1999 Articles and Interviews

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Amanda Tapping - Sense and Sensibility

Amanda Tapping on the Stargate family and getting Carter. For Samantha Carter being a scientist as well as a captain in the United States Air Force can sometimes be akin to walking a tightrope. As a member of the first of nine top secret military (SG) units assigned to explore other planets via portal called a Stargate, Carter constantly juggles her personal beliefs and professional obligations. This balancing act is part of what makes playing the character on the hit Science Fiction series Stargate SG-1 such a challenge for Amanda Tapping. "Sam is very strong, smart and singular character in that she's very focused on what she does. She's highly dedicated to her job and to the team, so, consequently, she has no life beyond Stargate, which is not dissimilar to me at times,"jokes the actress. "I think the beauty of what has happened with the character over the last two seasons is that the writers have really opened her up and made her warmer and more accessible. I told them that it was important to me that she have a sense of humour and they've started to develop that side of her personality more.

 "I also feel that my character has changed simply by virtue of the fact that the relationships among the show's four major characters have grown. Because of this our [Stargate]team has become more cohesive and I think Sam's a better person for it. I'm constantly striving to keep her interesting not only to the audience but to myself as well."

Despite her extensive work in the theatre as well as in front of the camera Tapping held out little hope of getting the part of Samantha Carter. "I auditioned initially in Toronto and was put on tape for a casting director there," she recalls. "I honestly believed that when I went in to read for this big wonderful female role that it would go to an American. It was one of the few auditions that I left thinking, 'Whatever happens is fine,' because although I loved the character I didn't think I stood a chance of being hired. "Much to my surprise I found out that I was short-listed, so I sent the producers my demo tape which contains a selection of what I feel is some of my best work in films and on television.

I ended up being one of three finalists and was flown to Los Angeles for a screen-test that was, to be perfectly honest, the most fun I have ever had at an audition. We were up on a stage in front of all these studio executives. It was like doing theatre, which is where I started my career, so I felt at ease. I read with Richard Dean Anderson [Colonel Jack O'Neill] and he was great. When I left I turned to the casting director and said, 'You know, whatever happens I had a great time'. When I returned home my agent asked me, 'Well, how do you think it went?' I said, 'I don't care. All I know is I had a blast.'"

The Waiting Game

"Then came the waiting and that was interminable. It seemed to last forever. It eventually came down to two of us so I auditioned again. By this time I could practically taste the role. I didn't hear from them, though, for the longest time and I started thinking everything from, 'I have to get this job' to, 'Oh, forget them. I'm moving on. I don't need this stupid programme.' Twenty minutes later I was back to, 'God, I want this job!' I thought my poor husband thought I was psychotic," laughs Tapping. "About two weeks before we began filming the pilot I got a call basically telling me, 'Pack your bags, you're moving to Vancouver.' I remember going upstairs and saying to my husband, 'Honey, I got it.' He was so happy for me that he leaping about the room. I, on the other hand, was in shock only because I had gone through such a long period of uncertainty, but, ultimately, I was thrilled," she enthuses. In the pilot episode Amanda is brought in to help destroy the portal the Goa'ulds are using to attack Earth.

"I didn't like my character that much in the first episode," she says. "I didn't dislike her but I thought that her feminist diatribe was a little tiresome and I didn't want her to be angry all the time. All I could see was this, 'I'm out to prove myself,' woman. I wanted her to be a well-rounded individual who is accessible and warm and someone who, especially young girls, could look up to and think, 'Yes, I can relate to this person.' Sam has become just that but she still has a ways to go. I think she needs to have a bit more of a personal life and maybe that will come in time, but right now she's growing and becoming more fun."

