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GATING AWAY STAR QUEST ONLINE
Science fiction, more specifically intelligent science-fiction, is far from being the dead horse many out there believe it to be. Her role inStargate SG-1 has widened Amanda Tapping's understanding as to the extent of the genre's popularity, not that she had many doubts to begin with.
"I've done other science fiction shows but when you're on a long running series, then you start to see how far reaching this genre is. When I did my guest star on the X-Files I didn't really have any knowledge of these different sci-fi magazines there are out there, all these fan clubs, web sites, conventions... I had no idea. It's huge!"
How big it is, she saw first hand when, while taking a well deserved rest from chasing Goa'ulds back in February, part of her hiatus was spent in her native UK on a discovery journey into the world of sci-fi conventions (Wolf SG-1). The experience gave her plenty of good memories to take back home and a taste for more. Something she didn't expect - this being her first convention - was the warm welcome she received on stage.
"Overwhelming, completely overwhelming," she recalls with a big smile. "At the beginning of my talks, to have all these people cheering and clapping - and it's not for a character that I played on stage, it's for me - that's completely overwhelming and very humbling. It's humbling that people would take the time out of their lives to come to a convention just to meet us. It blows my mind, I'm very grateful."
Slightly apprehensive about being asked rather personal questions?
"Yeah, but people have not been that way, you know, it's been a genuine interest of you as a human being, in the series... It's been easy, it's been great!" Scheduled for more appearances both in England and Canada this year, she's now well on her way to become a convention veteran, to the delight of her fans.
Well, it's understandable really: Samantha Carter's a nice woman...
... So how does it feel popping round various star systems, contributing to the decimation of the Goa'ulds?
Albeit a hostile one, it's still a sentient race. "That's sort of a double edge sword," she answers, waving her finger emphatically, "because on the one hand, this is an evil race - they are trying to destroy Earth so we do need to protect ourselves from it... By the same token, the character of Teal'c (Christopher Judge) was one of them and has gone to the other side: he's an incredibly warm character, loyal, dedicated and honourable. So I have this thing where I think: what if I'm killing another Teal'c?
This guy has a wife and family... But you're in a war situation, and war is war. You do whatever you need to protect yourself, your country or in this case, protect the planet.
But there's part of me that thinks there's got to be... you know, sort of bad Karma with that, and I would love to show how they, and especially Carter - 'cause I play her - deals with that when she puts her head down on her pillow at night. oes she think about that?
I think that she would, there would be great feelings of guilt sometimes. You know, you talk to any soldier who's been through a war and there's this sort of shell shock: 'Oh my God what have I done?
My comrade in arms beside me was killed, he has a wife and child and we shot that guy...' You know there is an interconnection to the human race and we never really deal with that."
Carter's not especially 'trigger happy' but has she become desensitised to combat?
"Yes. Because it's war, you're in a situation; the Goa'ulds are coming over the hill and they're gonna take over the base; you've got to stop them with whatever means possible. That's the soldier mentality and you have to have that, otherwise what are you doing there?
As a human being, there's a sense of consequence, how do you deal with that consequence? I wish they would write a back story; how do you deal with this, what are the psychological implications?"
It's a subject Amanda talked to the executive producers about; maybe they could broach it into the show?
But they didn't warm to the idea. "We're in a genre," Amanda explains, "it's a sci-fi show, not a soap opera..."
There are pitfalls in long running series. Avoiding certain issues or worse, portraying battle hardened characters, could lead to the audience not relating to them much. "Then they're not accessible, exactly! But we have certainly humanised our characters a great deal. We are fallible and make mistakes, you see us make mistakes."
Then there's feeling sympathy for the characters when they in a life threatening situation; chances are they'll get out of it because... they're main cast. "With a series' show," she smiles, "you know to a certain degree that they're not gonna kill of any of the main characters! You know we are playing games here; this is a real danger, we don't know what's gonna happen but we pretty much know we're all gonna be back next week!
So you feel like you're cheating a bit." Unless of course, one of the main characters asks to leave. "I want to go hoooome," Amanda playfully cries. "Then it becomes a really compelling story, how do you deal with that?"
Great care is taken for Stargate SG-1 to be as believable as possible on the technical aspect and viewers are by now well aware that the US Air Force is an advisor to the show. But what is less known is the invaluable input SG-1 received from an ex-Navy Seal; fellow actor Marshall Teague.
"When I was doing the pilot," Amanda explains, "he was up here [in Canada] shooting an episode of Sentinel, and Jay Acavone, who was working on the pilot and knew Marshall introduced us and we started talking. Marshall and I went to lunch a couple of times, I picked his brain and he gave the most phenomenal information, helped to sort of get that military sense of things. He actually came by while we were shooting the pilot and fixed my belt, fixed my knife... He's a man who knows what he's talking about and he was a huge help, a wealth of information." He surely knows what he's talking about and nobody in their right mind would question the veracity of his input. "He's been there, done that," Amanda nods. "If you were ever in trouble, he'd be the man to save your life, and yet he has a heart of gold. He is a Southern Gentleman. Then a couple of years later, he got to guest star on the show (Season 2 A Matter of Time), which wonderful, it was really cool!" Besides Marshall's input - and so they'd get into the spirit of things you understand - did any of the cast get some kind of miilitary training, you know, your basic fun day at training camp; crawl on muddy terrain, climb up ropes and swing across waist high waters? "No, we didn't. Richard (Dean Anderson) and my character are the only two on the SG-1 team that are fully trained military; Daniel of course is not in the Military and Teal'c comes from a different warrior background, so they didn't make us go through basic training. When I found out I got the part, I got a personal trainer to physically build my strength up, but also we have an armourer teaching us everything about our weapons and our stunts tech co-ordinating the first two seasons taught me how to do hand to hand fights."
Amanda herself possesses knowledge beneficial to the show, having studied environmental science and later on, taken an interest in astrophysics. Ever thought of perhaps writing an episode? "I've written other things," she answers, "but Stargate... it's almost like I'm too close to the characters to sit back objectively and write a story. I know Christopher, Michael and Richard so well as people that it would be hard to write for their characters without writing in Michael, Richard and Christopher, we're just too close. But it's [Stargate] certainly something I would do treatments for, come up with ideas, then get someone to write dialogue for it."
If she hadn't changed her mind about TV work a few years ago, viewers would be watching someone else play Carter. When first graduating from theatre school, Amanda vowed not to go into television! "I was a theatre snob," she laughs. "I thought that in TV you wouldn't be a real actor. I came out of theatre school [saying], 'I'm only ever going to do stage because that's what real actors do', and then quickly learned that's completely not the case! I realised TV is highly challenging for actors - it's a different medium altogether - but that I really enjoyed it. I was just being young and very cocky," she adds self-mockingly. Incidentally, she learned signed English for one of her stage roles. "I did it for a stage production of Children Of A Lesser God," she nods, "and that was a phenomenal experience. I was taught one on on tutelage with an ASL[American Signed Language] interpreter and then was taken into the deaf community, and we'd go to events... It was so challenging; It's like when you're learning a different language, you may be able to speak it but when someone starts speaking it to you, they say it very quickly...." So you understand maybe two words out of ten? "Yes, exactly! What I also realised I did - which was very rude - was eavesdropping on people's conversations without realising it!"
