Amanda Tapping plays the lead role of Dr. Helen Magnus, the super-intelligent protagonist of Sanctuary, the hit sci-fi series that was developed in Vancouver. An award-winning actress, Amanda is also executive producer and occasional director of the Vancouver series, and is well-known for her previous work on Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis.
I caught up with Amanda between scenes on the set of the latest series of Sanctuary. Taking a seat within a quiet spot away from the workings of the production, Amanda offers me a gentle smile, sparkling eyes and an air of patience. Clearly I’m not very organized this evening. But finally, we have some momentum.
How do you go about developing the character?
That’s a tough question to start with! (laughter)
I like to go outside of the box when I research my characters, this includes the accent and hairstyle that I use for the part. I also studied Victorian England because the character of Helen Magnus has been alive for over a hundred and fifty years. This has meant that in some episodes I've been able to dress up in Victorian era costumes...which is a lot of fun.
That’s a great era to use, actually. There’s a lot of fun to be had with that part of history.
Exactly. It’s been great. And overall, the world is our oyster and we like to use history as part of the story lines. In series four we're using a storyline akin to the Warsaw ghetto, and in the past we've used Jack the Ripper, Nikola Tesla, and the Normandy landings in WWII. We can use anything we like to some extent. It's interesting to take history and use it in this way and in these types of storylines.
Which do you prefer – dialogue scenes or action scenes?
I love a good meaty dialogue piece, but I've learned my own fight scenes and they're really fun to perform. My stunt woman does all the falls etc but I do all the fighting. It's exciting and some of it is complex and may take a couple days or even a couple of weeks to learn a sequence.
You're also the show's producer and occasional director, how does that work?
I'm also involved in the casting, editing, writing, and creation of the story arc. It's satisfying to watch it all come together knowing how much work has been put in by everyone involved. If I was just an actress showing up to do my lines it would be little different, but I enjoy working in other areas of the production as you get to see the fruits of your labour.
Sanctuary is an independent production - how do you go about financing it?
Sanctuary is 100% Canadian. It's an indigenous product. It's fully financed in Vancouver by the Beedie Group who are a real estate and construction organization. They financed the webisodes when we first started out and they have continued to back us ever since, which means we don't have go out and hunt for funding. This really helps as it allows us to get on with making the show.
If you're already a fan of the series then look out for season four which premieres on the Space channel - Friday October 7 at 10pm. You really don’t want to miss it. Season three of the show is now available on DVD.
For more, please visit the Sanctuary website.