Sam I Am

Life takes some serious turns this season for Sam Carter. Amanda Tapping talks about that and more, including an upcoming special event in her own life.

If there's one thing that Stargate SG-1's Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter can say about her job it's that it's never boring. Being shot at, possessed, replicated, kidnapped and having her mind probed are just a few of the dangers that go along with protecting Earth and, on occasion, the galaxy from alien incursions. Needless to say, the colonel isn't quite the same person who first stepped through the Stargate eight years ago, and neither is the actress who plays her, Amanda Tapping.

"We've all grown up with this series," muses Tapping. "Everyone in the cast has experienced major life changes and that, in turn, has changed our characters. Sam Carter has come into her own. She's a better woman and person as well as more comfortable with herself than she ever was, and so am I, Amanda. I'm far stronger than I used to be, and I think I owe a lot of that to playing this character and working in such a supportive environment.

"I just realized that if we do another year of Stargate, I'll have worked on this show for almost a decade. That's a big chunk of a person's life, and a major growing spurt. I'll look at Sam in those early episodes and think, 'God, she was so naïve and young. Look at that youthful face and those rosy cheeks,'" chuckles the actress.

While trying to save the life of General O'Neill at the start of Stargate's eighth season, the newly-promoted Colonel Carter is kidnapped by one of the Human-looking Replicators, Fifth (Patrick Currie). She eventually persuades Fifth to release her, but before doing so, and unbeknownst to her, he creates a Replicator Carter. The real Carter comes face to face with her mechanical counterpart in the episode Gemini, which required Tapping to play both versions of her character.

"One of the biggest challenges was trying to create subtle differences between the two Carters," explains the actress. "They have the same consciousness, memories and emotional base but, in my opinion, a different heart, which is how I chose to play it. Repli-Carter was created by Fifth and spent most of her time with him, so she's a bit harder and quite duplicitous. I actually think my face looked slightly different as Repli-Carter because of the set of my jaw and other little things that I intentionally did.

"Another challenge was doing long wordy scenes 'opposite myself', and I'm so hard to work with. I mean, what a pain in the ass," laughs Tapping. "I had fun, but it was a tough shoot. Gemini is probably the hardest episode I've done in these eight years. It was physically and emotionally demanding and required and a great deal of homework. That said, I think the pay-off was worth it. It turned out to be a neat episode."

During part of her imprisonment by Fifth, Carter was tricked into thinking that she was living an idyllic life with her new boyfriend, Pete Shanahan (David DeLuise). The couple's relationship is touched upon in a much more real sense later on this season in Affinity and Threads. "I like the fact that Sam has an adult, fully functioning relationship with a man who's not someone she works with," says Tapping. "As a whole it helps round out her character and makes her better at what she does because her focus is more diffused. Sam's thought pattern isn't so linear. She's become more open-minded and that can only benefit her.

"All those are aspects of the Sam/Pete relationship that I like. I'm not sure, though, if they're meant for each other. Yes, Pete is a wonderful man for her to grow with but as far as being Mr Right, I don't know. I don't want to keep hanging a lantern on, 'Oh, what about O'Neill,' but that's still there. If Sam's to be completely honest with this man who she's falling in love with, she needs to be just as up front with herself. Everything ends up coming to a head and Sam must make a big decision. However, is she ready to make that decision? It gets kind of intense, so be sure to stay tuned to see what happens."

Tapping promises additional twists and turns with Carter's story arc as Stargate's eighth season continues to unfold. "There are some big goings-on in the two-part episode Reckoning as well as Threads, all three of which blend into each other in many ways," notes the actress. "I had the opportunity to work again with Carmen Argenziano, who plays Sam's father, Jacob Carter. Honestly, I can't say enough good things about Carmen. He's such a nice man. The two of us did some very challenging and moving scenes together involving his character.

"Lots of things happen in our season finale, Moebius, in which I play an alternate version of Sam from a different timeline. It's a terrific concept and well-written but at times was a little confusing to shoot. All I know is that when I wore the other Sam's costume I had to be slightly dorkier," chuckles the actress.

In between her work this past year on Stargate, Tapping served as host for 10 episodes of the new Sci-Fi Channel series Proof Positive. Prior to that, she shot a cameo as Lady Elfarren in Sci-Fi's recently aired mini-series Legend of Earthsea. "I wore the most phenomenal costume and did all my work against a green screen," she says. "My participation in it was tiny but I was still proud to be a part of it because it was a really amazing project."

Although the actress is looking forward to a ninth season of Stargate, her initial work on the show is likely to be less than in previous years. "I'm pregnant," enthuses Tapping. "God willing and everything goes well, I'll give birth on March 15th. We usually start filming the new season around the end of February/beginning of March, so I don't know exactly how we'll handle things. I'll keep you posted," she says with a smile.


TV Zone Stargate Special #61
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