of publishing: 1st August 2005
Mitchell Kosterman is the man portraying "Tom"
in the episodes "Heroes - Part 1 & 2" from
Stargate SG-1. Remember, the Colonel Tom Rundell, the Cheyenne
Mountain Complex Public Affairs Liaison who was always near
Emmett Bregman (Saul Rubinek), the journalist. He also played
in "Seth" and had a recurring role in Smallville
as Sheriff Ethan Miller. He also played in shows such as
The X-Files, Millennium, First Wave, John Doe, MacGyver,
Gilles Nuytens: Hello
Mitchell, how are you ? Could you tell us a bit about yourself,
who you are, what leads you in your career, personal life
Mitchell Kosterman: Hello, Gilles. I am
doing well. I hope you are well also. I was born and raised
in and around Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I am
married and I have three children. I have worked in many
different jobs. I was a Corrections Officer for five years
and an Investigator for the British Columbia Attorney General
for nearly 15 years. I started acting in 1987. I am 47 years
old. My first job was on the series Wiseguy and I have worked
on more than 120 shows since. I have been writing for years
and it is my ambition to get one of my screenplays made
into a movie some day. At home I am renovating our house
and I enjoying learning about carpentry, plumbing, etc.
Nuytens: The roles you
play are often "cop-oriented" ones or authority representatives,
is it a personal choice or is it opportunities that come
to you ? If it's a personnal choice, why this choice ?
Mitchell Kosterman: These are the opportunities
that come to me. But I love doing them. I believe I have
played more cops than any actor I have ever known and I
like being able to say that. I have a new agent and when
she first started to represent me we had a long talk about
where my career should go. One of the things we talked about
was trying to do more than just cop stuff. She wanted me
to put a lot of energy into trying to get out of the cop
roles and into something else. I did try but she soon realized
something I have known for years: the industry sees me a
certain way and it may not be worth fighting that. The auditions
I get to read are mostly cop roles but I like doing the
cop roles. I feel very comfortable doing them and people
tell me I do a good job. How can that be a bad thing?
Gilles Nuytens: You
portrayed the role of Colonel Tom Rundell in 2 episodes
of Stargate, 2 episodes very different from the usual episodes
in the show in terms of realization but also in terms of
emotion; Heroes - Part 2 was certainly one of the saddest
episode from the whole show. How did you approach this character
Mitchell Kosterman: I wanted Tom to be
a really good guy. A guy everybody trusts. I was hoping
people would think, "Hey, he looks like he'd be a good friend".
At the same time I wanted to look strong enough to be a
Colonel in the US Air Force. A guy the General could rely
on. I was told the Air Force I made a pretty good Air Force
Colonel..except no-one in the US Air Force is allowed a
What I have never said before to anyone is: I modeled the
attitude of Tom Rundell on Director Andy Mikita. Andy is
very calm, capable and likeable. I wanted Rundell to be
like that. I am sure Andy would be surprised to hear that.
Rundell was, of course, different from Andy in many ways.
Rundell was stiffer, more military, and I was very much
aware of that, but I wanted to try to find a way to be in
charge but not officious, the way Andy is. Andy is the boss
on set, there is no doubt about that, but everyone feels
comfortable around him and that atmosphere allows for a
very friendly and cooperative atmosphere.
Gilles Nuytens: You
also played in an episode in the 3rd season of the show,
was there any differences to come back 4 years after ?
Mitchell Kosterman: The show had matured
and some of the staff had changed in season 7. I was glad
that Andy Mikita was now directing. I have known Andy since
he was an Assistant Director on Macgyver. He is a wonderful
person. Michael Greenberg was welcoming, as usual, and he
is a very interesting person to talk to. I think Robert
Cooper is one of the best writers working in television
today. Getting to say Coop's dialogue is always a pleasure.
Rick Anderson didn't seem to have changed one bit; still
Gilles Nuytens: Will
we see you again in Stargate ? Would you like to come back
Mitchell Kosterman: I would love to come
back. In fact, if I had my pick of shows on TV right now,
to be a series regular, Stargate would be the one. But it
is up to the writers and producers; its not my decision.
Stargate, because of the people involved, including all
the cast, is a terrific place to work. There honestly is
no nicer set to be a part of. And I have been on many. There
are no winners, no out-of-control egos, and no "high-maintenance"
actors. Each and every person is always friendly and helpful
to me every time I am privileged enough to be a part of
Gilles Nuytens: How
could you describe Colonel Tom Rundell ? How close are you
with him ?
