With scene-stealing roles in shows like Ugly Betty and Moonlight to his credit, David Blue went where no man had gone before for his dream gig as Math Boy Eli Wallace on Syfy’s Stargate Universe. Okay, MacGyver and Alan Shore have been through the Stargate as well, but you get the point.
An MIT dropout, Eli Wallace is brilliant but lacks the drive to get him anywhere fast. That all changes when he solves a math problem embedded in a video game and finds himself working alongside Machiavellian mastermind Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle) aboard the Destiny in a galaxy far, far away.
Blue is no math slouch himself: He was a calculus major in college before switching to theater arts. SpinOff Online spoke to Blue about his role on Syfy’s hit franchise, and he also shared his thoughts on the final five hours of Lost, particle acceleration and what Lieutenant Scott’s must-play video game is.
Spinoff Online: How did you do in high-school math?
David Blue: I was actually kind of a nerd. As much as I don’t like math, I’m actually pretty good at it. So, I took math though high school and into college. I was actually a freshman in college taking honors calculus.
So you could figure out all of the equations Eli uses on the show?
Oh, hell no. Even in the pilot, they had this brainy mathematician writing actual equations on the wipe board for us to look at, and having not used the calculus since college, I’m lucky when I can figure out the tip at a restaurant.
Eli’s a gamer and actually landed his spot on Destiny after solving a math problem embedded in a video game. Are you much of a gamer yourself?
Yeah, but it gets harder the more I work. I’m lucky that I’ve been lucky in my career. And the more I work, the less time I have for games. But I do own an Xbox 360, a PlayStation, a Wii, a Super Nintendo, a Nintendo and a PC.
My favorite games used to always be RPGs. I love first-person shooters. I never really got into Madden and all that, but I played it with friends.
It’s funny because Brian J. Smith, who plays Lieutenant Scott, keeps telling me that I need to buy certain games. I don’t know how he finds the time to play games like Battlefield: Bad Company 2. He’s like, “We need to play on Xbox Live.” I just have no idea how he finds time to play video games.
Your character loves to drop in sci-fi references from Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, and even Futurama into conversation. But I also read on your official website that you’re obsessed with Lost. Are you a big sci-fi geek?
I’ve watched a lot of TV and movies throughout my entire life. It’s always been one of my pastimes. And I feel like if you’re a fan of good storytelling, you’re a fan of sci-fi and fantasy. There’s more freedom. There’s more stuff that can happen. Shows like Lost and Fringe can really catch you off-guard.
And I grew up loving Star Trek and Star Wars. Especially Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although my parents told me the first time I ever watched Star Wars, I fell asleep right when Darth Vader came on screen. But I was a child. Come on.
We’re five hours away until the end of Lost. Do you think we’re going to get all of the answers?
I hope so. It’s been great. It’s one of the few things that I have to watch live – even if I have a really early call the next morning. I’m really excited. I feel like this last season, in addition to being good, is really a pay-off for being a fan. For sticking through the few bad episodes here or the long hiatus there, it’s like we’re getting all of the bonuses for all the stuff we dealt with up until now. Every episode is like, “What? I can’t believe they just explained that. Holy cow. What are they going to do with this?” It’s exciting.
What question do you need to see answered in these last few weeks?
God, I don’t know. There are just so many. I guess it would be, “Who were the two corpses in the cave?” Everybody keeps thinking it might be Jack and Kate in the DHARMA Initiative jumpsuits. I’m curious.
In the episodes “Darkness” and “Light,” Eli videotaped messages and tours of the Destiny using Kinos. This is, I guess, nothing new for you as you’re quite active on social network sites like Twitter and Blogger?
I am on Twitter, of course, @DavidBlue. I joined it before I ever gained really any notoriety. I started right around the time that I was on Ugly Betty. I did it for myself and as a sounding board. It was another place for me to express my thoughts. Originally, I had two accounts – a hidden one and then one for professional reasons. And then the time came, especially when I got the iPhone and the Blackberry, it was easier to just jot down my thoughts. And I started using it, literally, to remember things. Like maybe something weird happened and I wanted to write it down. And then people started following me and I started Stargate and more and more people wanted to hear what I had to say and it has kind of grown.