Theatre does require a good degree of control and discipline, but make no mistake that TV can be as equally challenging and enjoyable. "You can't cheat [in theatre]," says Amanda. "If you mess up on stage, you've got to figure out a way to get out of it... Now that I've had a taste of both, I don't think I could choose. Right now I have this desperate need to get back on stage, but I also love so much what I do, working on Stargate. The one thing I miss is the rehearsal process, it's the most magical time when you're doing a play. It's something you don't get in television and I miss that very much.." Rehearsal is something many actors wish they had time for in television, and some will somehow manage to find a way around, as Amanda explains: "You do as much as you can. We shoot seven and half days per episode; it's nearly impossible to find the time to do a solid rehearsal. What we do as actors is planning time away from the set to try to work on scenes, especially if a new actor's coming on to the set. We really work together as much as we can, but it's not like a week long process where you've gone through the cracks in the armour and everything, and really worked it out. You don't have that luxury so it's a lot of spontaneity and gut reactions, using your instincts and hoping that they're right." Well, you can always do another take if something goes wrong... on the other hand, there are logistics to consider, such as: time is money. Having said that, it also much depends on the Producers' attitude. How patient are SG-1's Producers?"They're really very good," Amanda answers, "and we're often doing another take." But don't go blame it all on the actors just yet! "It's not the actor that messed up," she grins, "it's often a technical problem. That happens with enough regularity so that when an actor screws up, they can't get upset about it because the last time it was the camera, or a misplaced light or whatever... So they're good and because we've been together for so long now, we know each other's rhythm... we actually move like a well oiled machine." Plus they get to goof around a lot. "We all have these wicked senses of humour," she grins, "we all have this sarcastic streak in us. Christopher (Judge) and I have this back and forth repartee between each other, so the two of us get going and it's really funny. I love that sense of familiarity, that sense of willingness to do anything for each other."
BEHIND THE SCENES
SG-1 is a big filler in Amanda's life but she is devoting as much time as she can to concentrate on issues close to her heart. "The thing I'm probably most involved in right now is UNICEF. For me, that's an important chairty simply because it's children who don't have a voice. So I get involved with anything to do with children, anything to do with animals... basically, people that are often very poorly treated and have no way of telling the world about it, and I include animals when I say people. I'm also involved to a small degree [with] the Multiple Sclerosis Society, but I don't do it as a celebrity, I do it because I have friends that have M.S. and it's important for me to be involved in that. They're actually getting very close with M.S. to finding, not a cure, but things that will make people's life easier. The Cancer Society is something that is close to my heart because my grandmother died of cancer. Now that I'm slowly building a name and people are starting to recognise me - I'm not huge, I have no delusions about that - for some reason people are more willing to listen to me now, so I might as well say things that count, while I can. It's important to me to do as much as I can, now." But whatever work she does, she does quietly, no publicity stunts to be shouted about on the rooftops. "It's not a 'me' kind of thing, it's just whatever I can do."
People who know her will say of Amanda that she is a very nice and caring woman, and that's an veracious representation. There's no signs of 'big head syndrome' and she doesn't look too kindly on those afflicted with it. "I have no patience for it, none," she asserts. "It's a gift to be able to work as an actor and to have a steady job." How, she reckons, would she cope if she had to work with a big headed co-star? Would there be silence of spoken discontentment? "I think I'd probably say something... I would. I find it really upsetting, I've met people like that, who do they think they are!" Her outlook on life makes it unlikely for it to happen, but if she were to change... "I have enough people in my life that are very grounded and caring," she smiles, "who would kick my butt if I started getting an ego, and I hope that if it hasn't happened by this point, it won't.
Nothing about it me has changed since I got Stargate, except the fact that I'm actually more humble. I still have the same husband and family, I still have the same feeling emotionally about injustices I see in this world, and I still have the same feelings of joy about things that make me really happy... So nothing intrinsically about Amanda has changed. Every morning I thank my lucky stars. I think the trick in life and in anything you do is: never take it for granted."
AGEISM: A THING OF THE PAST?
Besides acting, Amanda has other aspirations regarding her future. "I can see getting into producing," she reveals. She doesn't want to give up acting, but there still is an unfortunate predominant factor in the screen medium that, if it doesn't improve, might not give her much choice... and we're not talking about crashing 'the boys' club' here: "I'd like to get back to theatre because that's something that doesn't necessarily have an age bias to it," she explains, "whereas television... there's ageism in television; a woman who reaches forty," she sighs, "forget it!" Being a fighter, ageism is one of the issues she takes a stand on. "I have to speak up and make people aware. People don't often think 'how come there's no women over the age of fifty?' We've been desensitised: it's always young, beautiful women on television. We have to change that. I'm also aware that when I do interviews, people have asked me how old I am. Male reporers will ask, and my question to them is: 'would you ask if I was a male actor?'
They say 'no'." What relevance is her age to their article anyway? "Exactly! The funny thing is, male actors have a better chance of saying what their real age is and no one caring, but with women, it's like suddenly the powers that be, or the people that are making decisions in casting say 'I had no idea she was that old! Well, that puts her out of the run.' Even though nothing about you has changed except their perception."Maybe it's time to turn the tables... if she were to become a Producer, when it came to casting male actors, well anyone over thirty five... Always ready for a laugh, Amanda plays the game and a predatory smile edges in, quickly replaced by a frown as she eyes up and down a fictional hopeful thespian. "Nah, we need someone younger. 'But I read twenty eight...' No!" After fits of laughter rendering anyone present incapable of coherent speech for a time, it's back to serious conversation. In fairness, things are slowly changing, in US network television: "There are women past their forties on television doing wonderful work, sexy and more interesting than a twenty year old, as far as I'm concerned."
In her her personal opinion, does ageism stem from the media's attitude? "I don't think it's the media's fault," she earnestly answers. "I think it's cyclical and perpetuating." Though the message given in advertising and glossies as well as in films doesn't help. "It's all about being attractive to the opposite sex," she nods. "There's very few messages saying 'stand up for yourself, who cares how much you weigh.' You don't get that so often. We're stunting our society by saying: 'this is what's attractive'. Who defines what's attractive, who's making those decisions? Who says a woman over forty is not attractive anymore and no one wants to watch? I'm not standing up on my soap box with this raging diatribe about how inequality is so frightening, but it is something that really concerns me."
The fact that her on-screen character is not your everyday conventional woman is a relief to Amanda, as many young women out there are watching the show. "I get so many letters saying thank you," she explains. "[Samantha] is strong, but still maintains her sense that she's a woman and is not apologising for it." It all bodes a question: which of the two is the role model, Samantha or Amanda? They both are.
CARTER THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS AMAZON.CO.UK 2001
British-born actress Amanda Tapping was raised in Toronto, Canada and attended the University of Windsor School of Dramatic Art before guest-starring in a number of series including The X-Files, Due South, Forever Knight, Millennium, and The Outer Limits. InStargate SG-1 she plays Major Samantha Carter, whose expertise in all science matters often proves invaluable to the team. The actress took time out from filming the series to talk to Amazon.co.uk.
Amazon.co.uk: How does Stargate SG-1 the series tie in to the movie?
Amanda Tapping: The series is a good segue from the movie, we've taken it from where the movie left off with two of the main characters, Colonel O'Neill and Daniel Jackson. It's about a year later on from the movie and we get a message from Daniel Jackson who's been left on this planet and we form a team and go back and get him. This then opens up possibilities when you realise that there are limitless stargates out there in the galaxy and it sets up the whole series arc. It says we're going back to the same place where the movie was and continuing with these characters and introducing new ones. I think it's a nice segue because people who are fans of the movie don't feel like we've forgotten the movie altogether and for people who don't know the movie that well the series stands on its own. It was a nice transition even though the two leads are played by different actors.