Science Problems

There's a 'family atmosphere' to the show. "General Hammond is very much like a great uncle to Sam because her father is very close to the general, but overall he's the father figure of the show," Tapping explains."Daniel and Sam are more like brother and sister than any of the other characters. Jack is like - and I know this is going to sound really weird - the older cousin that Sam really admires and maybe has a small crush on, but I won't dwell on that. I don't want the viewers to think, 'Oh, they're sleeping together,' or anything like that because that's not going to happen, at least not that I know of anyway. I'm not writing the scripts, so who knows?" she chuckles. The fourth member of O'Neill's team is Teal'c (Christopher Judge), a Jaafa guard who rebels and returns to Earth with SG-1. "The relationship between Teal'c and Sam is really interesting but I don't think the writers have really explored it enough and it's something that I've talked about with them. Teal'c is like family to Sam and she would do anything for him. I think you'll see a lot more of their friendship in the next [third] season. "It's fun to come to work," continues the actress. "The cast and crew get along famously. I don't want to reveal too many secrets but we are a wacky and zany group. Everyone in the cast has a good sense of humour and we laugh a lot, especially at the end of the day when it's someone's close-up, usually mine. I'm the first one to crack when it comes to a joke and that happens a lot because the guys are all behind the cameras trying to make me laugh."

Favourite Bits

When Carter first meets O'Neill she tries to prove how tough she is by telling him that she logged over 100 hours over enemy air space during the Gulf War. While this is certainly impressive the captain has taken greater risks and faced far more perilous situations during her trips through the Stargate. "One of my favourite first season episodes is Solitudes in which Jack and Sam are stuck on a glacier. Sam demonstrates her intense loyalty to Jack and uses her smarts, ingenuity and physical strength but yet is also very vulnerable, so she gets to be strong and scared at the same time. That was great fun to play. "In the second season I enjoyed doing In the Line of Duty. Something quite extraordinary happens to my character and she's possessed by a Goa'uld, so we see how Sam deals with that. In Secretswe meet Sam's dad, who's been an important influence in her life." Imaginative stories, high quality effects and a talented cast of regular performers and guest-stars have all helped Stargate SG-1become a success story. Tapping is ecstatic about the attention the series continues to get and flattered by the positive response her character has received from the viewers. "I got quite a bit of mail from women and little boys and the letters from women are pretty amazing because they tell me they're thrilled to have such a strong female character like Sam on television and I think it's terrific. I also receive many letters from Europe and British Isles and now I'm starting to hear more from men, which is neat. The fan reaction has been wonderful and for the most part it's been very much about the pivotal role my character plays in the show and that makes me feel good about what I'm doing."

Busy Tapping

While filming for the third season starts soon, Tapping keeps herself occupied writing a film script and planning a comedy show. Whatever she's working on, though, it must be intellectually and emotionally stimulating. "I've been extremely lucky in that even though I'm tall and blonde I've really stayed away from bimbo, sexpot stereotypical roles which are fading, thank God. I've always for the most part played intelligent women or those with a mission who are still sexy. If I can continue to do that into my forties, by which time hopefully attitudes about women and age will have changed completely, then I'll be quite content," she says.


The Universe is an open book for Stargate SG-1's Amanda Tapping.
Amanda Tapping is a mix of delightful contradictions. Whilst she may look like the classically cool West Coast blonde, don't be fooled for a minute. This lady has depths that aren't at least bit hidden once you tap beneath the surface. In MGM's hugely successful Science Fiction adventure series, Stargate SG-1, Tapping plays astro-physicist Captain Sam Carter with the calm, 'controlled under stress' panache of a true military officer and yet manages to retain the warmth, concern and intuitiveness of an extremely feminine woman. It's a balance the English born Canadian has worked damned hard to perfect. "In the pilot, Carter was this hard-assed feminist with a didactic message and I was violently opposed to her being portrayed that way. In fact, when I first read it I said 'Oh no - don't make me say this - women don't talk like this.'" Changing Attitude

Thankfully the more practical side of her nature came to the fore and she decided to go along with what the powers that Random Acts."Three of us started the troupe," she laughs, "I kept running into one woman at auditions and met the other while doing a play and together we wanted to do some feminist-based theatre but it had to be funny because my belief is that if people are laughing their minds are more open. We started from nothing, creating shows as we went along and to our surprise people laughed. As nerve wracking as it was, we got such a kick when an audience would respond and seem to get the message we were trying to invoke." While she's delighted to continue playing Carter for some time to come, there is one assignment that could tempt Amanda Tapping away from the lure of the mystical Stargate. "I would love to have a guest spot on UK's Coronation Street." she breathes. "I used to watch it with my Mum when I was growing up, then got totally hooked again when I went to University. I've even got my husband addicted now!"


