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Stargate SG-1 Crew Interviews: Brad Wright

Star Fate
Thomasina Gibson, SCI FI Magazine (extracts), April 2002

Brad Wright on Michael Shanks' departure from Stargate SG-1.

Co-creator and executive producer Brad Wright caused a near-heart-stopping moment when he confirmed that one of the show's main characters would depart before the end of the current season. Attendees of the second annual Gatecon extravaganza in Vancouver were stunned to silence as Wright broke the news that Daniel Jackson, archaeologist, linguist and all-around heart and soul of the intrepid SG-1 team, was about to meet his maker. His response to a direct question from a fan was "To be honest with you, I have to tell you that the SG-1 team will not go forward into the new season in its present form. Daniel Jackson will no longer be a member of the team."

In total accord with the feeling of most of the audience in Vancouver and around the world, Wright went on to say, "It's not an easy thing to just say goodbye to a character that in many ways was the heart and soul of your series. Rick (Dean Anderson) is the name above the title, but Michael Shanks' character of Daniel carried the morality of Stargate, and that is something we will simply struggle to replace. However, Daniel's arc was over. But make no mistake, the method by which he's leaving completely leaves the door open, and if it works out – he will return." Dr. Jackson is set to leave the show during the episode entitled "Meridian," when, in typical Daniel fashion, he chooses to save the world rather than his own life. Thankfully, Mother Nature steps in to reward his selfless act, very much leaving a return path should the good Dr. Jackson need to be reunited with his friends.

As a writer as well as producer of the show, Brad Wright highlighted the more positive side of the conclusion on one cycle of the show and the start of another. "As someone who has written a lot of hours of Stargate SG-1, I'm looking forward to the newness that will come from having to create a new character and make that character work as part of the team. Whether we're successful enough or not – the fans will have to decide. But I genuinely appreciate the challenge simply because it's new. Very few people in my position even stay on a show as long as I have, so I'm looking forward to the change."

While not wishing to give away too many spoilers, Wright was eventually persuaded to reveal some details about the exciting new developments. "The new character is introduced in the episode entitled 'Meridian'," he begins. "I thought it would be a nice symmetry if we met the new character in the same episode in which Daniel leaves." Sadly, the actor's name was embargoed at the time this article was written (the ink wasn't dry on his contract), but the executive producer did confess, "He is a big name. People are going to recognize him straightaway. He is very funny. He is very good and I really like him. The one thing he is going to bring to the screen is an enthusiasm and an 'I've never seen this before and this is all new to me' feel which I think is important for a lot of reasons."

"First and foremost," Wright suggests, "The Sci Fi Channel is our new broadcaster, and we'll have a whole lot of new viewers, so our new guy is going to provide an enthusiasm and a newness to the team that the new viewers deserve. Nobody wants to tune in to a show for the first time and see a bunch of characters going through the Stargate where every one of them is in 'been there, seen that' mode. I understand and respect our regular actors' decisions to act that way because it makes sense. This is their job and they have been doing it for five years. However, the new guy will give a freshness. He will deliver a fresh approach to how we look at every situation."

As for the team dynamic, Wright says, "I'm a big believer, as a writer and a producer, in not dictating too broadly [in the beginning] as to the definition of what a character will contribute to the team. I like it to stay as open as possible because – for example – if you look at the earliest episodes of Star Trek – what the characters ended up being is not at all what they were in the beginning. Everything just evolved. So for credibility for our characters and story, the smart thing is to allow that sort of evolution."

Brad Wright interviewed by Thomasina Gibson

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© 2002, SciFi Magazine. All rights recognised. No copyright infringement intended.

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