Amazon.co.uk: Is the series based around an ongoing story, or is it entirely standalone episodes?
Tapping: We do have some standalone episodes which work quite well, but there are also episodes which really open up the series arc and the mythology of the series. What we're finding now, is that we keep going back and dipping into that mythology. Little threads that we've left dangling we'll go back and revisit, and we're actually going back and seeing the consequences of some of the planets we've visited. I think it's important to have a large mythology and really strong story arcs [in a modern sci-fi series]. It gets people connected to the characters and you find out about the characters' history and keep going back to that and finding out about different family members for example. I think it helps people to feel more connected. It helps to bind it all together, although we do have the standalone episodes as well where we don't have to worry about remaining true to the mythology.
Amazon.co.uk: Does this give you the opportunity to play around with the format of the show?
Tapping: We do [play about with the format] to a degree but I think we also have to remember that it's sci-fi and we have to stay honest to the genre so you don't upset the balance of power. I think what makes it different and allows us a bit more freedom is that we're present-day people, fallible human beings travelling through the galaxy, and we do keep coming back to earth at the end of the day so it allows us a more human element if you will. Because we don't have the Prime Directive we make a lot of mistakes and it's almost through our mistakes more so than our successes that we learn about different cultures or that you learn about us as characters.
Amazon.co.uk: You were instrumental in the development of your character from series one. How did this happen?
Tapping: I certainly don't want to take any credit away from the writers and producers, but I went to them at the end of the first season and asked where they were going with my character, she's part military, part scientist, and by trying to make her both we essentially made her neither one. We weren't playing up to either strength and we needed to give her a more solid direction and I felt at the end of the first season that the other characters all had real strong super objectives, and Carter was just there to back up anyone who needed it. Loyal and stalworthy though she is she didn't really have a super objective. The writers agreed and wrote her one. When I met with them they said they didn't realise what was going to happen to the character, that I was going to bring so much to the table, which was very flattering, that they didn't expect her to become this multidimensional character and to their credit when they did they really came up with some great stories for her. It was also important to me to soften some of those rough edges. I talked to them after the pilot and told them that women don't really talk like this.
Amazon.co.uk: You seem to be on a similar wavelength to the writers. Do you write a lot?
Tapping: I try to do a lot of writing. I write with my female comedy troupe, we're called Random Acts, it's three women, and we started about ten years ago. Originally the idea was to do feminist based theatre, but I didn't want to do that, I wanted to do comedy where we could deal with feminist issues but in a funny way because I didn't want to stand up there on my soap box. There are some really funny issues such as the ideology that women were fed in the fifties about how to greet your husband when he comes in the door, with his slippers and a drink and make sure your make up's perfect, and if you like a boy knit him a sweater, and it's mindset which I find humorous because we've come so far, so we decided that's the way to go and we started doing comedy, but it's not all feminist based, it's sometimes just quite silly. It's sketch comedy, very physically based.
Amazon.co.uk: Would you describe yourself as an actor or a writer?
Tapping: I'd say I see myself as an actor more than anything else, and that can encompass comedy as well [I'd like to be in a position where I could write my own films] and even if I didn't star in them I'd like to produce them. Certainly when you start to write a script you think about what sort of part would be good to play and you write around that.
Amazon.co.uk: How does acting in a sci-fi series compare to acting in other genres?
Tapping: For the most part [acting in sci fi] is exactly the same [as acting in other genres]. You have to make whatever situation you're dealing with real, so you treat it just like any other acting job and make it as real as possible so it's as convincing for the audience as possible. The only thing I find strange is sometimes when we act in front of a green screen and they add in the CGI and effects afterwards. For the most part it's turned out pretty well, but there's one instance that's just glaring to me of bad green screen acting. It was in an episode called The Tok'Ra which was in series two, and the Stargate was lined up and the director came up and said "This is the effect we're going to see, it's a crystal tunnel regenerating itself and it's awesome, it's awe-inspiring, you'll be blown away by this effect when you see it and I wish we had some visuals to show you, but we don't, just trust me it's huge. It's basically this tunnel making itself..."
So the camera came on I didn't know what the others were doing because we were standing side by side. When I finally saw the show the camera pans past Daniel, who's sort of [mimes scientific intrigue], and O'Neill is kind of [mimes a frown], and Teal'k of course has his [mimes impassive expression] alien face on, and I am like this [mimes gaping incredulity] with this look like Bambi caught in headlights. I looked at it and thought I've never looked so stupid, the truth is I probably have looked stupider, but there it is on screen for everyone to see. That for me was one of those glaring moments for me as an actor where you realise this is the genre where you've got to be careful.
Amazon.co.uk: Stargate was a little different to other series in that it was guaranteed to run for a certain amount of time. How was this of benefit to the production?
Tapping: We were so blessed in that MGM had committed to two seasons, Showtime had committed to buying two seasons, which was a lot of money to put forward, so we were able to build really beautiful standing sets because we had all this money, we were able to get really good special effects, we knew we could build a story over at least a couple of years, we had the luxury of developing our characters over time.
STARSIGNS DREAMWATCH 2001
The part on Amanda
Much has been made of the developing relationship between Colonel O'Neill and his second in command, Major Samantha Carter, but actress Amanda Tapping is keen to keep clear of travelling too far down that road.
"This season has been about solidifying who [Carter] is, about solidifying relationships," she notes. "The first part of the year had a lot about her feelings for Jack, and thankfully we've got over that!" she laughs. "I think it's far more compelling when it's about two co-workers who have an obvious attraction to each other. I think as soon as you answer that questions [about the relationship] or bring it into the foreground, it becomes uninteresting."
The actress is not surprised that STARGATE SG-1 has survived for four seasons in the ratings-hungry TV arena. "When we shot the pilot we knew we were picked up for two years, and I think through season one we knew we'd go four seasons... and now we've just found out that we were going for five."
Tapping notes that the SF genre lends itself to long-running shows with dedicated audiences. "This is a role that requires a lot of stamina. I think that as an actor I've learned how to channel my energy in the right directions. I think the biggest challenge is keeping Carter fresh and keep her interesting - it's easy to fall into autopilot doing any show, so I make sure that I don't become complacent.
"I'm constantly trying to find what makes her tick, in any given scene or episode," she continues. "We're learning how to conserve energy. At the end of season one we were all sick as dogs; at the end of season two were so exhausted we could barely speak; at the end of season three it wasn't so bad and now, at the end of season four, we're sorta, 'Okay, we can do it!' It's a learning curve."
As well as a regular role on STARGATE SG-1, Amanda has appeared on other Canadian-shot genre shows like THE X-FILES, MILLENNIUM, THE OUTER LIMITS, FOREVER KNIGHT and DUE SOUTH. Born in England, Tapping's career embraces not only theatre, but also performance comedy with her troupe Random Acts and, most recently, a documentary, THE MISS BLIND RIVER CONTEST, during the series hiatus. "I directed, produced and shot it. It's about this small town in ontario where they've had a beauty pageant for the past sixty years. I wanted to celebrate these women and share their stories."
Tapping admits that she wrote a STARGATE SG-1 script, but never submitted it to the show. "Part of the danger as an actor writing is that we're so close to the roles and so close to each other as people that it's hard to differentiate, and hard not to write for what you know those people would play." Still, she hopes that she may be able to take on the director's role in a future episode, like fellow cast member Michael Shanks.
GATEPRIDE SFX FEBRUARY 2001
It seems to be part of every actor's job description to state that everybody on their show gets on like "one big family".
You hear stars praising their castmembers and directors with tongues dipped in the sweetest of compliments, making you wonder if they're lying and their programme is actually a hotbed of hatred back-stabbing and distrust.
