In memory of Richard Hatch, I have reposted this interview I did with him from 2006.
The GENRE ONLINE.NET Interview – Richard Hatch
By Mark A. Rivera
Most people may remember Actor Richard Hatch from his starring role as Apollo in the classic sci-fi television series “Battlestar Galactica,” which aired for one season on ABC from 1978 to 1979 as well as his recurring guest starring role on SCI FI’s reimagined “Battlestar Galactica” television series as Tom Zarek, a character that allows Mr. Hatch to display a more three-dimensional human being with a dark side while still evoking a natural honorability that I think is a part of Mr. Hatch’s general personality. Richard Hatch is also an Author of several “Battlestar Galactica” novels that continue the adventure where the classic series left off as well as the creator of “The Great War Of Magellan” science fiction franchise. In between acting and writing, Richard Hatch has directed and produced “Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming,” a trailer designed to ignite interest in “Battlestar Galactica” for what would have been a feature film or television miniseries and Mr. Hatch is also a Teacher and Mentor helping his students attain their creative and professional goals.
I was fortunate to be granted an interview with Mr. Hatch to discuss his career, both “Battlestar Galactica” television series and much more. Richard Hatch is an avid science fiction and fantasy fan and a man passionate about his interests. Of all the genre icons I have interviewed over the years, I have to say Mr. Hatch was one of the best interview experiences I ever had and I am proud to share this interview with you all now.
Mark A. Rivera) Early in your career when you were working on Broadway in New York City, you really roughed it out. Literally you and several others in the theater group you were a part of were sleeping within a theater, but in the end it lead to you directing and getting noticed in the theater company and helped jumpstart your career. Is that correct?
Richard Hatch) Yeah I had gone off to New York with thirty young actors and actresses and we lived in an empty ballet studio in Hell’s Kitchen in this little theater complex on 54th street and we basically lived on the floor in sleeping bags and lived on Campbell’s Soup that an actor’s father gave us because he worked for Campbell’s Soup. He gave us a barrel of about 300 Campbell’s Soup cans, which saved our lives I must say and basically we put on one act plays, poetry readings, Shakespeare, anything we could to just not only work as a company, but make any kind of money we could. We were just struggling actors who had been part of a theater troupe out here in Los Angeles and we all decided to head out to New York at the same time. And then that lead to an audition for “All My Children” when the soap opera was just beginning and after multiple auditions because I didn’t have much of a resume, I got cast as the original Phil Brent. We were the original children of “All My Children” that debuted in 1970. Karen Gorney, who went on to star opposite John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever,” and of course Susan Lucci was the other vixen I worked with. We all were in high school together and that’s how the show really started and then basically I was back here for three or four years doing the soap opera and plays and I was starring in a rock musical off Broadway called “Love me. Love my Children.” So that was like the beginnings for me.
MR) After you had done a TV series with Karl Malden, you had gotten the opportunity to do “Battlestar Galactica” and of course play the signature character of Apollo and I have to say that being a fan of the original series and watching it as a little kid, you brought a lot to the show, especially with the chemistry between you and Dirk Benedict. As you look back now from the new Galactica to the classic Galactica, how do you feel so to speak of being the leading man of “Battlestar Galactica?” I realize you did the commentary for the DVDs and you have enormous respect for Lorne Greene, who you were lucky enough to work with, but it must have been a mind-blowing experience and I also understand that you yourself are also a science fiction fan, am I correct?
SCI FI Photo By Carole Segal
RH) Oh yeah I am a very big sci-fi fan. I like intelligent, visionary science fiction. I’m not one for cheesy or just superficial science fiction. I like science fiction that explores the theoretical probabilities and possibilities of this universe and also explores the mysteries of the human heart. I think great science fiction brings all of it together in a very unique and original way. For me I am always surprised at why so many people who say they don’t like science fiction when you ask them what they think science fiction is, they really don’t understand. They label science fiction. They think it is just a bunch of gobbly gook and techno-babble. They don’t understand that great science fiction really, really is visionary, is prophetic and has very powerful stories about life and about people you know. It’s spiritual, it’s philosophical, and it explores all the mysteries I think all of us at some point of our life begin to ask questions about.