Are you treated differently from the male members from the crew?
No. It's like a family; I'm treated like the sister. But I can be one of the guys, too.

What is the funniest practical joke pulled on the set?

I went off on a whole 'MacGyver' jag on Rick during the first season. It made it into our gag reel. It was in an episode called 'Solitudes.' I was railing on him about why he couldn't get us out of a particular situation. Otherwise, we don't pull a lot of practical jokes on each other. I read that you research the science stuff on the show - has it been difficult?

It was a lot of information to take it, but now that I have a good grasp, I find it really fascinating.

Do you have any non-"SG-1" projects planned?

I'm writing another comedy show with my comedy troupe, 'Random Acts,' and working on a couple of screenplays.

A lot of female actors on shows have children, are you thinking of doing the same thing?
I don't want to be a half-assed mom or a half-assed actress, so at this point I have no plans for child rearing. I have a dog instead, named Abbie. Can you explain the infamous Kiss photo posted on the web?

LOL! That was just Rick and I goofing around. It was not part of a particular episode. The photographer was there; we made a joke about the Paparazzi, so we just got goofy. Christopher Judge hinted that your relationship with Daniel Jackson will change in the Third Season. Could you expand on that? Wow that's news to me. Maybe he knows something I don't.

We would love to see you in another behind-the-scenes show, any plans for that?
Not that I know of, but I'd love to do another. That was really fun.

What was the most fun you've had on an episode, and what was the worst experience?

It's always fun. The most fun probably was on 'Solitudes.' I got to fly up in a helicopter and land on an ice field. That was really cool. It was also the most difficult episode to shoot because it was shot a lot of it in a refrigerated studio at minus 4 degrees. The best of times and the worst of times. In 'Solitudes' was the side arm lined in the script or in an ad-libbed.
It was actually in the script, which is kudos to our writer for picking up on our senses of humor. Will your character ever learn how to use the ribbon device or the medical healer?
Yes she's working on learning how to use Goa'uld technology. Stay tuned for Season 3.

Do you plan on doing any more stage work?

Yes, if I could find the time, most definitely.

Has anyone made a blooper tape?

Yes, we have a great one from the first season.

Can you give us a hint on what will happen on 'Into the Fire?'

Well, considering we're going for a couple more seasons, suffice to say that we survive. Other than that, I think I'd get in trouble if I said too much more. I'd love to tell y'all what happens, but I can't. Have you ever been scared doing an episode?

Sometimes for my own physical safety, yeah. And the first time I fired a gun.
Have you ever been hurt on the set?

Yes, I got a concussion in Season 1 and a small explosion went off in my face during Season 1. I was supposed to run past and the bomb would go off, but we had a happy trigger finger happening. I wasn't seriously hurt. Just a minor spotting on my face. Do you think your character is a good role model for young women? If so, why?

Yes. Certainly the letters that I get suggest she is. She's not afraid to use her brains. She's a character who's not at all about her looks. She's strong, determined and a good team member. I've gotten great fan mail from women and young women saying she's a great role model, which is the best compliment I can get. Is there a particular role in literature or history that you're eager to play?

Great question. And I'll probably come up with a really interesting answer in about an hour from now. Eleanor of Aquitaine. Are you tough like Carter or totally different?

I'm a lot like her in terms of my sensibilities, but I'm not as tough as she is. I'm a wee bit of a pushover. I'm sure you're aware that many fans think Sam and Jack make a good pair - if circumstances were different, do you think they would get involved? I think there's definitely an attraction between them, and I think that's only natural - partly because of the amount of time they spend together, and partly because their similarities -- but, circumstances being what they are, there's very little hope. I think there's definitely times throughout the series wherein they acknowledge the attraction - subtle as it may be. Will you be doing any sci-fi conventions in the future?

We're going to Australia in July and there's talk of one in England in February. The one in Australia will be a first for all of it. How far will you go in terms of stunt work?
I actually probably go too far. I'll do anything myself that I can physically get away with. Not only because I think it looks better, but just for my own sense of being true to the character. But I will not jump off a cliff if Sam were to jump off a cliff. Do you plan to get involved behind the camera?

