Beyond the Gate: Michael Shanks
DVD Volume 32 featurette
Becoming Daniel Jackson
MS: [interspersed with clips of MS getting his 'Daniel' style hair] I
wake up in the morning, you know, usually late. I come driving in, Mach
9 with my hair on fire and put out the flames when I reach the front
gate. I come strolling into my room half-conscious. And then I go
waltzing in, still in some sort of semi-coma, into hair and make-up and
come out looking like a million dollars. Well, okay, a buck-o-five. But
the guys, actually the gang's really good, but they can only do so
much, you know, without using plaster.
MS: That's how I get into character. Make-up stuff takes about 15-20
minutes and from there we waltz off to set and do our blocking.
Blocking is this chaotic period where half-awake people try and direct
other half-awake people to stand in certain spots and are only able to
do so by putting tape marks on the floor, especially colour coded tape
marks, and mine is blue. Blue, I have blue tape. So that's where I'm
supposed to stand. Sometimes we can actually, if it's important to us,
move around, but you know, we try and keep a limit on our motion
because we've got a lot of stuff to do during the day. We finish
blocking, come back out here and then if we haven't done so already,
like the true professionals, we panic and try and learn our lines.
[Clip of Enemy Mine]
MS: We go in and set up usually what starts off being a master
shot. And then we zoom in for close-up coverage of everything,
especially here at the military base, and then we go in and we shoot
it. Masters, close-ups, all sorts of stuff like that, and we do this
for about eight pages of dialogue a day. We shoot episodes in around
six or seven days now so....
[Clip of Enemy Mine]
MS: So seven and a half pages a day. That's a lot of pages. That's a
lot of words. I've gotta get to work, could you turn that off? Usually
the time when you actually get a scene is right after when you've
finished shooting, going, Oh God! That's what that scene was about.
That's what I do anyway.
Then I come back in here [his trailer] and beat my head against the wall, and then we go onto the next scene.
MS: You're still there.
MS: And we do this until about 7.30 at night, sometimes 8 o'clock and
we drive back home and try and memorise our lines for the next day and
do anything like live a life, personal life, try and say hi to friends
and family that we've alienated over the past seven years and that's
about it. That's a day in the life.
His Fellow SG1 Team
MS: A long time ago, in a not so far galaxy. Actually it was seven
years ago, so I guess it was a long time ago. We all went down for a
screen test for a series based on a feature film called Stargate.
People just sort of gravitated towards one another, and that was a man
named Christopher Judge, a woman named Amanda Tapping and some dude,
some dweeb who didn't know his A from a hole in the ground, named
Michael Shanks and we all seemed like to find solace and laughed with
each other and lo and behold, a few weeks later after finding out that
I had gotten the part, we arrived in Vancouver to begin shooting and I
find out that Christopher Judge and Amanda Tapping had also got their
[Clip of Chris and Michael in a car on the way to a filming location.]
CJ: We shot the Nox here.
MS: We shot the pilot here too. We shot the opening...
CJ: Yeah, cos we had to run up and down that hill. When I was wearing 180 pounds of armour.
MS: This was our first day of filming, right in this location.
CJ: French hours.
MS: Amanda's like a, you know, she's like a mother-hen big-sister type,
where she, as much as she's, she likes to have fun but keeps herself
within the confines of rules of the game so to speak. And she's
very, almost Britishly proper and she's almost like a big sister to
Christopher and I 'cos we're bad kids. Christopher's the worst of the
bunch and I'm somewhere in between, so Amanda acts as this big sister
to the two of us. Christopher is just a jokester, he's a
prankster. He's the instigator of the trouble that *we* seem to
share. And Amanda's there to be able to shake her head and pat us on
the back and be able to say, "Yeah, nice one guys".
MS: Chris and I for the most part, I mean it's very rare that you get
people who work so often, so many hours a day, after so many years,
still like one another. Because you learn way too much information
about each other. Chris and I are still going, we watch a hockey game
and he's become a very, very, very close friend and it's amazing that
the chemistry and that original dynamic that sparked in an audition
room so many years ago has managed to remain consistent. And as bonded
as close together as family, so it's been a wonderful experience to
share it with those people.
MS: Richard, he's a little bit, he's kind of like, he reminded me of me
a lot when I first met him, because you know he's just a very private
person. But once you get on the inside and you spend so much time
around him, you realise he's like the biggest kid on the block. He's
like the embodiment of a fifty year-old man, who's been through the
wars and has all the wisdom of that. He's like an eight year-old kid
just busting to get out. If it wasn't for the social proprieties that
make him do certain things. I think you'd just see this whack job
running around. Anything for a joke and I think the sense of humour
that we share is the most both on and off the set and I think that he's
the one. We seem to be on a level playing field when it comes to a lot
of different things and especially sense of humour. I think that we
find our strongest bond is not only working with that, enjoying that
off camera and joking with one another, but working with one another,
to always be laughing and I think that whenever we're working together,
there's never, there's rarely a serious moment.
[RDA approaches the camera.]
RDA: Playing around with the zoom? That's always the sign of an amateur. Zooming a lot.
