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Stargate SG-1 Cast Interviews: Michael Shanks

Michael Shanks on The Warp Zone
Radio interview with 'The Warp Zone', 1 Jun 03

You have entered The Warp Zone, your source for weekly science fiction and entertainment.

TWZ: And welcome back to The Warp Zone this Sunday June 1st 2003, with Brian Patrick, Chris Murphy and Daniel Bateman. And during the break we had a call from Michael. Michael Shanks called in and I freaked out because apparently he’s not at home and what would have happened if it came to the bottom of the hour and we tried to call him and no one would have been there and it would have been another thing that happens to us. Luckily he called in and Michael Shanks is our favorite actor now! He’s going above and beyond giving us his cell phone number. So, he’s called in and he’s honoring his commitment to be on the show today. Not very many people would do that. So we’re gonna watch Stargate:SG-1 and if you don’t watch it, you’re a bum and we don’t like you <laughs>.

TWZ: When we return Michael Shanks from Stargate:SG-1 will be joining us!

<Plays sound clip from Abyss where Daniel explains that he is only there with Jack in essence, after Jack throws a shoe through him>

TWZ: And welcome back to The Warp Zone this Sunday June 1st 2003, Brian Patrick, Chris Murphy, and Daniel Baden here with you and ah we are thrilled to death right now to be joined by the returning...the returning star of Stargate:SG1. He portrays Dr. Daniel Jackson and it’s Michael Shanks, gracious enough to be live on the show with us! Hey Michael!

MS: Hey, how ya doing Brian!

TWZ: Thanks for doing the show for us today, we appreciate it man, cause you have no’re at a birthday party or something...What’s going on?

MS: I’m just taking a little siesta for my girlfriend’s 30th birthday, we got out of town, went to Seattle and ya know we did the shopping thing and stuff like that. We are just having a little rest in a restaurant and I thought I’d give you guys a call.

TWZ: Thank you very much. Your beautiful girlfriend Lexa Doig, of the Andromeda fame.

MS: That’s right.

TWZ: Oh my god. You got the full sci-fi series thing going in you guy’s relationship, I mean you kinda go back and forth on these things, you’ve done some appearance on Andromeda. You played a character on Andromeda, isn’t that how you met her?

MS: That’s exactly right, I met her on the first episode of the first season I did with her called Star Crossed and it’s been love ever since.

TWZ: Ah you lucky son of a gun anyway <Michael laughs at this>. One thing is we're glad that you are coming back full time to Stargate:SG-1. You were missed.

MS: Thank you.

TWZ: But I love the scene that you had…I know you did a few cameos this past season with good old Richard Dean Anderson and his reactions to you as this higher being and we really never figured out what this higher being ...what his real powers are but I guess when we the season premiere airs on June 13th, all will be revealed I’m assuming?

MS: Ah, that’s the tough part. All won’t be revealed. I’m still waiting for that episode actually. I’m mulling over an episode myself to the process of writing a different one right now and I was mulling over something that might help… that gives the back story of the character and what happened and what’s going to happen. What made him end up in this it happens right now, everything happens off screen and because of a convenient memory loss he suffers, he’s just descend back down to be with the gang none of that is ever explained, he doesn’t know the answers to the questions. So it’s a gradual process of discovery about what happened…so it’s kinda clear if you watch the whole series, but kinda not at the same time so ...ah...there needs to be some back story explanation...who knows if we do another year of the show, there might be a story that will give a lot more detail to the explanation and hopefully I will be able to pen that one.

TWZ: Well I love this character device you made, have a major character like Daniel Jackson ascend to a higher plane. They’ve done this in other shows and guess it’s just not all that cracked up to be a higher entity, because everyone always ends up being a human again. <Michael laughs at this> Being a god kinda sucks, I wanna be a human again or something like that. I don’t get it, but hey you right.

MS: You’re right, it’s a convenient device, but at the same time, it’s one of those things that in science fiction you’re allowed to have that opportunity to take it to that realm and if it so happens that the know…wants to come back or they want the character back to’re able to knock him off his pedestal and bring him back down again and so it is convenient but at the same time I think it works out very well and in all the shows I’ve seen it in, it plays very well.