I'd love to eventually, but I'm certainly not at the point where I understand that aspect of the medium well enough. I would love to direct, but I'm most attracted to directing for the stage. Are you pleased with your character's development and will we get to see more of Carter's humorous side?

I'm very pleased with her development. I think she's come a long way from the pilot. She's a lot more likable. They've opened her up and allowed her to be warmer. I certainly hope that she continues to develop. I hope all of us are allowed to show more humor. What's your favorite movie of all time and why?

'Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang,' and I don't know why. When I was a kid I really wanted to be Jemima Potts. Otherwise I love the old standby's - like 'Citizen Kane.' I could probably come up with a million answers for you. Are there any directions you would like to see the show go into to reflect more of your interests and your personality?

The possibilities for the show are so infinite. But I would like to see more stand-alone episodes where we're not always referring back to the history of other aliens and so forth. I'd really like to see us having a lot of fun in an episode. We did in the episode '1966.' Do you get recognized a lot?

Yes, sometimes. But I was actually in Buffalo, New York, and this guy came up to me and said, 'You look just like the blonde chick on Stargate except that you're too tall.' I was going to let it go, but the people I was with said I should tell him who I am. So after about ten minutes I convinced him that I actually was the blonde chick on 'Stargate.' And he called the cook out from the restaurant we were in and said, 'Hey, do you know her, she's on TV,' and the cook looked at me and said, 'I don't know, Buffy?' I am kept very humble. In Canada people are very polite, they look and sometimes wave, but don't usually approach. Are there plans for a wedding between any characters?

Not that I'm aware of.

If you did get a chance to direct a play, what play would you choose?
Probably a Shakespeare piece, Or a good comedy. Anything with good female characters in it - not to sound sexist, but hey, I'm a girl. If you could co-star with anyone, who would that be and why?

Carol Burnett. She's one of my heroes. I'm sure you want something juicier, but I love her. In terms of male actors, Aidan Quinn I think is wonderful. Are you involved in any charitable or political causes?

I'm involved with the MS Society, and I'm doing a charity benefit coming up for the Variety Club for Children with Special Needs. I'm also involved with environmental causes. What would you like to see happen on the show this upcoming season?

I may have sort of answered that in terms of further relationship development between the characters. But in particular I'd like to see further development between Teal'c and Sam. Their friendship is just sort of a given but I'd like to see that explored more. Heck, I
wouldn't be adverse to a little romance for Sam.

Who have been role models for you?
My mom. I know that's a hokey answer, but it's true.

What about acting heroes?
Yes. Pretty obvious ones like Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, Dawn French, who's a comedienne in England. Jennifer Saunders. Carol Burnett of COURSE. Katherine Hepburn, Jessica Tandy. That's my list for now. I'll come up with a hundred more in about an hour.

What is your favorite recreational activity?
Walking my dog. Hiking through the woods. We have great mountains and woods here. I also like to ski.

Did you watch many sci-fi shows as a kid?
No, my brother did. I was more of a 'Little House on the Prairie' girl. But I did watch 'Star Trek' and 'Star Trek: The Next Generation.' But now I've definitely become a fan of the genre because the possibilities are endless. You can tell great dramatic stories and have great sort of moral messages if you will and teach people things in an entertaining way.

How did you get your start in acting?
According to my Mom, it's something I've apparently always wanted to do. And my Dad was a huge 'Monty Python' fan - I don't know how that fits into it - but he inspired me. I started doing theater professionally when I was in my teens, and then went to theater school. It was either acting or become an environmental scientist.

What do you think about all your fans?
Oh, God we have the best fans in the world. Even before the show first aired we had fans, that's how loyal these people are. They're inquisitive and intelligent and they ask amazing questions in their letter and in forums like this. I feel very lucky that the show is so well supported by fans.


For someone who never intended to work in the TV industry and wasn't overly interested in sci-fi, Amanda Tapping has made quite an impression. As hard-nosed heroine Captain Samantha Carter in the cult series STARGATE SG-1, Tapping is now instantly recognisable to millions of sci-fi fans. But they're lucky to see her at all.

Tapping won academic awards for both drama and environmental science at high school but pursued the arts, mainly due to her love of theatre. Television, however, was never on the agenda during those early years.

"I had this very idealistic attitude that I would never prostitute myself for my art," Tapping said.

