Michael Shanks Biography
Michael on his trouble at
school: Ha Ha. That would have to be something in Elementary school, where
I was "chasing the girls around." I used to get in a little trouble with
that- it has evolved into good trouble.
Michael Shanks was born on December 15, 1970, in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and raised in Kamloops, BC. His full name is Michael Garrett Shanks and he's the youngest of two brothers.
In his comments about his time at High School, Michael describes himself as "some kind of overachiever". He played hockey (defense) and rugby (fly half then wing), was in the student council, and then there was the theatre group, of course. "Why didn't I smoke and drink and have a good time?!?" Michael is an avid reader and likes to indulge himself in reading books consisting of cultural facts and mythology. He played hockey for 22 years, and as a kid he wished - what almost any other boy in Canada did - to play professional hockey. Here he explains why he decided not to try out for professional hockey:
"I think I just lost the sense of fun out of it. Once it gets to a certain level, when the parents are up in the stands fighting and the coach is raking you over the coals too hard. Especially in Canada, when you're 15 or 16 years old and you're just trying to establish the fun idea of it and you're being asked to go on the ice and fight and hurt people and stuff like that. I mean the fun aspect of it got lost very quickly. And you start to hang on to your stick a little too hard when you worry about it, because you worry about screwing up. So you start to clutch that stick like it's an axe. You're just afraid to let it go and after a while you stop being able to play, because you're so worried about making a mistake that you can't perform anymore. So once I finished playing it seriously and started playing it for fun again, all of a sudden I found out I was a much better hockey player, because I enjoyed it again, and I was having fun when I was doing it."
Commerce at the University of BC, before deciding to pursue an acting career.
Michael explains why:
It's no small irony that Michael Shanks is co-starring with Richard Dean Anderson on Showtime's action-adventure series Stargate SG-1. While enrolled at the University of British Columbia, Shanks happened upon a location shoot for MacGyver (which starred Anderson). "Being from a small town in Canada, I had never seen a TV show being filmed," the actor recalls. "I watched Richard work a bit, and it got me excited about the possibilities of becoming a professional actor. I didn't change majors based on that alone--it makes it sound like Richard was the wind beneath my wings!" he laughs. "After spending a year dabbling in theater part-time, I decided to switch out of my business program. I haven't looked back since."
Early acting roles
After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1994, Michael performed at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival for two seasons in a variety of roles, including Lorenzo in Merchant of Venice, Menteith in Macbeth as well as roles in King Lear, Amadeus and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Other theater credits include Love of the Nightingale, Translations, Wait Until Dark, and Loves Labours Lost.
Toronto Sun review of The Merchant of Venice:
and Nerissa, Wayne Best and Michelle Fisk are great good fun as well, while
with the casting of Michael Shanks as Lorenzo and Marion Day as Jessica,
Shylock's daughter, Maraden injects more compassion, bringing depth and
pain to Lorenzo's racism and Jessica's pain. It's still not a comfortable
evening -- and frankly, it probably shouldn't be, for any of us. But by
stripping the work of caricature and finding character instead, Maraden
has shed a new light into dark corners and found something that's thrilling.
An appearance as a reckless teen on The Commish led to a small part on Highlander (in "The Zone"), in which Shanks played "a miner's son trying to stop his corrupt father from preventing the workers from getting what they were owed. I die tragically." Fortunately for Shanks, his character was also a friend of Duncan MacLeod's, which means the fledgling actor got the opportunity to work with series headliner Adrian Paul. "He's a great guy. He's a very talented man, and I had a good experience working with him."
That in turn led to Shanks' feature film debut in Call of the Wild with Rutger Hauer. "I only worked a few days on it," he says. "I played a gold miner. The best part was getting to work with Rutger, who's a really interesting guy and one of my favorite actors." Pressed to offer his less-guarded impressions of the Blade Runner star, Shanks is slightly more forthcoming. "Rutger is a bit of a perfectionist; he has his own way of working. He doesn't work to screw up other people, he works to further his process and to better the product. Personally, I was really tickled to work with him."
"Highlander" playing "Jesse Collins" (as Michael G. Shanks) in episode:
"The Zone" (episode # 2.6) 1 November 1993
:: Interview and feature
:: Photo credits - Googled
these puppies all over the web but especially:
:: Hamlet production photos
of Michael by Andree Lanthier - prints available from: