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Gatecon Highlights

Gatecon 2022 | Teryl Rothery Brings the Tears in Heartfelt Comeback

Stargate SG-1’s Dr. Janet Frasier – the delightful Teryl Rothery – kicks off the post-Pandemic Gatecon with an emotional rollercoaster.

“Can you guys believe we’re actually here? I did my first in-person convention in Chicago, it wasn’t that long ago, and I started to cry.”

Teryl Rothery

That Teryl Rothery cries a lot is one of the things we discover, but before the hour is out, chances are you’ll be crying too. 

Like Rothery, these moments sneak up on you. Considering the ease with which Dr. Janet Fraiser often slipped into the background – by design, hers was a quiet heroism – the discovery that the actor is ceaselessly captivating, dancing from anecdote to anecdote, verbally shaking every hand in the room as she does so. 

Introduced by a dutifully uniformed Gary Jones (Walter Harriman) in un-regulation comfy white sneakers, Rothery – clad in a white lab coat – immediately sits on the steps and opens up the room to questions. Her air of spontaneity belies how polished she is – it’s controlled anarchy, practiced informality, but no less sincere for the professionalism. Her teenage daughter, she admits cheerfully, is “a bitch” and then she spots a baby in the audience. “You’re gonna be a bitch too when you grow up,” she coos to a ripple of laughter.

The audience know their role too, prompting her for familiar stories about the Stargate SG-1 boys fawning over guest star Vanessa Angel, and awkwardly mo-capping miniature Asgardian Heimdall with “flashing pasties” that drew an enthusiastically handsy greeting from Richard Dean Anderson.

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On Getting the Role of Dr. Janet Fraiser

“I had worked with Jonathan Glassner and Brad Wright, on a show called The Outer Limits. I ended up guest starring on two episodes of that show and that’s how we met and they loved the work, fortunately.

“I auditioned for the Samantha Carter role, how funny would that have been? A little shortass Sam. There was no other Sam than Amanda, it was her role – it was like it had been written for her.”

Teryl Rothery

Rothery moved on and just happened to be shooting a movie in Vancouver – her hometown – when her agent reached out about a guest spot with a chance of being a little bit more.

“She might recur, they don’t know yet. When an actor hears ‘it may recur’, you go fingers crossed, I might get to guest star in an episode. Seven years later I was [still] part of the team.

“They could have kept going with every character. They could have revealed more and more layers.”

Teryl Rothery

The Death of Janet

Rothery recalls standing in her kitchen when showrunner Robert C. Cooper called to break the news that the Stargate SG-1 episode ‘Heroes’ (S7, Ep17-18) would be her last.

He asked me, ‘How would you feel if we killed you off?’ – ‘I would feel pretty lousy Robert’ – “We want to shake things up and kill off someone the audience love, it’s probably our last season’ – ‘Well KILL RICK.’

“Nobody wants to see their character go, a) your income stops, and b) you get attached to the character, the crew, and the cast. The blessing of that arc was we weren’t shooting in proper sequence. Michael and I were on one episode that we shot in the morning, then we had lunch, then we went to another location where Janet dies, then ‘Teryl, your call tomorrow is at 9’ and we continued filming. It wasn’t like saying bye to Janet.”

“When it was my last day, I snuck off – I went to my trailer and took off my makeup, and went home. It was so sad.”

Teryl Rothery

Shipping Daniel Jackson/Janet Fraiser

“Michael and I wanted to. We would hear all these stories of people writing – are they shippers? – so we would do all these things for fun – we’d maybe touch hands for a second too long, or stand a certain way, or give each other, and share knowing look to see if anyone would pick up on it, but it wasn’t written that way.”

“I think Janet died still a virgin, to be honest with you. The first time someone shows any interest in her, she gets a staff blast to the chest.”

Teryl Rothery
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Adopting Cassandra and Finding Janet’s Emotional Core

“Being a mom on the show, finding out I’m going to take Cassandra, was huge. We’re seeing [all of] Janet’s sides – the brain and compassion. You see her as this force of medicine and then so much depth.

I’m a wuss. I cried when Apophis died. The close-up of his face, with the actor wearing grey contacts, and in the moment I had tears in my eyes. And they kept it in and I thought, ‘Oh they’re going to have to re-do it’ but they kept it in. You always have these different things that keep being revealed.”

Teryl Rothery

“The amazing thing about the sci-fi genre is the family. It’s the family of the people who support us. And I just want you to know that we talk about you a lot and we’re so grateful – not only did you follow us on Stargate, but on every show we’ve gone on to do. However much you’re grateful to us, we’re just as grateful to you.”

Teryl Rothery

One first-time Stargate SG-1 viewer thanks her for bringing such progressive female characters to the screen. Another – a “cute as a button” 13-year-old – asks her if she researched dissociative personality disorder for the role. The answer is no, but Rothery brings Kennedy up on stage to marvel at their brilliance.

Kennedy: “I want to be an astrophysicist.”
Teryl: “You are going to be one.”

Are you crying yet, Gatecon?

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James Hoare is editor of The Companion. He has been “working in publishing” since the early 1990s when he made his own Doctor Who fanzine to sell in the school playground.

You can find him on Twitter @JDHoare

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