Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Interview: Richard Hatch

In a sensible world, Richard Hatch would be the highest-paid motivational speaker on the planet, making Anthony Robbins look like wallflower.

Richard Hatch began his storied career in 1971, joining the cast of All My Children as Phil Brent. A string of television appearances followed including stints on Room 222, Kung Fu, Barnaby Jones, The New Perry Mason, Hawaii Five-O and The Waltons. By the late Seventies he'd landed a recurring role on The Streets of San Francisco, playing Inspector Dan Robbins in twenty-four episodes.

Hatch's classic good looks and acting chops snagged the attention of producer Glen Larson, who was developing a new sci-fi series for ABC. Concerned that the role was a tad one-dimensional, Richard was hesitant until Larson re-worked the script to give his character a bit more to do. As a result, Hatch joined the cast of Battlestar Galactica as ace Viper pilot and interstellar White Knight Captain Apollo.

Even though it was a ratings hit, the cast and crew had a tough time delivering an hour-long motion picture-quality television show every week. The detailed sets, models, costumes, props, special effects and rampant overtime costs made Galactica the most expensive television show to date. Eventually the network moved the show into a lethal time slot (against All in the Family, no less) and used the resulting ratings dip as an excuse to cancel the show.

But like all good, quality imaginative sc-fi, Battlestar Galactica refused to die. Inspired by a groundswell of fan support, Richard Hatch spear-headed a revival attempt in the early Nineties. A key component of his pitch to Universal was an elaborate live-action trailer called The Second Coming which he'd produced at tremendous personal cost. Although the effort certainly galvanized fan support, the powers that be at Universal opted against a sequel or a continuation.

Instead, they chose to reboot the show, a move which initially drew considerable public ire from Hatch. But as soon as writer / producer Ronald D. Moore exhibited a smart, unique and original take on the reboot, Hatch changed his tune and gave the new show his blessing. Not long after, he joined the cast as jailed-terrorist-turned-politician Tom Zarek. His slow-burn performance in that role is just one of many reasons why Time magazine named this incarnation of Galactica "The Best Drama on Television" in 2005.

In addition to playing Apollo and Tom Zarek, Richard Hatch has penned several novels and comic books based on the original Galactica series, performed on stage in several award-winning plays and musicals and appeared in such eclectic fare as Felicia Day's The Guild and the 2012 crime drama Dead By Friday. As of this writing he has several projects in pre-production, including Walter Koenig's steam-punky feature Cowboys & Engines.

Richard is also in high-demand as a public speaker, lecturing about acting, self-motivation and artistic expression all around the world. His current pet project is The Great War of Magellan, a rich and elaborate space opera that Hatch is hoping to parley into web series which will hopefully address our current woeful deficit of quality, live-action sci-fi.               

I had a chance to chat with Richard at HAL-CON 2013 and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Since the original Galactica ended prematurely I asked about what character arcs he would have liked to have seen Apollo experience. He confessed that Apollo is a challenge to write for primarily because it's difficult to extract darkness and conflict from such an irredeemably good and pure-hearted character. He did get a chance to explore Apollo's dark side a little bit in his BSG novels and said that Apollo needed to be dragged though an experience not unlike that of a certain fallen Jedi Knight.

The audio portion of the interview picks up from there...   

And here's a clip from Richard's presentation / Q&A from that very same weekend:

1 comment:

  1. Awesome interview! Thank you for sharing! I would not have known his new stuff was coming out, and I'm psyched to see it, it sounds amazing