Continuing in our exclusive audio interview with Amanda Tapping (SG-1‘s Samantha Carter), the actress discusses her experiences in directing Season Seven’s “Resurrection.”, the ups and downs of working around Richard Dean Anderson’s reduced screen time, as well as her hopes for what will appear in Season Eight. As always, be aware of spoilers!
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. When you’ve finished, we recommend checking out Amanda’s official Web site at AmandaTapping.com, which graciously provided several photos!
GateWorld: Let’s talk about “Resurrection.” What was it like to direct a Stargate episode?
Amanda Tapping: Oh, it’s fantastic. It was such a phenomonal experience. The crew was behind me a hundred percent. The cast was behind me a hundred percent. The hardest part about directing is making sure that you’re prepared. And because I didn’t have a lot of prep time, because we were actually shooting our two-parter season finale while I was prepping, it was a lot of homework on the weekends. But ultimately for me it was sitting down, coming up with an interesting shot list. Because it’s a very talky show, and it’s sort of three different episodes in one, and so for me it was a matter of trying to assimilate the storylines and trying to give the show movement. And so I chose to make it kind of stylized and was really hoping that that would work, that there would be a lot of movement, so ultimately it was a phenomonal experience. I would love to do it again.
GW: Is there anything you want the fans to be looking for in that episode?
AT: The opening crane shot is something I’m particularly proud of. It’s a huge crane shot where I have the steady-cam operator up on a crane, the crane comes down, the steady-cam operator actually steps off the crane and then pulls back again and steps back on it, and then the crane goes in through a big doorway into another room — and things like that, like I had some really big shots in the show. What fans should look for? Just a sense of movement. The sense that the cameras are always moving. And because we shot it — none of it takes place in the S.G.C.
GW: None of it?
AT: All on-location and it’s a location we’ve never shot in before. So I was trying to find really interesting ways to shoot this really phenomenal location. But it was huge, you know. Where I set up the interrogation room was my choice, and everyone tried to talk me out of it, and I stuck to my guns and I’m really glad I did because it’s a really interesting space. I don’t know. Look for it with warmth in your heart, and know it’s my first time, and knowing that I was trying to make it really stylized. And I think it worked.
GW: I think we all look forward to watching it and hope you get to do another directing job in Season Eight. Who was your favorite guest star this year?
AT: Oh, my gosh. You know, I looked at this question and I thought, “How the hell do I answer that?” (Laughter) We have had some — I can’t pick a favorite, I’m going to tell you that right off the bat. I can’t. We’ve had some phenomenal guest stars. I mean, I had a great time with David DeLuise, for example, for me personally. Robert Picardo is in this season and he’s — what a treat he is to work with. I mean, I could go in almost every show where we’ve had a guest star. Brad Greenquist, who’s in “Resurrection,” who I got to direct and work with … amazing. I could go on and on, almost every show.
We luck out on this show in terms of guest stars. And I know I’m forgetting some, probably big names, but (laughter) we’ve been really, really lucky. Saul Rubinek brought something to “Heroes” that nobody expected and it was just amazing. And then, of course, we have a lot of local talent that are in smaller parts that, you know, tend to become recurring. Even our background performers are recurring. So it’s always a treat to walk on set and see familiar faces from the local acting pool.
GW: What’s it been like working around Rick’s reduced schedule?
AT: It’s been a challenge, I’m not gonna lie. Ultimately it’s meant that we’ve had to shoot a lot of episodes doubled-up. “Grace” was a prime example of shooting a lot of second-unit because Rick wasn’t really in it that much, so the main unit would, you know, when he was there they were shooting shows with him. It happened with “Chimera,” it happened with “Death Knell.” It happened with a lot of shows where we were doing a ton of second-unit. “Heroes” it happened with. “Heroes” took us months to shoot. When he’s there he’s there and it’s great, but it’s — I don’t have to do the schedule, thank God. But I imagine it’s a scheduling nightmare.
GW: How many days of the week is he there in any given week?
AT: Three, yeah. Three, three and a half, depending, and he usually gets one week off a month. What it’s done though, I mean — and I’m looking at your next question, which is: “Do you think the dynamics of the team have suffered?” I think that we knew going into Season Seven that it would be a great opportunity for myself and Christopher and Michael to flesh out our characters a bit more and to have a bit more forefront screen time. And that’s what the writers have done for us this year.