"But as it turned out, my first addition was for a TV commercial and once I got my first pay cheque, I thought, "This isn't so bad after all". While a long list of theatre achievements followed, so too did TV roles, with guest appearances on THE X-FILES, DUE SOUTH, and US series FLASH FORWARD. Then came a successful audition for STARGATE SG-1, resulting in a sci-fi crash course for the English-born, Canadian based actor. "I wasn't a huge fan of the genre -- I was more into drama and comedy," Tapping admitted.

"But I certainly appreciate the long reach this genre has. Sci-fi fans are so ardent and very sophisticated when it comes to knowing their topic." With violence on TV a hot topic in the US, Tapping was thoughtful when asked if she was comfortable with the amount and context of violence on STARGATE. "We haven't received any fallout but it is something we talk about," she said. "I'm comfortable with it because we spend a lot of time carrying the storyline further and it's something i'm wary of in that the only answer shouldn't always be to just blow those baddies away." It is, perhaps, one reason why she is keen to continually develop Carter.

"I want Carter to continue to evolve, I want her to be accessible to the audience," Tapping said. And what's in store for STARGATE's theoretical astrophysicist?
"We have Carter open up further personally," Tapping said. "Something huge happens to her and it forces her to look at things with a much wider view."


Amanda Tapping is much sillier than her Stargate SG-1 alter-ego. Even during a phone conversation from the show's Vancouver set where she plays Major Samantha Carter, it's impossible not to imagine the twinkle in her eyes with each burst of laughter. Humor slips in and out of conversation with disarming regularity. But the easy nature of this

English-born Canadian actually belies a much more complex spirit and mind. Smart, sexy and well-spoken, Tapping has the ability to keep you laughing and thinking at the same time. This slightly off-the-wall countenance is what gets her and Stargate SG-1 crew, which she admits is like a family, through a typical, exhausting 14-hour day. "I start all full of energy," Tapping says, "and we all start to slide around lunch time. I get my goofy period around 4 p.m. The way I get through it is, I become all these different characters that I play out for the crew in between takes. My latest character - I just came up with her the other day - is DeeDee La Pontz. She's this drunken washed-up has-been. The crew has actually been writing backstory for her.

Today they were saying, 'So DeeDee obviously doesn't have any boyfriends, right?
That's why she drinks so much?' They're really into it. It's very funny. So I come with characters and sing really goofy songs for the crew. I keep thinking that I'm doing this to keep the crew up and happy, and, in fact, I'm probably driving them all slowly insane." In contrast to Tapping, the character Carter is clearly more serious. "I really wish they would allow her to laugh more," Tapping sighs, "because our show can be kind of funny at times - irreverently so."

What sense of humour does exist in the brainy soldier is thanks to Tapping's efforts. From the start, the actress has tried to infuse her own sensibilities into a character who had a most inauspicious beginning. "I liked the idea of the character," she explains, "so when I auditioned, I gave her a sense of humour where there really wasn't one written. I don't know what the process was when they were thinking about casting, but that might have helped me get the part." It may have indeed, as Tapping's input is evident. "Carter finds O'Neill really funny. I would like to see more of that.

I would like to see more of her just reacting like a normal human being would, when they hear something off the cuff, and sort of non sequitur-ish." Case in point, during a serious moment in the episode "Solitudes," Carter is bedding down beside a half-frozen O'Neill, when she looks up at him suddenly. "It's my sidearm,' he says weakly. "I swear." Laughing, Carter allows herself a small respite from an awkward and tense situation. Make no mistake, Tapping is extremely grateful for the chance to play Carter. "[For the writers] to create a believable, intelligent woman who knows so much about astrophysics is amazing. But also they've allowed me some really nice emotional beats. I think probably the biggest challenge is actually being on a series, trying to keep this character fresh and interesting every day." The third season (segments airing on Showtime before their later syndicated run) contains plenty of pivotal episodes for the Major. In "Point of View"," Tapping plays two Carters. "We're confronted with the alternate reality Carter," she explains. "What would have happened if she hadn't gone into the military?

