Michael Shanks Biography
Michael becomes a free agent
So what's next for Michael Shanks, aside from some movies and his sixth season guest appearance? Well, there was almost a major role in the next Star Trek movie. "Oh yes, that was just an audition and that didn't happen. It was the young Patrick Stewart character, a kind of gene spliced version of Patrick Stewart, which would have been an interesting acting challenge. But because I haven't really watched a lot of the Next Generation I didn't really have that Patrick Stewart…" he clicks his fingers. "I didn't have that down right, and at the same time I didn't really look enough like Patrick Stewart, so…" He shrugs. Win some, lose some.
This spring Shanks will be in India making a movie about female prostitution, before heading off to LA for "pilot season". "I wanna spread my wings and see what I'm capable of," he announces, pouring himself another cup of coffee. "Playing one character for that length of time, you wanna do anything! Like, give me something else to play besides this! An evil bastard, an even more geeky person, a cross-dressing herbal aromatherapist…"
Shanks laughs when we tell him that his desire to wear frocks might just end up on the front cover of SFX. But he doesn't retract it. Make of that what you will.
All Around The Town
Actor Michael Shanks was surprised to be cast. "I looked at the original script," says the actor, best known for his role on "Stargate SG1," "and it followed the book describing Justin as a 40-year-old Australian. I'm a 30-year-old Canadian, so I'm playing my version!" laughs the actor who received a crash course in the Clark novels from his girlfriend.
Shanks, like Lea, loves being in a murder mystery: "Just to be able to put things together is fun. Each scene in this film has a purpose - it's not just there to be there. It's all about the journey. There's a few red herrings and twists and turns to take you off the beaten path."
Since the actors are more than familiar with the script, there is always the challenge of not giving away any of the mystery to the viewers.
"You have to live in the moment, take each scene on its own," Shanks says. "If you telegraph something, the viewers will pick it up instantly."
His favorite aspect of his role as a psychiatrist was the opportunity to work with a hypnotist since his character employs it to get to the bottom of the crime. Shanks' advisor was Mark Mandel, the brother of celebrated comic and actor Howie Mandel.
"Mark's been working with hypnosis for 36 years as a professional," Shanks says. "We don't do much technical hypnosis in the film but to take that skill and apply it to what my character has to do in the film was really fun."
When it's all said and done, all of the participants have a common goal - for viewers to enjoy themselves.
"This is a great dose of entertainment. I don't think anyone is going to be able to peg the right answer at the top of this show," says Shanks.
Door to Door
Original film "Door to Door" is the poignant, true story of Bill Porter (William H. Macy), a door-to-door salesman born with cerebral palsy, which slurs his speech and makes walking difficult. But that didn't stop Bill from applying to the Fuller Brush Company in 1955 for a position as a door-to-door salesman. When he was rejected, he interviewed at the Watkins Company. Again, he was turned down. Determined to follow in his father's footsteps as a salesman and with the unwavering support of his mother (Helen Mirren), Bill convinced Watkins to give him what company executives considered their worst route. "Door to Door" recounts the changing times of our country through the life of one amazing man and the neighborhoods he walked. Kyra Sedgwick stars as Bill's girl Friday, Shelly Brady, and Kathy Baker stars as one of his most faithful customers. Michael Shanks plays the Mormon husband of Sedgwick's character Shelly.
Michael guest stars in "Abyss"
"I think the fans of STARGATE out there know quite well the reasons I left the show. I have expressed myself very clearly and I don't have any new information to add to that," says Shanks, smiling hesitantly, "But in terms of coming back for 'Abyss', it's different. Brad Wright (Executive Producer/Writer) and I talked about the idea of the story last year, about still wanting to have the character (of Daniel) included on some level of the show. I sensed that it would be good, so I asked him if I could read the script first before jumping on board with it. I read the script and thought it was going to be a wonderful episode, so I signed for it. "
In "Meridian" (season 5 ender) Daniel was given the opportunity to give up his human life and ascend into a higher plane of existence. It was Oma Desala who offered Daniel the chance to see the long view of the universe, to help make things right on a cosmic scale. Daniel accepted. "Jackson is a sort of energy now," adds Shanks.
In "Abyss", Colonel Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) is captured and tortured to death by the Goa'uld. While Jack is struggling with his limited concept of life, Daniel appears in Jack's prison cell to help him see things in a new way. Daniel's way.