MR) Absolutely and it also makes comments at times about different contemporary issues sociologically speaking and even a subversive comment and really say it in a more interesting way than you can in other genres. I know exactly what you’re saying though. I’ve had people tell me, “I like sci-fi.” And I say “Oh really, what’s your favorite sci-fi?” and they say “Oh Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and I say to them “Well that’s more of a dark fantasy with a mix of comedy.” I wouldn’t even consider that horror, you know? What are your favorite sci-fi and or science fiction since Harlan Ellison has definitely made an understandable differentiation? To paraphrase, he says sci-fi is more fantasy oriented and science fiction is more based on hard science and exploring possibilities and that sort of thing.
RH) Well if you’re going to have to label it, I think he’s absolutely right, but I’ve always enjoyed fantasy. See fantasy to me doesn’t mean superficial or lacking in some deeper more profound message or lacking in plausible scientific underpinnings. Fantasy explores archetypes. It explores very powerful philosophical, spiritual, psychological or whatever you want to call it and when the writer does their job, no matter whether you’re old or young, boy or girl, everybody can relate to it as witnessed by the success of “The Lord Of The Rings.” Fantasy allows us a one step separation from where we are so that we can look at it, enjoy it, and have just a certain level of detachment while being able to maybe look at theoretical probabilities that could or could not be, but maybe in many ways mirrors back to us things that are going on in our world and yet it does it in a fresh, unique, original concept so maybe we are less threatened or intimidated by it. See fantasy allows one step of detachment that allows us to look at something we normally couldn’t look at if it was too close to home.
MR) Often I find the genres cross between each other. I mean “Star Wars” is as much a fantasy and even “Battlestar Galactica” has a lot of fantasy elements within it. The original, particularly, is somewhat influenced by the space operas.
MR) While the new Galactica from my point of view, I’d say its biggest influence is probably Philip K. Dick and “Blade Runner” with the replicants questioning humanity. But before I ask you a few questions about the new show… You have been probably the strongest voice of “Battlestar Galactica” since the show went off the air and I wanted to ask you with regard to “Galactica 1980”, which I know a lot of people find regrettable, was there ever any attempt to bring you on the show?
RH) 1980, you mean?
RH) Yes well… I don’t know how serious it was. Dirk and I both received scripts, but the scripts had already changed the names from Apollo and Starbuck to um…
MR) Troy and…
RH) Troy and whoever. And I don’t know how serious they were, but we were offered to do it. I turned it down because I just felt maybe they made a mistake and had already changed the names, but I think they would have brought both of us back. It’s just I felt that when they brought it to Earth and they cut the budget in half and they changed everything… I turned it down because I felt that the original concept was so wonderful and I felt the story was all about the journey, not about arriving at the destination.
MR) Like “Jason And The Argonauts.”
RH) Yeah, I just felt it was going to lose all the wonderful things that made the original “Battlestar Galactica” so special and I felt honestly with a second year they could have finally gotten into the deeper richer stories that the Battlestar world had waiting to explore, but instead of going deeper into the original story, they were all about changing everything and I think they didn’t realize that “Battlestar Galactica” was very successful for a first year series and that the changes they wanted to make were not the changes the audience wanted to see. The only thing the audience wanted to see more of was better stories.
MR) I agree. Especially after watching them all on DVD and reviewing them all a few years back, I don’t think ABC really knew what they had at the time. I think they dropped the ball by canceling it and that’s been my opinion since. Now a lot of people, including yourself and in your novels, as far as I know, pretend that “Galactica 1980” never happened and the only episode from that series anyone ever remembers fondly was “The Return Of Starbuck.”