Mitchell Kosterman: I think I described
Tom Rundell above fairly well. He is not much like me, actually.
I rarely know what to say to people and am not usually confident
and in control like he is. I often say things I wish I hadn't
and things I say often don't come out the way I want them
If you listen to the DVD commentaries on Heroes II you will
hear Robert Cooper and Andy talking about how I tried to
compliment Coop but it came out sounding like something
else. Luckily, Coop knew what I meant and he and Andy had
a good laugh about it. I always sound more intelligent and
confident and in control when someone like Robert Cooper
writes my dialogue for me. Too bad he can't follow me around
in my day to day life. I'd sound brilliant!
Gilles Nuytens: You
portrayed the role of sheriff Ethan Miller in Smallville,
how was it on the set, what are the differences with the
Stargate sets ?
Mitchell Kosterman: Stargate has this huge
set indoors they use for much of their show, so they don't
travel to locations very much. This allows them to be more
efficient and things go much smoother. In fact, Stargate
is among the fastest crews for shooting. They get many more
"set-ups" in a day than other shows. A set-up is each time
the camera is moved to a different spot, in case you didn't
Smallville had many young people on it and that always makes
for a more energetic set. Michael and Tom often did impressions
of famous actors like Christopher Walken. They were very
good at it and they were also very funny. John and Annette
were always nice to me. John helped me with acting (he is
very professional) and we talked about things we both like.
We both do our own home repairs so we would talk about power
tools and building decks and stuff. At the time I was racing
a rally car and he likes car racing. We had a few things
in common and I found him to be a very kind and generous
Nuytens: My favourite
question: Do you have a funny anecdote you'd like to tell
us on the shooting of Stargate?
Mitchell Kosterman: I will tell you about
one of the most embarrassing things that has ever happened
to me. During the shooting of "Seth" the director asked
me to pass very close to Rick Anderson while I was talking
in one scene. I was concentrating so hard on the dialogue
I didn't watch where I was going and I stepped right on
Rick's foot. I was mortified. I had just trod on the foot
of the lead actor, a producer of the show. But I shouldn't
have worried. Rick looked right at me with a twinkle in
his eye like he was going to laugh and he said, "Yeowch"
very quietly but didn't move or mention it to anyone.
Years later, when I went to shoot "Heroes", Andy Mikita
was introducing us and Rick said, "Oh yes, Mitch. We are
.and I swear he had that same twinkle in his eye. A very
Gilles Nuytens: Same question
but about Smallville ?
Mitchell Kosterman: For the episode "Lineage",
which was a flashback, I was made up with a hair piece and
sideburns. I looked kinda like a bad Elvis Presley impersonator.
Due to a miscommunication, the makeup person had put on
huge sideburns that she THOUGHT the producer/director Greg
Beeman had asked for. But Greg hadn't and when he was shown
how they looked on me just before shooting he approved them
without really looking. He said later that it had been dark
where I was standing and he couldn't really see but he had
assumed it would be okay.
He told me later he was surprised to see how big the sideburns
were once we were getting ready to shoot but, since we were
about to shoot, he decided to let it go. He said, he decided
it would be okay for Ethan to have silly sideburns; it just
made his character more interesting. But Greg admitted it
was quite a surprise when he first saw them. He said it
looked like I had "a squirrel taped to each cheek". Man,
I laughed. Greg is so funny I am sure he was a standup comedian
at one time.
Gilles Nuytens: Your
best memory on the set of Stargate ?
Mitchell Kosterman: My best memory of Stargate
is sitting and talking to Michael Greenberg about his projects.
He has some great ideas and a huge wealth of knowledge.
Gilles Nuytens: Your
best memory on the set of Smallville ?
Mitchell Kosterman: My best memory of Smallville
was.well, I have many. Here are three:
One was when Greg Beeman told me they were so happy with
my work they were going to feature me in an episode. Sadly,
due to a snap decision by the series creators, it was also
to be my last. That was "Suspect", the episode where I shot
Lionel and went off to jail.
Another was when, during the shooting of the scene in "Suspect"
where I break down I asked Tom Welling to say something
nice because that is the way I get myself to cry. I was
asking him to help motivate me. He said some really nice
things about my work and how sad it was I was going to be
leaving the show. He was off camera, but he was there for
me. It was great thing he did. A thing a lot of other actors
wouldn't have time for, especially when they are the star
of the show. Tom was there for me and I will never forget
Another happy memory was when I got my chair. Regular cast
get canvas backed chairs with their name embroidered on
them. They are not for "day players" such as myself. I was
surprised and delighted when, in the early part of the second
season, I got my own chair with my name on it. I still have
it at home because they gave it to me when I left the show.
