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Michael Shanks interview

Date of publishing: 24th December 2006

Michael Shanks interview Michael Garrett Shanks was born in Vancouver on 15 December 1970, the younger of two brothers. He grew up in Kamloops, British Columbia. Following a number of small roles in TV shows such as Madison, The Commish and Highlander, in 1997 Michael auditioned for the role of Dr Daniel Jackson on Stargate SG-1, the TV spin-off of the original Stargate movie. Michael went into the audition with his spot-on impersonation of James Spader (who had played Daniel Jackson in the movie) and got the job. He could also, as Brad Wright said, "do humour".
In 2005 Michael Shanks and his Stargate SG-1 co-star, Christopher Judge formed Slacktwaddle Productions and began working on a '2007 Women of Scifi Calendar'. The Calendar features photos of some of scifi's most beautiful women, including Michael Shanks' real life wife Lexa Doig. Get your calendar on www.womenofsci-fi.com

Download the audio interview by clicking here (Zipped MP3 file)
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Linda Craddock: We know you have been busy since the cancellation of SG1 with a couple of projects. Tell us a about your recent role as ‘David Harrison” in the Lifetime original movie “Under the Mistletoe and in production with Judicial Indiscretion”, with Ann Archer?
Michael Shanks: Yeah, are you talking about “Judicial Indiscretion” or “Under the Mistletoe”.

Michael Shanks interviewLinda Craddock: Both of them
Michael Shanks: Ok, it was “Kevin Harrison” was the name of the character in “Under the Mistletoe”. Yeah, I think its actually screwed up on the IMDb as well, so. That was a lot of fun. My first time working for this company in Vancouver called “Insight Films” taking a lot of production for Lifetime channel movies, actually during our summer hiatus that I had taken a couple of days off to spend time with the family and all of a sudden these guys had called out of the blue and dangled a couple of scripts in front of my nose and I didn’t think anything was going to necessarily pull me away from my vacation (laughter) but then I read the script and it was really, really very, very nice and you know very family oriented. You know, one of those few projects that I get to do you know you get to sit there and now that I have children you go um, “hey this is an opportunity where my kids can actually watch something that I make” and enjoy it, so that was that and my wife understood my reasons for wanting to do it. It was a neat part and so we decided to work together in the summer time which is odd doing a Christmas movie in the summertime in Vancouver, but the cast was really wonderful and the Director was fantastic and the experience was well worth it what was odd about that it carried right into working with that director again and working with that company again which is what “Judicial Indiscretion” was all about. The Director had approached me in the summer time he had written a script that was going to be produced by Insight for Lifetime as well he mentioned there would be a part I would do well in and that we’d talk later on about it. He wasn’t even sure it was going to get produced by them but at that time he thought it would be a neat project for us to work out again low and behold, when I was done Stargate, he called up we just sort had to figure the logistics of making that work and that was again, really, really a lot of fun working with a Director named is George Mendeluk. He’s a lot of fun working on a project that he’s both writing and directing. And he got Ann Archer to play the lead in it who is no slouch herself so compared to our little Christmas movie that we had done, previously, this was the complete opposite. I was playing a rather nasty villain in it that had a charming side to begin with and of course working with Ann was an absolutely joy and a privilege so, yeah, its’ been quite interesting.

Michael Shanks interview
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Linda Craddock: You now get to concentrate on your dramatic skills outside the sci-fi world.
Michael Shanks: Yeah, it’s certainly nice after doing that many months, doing that many years playing a character on a show which is a bit of a privilege in its self, its really nice to get back to doing smaller projects and playing more interesting, I shouldn’t say more interesting but certainly more, you know, off the beaten path kind of characters be able to remember how to be an actor again (laughter). You know to reinvent characters from the ground up and things like that. That’s kind of what actors are made for and its’ been a while since I have had a chance to focus on that.

