In a recent interview with Sci-Fi Tv in Australia Amanda Tapping discusses her plans for the future, and how she plans to juggle Sanctuary and Stargate. Here is an excerpt of the interview.
Hello Beau Bridges! It’s a pleasure!
Hello Sci Fi Pi! It’s great to hear that accent of yours, it makes me miss Australia, I had some good times down there.
Oh really? Tell us of your travels down under.
I made a surfing movie with my father called Shimmering Light, many years ago. In my house I have a surfboard which was given to me by Mark Warren (Australian World Surfing Champ) – he had two boards, and the one he gave me was a copy of the board he won the world championship on. I think very fondly upon that. Then I did one called Adam’s Woman, which was all about the prisoners coming from Europe, migrating to Australia. We did that in Nowra. So I had some great times there and I miss it.
We’re sure that if you put your name up there’d be many a convention/event company that would fly you out here in a heartbeat!
Excellent! I’m ready.
With your extensive and illustrious career, how long did it take for everyone to stop saying ‘oh my god, it’s Beau Bridges!’ every time you walked onto the Stargate set?
Well, first of all, I felt like the new kid in class, joining in Season 9. They were a wonderful group, and they welcomed me, without hesitation. I felt comfortable pretty quickly – it was like jumping on a moving train. What was good about it, my character, General Landry, was also a new kid on the block, so to speak, so my reality and character matched perfectly.
KEEPING UP WITH THE BROWDERS
It must have been similar for Ben Browder, who also started in Season 9.
We came in together. Ben is a neighbour of mine, although I didn’t know it before the show. We came in and had breakfast together one morning and we got to know each other. Ben of course loves Australia, with his Farscape experience.
Ben ‘Rowdy’ Browder – what’s he like as a neighbour? Do you have to call the cops round to keep the noise down at his late night parties?
(Laughs) No. Well, first of all his not that close…
because of the restraining order?
(laughs) no he’s actually totally the family guy. We’ve gone on family vacations together. I love Ben, he’s a wonderful guy.
Working on a show like Stargate, cast members do tend to form friendships. Was their someone that you ‘bonded’ with, with whom you were astonished to find yourself hanging out?
Well, I felt really great with all the cast. They’re all wonderful in their own way. I think the person that I got closest to was Ben, because we lived nearby and our families got to know each other. But they were all great, Chris Judge, the comedian of the group, had all of us in stitches, Amanda (Tapping) was wonderful, Michael (Shanks), they were all really top notch folks. It all really starts from the top. Brad Wright and Bob Cooper are just super show runners and really talented writers in their own right. And then Rob got into directing, which he did on Ark of Truth, where he did a great job.
With The Ark of Truth, the SG1 Ori storyline comes to an end, and in a sense, SG1 the series. Did you ever start pestering Rob and Brad about some ‘unfinished adventures’ that General Hank Landry may have yet to come. A spinoff, perhaps – Stargate: Landry – The Untold Stories?
General Landry Goes To Australia! (laughs). Well, I think that even with these last movies, Rob and Brad always leave the door open a crack, to allow for the possibility of giving the fans more. I’ve recently been to a couple of conventions and I’m amazed at just how faithful people are to the show. I wouldn’t be surprised that after these two DVDs come out (Ark of Truth, Continuum) and if they do well, there may be some more. So even though the Ori arc was tied up, who knows what’s waiting out there in space?
When you shoot the films, with their increased budget, is there a sense that this is ‘extra special’ or is it Stargate business as usual? Surely locations like the North Pole must take things up a notch?
Well I didn’t get to go up to the North Pole, but that was quite a bit of a big deal, working in the snow and ice and the submarine. It was pretty amazing, from what I heard. But on Continuum, I had fun doing that. I got to be a General Landry from a different time, that was a lot of fun, I enjoyed that.
THE TWINKLE IN GENERAL LANDRY’S EYE
Was it as much fun as being President Landry?