Disappointingly, from the journo's point of view, Stargate SG-1 is not one of those shows.
We have to believe it isn't because (as Mulder would say) "the evidence to the contrary is not entirely disuasive". The evidence is, in fact, pretty much in favour of Stargate SG-1 being the smiling von Trapp family of the SF world. And these three actors are all the proof you need.
Amanda Tapping and Teryl Rothery (Major Sam Carter and Dr Janet Fraiser respectively) seem as close as sisters, often finishing each other's sentences and calling each other "Turtle" and "Minnie". They admit to having phoned each other the night before the interview to discuss what clothes to wear, choosing to dress as similarly as possible just for the hell of it. Murmur "Aaaw" or "Urgh" now.
They also called Don Davis, who decided to decline the suggestion of black poloneck and skirt ensemble. "I didn't have the legs for it," he explains, with a shrug. Davis in real life isn't at at similar to the crusty, unform-clad General George Hammond. Instead he's more like that jolly distant uncle you see once a year at Christmas. Every family has him - he's the one who gets tipsy on sherry before the Queen's Speech, then spends the rest of the day making lewd comments over the mince pies, to the horror of all the women in the family.
At this precise moment, however, we're far from Christmas Day and, denied even the merest sniff of a mine pie, Davis isn't too jolly.
"We have had no sleep," he says, fornlornly. "We're so tired I fell asleep in two of the interviews yesterday. At one point an interviewer said, 'And now, if we could wake up Mr Davis...'"
"We haven't slept in about a week," agrees Tapping, which is an odd confession, because to look at her you'd assume she was the poster child for a beauty sleep company.
"The hotel is a lovely hotel, but the street noise!" Davis continues, with all the passion of a true insomniac. "There was never a point in the night when it was quiet. Soho is a very busy place!" Oh boy, he's on a roll. "And another thing. I'm not svelte, but I'm lighter than an elephant. And the bathtub in my hotel room is narrower than I am."
Rothery pipes up with a fake Southern drawl. "Ya got wedged in yesterday, didn't ya, Don? We had to come and pull you out." We can only pray that she's joking and, luckily, she is.
Pulling off quite a good impression of her co-star, Amanda takes up the story, pretending to be on the phone. "Hi girls. I appear to be stuck in the tub."
And at this image, Davis wakes up. "Come and grab whatever you can!" he commands his mock rescuers, and they all laugh like drains.
It's been three days since Amanda Tapping, Teryl Rothery and Don Davis were guests at a Stargate convention in London. Having nothing but diplomatically-phrased praise for their fans over there ("They were very well mannered," Davis declares, making you wonder what they've had to contend with in the past), the threesome are still recovering from the laborious schedule of Stargate SG-1's fourth season. With the show just wrapped in Vancouver, the cast are now justifiably intrigued at the latest rumours that there may be a movie on the horizon.
Stargate on the big screen? Well, that is how it all began, although last time none of the SG-1 team were included. And, unfortunately, as Tapping points out, the cast are always the last to know the facts. "You know as much as we do," she shrugs. "We literally found out when we got to Britain. Peter Williams, who plays Apophis, was also at this convention, and just before he left Vancouver there was an article in the local paper quoting Brad Wright [Stargate SG-1's executive producer/creator]saying that after season five we would be doing a movie. To which we all went, 'What? Are we in it?' So we know nothing."
"It might be like The X-Files, where they slot it between seasons," Tapping muses. "Or it might be like Star Trek franchisr where the show ends first. No idea. Clueless!"
The prospect of playing their characters virtually non-stop doesn't seem to bother these actors, though.
"The three of us have a really strong bond, and it's solidified even more since we've been here together," Tapping confirms. And the bond doesn't just apply to them. Fellow castmember Michael Shanks (Daniel Jackson) recently directed the episodeDouble Jeopardy, one of the final shows of season four. Each actor has nothing but praise for their co-star's virginal efforts.
"He had a really huge episode to direct," Tapping says. "He was initially supposed to direct the episode prior,
which was a very story-driven, character-driven episode in which Carter had a lot to do, so I was pretty excited about working with him. And then they switched the schedule and he ended up getting this massive episode to direct: speciall effects, visual effects..."
"I thought he did very well," Davis nods.
Rothery nods. "We all look out for each other."
"There was no way Michael could fail on this one," Tapping explains. "He was well prepared and had the support of everyone."
There is something rather disturbing about their enthusiasm - as though some sort of Stepford Wives brainwashing is going on here. Don't they have anything bad to say? No malicious gossip? Surely things can't be that dull on the set?
"All that stuff you read about the cast of our show getting on - what you see is what you get," smiles Tapping. "The chemistry that you see on camera so translates off camera. There are so many interpersonal relationships between all of the cast members on individual levels."
"We love everybody!" yells Rothery, and for a moment it really seems as though she's being serious. But there's a twinkle in her eye, indicating that both her and the others realise how sickeningly Californian they sound when they spot praise so generously.
Although she hasn't (yet) reached the status of being a full-time, permanent cast member, Rothery's Dr Fraiser is a well-known recurring guest character, first appearing in the third episode of season one. Whilst her fellow actors have been the stalwarts, we couldn't help but wonder if Rothery is rather miffed at her non-regular status. She isn't.
"I do feel very much a part of the cast," she declares. "The writers are making this apparent, with Janet's relationship with the other cast members. We're a family, all of us. The cast and the crew." Yeah, yeah, yeah. Good God, sounds like a right old love-in.
On the subject of love, there have been hints that it's on the cards for Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill, played by Richard Dean Anderson. At the mere mention of their characters' attraction, Tapping pulls a face that's half despair, half "I'm chewing a lemon". It would appear that she isn't a fan of the concept...
"I disagree with it entirely," she declares, almost angrily. "I think that it's enough that we know there's an attraction, a megnetism, a certain chemistry between these two characters; I think that to push the envelope further is a big mistake, a) based on their military rank; b) based on this incredible dynamic of the team; c) I don't wanna become 'Jack's girl'. I think Carter is so much more than that. I also feel that it's really tired, to have the male and female lead of the show to fall in love. I just think that we have the potential to be so much more intelligent than that."
So what did she make of an episode Window of Opportunity, in which O'Neill and Carter actually get to kiss? "When I first read that, I went, 'Oh, jeez!', but then they put in a bunch of other stuff that he and Teal'c did that took away from that. Initially it was just that moment, but then they came up with the golf through the Stargate and the pottery and riding the bike through the SGC, so thankfully they took away from that being the only thing O'Neill would do." Apparently worried that she's sounding a little harsh, Tapping adds, "Certainly, kissing him is no hardship!" She puts on a gruff British accent and leans in to record her words for posterity on the dictophone. "He's a good snog!"
Tapping may regard her character very seriously, but she does call the long speeches of extrapolation Carter spouts "scientific flatulence". She also desperately wants her to have more fun. "Yes! I think that as the series has progressed they've warmed the character up and they've given her some moments of real humanity. I'd like to see her laugh more, lighten up. She's actually become a much more likeable character, at least for me personally."
After falling very silent during all the talk of snogging, Rothery is looking a little left out, playing with her glass of orange juice fornlornly. But when challenged, she doesn't reveal any great, burning desire for her character to have a love scene with, say, Teal'c."I wouldn't want to see Fraiser snog any of the SG-1 members. I think she holds them all in high regard. I think it would have to be somebody outside of the team." But Fraiser does have an ex-husband, however mentioned in the episode "Hathor".
