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Stargate SG-1 Cast Interviews: Michael Shanks

Michael Shanks Q&A
Fan Odyssey Convention, Jun 03

Note-Whenever dialogue is quoted it is to the best of my ability verbatim. When information is not in quotes it is as accurate as my scribbled notes and our memory can make it. Information in [brackets] are my comments and should not be taken as canon.

With much gratitude to Tenaya, Tricia, Rowan, Rene, and all the many wonderful minions who donated their pictures and memories to "the cause".

Cathy for Solutions
09 Jun 03

Alison interjects here to bounce because *seven* of these questions were mine, including the story pitch Michael Shanks pinched!  And no, I won't sue :)

Fan Odyssey Photo Gallery @ Stargatefan>>>>

SCENE SETTING

[The convention room was a fairly smallish room with about a hundred people sitting in chairs, in about five rows.  Michael Shanks (MS) arrived from the airport at about 11:45 but came on at about 3pm.  His presentation lasted about an hour with an hour and twenty minutes of autograph time.  After that he had to dash back to the airport immediately to catch his flight back to Vancouver. Rumor had it that it was Lexa's birthday on Sunday and he wanted to be certain to be back in time for it.  Yep, he came down just for us for a two hour visit, for those not in the Los Angeles area it's about a 4 hour flight to Vancouver so that's pretty cool.]

[And for those who like all the details and haven't hit the picture section yet. (Insert run way announcer voice)  Mr. Shanks was quite lovely in faded torn blue jeans, a short sleeved checkered shirt with rolled up sleeves that showed off his VERY nice muscles and sun bronzed skin, with a faded light blue t-shirt underneath. He was also wearing black leather Doc Marten style shoes that laced up (I have no sense of fashion so please see the picture).  His hair was short, playfully spiky in the bangs, just long enough in the back to touch the nape of his neck, sideburns were back to being average length, sandy brown hair, a bit blonde on the tips and verrry nice. A+ on the hair cut. Of course the smile and those cerulean blue eyes weren't bad either. And we need not even mention the dimples. This ends the fashion section of this report. C'mon, you know you wanted it.]
 

 
THE QUESTIONS AND INDEED THE ANSWERS
Michael Shanks greeted us with: "So how's it going?  Everything great?  Where are we at?  You know I was going through the dilemma this morning because I had a full beard, and I have to have a half one for the show right now.  So I was going through this dilemma, a lot of people don't like me with that [the beard].  But for the show, there's a two-parter "Evolution" where Daniel gets captured and flogged and beaten and tortured and beaten and tortured some more. I was trying to think about what else I do in that show and that's about it. Therefore…(he smiled at the audience with his very cleanly shaven face.)"

Any questions?

Q-What about that story of yours this season?

MICHAEL SHANKS: "Writing any part of any show in general I'm learning is a strange, strange medium. You go into a room with a few ideas and you're facing the writers and they take your ideas and what they end up doing is, 'Wow! That's a great idea for MY script.' (He went on to explain jokingly about how one shouldn't ever give ideas to writers because you'll go into a room, pitch a bunch of your best ideas and they'll say, 'Hm, okay.  We'll get back to you. They're just okay.' Then he mimed waiting for the person to leave and turning to all the other writers and stealing those ideas for their own stories.  'Mine now!')

"So what ended up happening is that I had about two or three different story ideas that I wanted to be my story originally.  I wanted to do a sequel to an episode called Crystal Skull from third season. How Nick, the grandfather, is dying of cancer."

[The audience reacted with sad 'aaaaaah's' to this but he laughed and said, "Don't worry, it doesn't exactly happen this way anymore." and then explained that the Aztec gods had tried to help Nick out by giving him something that was the equivalent to the fountain of youth originally. And that Daniel finds the body and finds Nick's notes on it.]  [Note to fic writers, yet another member of Daniel's family was scheduled to bite the dust.  Poor perpetual orphan. But this time he was doing it to himself.]

"Cooper had [a similar idea that involved] the idea that they [the Goa'uld] get this device that is able to create this brand new enemy that we're gonna have that will kind of replace the Jaffa as our storm trooper-type characters. There's no name for them as of yet, but they're much more powerful than the Jaffa, who you're now able to hit with nail clippers or something like that, and they fall down. So they're replacing those troops with a much more powerful soldier. This is in the two-parter we're doing and how I got a writer's credit on it.  But it's not the idea I originally had. I had a more…purer vision originally." 

