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Stargate SG-1 Cast Interviews: Michael Shanks

Stargate SG-1's Michael Shanks
Hot Spots, Georgia's Entertainment Magazine, Feb/Apr 99

Once in a blue moon an actor comes along who is not only dashingly handsome but has his own unique brand of charisma that literally guarantees him a shot at becoming Hollywood's newest heart throb. Michael Shanks, who stars as the sexy scientist Daniel Jackson in the new syndicated sci-fi series Stargate SG-1, is that actor. His perfectly chiselled features set off by his turquoise blue eyes, make this exciting young artist one of the freshest new faces on television this fall.

Shanks' character is part of the SG-1 team of explorers who travel the galaxy through an ancient watery portal known as the Stargate to unusual and often dangerous planets. The SG-1 team, which is headed by actor Richard Dean Anderson, is on a mission to Earth and destroy the evil Goa'ulds. Jackson's knowledge of ancient civilizations and mythology make him a vital part of the team.

Based on the 1994 hit motion picture Stargate, Shanks took over the role played in the film by actor James Spader. His similar features and his talent were instrumental to the actor when he auditioned for the role. "A lot of people who have watched the series, think that it is James Spader who is continuing to play the part. In reality, people have never confused us on the street," jokes Shanks. He admits there was pressure in reprising Spader's role. "There was a certain amount of expectation with the part. Viewers are already very familiar with Spader's work. I could never repeat his performance from the film. What I can do, is bring my own talents to the role making the character of Daniel Jackson progressively more interesting, sometimes humorous and ultimately three dimensional," reveals the actor.

Shanks continues to note the differences in his portrayal of Jackson saying, "I think that one of the things I bring to the character is a bit of a youthful naiveté. Spader is a few years older than me. I think his approach to the character shows a bit more street sense and a more cynical edge than the naive honestly I bring to the role. I think that is the main difference between our characterizations. I play Daniel with a childish enthusiasm."

To make the character work and create a balance with the SG-1 team, Shanks says there are several key elements, "Jackson's character has to me somewhat of a dichotomy from Jack's (Richard Dean Anderson) character. Jackson has to be a bit more sensitive, meek, passive, non-violent and the intellectual of the group for the chemistry to work properly."

One of the reasons Shanks' character is eager to travel through the Stargate is his quest to be reunited with his wife Sha're. In the feature film, it was established that Jackson's parents had died when he was young and he grew up in a faster home. Because Jackson does not have any earthly attachments, Jackson chose to stay on Abydos with Sha're at the end of the movie. In the two-hour premier of the television series, Children of the Gods, Jackson's wife, Sha're is taken by the evil Apophis to be his queen. "Though the relationship between Jackson and Sha're is passionate, there is something more. Sha're symbolizes the only attachment and the only home he has ever found, making his quest to find her that much more earnest," reveals Shanks.

Born and raised in Canada, Shanks discovered acting early in his life, but never pursued it until he was a student at the University of British Columbia. Needing a few art credits before earning his Fine Arts degree, Shanks took several acting classes. Upon graduation, Shanks traveled to Ontario, Canada where he spent two seasons with the world renowned Stratford Shakespeare Festival. There, he appeared in the stage productions of Amadeus, Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor, King Lear and the Merchant of Venice. Eventually, Shanks make the transition from theater to television guest starring in a number of series including The Outer Limits, Highlander The Commish and a popular Canadian series, Madison. Shanks has also appeared on the big screen in Call of the Wild with Rutger Hauer.

Shanks recalls working with Hauer, his favorite actor, on Call of the Wild. "I got the chance to work with him on this movie in Montreal. The first time I saw him on the set, I was thrilled to be working with one of my heroes. I remember watching him sort of looking at me from across the way. He knew that I was acting with him but never came over and said hi. I saw him whispering to somebody and pointing in my general direction. I knew he was talking about me but he never came over until we were about to roll camera for the first time. So here I am, acting with one of my favorite actors who walks over and pushes me and then he carried on with the scene. I think the most ironic part of this is that he hardly talked to me much after that. Each time we did a scene together, he would push me a little bit harder. I don't know if he thought I was a bit of a puppy dog or if he was just having fun. Having your hero not even speak a word to you and come right over to you in the first scene with him and push you, was very ironic," jokes Shanks.

Though he lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Shanks spends time in Los Angeles. His favorite eateries include the upscale restaurants Ivy by the Shore and Le Dome. For lighter and healthier fare, Shanks like to eat at Avotre Sante in Santa Monica. When he is in Los Angeles, Shanks checks out various parks and spends much of his free time hiking in the mountains.

As one of Stargate SG-1's hot new stars, Shanks' career is about to be launched into stellar heights. His talent and good looks guarantee this actor a long career ahead of him.

1999, Hot Spots.

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