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Stargate SG-1 Cast Interviews: Michael Shanks

Canberra, Australia, Nov 03
Typed by Kelly, following shouted orders by DJ, Tricia and Lorrie.


The con began with the Cocktail Party.  The party was out by the pool; our group gathered between the bar and the pool.  We had come from all over the world, gradually meeting in smaller groups to eventually form one large group of fourteen.  Michael arrived wearing tight dark blue jeans, a grey long-sleeved T-shirt that clung in all the right places; he was carrying The Leather Jacket and wearing shaded sunglasses.  He was clean shaven that evening, something that continued throughout the weekend until the Wrap Party, which we'll drool over later.

He was taken around for the Meet and Greet by Adele, starting with the people closest to the door.  We waited patiently for our turn at the other end of the room.  Michael had almost reached our group when Adele spotted Tricia getting a drink and pulled her over to introduce her to Michael.  Tricia spoke with him for several minutes about a range of topics including his return to the show, the TV Guide cover and fandom in general.  In the conversation he did mention how much he appreciated the fans and that they had a large part in his decision to return.

When he reached the rest of our group, Adele introduced us each by name (that woman has an amazing memory!).  At the sight of DJ, he said "Jesus Christ!" and backed away in mock horror.  Then he laughed and thanked us all for coming.  He spoke to each person individually about a variety of things, from the Philadelphia Flyers, to past and future cons to the distances people had travelled to get there.  He spent several minutes with us, then Adele announced the launch of "Zeaton" by Philip Rainford.  Philip made a small speech about his series of books (this is the third) and Michael stood with us throughout the presentation.

Alas, the presentation ended, and Michael started circulating again.  In his travels, he spoke to everyone in the room before making a graceful exit.  We stayed for at least an hour after that, chatting and catching up with each other.  We eventually adjourned to the room for a DVD watching party.


Starting very early (for those of us who had been up for all hours), the Official Welcome was at 9:00.  Colonel Richard Searfoss, Jacqueline Samuda, Douglas Arthur, Jan Newman and Michael came out to say hello and welcome everyone to Canberra.  (Poor David Palffy was still stuck on a plane somewhere over Australia.)  Michael was having his well-dressed day, which seems to be a new trend for cons; one well-dressed day and one scruffy day.  He was wearing the holey jeans (or Holy Jeans, depending on which way you want to look at it), and a crisp red and white checked shirt.  His hair was artfully tousled, a little longer than when we had last seen him on the show.  He seemed to have recovered from any jetlag and was energetic, smiling and relaxed.  We then adjourned for the Official Photography Sessions.

There was an extrememly long line for photos with Michael.  We were called up one row at a time to queue for our turn.  Only about four people were allowed into the room at a time,  It was very quick; each person only got a few seconds with Michael while they were taking the picture.  Peter, the official BOBW photographer did a great job, taking at least two snaps of each guest,  doing his best to make sure everyone got a good photo.

Then it was on to astronaut Colonel Richard Searfoss and his talk about NASA and the Space Shuttle Program.  He was a fascinating and entertaining speaker; very enthused about his topic and sharing it with all of us.  He showed slides and videos about the program and the way the Earth looks from space.  There was a virtual tour around the world, starting in Florida and circling the globe.

Rick impressed the audience with both his knowledge and his open and friendly manner.  The advice he gave the audience to "Take your job seriously, but not yourself"  seems to be a view he applies to his own life. 

There was a short break, then we had a presentation from Jan Newman, head of the makeup department for Stargate SG-1.  This was her first con, and although she professed to be nervous, it didn't last long.  As soon as she started speaking about her job, she opened up and relaxed.  Jan is Australian born, although she's lived in Canada for the last forty years, so her stories about how she came to be in Canada and moved from a career as a registered nurse into the world of stage and screen make up was of great interest to the local audience.  As Jan has been with Richard Dean Anderson from his days as MacGyver, she had many funny and interesting stories about the cast of both shows.  Her great fondness for RDA and the cast of Stargate was apparent in her warm and affectionate stories.

At one point, Jan asked the audience "What about Amanda's lipstick?"  The response from the audience seemed to surprise her; the general consensus was that Sam wore an unrealistic amount makeup for a soldier on a front-line combat unit, especially when off-world.  Although she protested "But it's SciFi!" Jan said that she would take that information back to the set with her. 
It was very interesting and enjoyable to hear a new point of view from the crew.

We broke for lunch, and when we returned, it was time for the System Lords.

David Palffy arrived at the last minute, coming directly from the airport to his talk. Douglas Arthurs and Jacqueline Samuda were already on stage when he joined them.  Dougie, Jacqueline and David were all amazingly energetic, just as interested in the audience as we were with them.  Very early in their talk, they received cards of Australian slang, which the audience shouted out directions on how to pronounce.  Jacqueline did the best job, but the guys weren't too far behind.