Q-What has challenged you as an actor and why? Specifically what episode stands out for you that challenged you?

MS: "A great acting challenge was Lifeboat by Brad Wright.  He wrote it originally back in the 5th season and didn't get the chance to use it. (In an aside MS says) Brad's not in the office much, but like a Howard Hughes figure who grows long hair and fingernails, like a ghost, he's still around, but not really active.  He haunts the corridors and is like a father figure to the others now."  MS went on to explain that he kept the character in mind, referring to Daniel, and waited for another opportunity to use the story.

"In this episode I got to play many different characters that are downloaded into Daniel.  All these characters are played different from each other. They all have their own agendas and their own personalities.  The fact that they (the writers) trust you that way is respect enough and that's a great honor that Brad could give me the credit that I could pull this off.  It's a great gift.

I saw it and it's okay. It's good. It's fine. It's fine. You know I'm a bad one to ask about my own work…um it tells the story.  I appreciated the chance to jump through those hoops because we don't get too many chances.  That to me this year was the biggest actor challenge."

Although he goes on to explain that "this year has been a bit of challenge in general because of the fact that I've been given a lot more to do on the show what with Rick being there less. That's not a bad thing.  It gives him (Richard Dean Anderson) a chance to spend time with his family.  To do more of the things he wants to do." MS is careful to go on to explain however the reason this is not a bad thing is that RDA then comes back well rested and with lots of energy for the show which makes it better for the show and the time they do have on the set together.

Q-We heard about a project a while back called "Children of the Monsoon". Did that ever happen?  What's going on with it?

MS: "That was a project that went down to a week before I was supposed to go to India to film this independent movie and as what often happens with independent movies, the guy all of a sudden panicked at the last minute.  His uncle is a big, you know 'well entrenched' movie producer.  The uncle had said something like 'You know you could do this for 30 million dollars, rewrite the movie, get Ben Affleck or someone to do the part and sell it to a big studio.' Basically, the movie sort of fell through which happens all the time in the business.

Q-You showed the audience at SFX your appendix scar a couple of weeks ago.  Are you going to show us?  (At which point the audience dissolved into hooting and hollering and cheers).

MS: "Oh, you guys!  What's with the flesh?  I'll tell you what, we'll save it for the end.  It'll be the coup de gras.  And besides there's children present."  [Note-Nope, sorry we didn't end up having time for a scar appearance and so this con group didn't get to see that "bit of flesh". The tease!]

Q-Isn't Lifeboat pretty much like Legacy again?
MS: "No, not really. In Legacy, despite being under the influence of Machello's device, Daniel is still his own person. While in Lifeboat, although he's still walking around in the white housecoat, it's a different story. This time it's not schizophrenia.  He's acting different because there are all these distinct personalities inside of him, each with their own agendas.  They are actual people inside his head.

Q-With Daniel descending with all the potential knowledge of the Ancients, which would be incredibly valuable to the NID or the Goa'uld, will we be seeing any of that type of storyline in the future where they want to get that information from him?

MS: MS blinks wonderfully for a moment and then gets a really big smile.  "That's a great idea." He mimes reaching out and plucking up the idea.  "Mine!" he says delightedly.  "What a great idea for a story I'm writing!"  (This is said jokingly, directly referring to his earlier mention of how writers gather stories in this manner during pitches.)

MS then went on to laugh because a number of us throughout this Q&A session had had bits of paper with questions already jotted out on them and he said, "What, is this a consortium?  Did you pull all these questions out of a cookie jar?  These are really good questions."

[In fact, what had happened, unbeknownst to Mr. Shanks, was that while we were in line a bunch of us had passed around a wishlist of questions from some of the fans who commune on Our Stargate forum and had divided them up to use as well as adding our own.  Because many of us wanted to have thoughtful questions to ask and wanted to be prepared with a nice variety which wouldn't duplicate each other. Since it's not only easier to have something to refer to when it's your turn to ask but also it's often difficult to think up a new and interesting question when your top two have just been asked and the cerulean blue gaze is upon you.  This way we were well prepared.  And, MS seemed to enjoy them a lot.]