"It's a really thoughtful and beautiful character-driven episode. I'm sure you'll like it. Daniel has obviously taken some spiritual lessons since he ascended last season. He tells Jack he doesn't have to be tortured over and over again. Daniel can end up the torture, but he doesn't. All he does is comfort his best friend and help him take his new journey before it's too late."
"Before shooting 'Abyss'," Shanks continues. "I had a talk with the director (Martin Wood) about the character. I wanted to make sure that Daniel remained essentially who he was before he ascended, no matter what kind of spiritual journey he's been on. I don't think that matters. He is different physically, but inside he should be the same."
"When I first got the role of Jackson and established the idea of the character, I think there was already a blue print," Shanks states, referring to the beginning of the STARGATE series. "I kind of stepped into position. Many things about the character had already been established by James Spader, who played Jackson in the feature film. In that situation, an actor needs to decide if he wants to use the attributes already established or throw them away. I thought there were a lot of good things the original actor had attempted and I threw them in there and decided to play it up a little bit. It's a great advantage for an actor because the first actor has tested a lot of that for you."
"But since then, Daniel hasn't changed very much throughout the series. I don't think we've seen a great deal of transition to the character himself. Well, he cut his hair much shorter." Shanks laughs. "But the real changes have been in terms of who Daniel interacts with. Everything else has been internal, so I wanted to make sure that the Daniel in this episode was not much different from who he was before. That was one of the main reasons I decided to come back this time." Shanks smiles.
Brad Wright commented in the Sci-Fi Channel's recent live chat that Shanks would do two voice-overs as Thor the Asgard on STARGATE, as well as making two more subsequent appearances (besides 'Abyss') as Daniel Jackson. At the time of this writing, Shanks' agent has confirmed that the actor will be performing the voice-overs. However, further episodes as Daniel have not been discussed.
"Well, I don't expect to see a great deal of Daniel, but it will be lovely. I think it's still a step-by-step process between the producers, writers and myself. I've been made aware that other plans are, you know, in the rough sketches. But I also know how things work out around here. Sometimes the decision is already made and not much is changed. The overall arc of the show sometimes is just a fleshing out of what happens on a day-by-day basis. As ideas come up, they're either green lighted or not. But yeah, who knows the future? Will I appear in the feature film? Yes, if the character is utilized the way he was supposed to be."
Shanks beautifully portrayed Daniel's humanistic approach, his sharp observation and wide-eyed curiosity throughout every mission, qualities that often caused conflict with character Jack O'Neill, who regularly takes a militaristic approach. Daniel is now in a totally different plane of existence, separate from Jack. He is free of pain, physically and emotionally, and has a lifetime of new mysteries to examine. Yet Jackson seems to mourn the loss of his friendship, as do the fans. There will be no more arguments with Jack. No more banter, no more adventures, no more building up of the almost mythic relationship between these two vastly different men.
"I've missed it very much. I believe the relationship of Jack and Daniel was definitely one of the most appealing factors that STARGATE had created for the past five years. Everything else stemmed from that. But I have to say, five years is certainly a long time to play one character. Jackson had much more interesting things to do than I did. He was a member of SG-1. He was a peaceful explorer, archaeologist, linguist, anthropologist, and a lot more. There were fights with the Goa'uld, with the government. And there were still infinite possibilities and courses to take in developing the character. Well, that's over now. He's in a spiritual form, no body at all. But this is sci-fi. Anything can happen in this world."
The Twilight Zone: "Shades of Guilt"
A man (Vincent Ventresca) panics and turns a blind eye to the plight of an innocent victim (Hill Harper) based solely on the color of his skin. He then undergoes an ironic and inexplicable transformation that challenges his prejudices. Perry Lang directed “Shades of Guilt” from a script by executive producer Ira Steven Behr.
Which means Matt turns the cry for help of a black college-professor down, who consequentially gets beaten to death by some racists. Now he's suffering from bad concience, but his mate Donnie (Shanks) tries to talk him out of it - after all, we all have to take care of ourselves first. Soon Matt changes and looks like the dead college-professor, now getting first hand experience what racism means. Or at least what the author of this thingy thought racism was.
Sumuru is fun fantasy with broad appeal, featuring a popular cast including Alexandra Kamp (Antonia) and Michael Shanks (Stargate: The Series) plus dazzling special effects by German VFX company Das Werk!" The movie is co-produced by Sumuru Films, Towers of London & Industrial Development Corp. of South Africa, in association with Tandem Communications, RTL2 , Do Productions & Frameworks.
