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Stargate SG-1 Cast Interviews: Michael Shanks

Team Player
Steven Eramo, TV Zone Special #67, Dec 2005

It's only been a couple of weeks since the cast and crew of SG-1 finished shooting the show's ninth season. This year was unlike previous ones in that the series began a brand new story arc and introduced a number of new characters.

"With the first six episodes of this season it was almost like a completely different TV show," Michael Shanks explains. "Richard Dean Anderson was, of course, no longer there, we had Claudia Black replacing Amanda [Tapping] in our first five stories, and Ben Browder, Beau Bridges [General Hank Landry] and Lexa [Doig] had come on board, too. After those initial episodes we headed back into more familiar territory, but at the same time it was somewhat confusing ground because we had established a new rhythm when we started the year. So in the remaining 14 episodes of Season Nine we were still trying to find our sea legs and mine the depths of our new characters."

"Robert Cooper [series executive producer] came into Year Nine with the idea...why not start out fresh? I think he and everyone involved in the creative process found a great way to utilize all the aspects of the new characters as well as continue to use the strengths of the older, more defined characters so to speak. It's certainly a testament to Rob and the team of writers that we have."

In SG-1's Season Nine two-part opener Avalon, Daniel Jackson reluctantly rekindled his less than harmonious relationship with Vala Mal Doran. "Working with Claudia is like working with an old best friend even though the two of us had never acted together before doing Prometheus Unbound," says the actor. "So the relationship between Daniel and Vala in those first six episodes this year was a very easy one because it was one that Claudia and I had previously discovered.

"Establishing Daniel's dynamic with Ben's and Beau's characters was far more challenging. With Daniel and Mitchell it would have been extremely cliché to go back nine years to the original dynamic of Daniel and Jack O'Neill, which was the military versus the diplomatic. None of us wanted to be repetitive in that regard, so we tried to figure out a way for Daniel and Mitchell to work side by side, find some commonality and still have an entertaining rapport with one another.

"With Beau's character, he started out as someone who was frustrated with Daniel's exposition, technobabble or whatever. General Landry quickly got beyond that, though, and was able to see the person he was working with, so he warmed up a bit to Daniel. Even so, there wasn't a strong bond that I could list all the dimensions of.  I revere Beau Bridges as an actor and sometimes I'd be sitting there like a little kid doing a scene with him and thinking, `Don't kick me out of your office'," he jokes.

Because Daniel is featured quite heavily early on in Season Nine, those episodes are among the more memorable for Shanks this year. He does, however, also have some favourites from the latter half of the season. "The one I enjoyed most is probably the last story, Camelot," notes the actor. "You have SG-1 fighting the bad guys, solving riddles, and interacting with aliens from different cultures. It just felt like good old-fashioned classic Stargate.

"I certainly enjoyed the different character interactions this year and I'm just hoping we can take those relationships to the next level next season. I want to see more of who these people are, and I'm sure the fans do as well."

To read the full interview, order your back issue copy of the magazine from Visual Imagination.

Copyright © 2005, TV Zone

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