With a brand new Stargate movie (The Ark of Truth) out now, we had the chance to catch up with star Amanda Tapping to talk about it, and so much more. Lovely lady. Here’s what she had to say about Stargate on the big screen, her new sci-fi project, being scared of bin bags and lots more besides…
SCI FI: So, first things first, why a Stargate movie?
Amanda Tapping: Why not, I say? Why not? No, when we got the word that season ten was going to be the last SG-1, I think the producers and MGM got together and said, you know what, we haven’t finished up this story properly, so… They had always talked about doing SG-1 movies and it makes sense to take the TV show and blow it out into a big, huge… Almost like, you know, episode on steroids [chuckling].
And so that’s what Ark of Truth feels like to me; it’s like a big SG-1 episode on steroids, where we’ve taken the end of the series where there were all these loose threads, nobody knew what was really happening, and so Ark of Truth wraps it all up really nicely.
Because we were making Ark of Truth, there was talk about doing another movie and Continuum had been talked about for a couple of years. So then it was the second movie and now we’re all crossing our fingers that there’ll be more, because Ark of Truth has thusfar done really well, and we’re hoping Continuum will do so the same. I don’t know that anyone, now that we’re doing the movies, would want to go back to doing the series again, but the movies were really fun. We have a bit more money, and a bit more time, and, you know, really tell the stories right.
SCI FI: Do you think there would ever be a return to the cinemas for Stargate?
AT: It would actually be nice. In fact, when we saw Continuum – because I just saw it a couple of weeks ago – it totally holds up on the big screen.
How many more? You know, I’ve given up trying to predict with Stargate, because after season five I thought, you know, that’s it. And we kept thinking we’d get cancelled. You know, when we finally didn’t think we were going to be cancelled, we were cancelled, so I’ve given up predicting. I’ll say there won’t be any more SG-1 movies and that pretty much guarantees that there will be [laughter]. That’s how it seems to work.
SCI FI: How different does it feel to you working on Stargate Atlantis, as opposed to SG-1?
AT: SG-1 is so much my home. SG-1 is so much within my comfort zone, not only for me, Amanda, but for the character. It’s just so comfortable, the relationships are comfortable, the set, everything is comfortable. Atlantis is not my home; it’s somebody else’s house. It’s like staying with your aunt and uncle, you know what I mean? I mean, like, you go and you’re in the spare bedroom and it’s not really your room, and it’s not your stuff, and you kind of know your cousins, but not as well as you know your brothers, and so that’s what it feels like. Not to say that it’s not without its merit. It’s been a lot of fun, but it just, it’s not home.
SCI FI: Science fiction is often seen as a very male genre – both creators and fans. Do you ever feel outnumbered?
AT: At the very beginning, yes. But I think that the genre has completely opened up. And what I found with the demographic of our fans, is that there’s a lot more women coming to the conventions, a lot more women writing letters, a lot more women making their presence known in sci-fi in general. Not just as characters within the shows, but the fandom has really… The demographic has changed. It’s not just the teenage boys watching it anymore.
I’m always blown away, going to conventions and meeting fans, at the range, you know. Older couples, families, and, like, entire families, where the mom and the dad and the kids all sit down and their Friday night is watching Stargate. So, yeah, it’s completely changed, and I’ve noticed that over the course of the ten years of the run of the show is that there’s a lot more women coming to fandom than there ever was. And I think the people who make the sci-fi shows are aware of that. So they’re actually now targeting more towards that audience, whereas before, you know, you’d have all the sexy space babes, now you have, like, intelligent space babes and it’s catering more to the women fans.
SCI FI: Ten years is quite a long time to play one role… How do you keep it interesting for yourself?
AT: Well, I think I’ve been very lucky in that the writers have always given the character new relationships, to change how she reacts in certain situations. The relationship with her father being probably the singularly most important one that informed so much about the character, but, you know, even her relationship with Pete, which put her in a fully-realised adult relationship for the first time, yeah.
And he didn’t die, bless him. So the writers have always given me something. And then, for me personally, it’s been just finding new ways in, finding different back-story for her, that not necessarily the fans know about. Starting every season going, okay, I could go on autopilot here, but that would be boring, so, how do we do this? Because people say, ‘Oh, at least ten years, aren’t you sick of it?’ I think that any job that you go to where you laugh every single day, without a word of a lie, no matter what was going on, no matter how, you know, crazy things got on set, we always laughed. I don’t know anyone who can say that they spent ten years on a job doing that. Seriously.
You know, we are the craziest, most dysfunctional family ever, but, at the end of the day, I love these guys. So I work with people I love, I have a character I really, really respect and enjoy, and I laugh every day. Why the heck would I leave, you know what I mean? [laughter] Like, why walk away from that, it’s, it’s brilliant.
SCI FI: Speaking of which, who’s the biggest joker on set?
AT: [immediately] Christopher Judge.
SCI FI: Right.
AT: Yeah. He’s a huge goofball.
SCI FI: [laughs]
AT: Yeah, he’s just… He’s the loudest, he’s … You know when Christopher Judge walks on set… Michael [Shanks] and I can sometimes just sneak on the set and just be very quiet, but Christopher’s like, ‘Aaahh, Christopher’s in the house!’, you know [laughter]. He’s very funny.
SCI FI: Excellent [laughing]. So, as well as the Ark of Truth, you’re working on Sanctuary. Could you tell us a little bit more about that?
AT: I start shooting Monday, back in Vancouver, and we’re shooting 13 episodes. We started out on the web, which a lot of fans know about and were very supportive. We did eight webisodes, or basically two full hours of shooting; we shot a full pilot. We planned on living on the web, but it’s really… I think we’re too far ahead of our time, actually. I don’t think that the web is quite ready for the convergence of media that we wanted to do. I think it will be, but right now it didn’t work out for us that way.
