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Wants To Be The Lunchroom Dad

Richard Dean Anderson

Richard Dean Anderson, best known for being loved by Homer's sister-in-law Patty on The Simpsons, is thinking about leaving Stargate SG-1. Before you get your hankies out, the actor, who has played the acerbic military commander Jack O'Neill for seven seasons, has said that before. Could he mean it this time? We asked him about that, and about his character's relationship with the duplicitous Col. Maybourne. Because Maybourne is just one of television's great weasels.

On possibly leaving after Season 8.

At this point, right now, with all that's going on in my life outside all this, it's very unlikely I'd be able to come back. I know what's the most important thing right now. I'm very well aware of the fact that that may interfere with a very successful franchise.

Whether the show would go on without me... I think it could. I don't know whether it will or not. Honestly I can't answer that question, and it's silly for me to start conjecturing, not until I've had conversations with MGM or Sci Fi.

I do feel as though this is my last season. I know what I have to do right now, given my real-life situation. There is a twinge of... not remorse, but I get a little sad about it. It's been a very unique experience. On MacGyver I was flying solo for the most part, but this is a more character driven [ensemble] show.

It's something I've been reflecting on lately more than before. I know how lucky we are to have this kind of camaraderie and rapport. It doesn't always work out that way. There have been shows that go under because of differences of opinion. The main kids here like each other and we make each other laugh.

On the main reason for reducing his schedule in recent seasons and possibly leaving after this year.

I've been asked not to harp on it too much but I have a hard time not being honest. The fact is that I have a 5½-year-old daughter who lives in L.A. and I need to be there. I need to be part of her life. She just finished kindergarten. With my abbreviated schedule, I can go to the school and read to the class and do fundraising. I'll go into my daughter's school and be the maitre'd at lunch, it's just an absolute joy. I just love it.

Blessedly in retrospect, I was 48 when [my daughter] was born, so I had plenty of time to jam in plenty of experiences [before that]. I've been to so many places, and now I can take this little hand and guide it. I really do feel I'm extraordinarily lucky and fortunate. I've had a fair amount of success in my career and I am in a position to take time off and participate in my daughter's life.

On O'Neill sitting behind a desk this year instead of kicking some alien behind.

That's part of what we'll be able to play with, that O'Neill's frustrated. He'd rather be on the front lines and obviously he's much better suited to that position. Putting him behind a desk is just so much torture.

On the success of the show.

One thing to keep in mind is that it is relative success. We are massively successful in the cable market, which is a smaller venue. The awareness of Stargate has come through our quality of work and word of mouth, and critics will say very complimentary things.

Our success has been escalating a little bit. Not just science fiction fans are willing to tune in and watch us. And they're tuning in for the relationships of the characters and their stories, as opposed to [only] a special effects-laced story; that's a testament to the writing and the camaraderie of the characters and the actors.

I am getting an idea lately that, much like my character, I can be a little dense at times and slow on the uptake, but there is quite an audience out there.

On Michael Shanks leaving and coming back.

First of all, it's nice to know that so many people cared enough [about that] and wanted to be heard. Also, that Michael had a popularity that was so warranted, I mean, look at the guy. Whatever happened to have him be recognized and appreciated [is good]. What I tried to make clear back then was that these were business decisions that were made internally with Michael involved, and ultimately, that's how it was rectified as well.

On O'Neill's love-hate (not so much love, more hate) relationship with the devious Col. Maybourne.

That's always fun. I have the most fun working with really good actors who are patient and willing to watch me bounce of the walls and find the scene. Tom [McBeath, who plays Maybourne] is one of those guys, he's a wonderful actor and we've given him plenty of tether to play [Maybourne] as arch as he wants to be.

Ryan, Maureen. "Richard Dean Anderson: Leaving?" Chicago Tribune. July 9, 2004.