MM: On Atlantis, this is a new role Samantha Carter …?
Amanda: You know what, it almost feels like a completely different character.
MM: It’s more of a managerial, administrative role…
Amanda: It is – so she has had to pull back on her research in terms of being a scientist. And pull back militarily in terms of going out in the field as a soldier. In a lot of ways, it’s a paring down of Carter and an emergence of this new character. So for me as an actor, it feels very fresh. But my character is also frustrated. She wants to get to the lab and figure stuff out and to get out into the field. She has to send teams off and she wants to be going w/them. That’s what she does.
MM: It [the role] does kind a free you from the burden of the technobabble, though.
Amanda: [laughing] I miss the technobabble! I miss being scientist girl! and leader girl! [then more serious] I was painfully aware during Atlantis that it was not my show. That it was a show that had done very well w/out me, thank you very much, and I had to tread very lightly on their boards. Especially because I have such a relationship w/ David [Hewlett] in particular. I just…I wanted to, as a character and as the actress Amanda - I wanted to be careful about how I approached it. Torri [Higginson] was a much-loved actress and character. As much as I’m replacing her position, I’m not replacing her.
MM: Does Carter struggle with this position to a certain extent? Because it’s so non-military, really.
Amanda: Absolutely! Absolutely. One of the things we ended up talking about and I went to the writers about: Atlantis is a completely different set of rules. My character grew up an Air Force brat. She grew up on bases. Her dad was in the Air Force. And now she’s in the Air Force. This is very different for her to suddenly be in the position where the rules are a little different. It’s a lot more lax. The protocol is different. I went to the writers and [showrunners] Joe and Paul in particular. I said: we have to do something because Carter is going to have a problem with this. And Joe, and the way he plays Sheppard, he’s a bit more of a renegade. There’s a problem because Carter is military and she has to learn to pull back from that. In particular, Carter has a very nice scene w/ Mitch Pileggi’s character. Where he’s got the command going and Carter is like, well [laughs] ookaaaay - it’s different, different than I thought…but they addressed all of that, which was great.
MM: Carter and [Dr. Rodney] McKay have a competitive dynamic. Where did Joe [Mallozzi] decide to take that relationship this year?
Amanda: There’s a fantastic set-up scene at the very beginning where Carter comes to Atlantis as the new leader. It’s a very funny, kind of poignant scene between McKay and Carter. I don’t want to tell you more because it’s sooo cute. When I read the scene I was like – yeah! – perfect. It encapsulates the relationship, and McKay’s attitude and Carter’s attitude were perfect.