TWZ: Well let me ask you if I may the question you’ve been asked a thousand times and it’s that you left after season 5 and now your back. What’s the main reason for your return to the show?

MS: Oh it’s simple yet complicated, and I’ll give you the details on it as much as I can without revealing too much of the behind the scenes details. Ah, the character left because the actor was discontented that the lack of growth of the character, the sort of potential for the growth of the character....and the plan was we were only gonna do one more season and we were gonna do a feature film and da dat dad a…the role was left open so the character could do what he was doing in the 7th season of the show and the feature film and that was one of the devices of the feature film. And when we found out there was another year of the show, well it was one of things where we said lets expedite the process, let’s have him come back the same way we thought he was going to come back before and that’s why the door...the role was left open for the character.

What happened was …ah…there was more of the show being done and I’d always had a good relationship with everybody in the producing and writing aspect of things and was one of those things where we both sort of came together at a wrap party at the end of the year and discussed their needs and desires and what the future was going to hold for the show and giving a picture of what was going to work out and giving me a pretty good picture on that front and it seem to work out very well in the parameters of what I was looking for as well so it was a very strong, mutual agreement on both sides. There was never you know…there was all this painted animosity between myself and the producers of the show that was completely fabricated you know…

TWZ: Yeah ...okay. We’re talking to Michael Shanks, he’s one of the stars of Stargate SG-1...his character returns full time June 13th on Sci-fi in a two hour season premiere. Now I’ve read some of things about your character and when you first started correct me if I’m wrong, but the big reason you were originally cast as Daniel Jackson because you actually resembled James Spader?

MS: I...ah ...yeah...that’s absolutely true <laughs and you can hear Lexa laughing in the background>. I resemble James Spader and I came in doing a few Spaderism in the audition because Richard was so taking the other character in such a different direction than Kurt Russell was and these were characters from the original movie they wanted to have a little bit of continuity for the fans. So I do one of these little quirky things of imitating other personalities from the film industry and whatnot and I decided to throw in a few of those...and because it was written that way. It was appropriate for who it is and people seemed to like that continuity because Rick took the Kurt Russell incarnation and completely flipped it on it’s head and turned him into a funny, wisecracking guy and they wanted a little bit of that follow through from the feature to the series.

TWZ: So I didn’t offend you when I said I thought like the reason you got the gig is because you look like James Spader...basically <Michael Shanks laughs at this>.

MS: I…That’s the worst part about it is when it actually comes down to brass tacks it’s “why did you pick me?”. And they go “Well it’s because you did a good Spader.” And you go “Oh well great.” Ya know. There’s a feather in my cap...I can do a good imitation of another actor...that means I got the part...that’s great <lots of playful sarcasm about this>..

TWZ:  Hey well it’s only led to good things for ya…so I wouldn’t say how well I’ll take it thank you. So let me ask you...and I have to ask you so many things ...we have the season premiere and when we last saw you, you were of course in the season finale of season 6 and it looks like you were about to take on death itself it looked like...some sort of Goa’uld mastermind <Michael laughs at this>. I don’t know what it was and they haven’t really explained it or have they?

MS: <jokingly> Well isn’t he one of the characters from Lord of The Rings? Isn’t that what it was?

TWZ: Yeah!

MS: He’s Anubis, he’s our chief bad guy with the black cloak ...the cliché over the top villain as we call him. .and he’s in the black cloak and the mysterious face and everything the embodiment of evil. We had a character, we had a villain played by the same actor in the 3rd season of the show called Sokar...he was supposed to be the devil himself. There was all this incredible build up for this character and how we describing him as the end all be all of everything and we met him in a two part episode and he dies in that same episode and there’s this incredible episode arc and build up to this guy and “I am Sokar villain of the universe and then “oh god I’m dead!” And that was it. And I think that everybody realized at the end of the day that all the anticipation of this guy and the payoff at the end was that as soon as he shows up on screen he gets knocked off. And everybody was like “that was a bit of mistake, let’s not do that with this guy ok?” Let’s have our bad guy be a lot more mysterious and have him stick around a little bit longer.

