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Carlyle Will Star in Universe

By January 14, 2009

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Robert Carlyle
Robert Carlyle in November, at a screening for 24: Redemption.
© Amy Sussman/Getty Images
This was announced in December, but I'm posting it now for the record: Sci Fi Channel has tapped Scottish actor Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting, The Full Monty, 28 Weeks Later) to star in the network's new original series Stargate Universe.

Carlyle will portray Dr. David Rush, with production beginning in February in Vancouver. The series, which like the rest of the Stargate franchise is being produced by MGM, is slated to premiere summer 2009 as a two-hour movie.

Dr. Rush was not a part of the announced cast lineup, but the studio is calling Rush a leading role. If the originally announced mission commander, Colonel Everett Young, is retained as appears to be the case, the addition of Rush could reflect a conflict over who is in charge of the mission; or perhaps a Weir/Sheppard dynamic between military and civilian leadership is contemplated. (Or--less likely--perhaps he's Universe's Robert Patrick, and this is all a red herring.)

So far Carlyle is the only major casting announced.

Carlyle's presence should add some heft to the show's pre-debut reputation, which has suffered from fan reaction to both an apparent emphasis on youth and sex appeal based on early casting sheets, and the premise itself, which some fans have derisively labeled as Stargate: Voyager.

As usual, we don't know enough now to be dismissive, and we won't until the premiere. But we also know that the folks at MGM listen to what the fans have to say. So if we hear more concrete stuff that sounds problematic, we should say so, and maybe the show will be better than expected as a result.

The description provided by MGM gives a little more background: "Edgier and younger in tone than the two previous series, SGU follows a band of soldiers, scientists and civilians, who must fend for themselves as they are forced through a Stargate when their hidden base comes under attack. The desperate survivors emerge aboard an ancient ship missing in the far reaches of space. As they fight to survive, Dr. Rush (Carlyle) works to unlock the mysteries of the ship and return the group home, but evidence of his ulterior motives soon arises." (Wait, is this Dr. Rush or Dr. Smith?)

One funny sidenote: Carlyle's casting at Stargate startled outgoing Doctor Who executive producer Russell T. Davies, according to an article at Gateworld. (Carlyle was among the rumored candidates to be the Eleventh Doctor, which was recently announced instead to be young stage and television actor Matt Smith. In the UK, Stargate shows on BBC rival Sky One.)

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 at a press event following a screening of the Christmas episode of Doctor Who, Davies sniffed, "Stargate, can you believe it? That was a surprise. Has his agent watched it?"

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