I’ve said it before (mostly to the wife) but I really mean it this time: You’re going to remember this one for a long time.
With a career spanning decades (he first appeared on fandom’s collective radar in 1993 with a role on the Highlander TV series and has remained there ever since thanks to his role as Dr. Daniel Jackson on Stargate SG-1) Michael Garrett Shanks (a.k.a Dr. Charlie Harris of the worldwide television blockbuster series Saving Hope) is practically a Canadian institution. (Certainly a more beloved one than Revenue Canada.) He is one of those rare actors who can play hockey legend Gordie Howe one minute (which he did, by the way) and follow it up with three episodes of a spy thriller series 24 or a sci-fi adventure. To most people, Daniel-Day Lewis is the ultimate actor but as far as I’m concerned, that spot belongs to Michael Shanks. (Yes, I can kiss ass with the best of them, thanks for noticing.)
“If The Hook thinks I’m shaving for this thing, he’s crazy.”
Fun Facts: Michael’s 24 eps predated his turn as Gordie Howe (for you sticklers) and his stint on 24 actually featured him having coitus in “real-time”.
Stick that in your period piece pipe and smoke it Daniel-Day-Lewis.
And on a personal note, I started this day convinced my 5×5 series was done; it’s been months since I’ve received a response from any of my subjects, despite their agreement to put themselves through my unique form of
torture brilliance. Between this development and my own personal challenges (helplessly watching one of your best friends slide into crisis until he finally takes his own life is not an experience I recommend) I was certain my writer’s block would finish me off for good.
Then an email from Mr. Shanks himself arrived.You have to understand, Michael Shanks is Charlie Harris in my house. The first time my daughter called me into her room screaming, “You have to watch this show, Saving Hope! It’s got Lois and Hawkman from Smallville… and it’s AMAZING!”, was a watershed moment. We bonded over this show. The family had Murdoch Mysteries, but Hope was and will always be our show.
And yes, Hope’s Erica Durance was Lois Lane in Smallville and Mr. Shanks made a few all-too brief appearances as one of the coolest and most complex superheroes in DC Comics history. This world isn’t the easiest in which to survive, but shows like Saving Hope, a mix of supernatural mystery, medical complexity and human drama, help make the challenge a little easier. Seeing Micheal’s virtual response in my email has helped me get through a grueling week.
Hope has returned to my life. (Pun intended.)
Now Michael has helped me score some serious street cred with my daughter, and for that I am forever grateful. And he’s about to give us all some insight into his personality, his career and life in general. Normally, this would be the part of our program where I fill you in on Michael’s bio, but this is an extra-large edition of the 5×5 series so we’re going to jump right in headfirst. Anyone wishing to get some background info on Mr. Shanks can do so by clicking here.
One more thing before we begin, this week’s sorta 5×5 is particularly fitting, as the final Shanks’-directed episode of Hope, “We Need To Talk About Charlie Harris” just aired last night. And now, friends, on with the show.
ONE) This year you won the respect and love of strangers, fans and I’m guessing even the odd troll, with a tweet where you defended the honor of your beloved wife, Lexa. Is it as hard as I imagine to read something negative and downright mean about the one closest to your heart?
Nope, its not fun to read crap about your loved ones via social media. Sometimes its hard not to react. However, sometimes one needs to grow a thicker skin when dealing with internet trolls. Yes D.Trump, I’m looking in your general direction…
TWO) To me, you’ve always been an Everyman actor, capable of molding yourself perfectly to any role. Are you as adaptable in life or just when assuming a role?
Nope. I’m certainly not as versatile in everyday life – I am what I am.
(I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure Popeye stole that line from Michael.)
It’s certainly more fun to try on other peoples skin, and live their lives because it is temporary and theoretical. That being said, I learn something new about myself with each new character I play.
THREE) If you could be any type of surgical instrument what would you be?
I would love to be an x-ray machine or a CT scanner. I love to have a good overview without being invasive. 😉
“What do you mean I’m on The Hook’s blog today? I thought that whole thing was a joke! He’s real?”
FOUR) Are we entering spoiler territory if I ask if the Great Randall or maybe even Gavin (talk about a blast from the past!) will be returning to Hope Zion one last time?
As we have already seen The Great Randall, we know what fate became him. As for Gavin, strangely enough the character of ‘Amos’, played by Don McKellar was originally imagined to mark the return of our beloved Dr. Murphy. Unfortunately, Kristopher Turner was unavailable. Having just recently gotten himself married and departing on his honeymoon, we kind of understood his dilemma.
(My daughter was quite unhappy with this outcome, as Gavin was one of her faves, but she’s young, she’ll get over it.)
FIVE) Your wife, Lexa Doig (most recently of Arrow), is a brilliant actress; do thespian couples face more challenges than the average coupling?
I would never deem to imagine what constitutes “normal” in a modern context. I would say that travel and hours of work are a bit of a problem in our biz, but we’ve somehow managed to keep the ship from capsizing.
Stunning! (And Lexa looks good too.)
SIX) What’s in your pockets right now?
Fun Side Fact: As a bellman I meet all sorts of travelers. I once met a couple of middle-aged cosplayers who brought along some Stargate SG-1 costumes that were sticking out of their bags. He was Michael’s Daniel Jackson… and she was the Stargate.
Think about it…
SEVEN) Not content to tweet out your feelings on the state of the world, you put your money where your mouth is with a charity bazaar and an auction option on your website; do you attribute this to your Canadian working-class roots or are you just an exceptional human being, Michael?
