The next panel I attended was Michael Shanks. He’s starring currently in Saving Hope, just renewed for a second or third season, but most of the people at the panel are fans because he played Daniel Jackson on Stargate for 10 seasons. I thought Shanks was fantastic. Again, I was struck by how different it was from what I expected — I expected moderated “panels”, and what I got was one-man stand-up Q&As. I love the Stargate show, not a big enough fan to watch every week but I do have a bunch of seasons on DVD. Some highlights from his session:
- He was asked if he ever studied archaeology before playing Daniel, and he told an amusing story that he had a month to prepare for his audition. During that time, he went to the ROM to look at their ancient Egypt section, watched the movie several times, etc. thinking it might help. Of course, it didn’t, and it wouldn’t have anyway since they bastardized the history of Egypt anyway;
- He was asked if he didn’t play Daniel, who he might have wanted to play (I think the question was supposed to be other characters on the show), and his answer was a very obvious “Indiana Jones”;
- Asked if there were any things he hated (more or less) about the show or some of the things he had to do, and his least favorite scene for dialogue was from Season 1 with Hathor (a Goauld who wants to impregnate all the males to create a new race) and who uses pheremones to capture them (okay, even typing that seems stupid), but his dialogue line at one point was to look at her like a puppy dog and say, “It’s like she’s a Queen bee”. He tried to get it dropped from the episode but the producers wanted it to explain to the audience the metaphor of what was happening…he did the line, but he said you can almost see the pain on his face doing it;
- Someone asked if he liked working with Amanda Tapping again (he cameoed on Sanctuary), even though she’s long haired, brunette and with an accent now, but he said it was just Amanda, and he sees her everyday anyway (their kids go to the same school and they see each other at drop off);
- It was noted that in all of his shows, he’s in constant peril of dying (SG, Burn Notice, Saving Hope) and he joked at least on SH he hadn’t died … yet!;
- A woman asked him the geekiest question of the session, about whether his character was a jerk in the first season, since Daniel had had romances despite being married to Shar’e, who had been kidnapped by the Goauld. Shanks responded that Daniel wasn’t being a jerk, it was like they were on a “break”;
- Given that Shanks apparently is a Canucks fan, and they were out of the playoffs, someone asked him if he would cheer for the Sens now. His response was that he had been in Toronto earlier that week when the Leafs had won a game (just a game, not a series or the cup!), and he said, “There’s nothing more obnoxious than a happy Leafs fan.” So, yes, he was willing to cheer for the Sens now;
- In terms of things or gadgets he liked, he said he loved firing the guns. He used to call his buddies on days when they were doing huge gun firefights and ask them how their office jobs were going, cuz he was being paid to fire guns all day (which he noted gave him wood, so to speak);
- Someone asked him about who he thought was the baddest villains (Baal and Hadria) and best race (Asgard). However, I never knew he had done the voice of Thor, the main Asgard they meet regularly. He noted that when he started doing the voice, it came out more like Hal from 2001 and ended up near the end like Stewie from Family Guy. Great impressions of all three included;
- Someone asked him about working on Stargate: Unleashed (video game) and how he liked working with the cast again, but he noted that they actually didn’t work together — they all go into the studio and record their bits separately, which is why some of the dialogue doesn’t seem to line up completely in the game (some scenes apparently don’t flow for dialogue as well as others because they changed the wording slightly as they did it); and,
- A person asked him about acting and if he missed doing more “respected” acting like Stratford etc. but Shanks noted that his decisions these days are all about how long he’ll be away from his family when he’s on set. A friend had asked him about doing Stratford, but it would have been a 9 month commitment. Even SH is costing him six months-ish per year and he finds it hard. On the other hand, while he doesn’t have an Emmy or an Oscar, he does have a Leo award and the Daniel Jackson action figure, which his wife (also an actress — Lexa Doig, formerly on Andromeda where he met her and now on the kick-ass show Continuum) is jealous of (i.e. him having an action figure of himself). He calls it his nerd Oscar.
Overall, I thought we got a pretty polished session, with some glimpses into the real Shanks. Funny, upbeat, comfortable in his skin without “putting on a show” (as Filion seemed to be doing). Some pics below. Next up — Wil Wheaton!