"He was a bit of misogynist pig," Tapping chuckles.
And just when you'd forgotten he was there, Uncle Don joins the conversation. "I'm not a misogynist, by the way. Although there are people who say I'm a pig." He leans forward, conspiratorially, apparently about to say something earth-shatteringly serious. "Actually, sometimes ordering the women around is a problem. Especially when they say 'please look me in the eyes'. Sometimes my view wanders. It's where they set the lights. Lovely ladies, beautiful bumps."
"Oh god!" shrieks Tapping, howling with laughter.
"He had a good lunch!" Rothery exclaims.
"What was in your lunch?" Tapping sputters.
Happy now that he's caused a stir, Davis sits back with a knowing smile and puts on a Barry White baritone. "I don't know, but I'm hungry for love."
Quite. And, moving swiftly on, we want to ask about an actor who isn't in the room. "Great!" sniffs Amanda, wiping her eyes. "Let's talk about someone else's bumps, shall we?"
It's the question that many a SG-1 fan has been dying to ask for a long time. It's about Teal'c, and the fact that he appears to be in competition with all the women in the cast to wear the most eye shadow. Not at all surprised by the question, Tapping is quick to respond. "Actually, Teal'c, wears more make-up than both of us put together. It takes him 40 minutes to get it put on, and I take 20."
"I say 'hi' to the make-up guy," Uncle Don says, sadly. The sherry has really kicked in, now. "They use dulling spray on my head. It's sticky."
The conversation turns to merchandising, and the strange lack of Stargate SG-1 goodies out there in a market otherwise flooded with all sorts of SF spin offs. Tapping frowns, unhappy that there isn't an action figure out there with her name on it. "It falls to MGM, and it really behooves them to market the heck out of this show because it has so much potential for great marketing. You can get t-shirts and hats and..."
"There's really not a lot of stuff out there," Rothery concurs, "and the fans are so hungry for it!"
"It'd be fun to see me as a Sam doll." Tapping puts on a squeaky voice and turns to her friend. "We could play!"
Rothery agrees, and the women mimic a conversation between two imaginary action figures with their hands, talking like Britney Spears on helium.
"Hey!" says Rothery.
"Hey!" says Tapping.
"Hey, I'm Sam," says Rothery, before realising that she should have said "Janet". Both women collapse in fits of laughter, leading any casual observer to conclude that, like Davis, they must have had a liquid lunch.
"No, no, it was orange juice!" insists Tapping, who has laughed so hard that her mascara has started to run. She takes a deep breath, wiping it away and painting her fingers black. "Unlike Barbie, if there was an action figure, I'd want Sam to have regular proportions. And I'd want her to have her foot flat on the ground with a good arch, as opposed to that pre-formed high heeled boot thing. Do they actually make good platform army boots?"
"Well, they do for Fraiser," says Rothery quietly, for she is the shortest member of Stargate Command.
Tapping doesn't miss a beat. She's on a crusade now, and it's on behalf of plastic women everywhere. "You know, they say if they ever blew up Barbie to be a real woman, her proportions would be ridiculous. She'd ropple over, basically."
Despite our short acquaintance, it comes as no surprise to discover that Don Davis has his own theory on the subject. "I'd just like the dolls to be anatomically correct," he declares, reasonably. "All the right bumps."
Tapping shakes her head. "I'm concerned with footwear. And look at what Don's concerned with."
But he hasn't finished. "Actually, I was doing a movie a few years ago, staying in the same hotel as Dolly Parton... My first thought on seeing her in real life was, 'how does she walk upright?' Maybe they were helium or something."
Before the women dissolve into useless, giggling heaps on their respective sofas, now seems like a very good time to discover exactly how well these three actors know each other, hoping to uncover the truth for once and for all. However, Uncle Don has other ideas.
"Yes, dear," he coos, patting the seat beside him. "Come over here and we'll play any game you want."
Er, it's not that kind of game...
Deciding to start with Mr Davis, we ask if either of the women can tell us what his favourite saying is?
As quick as a flash, Tapping drawls, "'Gawd, I'd love to see you naked.'"
Rothery joins her. "'Gawd, you're a beautiful woman.'"
"'I'm sorry, everybody, but I seem to have fallen asleep there for a minute.'" Tapping looks triumphant. "Did we get it right, Don?"
"Yep!" It seems that the women know him intimately...
Okay, next question: who is Amanda's favourite Simpsons character? Tapping immediately breaks into a wide grin, wriggling on the sofa in glee. "I've done him on set, actually," she hints, but her friends obviously hadn't been listening.
"She always does Simpsons impressions with Richard 'cos they're both fans, but I don't even watch." Rothery is mildly apologetic, and Davis merely shrugs. Faced by such ignorance, Tapping isn't fazed.
"Little Ralphie Wiggum, the police chief's son." She then launches into the world's uncanniest Wiggum impression. "'My cat's breath smells like cat food!' I love him."
It seems that Tapping's knowledge of The Simpsons is impressive, so we wonder which character is Teryl Rothery most like? Lisa? Marge? Without a second thought, Tapping has the answer. "Ralphie Wiggum! No, not really. Teryl's more like Granpa. The difference between Teryl and the character you see on television is that Teryl is goofy. In this sense, Teryl and I are most alike. We're great big idiots. Silly and goofy. Teryl's a klutz, but not at all ashamed of it. And she's a spaz."
Her companion chuckles. "That's me in a nutshell!"
Time for photography.
Davis is delighted to discover he will be sitting between the two ladies. "Take your time," he tells us. "I like it when they lean against me."
"Oh, dear," giggles Amanda Tapping, and has to adjust her make-up again. They must get through a tonne of waterproof mascara on the set of Stargate SG-1.
WHO’D LIVE IN A HOUSE LIKE THIS? CULT TIMES JUNE 2001
Scattered, all over the shop, are gifts from adoring fans. Outside, sheets of rain steadily soak a huddled TV crew. Where else could we be but on location with Stargate SG-1?
Now we know what it's like - being ordered around by Stargate SG-1's Major Carter. "Come on over to my place," said Amanda Tapping, "take a look at where Sam Carter lives." Knowing what's best for us, and naturally curious to visit the home where the Major wends her weary way after a hard day at Stargate Command, Cult Times immediately jumped on a plane to Canada. They say the sun shines on the righteous, so there must have been some seriously naughty people around last month. Having decided to ignore the smart advice about dressing for cold, wet conditions (Stargate SG-1's publicist has recommended that for years and it's never rained once) we found ourselves soaked to the skin and chilled to the bone, having arrived at their location site during what can only be described as a downpour of biblical proportions. Still, the warmth of the welcome extended by the show's cast and crew made it all worthwhile. Take it from one who knows - production teams rarely break into smiles nor offer hugs to journalists who appear in their midst.
The residents of the city are used to carrying on in the face of the paraphernalia that accompanies a film crew, and the good folk living in the North Vancouver suburb chosen as the location base appeared oblivious to the activity going on in their seemingly ordinary street. Well, it would have been like a regular street had it not been for umpteen police cars scattered across the road; the big, white van disgorging space-suited figures carrying radiation detectors; and the arc lights illuminating the whole scene even though it was barely midday. Sam Carter's home is actually a colonial style property belonging to a local resident who has given permission for the house to be used as a set. If you ignored the sight of the neighbours making valiant attempts to stay behind the drapes and blinds at their own windows, and the team of camera operators, sound technicians, runners and assistants scurrying to and fro between the very lovely house and a makeshift rain shelter opposite, it could resemble an average, quiet, suburban scene anywhere in North America.
