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Jack of All Trades

Stargate SG-1's Richard Dean Anderson

Richard Dean Anderson steps into the
world of reality to chat about his
tour of duty in Stargate SG-1

Feature by Thomasina Gibson

• From Cult Times #75

Stargate SG-1
Weekdays, 06.00 & 18.00, new episodes Wednesdays, 20.00
Also Channel 4 Sundays, 17.00 and available on video from MGM

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One of the most difficult challenges a journalist can face is to get Richard Dean Anderson to sit down long enough to chat sensibly about Stargate SG-1. Packed off to Vancouver by the Ed and told to come back with some juicy goss from the Stargate set, I'm met by Mr Anderson, who duly does his best to make sure I don't complete the task.

"Have I told you about my new sleeping bag?" he asks, as if that had any relevance to the show. "It's kind of a mid-green colour – I think they call it ‘wheatgrass.’" An innocent response about the less than palatable qualities of the wheatgrass health drink somehow leads the actor onto the subject of enemas, bowels and a blow by blow, gloriously technicolor, detailed account of his youthful experience with a suppository, a nun and a bed pan...

Moving swiftly on, he's threatened on pain of exposure in the tabloids to offer some words of wisdom on the biggest change in Stargate SG-1's history, namely the departure of Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks). The request to hear these comments initially from Richard Dean Anderson and then from Jack O'Neill brings a hoot of derision from the man. "I can't talk in character. Have you got a script for me?" Reminded that he is a very accomplished actor and therefore should be able to improvise, Anderson solemnly swears, "No! No! I'm very strict about the words that are written for this show. I've even said several of them this year."

Eventually, he relents enough to offer his opinion. "Daniel Jackson is dying – he's going away, but you know what? It's our sixth season of Stargate SG-1 and as in all good things there's an evolution hopefully, creatively and personnel-wise and we've reached the point where something had to change. Something bigger had to happen – at least from my perspective, knowing I will definitely be leaving the show after year six.

"To be quite honest, Michael leaving is a product of the respective parties making decisions based on what their projected needs are going to be in the long term. Michael indicated that he wanted to move on, which is quite a natural reaction after five long years of the rigours of this show. He is also an actor who's young and has a lot to do with his career. I think he knew that going in and what we've done is address the issue. It is a massive, big, big change but I support his decision wholeheartedly."

Switching from his own view to that of Jack O'Neill, the actor admits, "O'Neill has looked to Daniel for the greatest camaraderie and certainly he and I have had a lot of fun with the banter for which we've become famous. As actors we do have fun in the little snippets of scenes that Michael and I have been able to play with. He's very quick and I enjoy that. But for O'Neill, it will have to be life as normal without him. Life goes on."

As for getting on with it – this man is famed for his notoriously short attention span – what on Earth possessed him to sign up for another season of Stargate? "Excellent question!" he beams. "Next!" Looking around the trailer as if in search of an answer, he sighs. "I'm not quite sure. I talked to Brad Wright quite a bit about the future and how we should proceed with the franchise. The thought was that after the fifth year we could possibly have developed a feature film. Brad approached MGM about that but they dragged their heels and weren't real forthcoming because what they ultimately wanted was a sixth season of the TV series in order to raise as much capital as possible and then they would consider it." Now the actor hopes MGM will have, as he quotes, "The balls to give us the go-ahead to develop a franchise of features, which I'd be very interested in taking forward..."

Thomasina Gibson

Cult Times #75• Exhilarating river trips, the three-year old light of his life and more on Daniel's Jackson's exit: Richard Dean Anderson on the important things in life in this five-page cover feature.

• Excerpts from Cult Times #75

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