Having been absent earlier this season, Sam Carter is once again back in the SG-1 fold. However, as actress Amanda Tapping explains,
both she and her character have undergone a bit of a change.
Amanda Tapping's trailer at Bridge Studios looks decidedly different from previous years. Maybe it's the box of disposable nappies on the counter, or the red and white check baby cot sitting off to one side of the room. There's a simple reason for these and certain other additions; this season, the actress is sharing her work digs with her and husband Allan's new baby girl, Olivia. It takes just one look at mother and child to see that they're both pleased with this arrangement.
"Being a mom is fantastic," smiles Tapping, holding a sleeping Olivia in her arms. "It's a huge adjustment and in some ways not as scary as I thought it would be. However, in other ways, I'll look at my baby and think, 'Wow, I'm responsible for everything that happens to you'. In that sense it can be a bit overwhelming, but I loved being pregnant. I was four months pregnant at the end of last season, which was somewhat difficult from the standpoint of I didn't tell anyone until I was three months along. It was a hard secret to keep only because I was always so tired. I didn't have any morning sickness, though, and the labour and delivery went well. She was nine pounds, four ounces, a big healthy girl, and I did it without any drugs and felt great about that.
"I'm lucky in that everything happened very easily and naturally for me. I was pretty laid back about it all, and consequently Olivia is the same. Honestly, the toughest thing for me has been returning to work. Normally I'd go back to my trailer in between set-ups and memorize lines or look over the next scripts, but not any more. Now I'll come back to feed her, play with her and make sure she's OK. By the time we get home and I put her to bed at 9 o'clock, I'm wiped out. It's non-stop, so I'll often get up super early in the morning just to study my lines and do a few other little things before I wake her up. It can be crazy at times, but I love it."
Tapping took the first five episodes of SG-1's ninth season off to spend time with her newborn daughter, and only returned to the set at the end of April to start work on the episode Beachhead. Although she was back in familiar surroundings, it still took her a bit of time to reacclimatize. "Obviously, Sam had been away as well, and during that time a whole new dynamic had built up among Daniel, Vala, Teal'c and Mitchell and with the actors who play them," says the actress. "For the first couple of days I felt like the captain of the school chess club trying to hang out with the football players, do you know what I mean? I can make jokes about the captain of the chess club seeing that my twin brother was one," she chuckles.
"So it felt rather awkward because I was sort of questioning if as a new mom I should have come back to work. It was really weird. Truthfully, I thought, 'Oh, no, I don't know where I fit into this 'new show'. Happily, that feeling only lasted a couple of days and then everything fell back into place. I realized that I enjoy playing with these guys and it's still fun. Ben Browder has this amazing energy, as does Beau Bridges. When I first heard he was joining the show I was like, 'The Beau Bridges,' and it was the same when I found out about Lou Gossett Jr. I remember walking into the make-up trailer my first day back, seeing the two of them and thinking, 'What movie am I doing? Wait, this is Stargate, and here are Beau Bridges and Lou Gossett. Holy cow.' Again, it's a whole new vibe, but it feels good. I hope the fans embrace it because it's not the SG-1 they knew. It's a very different entity."
While Sam Carter may not have given birth, Tapping is interested to see how her new role as a parent will affect how she plays her character. "Sam has to be slightly different because I'm quite a bit different," muses the actress. "Last year we focused a great deal on her soul and the woman who is Carter, and I'm pleased that this season we're somewhat suppressing that and taking her back to her roots, those being the scientist and the soldier and what makes her strong.
"However, having done so much exploration into her heart and soul, she has a softness to her now. We'll see what happens, though, the next time she's in battle. By that I mean with me, Amanda, there's the mother lion in me now. I've realized that for the first time in my life I'm actually capable of killing," notes Tapping, pausing for a moment, "and that makes me cry. If anyone tried to lay a finger on my child I'd kill them, and that's quite a revelation. I relate that to work insofar as there's a new level of fierceness to Carter that we'll see. I always knew that as a soldier she could kill, and she has, but now there's an entirely new drive behind it, because as an actress I can bring that to the table."
At that moment there's a knock at Tapping's trailer door. The actress is needed back on set to shoot her final scene of the day for Ex-Deus Machina. "In this story we address the question of SG-1 getting back together," she says. "At the moment, Carter is just helping out, and so are Daniel and Teal'c. They're not a team yet, and Mitchell says something rather sweet and handles the situation in a very clever way. We filmed that scene yesterday and it turned out nice. I think the fans are really going to enjoy it."
For Pete's Sake
Sadly, Sam Carter will not be hanging out this season with her now ex-boyfriend, Pete Shanahan (David DeLuise). She ended their romance last year, which Tapping feels was necessary, both for the show and her character.
"I think it was important that we explored Sam's ability to love and be loved and to have a fully-functional adult relationship," says the actress. "We may have gone too far, though. After a while I began to wonder, 'What does this have to do with SG-1?' As an actress I loved playing it because it was a joy working with David DeLuise. Story-wise, I just felt enough already with Sam's unrequited love [for Jack O'Neill] and the question of will she or won't she marry Pete.
"As far as how she ended it with Pete, it seemed a little cagey, and I wasn't very proud of Sam for that. I am proud that she decided to stop stringing Pete along, but she could have been a bit more honest about it. That's OK, though. I play a Human being and Humans have flaws. With matters of the heart, it's hard for Sam to be totally honest, and I believe it's because she truly doesn't understand matters of the heart as much as she may think.
TV Zone Special #64
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