GateWorld’s own forum moderator Denise (a.k.a. Skydiver) had the privilege of sitting down for an interview with actress Amanda Tapping, Stargate SG-1‘s brainy and beautiful Colonel Carter, at the recent AT2 convention in London, England!
In our latest interview with one of our favorite Stargate stars, Amanda discusses her experience with online fandom, the Carter/Mitchell command issue, and most importantly, SG-1‘s cancellation. A hot-button issue, to be sure, is Carter’s transfer to Atlantis base. The form this will take is not yet known, but Amanda takes a moment to assure fans of her feelings for the transition, and what they themselves should expect.
GateWorld’s interview with Amanda is available in MP3 audio format for easy listening, and runs about 26 minutes. It is also transcribed below. You can also download the interview to your MP3 player and take GateWorld with you!
GateWorld: Hi, my name is Denise and I’m interviewing Amanda Tapping for GateWorld.net.
Amanda Tapping: Woo-hoo!
GW: Yes! Do you ever — sometimes you’ve said you come and play [online].
AT: I do come and play — well, I don’t play, I just, I read. I don’t interact. I don’t have the net savvy to get myself hooked up in that way. But I do go on. It’s in my bookmarks. GateWorld. Bookmark bar. I know enough about computers to know that I have a bookmark bar and that GateWorld’s on it and I click it and the site comes up.
GW: That’s good. I know there’s a lot of the Samanda girls downstairs.
GW: They wanted me to tell you that [the thread has] 56,000 posts and over a million page reads.
AT: Yeah. They’re amazing, these guys — girls. Amazing
GW: The ones that aren’t here right now are having fun with a trivia contest. They’re asking each other questions back and forth having fun at the same time are badgering us in abstentia for [what’s going on].
AT: Are you blogging at night? To tell people what’s going on?
GW: I tell them a little here and there — little tidbits here and there, just enough to keep them from getting mad at me. Some of them, actually, gave me some of the questions.
AT: Oh good.
GW: The first one I have is from Mandy and she wants to know, is it difficult to play the same character for ten years and do you ever get the urge to try something totally different?
AT: Absolutely I get the urge. And I’m hoping to get the opportunity to do that soon. Part of the beauty of playing a character for ten years is that you get to have a full evolution. It’s not like a short-term movie. There’s been such an amazing character arc for Carter. Up and down and her family, relationships, and personal relationships and her work.
We’ve come to see a fully realized human being over the course of ten years — which is a luxury. Part of me worries that playing the same character for too long is stiffening up certain acting muscles, so I’ll go take classes just to make sure that I keep everything happening.
But it’s a gift as an actor, and we can’t complain. I’ve had a steady gig. It’s allowed me to have a family. It’s allowed me to stay in the same city where I was kind of nomadic before. So it’s nice. I have a home and my daughter has a solid home. My husband and I have a life outside of it. I don’t think if I hadn’t played the same character and done the series for so long I would have had that luxury. In as much as people go, “Aren’t you bored?” It’s like, “Yeah, but look at what it’s afforded me. It’s afforded me a family and a sense of normalcy in my life which I would never have had.”
GW: And, well in Season Nine, everything turned on its ear. But also Season Ten and, touchy subject or not, have you had a lot of fun with Cameron and Sam and who’s the boss. I know, I think you said before that you and Ben have tried to work out a back and forth.
AT: Yeah. I mean, the way that it’s written is that Mitchell is the leader of SG-1. He’s the one who brings the team back together. Whether that makes sense from a fan perspective or even logically that he’s brought in to become in charge of the team is sort of irrelevant. I have to admit when I first found out that they were bringing in somebody to be the leader of SG-1 as opposed to just bringing in a new member I was kind of put off. But it makes sense in a lot of ways.
And what Ben’s character has said in the course of the series is “I’m not in charge of anything.” Carter and I are the same rank. She has her areas of expertise and I have mine. I certainly can’t boss Daniel around and I can’t boss Teal’c around. I’m in charge of nothing. We’re just a cohesive unit. And the fact that we all sort of recognize it, the characters recognize their own strength and their own weaknesses makes it … there’s no power struggle.