So SCI FI [in the States] picked us up for 13 episodes and ITV has picked it up. So now we’re making a television series, which is actually within everyone’s comfort zone. So it makes sense [laughter]. And hopefully we’ll continue on and do more than just one series. But, yeah, it’s my new baby.
I play a 157-year-old doctor from Victorian England who’s, um, runs a sanctuary for all sorts of disparate and abnormal creatures. She studies them and hunts them and protects them and has a very interesting back-story with a rather unscrupulous character from her past [laughter], with whom she had a child.
We’re finding, because we now have a 13-episode ark, we’ve mapped out this whole back-story between her and… You know, hopefully we’ll introduce Sherlock Holmes and, of course, Jack the Ripper, and so there’s… Yeah, we’ve got a lot to draw on. So I’m pretty excited.
SCI FI: And that begins next week?
AT: We start shooting next week, yeah. We’ve been trying to get the show up and off the ground since July of last year. It’s been a lot blood, sweat and tears … [laughs]. I pray to God people like it [laughter]!
It’s like going through labour, it really has been; without any drugs [laughter]. But I’m sure I’ll look back a few years from now and go, oho, well, easy-peasy!
SCIFI: On to more general genre stuff… What is your first memory of science-fiction?
AT: Star Trek initially, the original Star Trek. And my brothers watched it, so I remember watching. I wasn’t a huge sci-fi fan to begin with, I am now, but I wasn’t as a young girl. I was a Little House on the Prairie girl, but my brothers loved Star Trek, and so I remember watching it with them, and thinking that Leonard Nimoy was really freaky [laughter], and, yeah, loving it though.
SCI FI: Are you excited about the new Star Trek film?
AT: Yeah, it’s interesting because the genre, like I said, was not something that I was into before, but I think it’s really our generation’s way of telling stories. You talk about, you know, cowboys in space kind of idea, but behind some of the series – it used to be westerns, then it was medical dramas, then it was police dramas – but sci-fi sort of transcends all of that, and you can play any number of those aspects within sci-fi, so… That’s my genre answer! [laughing]
SCI FI: If you could have any special superpower, what would you have, and why?
AT: Ooh, any?
SCI FI: Any.
AT: I think sometimes I’d like to be invisible [laughter], in a rather cheeky and sneaky way. You know, get myself into places that I normally wouldn’t be allowed into.
SCI FI: Yup.
AT: I think that would be fun. I’ll probably come up with something way better after you leave, like the power to heal with my mind! But, yeah, invisibility would be cheeky and fun. That’s more up my alley [laughter]!
SCI FI: Do you believe, in telepathy or any paranormal activity?
AT: Absolutely. I’ve had ghosts in a house that I lived in.
SCI FI: Wow!
AT: Yeah. And it’s not a story I tell very often, because people go, ‘Woo-hoo-woo-hoo, crazy lady!’ [chuckle] But, yeah, I do, absolutely I do. And I think there are people that have the ability to… I think telekinesis is a very real thing. I know, for me, I mean, I fritz small electronic equipment consistently, and if – yeah, I’m not going to touch [our dictaphone], because the fact that my phone still works is kind of crazy. Not to say that I have any telekinetic ability, but I think that people have different magnetic fields at play or electric forces within them, and so I have a tendency, especially if I’m really agitated, to fritz things. I grabbed Jim Menard, who was our DoP [Director of Photography] on Stargate, he was showing me his new Blackberry, and I looked at it and I went ‘Oh, wow, is it… uh, Jim, Jim, it’s just gone off…’ it fried within minutes of me holding it.
SCI FI: Wow!
AT: And he was, like, ‘What did you do to it?’ I just looked at it! Wow, totally another story I never intended on telling publicly [laughter]. But, yes, I do believe in the paranormal.
SCI FI: Who do you think is the best villain in sci-fi?
AT: Ooh, mm-hm, that’s a good one. I have to hearken back to Stargate and to go with Apophis, who was my first bad guy. You never forget your first [laughter]. And, just for his sheer arrogance. I think the system lords on Stargate, I’m sure there’s better bad guys, but the system lords lent a certain air of humour to them, but also just, just arrogance, so you loved to watch them fall flat on their faces. So that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it!
SCI FI: [laughing] Good.
AT: Until I come up with a better one. And then I’ll call you [laughter].
SCI FI: Can you think of any TV moment that first forced you to hide behind the sofa?
AT: Well, my dad and my brothers were watching The Exorcist, and I don’t know what the heck my parents were thinking, letting me sit up for it. But I went to go to the bathroom, and my brother made this really scary voice, and he was watching a commercial for garbage bags, I’ll never forget it, and he went, ‘FD 2-ply strong’ [in distorted voice], as I was walking to the bathroom, and I freaked out. And I will never, ever forget that moment of just, like, freezing solid, because he made the Devil voice from The Exorcist about garbage bags [laughs]. Gosh, you ask, like, the most embarrassing questions ever [laughter], and you don’t even mean to!
SCI FI: It’s all very interesting.
AT: You sit there all sweet and innocent and go, well, we at Sci-fi like to, do you believe in, uh! Yeah.
SCI FI: Okay. One more… We’ll finish on a nice one. What is your favourite ever sci-fi film? Apart from, obviously, the Ark of Truth.
AT: Ark of Truth, Continuum, and the original Stargate movies [laughter]. Star Wars, the first, still blows my mind.
SCI FI: It’s stood the test of time, hasn’t it?
AT: It totally has stood the test of time; the characters, the story, everything. The humour in it; it’s completely stood the test of time because it has all the elements of a great story.
Thank you very much Amanda Tapping, even if your minders were slightly concerned at the freaky stories you told us!
Source: Sci Fi Website