I have always loved things like MySpace to keep in touch with friends from high school and college. I think Twitter is becoming more of a tool for promotional purposes, as it were, but I use it to keep in touch with fans, and as much as possible, actually relate to them.
You mentioned your followers on Twitter spiked when you started Stargate Universe. Did you have any idea what you were getting into when you signed on to play Eli Wallace?
Luckily, I did. I actually watched all of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis before I even auditioned. It’s just one of those shows I’ve always caught. And also I was friends with Claudia Black, who was on Stargate SG-1 for a couple of years. And she was on Farscape. And we worked together on another show and we have the same agent so we kept in contact. And I asked her for advice. And she was gracious enough to sit down with me and prepare me for what I was getting into.
Having loved Star Trek: The Next Generation, I kind of knew what being a fan was like. So I kind of had an idea of what I was getting into there. I don’t think as I was caught off guard. I was a little surprised, coming into a world of so many fans, of how many people were upset with us before we even premiered because of publicity, timing or whatever. That kind of caught me off guard. But in general I like the idea of coming into a welcoming group of people who were really excited about the show before they even saw it. That a privilege that a lot of shows these days don’t get.
One of things Eli has learned since its beginning is that you exhale before entering a wormhole. Have you learned any great science facts working on Stargate Universe?
Hmm. I’m trying to think here. Being a nerd myself, I actually kind of love things like astrophysics. I read a lot of Stephen Hawking. There’s not a lot that they have done so far that I didn’t already know from SG-1 or Atlantis or I knew from the actual world itself. I think at the TCAs last year, I might have confused a lot of reporters when I started talking about the Big Bang Theory and the Theory of Evolution in the far reaches of space [laughs].
Do you get a lot more out of shows like Fringe and Lost because you have a better understanding of the science than most of us mere mortals?
You know, it actually kind of ruins a lot of things for me. In fact, as much as I love Fringe, I was watching this past week’s episode, or actually the one before that, and within 10 minutes, I knew how the plot would end. They were investigating someone and they just said the words, “particle acceleration,” and I immediately knew the episode was going to be about time travel. It kind of ruins plots for me now.
Eli has quite an astounding first few months aboard the Destiny. What’s ahead for your character as we approach the season finale of Stargate Universe?
It’s cool. I like how it’s developed and let some of us grow. Eli definitely starts to come into his own and stop relying on other people so much. And that’s great, as an actor, to play. Playing a character that can make decisions for himself. And stop letting the word pass him by. Especially going into Season Two, Eli definitely starts coming into his own [laughs]. It’s a fun change to play and it’s a kind of cool to see the character go in that direction.
And then there is definitely some more action coming too.
Eli Wallace: Action Hero?
Well, I don’t think he’s going to become a super ninja anytime soon. But I think it’s a realistic thing. You have X number of people stuck who rely on each other to survive, there comes a point where everybody has got to pitch in. You can’t just sit around and let people do things for you. You have to do something, otherwise if you die, it’s kind of your own fault. They even do that on Lost. Everybody kind of had to find their own place.
In an alternate reality, you were able to express your love for Chloe (Elyse Levesque), and then she goes and dies on you. Will Eli get that chance in his physical reality?
Maybe, maybe not. I’m not going to ruin for you. I will say that, especially going into the end of Season 1.5, you’ll definitely see that being dealt with. It’s hard because they had such a quick connection – it happened so fast – I don’t think it’s ever going to go away in any form. But the question of how they deal with it is something you’ll definitely see coming up soon.
Are you working on any other projects right now that you can share with us?
A bunch actually. I’m co-producing a movie some friends of mine wrote, called Fireflies. Hopefully, we’re going to shoot it this year. I’m also producing, writing and directing a short film this summer, using some wonderful actor friends of mine that I’m not going to officially announce yet but you’ll be happy to see – hopefully aiming for Sundance. And hopefully, down the line, getting more involved in this show. We’ll see. You have some cool guest directors to look forward to in Season 2. Not myself, but I’d love to be counted among them. Maybe Season 4 [laughs].
A new episode of Stargate Universe, titled “Lost,” airs tonight on Syfy.