Who would she have fallen in love with? It was a really interesting thing to flesh out, but it also made Sam aware of the possibilities as well. Everything that they give me opens her up more." Season three not only includes Carter's promotion to Major, but a deep exploration into her relationship with her father. "I love that they've written this Jacob character, and I love playing it with [actor] Carmen Argenziano. That has only helped her open up, made her warmer." "They don't allow characters to stagnate," she notes. "They really want to keep drawing new stuff out of them. And they're allowing our voices to be heard as actors, in terms of where we think they would go and what we think they would do." Though she is not proprietary about Carter, Tapping takes the responsibility of playing the adventurous scientist quite seriously and quietly regards her as a role model. "I receive so much fan mail alluding to it, especially from young women. I'm really cognizant of it. I'm aware of trying to keep her real and accessible. There aren't a lot of great female characters out there like her, characters who are allowed to be so grounded and fully realized. It's a lot of pressure sometimes, but I'm proud of it. She's so much now an integral part of me - I literally put on the boots in the morning and I become her." There are enough differences between the two, however, to know where Carter ends and Tapping begins.

For starters, the actress admits with a laugh, "I wouldn't do well in the military. I'm too vocal. I question everything and I listen to all opinions. I would probably be completely subordinate in that I couldn't respect somebody because of their rank. They would really have to prove [themselves] to me. The one thing that would make me good in the military is that I'm incredibly loyal. But I question people. I can't go on blind faith." It's pointed out that there seems to be a little of that "question authority" stance in Carter. "Part of that is the nature of the show," says Tapping. "These are situations that people in the military normally wouldn't face. How do you deal with an alien race?" Even so, Tapping's fierce independent nature can sometimes get in the way of her character. "Our Air Force advisors have said, 'Well, you were really kind of insubordinate there. You can't do that.' I actually have to restrain myself a fair bit when playing Sam and remember that I have to add a lot of 'yes sirs' into certain conversations. Sam has actually gotten better at that on the show because the respect level that she has for Colonel O'Neill [Richard Dean Anderson] and General Hammond [Don S. Davis] is so huge. She has learned to trust them implicitly, therefore she'll follow their lead. If O'Neill said we all need to jump off this cliff right now, Sam probably would.

I wouldn't. Sam would turn, say, 'You're crazy... sir' and then jump." Tapping, in addition to having a commanding voice, has the physical presence and awareness to make Carter a believable soldier. For three seasons, in fact, Tapping has done many of her own stunts. "I love the challenge of this character," she admits, "because she's so physical." Not everything has gone smoothly, however. The actress suffered a concussion during the first season and once came a little too close to an exploding bomb. Though she suffered minor burns on her face, the mishaps have been few and far between. One thing is certain, however, neither outrageous characters nor Army fatigues and combat boots can hide the fact that Tapping is a beautiful woman. A recent photo shoot, shown on these pages (see below), unleashed a more feminine and glamorous side to the 5' 9'' Tapping that Stargate's usual tough-girl promotional stills. The unassuming actress, however, declares that those taken before the hair and makeup people arrived are her favourites. The success of Stargate SG-1 has also increased Tapping's public recognition. on a recent family visit to Buffalo, New York, Tapping was spotted in a bar by a fan. His initial reaction to "the blonde chick from Stargate" was skeptical, and he quickly concluded that she was not Tapping.

It took family members 10 minutes to convince him she was the real thing, at which point, Tapping says, "The guy freaked out. It was very funny. Then he called the cook out of the kitchen and said, 'Look, look. She's on TV. Do you know her from TV?' The cook looked at me and said, 'I don't know. Buffy?' So," she concludes with a soft laugh,"it's humbling." Humbling or not, Tapping exudes a confidence, intelligence and comedic instincts that make her just as likely an heir to the 1940s screwball comediennes like Rosalind Russell and Katharine Hepburn, as she is to the next action heroine. Which direction this versatile woman will go next is difficult to tell. In addition to coping with Stargate SG-1's gruelling schedule, Tapping is trying to get a film script produced - one that she rewrote for a friend and is hoping to star in - and she has begun work on the revival of Random Acts, a comedy troupe devoted to women's issues. Tapping and two friends created the group with the goal of not only making people laugh, but opening them up to new ideas. Tapping never seems to slow down.

