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Richard Dean Anderson

The fourth season of "Stargate SG-1" is in full swing on [channel] M6. Daniel Jackson, Samantha Carter and Teal'c are back in action, under the always competent Colonel Jack O'Neill, aka Richard Dean Anderson. Actor and executive producer of the series, he talks about the new season, the reasons for his success and the atmosphere on the set.

In the fourth season, will the relationship between O'Neill and Samantha Carter become more intimate?

I know it would please many fans, but on this point, I'm afraid they will be disappointed! In fact, although we are a science fiction series, we try to be as realistic as possible. As for male-female relationships, we draw upon the existing regulations of the U.S. Air Force. Since these regulations are very strict and forbid romantic relationships between certain members of the military, we decided to stick to a discreet flirtation.

Can you share some anecdotes about filming the new season?

In "Small Victories," the first episode of season four, a fight scene against the Replicators takes place in a submarine. This scene was filmed on a real Russian submarine. Originally, we were supposed to shoot on a trawler, but when we found a submarine that had been brought from Vladivostok to Vancouver, Canada [where the series is filmed], we decided to use it. The team spent two weeks inside the submarine, it was quite folkloric...

Since its launch, the series has come a long way in terms of special effects. The Thors, especially, are very realistic...

So much so that now they are considered almost full partners! They blink and move their lips when they talk. During the filming of "Small Victories," there was an incident that viewers will never see, but which nevertheless deserves to be in the "best of." After shooting a scene, a Thor puppet touched Amanda Tapping's [Samantha Carter's] butt. Automatically, she turned around and slapped him! Then she felt so guilty that she apologized to the puppet! [Laughs]

The atmosphere on the set seems relaxed...

Yes, as executive producer, I demand that the atmosphere be light. I want the crew to be happy to come to work every day. And I refuse to take myself seriously. After all, we're not trying to save lives, we're only making entertainment to amuse people. Before the series started, I explained that there was no way I could imitate the performance of Kurt Russell [the actor who played Colonel O'Neil in "Stargate," the film by Roland Emmerich]. He is an excellent actor, but he took the character very seriously. I think Colonel O'Neill needs to show some humor and lightness. At least that's how I see the character.

Is your dual role of actor and producer a heavy responsibility?

It's a real challenge. It is sometimes difficult to give instructions as an actor and producer, but the crew is smart enough to understand that when I say something, I've thought about it before speaking... In fact, the main problem is how much time it takes. My family life suffers a bit. My partner, Apryl, and my three year old daughter, Wylie, live in the United States. Currently, I go back and forth between Vancouver and California nearly every weekend. My daughter has become my number one priority.

Richard Dean Anderson

In your opinion, how do you explain the success of "Stargate SG-1"?

There's the fact that, unlike a show like "Star Trek," the action takes place today. I think, as a result, people feel more involved. Also, the costumes and sets are extremely well done: the stargate is an object that is both appealing and very mysterious. It supports the entire series and we can do just about anything that comes to our minds. Finally, we tell good stories. The special effects would not be enough to captivate viewers if the story didn't follow.

As executive producer of the series, I suppose you attach great importance to the ratings...

Nothing is further from the truth! When you start talking to me about numbers, I fall asleep. I know I should pay more attention to the audience ratings of the series, but it's really not my thing. I'm doing my job the best I can, and that's all. The rest is not up to me...

Does the series have a long future ahead of it?

I don't like a series to last too long. This is what happened with "MacGyver." After seven years and 139 episodes, we ended up going in circles. For "Stargate SG-1," I always said that we were limited only by our imagination. But if that were to dry up, we should do something else. That said, we still have enough good ideas in reserve to sustain the series for several years. There are thousands of planets to visit, many more possibilities than in "MacGyver." In fact, the possibilities are nearly endless...

"Richard Dean Anderson" (translated from the French). Séries. May-June, 2001: p. 26-27.