RH) I basically wove that theme into my books. In the first novels we explore the fact that he has been missing for five years and then we go back and we find him. I wanted to weave that idea into the books because I did like that part of the story.
MR) You have been writing a seven novel series over the years.
RH) Well it’s actually an on going novel series and we’ve done seven so far and the company I, Books just went bankrupt and Byron Priess passed away. He was killed on the highway.
MR) I’m very sorry.
RH) So right now everything is kind of up in limbo, but we’re hoping to write the eighth “Battlestar Galactica” novel because I wrote a two-book story arc for the last two books and we’ve only done half of it. So they told me we would do eight novels and then they told me they would determine whether they would pick it up for another three, but unfortunately after writing seven, all that stuff came to pass.
MR) I am very sorry to hear that. I apologize.
RH) Oh, don’t even worry. These things happen all the time and things go through changes and shifts so you know I’m doing a lot of work right now. I mean I’m really busy with the new show and I’m also writing the first novel for my “Great War Of Magellan” series that we put together and we filmed a theatrical trailer and we are doing a graphic novel of it so I have been working very hard developing this new sci-fi story and it’s been an extremely busy time for me.
MR) Do you think there will ever be a time when it will be possible that any of that footage that you shot for “Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming” may be included in a future Universal release?
RH) They tried to put it into the DVDs of the original series that came out, but then when I told them that we had made a special deal with SAG and that it was only a presentational piece and that they would have to pay all the actors and work out the licensing fees, they didn’t want to put out the extra money in order to do it. Otherwise they would have put it in the DVD. And we offered it and they were actually interested in it. It’s just that the expense of making it viable was a little too much. They didn’t realize the popularity at that point with “Battlestar Galactica” and I think they were all shocked when they realized how many DVDs sold of the original series. It went well beyond their expectations.
MR) Do you think there is ever any chance or possibility, if it was offered, to make “The Second Coming” as a feature film or TV movie as a parallel Galactica film series that continues from when the original series left off and would you do it?
RH) Of course, but I don’t think at this point in time. They’ve opted and chosen to do the new reimagined version and they’re putting all their energy there. The only thing that remains an unknown possibility is the movie rights still belong to Glen Larsen and I know there is talk and discussions about doing a movie or animated movie of the original “Battlestar Galactica” series, which is definitely a possibility and I think in this day and age the new show is so firmly established it’s credibility and success that like “Star Trek,” which had “Deep Space Nine”, “The Next Generation”, and “The Original Series,” I think they realize that there’s room and there wouldn’t be any competition at this point or threat or anything. I think the new show is so firmly established and his it’s own fan base. I think that if they did an original version of the Battlestar either through a movie or animated version, it would be very successful and it would be very satisfying to those three generations of fans who followed the original show and also help lay the history for all the new fans to realize where the seed for the new show generated from. The new show is quite different from the original although I must say as the show progresses, they have brought more and more of the original premise and backstory into it and some of the wonderful things about the original show have been brought forward and obviously evolved and up leveled, but I think it would be wonderful if they were able to do that. I mean I realized long ago when I did The Second Coming trailer I was hoping to inspire a revival and knew once Universal did get excited about “Battlestar Galactica” again that ultimately they own it and they would make there own decision about what they felt they wanted to do and I conceded that was a risk, but never the less I love the story and I felt the potential of “Battlestar Galactica” and so I and many, many others worked the bring that back, but at some point you realize that we learn, we grow through the things we love and ultimately if we want to do something in our own unique way either as an actor, writer, producer, director then you have to make something that comes from your heart. That’s why I started writing “Great War Of Magellan.” That was my baby that began to delve into exactly what we talked about. I wanted to create a very mind expanding, visionary, cutting edge science fiction story that would explain the mysteries of the universe and the human heart and I wanted to put that all together and that’s why I formed my company Merlin Quest Entertainment and that’s why we’ve been working on this for the last four years now.
