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Stargate SG-1 Cast Interviews: Michael Shanks

A Decade of Daniel
Abbie Bernstein, Stargate Official Magazine Issue 12, September/October 2006

"I've enjoyed the character development of Daniel. I think that if you play the character the same way and he reacts the same to situations, it's absolutely absurd. He has to learn with experiences, grow with them. I think he's become a little less idealistic, a little more cynical, a little more eager to get involved in the action aspect of things. Certainly, enough of Jack O'Neill rubbed off on him, as well as vice-versa, that they've become cross-pollinations of each other in a lot of regards. I've enjoyed making those changes. I like to grow with the character and, with every new script, decide what the ramifications are going to be. I've struggled with the idea of how excited he gets about certain things and how unexcited he is about other things and [how] that changes with time. I think that the first five years of the show were colored with the journey of [Daniel's] wife and the discovery of what it's like to go through this portal. Then the quest for the Ancients and Ancient knowledge were key points, and then, when he came back, there was the quest for the Lost City of Atlantis. We had one more mop-up job to do with the Goa'uld. Season eight was picking up the pieces, whatever dangling threads were out there, and in the course of season nine, we've established this new journey for the show and for the characters."

[Regarding Daniel in Season 10] "Right now, Daniel has a new position[...] Once he realized [the Ori] were an imperialistic enemy bent on dominating the galaxy, the character began operating more in the sense of fighting a war, as opposed to the idea of exploration being first and foremost."

Now that Black is a regular, the trick is to keep the tension going without either overdoing it or toning it down too much, Shanks says. "It's a slippery slope, because we had such joy for five episodes last year playing this wonderful yin-yang, push-pull Hepburn and Tracy Moonlighting dynamic, but it can only go on so long when you're doing 20 episodes a season that are [each] about something completely different. You can't have those characters working together and at each other's throats all the time, and although it's wonderful fun to play, if you flog the pony too many times, it's going to fall over.

[Regarding Daniel's relationship to Mitchell versus O'Neill] "With the O'Neill character, let's face it, first and foremost, I was new in the business, new on the show, and I was working with Richard Dean Anderson. And no matter how you're playing a character, your own personal experience is going to color how you play situations like that, because you can't help it. Certainly it was the case early on with Rick. Obviously, developing the rapport that we have, that intimidation factor dulled down as time went by, and just like the two [characters] are supposed to have this vast history, Rick and I have this vast history of mutual respect that's carried on through the years we've worked on the show."

[...] "I think Daniel's much more capable and willing to not only be an equal, but a leader in his own right, with Mitchell as a sort of figurehead of it. I think it's a very difficult proposition that Mitchell has, working with these people who are far more experienced than he is, trying to command this team in the field. So it's a very different relationship with Mitchell than it is with O'Neill."

[...] "We're going to be working tomorrow on a head-to-head, toe-to-toe basis; he's looking forward to it and I'm looking forward to it. WE have this great camaraderie and really enjoy working with each other and that colors how the characters interact onscreen."

[On working with wife Lexa Doig] "It's been great. We had a baby boy about two months ago, so it's been a few months since we've gotten to work together, but we actually enjoy it quite a bit. At this point, with the kids at home, rarely do you have the time to just talk and reconnect with each other. When we're at work, we get a little bit of down time, so we can just sit there and know the kids are looked after by someone else and we're both doing what we goth do — and we can actually spend some quality time together, have lunch together. So we've enjoyed it very much."

[On continuing the role] "In terms of riding it out, I'm trying to look at it more as a practical thing — if it's the thing that will make me happy, I'll stay in one place unless there's a better offer. In the meantime, I've certainly enjoyed the time that I've come back to the show and I'll continue to do so. I said last year, 'Get Claudia Black as a regular and you'll have a tough time tearing me away from the show,' so I'm happy in my work."

Visit Titan Magazines to order your back issue, read the entire interview, and see all the pictures.

Copyright © 2006, Titan Magazines

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