During a recent trip to the set of Stargate SG-1 GateWorld’s editors had the pleasure of sitting down for an interview with series co-star Michael Shanks, whose character Dr. Daniel Jackson has been a fan favorite since he opened the Stargate more than 10 years ago. We chatted with Michael in his trailer in between takes for “The Powers That Be,” the fifth episode of the brand new season.
In the interview, Michael talks about the newness that Stargate SG-1‘s ninth season has brought to the long-running show, his new castmates, and having the opportunity to work with his real-life wife, Lexa Doig (“Dr. Carolyn Lam”).
GateWorld’s interview with Michael Shanks is available in MP3 audio format for easy listening, and is about 6 minutes long. It is also transcribed below. Or, download the interview to your MP3 player and take GateWorld with you!
GateWorld: Michael … two words: The beard.
Michael Shanks: [Laughter] What?!
GW: Whose idea was this?
MS: It was my idea. They wanted, obviously, to have a little, at least initial difference between Ben [Browder] and I … just out of pure, I think sheer paranoia. But there’s so many different things with our fans about associating Ben and I as looking alike, which we look at each other and sort of roll our eyes a little bit.
But there was obviously a little bit of concern. And they just asked if there was anything — him being the more clean-cut soldier type, my character can get away with a lot more. So is there something that I can do? I said, “I don’t feel like growing my hair long again. And that may take a bit.” I said, “I really don’t like shaving every day.” So I said, “Well, why don’t I keep the beard for a bit and we’ll see what happens.” And it was, “Yeah, let’s see how it works.” And they really liked it.
And now it’s just a matter of phasing it out. Because I think the idea in our heads was after a certain period of time we knew we were playing different characters. I said to Brad [Wright, executive producer], “They do know I’ll be the one with the glasses, right?”
But Ben and I, we both established completely different characters and what not. So it’s very distinct now to anybody, especially our guys, that there’s a strong difference that the audience will get.
Maybe not in sweeping wide shots or whatever, because Ben and I, we’re a couple of 6-foot tall white guys with blue eyes and brown hair and from a very wide camera that can be a little bit deceptive! But we think for after about maybe five or six episodes we’re going to “adios” it.
GW: You were really hoping for Claudia [Black] to come back.
MS: Oh, yeah.
GW: Now she’s here and with Ben and Louis Gossett and Beau Bridges. How do you feel about this new dynamic?
MS: It’s fantastic. It’s great. It’s been phenomenal. Obviously, Claudia and I have a lot of fun working together and they’ve written some great stuff for us to play off of in this kind of antagonistic dynamic that we established in “Prometheus [Unbound].” It continues on. It’s a really nice repoire that, from what I’ve seen so far, brings a nice energy to the show that we haven’t really had on a regular, on-going basis.
That’s tons of fun. She’s a hoot to work with. And Ben is very much the sort of stoic Colonel that we need. He’s got that Southern twang to his voice which is a great, different voice for us, especially. And he’s a really assertive and specific actor. We have conversations about the scenes all the time.
And then, of course, you have Beau Bridges. Chris [Judge] when he decides to frickin’ show up. With Beau there as well, and Lou Gossett, and also Lexa on the show, it’s a completely different dynamic in a lot of different ways. Obviously, not necessarily from the point of view of my character — Sorry, the point of view to my character, but the point of view from my character it’s a very different dynamic. But it’s a strong one and it works really well so we’re really enjoying it.
They’re so professional and they’re such nice people. It’s the kind of thing, especially with a new group of people, that there’s no egos in the room. Everybody just sits around in-between takes either talking about the scene if necessary or having Beau Bridges tell a few stories about “this happened and that happened,” and what not. And Lou as well …
It’s great! And it’s a very warm group, a very strong group as well. So it’s phenomenal. We’re really enjoying it. And the newness of it feels like a completely different show, as well. When I say “completely different” I obviously don’t mean what everyone is afraid of.
GW: It’s for the better.
MS: I really think so. By the end of last year we solved a lot of threads, and it’s really good for this new way we’re taking the show to really have these new people and these new energies, frankly.
And they’re great characters. They’ve been really well fleshed out, very intelligently fleshed out in terms of lots of dynamics between them. There’s a very strong — and this is the fun part: We’re really feeling each other out. As much as the characters are, the actors are. It’s really fun and it makes for good chemistry. It’s a good mix.
GW: Let me just ask real quick, you did a couple of Andromeda episodes with Lexa that were really fantastic. What’s it like now to have her on your show?
MS: It’s great!
GW: Have you worked with her much?
MS: I haven’t work with her much. She’s been working a lot with Beau, mostly. And most of the time that we’ve been in scenes I’ve been unconscious, believe it or not.
But it’s great to have her here. Her and I both said too, on my schedule and her schedule when we’re on different shows we talked a few hours at home, maybe. We don’t have much turn-around time. Now we get to sit around, and the same way the cast bonds I get to bond with my wife. We get to see each other, and bring the baby to set, and it turns into this whole family dynamic as well.
I’m so happy for her, too. She’s absolutely on cloud nine working with Beau so much. She kind of felt that in the latter parts of Andromeda that things were not necessarily that prominent for her character to do. And now she gets to play a completely different character. She’ll say it at some point, too: she gets to wear cotton, which she’s been wanting to do for a long time!
And she gets to work with Beau Bridges everyday, so I think that [it’s a] definitive, positive, professional character. She plays it very well.
GW: Thank you, Michael!
MS: No problem!