Richard Dean Anderson
Executive Producer of - and Colonel O'Neill in - Stargate SG-1.
Words: Paul Simpson
Both SG-1 and Colonel Jack O'Neill himself are back for an eighth, but final, season...
"I can't pretend to know what the state of the universe is," Richard Dean Anderson points out as he ponders what an eighth season of Stargate SG-1 might hold. Anxious not to spoil viewers' enjoyment of the "Lost City" two-parter that concludes the seventh year, he adds: "But the franchise certainly could be a little more resolved. Robert and Brad and the boys really hadn't drawn the series to a proper conclusion in the seventh year, and in a great part, that's why it made sense for me to come back and be part of an eighth year. I know it doesn't all revolve around me, but I wanted to make sure that we did have the opportunity to bring some closure to the franchise. That helped me to make a decision, and MGM and the producers here were all able to accommodate my needs."
The actor and executive producer is very conscious that the seventh year of SG-1 was made in a very different way from previously because of his production requirements, and goes out of his way to emphasise his appreciation for the efforts of his colleagues. "I have so much respect for our cast and crew for what they have been able to endure," he notes. "From my end of it, it's been quite comfortable, aside from the mania that is my schedule. I travel every third day back and forth to Los Angeles, and then have every fourth week off. Adjusting to all that at the very worst is confusing, and a tad dizzying. But the rest of the cast and the crew have had to work with a schedule that accommodates my need to be with my daughter. Our wonderful producer, John Smith, has scheduled and consolidated things to a point where we've overlapped scripts. Every actor says that their crew is the best, and it's a cliché that you learn to expect to hear, but I have to say the same - it's just impossible to think of assembling a crew that has as much grit, talent, determination and patience as this group."
Anderson admits that the famed closeness of the Stargate crew did influence his decision. He acknowledges that "when I told Brad Wright that I didn't think there had been closure in the series, and elements of my domestic situation were soothed out to a certain degree that allowed me to consider doing an eighth year," he had another motivation in mind as well. "Part of what is so difficult to let go of ultimately is coming to work with these people. I know I sound cornier and cornier as time goes on, but I am going to have to prepare myself psychologically for not having this group of people to come to work - or, in my case, play - with."
Aside from addressing what he describes as the "ongoing tap-dance between O'Neill and Carter", Anderson hasn't come up with any major ideas about plot elements for the eighth season. "I don't really have the specifics of it," he admits. "I don't know where we are going to be at the end of this particular element of the franchise and whether it will lead to a transition into some other piece. I've said since the beginning of Stargate that we're only limited in our storytelling by our imaginations. All we need is a seed or a myth to grab onto and develop. We can use the backdrop of some historical perspective, real or imagined, mythological or real. When you start thinking conceptually, you wonder how much fighting you can do, or how many confrontations you can have with how many bad guys. I'd like there to be something a little heady or possibly poignant in the confrontations."
Anderson notes that the SG-1 characters viewpoint "is always essentially going to be from a Western perspective. It'd be interesting to maybe bring in some kind of Eastern philosophy. We'd meet some of these same cultures, but maybe bring along a Tibetan monk with us - the dialogue would be fun, and I would imagine it would be fun to write. There's always going to be some sense of adventure to the whole think whether it's intellectual or physical. I'm a guy who likes to explore these things - I've been on expeditions to Tibet and Chile and Ecuador."
The character relationships on the show are back on an even keel now that Daniel Jackson's return is some way in the past. "Every character had to take their own sweet time in adjusting to his presence, and the reality of his having ascended and now come back and being a humanoid again," Anderson comments. "To some degree, that was dictated by the story and the re-emergence of the character. But as an actor, our rapport was back immediately. We're back in step with that sandpapery A-side/B-side relationship that we have, which maybe was born of the movie itself."
Anderson is determined that he is going to be focusing his attention away from his own career once Stargate SG-1 does come to an end with the conclusion of the eighth year. "I want to make sure I'm there to help my daughter into the educational process," he explains. "In childhood you establish the basis of understanding, and I want to be there to make sure that there's some direction to that. There aren't any roles that right now I have defined, or even have a feeling that I want to pursue. I don't want to work for a while - I love working, and the work environment, but it's time to reap the rewards of the labour."
SFX, issue 116
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