Richard Dean Anderson has had a long and popular TV career but in Stargate SG-1 he has made the role of Jack O'Neill his own. He's also an executive producer on the series, so who better to begin our update on the sixth season?
There's no arguing that when Stargate SG-1 is mentioned, an image of Richard Dean Anderson immediately comes to mind. The star of the show, as well as one of its executive producers, the actor has played a huge role in making the Sci-Fi series popular around the world. He has endeared himself to fans with his down-to-earth portrayal of Air Force Colonel Jack O'Neill - "two Ls". His character's off-the-cuff comedic remarks tend to be a particular favourite among the show's fans.
"Somebody recently asked me about O'Neill's sense of humour," says Anderson. "Believe it or not, it was the first time I'd really been pointedly asked about it. The thing is I don't think my character has a clue that he might be perceived as being funny or having a sense of humour. He might try to be a little sly or sardonic but he's not aware of the comic manipulations that are involved in his manner.
"Let's face it, O'Neill can be a little dense. Sometimes he doesn't quite get it," jokes the actor. "You've seen him listening to Carter as she rattles off her techno-stuff. His big response after she's gone through a page-and-a-half of non-stop dialogue is, 'I'm sorry, what were you saying?' And that's just one example of his occasional 'thickness'.
"I think a lot of what the fans call 'Jack-isms' stem out of my love of the absurd and the incongruity of speech patterns and/or tenses. I'm a huge fan of British humour, from Terry Thomas and Peter Sellers to Monty Python and right through today to comedians like Eddie Izzard. So if I can bring a bit of levity to a scene, that's great, but only if it makes sense. It's not all me, though. Some of those Jack-isms are already there in the script. For that, I have to thank people such as [executive producers/writers] Brad Wright and Robert Cooper as well as [writers/producers] Joe Mallozzi and Paul Mullie."
In the sixth season finale Full Circle, SG-1 returns to Abydos, the very first planet Stargate Command visited using the Stargate. Working on the episode proved to be one of the highlights of the season for Anderson. "Martin Wood did a wonderful job directing the story," he says. "It was a big production and we wanted to make sure that it was in the hands of somebody who's used to doing our show. I really enjoy working with him and Peter DeLuise [writer/producer], who also directs several of our episodes each year. Along with being great human beings they're also very talented and innovative people. Both Martin and Peter aren't afraid of exploring new ways of doing things and I truly appreciate as well as admire that."
After much speculation and deliberation by just about everyone, Stargate SG-1 was renewed for a seventh season with Anderson returning as Jack O'Neill. As for what the future has in store for his character, the actor is leaving that up to the show's producers and writers. "These guys are so good at what they do that it makes sense for me to leave them alone so that they can get on with it," says Anderson.
HE'S ALL RIGHT, JACK
"We pulled back in a lot of ways this year on Jack and Sam's relationship, and rightly so. That said, there are looks between them that happen very naturally and, perhaps, go on a second longer than they should, but it's not anything that's uncomfortable. Their relationship has this 'old married couple' type of vibe to it now, and that's a result of the simple, organic things that Rick and I find to play in various scenes."
"Jonas and O'Neill have almost a business-like relationship rather than a connection anywhere outside of being on the same team. It's not as if they hang out together after work and smoke cigars, and that's OK. I'm very pleased with where the writers have taken them."