GW: And nobody tells Vala what to do
AT: Nobody can tell Vala what to do. At all.
GW: Which can be kind of fun.
GW: I know that you said Season Nine was tough it was coming back late, and then having to deal with the baby. Has it been easier?
GW: With her older, little more time or less time?
AT: It’s partly that. I came back with a 6 week old baby four episodes into the season and I was completely overwhelmed. Coming back this year was way easier. Plus starting at the beginning, and it’s a whole new team, and Claudia is there regularly so. It’s a whole new dynamic, starting at the beginning of the season with that new dynamic made all the difference in the world. It’s a way more cohesive team. And Olivia’s a lot easier. I was still breastfeeding her up until July, so. It’s not the same sort of demands. I wasn’t exclusively breastfeeding her — she did eat other food. So it wasn’t as intense.
GW: And, to some extent Claudia’s kind of taken your place, she was coming back with a little bitty baby.
GW: From chelle: What was the most challenging thing about working on the set of Stargate?
AT: I think, honestly the physicality of shooting exteriors in Vancouver in the winter in the rain. It’s physically and emotionally draining. Other than that, the challenge is really in keeping it fresh after 10 years. Trying to keep it real and interesting and be honest and give the character the due weight that it deserves, and the show the weight that it deserves without going on auto pilot. And so I think that’s been the biggest challenge, especially in the last few years. But I think we’ve all risen to it because the dynamics have changed so much on the show, so it’s almost like a new show.
GW: And Sam has changed.
AT: Sam has changed a lot
GW: Sam, in the first season, was wide eyed and innocent little…
AT: And like I said, she’s had a full arc. She’s now fully realized and a completely different character than what she started out as.
GW: Yeah. She’s totally different.
GW: Is there some part of Sam that hasn’t been addressed that you wish they had done?
AT: No. You know what? Not really. I would like to see her have an active command, and see how she handles it. I would have liked to have seen that. But other than that, no. They’ve dealt with her personal life. They’ve dealt with her family. And her history with needing to heal from her family history and they dealt with her in an adult relationship and they’ve dealt with her crushes. And as a pure scientist. And they dealt with her in a bunch of different realities, not being military — and being military, and they’ve dealt with her as a military person. Perhaps the most impressive and important relationship they gave her was the one with her father. Which I think really formed the character of Sam Carter more than any other. So I don’t think that there’s really anything in huge measure that hasn’t been explored.
GW: I think that Sam/Dad is probably next to Sam/Teal’c. Those are my favorite relationships. They’re relationships, but they’re not the main focus so you really have to treasure those tiny little minutes that you get here and there.
AT: Yeah, yeah. And we do as actors too.
GW: Sam and Dad, some of my favorite Season Two episodes when those two interact because you see such a different side of Sam. I was fortunate enough to talk to Carmen and he’s just such a sweetheart.
AT: Isn’t he the best? I cannot say enough nice things about Carmen Argenziano. I cannot. There’s not enough words in the English language to describe what a wonderful man he is.
GW: He’s such a sweet guy.
GW: The spoofs that you guys did for “200” I’ve seen them. But which one was your favorite?
AT: Star Trek was pretty fun. Especially having Brad Wright do “I canna get any more juice out of the engines!” He was great. That was fun. And the puppet thing was really fun. Gosh, you know what? The whole Rick reappearing … the wedding.
The scene that’s not shown, well you’ll never see, that Rick ad-libbed in the wedding was aah, Daniel turns to O’Neill and goes, “You know, if she doesn’t show up, folks will think that …” And then of course, I beam in. But in the one take that we did, Michael turns to Rick and says, “You know, if she doesn’t show up folks will think that …” and Rick said really loudly, “WE’RE GAY???”
Claudia and I were back in the bushes waiting to come on, laughing our heads off. It was just so funny. But I’d have to say that the Star Trek was, no, Farscape. I completely forgot about Farscape. Farscape was just the most fun spoof. Because we had Ben and Claudia there.