[Back to the question of Daniel's knowledge of the ancients.]

MS: "It's like the Jolinar with Sam Carter issue that is touched upon when convenient but left alone most of the time.  It (the ascension information and issue) will come to a head at some point.  I'm actually trying to write a story for possibly next year, if there is one, which will involve certainly a lot of back story of what happened to him while he was ascended.  You know with Richard [most likely referring to Jack during Abyss] being there, that could be mined as well.  There is [one episode this season] Orpheus which touches on Daniel's memory of being an ascended being and that's going to be the fourth episode of the year, but we haven't really delved into that since."

Q-Why did Daniel, the character, between '1969' and 'Out of Mind' change his hair?

MS: MS asks for clarification, "You mean the character and not the actor?" And the questioner answers, "Yes.")

MS: "He didn't GET his hair cut!  Those crazy, wacky aliens DID it to him! He didn't do anything. They did it!" MS gets a sly grin at this point.  "But he LIKED it and he kept it." [You can tell he's talking about himself at this end point and not necessarily.]
 


Q-When's your episode scheduled to be done? Is writing something you want to do more of?

MS: "The episode I'm writing [Resurrection] is now scheduled for episode eighteen.  (He laughs.) Now, I don’t think there's a snowballs' chance in hell it's going to be done by then.  Sooo...  (He laughs at himself again.) We had the story meeting and it's all mapped out.  I've got the beat sheet all done.  The outline has to be fleshed out.  I'm spending the three-week hiatus, starting in late June, beating my head against the wall and trying to hash out the actual dialogue and whatnot for it.  It doesn't come easy to me. Is it something I want to do more?  I get a lot of good ideas. It's like school.  I had a lot of great ideas for my essays, but it's actually sitting down and following through that's work. I'd rather pitch."

Q-So, what possessed you to do it then?

MS: "I'm an idiot! (And he cracks up laughing at himself.) It's like walking a mile in the other person's shoes. If you're going to sit there and harp on the writers for their job, then you need to live in their world and find out what they're doing. The same thing happened when I directed in the fourth year, which is that you learn to lighten up on directors as an actor because as you realize too much (time spent) on a dumb point or something like that can really cost him his day time-wise, so you learn a lot of valuable lessons. The lessons help you to empathize with a lot of other people.  I think it would be great if we all could swap jobs for a day just to see that you don't have to bark at the postman all the time."

Q-What's the story about?

MS: "Um…this is a part of the story writing process too. The story I started off writing is not the story I'm actually writing and I think that comes from being the low man on the totem pole.  You sort of go… (during the meeting), 'O-kay. Okay.  Okay.' (mimes nodding his head as he looks at all these people giving him new information from around a table) and then you look at what you've got, after they've given you their notes on your ideas, and you go, 'What the hell is this?'  It's like the broken telephone relay. There are five writers in the room going, 'No, no, it won't work. Hey, how about…' and then the next guy goes, 'Yeah, and then we could do this idea I've had,' and add that, and they add their own parts to it and it goes around the table that way. By the time you get it back you don’t even recognize it and then they shoo you out the door and say 'Yeah, go write that.'

So, it's an NID story now. I originally had them as a small element in the story but it's a lot more than I had planned. Now it's about an NID facility, and they are stealing all these artefacts and are conducting a programme which is experimenting with genetic research. They're taking a human host and combining it with a symbiote so that a person would have all the benefits, given the knowledge of the Goa'uld, without having to deal with the Goa'uld. It's a genetics story, where you have this nice innocent young girl, Daniel, and an evil scientist. And it's about her struggle of treading that fine line between good and evil. It's still mythology-based and still has a backstory, but in this case it's a young girl that Daniel ends up encountering and SG-1 interacts with."

 Q-Will you go to Gatecon?

MS: "I don't know.  Maybe, but then we may be done by then.  I've been asked the last three years. But then again, I'm down here each second week to see my kid. So it's difficult to know."

Q-You seem to have done a lot of Sci-Fi.  Do you like it or are you worried about being typecast as a genre actor?