MR) I’m not familiar with “The Great War Of Magellan.” Would you tell me a little bit about it? I could get the information on my own, but…
SCI FI Photos By Carole Segal
RH) Yeah, although the new page will be up in the next month, you can over to www.greatwarofmagellan.com and you will see a theatrical trailer there and a behind-the-scenes making of trailer and a little bit of an overview although the new web page when that goes up, it will be a much more dramatic display. That will give information on the new comic that is being put together right now and a novilzation of it. It’s a little bit like “The Lord Of The Rings” in terms of how epic it is in size. It follows an ancient star mariner who’s thousands of years old that crash lands on the moon Titan and is found by the first manned mission to Titan and a hologram of this ancient star mariner begins talking about the Great Wars of the Magellanic Cloud and he takes them into the history and into the relationship of his civilization to Earth and what took place there and why they suffered so many catastrophic wars and destruction and it really explores some of the root questions that I’ve had forever about our world here. Why does mankind have this penchant for war and self-destruction? Why is it that every time we build to certain pinnacles of achievement every civilization, such as the Mayans, the Egyptians, the Romans and then we self-destruct? And even in this day and age we’re reaching another pinnacle where we could destroy ourselves and I explore that through a human civilization in the Magellanic Cloud. I obviously am borrowing from some of the greatest books I’ve ever read, some of the greatest physics books, and some of the most visionary writers because I wanted to delve into these mysteries and explore it as honestly as possible. Through the Magellanic Cloud, we get a chance to see and explore. Not only that, I always thought that the prodigal son and the word redemption were powerful words. It seems like the greatest of our world have been put up on crosses and burned at the stake. Why is it the some of the greatest among us are thrown into such a dark path? Why is it that many of them have to struggle to find their way back and those that do manage to find their way back become wise. But truly it’s the story in the Bible of the prodigal son, of the son who has really fallen off the path and has gone to the deepest dark of dark and somehow finds a way to come home. Can you come home again and can you be redeemed? Can you be forgiven? We saw that in “Star Wars” with Anakin Skywalker being thrown into the darkness and of course later on he is redeemed at the end of the whole saga, but I just felt that story wasn’t deep enough or full enough or rich enough and it never was plausible enough to me though I love the “Star Wars Saga,” but it always seemed to me the way that Anakin fell seemed a little pushed. You know for him to go and kill all of those children five minutes after he bows down and becomes a Sith. Even if you know there are things leading up to that, to take that final step as he does in the film, somehow it didn’t quite make sense to me. It seemed that somebody would have to be so pushed to the “nth” degree and be totally destroyed as a human being before they could go to that place. Never the less, obviously Lucas had the courage to explore it. I applaud him for that, but I’ve always been fascinated because in this society you know in a sense we’re Christian on a certain level, but we have trouble forgiving those who fall in the darkness. Yet sometimes the greatest among us have fallen and I explored it in my Battlestar books with Baltar. Can a man who basically destroyed a lot of the human race be redeemed and if so can he be of value? And I thought someone who has been to the darkness and returned is going to have a story to tell and is going to have a greater wisdom than any of us. A line in “Revenge Of The Sith” that fascinated me was when Palpatine said to Anakin, “You are not a true master unless you’ve mastered both the dark and the light.” And I thought you know, that’s really true, if we don’t master the darkness we’re always going to fall victim to it. We’re always going to be vulnerable to it. And so maybe that’s part of the journey for those who choose to be called, to listen, or to be awakened. They’re cast into the darkness and then the heroic journey, the journey of the hero we talked about is the journey back, and many don’t make it back, but in my story we explore the journey of one who did.
MR) Well you know what I’ve noticed in general, I mean you can look at this through mythology and contemporary genre films, “The Lord Of The Rings”, “Star Wars”, and even “The Matrix Trilogy.” It seems that a chosen one in any type of story ends with a great sacrifice.
