From playing the additional role of Replicator Carter, to childbirth, to returning in “Beachhead” to work with new cast members Ben Browder (Colonel Cameron Mitchell) and Beau Bridges (General Hank Landry), the past year has been one roller coaster of a ride for Stargate SG-1‘s Amanda Tapping. Now the series continues on to a landmark tenth year, and the future of Samantha Carter is somewhat unknown.
In the first half of GateWorld’s extra-long interview, Amanda talked about the challenges of motherhood, her appearance on spin-off sister show Stargate Atlantis, and new fellow cast member Claudia Black. In part two, she shares her thoughts on Carter’s religious views, the fun she had playing an evil Samantha in Season Eight’s Replicator Carter, and her hopes to direct another episode. She also talks about her desire to fight for her character’s integrity when the need arises.
Finally, we take time with her to address the future, and Amanda’s changing responsibilities as a mother and how this will ultimately impact the series.
Both parts of our conversation with Amanda are available in a single audio download for your convenience, which runs a little over 40 minutes. Part 2 is also transcribed below!
GateWorld: I’d like to go into a little bit more philosophical direction. There’s been a lot of question in my mind over the past several years with statements in “Bloodlines” and “Threshold” and I’d like your expert opinion on this. Does Carter believe in God?
Amanda Tapping: … Yes. I think that Carter believes in a higher power and Carter prays. And I think it’s interesting because there is the argument of science. I don’t think science and religion are mutually exclusive. In fact, I think that they lend into each other very well. They complement each other really well. So I do, yes. Carter does believe in God. I do believe that. And I think she does pray. A lot.
It’s interesting. If you see my dog tags, it says that Carter is Roman Catholic. On my dog tags. I don’t know who made that decision way back when, when the show first came into being. I don’t know that she’s a “go to church every Sunday” kind of gal. I don’t see it. I don’t see her following organized religion didactically. She definitely believes in a higher being and she definitely prays.
GW: Well, I always felt that and I just wanted your take on that because that’s something very important in my life. And you see her working in these situations, and every once in a while she’ll just close her eyes, tuck her head down, and come back up into it again. I always wondered, “What’s she doing?”
AT: No, this is a woman who prays and she believes in the power of prayer.
GW: Good. Carter’s excuse for being away from the S.G.C. was working on the Daedalus hyperdrive at Area 51 and being with Cassie. Now, will we see ripples from this time spent elsewhere, or perhaps a visit from Cassie herself later in the season?
AT: Oh, my God, I would love it. I would love it if Cassie showed up. I have no idea. But I think that would be wonderful. And as for her time working on the Daedalus, I think that may come into play. I don’t know. We’ve blown up a couple of ships now so we’ve got to have a new one! [Laughter] Maybe the one Carter was working on will show up!
It’s crazy, I mean we blow up a ship and suddenly there’s a new one. So clearly our work has paid off.
GW: “Here’s the next one coming down the line.”
AT: “It just happened to come off the assembly line.”
GW: “And a crew to replace her!” [Laughter] … Replicator Carter.
AT: Woo! [Superimposes Wonder Woman theme:] “Repli-Carter!”
GW: What an opportunity. Yeah, oh she was amazing. And I say that with pride because it was so cool to watch.
AT: Oh, right on. Thanks.
GW: You have a very familiar palette, a kaleidoscope of Samantha Carter, if you will, that you base every action and reaction from. Was it a breath of fresh air to play this new creation as narcissistic and genuinely evil?
AT: Absolutely. Always fun to really delve into that side of her. And the fact that she was exactly that: so narcissistic and genuinely evil. She would be sociopathic if she were human. So yeah, totally fun to play that. And I think, for me, because she’s so Sam Carter as well, it was finding the subtle nuances. [Olivia coughs] It’s okay, baby … She’s feeding.
Part of the interesting thing with her was because she is Carter, she has Carter’s memories. She doesn’t have Carter’s conscience, so much as she has the memories, the palette. She has all of that. It’s how she utilizes it. For me it was finding the subtle nuances where it was believable that they were the same being, but also very different. Her whole realm of awakened experiences is with Fifth, so it’s tempered. In the short time she was with Fifth she became aware of who she is.
So it was fun. And I don’t know if we’ll ever revisit RepliCarter.
GW: Kind of awkward to bring her back at this point. What did you think when you first heard that they were wanting to do this? What was your first reaction?
