'Torchwood': A Chat with Julie Gardner and Naoko Mori

Julie Gardner, one of the executive producers of Torchwood and Doctor Who, and Naoko Mori, the actress who played the very popular character Toshiko Sato, joined half a dozen reporters for a roundtable for their first interview at Comic-Con, having just (literally) arrived in San Diego.

Both Julie Gardner and Naoko Mori expressed excitement about being at their first Comic-Con.  Ms. Gardner was very good about keeping a very tight lip about any details or plotlines in Season 3, including whether or not Martha Jones and/or Mickey Smith would be the new Torchwood members. 

She joked about how she’d been so highly trained for these types of encounter with the press that she is “like a Navy Seal”   

John Barrowman at Comic-Con- ©M&C

John Barrowman at Comic-Con- ©M&C

She also confessed at one point, that they do “like to tease” the audience. 

Julie Gardner on Season 3’s new format

JG: Horribly, Tosh is no more and Owen is no more.  We are currently prepping for the series and we are four weeks away from filming, so it is really, really busy in Cardiff. 

This year, as would have heard, we are making five episodes, because we wanted to break the format and do something different, particularly after how powerful the climax was with the death of two major characters. 

So we’re telling one big story in Season 3 and putting (the Torchwood crew) under a huge amount of pressure and just seeing how they cope with their numbers depleted.  

Naoko Mori on hearing for the first time about her character Tosh’s death

NM: I have to say, when I was told about the storyline … about the death … I kind of agreed.  Obviously, I was kind of sad and sort of depressed in that sense about I’m going to miss everyone and the character … but I think with her, I think she really came full circle and she went through so much and it just felt right.

Julie Gardner on decision to kill off two main characters

JG: It was a really difficult decision behind the scenes because we love them as people, we love having them around, and they were great characters.  It was part of the conversation between RTD, Chris Chibnall and myself, which was we set up this world where we’ve really clearly said that in Torchwood they die young… and you’ve got weevils …. and every week you’ve got a major physical threat.

Actually you can’t keep doing that, where the team don’t die, week after week after week, year after year, you’ve got to show what the stakes are.  So then, brutally the conversation was, “Well, is it just one character or is it two?”  It was more surprising and the stakes were bigger to do, (and also) unfortunately, a double hit.   

Naoko Mori on the public’s reaction to Tosh’s death

NM: It’s been crazy.  Especially here (in the US).  I’d be in a mall or whatever and people would (come up saying) “I’ve never cried so much!”

Naoko Mori on the possibility of Tosh coming back from the dead

NM: (In Sci-fi) never say never … but there is a tiny part of me that kind of prefers she does stay (dead). 

Julie Gardner on the success of Torchwood in the US

JG: It’s incredibly good.  It’s a big show for BBC America and it’s a show they are really proud of and it works really well.  I don’t exactly know what that means in physical numbers, but it gets a lot of airtime and it gets a lot of coverage.  

Naoko Mori on having her first action figure

NM: It’s SO weird.  IN fact, I saw it this morning by email.  You know there are things you rarely see and shouldn’t see, like the back of your head?   It was just bizarre.   (Having an action figure) is certainly a big tick off my to do list before I die.  I’ve never thought I would get an action figure.

Naoko Mori on what she’s been doing since filming of Torchwood Season 2 ended in November of 2007

NM: I’ve taken a huge chunk of time of because we did S1 of Torchwood then I went into the West End to do a show called Avenue Q.  (I played) Christmas Eve, very un-PC (and) right up my street.  (It was) aliens, then puppets, then aliens!  So literally, the day after the wrap party I went straight into rehearsals and I was onstage the next week. 

And as soon as I finished (the run) I went straight into season 2.  I think I had seven or eight days off.  I’ve taken (off time since TORCHWOOD stopped filming in November.)  Filming is all consuming and I’m finding bills that I haven’t paid. 

I’ve been spending a lot of time out here (in Southern California) eating Mexican food.  I Have couple things coming up (that are) possible, I have no idea what will be next – it might be something in Japan – I don’t know, to be honest. 
Julie Gardner on whether there is ever a hesitation to put characters through brutal circumstances.

JG: We’ve never gone that far and pulled back because normally we talk so intensely about what the storylines are.  There was a discussion early, early on in season one about what would happen to Gwen’s partner Rhys and there was a discussion about in the course of some investigation he should die. 

Nothing was ever written but it was out there in back of our heads and then you start to see them together and you (realize that) actually (Gwen would) never recover from this.  It would be a bridge too far - she wouldn’t choose a job over him in that circumstance. 

She would have blamed Torchwood forever.  She would have taken herself away.  I’m glad that relationship is still intact.  It’s a show where you’ve got to contrast the ordinary everyday with the extraordinary and (with) Gwen going home to Rhys and then going to work in an underground secret base … its right to have that balance. 

Julie Gardner on whether or not Rhys’ status as an “honorary” Torchwood member would continue in the future.

JG: I think it will.  There you go; you are wearing me down with your good taste and judgment.

Julie Gardner on the misconception about the amount of sex in Torchwood

JG: I think because of episode Torchwood with the sex monster and I think because of that there was a lot of coverage and focus on that. And also we were positioning the show as the more adult version of DW, but actually there wasn’t that much (sex).  

Julie Gardner on whether or not Jack and Ianto will continue as a couple

JG: Yes, I like seeing them as a couple.

Further Reading on M&C

Naoko Mori Biography - - Naoko Mori Movies -