Richard Dean Anderson (Colonel Jack O'Neill), who says he'd only popped outside to see what was going on, has managed to drench one of the crew. Apologizing profusely, Anderson innocently claims, "I was only trying to direct the water off the tarpaulin," but the fact that he'd waited till the victim stood directly under the point where the water would run off did not go unnoticed. Meanwhile, we're huddled under the barely adequate shelter observing executive producer Michael Greenburg direct the second unit. Eager to not get any wetter ourselves, we decide to venture inside Major Carter's house.
Just inside the entrance to the two-storey building, the 'bootie police' pounce on us to make sure that no one ventures any further with wet shoes. Made out of the same material as disposable wash cloths, these very fetching, elasticated over-boots make sure that the flooring inside the building is protected at all times. Whoever said working on a film set was glamorous has obviously never had to wear these.
Squeezing past the numerous bodies packed into the hallway preparing for the next scene, we emerge into a very light, homely living room to be greeted by the major herself. "Don't I have a nice house?" she beams. "Do you like my river rock fireplace? I built it myself. And I have an amazing car. Did you see my car?" I did. Silver grey and gorgeous, it's parked outside the front door.
As excited as a schoolgirl, Amanda Tapping is thrilled to finally be given the opportunity to show a private part of her character's life."This is a huge, huge episode for Carter," she begins. "We get to see where she lives. I get to wear normal clothes. I drive an amazing car. It's sweet. You know what? I think Carter is very cool. She has a 1940 Indian motorcycle; a 1961 beautiful, mint, vintage Volvo and she's got a Harley in her garage that she's working on, too. How great is that?"Agreeing that it certainly is wonderful, we ask about an interesting rumour that we've heard about Carter's life. Bashfully, she reveals,"I have a man. Of course, at first nobody believes he exists. He's a bit like 'my imaginary friend'. Actually it's a great episode for me because everyone thinks I'm crazy and plays into the fact that Carter has no life outside the SGC. They play into the fact that she never relaxes, so they keep saying things like 'take it easy', 'rest' and 'go home'. So you get to see her house and see that she does have a normal life." Scoffing at the very idea the actress shrugs, "It's not like she's a complete loser, you know. Well, she might be a little bit of a loser, but not totally."
Flapping the edge of her cardigan whilst waving her foot about, she goes on. "I'm loving this episode. I'm wearing funky clothes, well, normal clothes, and I'm out of my army boots!" she yells. "Look, I'm wearing ordinary shoes." Clearly used to these impromptu outbursts, the rest of the crew give Tapping's feet a brief glance before carrying on with their work, although make-up artist Jan Newman can't quite smother a little giggle.
"What else can I tell you?" Tapping wonders, unperturbed. "The second episode in was a great episode for Christopher Judge [Teal'c] - he did a terrific job. We've got scripts up to episode five but that's all I can tell you because, of course, actors are the last to know what's going on. I don't know if we're doing a sixth season or a movie or both."
According to her fellow actors and colleagues, one of the most endearing things about this woman is that she falls for any sort of joke. Teasing her, saying that we know what's going to happen but won't tell her, Tapping jumps up and moans, "Oh, for crying out loud. I'm going to have to wait till I read about it in this magazine, aren't I?"
Tapping may not have been able to shed much light on the future of Stargate SG-1 but she has lots to say about the film she made in the hiatus between Seasons Four and Five. "I did a movie called The Void which has already been pre-sold to Europe."Smiling, she says, "I had the lead and play a physicist again. I only get to play smart women, I don't know why, but this time the character does have a life. She actually has sex - which Sam Carter never does." Perish the thought!
"My boyfriend is played by Adrian Paul from Highlander, and there is a very rude scene." Blushing to the tip of her head, she smiles, "Now I've only ever done one love scene before and that was for network television, so it was very safe. But this is a movie - which is not so safe." Speaking very slowly so I don't miss a word, she explains, "I have a very strict no nudity clause in my contract, so the boobies you see in this movie are not mine. I haven't seen the finished piece yet, so can only hope they're nice. It's a very strange thing being an actress with a no nudity clause and then realizing that they are going to substitute your body and people are going to think it's you. They are supposed to think it's you." Grateful for her co-star's professionalism, Tapping says, "Adrian was wonderful to work with. He had done a lot of love scenes and knew exactly what was OK. He knew exactly where to put his body so that we didn't have to touch, you know... bits. He's a lovely person. Of course, there is no comparison to Richard Dean Anderson, who is the best, but he was lovely all the same.
Sparing her blushes - Tapping had become all flustered by this point - we turn to another source of delight, which was the actress's first encounter with veteran actor Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange). "I was so terrified about working with him in The Void because he's a legend, but it turns out Malcolm is one of the nicest and sweetest people I have ever met. In the first scene we rehearsed together he comes in and says in that wonderful, wonderful voice, 'You've been a very busy and a very naughty girl', and though I'd literally just met him I went to say my first line and just burst out laughing because Malcolm McDowell had called me naughty."
The very thought sets her off again, so to calm down she concentrates on her present home. "Have you seen the pictures?" she queries. Indicating the photographs liberally dotted around the room, Tapping proudly shows off her real family. "There's my grandmother, who is 100 years old, and my grandfather who is like an English version of Elmer Fudd. And that's me and my twin." Although she is only ten months old in the picture, Ms Tapping has hardly changed a bit. The smile and the sparkly eyes are clearly evident. "I wanted the place to look like my own home so I brought in some of my personal things." Pointing to two quilts that cover the settee and chair she says, "Those were sent to me by a fan. Quite a few of the things in here were. I brought them because my fan mail is just piling up and I haven't had a chance to answer everyone but then realized this is something I can do to thank people. I can have their gifts in my episode." Tapping is most insistent that people refrain from sending her things and states, "This is just a general 'thank you' to acknowledge all the fans, all they've done for the show and the blessings they bestow on us. Nothing they do is taken for granted by any of us."
It's almost 7pm and most of the cast and crew have been here since early morning, but there are still some scenes left to shoot. Following Tapping down to the garage level, we're there for a further hour or so whilst the 'discovery scene' is rehearsed and blocked. They may be nearing the end of a 14-hour day but humour is still high on the agenda. Privileged to find out what the big secret is, Michael Greenburg - this time huddled in a shelter outside the garage - warns that the publicist may have to resort to axe murder if we reveal said secret. He needn't worry. All he has to do is threaten to stand us out in the rain for hours next time we visit Stargate SG-1. You'll have to watch the episode on Sky 1 this autumn to find out for yourself.
AMANDA’S Q & A WITH FANS AMANDA TAPPING.COM DECEMBER 5 2001
Please do not copy or reproduce this interview without asking the webmaster for permission first.
Date: December 5, 2001
With big thanks: Amanda has graciously agreed to take her time and answer her fans' questions in a Q and A, which was intended to be subsequently put onwww.amandatapping.com . The questions have been gathered through various Internet clubs and mailing lists. Below is a full list of questions that were included in it and Amanda's answers.
Question #1 - from Mark Towler: If there is one part of Stargate SG-1 or Sam Carter that you could change, what would it be and why?
Amanda: We would laugh more. I like the sense of play that we sometimes have on the show.I think it shows our more human sides, but I wish we would express it more. We're serious when the situation calls for it and I wish we could be more humourous when we are not in the middle of the saving the world. I wish Sam would laugh more. And I wish she didn't always have the answer or a theory! I'd love to see her say, 'Well I'm stymied, I have no idea what to do.' heehee
Question #2 - from Sarah Jayne aka BC: Who was your role model whilst you were growing up?