I would hope that anyone that is in a position to help someone that is having a hard time, would and should. My family has an open and giving heart. Sometimes to our own peril.
(This answer has touched me in a deeply personal way and I want to thank Michael and his family for all the good work they do to help their fellow human beings.)
EIGHT) The late great Alan Thicke left this world doing what he loved most, playing hockey. (Okay, there may have been at least one thing Alan loved more, but one can’t really do that on ice, especially not in the presence of one’s teenage son.) As a fellow aficionado of the sport, would you like to share this fate, if given the choice? (Yes, discussing your passing may seem cold, pun intended, but I strive to be different.)
When I go, it will hopefully be doing something I love, like our dearly departed Canadian Icon colleague. I don’t know if hockey is ideal. I would prefer somewhere warmer. Yes: hint, hint….
NINE) You love your fans and as such, you’ve put in time at many a con; do these appearance usually leave you spiritually energized (if not physically drained) or have there been times where you regret not becoming a lumberjack or a businessman?
Having spent my summers doing less than desirable jobs to pay my way through school, I can say that I have no regrets about my career choice.
As I always say: “It beats working for a living…”
(As a bellman, I can attest to that.)
TEN) Do you ever watch a movie/TV show with your kids only to have them ask, “Hey, why aren’t you on Modern Family or in John Wick, dad?”
I don’t know if our children actually see my wife and I as actors. The only time it dawns on them that we are is when we’re occasionally on shows that they actually watch.
ELEVEN) Any new projects on the horizon that you’re at liberty to discuss with us, Michael?
Nope. Nothing on the horizon right now. Just enjoying being home for awhile.
TWELVE) Saving Hope isn’t just a wholly-unique medical drama with the best lens flare on television; in my house it’s the show that allowed my daughter and I to bond while live-tweeting. This may be a bit much to ask, but what five words come to mind when you think of your years at Hope Zion?
Five words…… hmmmmm.
THIRTEEN) Can you recall the first time you realized your work resonated in people’s lives long after the performance ended?
Nope. Cant recall the first time. However, that is the soul-goal of actors: to affect the audience. Its the rush that we all get addicted to.
Thank you! And thanks to all the Saving Hope fans around the world that has kept the show going for 5 wonderful years. The show will always occupy a special place in my heart.
And that, my friends, concludes our program for today. “Thank you” doesn’t begin to cover the debt I owe today’s guest, but it’s all I have. Yes, I am a cheap bastard, thank you ever so much for noticing.
The truth is, I don’t feel my work is worthy of the brilliance of Michael Shanks but I’m going to bite the bullet and publish this sucker anyway. Thanks for being here to watch me suffer, everyone.
See in the lobby and on the small screen and various devices, kids…
Love Michael! Used to think St. Elsewhere was “it” when it came hospital shows. But this one combines everything that keeps my life tingling on so many levels! Ohhhh, lots of personal stories about life in a hospital, and spirits. 🙂 Anyway, I digress. Great blog! Wonderful sparklies!
You’re the best, Rosemary.
Loved the interview, Hook! He sounds like quite a guy, appreciative of his life! I just went to a Con. I would think they would be nerve-wracking, especially when signing autographs. I would worry that no one would line up!
Trust me, you’d have nothing to worry about, Susie…
At last! An actor I actually know/watch. Love your questions (and of course his answers). I’m a big fan of Stargate and many other sci-fi shows. Will have to check out Saving Hope.
I am beyond sorry about your close friend. Right now, a lot of people are struggling more than ever, me included (but in a very different way). Glad you’re still here, still writing, and still very clever with your words. I’m reminded of a small fish who became popular for her catch phrase, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”
Trust me, I’m trying to stay above water…
I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Shanks, but your work is worthy of any all celebrities! (But please don’t send a request to Donald Trump)
Not a chance.
And thank you.
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He is magic on screen…makes me forget my daily woes…. I work as an orthopedic theatre nurse and I wish we had Charlie Harris… I love his face.. it has such mobility and fun and kindness… and yes his decent human inner soul is all over his face!
Well said, Audrey!
And thank you for your heroism.
Another home run, Hook. Shows what happens when you keep shaking the bushes. Terrific interview.
I’ve been shaking until my arms are ready to fall off, John!
Michael’s the first person to respond in months.
Aw, keep the faith. They will come.
So sorry to hear about your friend, as someone dealing with severe depression it’s not easy to live with or ask/accept help!
First let me say that I’m glad Michael emailed you! I remember you tweeting him to ask for an interview. Liked him already but this has made him go up in my estimation!
The interview shows what a nice and ‘normal’ man he is, unlike some of his brethren! I only got to know his work through Saving Hope which I have enjoyed up to this season – but we won’t go there!
I hope he doesn’t get too comfortable at home and we soon see him again, this time as the star of his own show as I feel it’s time!
I couldn’t agree more, my friend.
And thank you so much for reading.
Glad you hooked Charlie/Michael, thanks for the read!
And thanks for the comment, Hallie.
Love this interview, loved Michael in everything he’s ever done. Great questions, friendly vibe and sincere personal notes from The Hook really got to me. Thanks. 😀
This one was a completely different 5×5, it’s true, Helen.
Thank you for reading and stopping by.
Lovely to see you smiling through this blog post. Nice!
Thanks, Catherine – for everything.
No shaving… he’s my kinda guy.
“lint” Now that’s a down to earth guy. Observant, too. Fun post, Hook
I get lucky sometimes – even on the blog occasionally…
And how does your wife respond when you use that line on her? 🙂
Great interview.. specially like the question about being a surgical instrument