Torsten Dewi, co-author of "Sumuru", states: "This is not even loosely based on Sax Rohmer's novels. It's a fantasy adventure set on another planet where two astronauts discover a tribe of beautiful women (and yes, we have heard the "Planet of the Babes" joke already). It's tongue in cheek, action-packed, and fun. It's not supposed to be Matrix. And I did smuggle in a Stargate SG:1 reference..."
Michael Shanks has a good sense of humour, and one of the reasons he got cast as Dr. Daniel Jackson on Stargate SG-1 was that the people in charge saw that “he could do comedy”. Dewi: "I have just seen dailies from the set - it looks terrific. Michael sports a goatee, and yes - he wears not that much in terms of upper body wear."
Two astronauts, Adam Wade and Jake Carpenter, land on a faraway planet that was colonized centuries ago, but cut off from the rest of the galaxy when all communication broke down. Expecting to find a hoard of ragtag colonists, imagine Jake's and Adam's surprise when they are attacked by a clan of warrior women!
On this jungle planet, women are the ruling class. They follow the orders of beautiful Queen Sumuru, and worship a snake goddess. Except for the task of mating, men are forced to work in the mines, and are sometimes sacrificed to appease the snake goddess when she shakes the ground. Only Jake and Adam realize that the shakes are earthquakes - the planet is about to break apart.
Beside trying to convince these Amazons that men have more worth than being mere slaves, our two heroes have to find a way to evacuate the planet, and a hidden cave might just hold the key to their escape. As they search for the spaceship that brought the colonists to this planet hundred of years before, Adam and the beautiful Sumuru not only discover their love for each other but also what the cult of the snake is really based on - a hideous creature living underground!
SOLUTIONS: As creator of the character of Adam Wade, did Michael Shanks' portrayal of Adam meet your expectations?
TORSTEN: 120 per cent. He brought a lightness to it that wasn't planned, but helped immensely. He added little bits and pieces that really fleshed out the character - like using Bones McCoy's accent when doing a Trek reference ("dammit, Jake, I am a pilot, not a doctor!").
SOLUTIONS: Which qualities as an actor did Michael particularly bring to the role of Adam? You've referred to his talent for comedy as an example.
TORSTEN: Apart from being very good looking (definitely leading man material),Michael is a very competent actor. And his humour is also a big help on the set, because it is an important factor in keeping the spirit up. Michael and the director are two VERY funny guys. There is a reason why we have 12 hours of behind the scenes material...
SOLUTIONS: You mentioned in another interview that you're a fan of "Stargate SG-1" and this was one of the reasons you were drawn to Michael for the role of Adam. Which episode of "Stargate" do you feel is Michael's strongest as his character Dr. Daniel Jackson?
TORSTEN: I was never a fan of the first season of "Stargate SG-1", and I felt the show took off when they finally started to trust their characters. It started to gel, and the chemistry between the actors is amazing. I can't say that there is a specific episode that made me suggest Michael for the part of Adam. I noticed how he buffed up during the course of the show, and I always felt "here is a potential leading man stuck in second banana hell". I usually make mental notes when I think something like this, in case I have to get back to it at one point. In the case of "Sumuru", we needed a good looking actor with sci-fi credentials, and I immediately remembered Michael.
SOLUTIONS: At his convention appearances in 2002, Michael spoke of his wish to travel and to see more of the world. From your experiences of filming "Sumuru", how did Michael react to your stunning South African locations?
TORSTEN: According to an interview he did for our "behind the scenes" material, he really loves South Africa, and was sad that he didn 't have the time to really travel around. Well, if he signs up for the series, he can catch up ;-)
SOLUTIONS: What was it like to work with Michael on "Sumuru"?
TORSTEN: Being the writer, I didn't work with Michael, but from the material I have seen, it was very easy and friendly. I only dealt with him directly on one occasion: He spotted a continuity error in the script (due to changes during shooting), and pointed it out to the producer - suggesting a new scene with a solution for the problem right away! I took his suggestion, tweaked it a bit, and it was shot.
SOLUTIONS: You've stated that if Michael wants to be on board for a TV series, principal photography can wait until Stargate wraps. How important to "Sumuru" is his participation as Adam Wade?
TORSTEN: That's difficult to say. Creatively, it would be great to have him. And it might help us sell the show in some territories. But you can't always get what you want, and if he is unavailable, we will find a replacement.
