Amanda Tapping must have the biggest and best office in the SCI FI Channel building… or at least the nicest pension plan. For the Canadian actress has proven to be a huge asset to the network, anchoring not just the long-lived Stargate SG-1 series as Colonel Samantha Carter, but also jumping in as a regular cast member on that series’ spin-off, Stargate: Atlantis, and now appearing in the direct-to-DVD movies that are based on the franchise as well. Additionally, she’s got a new series coming to SCI FI in the fall called Sanctuary. IGN TV caught up with the actress at this week’s SCI FI Channel upfront event in New York to discuss her current career path towards absolute SCI FI dominance.
“Sam Carter, after [the DVD movie] The Ark of Truth goes to Stargate: Atlantis,” explains Tapping. “So for all of season 4 I was the commander of the base. And then at the beginning of season 5… I can’t tell you what happens! But I’m not going to be as regular on Atlantis, so I can do my new series Sanctuary.”
Sanctuary, which began as a web-only series, was recently picked up by SCI FI for a 13-episode commitment for cable broadcast. She’ll be recurring on Atlantis for a time while focusing mostly on the new show.
“We shot a pilot that went on the web for eight webisodes,” says the actress, who adds that production on the proper series begins next month. Tapping stars as a character named Dr. Helen Magnus in the new show.
“She’s awesome,” says Tapping. “She’s 157 years old, a doctor from Victorian England with a very interesting past. She’s eccentric and very sexy and she runs a sanctuary for abnormals, which is what she calls them, all the disparate and strange creatures out there. She studies them for scientific purposes and is aided by her daughter, who is a kick-ass babe, and a young psychiatrist that she brings onboard.”
Naturally, though, a character who is 157 years old is going to have at least a bit of baggage that they carry around with them…
“Her backstory is that she was engaged to Jack the Ripper, as you do,” laughs Tapping. “He was actually one of her first patients. So there’s a lot of mythology woven around her. She’s been around for so long, so we’ll dive into different decades.”
The show will be shot almost entirely on greenscreen, ala 300, bringing a fantastical feel to the proceedings.
“It’s not quite photo-real,” she says. “It has a very gaming, Sin City quality to it. So it’s got this cool sort of comic-book aspect. It’s very dark, and it’s unlike anything that’s ever been done on television.”
In fact, the new show represented a conflict for Tapping, despite the fact that it and Atlantis are both SCI FI properties now.
“I wanted to go back to Atlantis and they offered me a very nice contract,” she says. “But I have to go with my new show. So I found myself in the unenviable position of having to turn down a contract!”
Anyway, Tapping says that the success of The Ark of Truth and the fact that the Stargate team has already shot their second direct-to-DVD movie means that Sam Carter isn’t going away any time soon…
“Stargate: Continuum comes out in July, and we’re hopeful [there will be more],” says Tapping. “I think in a perfect world we’ll see more. I gotta love sci-fi fans, man! They went out and bought this one, God bless them.”
Sanctuary begins airing in October and Stargate: The Ark of Truth is out on DVD now. Go pick up a copy — for Amanda’s sake!