MS:" It's really cool.  No.  No. It is.  A lot of genre TV is filmed in Vancouver where I started. It's true a lot of different shows I've done are more what you would call genre shows. But rarely do such shows like "NYPD Blue" or "Law and Order" get to do what we do.  It's all the same thing each day in the courtroom or whatever.  Where this is great, very interesting stuff we work on.  It's never dull and the people who seem to watch are so enthusiastic. But you do sometimes have those moments where you think, I get to do all this cool stuff I've always wanted to do and pretend it's real, and I get paid for it."

Q-You were on "Highlander" the series, did you know about "Highlander" before you came on the show?

MS: "Oh, yeah.  That was one of my favorite movies.  The original movie was one of my favorite movies. When the series first came to Vancouver I was dying to get on it. Then I got on it and I died," he says laughing. "No, I really liked it. I thought it was a great show.  A great concept. And I think it probably has a lot more legs to carry it on to a new generation of series.  So I think it's great and I enjoyed it a lot."

Q-If Daniel could get away from it all what would he do? What does Daniel do in his off-time?

MS: "What does Daniel do to get away from it all?  Oh, boy.  Oh, boy.  We're wrestling with this sub-plot.  I'm wrestling with it. (He lowers his voice) Daniel's secretly a Ninja. (Huge laughter from the audience.) Oh, you laugh," he sing-songs. "Why do you laugh?  I'm in the writing department. (More laughter.)  No, it was very funny because…oh, I thought it was a great thing because we kind of did an episode coming up called "Space Race" where we show the other side of Sam Carter. She's a person who comes across as this straight laced girl but who has an adrenaline junkie heart.  It's an episode where we have this motor race and they show this other side of Sam. They originally wanted to have this whole scene where she's racing down the side of the mountain to Colorado Springs on a motorcycle before we get into things but decided that it wouldn't work. It was way too expensive."

"So, here's Daniel and I thought," MS gets up from his chair, pretends he's packing up for the night and waves, calling, "No. No, I can't come out tonight. Things to do. Good night, Jack." MS then pulls on an invisible mask and energetically mimes Daniel as a Ninja to much audience laughter saying sotto voice, "So, to unwind Daniel Jackson goes around the streets of Colorado and fights crime as a Ninja."

[Note-this is absolutely utterly hysterical.  You have not lived until you have seen MS go from one second playing Daniel innocently calling out good night to Jack and then transforming into Ninja Daniel, delightfully determined to save the world.

Q-In Double Jeopardy, did you kill Daniel deliberately to have more time to direct?

MS: "Did we kill Daniel Jackson on purpose? (He grins big.) Hell, yeah.  Killed him gooood.  (Then he becomes serious.) Yes, it was so I could get out from in front of the camera as soon as possible."

Q-Tell us about filming the naked Daniel scene.

MS: "You want me to tell ya what? It's…  It's…  You know. [Note-MS is laughing and really hamming it up on this one] A lot of actors just get these you know…when they have to get a little bit naked… And they have to do love scenes which are already uncomfortable…  And you've got a piece of tape… Yeah, laugh it up!   You don't have to take it off. You got a piece of tape over your Johnson and that's it.  And you're lying in a field of…whatever.  We can't do it in a warm studio. And we can't do it in August.  But in February.  So the tape was…small.  And we can't do it on a closed set, only the essential personnel present, sign this rider, blah, blah, blah.  HELL, NO! That would be too easy. We got to do it in a field. In the MIDDLE of the suburbs of Vancouver." (The mock outrage continues to build in his voice.) "Where people walk their DOGS!" (Much unsympathetic laughter from the audience.)  "So, how was it?!!!  (Lowers voice to little boy whimper.) Uncomfortable."

Q-In 'Fire and Water', in the end scene on the beach where Jack makes the comment about sushi.  Is that an ad-lib?

MS: "Absolutely. Absolutely. Oh, yeah.  He always comes up with these strange, absurd zingers. And that one just seemed to work. I think the look on my face in that particular take is, 'Somebody's gonna yell 'cut', right?'  I think there's another one in "Full Circle". You can watch Christopher and Amanda when Jack says, 'Well, spank me rosy.' That one.  Look at Christopher's face and he's like…(mimes just barely held stoic look) and then look at Amanda's face. Amanda's doing this… (and he mimes Amanda twisting her face up just about dying trying to hold a reaction back)." He comes up with these ad-libs that somehow end up in the final edit. Ah, the power of the executive producer."

