Amanda Tapping: I’m going to say this, because you are GateWorld and Stargate is and was my home for such a long time. I just want to address this right off: It was a very difficult decision, not to say that I walked away from Atlantis, because I haven’t. I still want to be very much a part in as much as I can, but still be a part of the show.
They offered me a very nice contract with the caveat being that I had to make them my first priority, and I totally understood why in terms of timing and scheduling. But I couldn’t do it because I knew there was a good possibility that Sanctuary would get worldwide television broadcast.
Had I said Yes to what the folks at Atlantis wanted I would’ve essentially shut down Stage 3 Media and Sanctuary. So as much as we tried to make it work, and [executive producer] Joe Mallozzi and I were on the phone a lot trying to work things out, we just decided at the end of the day that the timing just was not going to happen. He was very cool. They were wonderful.
The last time I got off phone with Joe I just was bawling. I hung up and started crying, and my husband said “What? What?” And I said, “Oh, my God. Eleven years. This is huge.”
GateWorld: This has been your life for well over a decade.
AT: It’s been my life, my home, my family. Yeah, literally, for well over a decade. But the beauty of it is that I haven’t walked away from it completely. It’s not like I turned my back on Atlantis. I said “Let’s see what we can do to make this work. I will make myself available.”
So when I read the press release saying I’d be doing several episodes I was quite thrilled. So far I’m doing one off the top, which explains Carter leaving the show. And I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school or jumping on anyone else’s press release, but since it’s been announced that Sanctuary‘s being picked up I’m obviously not going to be a regular character on Atlantis. I think everyone has pretty much figured that one out.
But like I said, and I’m talking in circles here because it’s a very emotional issue, I had this whole thought that “Oh, my God, the fans are going to hate me.” I went on to Atlantis. In a lot of people’s minds I took over for another character which is an unfair assessment because that’s not exactly how it came down, but nonetheless my going to Atlantis precipitated other people leaving is a popular misconception. And now I’m walking away. And “Who the hell am I to do that?”
GW: You and I have talked about this before. You have Olivia now and fact is you couldn’t do this forever. And who would expect you to do one character for the rest of your life? It’s just crazy. Take Richard Dean Anderson. How long can they expect this guy to put his daughter on hold? He’s already well successful. He’s doing it because he wants to do it. At this point you have a right to do things because you want to do them and you have earned the ability to be selective.
AT: Yes, I think I have. Maybe I concern myself too much with what the fans are saying because I take it so personally, and I’ve always believed that the fans are the heart of the show. And that’s not lip service. I truly believe that. I guess I played out the worse case scenario in my head. As soon as this announcement’s made there are going to be people who are gonna slag me off. “You abandoned this. You were doing this.”
Colonel Samantha Carter as leader of Atlantis
I think at the end of the day it’s a perfect compromise. I’m moving on to my own series. It’s a whole new role for me. It’s exciting, and it’s an interesting show, and I think the fans will love it. I’m not turning my back on Stargate. I’m certainly still a part of the franchise. Sam Carter is still very much a part of me. I think in my Pollyanna view of things that’s the perfect-case scenario. And I just hope a lot of the fans will eventually see it that way, too.
GW: Let’s say it for what it is. There are going to be some fans who will feel like “Oh, man, why’d she leave? She’s abandoned us!” Like Ben [Browder, “Cameron Mitchell”] is fond of saying, you can’t live and die by what you read online. The fact of the matter is that people who have had to make these real life choices will realize that you made the right choice, and I am one of them. And to be fair, I’m not a huge fan of Sanctuary yet, but I’m continuing to watch it to see what’s going to happen to it.
AT: Thank you for being honest about that. I think that what you’ll see on SCI FI is a different show than what you’re seeing online. The major elements still very-much be there. The dark, gothic quality to it. We’re certainly lightening it up. There’s going to be a lot more humor, obviously. And as we have the luxury of spinning out over 13 episodes there’ll be a lot more character revelations.
I’m pretty stoked about the possibilities for this show and I think the premise is interesting. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have put my heart, soul and money and everything into it.
GW: Well, you’re right. If the premise is interesting — me personally, I’m not a huge fan of monsters, but the fact is you have a great cast.
AT: We do have a great cast, and at the end of the day the show isn’t about monsters. It is, but ultimately the only thing that sells any show, I don’t care what genre you’re in or what you’re doing, is that you care about the characters. And I think all these characters that we’re bringing to life are worthy of that. Magnus, there’s such a painful and vulnerable side to her that will eventually be revealed, and Ashley has her demons, and Will is this wonderful character. I think people are going to love him.
GW: He’s a Tom Hanks character. You just want to like the guy.
AT: Exactly. Bigfoot has his own back-story. It’s amazing as we’re spinning out these stories what’s being revealed about these people and I think at the end of the day the fans will care about these characters. And that’s what makes the show. That’s why SG-1 was so successful for as long as it was. That’s why Atlantis is so successful. You care about these people. Look at the Save Carson Becket campaign. Or Save Daniel Jackson or Janet Fraiser. And now Elizabeth Weir! That’s what drives a show.