GW: And you were Chiana.
AT: I was Chiana.
GW: Sam and Chiana are just opposites.
AT: It was so much fun. That, I would say, was the most fun.. The Farscape spoof, because we had them there. And at the last minute Ben and Michael switched. So it was great.
GW: Oh, yeah. Do you think the puppets will show up on eBay some day? Do you know what happened to the puppets?
AT: I don’t know what happened to the puppets. I think the puppets may have gone back. At the 200th episode party, the puppets were in a big display case. They’re very expensive.
GW: They didn’t look like something you’d pick up at the corner store.
AT: No. I thought that the Hammond puppet and the Harriman puppet were the best. They were so good. The little eyebrows on Harriman. “I feel so stupid.” When I read that scene I was laughing out loud. And the gate shuts off. “I feel so stupid,” collapse. It cracked me up when I read it. It turned out so great.
We’re having tea. The tinkling of a tea cup.
GW: Tea, official English tea. Now we know that Stargate‘s over, and anything that you wish had been covered. Any “Man, I wish …” or “Hey, it’s too bad …”
AT: Not really. Chris and I have always lamented the fact that there’s never been a real exploration of the friendship between Sam and Teal’c. And yet there has, but it’s been in small moments. Like you said, you treasure the small moments between the characters. And in the last episode we kind of paid homage to that friendship in a really subtle way that I actually think is quite lovely. Chris and I had a really, really nice time playing it.
I would have liked to have seen, to be honest, more interaction between Daniel and Sam in the last few seasons. I missed him. Sam missed Daniel in the last few seasons. Especially Season Ten was very much about Daniel and Vala. I missed Daniel.
GW: People have noticed a lot of the time that Cameron and Teal’c go off…
AT: Cameron and Teal’c, Daniel and Vala …
GW: And Sam …
AT: Yeah. I felt very fifth-wheelish at times. So I lament that. I lament that there wasn’t more interaction between us with the other two in the final two seasons.
GW: Because they were such…originally, separated at birth.
AT: Such a beautiful friendship between the two.
GW: The wonder twins.
AT: Yeah. When we did at the end of Season Eight — “Moebius.” When we did that we had so much fun playing together and doing those geeky, goofy takes on our characters. And so I lament that. I wish that here had been more scenes between Sam and Daniel.
GW: Geek Sam was absolutely precious. She was a trip.
AT: The physicality was so fun to play. The way she walked. The thumbs stuck in the edge of the jacket.
GW: Always trying so hard but she couldn’t quite get there.
AT: So socially inept.
GW: So you did say that Sam was going to show up on Atlantis.
AT: To some degree. I actually … I probably can’t say officially because I haven’t signed the contract but I know that I will be doing some.
GW: To some extent. Maybe one, maybe…one.
AT: Or more. As soon as it’s all signed and sealed I’ll put it up on my Web site. I don’t know how the fans will feel about that, and I understand the trepidation of crossing over a major character from one show into another. I think Sam’s a logical fit, in some ways, on Atlantis. But I know that there are Atlantis purists who think the two shows should never cross. I understand that.
GW: There is a fear for some of them. Well, “Wait a minute, I hardly get to see my favorite character as it is. We don’t need another one.”
GW: There’s this fear that…I want to see my favorite.
AT: Right. And you know what? You’re not going to please everybody. I don’t want to be the center of any controversy about it. I am contractually obligated to the franchise for another year when I signed that contract at the beginning of Season Ten. I knew it was a possibility that if SG-1 went down that I might be doing some Atlantis.
And they exercised their option, which is fine. I think there’s a potential for a lot of fun. And not just Carter and McKay, but I think there’s a potential for a lot of fun. But know that I didn’t go up to the writers and say, “Hey, I want to go onto Atlantis now! What’s going on?” It was approached very delicately.
GW: And I know that there’s a friend of mine, she loves Teyla and she loves Sam and she’d love nothing better than to see her two favorite characters, “Oh, wait a minute. Sam could be in charge of the Daedalus! That’d be cool.”