MR) Anakin dies in the course of bringing balance back to the Force by destroying the Sith, Frodo destroys the ring and saves Middle Earth, but in the end he can no longer be a part of it, and Neo gives up his life literally to save the three worlds – the machine world, the program world, and the human world. If you want to look at it from a kind of Hindu point of view, he stops the cycle of creation and destruction that was revealed in the middle part of that trilogy that the machines created Zion and every so often in order to reboot the program they do this whole thing and then they start over again. For lack of a better expression, he breaks that cycle. He finds a way out kind of like finding enlightenment if you will and also I think you’re right too after seeing movies like the original “The Razor’s Edge,” which I think covers that and to a far more darker and somewhat unresolved extent Coppola’s “Heart Of Darkness” inspired “Apocalypse Now” definitely has what you are talking about in there. Speaking of a character that have experienced the darker side of himself, I wanted to ask you about Tom Zarek. I love what you have done with the character. Even from talking to you now for the first time, I have noticed from the original series and from what I’ve seen on the Internet and DVDs, and the new series, you have a natural honorability about yourself and you bring that to Tom Zarek and as a result it makes Tom Zarek a much more interesting character. He’s not the hero that Apollo was in the original Galactica, but that was a different time and a different type of show, but he still has the same type of honor if you will and I really believe that in Zarek’s own mind he believes he is doing what’s best. I don’t think he’s as cardboard a villain so to speak as how Baltar was portrayed in the original series because that was what was written for him and we are talking post-Star Wars expectations and lots of things had not been given the opportunity to develop. Tom Zarek is actually not quite a villain either. He seems to be somewhere in between. So what do you think of your character on the new series and also have any of your ideas from “Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming” and from the novels found their way into the new series and if you do not mind my asking, perhaps do think you’ll ever get an opportunity to write or direct an episode?
SCI FI Photo By Frank Ockenfels
RH) First of all I love the character of Tom Zarek because I truly feel he is one of those idealists who paid a big price and he is a damaged human being psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. He spent twenty years in prison, saw many of those he loved die so therefore his agenda is colored by probably his pain and his rage at the powers that be. You know many a revolutionary, many a political idealist pay a huge price for their idealism in this world that sometimes does not honor idealism at all. Tom Zarek wants to do good, but you have a lot of pain and trauma in the way and one of the hardest things to deal with when you’ve fought for something you believe in is that when things don’t work out or if you’re stopped in a very abusive way that you don’t let the rage and the pain and the anger consume you. And as we saw in “Star Wars” with the anger, you know that’s something we all have to deal with. That’s why the new “Battlestar Galactica” is so powerful because it’s making us all look at ourselves and we all realize no matter who we are we have to struggle with the good and bad things within us.
MR) I understand, but again for lack of a better expression I have got to give you props because your character is one of the best guest starring roles on the series and I hope it gives a hundred times more career opportunities and notice than you ever have gotten before and I mean this sincerely because if anything for people who are not as familiar with all of your work and endeavors I think what you do with Tom Zarek from my point of view is you’ve created a character that as I have said before has an honorable quality to him that is not unlike your role as Apollo in the original Galactica. The main difference with Tom Zarek is he is a far more three-dimensionally written character and you have the wisdom of 25 years on top of the work you did in the original Galactica between 1978 and 1979 that you bring to the Tom Zarek character. Do you think you might be able to get any other of your fellow classic Galactica veterans to appear on the series?