Q-In the seventh season what is the relationship between Jack and Daniel like?

MS: "The relationship between Jack and Daniel this season has kind of elevated itself to a different level.  Actually, where Rick's and my own personal relationship is at. Where we don't really have to say anything. You don't have to talk that much, you sort of communicate telepathically. You find you don't have to say anything, you just look at them and just smile, you know you're both thinking the same thing. The same joke, the same internal dialogue, is running through your heads.  That's kind of how it is. There's a lot…"

("Is there any animosity?" the audience asks, interrupting.)

MS: "There's no animosity between the characters this year. (MS says this firmly.) No, there's none at all. Like I said, it really is a reflection of Rick's and my work. Which is always been our relationship. We've always had this thing. We have this similar thought process.  Where we just look at each other, even from a hundred miles away, and know that we're the only other person in the room that gets it exactly the same way."


Q-What's the origin of the "Spacemonkey" comment from Serpent's Lair?
MS: "Spacemonkey. (Long thoughtful pause) Um…what's the origin of it?" (He thinks about it for a while longer.) "I'll get back to you on that one later." [Note-Nope, he never does.]

Q-How do you know the words to say in Egyptian and Jaffa?  (This was asked by a little child in the back.)

MS: (MS's voice gets very gentle and his face softens as he addresses the child.) "How do I know the words?  'Cause the writer's tell me."  (Then he smiles gently.) "I think they make them up as they go."

"Actually, I think there's something that's going to be great coming up in "Behind The Scenes".  Peter DeLuise has a great line in it.  Where we find out that everything that he's been having his Jaffa say the entire time is something like 'Kree Tre'tak' which means "Kill"." MS goes on to describe how every line means this.  It's all. Kree. Kill.  Kree'tak. Kill him. Kree shak tak. What? He's still not dead?  Kill him again! So just assume that with DeLuise whenever there's an episode with the Jaffa language in it that it all just revolves around killing.

Q-How long did the Andromeda "Day of Judgment, Day of Wrath"  fight scene take to choreograph? And how long did it take to film?

MS: "They started blocking that with the stunt people two days before we started shooting.  The episode took seven days to shoot and in between there came a whole bunch of rehearsals. So probably about nine days in total to do that. What's so great is, we don't do that sort of thing on our show and I got to experience it. On Andromeda, they have a real cult for that kind of work. It was great to watch Lexa go through her process because she used to be a gymnast so she's great at it. I suck.  I'm terrible at it. In the pre-edit they use a stunt-double during the wirework.  They filmed the stunt double stuff all before we got there.  The producer has them do everything ahead of time. It was entirely blocked out and done which was amazing. I thought it turned out really well."

Q-What kind of car does Daniel drive?

MS: "That's a very interesting question.  In fact that was brought up as background on the two-parter that we're doing, "Heroes". We've never seen Daniel in a vehicle except for maybe a taxi cab or getting dropped off by a military car or the Egypt thing (in The Curse), but we also thought that that would be a great thing to fill in because we've already seen what kind of car the others drive. And the type of car he drives sort of shows where his mind set is. He drives…he would drive… something circa 1940's, an old clunker, you know not anything new, so they found an old revamped 1950's military vehicle because he's not a new car or motorcycle type, but more a military vehicle type. (Like the land rover?  The audience says referring to the one in The Curse.) Yeah, like that."

Q-In the early seasons, Daniel does a lot of self-hugging.  What's the origin of that?

MS: "Oh, a psychology question.  Hmm… (He pauses and then decides to answer) Because it's just really comfortable standing that way?  I think that's it - it's just really comfortable for me to stand that way."

Q-You've mentioned a couple of times about the possibility of an 8th season.  What do you think about taking Daniel into an 8th season or even the spin off, Stargate: Atlantis?

MS: "I think it's a great idea.  Whether or not it happens is really dependent on MGM & Sci Fi though as it's a matter of them working out their business end of it. We're all for it. And story wise I think there's a lot of life left in the show and the characters have a lot of life left in them too."

