Amanda Tapping has seven years of history as Stargate SG-1‘s beautiful theoretical astrophysicist Samantha Carter, and has become one of the most well-known faces in sci-fi history. GateWorld is proud to present an exclusive interview with the actress, talking about her role on the show and highlights from Season Seven’s “Grace,” “Chimera” and “Heroes.” Beware of spoilers for these episodes!
GateWorld’s interview with Amanda is available in MP3 audio format for easy listening, as well as transcribed below! The audio version is about 10 minutes long. Continue on to part two here. When you’ve finished, we recommend checking out Amanda’s official Web site at AmandaTapping.com, which graciously provided several photos!
GateWorld: This is David Read for GateWorld.net talking with SG-1’s Sam Carter, a.k.a. Amanda Tapping!
Amanda Tapping: Woo-hoo!
GW: Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us.
AT: Oh, it’s a pleasure. GateWorld.net’s a great site.
GW: Thank you very much. With Season Seven shooting finished, how would you rate this year against the other six?
AT: I’d actually say Season Seven has everything in it. Season Seven is a culmination of the six seasons. A lot of storylines get brought to the foreground that we’ve been struggling with. You get to see full emotional arcs from each of the characters and how much they’ve developed over the last six years, so I think it’s got everything. It’s a great season.
GW: It has been a very good season. What’s been your favorite Carter show from Season Seven?
AT: Woo! I guess probably “Grace,” just because it was such an intense experience. We shot a lot of it second unit. In fact I think we shot most of the show second unit, so it took us over a month to complete it. But it was just — as an actor, it was just a real challenge.
GW: In what way?
AT: Just because you spend so much time alone, so much time inside your head. How to play the head injury without making it over the top, you know what I mean? And it was just an emotional struggle, and I think because we shot it second unit it was jumping back into that and jumping out of that and jumping back into it. It was a challenge, but it was fun.
GW: So while you were working on other things you would go and shoot second unit?
GW: The episode never really specified: Did we ever find out who Grace actually was, or is that left open to the fan’s interpretation?
AT: It’s left open for interpretation — it’s left open for my own interpretation too. I mean, Grace could be Sam’s child within. Grace could be Sam’s hopes and dreams for having a child. Grace could be the child Sam left behind when she, you know, focused all her energy on, you know, becoming Astrophysicist Woman and forgot how to be a kid, forgot how to enjoy life. So she’s a bunch of different things. In my mind I chose to make her Sam’s potential future. Is she giving up family — which is what “Grace” deals with, what Sam struggles with — is she giving up any chance for a family or a “normal life,” because she focuses all her energy on the S.G.C. and what she’s missing out on in life and if she were to have more of a life could she bring more to her work, you know what I mean?
GW: Mhmm. Did you contribute any to that story?
AT: Interestingly enough, I had sat down with Rob Cooper at the beginning of the season and said, “I think we need to do a show where Sam struggles with her demons and where she questions her life choices and questions what she’s missing, you know, as a woman and as a contributing member of society. Has she focused too much energy on work? You know, when she lays her head on her pillow at night what does she think about?” And Rob said, “Well, interestingly enough, there is a show coming up that will deal with that.” “Oh, OK!”
GW: Excellent, yes, it was very good. What’s your favorite team show from Season Seven?
AT: I would have to say “Heroes,” just because it shows the team at their most vulnerable. It shows the team at their most dire, and I think emotionally for every single one of the actors it was a huge arc for all of us. I think it just shows what it means to be a part of this team and what it means to be a part of this organization, and how much you’re willing to sacrifice, and what the emotional toll is when that happens.
GW: Everyone has been raving about “Heroes” as being some of the best two hours that SG-1, the series, has ever produced.
AT: I think so. I think so, and I think that all the actors felt that way. It’s just a really special episode. It’s a departure in a lot of ways, I mean especially the first part with the documentary crew and seeing each of the team members out of their element, you know, in front of the cameras and having to talk about what they’ve kept secret for so long. But then it’s got great action and great drama coming up.
GW: What did you find appealing about the episode?
AT: To play that emotional arc. And also what I found appealing for me was Sam Carter on the edge. You know, Sam Carter, first of all, in the first part being so nervous and so tentative in front of the cameras, and that’s just kind of fun to play that sort of angst and that nervousness. And then, of course, in the second half it’s just a highly charged emotion the whole time.
GW: Let’s go back to “Chimera.” What’s it like to have a boyfriend who hasn’t yet met an untimely death?