AT: “Oh, my God, it’s going to be a lot of work!” It’s always hard playing yourself in terms of the logistics of shooting it, but also the amount of homework that goes into it. It’s physically exhausting playing two characters talking to each other. But I’m very excited. And then when I started to see it I thought, “Oh, man, this is good. Wicked.”
The only thing that I was nervous about was the fact that Carter fell for her. Carter’s smarter than that. I got to page 23 [“Gemini”] and I’m like, “Oh, no no no.” And it bothered me that she actually trusted her.
GW: Well, it was herself, you know?
AT: Yeah, I know. But I think she knows enough about the Replicators and she knows enough about Fifth to also understand … I don’t know. It was played well. It was written well, rather, that Replicator Carter says, “Go ahead.” She gave him the opportunity to kill her. Immediately you go, “Well, she must be trustworthy. We could have killed her.” … Okay, you should have. But we chose not to. “She showed absolute faith in us so we had to show absolute faith in her.”
GW: It’s almost as if Replicator Carter knew Sam better than she knew herself.
AT: Yes. Which is often the case, right? We claim we know ourselves but it often takes somebody from the outside looking in to know us better. And who better than Replicator Carter? We all have a Replicator version of ourselves. Imagine what we’d learn about ourselves. Without ego, and you know, all of that logistics, the way that we think and what we’d like to believe ourselves to be. And that means taking ego out of the way … what would we learn about ourselves?
GW: Right, right. Season Eight was a great season for just for exploring the character’s souls, and what they’re really made of, but also for being a great piece of work for the entire scope of the series, bottling things up. Yes, moving things on later, but just really paying homage to what you guys had created after a decade.
AT: Yeah, I think it was. Season Eight was a lot of fun for all of us. A lot of challenges for all of us, too. Speaking for myself, at the end of Season Eight, seeing “Moebius” — playing those versions of ourselves. It was so much fun to go geeky. And to be able to play RepliCarter. I felt like I really got to play every aspect of Sam. False and real.
GW: I read a short fanfic recently. The obvious reasons were you had to give birth, and you had to leave for Olivia. That’s obvious. But this fanfic suggested that Sam quit the S.G.C. because RepliCarter made her lose confidence in her abilities. She wanted to be transferred into a position where her decisions weren’t going to influence so many innocent lives. Was there some truth to this?
AT: Wow. That’s fascinating.
GW: I was blown away with that.
AT: That’s a really, really good fanfic. Wow. And it makes a lot of sense. It makes a lot of sense. You know what, that would be a wonderful explanation for why she went away. But no, there are reasons to it other than that. She really did go away to be with Cassie. That was extremely important.
The band split up. The gig was over. The band split up. O’Neill moved on, Teal’c moved on, Daniel moved on, Carter moved on. It took Mitchell to get the band back together. So why she left, honestly I think because the band broke up, and she really did want to spend time with Cassie. Among other reasons.
But that’s an interesting emotional element to add to that, losing confidence … so badly by what happened with RepliCarter. So kudos to whoever the fan was who wrote it. That amazes me. I’ll add that to my repertoire. I’ll steal it!
GW: It was really good. Made me stop and think.
AT: Yeah, it’s a fantastic way to look at it.
GW: Martin Wood and Peter DeLuise combined currently direct half the episodes of SG-1 and Atlantis. Now, not to knock them — they’re amazing — but why is there never room for your director’s chair?
AT: Good question. I would love to go back. After Season Seven, because I directed the last episode of Season Seven, the last episode we shot [“Resurrection”], I thought I did a great job. The show was on time, on budget. I thought it was well shot.
GW: It was great.
AT: I was really proud of it. I was really proud of the way I handled the responsibility. I honestly felt that they would give me another opportunity. That wasn’t forthcoming in Season Eight, and then of course Season Nine had a completely different set of rules because I had Olivia — so I didn’t even ask.
I put it out there that I’m interesting in directing this year [Season Ten]. I don’t know whether it’ll happen or not. Part of the thing that was explained to me was that it’s too hard to take me out of an episode — which didn’t happen in Season Seven, I have to say. I wasn’t taken out of an episode. I had three days of prep spread out over the course of a week of our season finale. And I was in the episode that I directed.
But in a perfect world I would not be in the episode prior, or be very limited in the episode prior to the one I directed, and hardly in the one I directed. So if I were to approach them again I would have to say, “Just do what you did in Season Seven and I’ll pull it off — like I did in Season Seven!” Let’s see if they listen!
