirely different direction. It would have been more interesting. No, you’re a fine actor, I’ve seen you act, but as written it was not an interesting person. I think that it doesn’t quite work that way. When you’re the lead of a show they’ll let a camera sit there for a little while, and so you can inject moments into the situations that are not written. But when you’re a guest star, there’s a time line. Boom boom boom, you’re delivering information. Now let’s go back to the lead (turns with this hand up indicating the position of the camera). Information (turns back to guest star), lead (turns back again). So when you’re a guest star, I have found that our guest stars, many of whom are phenomenally talented, it comes out relatively flat. It’s not them, it’s really how the material they’re given and the editing they’re given and everything else is not a critical factor in the show. So, to answer your question (laughing) I guess you didn’t like Warehouse 13!”
A fan asked about the use of the Johnny Cash songs in ‘Vegas’. “We’d discussed that we’d have liked to have had Johnny Cash signing at the end, but it was going to come down to a licensing issue and a cash issue – ‘cash issue’, no pun intended! – and Robert [Cooper] called long after we’d finished shooting it and said, ‘Oh yeah we got Johnny Cash for the last thing,’ and I was like, ‘Oh that’s amazing!’ I was wanting to put Johnny Cash music in tons of different episodes, but we didn’t have the money. But it was kinda cool to at least be able to do it once before it was all over.”