Major Player

For Amanda Tapping's character, Major Samantha Carter, love is in the air, as she tells Steven Eramo...

This past summer proved to be a busy one for Stargate SG-1's Major Samantha Carter. When she wasn't marooned in Outer Space, she was trying to avoid being killed by a Jaffa super soldier. In the midst of everything, the major found time for a little romance with a sexy, good-looking police detective. All this was fun as well as tiring for her real-life alter ago Amanda Tapping. With series leading man Richard Dean Anderson having had a reduced schedule for the show's seventh year, she was given a more prominent role to play in several episodes. At the time of this interview (late August), the actress was working on the two-part season finale The Lost City.

"I feel a little bit discombobulated right now because we're shooting all over the place," says Tapping. "We filmed the end of Lost City this morning, and yesterday we went out on location and worked on the middle part. The shoot it spread out over the course of 15 or 16 days so we still have a ways to go. This is a big episode. We have tons of bombs and things blowing up. There's also the introduction of a new character who could potentially take over the running of the SGC, and Bra'tac [Tony Amendola] and Kinsey [Ronny Cox] are back, too. It's always a treat to see Ronny Cox because we just love him but hate Kinsey," she jokes. "Funnily enough, this is the episode that could have wrapped up the show, but there are so many story lines left open. At the end you're like, 'Hey, wait a minute. What's going to happen to...?'

"So it's been a pretty amazing time. I think the second half of the season is very strong. I've actually done a fair amount of work in these latter episodes and I hope that it translates well on-screen. Things have just been insane since we returned to work after our mini-break in July. I've been working every day and I'm in the majority of the scenes. On top of all that I'm prepping for my first directing gig on the series, which begins in two days. I think when we wrap this season I'm going to collapse and sleep for a week," laughs the actress, "but I'm not complaining. All our spirits are up as are our senses of humour, and that's what counts at the end of the day.

When the Stargate cast and crew returned from their summer hiatus they immediately began working on the Sam Carter-centric episode Grace. "That was a difficult one because my character is suffering from a head injury for 99% of the story and she's hallucinating," notes Tapping. "As an actress, it's my job to make that believable and yet not go over the top with it, so I chose to play my scenes very softly. There are some neat moments between Sam and her team-mates and also her dad Jacob [Carmen Argenziano]. Then, of course, there's this little girl named Grace. Who is Grace? There are varying beliefs on that. Some people think she's Sam's inner child. Others feel she's Sam's child if she had chosen family over career. That's the one I'm going with. The actual character of Grace is played by this gorgeous little girl, Sasha [Pieterse], who is so sweet.

"It's interesting because in this story the guys aren't their typical selves," continues the actress. "Daniel is somewhat different, Teal'c is more laid back, and there's the 'big' moment between Sam and O'Neill, who's not quite himself either. I think this has to do with the fact that this is my character's subconscious view of the guys. For example, this is the first time Teal'c calls her Samantha instead of Major Carter. I'm sure it's something she's always wanted him to do, so in her hallucination he does. Chris Judge and I had a blast with those scenes. We started out very low key and then ramped things way up to where he wasn't speaking at all like Teal'c but a regular dude. We were laughing so much we were in tears.

"A great deal of Grace was shot using the second unit, so it took over a month to finish because I was going back and forth between it, Death Knell and Chimera. Talk about a bit of a head-trip for yours truly. It was really funny because on Death Knell we shot two days where Sam is running from a super soldier and she's covered with blood and is just dirty and filthy. The very next day we did a scene from Chimera where I'm completely dolled up and wearing lipstick, a smart little dress and high-heeled shoes, It was like, "'Whoa, where am I today?' I didn't know whether or not I was coming or going," she chuckles.

The actress was especially pleased with the casting of David DeLuise as Sam Carter's new love interest Pete Shannon in Chimera. "I was thrilled that the producers chose David because I wanted someone with good comedic chops for the lighter moments between Sam and Pete," explains Tapping. "David and I had instant on-screen chemistry. He's so savvy and smart and has a boyish charm about him. I thought he did a fantastic job in the episode.

"As for Sam we get to expose viewers to a whole other side of her in Chimera. It's a very feminine, sexy and playful side that's not often revealed. It was fun to portray her as a 'real person'. David and I had this one scene where our characters are coming home from a movie and we're walking and talking about it and I thought, 'This is "real people talk". How do I do this?' I also got to dance in the episode, so it was a treat for me all around."

Stargate has been renewed for an eighth year and Tapping will be back. When it comes to what audiences can expect next season the actress is just as in the dark as they are. "Who knows where it will take us and what will happen to the team," she muses. "For those who are pure fans of the four of us going through the gate every week that might change, I don't know. None of us do. We'll all just have to wait and see."


TV Zone, Issue 172
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