AT: (Laughter) That remains to be seen! It’s great. I think that it’s an offshoot of what happened in “Grace.” The writers were trying to, A) dispel the “black widow” curse that Carter has, and also to open her up for more experiences and to flesh her out just a little bit more as a human being. And so it’s an interesting episode for me because I felt so out of my element doing these, you know, little cutesy-flirty scenes, and of course the kissy-kissy, and it’s so not a side of Carter that we’ve ever seen. And so she really falls hard for this guy, and the fact that he hasn’t died yet is a pretty good sign, but I think it’s also freaking her out. “Oh, no, he didn’t die! Now what do I do?” (Laughter) “Now I have to have a relationship! How does that work?”
GW: Tell us about David DeLuise, who plays Pete.
AT: Oh, he’s wonderful. He’s wonderful. We had instant chemistry. He’s very much a DeLuise in that he’s utterly charming, has a fantastic sense of humor, but he’s a really wonderful actor and we spent a lot of time running scenes and going over different beats and trying to work stuff out. David and I would, you know, after work, go and sit in a coffee shop and run scenes. We went for walks where we were running scenes as if we were, you know, the characters. He’s wonderful, and we will see some of him in Season Eight, so I’m looking forward to having him back.
GW: Well, good. The episode didn’t address how Carter felt about him essentially stalking her behind her back.
AT: You know, and when I read that question I thought, “Interesting.” I don’t think Carter knew to what lengths he was going. She doesn’t know that he phoned the FBI. She doesn’t know that he ran a background trace on her. She doesn’t know that he was doing all these things. The only thing that she knows is at the end of the stake-out, he’s there. So yes, he’s been following her, but I think she hadn’t at that point in the episode had time to assimilate the fact that he’d been following her. I mean, you know, yes he shows up, and yes he’s been tailing her, but she doesn’t know to what extent and to what great lengths he’s gone to to try to get information on her, so she’s kind of oblivious at this point.
And I think the fact that the way the episode ended with the big explosion, and “Oh, my God, he’s been hurt,” and “Oh, my God, now he’s OK,” and I can actually — you know, the classified information is no longer classified to this man because he’s seen it, then I can actually tell him what I do for a living. I think that she sort of doesn’t even think about the fact that he followed her and maybe that’s something that’ll be addressed later. “Wait a second, buddy! You followed me to that stake-out!” (Laughter) But I think at the end of the episode she’s just so relieved that he isn’t dead. And again, she doesn’t know to what extent he was tracing her.
GW: So it may be addressed in other episodes.
AT: It may be addressed later, yeah. And it does seem, I guess, that he’s stalking her. I think, on the one hand because he’s so interested in her, and he knows there’s something that she’s hiding. And she said as much: “I am hiding something from you, I can’t tell you.” And that’s gotta be really frustrating when you’re getting to know somebody and you’re really, you know, really have feelings for them, but, again, I don’t think she knows to what extent he went.
GW: Right, it wasn’t an evil intent, per se.
AT: No, it wasn’t, it wasn’t.
GW: I read online that there were several fans who refused to watch that show because Sam was involved with someone other than who they wanted her to be involved with. What are your thoughts on that?
AT: It’s interesting, because I actually got some letters to that end saying, basically, that my character’s integrity is completely out the window, and, “What the hell was I thinking.” I think it’s actually going to create some interesting tensions this year. But ultimately it’s addressing “Grace.” She harbors great depth of feeling for Colonel O’Neill, but because nothing can ever happen … He’s the one who let her go. He says, “I’m a safe bet. You know you can’t have me so you’re just protecting your heart by, you know, hanging your hat on someone you can’t have. So, let me go,” is essentially what’s said at the end of “Grace.”
And I think that that whole episode is her sort of rethinking her life and rethinking her choices, and I don’t think that she’s lost integrity. I don’t think that her feelings for O’Neill are any less. I think she’s just placed them in a different box, if you will. It was weird, I have to say, for her to hand her heart over to somebody else. But it’s baby steps for her, and this is all new for her. And I think it’s ultimately O’Neill who says, “You have to move on.” And it’s her father, too, who says, you know, “Don’t give up your chance of love. You know, I would live my whole life over again even knowing that your mother’s gonna die, I would do all that again.” So it’s her opening up her heart as opposed to actually — it’s been closed this whole time because she’s, you know, been protecting it with thoughts of O’Neill, who she knows she can’t have, so it opens her up.