They answered questions from the audience about their varied roles in the show as well as other projects, both as actors and in other aspects of the world of entertainment.  At some points, we were laughing so hard it was difficult to hear what was being said. It was all good fun.

Then there was another break, followed by...Michael!

Michael Shanks Q&A Saturday: or, "It's all about nipples."

Michael ran into the room, jumping up on stage with a wave and a big smile, carrying The Leather Jacket.  (At this point, it's starting to grow it's own personality.)  He blinked at all the cameras flashing, then took the microphone away from his face and obligingly struck a variety of poses.  While posing, he declared that he was having a bad nipple day.  He said "You know, one of those days when no matter what shirt you wear, it chafes your nipples?"  There was much amusement, to put it mildly.

 The shutterbugs stopped after five minutes, and the questions began.  The following Q&As are based on notes and what we recall, and are not necessarily word for word.  BOBW does eventually make a video available, so we will have a transcript as soon as possible.

Q:  Where is Daniel's Happy Place?" 
MS:  After much thought, Michael answered "Club Paradise in Las Vegas."  We think he was joking.

Q:  What was it like filming the beginning of 'Fallen'?

MS:  Michael's reply was funny.  He went on and on about most people filming naked scenes are on a warm, closed set, with no visitors and just the necessary crew.  He was lying naked and cold in a dog walk park in Surrey, B.C. with just a piece of moleskin coving the vital bits.  A very small piece.  It was cold.  As he said, "it's all about nipples."  Like at Fan Odyssey, Michael was obviously trying to elicit sympathy.  Once again, he failed.  Wrong audience.  : )

Q;  What were you doing in your time away from the show?

MS:   "Golf."  After a pause filled with laughter, he listed the various projects in which he was involved and some of the roles he had played during that time.

Q:  Who are your inspirations?

MS:   Michael said that before a few years ago, he would have rattled off five or six names, but recently there were too many to mention, although among them were Harrison Ford and Bugs Bunny.

Q:  Will you give us one or two words to describe yourself and each of your co-workers?

MS: Himself -- "Stubborn".  He paused, grinned, and repeated "Stubborn."
      Chris -- "Loud and...a Barrel'o'Laughs."
      Amanda -- "Sincere.  Oh-so-sweet."
      Don -- "Noble.  And a Friend."
      Rick -- "Brat."  There was another pause, then "Snarky little brat."
      Teryl -- "Dainty.  Quirky".

Q:  How do you spend your spare time?

MS:  He has a five year old daughter and he plays hockey.

Q:  Have you seen season six?

MS:  They actually don't show it in his area, but he has seen a couple episodes and is curious to see more.

Q:  How has Daniel changed now that he's Descended and come back to the team?

MS:  Daniel is now more assertive and more of a leader.

Q:  Did you do your own stunts on Andromeda?

MS:  The stunts on Andromeda required a lot of wire work, so it was done by professionals.

Q:  Daniel seems more buff this year.  Have you been working out?

MS:  The audience laughed as Michael opened his mouth once or twice and didn't seem to know what to say.  Someone called out "Michael, are you blushing?".  He turned even redder and said "No, it's just warm in here."  He then talked a little bit about combating boredom on set by bringing weights into his trailer.

Q:  What was it like directing "Double Jeopardy"?

MS:  "It was zero fun doing it."  He was supposed to have gotten an actor episode; not much action but lots of team relationships.  Instead, he got one of the most ambitious action-packed, special-effects full episodes they'd ever done.  A note on one page of script like "the Jaffa forces attack" would translate into days of filming.  It was a lot of work, but he was happy with the result.

Q:  What is the project you are working on with Don S. Davis?

MS:  "The Maggie Rose".  Based on a true story, it's the story of a fishing boat that sunk off the east coast of Canada and the town that raises it.  It's set in the 50s, and Michael would be playing the lead.  They hope to film in the summer within the next few years.

Q:  We don't get a chance to see much banter now.  Are Jack and Daniel still friends?

MS:  Yes.  He did say that in "The Lost City" two-parter, we'll see some banter, more like the stuff they did in early seasons.  Jack and Daniel have known each other for seven years now; most of their communication doesn't need to be said.  They communicate through unsaid words and shared looks. 

Q:  Do you get recognized?

MS:  He does sometimes; not often at home since the show isn't seen much there.  He does get recognized in Australia, which can be odd, like when he was having lunch on the day he arrived, and the cook and the waiter both came rushing out to meet him because they recognized him.   In the US and Canada,  even when he wants to use the fact that he's on a TV show to get into a club or something, people say they recognize him, then ask who he plays on the show.  Michael said he's often tempted to answer "the six foot two black guy."

After Michael's talk, we had the Charity Auction and then the Autograph line, both of which were a lot of laughs.  We finished the night with a nice meal at the Banquet and another night of DVD watching.

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