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Feature: Stargate SG-1 Michael Shanks

So long, Daniel Jackson, until we meet again...?

Looking back: Stargate SG-1's Michael ShanksAfter five years as Daniel Jackson, actor Michael Shanks has decided to bid farewell to Stargate SG-1. In this exclusive and candid interview, Shanks reveals why it’s time for him to move on…

Most TV actors dream of getting a job as a regular on a show. If the series turns out to be a hit, then all the better. For Michael Shanks, his dream became a reality back in 1997 when he won the role of Dr Daniel Jackson on Stargate SG-1. "I'll never forget when Christopher Judge [Teal'c], Amanda Tapping [Major Samantha Carter] and I visited the set for the first time and saw the Stargate," he says. "The three of us were overwhelmed. We were like, `Oh, my God, this is for us. This is our show, our universe.' It was an awe-inspiring experience.

"I should add, though, that on our first day working on-location we had what was probably the ultimate feeling in the opposite direction," jokes the actor. "It rained the entire time, most of the film got ruined, parts of the set were washed away, the extras were ready to mutiny, etc. It was pretty much a nightmare... Thankfully, it was not the beginning of the end. Everything seemed to go uphill after that."

However, after five years of adventures, Jackson's alter ego has called it quits.

"The show was moving in a direction that seemed to hold less and less a place for my character," explains Shanks. "There were a number of conspiracy plots developing and other Earth-based scenarios that were being done in order to flesh out the different aspects of dealing with the Stargate. Admittedly, some of them were very interesting. For instance, the fifth-season episode Desperate Measures was actually a particularly good story because of its X-Files-brand of conspiracy involving Maybourne [Tom McBeath]. In fact, when my girlfriend Lexa [Doig - Rommie of Andromeda fame] and I were watching it I said to her, ‘This is a great show. I wish I were on it.' It's like when you watch a really good episode of The X-Files and think, `Wow, this is a great show. I wish I could guest-star on it.' Well, there I was watching Stargate and saying, `This is an interesting TV show. I wish I was… oh, wait a minute, I am on it!' It was one of those moments that were becoming more and more frequent where I'd think, `I'm spending nine months a year doing this show and at the end of the day I'm really not in it a lot. I'm not getting a chance to challenge myself as an actor.'

"Stargate had become a programme about a military group in a military institution surrounded by all the various aspects and organizations that people in the military might have to deal with. As the sole civilian of the team, other than Teal'c, there's wasn't much for Daniel to do...We were dealing with old situations and becoming further entrenched in past conflicts. As a result, the archeological and cultural interests of my character had to take a backseat.

"I actually said to Brad Wright [executive producer] last season, ‘You need to have this fourth team member be a military person, maybe a corporal or lieutenant with a bit of a background in archeology. This way if you need such expertise this guy's got it. If not, at least you have someone who can pick up a gun and start fighting. It was getting to a point where Daniel was in scenes just to be there, you know, and, frankly, I didn't want to do that any more..."

by Steven Eramo

Get the full four-page interview, as Michael Shanks reflects in detail on his final episode, when you buy
TV Zone #146.

Images © Showtime / MGM
Feature © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #146, see below for ordering options
TV Zone #146
January 2002
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Wormhole X-Treme

Also in this issue: celebrating Stargate
's lighthearted 100th episode, Wormhole X-Treme, including an interview with guest star
Michael DeLuise

TV Zone