The Stargate series was quite frankly an astonishing success. The original film had Kurt Russell as Col. Jonathan ‘Jack’ O’Neil, and James Spader as Dr Daniel Jackson, but in the series both roles were recast with Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks respectively, an exceptionally brave move. I enjoyed the original film immensely and Russell and Spader were brilliant in their roles, but if you were to think of the characters of O’Neill and Jackson now you can only see them as Anderson and Shanks, and that is quite an achievement. In the words of Highlander (yup he was in that TV series too), when it comes to the character of Dr Daniel Jackson, there can only be one, and it’s Michael Shanks.
Although Dr Jackson is seen as a bit of a geek, and we know from his wife Lexa that he spent far too many hours playing Skyrim, meeting Michael Shanks is a bit of a shock. We’ve met Christopher Judge before and we can confirm that he is massive and that we suspect his hands are made out of shovels. As it turns out Michael Shanks is not exactly a short skinny chap either, and it’s easy to see why at one point he may have pursued a career as an Ice Hockey player (I’m sincerely hoping it would have been to play for the Vancouver Canucks!).
Currently in Saving Hope as Dr Charlie Harris and having recently had a role in the film Elysium, it’s good to see Michael has no shortage of work offers. We were lucky enough to grab a few minutes with him at this year’s London Film and Comic Con (Winter).
With Stargate having been finished for a while now do you still miss it?
I haven’t really had much of a chance, I’ve been doing a lot of other projects. Certainly I miss the action elements of the show and the camaraderie, but I’m in another series now, Saving Hope, which is very different and it’s nice to explore that after doing a show for you know, ten years. It’s nice to be able to do something different. But actually, yes, I do miss stuff blowing up all the time, rapid and random gunfire. I do miss that aspect and the cast too, yes. But it’s nice to move on as well.
What drew you to Saving Hope?
I think because it’s much more of a character driven show, being able to explore different aspects of your abilities and to test yourself in a much more kind of adult demographic based show. That was what I really wanted to do, I wanted to do something that was more about the acting rather then the action so to speak.
Which roles have given you more freedom as an actor, because in Sci-Fi they can be quite restrictive?
Yeah, some of them can be yes. For something like Stargate you get more of a caricature then a character to play sometimes, and so you can find it a little bit limiting in terms of they aren’t that important so long as the action takes place. So I find that when you have a show based more around the characters and their interactions you have a much more say in creating a three dimensionality to that character.
What has been the most challenging aspect in the “acting business” for you?
The whole thing, but the people are the best and I’ve been very blessed and worked around a lot of good people. The business part is the toughest part about it. When you’re actually just doing the job, it’s the easiest thing, it’s what you’re there for. It’s the getting the job in the first place that can be difficult, negotiating deals and even just auditioning for things. A lot of people think that actors get paid a lot to do their job, and sometimes they do, but for the most of the time we get paid normal working rates if you take into account how long we might not be working. So I think the business aspect is the most daunting and terrifying part of it. The acting makes it easy!
And last question, how has the London Film and Comic Con been for you?
It’s been great! I don’t get to see outside of the hall too much, but everyone is always so polite and it’s nice to meet the people that watch the shows, especially the newer stuff as well.
Thank you for your time and all the best for your future projects.
Thank you very much and the same to you!
It was great to talk to Michael, and Lexa too, and a big thank you to both of them for their time and the fantastic Showmasters Crew who made it all happen (Ken, Gemma, Zoe, Jess).
As a side note, I can confirm that losing your wabbajack in Skyrim is not good and that a few of our editors who are avid Skyrim players offer their condolences on losing such a unique item. If it was an MMORPG game we would be there helping you out and we’d be as awesome as the SG1 team .