Linda Craddock: What can we expect after your current project?
Michael Shanks: Well, I’ve been sort of cloistered at the moment. As soon as I was done with “Judicial Indiscretion” I was told very distinctly by my wife being the guy who now has two children that were under the age of 2 and my 8 year old daughter and I have been pretty much working, as I said I had taken some of the summer vacation off and I’ve been working since I finished Stargate that I was pretty much told for the moment, I’m not working (laughter) but I decided to take a little time of. So that means over the December break and we’ll have to see what comes up. The two Stargate movies on the slate for this year coming up starting in April and I think both my wife and myself are making plans to head south for pilot season and Christopher Judge and I have another project in the works that I’ll keep mum about it at this particular moment because we’re in sort of negation phases of that so I’ll be able to divulge more as things sort of come out about that.

Linda Craddock: I was going to ask you the latest news about the, well the 3rd Stargate series in the pike. Rumor has it that you have been approached to star in the spin off.
Michael Shanks: Yeah, that’s a load of malarkey (laughter) I haven’t heard, you know the internet is bound with all sorts of rumors and what’s funny is my publicist phoned me the other day and says "you know I’m getting all these calls from all these journalist and all these fans as well saying you’ve been approached to star in a 3rd Stargate series". That’s completely unfounded. And quite frankly as far as I know, I don’t know anything about a 3rd Stargate series being developed at this moment, I mean I’m not in direct contact with anybody that would be developing it, specifically just the talking phases quite possibly, but I am certainly well aware that I haven’t been approached and there’s no abundant rumor that there’s another series being developed right now, which doesn’t mean its not true, just means its being kept quite if it is, but no one said boo to me about anything so I know nothing about those subjects.

Michael Shanks interviewLinda Craddock: The producers were very flexible with allowing cast members such as yourself, Amanda Tapping, Chris Judge to write and direct a variety of SG1 episodes. Tell us about that experience.
Michael Shanks: I think it's always interesting to walk a mile in somebody else's shoes. It allows you a far better understanding when you work with people that have a much different job than you own and I think the best thing I got out of both writing and directing the show, you get a chance to wear those other hats and see what the problem are faced and therefore, as an actor, when you are an actor how you can help and be of assistance and be empathetic to their situations as they sort of arrive and I think everybody would do well to take a shot or at least peer into those other worlds. That’s the best thing I got, I mean Stargate’s a well establish TV show even at the points when I was directing and writing, there’s a certain amount of machinery in place. Sometimes I describe it as a show being able to direct itself because the DOP’s and the actors sort of know what they’re doing and that’s the main body of the process of making film and shooting what the directors does usually says “yeah, that’s sounds good, lets do that” and so Stargate becomes the kind of entity that you wouldn’t say it doesn’t necessarily requires a director because its good to have people driving the ship and always good with people with fresh ideas, but in terms of a director being absolutely necessary, no. That’s kind of, there’s so many writers that sort of give approval and give notes and whatnot to scripts that happen the script can sometimes write itself as well and so I would say my input in those fields was, it was certainly interesting to do in terms of the end results wasn’t always what I had intended what ended up on the screen but it was often times a much bigger improvement on what I would have done with it. I learned a lot of the process of on a television show. I certainly learned that everything that other people do and everything an actor does in the world, they all intermingle and they mesh and when I was directing it was great to have the actors on my side. When you’re writing something, it’s great to have the actors input. It’s great to talk about stuff before hand to have the actors input, “what do you think about this idea” and they take it and bend it and shape it and change it but I do know it great when the two, you know television is a collaborative process and its really great when that machine is meshing and working well together so I certainly learned a lot more about how one, how my job, going back to being an actor can help other people, can help the directors out and help the writers out and vice-a-versa so I learned a lot in the television world, learned a lot about the collaborative process which is necessary. We’re not making motion pictures here where there’s a bit of, you know, a lot of time and budget and a lot of you know freedom, certain choices that are being made and control being made by individuals. It’s very necessary in a television we call it a “mouse in the wheel syndrome”, its very necessary that people get along and collaborate to get a product that is of value anyway.

Michael Shanks & Gilles Nuytens Michael Shanks & Gilles Nuytens
Michael Shanks & Gilles Nuytens
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© Gilles Nuytens, MGM Worldwide Television

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Interview by Linda Craddock for The Scifi World


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