I don’t think the dynamics of the team have suffered. I don’t think the chemistry of the team has suffered. But certainly there’s shows where you’re aware that Rick’s not around as much — scenes where there might have been the four of us discussing something, it’s just the three of us. But for Michael and Christopher and I it’s been wonderful because, you know, we’ve had a lot more work.
GW: During “Chimera,” when you and Rick are in the elevator, whose idea was it for you to hum the Stargate theme?
AT: OK, well, that was mine. Actually, because I was saying to the director and the producers on set I was like, “Well, what do you want me to hum?” I mean, you know, and so I started jokingly humming the Stargate theme song, and they said “That’s brilliant!” And so I said, “OK, well it’s just a ditty that she’s got in her head. I mean, it’s not like she watches Stargate (Laughter) … she’s on it! But I was talking with Michael because I said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I sang the MacGyver theme song?” And so I went running up to Michael Shanks and I was like, “How does the MacGyver theme song go? How does the MacGyver theme song go?” And we couldn’t — like there was, you know, maybe two minutes to try to learn it. So I said, “Ah, forget it. I’ll just do Stargate.” It would’ve, I think, would’ve been really great if I hummed the MacGyver theme song, but I didn’t know it, so …
GW: For Season Eight, what are your hopes, what do you hope to see next year? Are there any predictions? Have you seen anything yet?
AT: Every year I say “I’d like,” you know, “a lot of team-driven shows.” It’s going to be an interesting year this year. I would like to see — in terms of wrapping up any lose ends — I’d like to see what happened with the Asgard, where they’re at in terms of their fight with the Replicators. I’d like to see what happens with the Ancients, and I’d like to see what really happened with Anubis. Asgard, Ancients and Anubis, there you have it! And, yeah, I don’t know. There are a lot of loose ends that we need to tie up. I want to see what’s happened with the Tok’ra, because that relationship has been pretty fractured. And that comes out in “Death Knell” — that there is a lot of mistrust amongst the Tok’ra themselves. So what happens there. And we have such a huge tapestry, such a rich tapestry to draw on with this show, and there’s so many interconnecting lines that it would be hard to pick just one.
GW: Why doesn’t Carter get to be in the series premiere of Atlantis?
AT: Why doesn’t Carter?
AT: Carter and Teal’c are not going to be in the season premiere of Atlantis, and that I think has to do with legalities of the fact that our characters were created specifically for Stargate SG-1, and to carry us over into Atlantis would mean, I think, would mean bank-rolling one of the creators, you know, because our characters would help establish Atlantis. Rick and Michael, however — their characters were already in the movie. So, from what I understand, Chris and I will be in Atlantis later on, but we can’t be in the show that actually launches it. Which is OK, because it gives us both a couple more weeks off.
GW: Go on vacation, you know. (Laughter) In the entire history of the show, what moments would you say best fully captures, do you perceive, Sam to be?
AT: You know, I read that question and I thought, “How do I answer that?” There are obviously defining moments for each of our characters. You know, I think very early on in the season in “Singularity,” with the elevator and the little girl — is she gonna go to get Cassie, or she going to go back up in the elevator. That was a turning-point, I think, for the character. But I think that ultimately what it’s been is seven years of development and seven years of growth and, I think probably you will see a lot of what our characters ultimately are in “Heroes” — what makes who these people ultimately are, I think is going to happen in “Heroes.”
GW: Stargate as a show — it’s great for the entertainment of the day, and hopefully there’ll be a booming series of … series for years, but it’s still just a television show. And years and years from now when the viewers have grown older, what is the one thing you would like to have us look back on SG-1 and remember fondly of?
AT: That you enjoyed spending an hour of your day watching. That it was worthwhile. You know what I mean? I’m just — I’m so proud of this show. I’m so proud of the Stargate family, and I would hope that years from now we can all look back on it and go, “That was a great adventure. What a nice ride that was.” And that the fans will look back and go, “Yeah, that was a fun show to watch.”
GW: It certainly is. Where can your fans write to you?
AT: The best bet is probably at The Bridge Studios, where we shoot the show. And I don’t have the address on me — 2400 Boundary Road, but I’m sure it’s on the Net somewhere. Sadly I don’t know the postal code.
GW: Amanda, thanks so much for taking time to stop and chat, and we look forward to talking with you again.
AT: Oh, absolutely. Thank you!