Q-Traditionally there has been a lot of really great banter between Daniel and Jack as a part of the friendship.  Will we be seeing that this year?  Do you know what I mean: the sarcastic give and take but without any animosity?

MS: "Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Banter without animosity. Corin (Nemec) wrote Fallout and we have banter in that.  Don't worry.  We will have a little bit of banter between Daniel and Jack.  There are tidbits but not that one dynamic scene yet where I go, 'Yeah, watch for this!' or that kind of thing.  But I'm sure before the year is out we will."

Q- Will you be going to San Diego Comic Con this year?

MS: "I believe Don Davis and Amanda Tapping will be going there so I won't be going this year. I seem to have become a staple product there the last couple of years whether I intended to or not what with coming down the first time and then accompanying Lexa last time."

Q-We've heard about the "Puff and Ruffle".  Can you tell us about it?

MS: "Amanda Tapping has a story she tells about how the men behave when there's a hot chick on set.  And she calls it - they actually have a word for it bcause it's in reference to peacocks - they call it the Puff and Ruffle.  That Richard, Christopher, and myself all have a way of carrying on when there's an attractive female guest star on set. So it's the, you know…(MS jumps from his stool to perform a spirited impersonation of a peacock — one that looks suspiciously like a rooster — as he mimes a cock's comb on his head with his hand and then puffs out his chest.  He then goes over to the empty stool next to him and says, mimicking perfectly how Amanda has mimicked them, "Hey, there.  How's it going? You doing all right?  You need a blanket?  A drink?  A jacket?"  Meanwhile he says Amanda implies that she's over somewhere on the edge of this all sitting there freezing to death and shivering and nobody is doing anything about it or even noticing her or Teryl.) "You know it's slightly exaggerated, I would say.  I frankly have never seen that happen," he adds, tongue in cheek, with an impish grin.

Q-Does Amanda do that when there are guys?

MS: "No, but…actually women are different. They have different ways. Oh, yeah, right! Amanda does the wounded lamb." He performs the wounded lamb look.  He dips his his head shyly, looking neglected and innocent, peering up through his lashes at the audience. "Amanda will appeal to other people, the onlookers, for sympathy. Sooo, it goes both ways."

Q-Do you ever play practical jokes on each other on the show?

MS: "Noooo, never.  Actually once we [MS and CJ] taped Teryl (Fraiser) to a tree.  Actually Christopher taped her to a makeup chair first. You know those days when someone is saying something and you say if you don't stop we'll have to stop you…and then when they don't you put tape over their mouth? Well, once the tape was on it was like, oh, the hell with it, let's do her whole body, and taped her to a tree. Why?  Why not?"


Q-Would you like to do comedy?

MS: "Actually I think I am a frustrated sit-com actor.  I think I would like to do more comedy.  The original Stargate movie didn't have as much of that, whereas on our show we manage to milk it pretty good.  For example whenever Peter DeLuise is directing, watch the extras in the background. In "Evolution" the scene with Rick and the specialist he's talking to while trying to find Daniel, listen to the linguistics in the background.  The guy talking Spanish is saying all sorts of crazy stuff like 'sack of cheese', and when they're in Honduras, the cook is picking his nose the entire time he's cooking in the back of the cantina. There are always little things like this to lighten things up."

Q-What's a typical day for you on the show like?  What's your schedule like?

MS: "In a typical week I get up at about 5:30 or 6:30 and work until about 7:30 at night. If you know anything about the business you know that's a good working day as some shows can go up to twenty hours, while ours is more oriented towards a family schedule. So, I start off in makeup in the morning, you have a little bit of breakfast, you go block a scene [when they actually physically work out how they're going to move through a scene on the set] and we do coverage on the scene [working out what the camera should cover from every angle on a scene], that will take, depending on the size of the scene or how many people are in it, that will take various amounts of time.  We film seven and a half pages of script a day, unless there's a lot of action.

I don't know if too many of you know about script writing but when a writer writes: "and the German army marches in…" it can take much longer than that. (He laughs as he adds) "And then the producer walks in and asks the director, 'What's going on? You've only gotten a half page done? Why aren't you farther?'" [MS is probably referencing his own experience here while directing Double Jeopardy where in previous interviews he's described times just like this where the script had lines like "And Jack comes in and takes out six Jaffa." Which does not film nearly so quickly as a page that is dialogue driven.]

