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Tapping Loves ‘Atlantis,’ Misses Weapon

Amanda Tapping’s happy her new show, Stargate Atlantis, has more female co-stars than her old show, Stargate SG-1. But she misses visiting other worlds and wielding a submachine gun.

“I’m kind of lost without my P-90,” Tapping joked during a press call Wednesday to promote Atlantis’s fourth-season premiere Friday at 10 p.m. ET on Sci Fi Channel.

Her character, Col. Samantha Carter, was part of a male-dominated U.S. Air Force team on SG-1, traveling to other planets, sometimes battling aliens and leaving behind lots of spent shell casings.

Now, as the current season progresses, she takes command in Atlantis. As a result she doesn’t get out as much as she used to.

“It’s very much a leadership role,” Tapping said, discussing her 11th TV season playing astrophysicist Carter (10 on SG-1).

“She sits in the big office, the big fishbowl office, and oversees everything … I think I only have gone off-world three times this year, which is really hard, extremely frustrating for me as the actor and for Carter as the character, to sort of say, ‘You have a go,’ and watch other people go through the gate without her.”

Tapping said the Atlantis filming schedule is winding down, with two episodes left to make. She said the writers have made her transition – replacing (spoiler alert) Torri Higginson’s character, Elizabeth Weir, as head of the Atlantis outpost in distant Pegasus galaxy – a seamless one, for the actress and hopefully for the fans.

Carter’s character on Atlantis has been “completely out of her element” by not being subordinate to others, she said, and that’s been rewarding as an actress.

On SG-1, Carter worked for and with men, especially after the show’s medical officer, Dr. Janet Fraiser (played by Teryl Rothery), was killed in dramatic action during season 7. 

On Atlantis she works alongside two female leads: Rachel Luttrell, playing Teyla Emmagan, and Jewel Staite, who plays a new character, Dr. Jennifer Keller.

“It was lonely being the only girl” on SG-1, Tapping said. “But Jewel and Rachel and I just have a blast together.”

Staite, who played mechanic Kaylee Frye in the former Fox sci-fi show Firefly, also was on the call. She revealed that her character is “a bit of a flirt,” and strongly hinted at a (possibly brief) romantic involvement with one of the male lead characters.

Both women, when appropriate, displayed the humor they said all the cast members share. Staite, for example, said “I always flip to the back page of the script” when asked if she was concerned that doctors on Stargate shows have a high mortality rate. (Her character’s Atlantis predecessor also died on duty.)

And Tapping, asked whether she ever envisioned playing Samantha Carter this long, said no, but now she’s gunning for a record: “I’m going to be the Kelsey Grammer of Sci Fi.”

To that end, she mentioned a couple of times she’s hoping the Atlantis cast and crew stay together for more missions. “We’re all anxiously awaiting the numbers this Friday to see if we come back,” she said.