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Feature: Stargate SG-1

Michael Shanks as Dr Daniel Jackson

Now working on the tenth season, actor Michael Shanks reflects on the unexpected longevity of his character, Dr Daniel Jackson

Michael Shanks has spent nine of the past 10 years co-starring as Dr Daniel Jackson on Stargate SG-1. The actor laughs when asked if he had any concept of what he was signing on for when he inked his SG-1 contract a decade ago.

“I can’t even recall that particular moment,” he says. “I think that at the time, when I agreed to do the show, I was unemployed and had just finished a two-year stint at Stratford. I was just hoping to land any kind of job. I thought I was signing on for the pilot; not that people weren’t telling me we had a two-year guarantee, but I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it’. I thought I was doing a pilot that I’d get some experience from and that would be it. It was a TV series based on a movie, and those don’t exactly have a fabulous track record to begin with. What ended up happening is absolutely absurd.”

hanks laughs. “The longevity I attribute to Viagra! No, the longevity is anybody’s guess. I think the biggest clue is that we’re not a network show, so we didn’t get canned right off the bat, which happens to a lot of genre shows on the networks. A show like Firefly is an example of that. We were a cable show and we were syndicated, so we were off the radar and quietly able to build a fan base. I think the longevity is also attributable to some good executive deals and good partnerships with Showtime and Sci-Fi in terms of the financial aspects. In terms of the creative aspect, we’ve had a lot of continuity behind the scenes. Brad Wright has been there throughout, and Robert Cooper as well. We’ve had a lot of writers, like Joe (Mallozzi) and Paul (Mullie), who’ve stayed around, and it’s the same with the actors and crew. Most of us have been here a very long time, and that’s where a lot of shows falter. They lose people here and there and the continuity, which is so valuable, goes by the wayside. We also keep a good sense of humour.”

eason Nine essentially rebooted SG-1. Shanks was around full-time as Daniel, as was Christopher Judge as Teal’c. Amanda Tapping took off a hunk of time following the birth of her child. Meanwhile, several newcomers were folded into the ensemble. And star Richard Dean Anderson exited the scene after a couple of years of scaling back his appearances as Jack O’Neill. Still, the show itself was pretty darn good. “I liked it for the most part,” Shanks notes. “It was such an odd, eclectic year. We had six episodes where Claudia was with us full-time and then we had Amanda come back. So it was a weird mix-and-match year. But overall, I think it turned out well and I think some of the strongest episodes of the season were some of the stronger episodes from the whole run of the show. I’m really happy with the energy boost we got from the new cast on set and on screen. There’s a lot of good that we did. There’s still more melding that needs to be done with all the new people, and there’s a lot of room for that, for development of the relationships, in the tenth season.”

by Ian Spelling

Read the full interview in
Starburst #339

Image © Visual Imagination, Stargate © Sci-Fi Channel
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Starburst #339
Summer 2006
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