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Stargate SG-1 Cast Interviews: Michael Shanks

Through The Gate And Back Again
Miwa Hirai, Cyberex, Feb 03

Michael Shanks, who played archaeologist Daniel Jackson for the past five seasons on STARGATE SG-1, has returned. The actor appeared in the Season 6 finale of SG-1 in September of 2002, which was his third guest appearance that season. Shanks left the show last season for reasons that proved difficult and distressing for all concerned, most especially for enthusiastic fans of the series.

"I'm very aware of the strong reaction to Daniel's departure since the end of Season 5. It's been very surprising for me and, I think, for the people who run the show as well. I knew that there would some sort of reaction, but I didn't realize how passionate it would be. The character was very passionate, so maybe he would attract people who share that trait. It's just been very lovely, but at the same time it's been difficult. It was sad for me (to leave), too."

Shanks also believes that what he says and what gets into the media for his fans to read are two different things. "I read something that claimed I said I hated writers and denigrated their talents. That wasn't it at all! It was never my intention to insult them. I thought the writing staff was just great and did a marvelous job. In a way, maybe I wanted to stay on the show, but I just expressed that the character (of Daniel) wasn't being made use of as well or as creatively as he could have been. I had begun to think the show would work just as well without me and thatケs when I felt that I had to go. I also felt it was time to expand my horizons and look to other things as an actor."

"The writers disagreed with my point of view. I thought they didn't see what I was talking about. I realize now that I should have left it at that. We had artistic differences, which is what a lot of actors say, but I hated the public speculation that would create. I wanted to be more specific, and it just seemed to cause more hurt feelings. So now I wish I could go back and say we had artistic differences and that's why I left. There is no right answer, given that situation." Shanks pauses. "But," he says pensively. "I am learning to curb what I say."

Shanks's first quest appearance since his onscreen death in Season 5 was "Abyss", which aired last July. The character of Daniel made a "descent" to help his best friend, Jack O'Neill (played by Richard Dean Anderson), through a harrowing ordeal. "It was related to going beyond the Jack and Daniel friendship that began in the original movie. Their relationship had evolved sincerely in many different ways. Daniel wanted to try to help Jack solve the problem. They haggled, scrapped, bantered and had fun. It was a character-driven episode that allowed the audience to see a little deeper into the characters."

After his SG-1 appearance in "Abyss", Shanks also made cameo appearances in "Changeling" and returns for the final episode, "Full Circle".

"Chris wrote 'Changeling' with Brad Wright. It's like an alternate reality that replaces your subconscious. 'Forever In A Day' (Season 3), for example, basically takes place in a blink of eye, when Sha'uri is destroying Daniel with her hand device. The entire story that Daniel goes through never happened, but it does happen in his mind. Something allows him to make peace with her death. 'Changeling' is very similar to an episode titled 'Absolute Power' (Season 4) in that way. Teal'c makes a journey in a different form. We see him as a different person and how his life and the Stargate cross paths all the time, how he has to deal with that and what it means at the end. Daniel, in these lives, acts as a type of a spirit guide to direct Teal'c, pushing him to a place where he can reconcile what the journey is about."

"I'm always fond of those episodes. They're demanding because you're constantly asking what's going on and then you're hooked. It's like The Sixth Sense. You don't know what's real and what's not anymore. To me, that's a thinking man's drama, and I really appreciate the more emotional, intelligent episodes that we do."

"In 'Full Circle', Daniel appears to Skaara (Alexis Cruz) in the Abydos tent village. He encourages the people to fight with Anubis, who is hunting the Eye of Ra, the last missing piece of the six powerful Eyes held by Goa'uld. We go back to the beginning of the Stargate story and go through a similar battle process with the evil forces of the alien. I always love taking the story back to Abydos because Daniel has a strong relationship with the people there. We managed to include a great location in Vancouver. The shoot has a great film look."

While the SG-1 and the native people are in battle on Abydos, Daniel makes a bargain with Anubis. He trusts Anubis' word not to attack Abydos if he gives him the Eye of Ra.

"I think Daniel knows that he won't (attack). It was part of my original thought process, too. I was thinking; yeah, what is he believing this guy for? But he's not. I realized that after a second read of the script. He's not trusting Anubis, he's saying that making this deal will allow his friends to escape with the tablet so that they can find the lost city. He's already told the system lord that Anubis is there. They will come to create a distraction while Daniel tries to get his friends out and save the people on Abydos. Daniel also wants to actually confront Anubis one on one. He knows if we find the tablet it will lead us to the lost city where the weapons are that can destroy Anubis. I think that he believes in keeping Anubis' trust in that particular moment. Daniel will do wherever it takes to get this Eye that will allow his friends to escape and possibly the people on Abydos."

"Full Circle" also shows another side of Daniel. In this episode, he is darker and more determined than he was before. He thought the Ancients that reside in the higher plane had a holy power over every existence. He thought he had chosen the right path to help humans and the world. Did he?

"I think he is confused. He's sort of lost. Oma Desala took Daniel away from the battle because he committed actions that were forbidden. Daniel took a great risk in crossing that line."

Does that mean we will see Daniel Jackson again? Is this the end of his journey with the SG-1 team?

"I don't really know. Whether or not the character comes back to the show is not my decision to make," says Shanks pensively. "It's wonderful that the fans still care. I can't say how much I appreciate their support. Sometimes it may be a little bit misguided, but other times they're dead on the money. To have fans out there carry your memory and want to see your character back is, well, I can't say enough about that." He grins. "They're wonderful. It's a very flattering thing that they're still talking about him (Daniel). In terms of whether or not to blame Michael Shanks for leaving the show, possibly. But don't blame him if he doesn't return, I have absolutely no control of it at this point."

SCIFI and MGM apparently listened to the voices of unwavering support for the character of Daniel Jackson. SCIFI has officially confirmed that Shanks will return as a regular cast member in the full 22 episodes of Season 7, which is scheduled to begin filming on February 17. Shanks concludes his thoughts on the future of Stargate SG-1:

"Lots of things happen in the Season 6 finale, which will be a bridge to Season 7. I don't know if or how Daniel will descend and reunite with the SG-1 team. The director of 'Full Circle', who talked to Robert Cooper, the writer of the episode, has basically said that what happened to Daniel is different than what is happening to the people on Abydos. He may have a grand plan for it. I guess we'll have to wait and see what that means. I'm not certain at this point. However I am sure that whatever they do with the character will be brilliant and the new adventures of Stargate will be better than ever."

2003, Cyberex.  Cyberex online.

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