It was a nice thing for them to do and it reflects the generous
nature of the crew.
Gilles Nuytens: Do
you think it's important for an actor to watch the result
of his work on screen ? I know that some actors do watch
them and some don't, do you ?
Mitchell Kosterman: I always do. But I
understand why people don't, because I am never happy with
it. It is often painful to watch. But I do find I learn
things by making myself watch.
Gilles Nuytens: Which
is THE ROLE of your life, the one you want to play at all
cost and even play voluntary ?
Mitchell Kosterman: Oh, I don't think I
can answer that without embarrassing my self. Suffice it
to say, any role I covet would be one I am now too old to
Nuytens: Which is the
role you preferred to play at this point, the best one,
the one that most marked you?
Mitchell Kosterman: Sherrif Ethan. I would
have been happy to play that role forever. In many ways
I invented him. Even though I only had a few lines in the
show in the early episodes, I managed to create a character
out of it. You may say, "but the character was written".
In fact, it was not.
It was just a series of appearances by a deputy with no
name. I had to fight to establish a name. If you look closely
at the early episodes you will see my name tag says "Talbot".
John helped me by establishing my name when, in the episode
"Rogue", he greeted me as "Ethan". It is interesting to
note, on that day, I had a name tag that said "Ethan" because
the props person couldn't find the "Talbot" one I asked
I kept calling myself Ethan Talbot and eventually the Ethan
stuck. The website writer who wrote the fake newspaper for
Smallville named me Sherrif Ethan Miller in several articles
and from then on, that was my name. The earlier scripts
all called my character "deputy" and it wasn't until some
time into the show that the scripts actually started saying
"Ethan". This was important because I played Ethan. If the
script still had said deputy, they wouldn't have put me
in the episode.
Because the character in early scripts was often a different
deputy with no real character, and I was just kind of put
in to be a familiar face, the dialogue for me was often
written in such a way that it conflicted with earlier characterizations.
I decided early on that I would build the character and
change the dialogue to suit me. I was taking a risk because
I often said very different things than what was written.
But I was always careful to remain true to the story while
staying true to my character.
I made some choices that endured throughout the two seasons.
For example, I decided to make Jonathan my old buddy from
school. I figured we were about the same age and likely
had live in Smallville all our lives, so we would pretty
much have to know each other well. John agreed. In the end
they even used old highschool photos of John and myself
playing football together. Things just worked out very well.
.until I shot Lionel, of course.
Gilles Nuytens: Which
models have influenced your career ?
Mitchell Kosterman: There are many. You
can learn something from ever veteran actor but some of
the ones I most relate to are Gene Hackman, Edward Woodward,
Ron Pearlman, Dennis Farina and Lance Henrikson.
Gilles Nuytens: How
was it to play with Saul Rubinek, what kind of person is
Mitchell Kosterman: He is a hyperactive,
hard working, extremely talented man who knows as much about
film making as anyone on set. He is a big part of the reason
Heroes is so good.
Gilles Nuytens: It
happens often in the industry that an actor or actress is
chosen for his notoriety, even for his/her "plastic", what
is commercially an undeniable asset, instead of an actor
that better fits the role. What do you think ?
Mitchell Kosterman: It is too bad because
I think the audiences would prefer the good actor. But I
understand how star power gets movies made and sells movies.
I think the system of movie making is set up in such a way
that it's just plain easier to make a movie with famous
people in them regardless of whether or not they can act.
That makes for some bad movies but, hey, I'm just happy
I get to work as an actor some times. It is a privilege
and I love doing it. I will always do my best and I am very
happy when someone likes what I do. And I am no judge of
whether or not I am good at it. You are.
Gilles Nuytens: What
are your future projects ?
Mitchell Kosterman: I am reading and meeting
directors and producers for some new TV series that are
shooting in Vancouver. You probably haven't heard of them
and some of them won't even get made. But, I'm really looking
forward to doing something fresh and meeting some new people.
I am also auditioning for several feature films shooting
here. And I'm told there is a sequel to White Noise in the
works. Of course, if Stargate or Smallville calls.I'll come
Gilles Nuytens: A
big thanks for this interview, I hope to see you again in
Stargate very soon!
Mitchell Kosterman: I am honoured you asked.
Good luck with your website and thanks for watching.