GW: Well, “Prometheus Unbound” would’ve been perfect for you, then. I wonder, was that Damian’s, “Okay, guys I’m going to put my little highlighter down here because I want Amanda to direct this one. We wrote her out so let’s put her into this one.”
AT: Yeah, it would’ve been perfect. It didn’t work out that way.
GW: Has the pressure of being a role model increased over the course of the show or has it stayed the same?
AT: You know … Wow. It’s increased. It’s increased because our fan base has increased. It’s increased because the demographic has changed. It used to be that I was getting letters mostly from young women. Now I’m getting letters from all age groups of women. From 80-plus to little kids. So in that sense I think that the pressure has increased.
And I think what’s interesting is I’m now in a position where I’m more willing to stand up and fight for things that I don’t think Carter would do, whereas I would fight for them before and not always get my way. But now I feel even more strongly. If I see it and I think it’s going to be bad I’ll fight for it. Because I think there’s a lot more at stake here. There’s a lot of people who are depending on the character — and the other characters, too, in their way.
But from my limited perspective as just playing Carter, the letters that I get, I feel a huge responsibility. And as a person, too, when I do get the opportunity to not let people down, to live up to what they’ve expected. Sometimes it’s a bit much to live up to, but for the most part it’s all so flattering and so gracious. The fans are so gracious, I feel like I have to have to go to bat for the character. So [I can explain the character.]
GW: That must’ve been difficult for “Gemini.” Like you said, even now you’re still uncomfortable about it. But it was such an elemental part of the script that you really couldn’t do anything about it.
AT: Exactly. Exactly. There was no way I could say, “She wouldn’t do that.” It had to happen.
There’s little things, like when Sam and Pete proposed to her and she finally says “Yes” to the proposal. I fought that, and fought that, and fought that. I said, “No way would she ever say ‘Yes’ to the guy and then neck with him at her place of work, at this stakeout with all of these Special Forces people running around, Daniel and the young woman tied up. I mean, come on! There’s no way.”
I begged Peter DeLuise. “Please don’t pull back on the wide crane shot. I’ll look stupid. She wouldn’t do this. She’d take him outside, around the corner, behind a car. But she wouldn’t do it on the scene.” But of course that didn’t happen. No!
GW: Well, you win some, you lose some —
AT: — You lose some. Exactly. Exactly. And he said, “I agree with you but we just don’t have time to take her out and shoot her somewhere else. We don’t have time in the script, the number of pages in the script. It has to happen here. So there’s times when you fight but you don’t always get it.
She’s also human, so I can’t make her über-perfect. She’s a fallible human being. Part of the joy in playing her is that she makes mistakes that are sometimes based in emotion and sometimes based in ego. She makes the mistakes that we do for the same reasons that we do.
GW: It kind of balances out.
AT: It balances out. Exactly. Because if she were perfect then the fans get upset. “Oh, why does Sam do this?”
GW: Well, and the whole Pete Shanahan thing. You and I were talking about this a year and a half ago. There’s still ripples from that one. I loved the character and I loved David [DeLuise]’s portrayal of it.
AT: Oh, me too. I totally do.
GW: But it got into a position where there was really no other way for it to go if she was going to continue on the show in the capacity that she was in. So it was a nice chapter.
AT: It was a nice chapter, and the way I look at it now was it really opened up her soul. It allowed Sam to have a bit more depth. She had a fully functioning adult relationship — [Laughter] for the most part. And she had some joy. She celebrated, humor, sexuality, stuff that she never explored before — fully, as a woman. So it opened her up. It gave her a bit more depth to the character.
Now when we go to do any situation, that’s in there. And we all swing on this pendulum inside us that speaks to our experience: some of it’s good and some of it’s bad and it will swing back and forth. The more experience we have, the heavier the pendulum, the deeper the swing. The pendulum is much deeper and it’s resonating much more inside of her than it was in Season One or even Season Five. And I think that its deepened her as a person.
And that’s partly a facet of the character getting older and partly a facet of her opening herself up to experience, love, hurt — all those things.
GW: Season Ten! It’s here!
AT: Hel-lo! What the —
GW: What are you looking forward to in Season Ten? The 200th episode? The prestige of being the longest-running American sci-fi series?
