Carmen Argenziano ~ by M R Reed

Selmak would like to thank Marla for her permission to post these interviews on her site.



I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Carmen Argenziano, the talented actor who portrayed General Jacob Carter, father to Sam Carter and host to the Tok’ra symbiote Selmak in the highly successful and long running Sci-fi series ‘Stargate: SG-1’. We sat down to discuss his final episode, the 8th season pivotal episode ‘Threads' and his views on where the character of Jacob/Selmak could have gone.

Carmen Argenziano takes great pride in his work on Stargate: SG-1 as Jacob Carter/Selmak and had a lot of fun playing the character and enjoyed being on the show. Yet he also feels that there was more to for him to do with the character and that he was still in the process of discovering about Jacob and his relationship with his daughter Sam Carter, the duality of the Tok’ra/Tau’ri aspects and where his allegiance was.

Having played this recurring character on Stargate: SG-1 for the past 8 years, Carmen Argenziano has come to know the motivations of the characters of Jacob and Selmak and has very specific ideas about what each has given to the other in the symbiotic relationship they share.

“Selmak imparted a lot of knowledge to Jacob about the wisdom of the ages, about the Tau’ri’s arrogance as far as who they are and what they can do.” Argenziano says for him to get into character for the role, he likes to use a very worldly analogy for the scenarios his character comes into during various episodes.

“The Tau'ri were the Americans, the Tok’ra were the Israelis, the Goa’uld were the terrorists and the Jaffa were the Palestinians.”

Argenziano admits that is pretty farfetched and somewhat political, but that this helps him to create a mindset to drop the character into to play the role. “You have to personalize and identify with the material you doing as much as possible and that kinda grounded me and gave me a perspective of the elements in the story and what we were trying to do.”

Carmen Argenziano says that the one thing that he spent a number of years in the role working on was how to bring forth the distinction between Jacob Carter and the symbiote Selmak.

“Initially Selmak was somewhat robotic and zombie like and I wanted to instill some kind of life and animation into Selmak.”

In Tok’ra part two, the episode in which Selmak and Jacob are introduced to each other, it is stated that Selmak had a sense of humor and Argenziano says he wanted to bring that to life as well as show the other aspects that Selmak had brought to him.

“Selmak influenced Jacob in one episode to go back to earth and mend his relationship with his son, Mark and it ended with Jacob and his son hugging.”


A sweet father~son~symbiote moment courtesy of Selmak.

In Carmen Argenziano’s perspective of the character of Jacob Carter, he was a hard crusted career Air Force General who was somewhat of a no nonsense disciplinarian, authoritarian figure and he sees that Selmak has a real humanizing effect on Jacob.

“Selmak imparted a humanitarian element, a sensitivity to the mix and there was so many more facets of both the characters that we could have explored, that I would have loved to have explored.” Argenziano explains, “but it was kinda nipped in the bud right in the middle of the character exploration and what could have been done with it.”

Carmen Argenziano says that if he had been given the chance to come up with an arc for the character of Jacob/Selmak, he would have created one in which the character would have become more politically involved with the Tok’ra aspect.

“It would have been interesting and I think there was a lot of room there to explore whatever subversive elements there were among the Tok’ra, where they were going with those elements and exploring where Jacob/Selmak’s allegiances were in regards to the duality of the whole situation for them.”

This led to discussion of his last episode in the series, the 8th season episode ‘Threads’ in which his characters die. Argenziano said he found himself somewhat at a loss as to the how and why’s that his characters were brought to a demise.

“It was somewhat abrupt and I was taken aback by it, I don’t know what the considerations were preceding that decision to write that script, possibly that they thought it was the last season. ‘Threads’ was filmed in the middle of the season and I think everyone was under the impression that there wasn’t going to be a 9th season.”

Filming that episode and the final scenes with Amanda Tapping was an experience that Carmen Argenziano speaks fondly of and in particular of working Amanda Tapping overall whom he has nothing but the highest admiration for.

“Amanda was really distressed over this ‘death of Jacob’ episode,” he explains, closing his eyes to gather his thoughts about this.

“As actors we use whatever is available to us as people and that influence our work and we kind of just make it as personal as we can. And it was apparently very personal to Amanda that this was possibly the last time we going to do an episode of Stargate: SG-1 together. She came in really distressed over the storyline and she was convinced that I probably wouldn’t be back and that upset her and she used that emotional reaction to bring realism into her character dealing with the death of my character.”

Argenziano then lets us in on a possible spoiler for season 9 by saying that, upon seeing Amanda’s distress over this issue of Argenziano’s character being killed off, Peter Deluise told her that Jacob Carter probably would be back.

However Amanda remained unconvinced by this.

An Exclusive Interview ~ Threads of a Discussion

“She was emotionally upset about my leaving, the actor as well as the father of her character. After six years and 26 episodes total of working with me as her ‘father’ we had really developed a friendship and I always thought of her as a class actress, a Meryl Streep class actress. She has a wonderful sensitivity, wonderful intelligence, nothing prima dona-ish about Amanda at all. She’s just real and sweet and positive and smart. She incorporates all that emotional stuff into her performance and she was just wonderful.”