RH) I don’t think it has anything to do with me in the sense that I’ve found that all the actors from the original show, I mean we’re all friends and every once in awhile we see each other, but it depends on their agenda and what they want to do with their lives and when I was doing “The Second Coming” trailer and working very hard to bring back the original show, you know they all had different feelings. Some didn’t want to pursue this anymore, some were lukewarm about it, some thought okay, if it happens great. They had mixed feelings about it not because they didn’t like Battlestar, but because 25 years later everybody was in a different place in their lives. Married, had families, children, obligations, responsibilities and “Battlestar Galactica” was a very small part of their lives. It became a large part of my life because I happen to love the story and I got involved in writing the comic books, novels, and pushing to bring back the series, but it became a much bigger thing for me and also I was probably one of the few people on the show that actually loved science fiction. I love science fiction and I love the premise of “Battlestar Galactica” so I just think there is a much different thing going on there and also this is a series that Ron Moore very much in his heart, mind, and soul had envisioned and he’s still laying out that vision. So when you are unfurling your own vision of an idea you are very attached to it emotionally. You’re still exploring. You’re still trying things and I think maybe at a later point, depending on how many years it goes, they probably will open up to taking story pitches from outside writers and ultimately you know they might start letting some of the actors on the show direct, but I think that’s down the line and while there’s always a possibility, I think the actors who are starring on the show would probably get first opportunity like Edward Olmos or Mary McDonnell or Jamie Bamber and then maybe at some point later on if it goes long enough, I might get a shot. Who knows? I’m extremely fortunate to be on the show and still be around, but I think their first allegiance is to the original cast they put together and like I said, they were very gracious in inviting me to come on and play a character they decided to develop and leave on the show. I don’t have any illusions about any of that. I basically realize that they’re creating their version of “Battlestar Galactica” and they’ve done a great job of it and it’s very different from the original. You can’t compare them. They’re both great shows for different reasons, but I think Moore very much has his own vision of how he wants to go with it and at this point in time I think if Glen or my idea of “The Second Coming” and all that other stuff you know, writers have their vision of what they want to do and as we’ve seen Ron has gone back and mined the original series for a few things like the Cain stuff and so forth. I don’t think he’s going to use any of my ideas from “The Second Coming” or my novels and Glen Larsen if he does his animated version or Tom DeSanto does his version of the original series. You have to understand I was an actor, they’re producer, director, writer and even though I’m getting into producing, directing, and writing now I think they have their own very strong passionate ideas of what they want to do with it.
MR) Can you tell me what your favorite science fiction authors, novels, or books are?
RH) You know everybody loves Isaac Asimov. I like retro sci-fi. I love H.G. Wells and read “The Disappearance” by Philip Wiley, which I thought was an extraordinary book exploring what would happen if one day all the men in the world disappeared and the second half of the book is what would happen if all the woman disappeared. Powerful book when at the end the men and women come back together again with a new understanding of how important each other is in this world. I think it would make a great film. From the time I was seven or eight years old, my teachers would get upset with me because I would find a science fiction novel and I would get lost in it. Once you get caught up in a book everything else ceases to exist.
MR) I know where you are coming from. Believe me I was a real sci-fi fan even when I was like four or five years old my parents took me with them to see “Logan’s Run” probably because they had no babysitter I guess and I would be talking about the film to anyone I spoke to even if I didn’t understand quite what I was talking about saying things like “Oh there were weird shape buildings and there’s a robot and at one point you see a naked woman” you know what I mean because I was a little kid and of course I got some things wrong, but I know where you are coming from because I still get lost in books by science fiction authors and it’s very good to hear you say Isaac Asimov because of the fact I’d say the “Foundation” series that he wrote, are among my personal favorites so I was just curious to find out if you like “Dune” or the work of Arthur C. Clarke? You have an interest in physics. Have you ever read a book called “Hyperspace” or “Visions” by Michio Kaku.
RH) “Visions.” That’s one of the books that is my bible. I loved “Visions.” In fact that book explores theoretical physics with what might happen fifty years from now, a hundred years from now, two hundred years, three hundred years and it’s written by 150 of the top science and visionary thinkers in the world. It really takes pragmatic down to earth real science and projects it forward.
MR) And in an entertaining way too.