"My husband says I don't know the meaning of the word, 'relax.' He'll say relax, sit down for five minutes - but after a second and a half, I'll find something I desperately need to do. I have to learn to relax." Then she adds, with tongue firmly in cheek, "I think relaxation is learned behavior." But as honest and amusing as Tapping is, it's hard not to get caught up in her energetic enthusiasm. Despite some positively wacky outbursts, it's endearing to hear her speak so passionately about things such as morality on Stargate and how grateful she is to be able to essay Carter. "One of the things that I like about our show," she explains, "is that we are real human beings that people could relate to in everyday life, because we're these characters living in the '90s, in the United States, who happen to have these fantastical adventures." The human element matters deeply to Tapping, and despite the adventurous nature of Stargate SG-1, there is much that appeals to the idealist in her. "Most of our shows have some sort of moral message," Tapping says. "So much of it is about respecting other cultures - especially for SG-1, not bullying our way through the universe, truly fighting for good, opening ourselves up to learn from other cultures.

We do try to have moral messages and I think the biggest one is 'tolerance.'" Regarding women in the military, Tapping reflects, "Stargate is allowing an equality and even leadership that hasn't always been evident in SF before, but was opened up so much with Gene Roddenberry's shows. This is the genre that's really opening it up in a big way - these fabulous strong female characters with leadership roles and responsibility." As Carter may fill the hero role for fans around the world, Tapping counts as one of her own heroes feminist author Gloria Steinem."The last time I heard her speak, it was all about doing it yourself. We can sit here in this society and say, 'People treating us this way is wrong.' But so much of the responsibility is on us to make it right. That's a huge amount of pressure for women, but it's also the way it has to be. We're always going to run across bigots in this world and we're always going to run across misogynists who are threatened by female power, but I think if I were to describe myself in pure feminist forms, I would say I want equality. We want respect not because we're women, but simply because we're human beings. I feel very strongly about equality and I also feel, as Steinem said, we have to take responsibility for ourselves." That sentiment is evident in the character Tapping has helped create.

Quite simply, Carter is very good at what she does. An accomplished scientist, a competent and loyal soldier, she's cool under fire, possesses leadership ability and inspires confidence among her fellow SG-1 team members. Most importantly, there's never mention of her being a woman or any different than the others. She is simply one-fourth of a very successful team. "They started out differently in the pilot," Tapping comments. "But now they're allowing her just to be a part of this team, an integral part of the team, without having to prove anything simply because she's a woman. That's the best we can ever hope for - is just to be, without having to prove it. It's not necessarily something that's a reality in society today, but I think it's getting better." "Amanda Tapping," she says, clearly on a roll, "is a huge idealist. I don't understand why things aren't equal. I don't understand how people can hate people because of the color of their skin, their religion or their gender.

I've never understood it. I find it ultimately frustrating. And I could probably drive myself completely insane if I continue to think about it on a daily basis. But I think the best thing I can do is just try to make my corner of the world as copacetic as I can, as free from this kind of bias as I can." Then almost as an afterthought, she laughs at her small diatribe, and says, "Without being too heady about it, you know - still have fun." Clearly, even the most serious topic for Tapping is offset with humor. If she were to describe herself in a word, it would be "goofy." "Happy" would probably fit in there just as nicely. She doesn't dispute the statement. Perhaps the epitome of her political ideology comes in her thoughts about a proposed action figure of Carter. "I made a point," she explains, "when they first started talking about it that she had to have flat feet, unlike Barbie, and if she were blown up to be a real woman, she had to have dimensions that actually made sense." Barbie's "14-inch waist and 42-inch bust" just would not cut it for Tapping. "She would have to be really normal," she reiterates, "and have flat feet to wear Army boots." Leave it to Amanda Tapping to once again make us laugh.



Amanda Tapping could be playing an incredible space vixen -- if she were o¬n a different show, that is. "I've never o¬nce taken my clothes off," says the o¬nly female regular in Showtime's Friday-night sci-fi show Stargate SG-1. "I spend an inordinate amount of time in Army boots and fatigues." Produced in Vancouver, British Columbia, Stargate SG-1, based o¬n the movie Stargate without the cooperation of that film's creators, Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich), which premiered in 1997, follows a team of intrepid adventurers, led by Air Force Col. Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson).

