Galaticon 4 is taking over Seattle July 31 – Aug 2. This event will host some amazing actors from your favorite sci-fi programs. Richard Hatch is a talented actor, director, writer and teacher. He has been a integral part of many series and played an abundance of memorable characters. We remember him most fondly as Captain Apollo in the original Batllestar Galactica series. He will be here for panel discussions, acting workshops and fan visits. He brings his vast knowledge of Hollywood, sci-fi and the worlds of Battlestar Galactica past and present. Richard took a few moments during his touring schedule to speak with Equality365. For more information on Galaticon 4 follow the link.
Earle Dutton: How did you get started with Battlestar Galactica?
Richard Hatch: I never auditioned for it. I actually turned down the audition when asked. I really thought it was going to be another rip-off of Star Wars. I was a very serious and idealistic actor. I wanted something that was more meaningful. Several months later they still had not found a Captain Apollo. They went through everyone in Hollywood and still came up empty handed. I worked on this Class of 65 anthology series with the young Rosanna Arquette. I played the part of Coach. So, apparently Glen Larson saw me in the anthology and thought there is my Apollo. I was not some huge actor at that point. I came off of Streets of San Francisco replacing Michael Douglas. So I did have some cache. I am pretty much just living a simple life at that point. I am living up in the canyon in a rented place then here comes a limousine to pick me up and take me to the most expensive restaurant in town. Glen Larson was trying to pitch me on the Battlerstar Galactica. Producers are real closers. They become successful by knowing how to put everything together. The more reluctant I was to take the part, the harder he worked in making it sound ideal. I finally said yes and we ended up signing the deal on the day we were filming. It was a long negotiation but I think they really needed to make the deal. My agent got everything that we requested.
ED: What did you think when the show turned into a series?
RH: Well, it was supposed to be a one-time 7 hour mini-series. They picked it up half-way into the second or third hour. I had started to really connect with the role and the story. I thought it was pretty cool. The trouble was that they didn’t have much time to prepare. We were always behind. We were always getting scripts at the last minute. We were filming fifteen hours a day and seven days a week. It was a big epic series that had never been attempted. There were overnight shoots all the time. I think it was originally like an eighteen month shoot. The cast bonded under those extreme conditions. It was really a ride. It was a very challenging eighteen months. We had very little sleep and had to learn a lot of last minute dialogue. We had every challenge possible.
ED: It was a very iconic show but not really long lasting. What do you think gave it the cult status that we see today?
RH: Number one, networks make decisions that will never make sense to fans. This show debuted at number five. It was the highest rated sci-fi show ever in history. That just happened in the premier episode. We had over sixty-five millions viewers. The trouble was really that ABC had seven other top ten shows for the ratings. We were in the top ten to start with but ended up at number twenty-four. That is a very high number for still a high rating for a first year show. ABC couldn’t justify the expense when it fell out of the top ten. They had seven other top ten shows so they were a little arrogant and cavalier. I think that if we had been on any other network than ABC we would have been on for the next five years. It really touched people in a profound way. It is an epic story of family pulling together to survive a holocaust.
ED: What were your thoughts on the blind casting or changing the genders of some of the characters in the new series?
RH: First of all, I thought it was an absolute compliment to Dirk Benedict that they cast Starbuck as a woman. If they replaced him with a man everyone would compare him to Dirk. When you love something it is very hard to replace it with a similar item. By changing it to a woman you get to look at Starbuck as a whole new character. The new Battlestar was really much deeper, complex, edgy and character driven. Starbuck was no longer just the cigar smoking, gun slinging viper pilot. She was also many other things. I thought it was extraordinary. The new show was able to be a lot edgy and provocative. They were allowed to explore topics that were forbidden to us in the original. I loved what they did with all of it. My preference would have been a continuation from the original but they took it in another direction.
ED: How does it feel to travel around and meet your fans?
RH: Amazing! I went to my first convention back in 1995 and it was breathtaking. I had never experienced that before. I signed my first autograph. It is just life changing to go through that up and down thing that actors go through in their lives. But to go to a convention and have all of these people still remember the show. They have such love and support for you and your work. It is a mind blowing experience. I also get a chance to teach my acting workshops at the conventions. I have really always taught the workshops when I am not busy acting or directing. I really enjoy teaching.