RH) And it leads us to you know what people think is so far fetched in terms of the “Star Trek” world. It tells us that we will be there so for me I love physics; I read science fiction, fantasy novels, and watch films of course. You know I grew up on “War Of The Worlds” and “When Worlds Collide” and that kind of stuff and then sometimes we get what I call pseudo science fiction like movies that kind of have a science fiction veneer, but not made by visionary science fiction writers or people who understand the genre. I think a lot of the misconceptions to the public comes from the fact that they think science fiction is just a bunch of monsters and foreheads and strange creatures and science fiction is so much more than that. It always amazes me that people don’t ask questions about the universe, who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? How did we evolve? It just seems to me that some people don’t want to look beyond their nose and that’s a choice, but it’s just amazing to me that you can live in this world and look up at the stars and not wonder.
MR) In “The Man Who Fell To Earth” there’s a reference to where David Bowie’s character is asked if he is the first extraterrestrial to visit here? And he answers in not so many words no, I’ve seen signs that you’ve been visited by others and we have too and we don’t know who they are and we have the same questions you do too. I liked that scene because of what it leaves in the air for the viewer to speculate about. Even in Galactica there are the subtle things that count such as I like the fact that the Colonials have a polytheistic society where as up until now, I don’t know how it’s going to be from this point forward after seeing the second season finale, the Cylons have a monotheistic type of society with their belief in one god while the Colonials refer to the “gods” instead of “Oh God” or something like that. I also agree with you that science fiction that does have a spiritual underpinning, not that it has to hit one over the head with it, but anything that does have a spiritual element tends to be richer like “Star Wars.” You know now I have heard this referenced at times, but I just never completely understood it and I hope you don’t mind my asking I never understood how George Lucas could attempt to sue “Battlestar Galactica” if I understand correctly because he felt that somehow it was infringing on his copyright or something like that?
RH) You know if you only look at it on the surface you have guys running around on a big Battlestar and it sounds like the Death Star. They’re not similar, but in some generic way it looked like the show was inspired by “Star Wars” and obviously it was inspired by the success of “Star Wars,” but certainly the story was totally different. But I think in the beginning it looked like Universal was taking advantage of the success of “Star Wars” and launching their own version of that and I think they just wanted to challenge some things and think they saw my character’s original name was Skyler and then they changed my character’s name to Apollo. We had the lasers and ship battles and I think they just looked at what I call the generic generalities of the show and compared them to “Star Wars,” but they didn’t know the full story. I think they just wanted to present a challenge to make sure or maybe even to find out what the true story was and again people sue for multiple reasons. Sometimes they want to slow you up. They get upset because they think someone’s piggybacking off of them. You know in this industry a lot of science fiction projects didn’t get green lighted until after the success of “Star Wars” so it changed the whole market and opened up the door for shows to get green lighted and obviously “Battlestar Galactica” was thrown into the works very quickly because they really wanted to bring to the television something that would have the epic feel of “Star Wars,” but was a completely different story. They did come up with an original story and back-story for “Battlestar Galactica,” which is why the Lucas representatives lost, but people sue for multiple reasons. Sometimes they just want to cause you problems and they don’t want the competition.
MR) I realize you probably can’t talk about what’s going to happen in season three of the new “Battlestar Galactica” and whatnot, but I was just curious to find out if they have called you yet?
RH) Well we’ll all pray. I have no idea.
MR) Production has already started.
RH) It doesn’t start until the end of March. They are in pre-production now.
MR) Are you looking forward to going back to Vancouver?
