SFX. December, 2002
By Paul Simpson
"I keep myself a little too busy sometimes - I don't get to talk to real-life people," Richard Dean Anderson quips as we seat ourselves in his trailer.
Anderson doesn't pull his punches talking about his involvement with "Stargate SG-1." "I've had to make some adjustments midstream," he says. "Initially, my commitment to the show was two seasons, then around the middle of the first season, we got picked up for two more years, and then a fifth year. The sixth year has been a bit of an addendum. I've been flying by the seat of my pants a little bit. But during that time, I've gained a phenomenal nucleus of friends, and the greatest thing that has happened to me has been the birth of my daughter. Emotionally it's been quite a ride, because it's started from some familiarity and has grown into a nice, bonded, sensitive community. But as we sit here today, it's a little awkward, because I honestly don't know what the state of the show is going to be."
The biggest challenge Anderson has faced with playing O'Neill is the length of time. "After five years, I think I'd found most of the colours that Jack has," he admits. "With the introduction of a new character, Jonas, who, in Jack's estimation, is responsible for the death of his best friend, I think it was hard for him not to hold a bit of a grudge. That's affected his behaviour towards Jonas in the beginning, and over the course of the season it's been incumbent upon Jonas to prove himself to O'Neill - which he has, time and again. O'Neill has been a bit of a dog with a bone through it all, but he's softened, and he's actually seen the benefits of having Jonas around. It's afforded him, for want of a better cliché, a different colour, in that he's been able to step back and assess him objectively and not strictly from his gut."
It's helped that Daniel Jackson hasn't completely disappeared from O'Neill's life. "I think O'Neill really misses him, so in the first episode where Daniel reappears, he is quietly elated by the revelation that there is a chance to be able to see his old buddy. In his second ascension appearance, O'Neill's a little less shocked by it. There's an air of familiarity about it - O'Neill's come to accept things like that with some degree of casualness. It's like his relationship with Thor - any other human being would just flip out, but O'Neill just accepts that this type of alien does exist and he likes him. Thor understands that O'Neill is a bit thick, and talks to him directly and plainly and as simply as he possibly can in order to communicate."
Anderson still has a large amount of input into O'Neill. "They allow me to tweak things," he says. "Sometimes it might even be as quiet as a gesture. The ideas are all there on paper and it's just a matter of moulding the voice to my sensibilities, and my relative sense of humour - or lack of same. I came into this stating that it had to be fun or it wasn't worth it, and I've been given a long tether. If I have a talent for anything, it's for surrounding myself with people who are far more talented than I, and for making the demand that people have a sense of humour about what we do as a group. There's a place for what we do - it's entertainment, and presents a service."
Whether that service continues is open to debate. Anderson negotiated a four day working week for the sixth season so he could spend the weekends in LA with his four year old daughter. "Her personality is just exploding, and I'm missing a lot of it," he admits. "The notion of doing another season up here is shaky for that reason - which isn't to put all the responsibility on her. My first notion is to be dad. I like the routine of a series, because it's the only social structure that I have, and it affords me some semblance of loose parameters in which to create the entertaining. But I'm really tired - I'm exhausted!"
Simpson, Paul. "Richard Dean Anderson" (excerpt from "Gate Expectations"). SFX #99. December, 2002: p. 59.