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Feature: Stargate SG-1's Michael Shanks
Daniel in the Lion's Den
Michael Shanks tells Sharon Gosling why he felt it was time to leave Stargate SG-1
Michael Shanks walks into a room at Wolf Events' SG-4 convention and plonks himself comfortably into a chair. It's astounding how little physical likeness he shares with his recently deceased character on Stargate SG-1, Daniel Jackson. Watching this warm, friendly man, one begins to understand just what a talented actor the show has lost following his controversial decision not to renew his contract.
That the decision has not been accepted easily by his thousands of fans evidently bemuses him. While he has taken pains to assure the Danielites' that it was, in the end, his decision to make, those viewers' dedication has taken him by surprise. Some took out advertisements in magazines such as the Hollywood Reporter, lobbying for his return. Looking at one such advert he smiles wryly...
"It's very nice to see a group of people go to that amount of effort to bring it into the public eye - even more than the show would do itself, in a way. At the same time it feels like a little bit too much in that if people have the money to do something like that, you really wish it was going towards something that was helping people. You know," he continues, indicating the article in question, "arguably that does, but at the same time, I wish it had gone to a better cause. But yes, it's very flattering."
Shanks pinpoints his growing discontent with his role as the reason for his choice, and adds that it's a problem that could have easily been resolved. His unhappiness stems from the writers' treatment of the character, which to his mind had become more and more two-dimensional as the seasons progressed.
"I think me leaving is a kind of indicator of how satisfied I was [with Season Five]. I found the last two years [saw] a winding down of the character's usefulness, and the lack of desire of the producers to incorporate that character and use him properly was at times very frustrating... It just seemed that there was a painting into a corner of Daniel which was done early in the Fourth Season: there wasn't a big effort to include him in the big scene. As an actor, that's frustrating: when you are there all the time but not contributing in any way. I guess it's like playing with a sports team where you are sitting on the bench..."
So what would have made him happy to continue as Daniel Jackson? Shanks says it would have made a difference if the writers had been more enthusiastic on behalf of his character. "But again, the more I seemed to be vocal about it, the less I saw happening, and the more my frustration built up. So that led to the eventual decision..."
Nevertheless, Shanks didn't relent, a turn of events he again attributes to the lackadaisical attitude of the producers. "It almost seemed as if it were something that they were hoping I'd do," he continues frankly, "so that they could have a fresh perspective for season six..."
by Sharon Gosling
Read the full five-page interview with Michael Shanks, plus our satirical guide to the potential new recruits, in:
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