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Stargate SG-1 Cast Interviews: Michael Shanks

Not lost, but gone before...
Thomasina Gibson, Starlog #024, Mar 02

TG: Who would have guessed that this brave action [Daniel moving on to pastures new] would have caused so much trauma to so many individuals, not least the executives at MGM? Talk about being hit by a blast from a staff weapon!

[Snippage of Brad Wright announcing Michael Shanks' departure at Gatecon, shockwave through the fandom, yadda yadda]

TG: Nothing, in this world, could have prepared MGM bosses for the deluge of correspondence via letters, emails, phone calls and adverts that has poured in from "Danielites" expressing their views at the loss of "their" Dr Jackson.

TG: In Starlog issue #021 we ran a letter from Stargate SG-1 fan Alison Butler regarding the controversy over Michael Shanks sudden departure.  Alison felt so strongly about what she perceived to be a conspiracy to get rid of the character that she wrote to MGM, Starlog and every other magazine on sale in the UK not once, but several times over to make her views known.  She even started a website so that other supporters of the "Save Daniel Jackson" campaign could rally to the cause.  Alison's letter set the ball rolling and we received many others protesting in similar vein.
 
Shanks a lot....
 
Somewhat surprised by the intensity of people's reactions, Michael Shanks had this to say:

"In terms of the big internet campaign and things like that, I think it is great.  That said, it has also been a bit overwhelming.  I mean, it's all supportive and a lot of people I've talked with have been very sad about the character's death, which again is quite an ego boost.  But, really, its just great to see that people feel strongly enough to do something about their feelings and I think they've gotten enough of both sides of the story - mine and MGM's - to have enough information to take a perspective on the whole situation".

TG: For the record, MGM has repeatedly stated that it supports Michael Shank's decision to leave the series and that everyone at the company and Stargate Productions extends good wishes for his future.  At no point has anyone intimated in any way that the Daniel character had to go.

Internet frenzy...
 
TG: Seemingly dissatisfied with the response from anyone except Michael Shanks, an internet campaign sparked a wave of protest with pro-Daniel Jackson fans actually raising funds to place ads in various printed publications, including the prestigious Hollywood [Reporter], Variety and several UK magazines. [TV Zone and Dreamwatch]

Rowan from Washington state, in the US, explained her reasons for such a drastic manoeuvre.  "I've been a fan of Sci-fi television for a very long time and have seen many a campaign to save a show or save a particular character succeed because the powers that be are made aware of how much TV-watching time is invested because of that show or individual.  Sometimes, the executives of a particular network or corporation have no real idea of the impact of the production on people's lives.  They kind of live in a vacuum and can often make decisions based on the lack of knowledge, rather than listening to and taking on board how those of us out here actually feel.

"With SG-1, the main reasons we put the ads in the paper were twofold.  First we wanted to show our support for the show in general and let anyone know and everyone know that "We Love Stargate SG-1."  We're not advocating a boycott of the show or the movie.  This is not a kindergarten.  We just want our show back to its original groundbreaking formula.   All of the people who donated money to place the ads share the same view.  SG-1 won't be SG-1 without Daniel.  SG-1 is a team.  Let's keep it that way.

The second reason for the ads was to make it clear how dear Daniel Jackson is to our hearts and to thank Michael Shanks for sharing his talent with us for five great years.  He took the character and made it his own and we love him for it".
 
Strong Support...
 
TG: While this very public outpouring of support has warmed the cockles of Michael Shanks' heart, the financial sums involved have caused him slight discomfort.

"You know, as an actor you can't  help but go 'Wow! That's very flattering!' However, though I don't know exactly how much it actually costs to place an ad in a publication, I know that it's likely to be a considerable amount and my feeling is that if money like that is being spent, I can't necessarily say I support that aspect of it.  What I really wish is that it could be given to a more important cause than Michael Shanks and the character of Daniel Jackson.  I just think there are more deserving causes out there to put a little money into than characters on a television show.  So I really wish that wasn't happening".

TG: As if the big internet and ad campaign wasn't enough, the strong physical demonstration of admiration toward Shanks has taken the actor by surprise.  The five minute standing ovation he received from 900 attendees at the SG-4 event in London reduced the man to tears.

"My eyes have been opened during this tour around the UK and other places.  Doing the show for so long you become insulated in your own little world.  You get information from the outside world as it's given to you from the corporation, so you get a sense of things.  But until you actually get the chance to meet the people, you don't really get how strongly they feel about you".

Shanks' sense of gratitude and humility...

"No matter what happens in this career - because it is based in fiction and sometimes the business can be a strange egocentric diversion from real life - no matter what you feel about yourself in that vein; if you can give hope to someone or divert some of the positive energy directed toward you to make someone else's day, then that is the true benefit of doing this kind of job I do.  That's why I like the character of Daniel so much.  There were things about him that we cherish in human nature and to hear that what I did as Daniel and what SG-1 did together has such an impact on other human beings really is overwhelming".

Positive Thinking...
 
TG: I consider myself a fan first and writer second...First up, I'm not surprised in the least at the sheer volume of response from fans to Michael Shanks' departure.  I've met literally thousands of people in person at events in the UK, Europe, Canada, the US and Australia, and have chatted to a fair few over the internet.  There was never any doubt in my mind that a great many more individuals than expected would bombard the studio executives with their views.  Personally, I offer that Great British phrase of encouragement - "more power to their elbows" - but I choose to add "within reason".
 
Team Spirit...
 
TG: Since this entire debacle started...I've watched two very distinct "sides" slide into conflict over whether or not to watch the new last season of Stargate SG-1.  However, both sides have reiterated that the show is put together by a team of great people just as the SG-1 characters form a great team.  One of that team is no longer with us in the form we grew to love, but as the last few seconds in "Revelations" suggest - Daniel Jackson is not lost...just gone before.  Further more, the makers of the show have assured us that Daniel Jackson will be in further episodes of Stargate SG-1 if Michael Shanks is available.

TG: However, as much as I personally would like to see Daniel Jackson appear in season 6, I too, fully support his desire to leave to explore new avenues.  The man is talented, determined and his star is on the rise.  I fully expect him to be swamped with offers of work and look forward to seeing him shine.  If Michael gets the opportunities all his fans wish for him, he won't be able to return to the Stargate SG-1 show.  I will miss Daniel, but add my warmest wishes to those from everyone else who wish Michael well.

2002, Starlog.

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