In a recent interview with Metro Amanda discusses all things Stargate, and her favourite past time of Baton Twirling.
Why did you keep on doing it for so long? Like every job don’t you get sick of it after a few years?
The crazy thing is we never did. We always had fun and laughed every single day. You can’t say that about every job. The writers also tried to keep our characters interesting and fresh so none of us wanted to leave. We also shot from February till September, which gave me the winter off to spend time with my family.
You’ve done Stargate for 11 years. How long did you think it would last?
I signed a five-year deal to start with and we knew we had two years on the network for sure. I thought the most we’d do was five years, then we went to seven, which is what the Star Trek series did. Then we got picked up again and again. When it eventually got cancelled halfway through season ten, I was actually surprised. I got very comfortable.
Doesn’t it get samey? Haven’t you spent 11 years running about pretending to shoot things?
And what’s wrong with that? There’s a danger you can fall into autopilot but the writers always brought new things in for our characters to do. Anyway, it’s fun to run through the woods pretending to shoot things.
Did they get you to do anything particularly ridiculous?
We’d sometimes look a bit silly early on doing green-screen special effects work. Our reactions would either be over the top or too small. There’s a scene where we see this ten storey tall spaceship and we kind of shrug our shoulders. I had to wear some pretty silly costumes – such as when I was kidnapped by a Mongol warlord or became a Neanderthal. Once, I was captured by a cult, had to wear a silly outfit and polish the leader’s jewelled throne.
Were you a sci-fi fan before you started on Stargate?
I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation but I was more of a Little House On The Prairie fan. It was a big leap for me.
Why did Stargate last so long?
Everyone involved in the show had fun making it and I believe that translated on to the screen. Our characters were accessible, we were fallible and the show was quite tongue-in-cheek. It wasn’t as dry as some sci-fi shows can be.
Does Stargate have a typical fan?
I’d say they’re intelligent and have a good sense of humour. They all know the minutiae of the show. They ask questions that baffle me. I’ve been asked ‘in episode such-and-such when you turn to Jack O’Neil and say ‘Sir’ what were you thinking?’ I said ‘Sir’ about 20 times an episode and I made 250 episodes, so that’s a lot of ‘Sirs’. If it wasn’t for the fans we wouldn’t have lasted 10 years.
Does being in a cult show deter casting directors from hiring you in future?
Does being in a cult show deter casting directors from hiring you in future? No, I was worried that it would, that I’d be typecast and end up playing characters wearing army boots and carrying a gun for the rest of my career but the last film I did was an emotional role as a mother of an autistic child.
Why did you want to be an actress to begin with?
My parents are British but we lived in Canada. Every year, Lionel Blair would come to Toronto and do a traditional British pantomime and we’d go each time. He’d haul children out of the audience and on to the stage for one song. I always wanted to be picked but never was. That’s where it all started from.
Was starting your acting career a struggle?
Like many other young actors, I came out of drama school vowing I’d never do television and I’d only do theatre and art films. I needed to pay the bills, though, and the first role I got was a commercial for a coffee shop in Canada. It meant I could pay my rent for two months. It was a slow build and I worked really hard to get small parts in TV series.
Did you have any rubbish day jobs?
I waitressed a lot. My favourite waitressing job was serving beer in a biker bar. I got great tips and the bikers were very polite customers. I also worked in a very high-end restaurant and the customers there were incredibly rude.
You were born in Essex. Have you been back?
Yes. My dad’s from Bermondsey and my mom’s from Finchley but I was born in Essex. I’ve still got family there. I’m no stranger to Essex but I don’t own white stilettoes.
Have you ever won a competition?
I was a champion baton twirler. The prize was just the honour of winning. I got 97 per cent in a baton twirling exam. I did it from the age of nine to 12 but gave it up because I realised it looked kind of dorky. I can still do it now, my daughter found my old baton in the back of a closet so I showed her some routines.
Have you ever been attacked by an animal?
I was chased by a swan through Hyde Park. I don’t know what I did to annoy it, I just think swans have an attitude problem. You just need to give them a wrong look and then watch out.