AT: Well, all of that is wonderful. I’m actually really looking forward to the 200th episode, because I remember when we hit 100. And it seemed like such a massive milestone. Michael Shanks and I, we didn’t have much to do in the 100th episode and we were kind of bummed out. So I hope we have a lot more to do in episode 200.
There’s a sense of pride there, for sure. There’s a sense of pride — “Wow, we’re part of this thing.” We’re not responsible for the success necessarily. But we’re allowed to be a part of it and that’s pretty freaking cool.
But as for what’s going to happen, like I said before, I don’t know. I don’t know where I’m going to be, what my character’s going to be doing. My hope is that she’ll [Carter] be a full member of SG-1, fully functioning, a full player, and that the group dynamic will be strong and in place. That’s my hope for Season Ten.
But we’ll see what happens! I’m proud that even I’m a part of it. I’ve been a part of the franchise for a decade. I’ll just go wherever they tell me to — do whatever they tell me to do! “Shut up and do your job and be grateful.” “Okay!” [Laughter]
GW: This past year, what is the most significant single moment in this season’s production year for you? Besides your childbirth —
AT: Yeah, definitely childbirth.
GW: — because that’s a big one.
AT: In terms of the production … wow. There’s an interesting single-moment at the very, very, very end of the season.
GW: For Carter?
AT: Yeah. For all of us. Kind of like, “Woah.” … That’s all I can say about it.
There’s so many little, little moments. In the back of “The Fourth Horseman” with Cameron Bright. There’s some really cool stuff in there. But in terms of the character, yeah. For me probably the most significant single moment is walking back on set in “Beachhead.” Seeing the crew and coming back into the fold, very significant.
Like I said, on the one hand I felt very much like an outsider. But this is my family. It’s like I’d been away for a really long time and I had changed a lot on my journey. I walked back into the room and everyone was still sitting there. Uncle Bob had a new fiancee. Auntie Jennifer was married. “What?” And there I walked in after this trek through the Himalayas … “Hi, everybody!”
GW: A couple new players but the same floor!
AT: I’ve been on this journey and I came back. But it was very significant. I felt like I really had to step up to the plate.
GW: Is there anything you would like to add to the GateWorld readers who have been watching so many years and, Lord willing, will be watching you for so many years to come?
AT: [Laughter] Bless you. There is no way to say “Thank you” that doesn’t sound cheesy and mundane and uninspired. But [it’s] so heartfelt. The only reason that the show is coming back, the only reason, is the fans. They know that. We are so aware of that. And how do you say “Thank you” to that? How do you say, “Thank you for making the show the success that it is?”
GW: By doing a wonderful season.
AT: Well, there you go! I will do my best. But thank you from the bottom of my heart. For the support.
It’s interesting. I go on GateWorld. It’s one of the few sites I visit because I don’t go on the Internet a lot. I tend to read things that I shouldn’t. I take things way too personally. So when people say disparaging things about the character, disparaging things about myself, it’s very painful. I’m human, right? So it hurts. But I also read wonderful, inspirational things that people have written about the show and how the show has affected them, what they’ve gotten from it. The friends that they’ve made because of it. And I think about that, too.
I think around the world, the friends that I have made because of this show. What an enormous gift to be given. The bottom line is the entire experience is absolutely … I don’t think you could duplicate it. And I don’t think it’d be the same if I were on another type of series. I think it is specific to sci-fi. I think it’s specific to sci-fi fans and that speaks volumes about the types of people that watch the show, the type of people that care enough to present their ideas and talk about it who go to conventions, you know, be as involved as they are. That [to me it seems] is very specific to sci-fi fans and for that I’m eternally grateful.
GW: I was watching the Creation video the other day to get my backbone ready to talk to you again.
AT: You need your backbone ready to talk to me? [Laughter]
GW: Yes! One of the things that struck a chord with me is what you said: Good feedback or bad feedback, what you loved the most was that people gave it, and that people cared enough to do that. Because they don’t have to.
AT: No! Of course not. That’s exactly it. People don’t have to. And they do. And the fact that they take the time, that’s astounding. What a great gift. What a great gift it’s been for all of us. You know, and I say this again. So precious. Such a great gift. I’m so grateful for it.
To the fans, keep watching. I hope, I hope, I hope you enjoy Season Ten. I have no idea what’s in store. But it’ll be good!
Amanda Tapping’s Official Web Site