Amanda: Mostly my family. My Dad for his wicked sense of humour and my Mum for her kindness and ingenuity. I don't know how they managed it with four small children, but we laughed a lot in my house and we really didn't have a lot. Other role models would be certain teachers I had. I had a teacher who sensed my shyness (seriously) and helped me overcome, in a way, my lack of self esteem. I also worked with an actor in my first real theatre show who taught me a lot about presence.
Question #3 - from Lynn (Noda): If TPTB would sanction a spin-off of Stargate, would you be willing to reprise your role as Sam?
Amanda: I don't think so. I think Sam is such a part of SG-1 that to put her somewhere else would be weird. Plus I wouldn't want people to get bored with me. I think after Stargate I'd like to try for something completely different. However, if I was asked to guest on the spin-off I don't think I'd say no. They might need Sam to figure everything out for them! like she always does. LOL
Question #4 - from Tracy/T2: Have you any projects planned i.e. film work, directing etc, between season 5 and season 6 of Stargate?
Amanda: I have decided to take some time off for the first time in my career. I am planning on travelling and doing some more renovations to my house and hanging out with family. I expect I'll spend a lot of time in the woods with my dog. I am not the world's best relaxer so we'll see how I do.
Question #5 - from Pam Richardson / Major Ly: I have always felt that the music one listens to is kinda the 'soundtrack of your life' (creating moods or bringing back memories). I was curious as to the type of music you listen, and maybe who some of your favorite artists/composers/songs might be...
Amanda: I have crazy ecclectic taste in music. From old rock to classical to chants. I definitely think it creates a soundtrack and will often hear a song that takes me back to a certain time. I can't listen to The White Album or The Wall without thinking about studying for final exams. When I drive to work in the morning I listen to Alternative stuff to wake me up and on the way home it's more folk to help me to relax. I like to study lines to classical, especially Baroque.
Question #6 - from Adele: If time travel was possible which year and place would you go?
Amanda: I have a weird affinity for the late 1800s early 1900s in England. So there definitely. Also, I kind of want to see what's ahead for us, maybe one hundred years into the future? But the prospect scares me a little. I think we shouldn't know too much.
Question #7 - from Gaea: Ms. Tapping, you are such a wonderful role model for young women: an intelligent, sincere, classy, and caring person all rolled up in a wonderful sense of humor and a most contagious smile! Thank you for sharing that with us and thank you for portraying a character that sends the message women can be smart, strong, and beautiful. You are an extremely talented actress, best of luck in your future projects.
OK - here's my question:
The Other Side was a very poignant episode with a few conflicts among team members and the overlying moral conflict of the war on the other planet. The episode ends with Sam and Jack exchanging some unspoken dialog just as you hear a thud on the iris.To me, that wordless exchange spoke volumes about the moral issues and dilemma of the episode. I was just wondering what you, as the actress, had intended to communicate in that scene.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share a little piece of yourself with us. This is a gift for which we are most grateful.
Best of luck and happy anniversary (a little early),
Amanda: Wow! First of all thank you, you're very sweet. If you could see me now, I'm blushing and doing my nervous giggle.
In that scene in TOS the most important objective for me was to convey that sense of 'oh My God, what have we done?' I feel very strongly as Sam and as Amanda that we don't have the right to be judge, jury and executioner to any culture. While we may disagree with people's politics we are not in the business of deciding what is right for the people of any planet we visit. Now, certainly genocide or the erradication of people simply because of the colour of their skin, is so obviously wrong. We all know that. We, in our own history, are still dealing with the evils of that. But, does Sg-1 have the right to knowingly kill a man for this, as his way of life is being destroyed. Could we have not brought him to trial on his planet after the dust had settled? Or heard both sides of the story on the war and made an intelligent decision based on that. Also, what gives us the right to make that kind of decision. Long story short-ish, I wanted Carter to show disappointment in O'Neill and the fact that she questioned his judgement. While I disagreed with their war and why it was being fought, I still struggled with our final judgement of him.
Message from Lyn (Bad Girls of the North) Clark [Anchorage, Alasca]: Hi, Amanda!
Just wanted to say 'Hello', and thank you for your continued excellent work for SG1! I've really enjoyed the braved fiesty Carter in Season 5! You will be greatly missed at Gatecon. Have a very Happy Anniversary!
Amanda: Thank you!! As I am answering this after Gatecon I hope everyone had a great time and I'm sorry I couldn't stay longer.
Question #8 from Debbie G: Have you studied in the martial arts?
Amanda: Not really. I studied Judo when I was younger, but I didn't get too far. Any fighting I have to do for the show involves a lot of practice with our stunt co-ordinator.
Question #9 from Sally Murphy: What character did you portray in the stage play 'Noises Off' and what character in 'Steel Magnolias'?
Amanda: In Noises Off I played Brooke Ashton the ditzy blonde. She was a huge amount of fun to play! In Steel Magnolias I played Shelby. Lots of crying on that show!
Question #10 from gaBBy: How do you feel about the Sam and Jack relationship and what do you want to see happen between the characters?
Amanda: As I have said before I don't think they should push the envelope on that too far. First off all it would mess with the dynamic of the team. Secondly, it is not an option given their miltary ranks. Thirdly, I don't like the idea of being Jack's girl. I think Carter is so much more than that and if we went there it would overshadow all that she has to offer the team. I think the idea of the male and female leads of a show getting together is boring.. We have the potential to be so much more intelligent than that. All that being said, it is a lot of fun to play that dynamic in an alternate reality!! I would like to see them laugh together more as only good friends can.
Question #11 from Lynne Cooper: Dear Amanda,
Would you consider doing theatre or t.v. work in the U.K.?
Love and best wishes to you
Amanda: YES, yes and yes!! I have often thought that I would like to come 'home' and work there. It is a dream of mine since childhood to appear in a show in London's West End. And thank you.
Question #12 from Rebecca Greenslade: Where is the relationship with Sam and Jack heading?
Amanda: I have absolutely no idea. The writers won't tell us anything!!
Question #13 from gaBBy: Is it harder to act a 'romantic scene' with someone you know very well than with an actor you don't know?
We'll miss SG-1 very much and we wish you well in any new initiative after Season 6.
Amanda: It depends on the person. Usually I find it easier to do a romantic scene with someone I know because it can be pretty uncomfortable and it's so technical. It helps to set things up and to pass time if you're working with someone you are comfortable with. In Point of View Rick and I couldn't stop laughing when we were setting up the final kiss because it was taking so long and we centimetres form each other's faces. It helped that we were so comfortable with each other.
There may still be a movie after season six! Keep your fingers crossed.
Question #14 from Ender: What are your reasons for not wishing Sam and Jack to be romantically involved?
Amanda: See question 10. I hope I covered it there.
Question #15 from Lucy Maria Elmer: Hey, Amanda
I'm an aspiring actress who wrote to you a while back though you probably can't remember me. Anyways what I'd like to ask is your charater and Teryl's (who are my faves btw) are pretty close in the show. Are you guys as close in real life?
Also do you have any tips for an aspiring actress like me? I'm currently trying to get an agent.