And that’s what Anubis became and ah…in the cliffhanger of the sixth season, Daniel kinda confronts him, violating all the rules of the ascended beings and he just disappears...he just sort of gets taken away in the grand finale part of that episode and we don’t know what’s happen to him and ah the back story is ah that the character is going to be confronted by ascended beings basically saying as was established in the other episode I came back in that you have a lot of powers but you aren’t allowed to interfere with mortals and ah and Daniel has to confront whether or not he still has unfinished business as a human being and that’s basically the change. But this all happens off camera and it’s never explained and it requires a little more explanation I think in another episode to really establish that point as opposed to just trusting that’s the message that got through.

TWZ: <reacting to loud voices in the background on Michael’s end of the conversation> Is there a fight happening near you now?

MS: I’m sorry about that...I’m in a restaurant and restaurant stuff is happening, and you know and I’ve got that Tex/Mexican thing playing in the background too. I’ll walk away though.

TWZ: <laughing> No. Let me ask you this though, I assume that you are hinting that you are going to be able to write stuff this season at least one that you know of right now?

MS: Ah yeah...I’m in the process of coming down to a deadline for the outline for something that I’m writing that will probably be the fourth from last episode for this year. And I’ve decided to take a big jump into that pool because actually A: the writers are allowed me to do it because I think they wanted me to get a taste of their medicine so to speak You know if you are going to critique the writers then you have to know what they have to live through and you know and at the same time I wanted that challenge as put my own ideas out there because if you do a series long enough you start to come up with your own “I think we should do this...I think we should do that...why don’t we ever do this...why don’t we every do that” you always say and until you finally actually get a chance to do it you know how difficult the road is from idea of creation to the script coming out of this long, arduous journey I’m not exactly sure I’m totally cut out for.

TWZ: Ya know gotta try it out anyway. If the thing succeeds then ...which we’re guessing it well…its just where you want to be a person who’s putting more of your ideas into the show.

MS: Totally.

TWZ: And that the way to do it, write an episode.

MS: Absolutely...absolutely!

TWZ: Now I’m guessing you're gonna get a lot of cool screen time again with Richard Dean Anderson...that guys kind of an Icon anyway. Everybody knows him as MacGyver but the fact is ...the scenes that you two share is…you’re kinda straight man to his goof-ball. I we gonna see more of that?

MS: <laughs> We have a lot of fun and I think and I think that this is the best example of Richard put the two actors in a room or in a paper bag and shake them up...don’t give us any props ...lock us in a broom closet and make us play off of each other...we had a lot of fun. We have a lot of fun working together and that’s something ...unfortunately this year Richard is taking a lot of time off and uhm that was part of my reasons for wanting to come back is that there was gonna be a lot more uhmm...time for the other characters to interact not just Richard because he wants to spend a lot more time with his daughter and the other actors are going to get more to do and so that is one of the reasons why I decided to come back as much as I really want to share more time with Richard. The time that we get I really do, he’s not around a whole heck of lot this year ...he’s around a fair bit but not as much season of the show. He’s around in limited fashion so we get some interaction and we cherish it...but it’s certainly not going to be all of that this year, that’s for sure.

TWZ: Michael, we love the show and we think its got all kinds of legs...I think this thing can go on forever as far as I’m concerned and it’s a big hit on sci-fi and we just want to thank you for coming on the show live cause your in a restaurant and your eating and took time out for the Warp zone and that means a lot.

MS: My pleasure, pleasure.

TWZ: So we’re all going to watching June 13th two hour season premiere Michael Shanks back as Daniel Jackson in full force and so Michael please come back again soon sometime will ya.

MS: Absolutely, Brian…absolutely!

TWZ: So, there you go, Michael Shanks!

Transcribed By Marla
© 2003, The Warp Zone.

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