RH) Yeah, of course. Lets put it this way. I love teaching. I love acting. I love writing. I love directing. I love doing all of it, but playing Tom Zarek has been one of the true delights of my acting career. It’s a scene here and there, but it’s always an interesting scene and it’s a delicious character and the writing on the new “Battlestar Galactica” is some of the best I’ve ever been lucky to be able to participate with and the writers, the producers, the actors are all extraordinary and the feeling on the Battlestar set is wonderful. Honestly it is an absolute joy for me to go up there and film and be in Vancouver, which is another place I love. My family is from Szechwan, Canada, but I was born in Santa Monica, California. You know I have an affinity for Canada and I like I said I love great science fiction writing. As an actor you love to play characters that are juicy, multidimensional, conflicted, enigmatic, and have an interesting back-story. I mean Ron Moore and company write characters that every actor dies to play and to be on a science fiction show that really is a serious drama exploring life and death issues, political issues, sociological issues that mirror today’s world, I couldn’t ask to be part of something better, you know…
SCI FI Photo By Carole Segal
MR) It’s the best show on television.
RH) Yeah. There’s nothing better.
MR) “Battlestar Galactica” and “Lost.”
RH) Any actor on there will tell you how grateful they are to be a part of this show. This is entertainment with a punch. It’s entertainment with substance and I just think that people that don’t understand science fiction should really give this show a shot and realize great acting is great acting and great writing is great writing and there are wonderful delicious characters that you can relate to because it mirrors all of us. I mean this is a show for men, women, for anybody looking for something that’s going to entertain them, make them think, and expand their mind and heart.
MR) In the 1990s, “Babylon 5” was my favorite sci-fi show? What were yours?
RH) I was a big “Star Trek” guy and I really liked the original “Star Trek”, “The Next Generation” and so forth. I watched it all. When I was in New York working as a young actor I’d come home every day and watch the original “Star Trek” in syndication. I fell in love with the original “Star Wars” and I loved the first “Matrix” film and “The Lord Of The Rings.” Though it is not a sci-fi or fantasy film, “Braveheart” is one of my favorite films of all time.
MR) Talking about archetypes in storytelling, again what is “Braveheart?” In many ways its “Spartacus” retold.
RH) Yup. Of course. That’s one of the reasons why I like playing Tom Zerak because he is a political revolutionary and I’ve always been into revolutionaries and those human beings that had the courage to challenge the powers that be and whether right or wrong or good or bad, I just found those individuals really extraordinary, interesting, complex, and any time I get an opportunity to read a book about someone who challenged authority I always read it because most people are terrified to challenge people in positions of authority. Most people don’t realize the power in their hands. I’ve realized in this society that we get uncomfortable with people who speak up and yet at the same time they are saying the same words that are deep in our heart, but we are afraid to say. We get afraid to stand up for ourselves and seeking truth in the world and then somebody has the courage to stand up and reminds us that we are not taking responsibility for us. A democracy demands empowered populaces that just don’t listen to sound bytes, but really explores the political issues and make intelligent and informed decisions. People tend to want to just get on with their lives. They don’t want to worry about the larger picture and then there are those individuals that don’t want to take what they consider the inequities of life and thank God because society wouldn’t have moved out of dictatorships to move to a political process in evolution that at least is offering greater freedom than any other process before.
SCI FI Photo By Carole Segal
Richard Hatch and I chatted a little more about films and so forth after this interview concluded. I found him to be quite inspiring and genuine. One can see both the original as well as the new “Battlestar Galactica” on the SCI FI Channel. The second season of the new show has just concluded, but it’s never too late to start watching and Universal HD has broadcast high definition season two episodes as well. In addition the complete original “Battlestar Galactica” TV series as well as the theatrical version of the series premiere and the miniseries that spawned the new Galactica TV series with seasons 1 and the first half of season two are available now at retailers on and offline courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. You can learn more about “Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming” by visiting www.battlestargalactica.com and you can learn more about “The Great War Of Magellan” franchise by visiting www.greatwarofmagellan.com and also learn more about Richard Hatch and his latest projects by visiting www.richardhatch.com.. Big thanks to Richard Hatch for granting me this interview and special thanks to Lana Kim and SCI FI Channel for making it possible.
© Copyright 2006 By Mark A. Rivera
All Rights Reserved.
All Rights Reserved.