A self-described “journeyman actor,” Carmen Argenziano has without a doubt left a mark during his journey through seven years of Stargate SG-1. As Samantha Carter‘s father Jacob, he quickly went from being a guest star to being a member of the SG-1 family.
GateWorld caught up with Carmen at Creation Entertainment‘s Official Stargate Convention in Vancouver earlier this year. In our interview, the veteran actor talks about the rare attention and stability that Stargate has given him, his working relationship with Amanda Tapping and the rest of the cast, and how he felt about Jacob’s death.
GateWorld’s interview with Carmen Argenziano is available in MP3 audio format for easy listening, and is about 10 minutes long. It is also transcribed below. You can also download the interview to your MP3 player and take GateWorld with you!
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net, I’m Darren Sumner. I’m here with Mr. Carmen Argenziano. Thanks for taking time with us today.
Carmen Argenziano: My pleasure, Darren.
GW: Did I mispronounce your last name?
CA: No. You were wonderful. Thank you so much.
CA: It was terrific. I remember they taped us, and there were some wonderful actors I was competing with. And I was totally surprised that I was chosen, because, as I say, this is a very competitive town. Some wonderful actors were up there. Working actors — Charles Cioffi and this and that.
And I went on tape and I had worked on it a little bit. When I heard the news that I was selected, it was just one of my more memorable times in this business.
Very seldom an actor gets a role that affects his life in such a wonderful, dramatic way as this role has. The recognition this role has brought me and the attention, the money, the security, or whatever … at least the sense of that. Because journeyman actors don’t usually have a kind of regular working situation where they’re employed on a regular basis. And Stargate offered that to me, and I’m forever grateful.
GW: So Stargate has been a very big part of your life and career, just like Jacob Carter has been a very big part of the Stargate universe. Jacob has been really pivotal in a lot of key story arcs and key episodes.
CA: You know, he was, and initially I think Brad Davis and — I think this was pre-Robert Cooper. Robert came in the following year. They were planning on Jacob actually dying of cancer. And the fact that Selmak resurrected him and he had five years and 25 episodes left on Stargate was just one of those experiences that are just kind of serendipitous.
You never know in this business. It’s almost like Las Vegas and hitting a jackpot occasionally. It’s been a wonderful ride.
GW: And you’ve had a very special relationship in one particular cast member, Amanda Tapping.
CA: Amanda was there from day one. Amanda is so supportive and so warm. She’s such a positive influence on the set. She knows everyone’s name. Always up. Always supportive. Always helping. Always contributing.
And I remember when I was struggling a little bit with some lines of some dialogue in the first episode. She just held my hand and made a connection. And I’ve loved her ever since, actually.
GW: What are your thoughts on Jacob’s relationship with Sam and the way that grew over the years?
CA: You know, I have a daughter and she’s beautiful. In fact, we used some of the stills with my real-life daughter as Sam in some episodes. When Sam was younger we used them as wall portraits. Or fireplace mantle portraits and whatnot. If there is a kindred spirit or if there is such a thing, Amanda is truly one of mine, because we just connected. She’s a terrific actress and a terrific person.
GW: Jacob Carter is a father and a family man …
GW: … and had an estranged relationship, originally, with his son, when he decided to leave Earth. What are your thoughts on his decision to live off-world?
CA: Well, he had no choice. I mean, I’m sure I would be really intensely skeptical about, even if I was dying, about assuming a life that’s somewhat off-world and alien-ish.
But the symbiote … I think he and Selmak defined symbiosis in terms of what he gleaned from Selmak. I think Selmak to Jacob was like having [Albert] Einstein, was like having someone who spoke 20 languages, or someone who had the wisdom of the universe. If you could live with that kind of knowledge, and with that kind of power …
Whatever Selmak offered Jacob, it’s truly science fiction. It epitomizes the possibilities of science fiction, and the wisdom we strive for as human beings and the potential that’s there. It was so magical that Selmak imbued Jacob with this incredible, wonderful knowledge of the universe. It was just a wonderful thing to play off of. The possibility of having that kind of awareness, that kind of wisdom. It was really tantalizing, was really something I loved to play with.
GW: What about working with some of the other cast members? Rick and Michael and Chris?
CA: It was all fun. It was all fun. Michael and Chris, we had so much fun on the set, as well as enjoying what we were doing creatively. I think Richard’s sense of humor helped, and Chris and Michael — it was always up. It was always a pleasure to come to Vancouver and to do the show and be creative with wonderfully entertaining people.
CA: I think I was ready. I think that I was prepared. I know that there’s a lifespan of each character in the series, and I didn’t know what they could do with Jacob beyond what I had done. I wasn’t totally surprised.
I enjoyed the last couple of episodes. And actors do enjoy death scenes! It’s kind of challenging. It’s something we love to explore, because it’s inevitable for all of us. I was ready. I was ready for the end of a wonderful experience, yeah.
GW: Now, when you look back on those seven years on the show, what are the memories that stand out, that you bring with you?
CA: The people I’ve met. The people I’ve met through the show. Not only the characters and the writers and the directors. But beyond that, it’s brought me a recognition that I’ve never had before with the wonderful fan base and the conventions, and meeting people whose lives have been so wonderfully, positively influenced by the show. By what we do. By what we bring to them and their lives.
That’s the whole reason we become actors, or at least I did, is to influence people’s lives in a positive way. To give them hope. To let them identify with what’s possible, who they are, what they may become. It was a wonderful experience and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to portray not only one man, but the possibility of connecting with another being and being elevated to a status.
I don’t know of any human being who has experienced that. So it was a fantasy. It was a wonderful fantasy and a wonderful character. It was a revelation to me. I mean, acting ultimately is revealing. You find out, you discover more about you, and more about the potential of life and what we can do with our lives. And Jacob / Selmak gave that to me.
GW: Can you tell us what you’re working on now? And if you got the call for Stargate, would you go back?
CA: Oh, yeah! I’d always be open to going back to Stargate because they gave me something that’s very special and very rare.
And right now, I’m having another wonderful creative experience with C.S.I.: New York. I’ve done the last few episodes, and I’ll continue to do the episodes until the end of the season. I just got back from New York City, and I’m working with some wonderful people, writers — Pam Veasey. And Gary Sinise is a wonderful actor. They’re professionals and they really elevate the craft in many ways, and I’m enjoying it.
GW: Great. Carmen, thanks so much for your time!
CA: Thank you! Thank you so much.