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Stargate SG-1 Cast Interviews: Michael Shanks

There's Something About Michael
Paul Gendreau, MGM Newsletter #14, Mar 03

Backgrounder: Catching up with Stargate SG-1 Star Michael Shanks

Following his much-talked-about one-season absence from the hit sci-fi series Stargate SG-1, actor Michael Shanks returns to the small screen for the show's seventh season, beginning this summer on Sci Fi Channel. As Daniel Jackson, an Egyptologist and the only non-military human member of the SG-1 crew, Shanks plays a character who is both intelligent and sensitive, as well as extremely popular with fans of the show, many of whom have clamored for his return throughout the past year.
We thought you might like to know a bit about the man behind the Egyptologist, so we sat down with Michael to find out about his past, present and future.

Born in Vancouver, Shanks grew up in a variety of small towns throughout Canada but carried with him big dreams. "I was always a big fan of movies and knew at a young age I wanted to be an actor, but I didn't realize there was an industry in my country that would support it," says Shanks. His fate was sealed, though, when he entered college at the University of British Columbia and a friend encouraged him to audition for a play that took Shanks to the coast of Vancouver. With time to spare before his appointment, Shanks went to the beach and witnessed his first television production. "At the time, there were only three film productions being shot in Vancouver and, ironically, I happened upon the shooting of MacGyver with Richard Dean Anderson," says Shanks, who has since told his current Stargate co-star the story. Fate, indeed.

Having been bitten by the acting bug, Shanks traded in his business courses at the university for the theater and ultimately earned his bachelor's degree in fine arts. Within three years, he starred in more than a dozen plays, including "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" and "Wait Until Dark." Discovered by an agent while performing the lead in a play called "Translations," Shanks signed on and immediately landed his first work, in ABC's popular crime series, The Commish. "I played a teenager who holds up a flower shop in order to steal corsages," says Shanks, who recalls fondly the role that cemented his career choice. "Now it sounds a little ridiculous, but at the time I thought it was the greatest thing in the world."

After graduation, Shanks became one of only twelve actors across Canada to be chosen for an apprenticeship program with the esteemed Stratford Festival. "It was an invaluable learning and growing experience," says Shanks, whose credits there included "The Merchant of Venice," "King Lear," "Amadeus," "Macbeth," and "The Merry Wives of Windsor." His additional theater credits include "Hamlet" at the Arts Club, "Leonce & Lena" at the Dorothy Somerset Studio and "Love of the Nightingale" at the Frederic Wood Theater.

Not wanting to limit himself to theater, Shanks continued to pursue other television roles, including guest-starring roles on Showtime's sci-fi series The Outer Limits, NBC's telefilm "A Family Divided," and "Madison," "Eye Level," "University Hospital" and "Highlander," and a lead role in UPN's telefilm "Escape to Mars."

On the big screen, Shanks can be seen in the film adaptation of Jack London's "Call of the Wild." "I'm definitely ready to tackle more feature films," he says. "It's a very different format from television, but challenging because you can take more risks and be a little edgier."

In his free time, Shanks enjoys rollerblading, golfing and spending time with his 2-year-old daughter, Tatiana. "There is no denying that I'm a true Canadian," says Shanks, who has also played hockey for more than 22 years. Despite his active lifestyle, Shanks' true passions still lie within acting and the artistic process. "I'm interested in all aspects of filmmaking," says Shanks. "From directing to producing to delving into features, I'm ready for it all. But, I can assure you, I will always be keeping one foot on the stage."

2003, MGM Newsletter.  Read online.

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