[podcast]http://blastmagazine.com/files/podcasts/Michael Shanks Blast Podcast November 2009.mp3[/podcast]
Hear the entire interview here or on iTunes.

Michael Shanks is an actor, and while it’s easy to get lost in the character he has played on, off and on again for a dozen years, there’s a lot under the surface.

Born in Vancouver and raised in small town British Columbia, Shanks began his acting career playing Charlie Brown in the fourth grade play. He witnessed his first television production in college while taking a beach break from trying out for a play. Ironically, it was “MacGyver” that Shanks saw being filmed, not knowing of course that he would one day star beside Richard Dean Anderson in “SG-1.”

He made his television debut in a 1993 episode of “The Commish,” a popular ABC crime drama. He landed a lot of minor roles before getting his big break on “Stargate SG-1” in 1997, staring in 196 episodes in the series as an adventurous archeologist named Dr. Daniel Jackson. Since the end of “Stargate SG-1” in 2007, Shanks, 38, has been trying to remake himself as an actor

“Well its a double-edged sword, I will say this,” Shanks said in his interview with Blast. “The things that come down the pipe, career-wise, that are offers to pay the bills are sort of sci-fi related projects.”

But, humbly, Shanks admits that all he can do is keep trying to land roles — hopefully roles that aren’t nerdy archeologists. “You just have to get back in a line as if you’re starting all over again,” he said.

We saw some of this. Shanks left “SG-1” after season 5 and landed a few small roles, including two episodes of “Andromeda,” where he met his wife. It’s possible we may never have seen Daniel Jackson again if Shanks was offered another starring role (pure speculation). But Daniel’s was a popular role, and Shanks returned to “Stargate,” first as a guest, and then in his everyday role.

After “Stargate,” Shanks got to show some range by playing a pseudo-villain in the popular USA series “Burn Notice.” He played Victor, a rogue secret agent taking revenge on the shadowy intelligence agency that killed his family. He also recently landed a role that could bring him more into the mainstream by appearing in The CW’s “Smallville,” as comic book hero Hawkman. It’s still in the realm of sci-fi/fantasy, but the show has a wider following.

Still though, we can’t forget what Shanks and the “SG-1” crew did in making the Sci-Fi/SyFy channel what it is today. A new Stargate show, “Stargate Universe” began this year, even as a rumored “SG-1” straight-to-DVD movie is on the shelf.

Stargate Universe” is a much younger, more melodramatic, almost juvenile take on the franchise, and fans are conflicted. Shanks is too, even though he’s slated to appear in at least four episodes this season.

“It is really slick and pretty,” Shanks said. “[But] from what I’ve seen I’m not on board. … I’m not hooked in.”

Shanks said the drama and conflict seems forced. “They’re creating tension, pathos and angst,” he said. “The conflict with the characters seems a bit forced.”

One thing I did not dig deeply into was Shanks’ relationship with Christopher Judge. At the San Diego Comic-Con International in 2008, Judge boasted that he and Shanks started their own production company. We later heard about a production about the archangel Michael. But Shanks said the production company was off. He didn’t discuss his relationship with Judge, and I didn’t press him any further on the matter.

BLAST: So you and Christopher Judge are best buds. You have a production company you’re putting together? What’s happening with you guys?

MICHAEL SHANKS: Yeah. Let’s just say the production company’s not happening anymore, and I’d rather not go down that road and talk about Christopher Judge at this particular junction.

Shanks lives in Vancouver with his wife, the beautiful British-Filipina-Canadian actress Lexa Doig (Jason X), whom he got to work with when she played a doctor in 11 episodes at the end of “SG-1’s” run. She is also known for her sci-fi/fantasy work. The couple has two children, and Shanks has an 11-year-old Daughter, Tatiana, born in 1998 to then girlfriend Vaitiare Bandera, who played Daniel Jackson’s wife, Sha’re on “SG-1.” Shanks also said he’s been known to enjoy a good game of Hockey — like any true Canadian.

[podcast]http://blastmagazine.com/files/podcasts/Michael Shanks Blast Podcast Interview Addendum.mp3[/podcast]

Editor’s note: After readers called out Blast — and called us liars — for not including the audio of the Christopher Judge portion of the Michael Shanks interview, we are posting it in the interest in full disclosure. We wouldn’t lie about or improperly quote an actor who agreed to give an interview to Blast.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at guilfoil.j@blastmagazine.com. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

24 Responses

  1. Adam J

    “almost juvenile take on the franchise”

    It’s the most adult instalment by far, I really don’t understand this comment. SGU is real and gritty, the characters are realistic and actually act like normal people. While I love it, SG-1 wasn’t adult like this, the characters were like action hero’s with a whiter than white moral code, who never really addressed their feelings nor did much in the way of developing relationships either. SG-1 wasn’t a character drama like this though, it was just a pop-corn romp, which is fine, but the juvenile criticism really doesn’t hold water, I struggle to understand how anyone who has actually seen the show could even think that.

    Reply
    • Les Ferris

      @Adam J:

      Indeed. I love SG-1, it’s still my favorite show, but SGU is more adult and more realistic. Some people can’t handle it and want the constant ‘running through the Vancouver forest with big explosions and nasty, campy aliens’ that was especially prevalent in the last few seasons of SG-1 and all throughout SGA, after that SGU is a breath of fresh air and, seeing the abortion of an episode that was SGA’s finale, I’ll take slightly too slow paced over far too fast paces any day of the week. SGU is a completely different show, kudos to the Stargate creators for being versatile. People need to get over it and either stop watching, or accept it for what it is.

