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Stargate SG-1 Cast Interviews: Michael Shanks

Anything Can Happen
Miwa Hirai, Cyberex, Jul 02

Cybernex Chat with Michael Shanks of STARGATE SG-1

Vancouverite actor Michael Shanks plays Dr. Daniel Jackson, a departing cast member of STARGATE SG-1. Shanks returns to the show as a guest star in the upcoming episode titled "Abyss" in Season 6, which will air July 19 on the Sci-Fi Channel. After playing his alter-ego for five years on ShowTime's hit television series, Shanks, who had already achieved very credible acting status, chose to take a road in exploring his career possibilities.

"I think the fans of STARGATE out there know quite well the reasons I left the show. I have expressed myself very clearly and I don't have any new information to add to that," says Shanks, smiling hesitantly, "But in terms of coming back for 'Abyss', it's different. Brad Wright (Executive Producer/Writer) and I talked about the idea of the story last year, about still wanting to have the character (of Daniel) included on some level of the show. I sensed that it would be good, so I asked him if I could read the script first before jumping on board with it. I read the script and thought it was going to be a wonderful episode, so I signed for it. "

In "Meridian" (season 5 ender) Daniel was given the opportunity to give up his human life and ascend into a higher plane of existence. It was Oma Desala who offered Daniel the chance to see the long view of the universe, to help make things right on a cosmic scale. Daniel accepted. "Jackson is a sort of energy now," adds Shanks.

In "Abyss", Colonel Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) is captured and tortured to death by the Goa'uld. While Jack is struggling with his limited concept of life, Daniel appears in Jack's prison cell to help him see things in a new way. Daniel's way.

"It's a really thoughtful and beautiful character-driven episode. I'm sure you'll like it. Daniel has obviously taken some spiritual lessons since he ascended last season. He tells Jack he doesn't have to be tortured over and over again. Daniel can end up the torture, but he doesn't. All he does is comfort his best friend and help him take his new journey before it's too late."

"Before shooting 'Abyss'," Shanks continues. "I had a talk with the director (Martin Wood) about the character. I wanted to make sure that Daniel remained essentially who he was before he ascended, no matter what kind of spiritual journey he's been on. I don't think that matters. He is different physically, but inside he should be the same."

"When I first got the role of Jackson and established the idea of the character, I think there was already a blue print," Shanks states, referring to the beginning of the STARGATE series. "I kind of stepped into position. Many things about the character had already been established by James Spader, who played Jackson in the feature film. In that situation, an actor needs to decide if he wants to use the attributes already established or throw them away. I thought there were a lot of good things the original actor had attempted and I threw them in there and decided to play it up a little bit. It's a great advantage for an actor because the first actor has tested a lot of that for you."

"But since then, Daniel hasn't changed very much throughout the series. I don't think we've seen a great deal of transition to the character himself. Well, he cut his hair much shorter." Shanks laughs. "But the real changes have been in terms of who Daniel interacts with. Everything else has been internal, so I wanted to make sure that the Daniel in this episode was not much different from who he was before. That was one of the main reasons I decided to come back this time." Shanks smiles.

Brad Wright commented in the Sci-Fi Channel's recent live chat that Shanks would do two voice-overs as Thor the Asgard on STARGATE, as well as making two more subsequent appearances (besides 'Abyss') as Daniel Jackson. At the time of this writing, Shanks' agent has confirmed that the actor will be performing the voice-overs. However, further episodes as Daniel have not been discussed.

"Well, I don't expect to see a great deal of Daniel, but it will be lovely. I think it's still a step-by-step process between the producers, writers and myself. I've been made aware that other plans are, you know, in the rough sketches. But I also know how things work out around here. Sometimes the decision is already made and not much is changed. The overall arc of the show sometimes is just a fleshing out of what happens on a day-by-day basis. As ideas come up, they're either green lighted or not. But yeah, who knows the future? Will I appear in the feature film? Yes, if the character is utilized the way he was supposed to be."

Shanks beautifully portrayed Daniel's humanistic approach, his sharp observation and wide-eyed curiosity throughout every mission, qualities that often caused conflict with character Jack O'Neill, who regularly takes a militaristic approach. Daniel is now in a totally different plane of existence, separate from Jack. He is free of pain, physically and emotionally, and has a lifetime of new mysteries to examine. Yet Jackson seems to mourn the loss of his friendship, as do the fans. There will be no more arguments with Jack. No more banter, no more adventures, no more building up of the almost mythic relationship between these two vastly different men.

"I've missed it very much. I believe the relationship of Jack and Daniel was definitely one of the most appealing factors that STARGATE had created for the past five years. Everything else stemmed from that. But I have to say, five years is certainly a long time to play one character. Jackson had much more interesting things to do than I did. He was a member of SG-1. He was a peaceful explorer, archaeologist, linguist, anthropologist, and a lot more. There were fights with the Goa'uld, with the government.  And there were still infinite possibilities and courses to take in developing the character. Well, that's over now. He's in a spiritual form, no body at all. But this is sci-fi. Anything can happen in this world."

2002, Cyberex.  Cyberex online.

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