"Then you go home and you learn your lines for the next day, and if there's time you maybe visit with your friends or family for a couple of minutes, and maybe exercise, and then you go to bed."

Q-In Shades of Grey, Daniel states to Makepeace that he doesn't trust Jack's command. What's Daniel's reasoning behind this?

MS: "Boy, that was a long time ago.  I think that was just more or less that Daniel operates from the moral high ground position and that Jack sometimes operates from very selfish motives. He doesn't operate for the good of all the interested parties.  He operates strictly for whatever his agenda happens to be. [Be it the team or the Air Force rather than the good of both sides is implied.]  So, it's hard to trust a leader if you don't necessarily trust that he has the whole interests of the group involved in it. So I think that was what was pertaining to that, because they at times had different goals. But that has changed over the course of time. Jack's changed since the beginning. Daniel trusts him now. They're on the same wavelength more."

Q-Is Daniel a coffee snob or caffeine addict?

MS: [Note-MS is absolutely adorable during this entire response.]  "He is a caffeine addict! That started because I am. (He grins, crinkling his nose up.) And you don't see it a lot this year because I've finally given into the fact that caffeine no longer has an effect on me. (From the audience a groan of "Oh, no!") "I know!  It sucks! Really it does. It's gotten to the point where it just doesn't do anything for me any more.  I switched to Coke at, you know, six o'clock in the morning and stuff like that (he rocks back and forth in his chair like a little boy at this point) and it just wasn't happening any more.  So I have to find a new drug.  Anyone?  Anyone?"  (Looks around to the audience for suggestions)

Q-Did you dream of being an actor as a child?

MS: "Good question!  I don't know if I actually ever dreamed of being an actor as a kid. I actually dreamed of being all the things I saw on TV. I actually dreamed of being Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica so I'm not really sure it was…(He breaks off to respond to the audience reaction to the mention of Starbuck. Some are cheering and some are groaning.) Have I touched a nerve or something? Yeah, I know.  That's kind of a dumb idea, isn't it? (MS is referring to the recent news of the remake of Battlestar Galactica featuring a female Starbuck.  The audience responds with mixed opinions.) Yes?  No? Okay, I'm not going to start a revolution here.  We'll talk about something else.

Back to the original question. There is a lot more work involved in acting than I had anticipated there would be. However, I still get tickled that I actually get paid to do this. This is a business and the dream we think, you know the ideal dream, that we dream of as children doesn't always turn out to be that way, but at the same time you can't lose that pure notion of doing what you love for a living and making a good living doing it, so I'm having a lot of fun."

Q-Which episode is your favorite one from Stargate?

MS:"I would have to say 'Torment of Tantalus'.  I'll tell you why.  It's the first one in the first year where I actually felt like, okay, we really got it this time.  It was the feeling of this is where we really sit as a show, where it feels absolutely right.  We're touching on mythologies, and mystery, and intrigue as well as overcoming an obstacle at the same time. And working with Keene Curtis (Ernest) was fantastic. Working with…um...god, what's her name? Who played Catherine?  Help me! (He entreats the audience obviously embarrassed that he's gaffed and can't remember her name. The audience responds with her name.) Elizabeth?  Elizabeth. Don't tell her!"

[Note-MS has managed admirably in most of his interviews to date to remember the titles of most episodes, the content of most scenes, and guest actor and director names unlike most actors when asked about their shows.]

Q-Are you a fan of Science Fiction? Do you watch or follow any?

MS: "Besides Stargate, I do follow a few Sci-Fi movies. Right now it's 'Lord of the Rings'. I also just saw 'Matrix Reloaded' and to be honest I was not that thrilled with it. And I didn't see the second 'Star Wars' movie just on principle because I really didn’t like the first one.  I thought he [Lucas] betrayed his original vision there. In many movies today there's a real danger of relying too heavily on special effects, when a great story is so important. That was one thing I harped on to the director of 'Sumuru'.  He was so ecstatic about the visual effects and how they were turning out, that he wanted to do more and more of them.  I tried to help, remind him that it's the story that we need to focus on first before the special effects come in. But to get back to your original question, I do have an interest in Science Fiction in general though."