AT: There’s options. It’ll be interesting.
GW: The topic’s come up upon occasion. And like you said, some purists that are a little scared.
AT: And I would say to anyone, like they did, like our fans did with SG-1 when Rick left. Give it a chance and see. And Ben came in. When Daniel, when Michael left in Season Six, give it a chance and see. People generally came around. And you know with the addition of Vala, people were like, “No, no way. That character should not be on SG-1. It doesn’t make any sense.” People were pretty adamant. And then she won them over.
GW: Yeah, Jonas. Jonas grew on me pretty much from the beginning but at the end you missed him. And Vala and Cameron, it took them a little while but they’re finding their way.
AT: I would just say, if it does happen — to whatever degree it does happen, keep the door, don’t slam the door on it just yet. Let’s see how it plays out. I don’t know whether I fit on that show. So we’ll see.
GW: I find it exciting.
AT: Good, good. There we go, then. You heard it here first, folks.
GW: When you did, Rodney and you in the puddle jumper. How did that — Sam, Rodney’s “Fantasy Sam” was so different from the real Sam. So how did you make them different?
AT: She was more sarcastic. A little sexier, a little edgier. A little more comfortable in her jeans. Do you know what I mean? Able to be a little more whimsical with him because, it’s the duality of “I know I’m not really real.” But for me I had to play it as a character. Not as his fantasy, even though I said to David, “What do you see, what do you want from me? What do you see in your Sam? He said, “Sexy, I want her to be sexy.” And I said, “Great, here we go.”
She’s looser and yet a little more cheeky.
GW: A little like Felger’s fantasy Sam.
AT: Yeah — hello. Yeah, but it was fun. It was fun to play a little more hands on hip.
GW: Instead of the prim and proper Carter.
GW: In the beginning Sam was very “I must prove myself.”
AT: Absolutely, very didactic. Very needing to prove herself. She’s come into her own as a woman. She’s come into her own as a soldier, and she’s come into her own as a scientist. There’s less of that torn angst that you had about “I have to prove myself.” Much less of that.
GW: A lot more “I’m here, get over it.”
GW: If you could, some fantasy episode, this is what I’d love to do for Sam, no worry about a budget. If you could say the one fantasy thing, and know that nobody would ever say, “No, sorry, you can’t do that, it’s not in the budget.”
AT: I think probably something I would do would be very simple and wouldn’t necessarily strain the budget so much. I would enjoy the interaction between all the characters. I would like to see sort of a more personal episode. About them going camping. I know it’s not SG-1, and obviously something happens while we’re there that sends us off on some adventure.
We kind of did it earlier, with the — the one at Landry’s cabin…
GW: Yeah. “Uninvited.”
AT: Yes. Kind of but not successfully did it there I don’t think. But I like the end, the scene where we’re all hanging out. I, as an actor, loved playing it.
GW: That was a lot of fun to watch.
AT: And it was fun to do it! That kind of thing, just hanging by the fire and roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories. Something stupid. I know it’s not SG-1 necessarily, but it’s about the characters.
GW: Sam and Daniel go off and do something, or Sam and Teal’c go off…
GW: From Lizlove, she said that Sam is a very self-possessed and strong woman. Would you like to try something different for your next role, maybe girly or something humorous. And if you had a choice, which would you choose?
AT: Humor. Absolutely. I’d love to do something humorous. I don’t pull off girly that well, I don’t pull off that sort of sexy bombshelly, kind of giggly. I can’t do that. I wish I could. It’s one of my limitations. But I don’t feel that I can do that very well, so humor most definitely.
But I think if I were to do anything sort of girly and sexy it would be because I’m smart and strong, the character I’m playing is smart and strong and therefore sexy in a more mature way. You know what I mean? I don’t do girly well.
GW: In a more real way
AT: Hopefully in a more real way. But, definitely if I had my druthers right now I’d be doing comedy. I’d be doing something goofy.