      Reply
      • Wrong

        More like some people want characters and stories that are actually interesting. HBO shows are much more adult and realistic and their characters are complex and compelling. I loved many of those shows like Wire, Rome, Deadwood, and Six Feet Under. SGU bores me to tears.

    • marsha

      The way I read it, Shanks doesn’t say SGU is juvenile, the interviewer/article writer does. What Shanks said is ““It is really slick and pretty,” “[But] from what I’ve seen I’m not on board. … I’m not hooked in.” “They’re creating tension, pathos and angst,” “The conflict with the characters seems a bit forced.” It is an opinion shared by others.
      I think SGU is still finding its way – it’s only been a half season. It’s so different from SG-1 that those of us who loved that show for 10 years (or so) find it hard to relate the two, but I give TPTB credit for not trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s definitely not your-mother’s-SG1, but that’s okay.

      Reply
  2. dtheories

    Thanks, John for your fabulous interview with Michael Shanks. You touched on so many aspects: family, work, ambitions, industry…sports! And *hearing* the conversation rather than simply reading small exerpts explains much and allows for less misinterpretation too. That ‘Daniel’ and ‘Victor’ were performed by the same person speaks volumes about this talent and I am eager to watch what comes next for his career. Thanks again!

    Reply
  3. Astrumporta

    Thanks for this — very interesting podcast! One thing, unless I missed it, Michael never mentioned Chris Judge or their production company in the audio version. It seems like you’re implying a falling-out between them. Or at least, leaving room for readers to do so. Just curious, what is the basis for the production company news?

    Reply
  4. sg_betty

    I have real doubts about the reliability of this article. Given what MS said about SGU here, combined with factual errors (Lexa Doig was born in Toronto and is Canadian) and the completely unsubstantiated speculation about his relationship with CJ, I get the impression that this article was written with sensationalism in mind, not as a real interview. It’s more of an opinion piece by the author, highly edited, and written to reinforce personal opinion.

    Reply
  5. knicknac

    I wonder, is Stargate a problem for those in the industry? Do they see that on his resume and give him a pass? I think the division between TV and film has lessened a bit, but there does still seem to be this divide between SF and non-SF still present.

    Reply
    • sg_betty

      He’s mentioned that a lot of them just don’t know anything about it. I don’t think it does him any harm, but it’s not on LA radar, although there are exceptions, of course.

      Reply
  6. Manuel

    You’d think FILM would be more accepting of Sci-fi…especially with MARVEL/DC/JJ ABARMS bringing in the nerd into Tinseltown.

    Reply
  7. madaboutdanny

    Thanks 🙂 It’s nice to see Michael appreciated. Is there a possibility of a transcript of this interview? English is not my language, and the sound is not very good for my englih skill.

    Reply
  8. timbay

    Thank you for the wonderful interview with Michael Shanks! I loved him in Stargate SG-1. I have never watched Smallville, but I will definitely be tuning in for any episodes with Michael. It sounds like it’s going to be loads of fun!

    Reply
  9. Ann

    Thank you very much for updating the article. Since so much of it was on audio, it was odd to get reporter’s commentary on aspects that weren’t heard. It’s good to get at least some of the context. And thank you for providing the audio Q&A at all for a fuller view of everything.

    Much appreciated.

    Reply
  10. ben

    well sgu is finally finished and boy did it suck.

    i dont understand, if they want boring story lines, why pick syfy

    sgu could easily be based in a office in manhatten. it is that boring.

    the whole point of scidence fiction is action and adventure, to see something you cant see every day. i wouldnt walk in a bar if it was as boring as that show. way too much like the remake of battlestar galactica, another decent show butchered by incredibly mind numbing boring people who take themselves far to seriously. In the wrong job

    Reply
  11. spiralamok

    Look; all shows these days are supposed to be about a small town, or a spaceship, or a kitchen. Unfortunately the powers that be are concerned about 2 things. The first is getting people to watch. Once this feat is accomplished, its on to phase two: brainwash. We as humans watch shows not realizing our brain relates similarly to what we see on screen as we would in real life. The bottom line is all shows and movies have become a quiet backdrop of buzz concepts designed to get us to watch, so they can show us a soap opera. SG-1 was like a video game to watch, very technical and focused on the concepts of this reality in which a Stargate exists. It took us there, like the matrix first time in a theater. Stargate Universe is about a bunch of snotty shallow people bickering over each others wants and expectations. Seriously, watch ANY show or movie and you will see, they try to hook you with the concept, so you’ll watch; then they come at you with less than impressive social interations, and for what? So you’ll shout at your TV or the characters in frustration? So you’ll relate to their childish stubbornness in the face of danger unknown to anyone in real life? There is a place for some social upheaval and “character development” in life and in Stargate, but the idiots who thought they could squish the Stargate franchise by letting shallow “Real World” like character interactions dominate the viewer’s attention, well, they’re brillant. And the numbers confirm. Pringles used to taste better too. they get you hooked, then take out the prefered expensive elements, replacing them with carefully scripted social vomit, so we can all grow up to mimic and be perpetually shallow. I guess its a question of role models. Do you enjoy watching SGU’s cast slowly go through what painfully looks like a second puberty; or would you rather wait till they finish building the set before they start filming? Don’t blame the creators, they most likely are running the franchise into the ground like anyone else who gets locked onto years long contracts and is expected to do more and more with less and less (Just ask Kurt). The sooner it goes belly up the sooner the people who believe in doing fine work such as SG-1 can re-mobilize and make a Surrogettes instead of a Nacho Libre.

    Reply

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