(At this point MS was swinging the large and presumably heavy microphone around and bonked himself in the mouth.  His startled "Ow!" and his bemused look at the betraying equipment as he tenderly rubbed his lower lip was very reminiscent of the character of Daniel.  The audience "aaaahed" in shared sympathy as we've all done something similar a time or two.)

"When I was younger I was very into the more regular science fiction shows like 'Battlestar Galactica'.  Then as I grew older, anything by James Cameron, such as 'Aliens', 'Terminator', 'Terminator 2'.  I'm afraid I've become a bit of a science fiction snob now as a result of being in the industry. The more you know about how they're made and the process, the more you tend to pick things apart.  It's harder now to tell your brain to shut up when you just want to watch."

Q-How has the growth of the show matched your own sense of personal growth over the past few years?

MS: "Tough questions. As you know a child actor grows up on camera. Well for us, you see us and what we're doing every day for nine months out of the year. Everything we're going through in our personal lives is somehow reflected on screen.  So, I think there is a strong parallel between the growth of the character [referring to Daniel] as an individual and the growth of the actor [referring to himself] as well.  Although, I wouldn't say quite so dramatically." He laughs. "But there's a certain maturity process that's gone on with both and I think that one's reflected off the other."

Q-If you could use three single words to describe your life in the last year what would they be?

MS: MS becomes very thoughtful. Then says, "Relaxed. Reflective. And, um…" He thinks for a moment then smiles and nods. "Progressive."

Q-As an actor do you prefer theater or television or film?

MS: "Yeah, those are three different animals." He thinks about it and indicates that it is very hard to choose. That he likes all three. "Still", he continues, "actors often say that tv is for producers, film is for directors, and the actor is made for the theater. Theater is much more fun to do as an actor because in film and tv the director and producer tell you where to look, in theater you look where you are most interested in looking."

He explains how this can change ones performance and make it even better at times and that in theater "That often times means that if an actor has a particularly strong performance [that night] compared to the star or something like that then everyone still gets to see it.  There's nothing edited out. There is so much edited out from film for time." He goes on to speak about how in tv there are a number of different personalities involved that you need to appease. Referring to all the directors and writers and producers and all the other administrative staff of a show. "While in film you as an actor are there to serve the star, the icon as it applies to the story."

He then goes on to conclude with the fact that although theater is probably his preferred method, all of them have their merits, their pluses and minuses.

Q-The Artist Circle.  I was just wondering how it came about and how you felt about it?

MS: "You guys are resourceful!" MS smiles, seemingly impressed.  "Boy, oh, boy.  How'd it come about?  There were friends of mine who were aspiring producers and they had made friends with this gentleman who had produced a movie in New York or something and he was living in Vancouver and he wanted to get in the directing game.  He contacted them in the whole schmooze kind of way and they said great. They got on the phone and told me it was a short film script. Very basic.  Very simple.  I decided to do it and after talking to Don he seemed interested too.  And then Joe Ransom (from X-Files) who has done some really respected work was brought on board.  And because of him the word got out and suddenly there were all these people from the various areas needed volunteering their time and offering to work for free.

One thing I noticed during all this, it was the most amazing thing, when you're working for free no one complains.  In every workplace there's always someone griping about this or that or the other, but when you're there because you realize you're there for the love of it and you're there working together on something, all of a sudden it becomes about the work again which is kind of why people get involved in stuff in the first place.  So it was a great experience, I think. The film turned out very well, went to er…er…that little festival in France (impish grin) Cannes!"

Q-Final question. In the "Lord of the Rings", which would you be?  A hobbit or an elf?

MS: Long pause then slow smile and with a firm voice MS says, "I would be Viggo Mortensen."


And This Ends Our Con Report.

And the crowd goes wild....

Solutions, 2003.  Transcript prepared with contributions from Tenaya, Tricia, Rowan et al and we're damned if we can remember *everything* *exactly* as it occurred...we *were* having a good time, ya know :) All rights reserved, yadda yadda.  Feel free to link to this page.
Photo credits: Stargatefan and Solutions, 2003.  All rights reserved.  Don't steal 'em and don't leech our bandwidth, or we'll kick your ass.

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