For six seasons as Samantha Carter in Stargate SG-1, Amanda Tapping has given this popular series its heart and soul. John Reading meets the actress.
As Major Samantha Carter on Stargate SG-1, Amanda Tapping has spent the past six years imbuing the Space-hopping, hi-tech series with much of its heart and soul. The character is as tough as O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), Teal'c (Christopher Judge) and Jackson (Michael Shanks), but she's also feminine. Stargate just wouldn't be the same without Tapping or Carter. Fortunately, Tapping has been a constant from day one, and she's on hand again now, as the series returns to the airwaves for its seventh season. Starburst chatted to Tapping on a rare day off and found her to be in terrific humour as she discussed past events, the return of Michael Shanks (and exit of Corin Nemec), as well as her hopes for Carter's continued development.
Let's start with Season Six. How pleased were you with the year as a whole and specifically Carter's character arc?
The season as a whole I thought was fantastic. I thought that it was such an interesting dynamic bringing Corin in, or bringing this Jonas character in, and it changed the relationships of everyone and it sort of infused the show with new life. It was a really strange season for us, but I think that it was a really good one.
Sam's development, no, but I'm not complaining. Her job in Season Six was to help move the story forward, doing a lot of explaining or taking us to places. She facilitated stories, but she didn't have a huge emotional mark in Season Six. She was the go-to girl. You need the information, go to Sam. You need something explained, go to Sam. You need some back-story, go to Sam. There wasn't a lot of character development for her. There were certain episodes that I thought were fun to play, like Nightwalkers and Smoke and Mirrors, which were sort of Earth-based stories about 'Who do you trust and who don't you trust?' I certainly had a great time shooting Season Six, but I don't feel that the character of Sam had a huge amount of development.
What would you say the sixth season finale, Full Circle, set in motion for Season Seven?
Well, it sets the stage for Daniel coming back, in that we don't know what happens to him. I guess that everyone knows he comes back because they've done all of this hoopla. So I'm not telling tales out of school [laughs]. Daniel comes back.
Oh yeah? We didn't know that...
Oh man, I'm sorry. I blew it for you [laughs]. What was put into motion? Well, I don't know that Full Circle actually set in motion anything for Season Seven except for the fact that Daniel either makes a huge sacrifice or does something wherein he comes back. It solidifies that he's part of this team because he's back when we need him the most, but beyond that, in terms of relationships between anyone else, no, though there were obviously the Jack O'Neill moments.
How involved will Carter be in helping Daniel reintegrate into the SG-1 team?
It happens progressively over a few episodes. It happens fairly rapidly, but it does happen over a few episodes and it's little things. It's little, subtle things that he finds or little things that we say to him. So we're all active in it, but most of it is his journey of discovery.
It's got to be déjà vu to have Michael back on the set.
Yeah, it is. It's wonderful. It's right back where we were. It's kind of what makes us feel so special, the chemistry between the actors, and when that dynamic is brought back together and you see it again, you go, 'Oh yeah, that's right, this is right.'
Corin Nemec came into a really complex situation, arriving as a popular character left, then trying to fill his shoes, and then leaving as that same popular character returned. What did you make of all that?
God bless Corin, I have to say. The man handled it. He was put in an untenable position, as you said, of having to come in and fill not only the shoes of a very popular character, but a very popular actor and try and find his way into a dynamic that had been in play for five years. And he was so solid. Rick and Michael and Chris and I barely have to speak sometimes. Sometimes it's just a look and we know what's going on. So he walked into such a tough situation, with all this backlash from Sam, and he handled it so beautifully. He handled it with such class and such grace and he didn't push to try and be one of the gang. He found his place in it and he did it very quietly and we all tried to make him feel a part of it, but it was weird. It was just a different dynamic, but he did a beautiful job, I think. And I was surprised when I heard that Corin was going and Michael was coming back. I was really surprised because I didn't know that Michael would come back. I just thought, 'Wow', and I phoned Corin to see how he was with everything because I felt really bad for him. You're on this show for a year and all of a sudden you're gone. He was very cool. He was very classy about it.
Let's talk a bit about Season Seven. We're hearing that Dr Fraiser (Teryl Rothery) may die. She's been the other female on the show all this time, so you must have mixed feelings about this turn of events.
Yep. I don't know what I'm allowed to say. I think that it's out there that it's happening. I actually talked to [co-producer] Peter DeLuise about it because he pulled me into his office. He felt terrible and he was like, 'What do I do? I wrote the script, but I thought that it was the end of the show and that it would air right at the end and that it would be dramatic.' And now they're talking about an eighth season potentially, and he felt terrible. I said, 'So don't kill her. Simple. Make her wounded. It happens all the time.' But it is a phenomenal episode. We've actually shot most of it.
You're not going anywhere, but if it came to an end tomorrow, what would have gone incomplete? What would you not have gotten to play as Carter?
Well, I think that we're kind of doing it right now in a couple of episodes, in terms of her sense of humour and in terms of her joy of life. I've talked to [executive producer and show runner] Robert Cooper about finding the heart of this character, what truly makes her tick. When Sam lays her head on her pillow at night, what does she think about? What demons does she confront? Does she question what she's doing in her life? Is her almost primal devotion to learning about technology, to the team that she works on, to the SGC; is it too much? Is it taking away from other aspects of her life which we don't explore because they don't exist? And should they exist? As a woman, is she at all concerned about the fact that she may never have children and will only have a career? Maybe she's not. Maybe she's perfectly happy with that, which is great, but does she ever confront that? Does she ever confront her lack of family? Does she ever confront what happens when you lose someone that you love? She did it with Daniel and now with Fraiser, and certainly we've come across situations with the other guys on the team, but what about outside of that? What does she have outside of that? All of the guys have history and family and children, and they've sort of gone to the dark side, run into that well of despair, if you will, and really dug deep to find out what makes them tick. We've never actually done that with Sam. We've had situations where she's been confronted with terror or with a hard decision or with losing her father, emotional moments, but we've never actually discovered what makes her tick, what pumps the blood through her heart. So this is what I talked to Robert about in a very esoteric way. I said, 'Clearly, it's not an episode of a Sci-Fi action adventure, but is there any way to try and work it in, where she's forced to confront her demons?' And I think that it would be interesting only because we've done it with all of the other characters. It would also be interesting to see her lose it, because of all of the characters she is so...
Yeah, and so in control to the point of almost being anal about it. We're seeing her lose it now more. We'll see it when Fraiser dies. We'll see it when she thinks that she's lost O'Neill. I'd just like to see her totally go to the dark side and come out of it on the other end, either more committed to the programme or more committed to having a life. So we'll see.
There's already buzz about an eighth season. Part of you probably wants to get on with the rest of your career and part of you probably thinks, 'I'm still having fun, so why give up the gig?' So what is your thinking at the moment?
I'm thinking exactly what you just said. And my attitude is: never say never.
Starburst, issue 301, by John Reading.
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