Thanks for being my inspiration,
Lucy Maria Elmer xxx
Amanda: Teryl and I are very close off camera, in fact I just got off the phone with her. She is my giggle buddy and a person I really feel I can turn to. As for acting, make absolutely sure it is your passion. This industry is so hard on people, especially women. If you can't live without being an actor then GO FOR IT! Follow your dream. Take as many classes as you can. It's great to learn new techniques and to hang out with other people in the same position. I still take classes when I can. I will never stop craving the adrenalin and terror of being in class and learning new ways to play my instrument. Make sure you get good pictures that look like you, not glam. Then send out like crazy to all agents and follow up when you think they may have received your package. It helps if you can time the mail delivery somewhat. Speak to other actors, casting directors and acting coaches to find out who is getting their people work. Ultimaltely, pick an agent who is passionate about you. All the very best of luck to you Lucy! I'll be watching for you.
Question #16 from Jo. R: 1) Do you have any plans to attend a UK convention this year?
2) Teryl Rothery recently stated that she?s read some fanfiction. Have you ever read any and if yes, what kind was it? (Action, romance, drama, etc)
Amanda: 1) I am coming to Engalnd in February for Wolf?s Sg-4. I am looking forward to coming back!
2) I've read one fan fic that was very action/drama. It was great.
Question #17 from Okapi: The episode Wormhole Extreme,
Was it really hard for the cast and crew to get through this episode without people cracking up all the time?
It looked like you had a great time making the episode, what was your favorite screen from this episode and why?
Amanda: We laughed our fool heads off!! There was a great sense of joy on the set because our crew was so invloved in it. Many of our crew were extras and they had a blast. Michael and I, unfortunately were not in a lot of the show. We shot most of our scenes seperately from Rick and Chris. The briefing room scene when we were watching the promo for the show was a lot of fun.
Question #18 from Alli b: Hi Amanda, what was your highlight at the SG2 convention in London?
Also THANK YOU for the birthday present of the baseball cap (wore it most of the time while in Egypt) and will donate to Teryl's charity at the next con.
Amanda: You are most welcome. Highlight of SG-2 was J.R. We were all so surprised to see him there! It was fun to be on stage with him and have him question me about Narim. I love those kind of silly, spontaneous moments. I will never forget when he first walked out on stage!
Question #19 from Ali: If you were asked to produce an episode of Stargate where the team had gated to a planet that was governed by women how would you approach that story?
Amanda: I have been asking myself that same question for a long time. I don't think Earth would be a total utopia by any stretch. I think I would start by asking women from every country in the world, how they would change it if they were in power. I wouldn't ask politicians, I would ask women from all levels of society. That would give me a solid idea of what would be different on this planet. Then I would hire a female director. ( like me for instance) It is a difficult question. I think the only way to approach the story would be by doing a lot of research.
Question #20 from Sue George (aka PettyCreature and SuetheLurker): If you could play any role on the London Stage, which would it be and why?
Amanda: Elanor of Aquitaine from The Lion in Winter, when I'm sixty. She is one of the wittiest and most acerbic characters I have ever come across.
Question #21 from silkrat: Amanda,
What would you like to see happen to Sam that hasn't happened yet? In her career or personal life.
Amanda: I'd like her to get a boyfriend who doesn't die!
Question #22 from Deborah: I understand that you are against Sam and Jack being together. I was wondering if you are also against the display of tenderness between or regarding these two characters (In the Line of Dity, Message in a Bottle, Entity, for example)? I've really missed that particular human aspect of the show this season.
Amanda: I am all for them displaying tenderness towards each other. They care a great deal about each other and that warmth and affection only serves to make them more compelling. It also highlights the struggle they face in that they can't be together. I miss it too. We have to be careful not to make the mistake of going too far one way or the other.
Question #23 from Deb: Which three Goa'ulds have been your favourite / found the most interesting and why?
Amanda: Apophis because he was my first. (heehee) and he is a great character. We see his flaws. Hathor because it's great to fight a real bad ass chick! Sokar because he is pure evil! It is interesting to explore someone that unrepentant.
Question #24 from Angel_Star: How do you feel about your younger fans? At conventions, fan mail, the Internet, etc.
Amanda: I love them! At conventions I'm not sure if I've scared them. They are so adorable and shy. I have received great letters and drawings from younger fans. It is always a thrill.
Question #25 from Barbara: How much of your personality is in the character Samantha Carter you play on SG-1?
Amanda: More now than at the beginning. I think it's impossible to play this character without putting some of myself in her. She is much more serious than me though. I laugh way easier than she does. But the line is definitely blurrier than when the show started. I'd like to think we have the sense of loyalty and the same level of commitment.
Question #26 from Petra (anorak): Have you the ambition to write or direct an episode of Stargate in the future?
Amanda: Yes. I have been asking to direct since the beginning of season three. I will probably be writing an episode for season six.
Question #27 from Karen Logos: My question is regarding your performance in the episode 'Point of View', where you also play your alternate self. Specifically, I was curious about the scene where R.D.A. comes to your room to inform you that you are allowed to stay in his reality. Your sense of grief is so powerful here and completely real that I've always wondered how or what you focused on to achieve this. For me, it is the most dynamic scene to date. Thank you!
Amanda: Thank you!! I cried for about five hours solid. I just put myself in a dark place and once I got there I transferred all my personal anguish into what I thought Samantha would feel. I was also really tired and feeling vulnerable so that helped. We all have our demons or our triggers and I guess I was lucky enough to be able to access mine when I needed to.
Question #28 from Nic: Amanda, as much as I enjoy watching you as Sam, I would really like to see you do something really different and you have always expressed an interest in appearing on the stage. So when can we expect you in the West End or even better on the Irish stage? (we have had a lot of greats tread the boards here) What type of play would you be interested in doing? (I think you would be great in something with a little comedy)
Amanda: I would be in seventh heaven doing comedy on stage again. It's nice to know there's a place for me in Ireland! Can I stay with you until I find a gig? My roots are theatre and I absolutely love comedy so if I had magic powers that's where I'd be next.
Question #29 from Michelle Birkby: What's the worst part about playing Major Carter?
Amanda: Trying to keep it real. When you play the same character for such a long time you have to be really cognizant of not playing on auto pilot. I have to constantly find new things to keep her alive. As much as I like Carter, I wish she wasn't such a stick in the mud, sometimes.
Question #30 from Melissa, Lila and Sandy: Amanda, did you receive the Yearbook and what do you feel about it?
Amanda: Oh my gosh.. I Loved it!!!!!! I so appreciate how much work went into it. Please don't think I take these things lightly or that I don't care! I actually answer all my fan mail by hand so it takes a long time. And it often sits somewhere in limbo land before I even receive it. So if you haven't heard from me yet, know that I loved it!
Question #31 from Ellen H.: What do you feel are your greatest strength and weakness as an actress and do you think your answer to this has changed over the last several years?
Based on the above, which episodes do you personally enjoy the most and the least?
Amanda: My biggest strength I guess is my commitment. I am a workaholic and will spend a huge amount of time doing research and homework. I commit 110% to any project I'm involved in. My biggest weakness is my lack of self esteem. I don't always fight hard enough for my ideas and I am easily bullied by directors. That is the thing that has changed the most since Stargate started, but I have a long way to go. To that end, my least favourite episode would probably be Emancipation. It was very early on in the series and in retrospect there are things I would have fought for in terms of the story. My favourite is, that's tough, I can always find things wrong with my work, I'm my own worst critic. I think, maybe, POV in terms of the sheer amount of work and the fact that I had a certain amount of control because I was in it so much.
Also, Entity because I was allowed the freedom of deciding how to play her without the director telling me how. Hope that answers it ok.
Question #32 from Nicky: From one Essex girl to another ? Do you know what an Essex girl is and if so, do you have any Essex girl traits?
Amanda: I was told a lot about Essex girls when I did my first convention!! I heard every joke possible and I am still proud to say I'm a girl from Essex.