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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.
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.