Michael returns to Stargate SG-1
In Season Six, we'll have the pleasure of seeing Michael guesting as Daniel in episodes "Changeling" and "Full Circle". Then of course, Michael returns full-time to his role of Dr. Daniel Jackson.
8 NOV 02: The SCI FI Channel confirmed that Michael Shanks will return as a regular cast member of the channel's original series Stargate SG-1, again playing the role of Dr. Daniel Jackson, in the show's upcoming seventh season. The network earlier this week announced that it had renewed the show for a full 22-episode new season.
Shanks left the series at the end of season five, and his character gave up human life and ascended to a higher plane of existence. Shanks has made one guest appearance during the sixth season and, as previously reported on SCI FI Wire, will also return in the season finale.
The channel has announced that Richard Dean Anderson also returns as the star and one of the executive producers. So far, the network has confirmed only that Shanks and Anderson are returning.
Production on the new season is slated to begin in Vancouver, B.C., early next year, for a summer 2003 launch. The remaining original sixth-season episodes will resume on SCI FI in January 2003.
Daniel Jackson's descent
DANA_JEANNE: Will there be any repercussions from Daniel having ascended and then descended? Will the Teal'c & Daniel friendship be explored at all, dealing with that painful history they have between them?
J_MALLOZZI: Yes, there certainly will be repercussions. It certainly won't be business as usual on the base. In fact, Peter D. is working on an early episode which will address this very topic. Daniel wrestles with these repercussions while Teal'c wrestles with the repercussions from Season Six's "The Changeling." It's a terrific story that parallels both men's internal conflicts.
Michael Shanks to write in Season Seven
DANA_JEANNE: Are there any new writers (or old writers we haven't seen for a couple seasons) coming on for season seven?
J_MALLOZZI: New writers? Well, there's this hot young kid, Michael Shanks. He looks promising. As for new/old writers, it's tough. The truth is, unless you're on staff, it's very hard to get a story approved as you end up pitching (a) stories that have been done (b) stories that we're already doing or (c) stories we would never do in a million years.
DANA_JEANNE: MICHAEL is writing a script?
J_MALLOZZI: Yes, Michael will be writing an episode...He directed in season 4 and will be writing in season 7. He'll be overseeing catering for season 8.
Daniel descending naked?
DANA_JEANNE: I had a serious question chosen for your next one, Joe, but I have to admit to being horribly harassed by someone who demands her question be asked. So, to save my sanity. Since Daniel left his bandages behind when he ascended, will he be descending naked? Happy now, Leah?
J_MALLOZZI: Actually, that's something we discussed. Peter pointed out that exact point of logic - he did leave his clothes behind. Now, of course, the real question is what are the circumstances in which we are reunited with Daniel? Has he been descended a while? Do we see him descend? I don't want to give too much away but, suffice it to say, he DID leave his clothes behind.
[Solutions Sidebar: we have to thank writer, director and 'Living God' Peter DeLuise for his single-minded determination over many seasons to get Michael Shanks out of his clothes on camera. At last, you have him! This is obviously a vital point of logic in forwarding the plot and is clearly demanded for artistic reasons. Absolutely. Just don't gloat too offensively and if Mr. Shanks pouts, film it.]
ASHTON_7: Leah is passed out behind me on the floor.
DANA_JEANNE: Those dripping sounds are the sounds of thousands of Daniel fans drooling.
Joe's favourite character moments
CHANCE: Thanks, Annie! Joe, what is your favourite moment for each character? That one scene where they really show something about who they are? We all have our favourite, I was just wondering what yours were? Any season, any ep.
J_MALLOZZI: DJ - Menace, to me, really delivered in terms of letting the audience know exactly what type of person he was and the difficult decisions a non-military, caring individual like him must face.
Fallen and Homecoming: the two-parter in which Daniel descends in season seven
HAPPYTAZ7: What about the Harsesis Child? [Shifu, Shau'ri's son]. Will he come back soon?
J_MALLOZZI: That's another possibility. No definite plans but this will all tie in to the events of Full Circle and Fallen.
DANA_JEANNE: What's Fallen?
J_MALLOZZI: Episodes 1 and 2 of season 7 - Fallen and Homecoming.
Other season seven news from Joe Mallozzi
NODJNOPOINT: Hi, again, Joe. In earlier seasons, Daniel and Sam used to play off each other so well in collaborative scientific problem-solving. Will we get to see that kind of interplay between them again in season seven?
J_MALLOZZI: There will be opportunity for that this season. Again, it's still too early to tell when the exact opportunity will arise.