(laughs) Yeah! That was a good one too! Probably my favourite episode though, was when I went up in the mountains for a bit of R&R. And they all get stuck except Ben’s character (Cam Mitchell) who has to spend the weekend alone with the chief in a cabin. A lot of comedy in that one. I think that’s one of the stand outs of SG1 with other Sci Fi shows, is the comedy. Obviously Brad and Rob, but also Richard Dean Anderson brought so much of that when he was involved. And I tried, in my own way, to keep that going with General Landry.
He does have a twinkle in his eye, doesn’t he? You did extensive research on generals, did you find any with a sense of humour?
I did do a lot of research on generals, all throughout American history, but most of that, was just historic stuff, how they dealt with battle and challenges, but I felt it was important to continue the SG1 vein of humour, so I invented this practical joker aspect to General Landry, which is something I enjoy myself. So that’s really a part of me.
Did you try to go up against up Christopher Judge in the practical jokes department?
(laughs) Oh no, no no! I couldn’t go up against him. He’s out of my league, too good.
You’re a father of five, with grown up kids. How did you tell them to ‘grow up, stop acting like a baby’ when basically your job requires that you don’t grow up at all and play make believe for a living?
Well, first of all, four out of five are involved in the business, so they understand the play aspect of it. What’s fun about Sci Fi, even though it is play, you get to really deal with really human challenges and problems, and you can do without having to name names and deal with actualities that gets political and makes it hard for people to watch.
As an actor, do you take elements of roles you’ve previously had to create new characters, or is it always just a fresh slate?
That’s an interesting question, I’ve never been asked that question. I think it’s interesting to contemplate. I think if it happens, it’s subconsciously. Just because it’s me, I’m sure there are elements of myself that go into all my characters. But consciously, I’m trying to create a completely new character every time out. Part of the fun is doing that. A person who actually lived a life in history, or creating a life, like General Landry. He wasn’t on paper. I did that with Rob Cooper, we filled in a whole back story on him and that became a big part of what the writers used for that character.
THE FAMILY BUSINESS
For many people, becoming an actor is an act of rebellion or a gigantic leap of faith, but for you, it was just joining the family business. Have you ever contemplated doing something else?
I was really involved with athletics growing up, in high school, and I loved it. With my own kids I’ve coached a lot of teams, different sports, and there was a time, maybe my real love was athletics, I could get involved as a teacher and a coach. But being a circus brat, so to speak, Seeing my father go off to work, and seeing how much he enjoyed it. It was not so difficult to give it a try. I also had this amazing opportunity to get into a business that is very difficult unless you have someone that can give you that first job, and I was very lucky that my father gave me that gift. More importantly though, he gave me my tools, he taught me the craft of acting, he was a great teacher and I feel very blessed that I had that opportunity.
What was the one thing that your father taught you that still lingers, or that you still use today?
The one thing we heard around the house was ‘respect’. Not only just with our profession, with our employers and employees, but most of all about life, that we respect ourselves, and our fellow human beings, that may be the most important thing he taught us.
Do you find the lack of respect disconcerting in the current crop of young Hollywood up-and-comers?
I think it depends on the individual. I think there a lot of young actors who are very professional and very respectful. The ones that you hear about are the ones who veer off that course! That’s only because the media are more interested in talking about that than someone who’s doing a great job.
Does your brother Jeff give you a hard time about your acting? Do you chat much about work?
My brother and I always talk about all the jobs we do, all the movies we appear in. We run down what we’re thinking of doing. If we have any advice to offer, we do. I talk to him a lot about it. He enjoys Sci Fi a lot, I think he got off one of the best Sci Fi movies ever, which is Starman, so he was pretty thrilled when I got to Stargate.
So you don’t have the traditional sibling rivalry?
No no. (laughs) Of course I do try to mess him up as much as I can. Nothing too trashy.
Tell him that The Dude was just a character, he can stop it now.
(laughs) That’s right! Excellent!