Proud Canadian actress Amanda Tapping has been playing the same American sci-fi character, Samantha Carter, for 11 years.
That covers two TV series and now two direct-to-DVD movies.
The risk of tedium and burnout is obvious.
“Absolutely! Of course,” Tapping says of the possibility of getting bored and boring fans. “Actually, that is the biggest challenge in playing somebody for so long. The beauty for me is that the writers have always given me something to work with. The challenge for me is to not go on auto-pilot. It would be very easy. So you have to find a whole new way into the character and, every couple of years, you have to do that.”
Sci-fi geek boys and fan chicks already know who Samantha Carter is and they love her for it.
For the uninitiated, Carter was one of the core characters throughout the 10 years of the Stargate: SG-1 series, which docked in 2007 after 211 episodes. She is also featured in Stargate: Atlantis, the spin-off series.
In addition, Carter is a key player in the two feature-length movies, which Tapping says is her new way in to the character again. The first one, Stargate: The Ark of Truth, arrived on DVD March 11. The next one, Stargate: Continuum, is due in the summer.
The Ark of Truth gives lie to the notion all direct-to-DVD movies are crap, throw-aways that could not make it into theatres. While I would not compare it to top-flight, mainstream sci-fi such as the best X-Men or Star Trek films, it is well-made, looks great, is mildly amusing and wraps up the religious fanatics Ori storyline that was left dangling in Season 10 of Stargate: SG-1.
“The last year has been incredibly challenging, doing both the movies and the new Stargate series,” Tapping says from her permanent home in Vancouver, which is also the production base for all the Stargates.
“And I’m involved in a completely different series as well (the all-Canadian Sanctuary), which is not at all the Sam Carter character. That is another way to open up creatively. So, some actor friends will say: ‘Oh my god, how can you do that for 11 years?’ And I say: ‘How can I not?’ I have fun. It’s a great gig. It’s an interesting, informed, sexy and intelligent character. And I get to stay in a country that I love and raise my family (she shares a three-year-old daughter with her husband of 14 years, Allan Kovacs). Hello? I love living and working in Canada. I’m really proud of that!”
Tapping was born in Essex, England, but arrived in Toronto at age three with her family. Now 42, Tapping studied drama in Windsor and established her TV career in the 1990s with shows such as Street Legal, The Newsroom, Due South, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues and even an episode of The X-Files.
Stargate: SG-1 brought her cult stardom.
“I think our fans will embrace them,” Tapping says of The Ark of Truth, much of which was shot around Burnaby, B.C, and Continuum, which has Arctic scenes shot in March 2007 on a drifting ice floe north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
“They are huge, huge stories and beautifully shot. I mean visually stunning. They were shot as films and they were shot on film. We’ve been used to shooting on HD the last few years (for the two series), so going back to film was really nice. I’m a film purist. I prefer the richness of that.”
Richard Dean Anderson, a Stargate original who dropped out of the series, is back for Continuum and Tapping is delighted. She is also keen on all of her ongoing co-stars. Ark features Ben Browder, Christopher Judge, Michael Shanks and Claudia Black. There is a real friendship circle among them.
“I think there was just some sort of magic fairy dust in the air when the whole show came together,” Tapping says. “Without sounding trite or hokey about it, it has been a magical experience from day one.
“I sound like I’m giving the typical Hollywood actor answer: ‘We’re just lucky and it’s a great show and I love everybody!’ But, in fact, that’s not far from the truth.”