Carmen Argenziano said he was very glad to find out that Amanda Tapping had gotten the chance to direct an episode ‘Resurrection’ in the 7th season, which was written by fellow cast member Michael Shanks and he had high praise for Amanda Tapping's work in the 7th season episode ‘Grace’ where he felt she did wonderful work having to play Sam Carter all alone on a ship and having hallucinations induced by a head injury that have her questioning her life’s choices. "She was just phenomenal. Amanda Tapping is a team player and an amazing actress.” Argenziano enthuses of her performance.

Asking Carmen Argenziano to take a brief moment to step back into the role of Jacob Carter and explain why he felt that Pete Shanahan, played by David Deluise, was the wrong man for Jacob’s daughter, Colonel Samantha Carter, played by Amanda Tapping elicited an answer that may clear up any confusion fans of the show had about Jacob’s reaction to Sam’s plans to marry the detective.



“There was a glibness about Pete that was somewhat suspect.” Argenziano says with conviction as he explains that in his mind Jacob Carter imagined his daughter Sam wouldn’t be with someone quite so glib.

“As Jacob, I always envisioned my daughter Sam as being with someone better than myself and I wasn’t terribly impressed with Pete, although he was a nice guy but not right for my daughter. My little girl can do much better I’m sure.”

This type of unacceptable glibness also, in his perspective, rules out Jack O’Neill as suitable partner for Jacob’s daughter and he says with the same conviction that Jack was never one of Jacob’s choices for his Sam either.

“Jack and Jacob had a tension between them that really worked for our characters as you need that kind of conflict in any drama, but he isn’t right for Sam.”

So who in his perspective as Jacob Carter does Carmen Argenziano think would
be a good match for Sam Carter?

“I like Daniel Jackson <played by Michael Shanks>. I felt that Daniel would have been the right choice because Daniel is well educated, is intelligent, gentlemanly and he was everything that I envisioned that my daughter would end up with.”

Stepping out of the role of Jacob Carter and back into being Carmen Argenziano in an interview, Argenziano says that he will miss working on the Stargate: SG-1 set, especially if he doesn’t come back. Along with working with Amanda Tapping, he enjoyed interacting with the other cast members as well.

“Chris Judge plays such a wonderful character and he personally is such a funny guy. Teal’c is so diametrically opposite to who Chris Judge is. Chris is so energetic and animated and funny and Teal’c is so quiet and reserved.”

Carmen Argenziano says he had a wonderful time with Christopher Judge in Paris. France a year or so ago when they were appearing together at a convention along with Amanda Tapping, Teryl Rothery, Michael Shanks and Don S. Davis. “I had a great time with him in Paris, I don’t thing we slept for three days and he was the one responsible for that. It was so funny cause I remember us walking down the street, Teryl, Don, Chris and myself and someone recognizing Christopher and calling out Messieurs Teal’c!” Argenziano added that all of them were recognized during that trip at one point or another and it gave him a warm feeling.

“To be half way around the world and to be known is quite a feeling. It was kind of surreal, but it was wonderful.”

Another actor Carmen Argenziano enjoyed working with on Stargate: SG-1 was Tony Amendola who plays Jaffa leader Master Bra’tac.

“Tony is a great actor. He is classically trained, he’s got this presence and these fiery eyes and this wonderful commitment to what he is doing as Bra’tac and I love that character for what Tony has brought to it.”

Argenziano regrets that there wasn’t more exploration done with the interaction this two characters had as leaders on opposite sides of the Tok’ra/Jaffa conflict in the sixth season episode ‘Allegiance’.

“I would have loved to have gotten an episode with Tony where we could have really mixed it up over these conflicts because he is such a wonderful actor and when you are working with an actor of that caliber it can only enhance your own work.”

This swings the discussion back around to what they could have explored on the whole with Jacob Carter/Selmak as a character and why that option now seems closed to him as an actor and to the fans of the show who liked the character.

“As far as the character development and what we could have done with Jacob, I’m not really sure. I’m an actor not a writer. Outside of really wanting to have had a chance to explore his allegiance to either the Tok’ra or the Tau'ri and seen where he ended up and may some more of what Selmak’s influence on Jacob was or vise-versa. I just think there was room there for a little more exploration.”

Even as he and the fans are hoping Peter Deluise will make good on the possibility of a return for Jacob Carter, all isn’t completely over for Carmen Argenziano as far as the characters of Jacob Carter/Selmak are concerned.

He was recently in Los Angeles doing a reprisal of sorts of his characters by way of filming some scenes with Richard Dean Anderson, who portrayed lead character Jack O’Neill for eight years on Stargate: SG-1, for the newly created Stargate: SG-1 video game ‘Stargate: Alliance’ to be released this coming October. This was Argenziano’s first time out as a character in a video game and he had great time doing it.

“They took photographs and filmed scenes of us to get kind of a visual reference of the characters. It was fun and it’s something my kids will enjoy. My two little boys will just love that their Daddy’s in a video game.”

Those of us who have liked the characters of Jacob Carter/Selmak since they were first introduced to us in ‘Tok’ra 1&2’ are going to love seeing him too.

“Hey Peter Deluise, make Amanda Tapping and the fans happy and bring back Jacob/Selmak for season 9. We miss ‘Dad’!”

This article is © 2005 to M R Reed and may not be reproduced without permission.

 

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