"I get to do all this cool stuff I've always wanted to do and pretend it's real, and I get paid for it!" (Michael Shanks, FanOdyssey, June 2003)
(starring Stargate:SG-1 on the SciFi cable channel)
Michael Garrett Shanks was born in Vancouver on 15 December 1970, the younger of two brothers. He grew up in Kamloops, British Columbia.
His father would sometimes call him by his middle name, particularly when young Michael had done something naughty (such as lighting a fire in a nearby forest). His brother called him "Munko", as he was unable to pronounce "Michael".
Michael describes himself as "some kind of overachiever" at school, playing defence at hockey, fly-half and later wing at rugby, being a member of the Student Council, and joining the theatre group.
By making the decision not to turn pro, Michael regained his love of the game:
"So once I finished playing it seriously and started playing it for fun again, all of a sudden I found out I was a much better hockey player, because I enjoyed it again, and I was having fun when I was doing it."
He continues to support the Canucks (though pragmatically admits "They suck") and has played for the Stargate SG-1 team against teams from other Vancouver-based shows.
Having decided that pro hockey was not for him, Michael went to the University of British Columbia to study business, financing his studies by taking labouring and lumberjack work. Eventually though, maths proved to be his downfall, as a failed calculus course meant he was a half credit short of getting a Business degree, but graduated instead with a degree in Fine Arts.
One of the factors in Michael's decision to become an actor was coming across a location shoot for 'MacGyver' (starring Richard Dean Anderson, who went on to star as Jack O'Neill in Stargate SG-1) at a local Vancouver beach. The 19-year-old Michael watched what they were doing, how they were creating another world, and was hooked.
So, what hockey and the business world lost, was acting's gain. From UBC, Michael spent two years at the Stratford Festival (Ontario), taking on a number of small roles. He has said that his dream role would be 'Henry V', though he also feels the play is both outdated in the way its focus is a tyrannical king, calling on God "so he can go and beat the crap out of a pile of people" and too topical. That is not, he says, "what we want to be thinking about in this current climate".
Following a number of small roles in TV shows such as Madison, The Commish and Highlander, in 1997 Michael auditioned for the role of Dr Daniel Jackson on Stargate SG-1, the TV spin-off of the original Stargate movie. Michael went into the audition with his spot-on impersonation of James Spader (who had played Daniel Jackson in the movie) and got the job. He could also, as Brad Wright said, "do humour".
After five seasons of Stargate SG-1, Michael left the series, citing lack of use of the character of Daniel Jackson as the reason behind his decision.
Although not a member of the full-time cast of Stargate SG-1 during Season 6 he did reprise the role of Daniel Jackson in three episodes, 'Abyss', 'The Changeling' (written by his close friend, Christopher Judge, who plays Teal'c) and 'Full Circle', the season six finale and continued to voice Thor, the Asgard leader.
Michael's decision to leave the cast came as a shock to many fans and, when the reasons for his departure became known, a global campaign was established to persuade the producers of the importance of the character Michael played and return him to the show (full details of the history of the campaign can be found at www.savedanieljackson.com)
. On 8 November 2002, after more than a year of campaigning, the fans got their wish and it was announced that Michael would return as a full-time member of the cast for season seven. As Hank Cohen, President of MGM TV said, "We listened."
During his years on Stargate SG-1, Michael has also directed and written for the show. His directorial debut was the complex season 4 episode, 'Double Jeopardy'. While the result was an episode that was well-received and for many has become a favourite, for Michael the experience of directing was bittersweet. In season 7 Michael further stretched his creativity by writing the episode 'Resurrection'.
As he joked: "We all have things we're good at, and for me scriptwriting isn't one of those things!"
Between seasons, Michael took on other roles, including in 1999, a short run of a production of Hamlet. Although rehearsal time was limited and the reviews were mixed, Michael enjoyed the experience.
During a tour of Europe with Christopher Judge in January 2004, at one venue in the UK the crowds turning out for their appearance were so huge, despite heavy snow-storms, that the event was covered by BBC TV.
A life-long fan of sci-fi, Michael grew up watching Battlestar Galactica and collected all the original Star Wars figures, which he says he still has.
Michael has a daughter, Tatiana, born in 1998 to his former partner, Vaitiare Bandera (Sha're in Stargate SG-1). In August 2003, he married Lexa Doig, whom he met on the set of Andromeda when he guest-starred as Gabriel, in the episode Starcrossed. On 13 September, 2004, Lexa gave birth to their daughter Mia Tabitha.
This website is dedicated to the actor, writer and director, Michael Shanks. Our aim is to support and promote his work, provide information about his past, present