Fri, Jun 6, 2003 03:05 PM
by Kate O'Hare
"I am sure there are those who
think I'm a jerk, who aren't over the moon," says Michael Shanks about
his return to Sci Fi Channel's "Stargate: SG-1."
In the intense world of science-fiction
fandom, the normal process of actors joining and leaving shows becomes
fuel for righteous outrage and escalating conspiracy theories.
Someone who knows this well
is Shanks, who has played archaeologist Dr. Daniel Jackson for six seasons
of "Stargate: SG-1." For the first five, on Showtime, he was a regular.
Last season, the show's first on Sci Fi, Jackson appeared in three episodes,
including the season finale, "Full Circle."
For season seven, which begins
Friday, June 13, Shanks is back, full-time.
"Stargate: SG-1" follows Col.
Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson, also an executive producer) and his
team (Shanks, Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge) as they use alien portals,
called Stargates, to explore distant worlds and battle hostile species.
At the end of the fifth season,
Shanks felt that Jackson was being underutilized. Wanting to work more,
he recalls, "I said, 'OK, I need a break, but also maybe it's time to move
on.' Production seemed to agree, so we parted ways."
During his time off, Shanks
played golf with Judge, shot a movie in South Africa and did TV guest shots,
including an appearance on "Andromeda" with his girlfriend, actress Lexa
"She's great," he says. "She's
just down to earth. She's Lexi from the block."
Asked if she'll return the favor
on "Stargate," Shanks says, "We're trying to find her something. The producers
said to me, 'Does she want to be on the show?' I said, 'Actually, yeah.'
'Well, get her on the show. Let's find her something.' She's waiting for
the right role to pop around the corner."
Corin Nemec joined the cast
last season as team member Jonas Quinn, and returns as a recurring character.
In part, Shanks' return was prompted by Anderson's desire to scale back
his involvement in the show, which films in Vancouver, and spend more time
with his young daughter in Los Angeles.
"There became an opportunity,"
Shanks says, "for the other supporting characters -- myself, Christopher
and Amanda -- to become more important and more necessary to support the
So, an offer was made and Shanks
agreed. "I knew it was going to be a good year to come back to, so I said,
'Yeah, sign me up.'"
Jackson was written out by being
"ascended" to a higher plane of existence, where powerful beings have a
sort of "look, but don't touch" philosophy.
"It was Canada, not really a
higher plane," quips Jackson about his "Stargate" hiatus. "Yep, that was
me, floating in the ether, wearing a lot of cream-colored clothing."
In the sixth-season finale,
when the destruction of his beloved world Abydos seemed certain, Jackson
interfered -- but there were consequences.
"There has to be a catharsis
for the character," Shanks says, "that could justify why he wants to come
back. You know, you're sitting on a cloud, hanging with the gods. You get
the wings, you get the space babes -- everything's smooth. Why would you
want to go back to the mess that it was before?"
But, upon his "descent" in the
season-seven opener, not even Jackson knows what's what. "He's been chewed
up and spit back out," Shanks says, "shows up buck naked in a field in
Surrey. It's very tastefully done. I'm not spread-eagled on a plate of
"So, he's spat back to Earth,
and as a result, he has no memory of anything. The team comes across him
at some point, as they're searching for the lost city to which he tipped
them off [last season]."
"Over the course of the season,
he gets his memory back of who Daniel Jackson was, but he still has no
memory of the Ancients or where he came from -- a sort of heaven."
"When he interfered, he
was faced with the ultimatum of, 'You have a choice with us. You can either
stop screwing around and interfering, or you can go back to being human.'
And he chooses to go back to being human, because he believes his journey
is not complete on Earth."
Shanks' return follows an intensive
Internet campaign to bring Jackson back, and an equally fervent campaign
by fans who felt Jackson was getting too much attention.
"The people that people are
aiming at in this situation aren't necessarily the ones most responsible,"
Shanks says. "Everything operates from agendas, and everything flows downhill.
A lot of people who are just simply employees, like myself, are just doing
their jobs. They have nothing to do with political scenarios like this."
Shanks takes the criticism in
stride. "The last letter I saw was quite funny, which was a picture of
Rick, Chris and Amanda's characters, all little heads, and then my big
head in the background. It says at the top, 'How can he fit through the
gate?' I thought it was quite creative."
"There were also some theories
that Rick and I didn't talk to each other, and we hated each other's guts."
When asked if the theory is
true, Shanks says with a laugh, "Shut up. Rick and I, we're like two kids
on the set, we have so much fun."
Cyberspatial Anomalies: Stargate:
SG-1 Solutions (www.savedanieljackson.com/)
offers the latest series and Jackson news, rumors, info and spoilers.