MS: That's what's made it so much fun, is to find one of these people
that, like the close group of friends where you have a subconscious
communication with. I mean that's an incredible strength and it makes
for a good friendship.
[Clip of Jack and Daniel talking to the receptionist scene from Space Race.]
His Other Passion
MS: I used to play hockey. I played hockey for about twenty-two years
and played up to university and being someone who's a Canadian, it's
kinda what Canadians do. Stargate had a hockey team and I've sort of
organised the troops and it's amazing to see all the people that come
out of the woodwork that actually have played before and are
enthusiastic about playing. It's great because it gives you time to not
only just socialise with everybody outside the environment of the
Stargate set, to see everybody in their natural surroundings, you're
just on an even playing field and it's always been a great workout and
you don't really know you've been getting a workout at the end of it.
But it's so much fun. I miss it so much.
MS: We get to play all the other teams in town, we get to play the
Smallville guys and the Twilight Zone guys and the Chris Isaak guys and
you get to see some faces that you haven't seen in a while and so it's
nice to go out and make some new friends and make some new enemies. Our
guys are, as much enthusiasm as we have, our skill level doesn't
necessarily meet our enthusiasm. But we always get a good group of
people out and rub a few faces with our gloves and swear a little bit
too much and I usually end up in the penalty box, so that gives me my
designated rest time.
[MS is sent off in disgrace to the penalty box.]
MS: So this is when you use your stick like this or your glove like
this, you go to the penalty box and you feel shame. Two minutes for bad
attitude, too much spitting on the bench, no gum chewing and not enough
use of clichés. I'm gonna go out and play again hopefully.
[MS returns to the ice.]
MS: When I get back to playing I really see why I miss it. We're good.
Our team's a little, you know, we're learning each other's little ins
and outs and whatever, but it's one of these great social sports. Even
if you do it, I don't think anybody, you say you do it for fun but I
don't think anybody really does do it for fun, because everybody wants
to win so it's kind of, you know. But the good thing about hockey
players is that when it's all over, they do leave it on the ice and
whatever friendly rivalries that you've built up within the course of
the hour of playing usually gets left behind and you have a beer or
twelve with the guy you've just finished rubbing his face into the
boards or whatever.
If He Wasn't On Stargate
MS: If I wasn't doing Stargate, I'd hopefully still be acting
somewhere. I was trained as a theatre actor in things like Chekov and
Shakespeare and Moliere. So after I graduated from University, I
started doing film and TV and stuff like that, but my love has always
been to carry on with Shakespeare and to keep a hand in and it is one
of those things that you kinda have to keep doing it to remember
exactly what you learned in the first place.
MS: TV can be very, it takes up all your time and there's not a lot of
room for side projects, so one of the things I wanted to do and will
always remain doing is to keep involved in doing theatre and so I think
in 1999, a local director asked me if I wanted to participate in a
local production of Hamlet and I said sure, what part? And he said
Hamlet. And after I cleaned out my drawers I said 'Okay, I guess
I can jump at that challenge' and I think I got everything I asked for
in terms of it being a challenge.
MS: It's one of those roles that every actor says that they wanna do
and once faced with it they wanna go running, screaming, in the other
direction and stage fright became all too common an occurrence on every
opening curtain. So hopefully that's something later on down the
line I'll be able to do again, but in the meantime I just want to keep
visiting the roots of where I came from and to be able to re-experience
the joy of why I first got into it and what your first love was and to
re-experience the appreciation of the art of acting.
MS: Sci-fi fans are probably fans of all different genres and are
probably the most passionate, intelligent group of fans you could ask
for. I mean the best thing about them is they keep you honest. Because
they follow the show as closely as the people that make the show do.
It's important that we have fans that are that reverent and that
intelligent. It brings our game up. I think it brings the writer's game
up, it brings the actor's game up and everybody's all of a sudden
paying a lot more close attention to all the details that go into it,
which is essentially what will end up making a better show anyway.
MS: When I left the show at the end of Season Five, you know, it's one
of those things, the decision that you make and to me it's a job that
you move on from and I've moved on from many. And when you make
that choice, there's a lot of other people that are onboard for that
decision-making process as well, and I guess there was a strong
reaction from a lot of people that weren't happy with the fact that the
character had stepped out of the realm of being a regular character on
the show and they let their feelings be known and it was great to know,
to get that kind of expression, because you realise that regardless of
what you think you may have accomplished, that you've touched a chord
with a lot of people and a lot of people are very reverent to the
character that has been created on the show and that's flattering in a
way and it comes with it where you all of a sudden realise that there
is a bit of responsibility that goes with playing a character on
television. So fans at the end of the day will make you or break
you and apparently there's a lot of fans out there who are very
supportive of the work that I've done on the show and that's fantastic.
MS: Thank you all for watching "Michael Shanks Beyond The Gate"
and we'll see you all sometime. If not you'll see me. I'll look
occasionally at the screen, but I probably won't see you. So I'm gonna
go now because I've run out of things to say.
[MS gets up from his seat and begins to walk away.]
"You're following me."
[MS runs away.]
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