GW: That would be good. Now I know you said you’d love to do Eleanor of Aquitaine.
GW: Who would be your Richard Burton?
AT: It would have to depend on who was around at that time. It’s a little ways down the road.
AT: One of today’s actors to play it? Hmm, that’s a good question. I haven’t really thought about that. I don’t know. That’s a really good question. I’d have to think about it. Daniel Craig, the new Bond. He might be pretty good.
GW: I love the movie (The Lion in Winter), I’ve watched it.
AT: The movie or the play. The movie is basically the play. They don’t deviate too much from the script but it’s just a phenomenal script. It’s so well written.
GW: And it’s all characters interaction. It’s all about the relationship between the brothers is what makes it sweet.
AT: And Eleanor’s not huge in the play, but the scenes she has with him are unbelievable. It’s a dream to play that wit. I’d have to think about that, I don’t know who that’d be.
GW: From Replicarte, I’m massacring the poor girl’s name: you said you wanted to direct. What would you like, or do you have any plans?
AT: I do, you know what, I am going to direct. I am in touch right now with a woman that does incredible documentaries. I’m a massive, massive fan of hers. Her name’s Sue Badgely. She is so talented and so amazing and I’m hoping she allows me to sit on her shoulder for a little bit and just watch. Because I would love to do documentaries of the elk that she does.
She just did an amazing documentary on Greenpeace and about what was going on in Argentina in this particular area where they were clear cutting and the native Indians that were being displaced.
And because of this film and the attention that it got and the attention that Greenpeace was able to bring to the problem, the president has now made the land — endowed the land so nobody can ever touch them ever again.
GW: At Shore Leave, you talked about a future project. What else can you share now?
AT: Nothing. At the moment. Until we get our funding and start shooting. But it’s something I’m very excited about. It’s a completely different character for me. And it gives me the opportunity to do something behind the scenes as well. Not control, I wouldn’t say, but to have a bit more participation in the actual, entire process instead of just showing up on set with my lines memorized. So I’m kind of excited about that.
Just a tease that it’s something that I’m very excited about. But knowing still, my home is on Stargate and I’m going back to that and I’m very happy to be going back to it, but there’s something a’brewing because you have to keep all your irons in the fire.
GW: One last question. What are the fondest memories that you’ll take with you?
AT: It’s the little things that I’ll take with me. It’s the little daily memories. Of laughing on set. Of getting a hug from Chris Judge in the makeup trailer in the morning. Looking over at Michael and not having to say anything, you know, everything being understood. It’s our crew. It’s the sense of family, of familiarity and a sense of fun.
We’ve always had a sense of play. It’s kind of the magic of what Stargate was. That all our guest stars had a good time coming to our show. That visiting journalists always had a good time. That fans who were able to come onto the set had a good time. That everyone felt welcome in our show. There was nothing austere or pretentious or high-faluting about us. We were and are a truly down-to-earth people who are happy to be working and, for whatever reason the combination of all the people who are involved on that show made it that kind of place. It made it a very magical place.
Some sets are not comfortable to walk on, and it’s not because people are not nice but there’s a different vibe. Our show had a very cool vibe.
I don’t know what it was. There was something magical about Stargate and the combination of people. It just filtered down from the top most definitely. There was something about it. And crew would talk about missing our show. People that have moved on, or moved on to Atlantis. The directors love to come back, Atlantis has a similar feel. Their sense of family is really developing. And they’re a fun show, too.
So I guess, you know, you can only think that it’s — the combination. Maybe it’s the Bridge Studios, maybe it’s the soil, I don’t know but for some reason it’s a magical place. As goofy as that sounds, that’s what I’ll take away with me. That I was able, for ten years, to work on a show that was really, genuinely, a joyful place for people to come.
And we were always really proud of that. So that’s cool.
GW: It’s not goofy idea at all. It’s probably [something that] a lot of people wish that they had.
AT: Yeah, exactly! And to be able to do that for ten years. Unbelievable.
The Official Web Site of Amanda Tapping