Using alien portals to travel from world to world around the galaxy, the team battles a parasitic alien race called the Goa'uld. The show also airs nationally in syndication. Tapping plays Capt. Samantha Carter, an astrophysicist. Although the show is based in Canada, it's an American production, and the Toronto-raised Tapping wasn't confident she was going to get the role. "When I auditioned for this part," Tapping says, "because I'm Canadian, I was convinced this part would go to an American. It was such a great part, and she's the o¬nly woman o¬n the show. I'm not sure how I got it, but I guess, because we shoot in Canada, it was, 'Give a Canadian a break.' "

Although some female stars of American sci-fi shows have had to contend with skin-tight costumes, Tapping has really gotten to dress up o¬nly o¬nce o¬n the show, when she was taken captive by a Mongolian- like tribe o¬n a distant planet (in Stargate SG-1 lore, aliens transplanted humans to other worlds). "Man, that was hilarious," Tapping says of her costume, an elaborate, beaded affair with a plunging neckline. "We had so much fun. I came in, and the thing was pushed and pulled and propped up. I walked on set, and the whole crew went, 'Oh, my God,' and I was like, 'Smoke and mirrors, boys, come on. Are you actually falling for this cleavage thing? It's all pushed and prodded. Come on, get over it.' "

"It's amazing, the power that breasts have. Who knew?

Now, I do. It's actually kind of scary. I remember walking o¬n set, and everyone looked at me differently. It was very early o¬n in the first season, and I was just amazed. All of a sudden, I got to know all the grips' names." Because Carter is a military officer and o¬ne of the exploration team, that means Tapping has to run, jump, fight and fire guns. "I actually love it now," she says. "The very first time I fired the gun, I almost felt sick to my stomach. I'm not a huge fan of guns.

The guys, it's a big testosterone festival, and they all had a cigar afterward to celebrate. I fired it, and just went, 'Whoa, I don't think anyone should have that much power.' " "Now, it's very Zen. It's so much a part of the character. I've worked a lot with our armorer, and I met with an ex-Navy SEAL to make sure I was doing everything correctly. There are times when we're running through the woods, firing our guns and hiding behind bushes, and I think, 'My God, I used to play games like this in the laneway with my brothers. Now, I'm a grown woman, and I'm getting paid to do it, which is kind of freaky.' " As a scientist, she also gets to spout lots of techno-babble:

"It's gotten to the point where Carter goes off o¬n scientific tangents, and now the other characters are telling her to shut up, because they don't understand what she's saying." Carter's alter-ego does, however.

"I do," she says. "For every particular episode, if there's a large amount of scientific flatulence to say, I study up o¬n it. Otherwise, I feel like I'm really faking it. So, I actually do understand what she's talking about. Not that at any time I'd be able to save Earth from a black hole, but in principle, I understand it." Tapping is also dealing with the fallout of fame, including being recognized outside her home country, more or less. She relates a tale of visiting cousins in Buffalo, N.Y., and running into a man in a bar who said she looked like "that blond chick from Stargate, except you're too tall." Egged on by her cousins, Tapping was finally able to convince the fan that she indeed played Samantha Carter.

"He said, 'Oh, my God, you really are her! Wait a second, let me get my friend, he's the chef here.' And he calls his friend the chef out, and he says, 'Look, look at this girl, do you recognize her? She's o¬n television.' The guy looks at me, totally disinterested, 'I don't know, Buffy?' " "I went, 'Oh, yeah, OK, we'll be keeping humble for a while now. Thanks so much.' "

But humility doesn't keep her from teasing co-star Anderson about his years as the resourceful hero on the action-adventure show MacGyver. In o¬ne scene, where Carter and O'Neill are trapped in a glacial crevice, Tapping decided to have some fun: "Rick comes crawling up, all angst-ridden and emoting like crazy, sticks his knife into the ice and goes,

'Do you think we can dig it out?

' " "And I just went off on this MacGyver tangent on him,

'You spent seven years o¬n MacGyver, you can't figure this out?

We've got a belt buckle and a shoelace, build us a nuclear reactor, for crying out loud! You used to be MacGyver, MacGadget, MacGimmick, and now you're MacUseless!' Of course, we didn't use it on the show, but it was great on the gag reel."