Last night on the evening of April 25, I was fortunate enough to talk to the well known and multi-talented actor Richard Hatch. He is perhaps best known to fans as Captain Apollo on the series, Battlestar Galactica of the late 1970’s. Richards interest in Sci Fi television and movies does not end with Galactica as I soon found out. The transcript below is a frank and candid account of the time I spent speaking with Hatch on topics as diverse as Science Fiction in the media to the philosophy behind science fiction in general.
One of the first questions asked Richard was whether he enjoyed the challenges associated with Science Fiction Television. “Unlike many actors who tend to shy away from science fiction I have always enjoyed it from my childhood on. I remember reading a lot of thescience fiction booksand comic booksback then. The thing I really enjoy about doing anyscience fiction is the way in which it can challenge people’s perceptions and yet still be entertaining.
“ I feel Battlestar Galactica and other shows like it offer their audiences around the world both challenge and entertainment value. This is that something special you do not get from most other genres on TV. A rare gift, a chance to use your mind, to compare science fiction and science fact. It is the combination of these elements in science fiction that hold the people’s interest”.
Hatch’s TV career started off in the 70’s soap opera ‘All my children’ so I asked the actor if on reflection to that time if he ever thought he would become the international star that he is now? “No, I never expected to become a celebrity and I don’t think any actor expects to become a celebrity when they are starting out. I am grateful for the many opportunities that my fame has allowed me, things such as traveling the world. One aspect I really enjoy about my fame is meeting some of the most extraordinary and creative people at the ScI Fi Conventions“.
Many people know Hatch for his roles in ‘All my Children’ and the Battlestar Galactica series, so I asked the actor if he had to audition for his role in ‘Battlestar Galactica’?.
“No, I didn’t have to audition for my role in ‘Galactica’ in fact I turned it down when it was initially offered to me!. My reason for turning down the role was because at the time, I was a young up and coming actor and was looking for work that I felt would stretch me. ‘Galactica’ was huge; just about every actor was auditioning for the series. It wasn’t until they approached me the second time after having seen me in a television movie called ‘Class of ‘65 that they approached me again. After I had read the script for ‘Galactica’ and seen some of the artwork I was totally blown away and couldn’t possibly refuse the role. I made my decision right then and there on the spot!”
In 1998 Richard Hatch became a hero to may ‘Battlestar Galactica’ fans by promoting the idea of a revival to many of America’s TV networks. I asked Richard how all this started out.
“It really all started during my time at the Sci Fi conventions when I got to know many of the fans and started to listen to their ideas. At that point I actually started trying to promote the idea of a revival of the series to some of the television networks. I took my ideas and the premise behind the series, as well as some artist sketches to an executive at the USA studios. The executive told me that he thought it was a really good idea, but the only problem was that he could not envisage what it would look like on the screen”.
“So at this point I threw myself into making ‘Battlestar Galactica’ the second coming trailer. This was really exciting for me and I had people coming from all over the world who wanted to be involved with my production. Somehow everyone I worked with was so passionate about the project. I, myself, had such belief in ‘Battlestar Galactica’ that I actually levied my own home and maxed out all of my credit cards to make the trailer. There are times in life where you do the most illogical things for something you believe in, and I still have a great deal of belief in ‘Battlestar Galactica’ “.
I asked Richard if he had learnt anything from many of the successful actors that he had worked with over the course of his career. “Yes, I have learned a lot, but one of the first things I learned was that all of these actors are just human like myself, one of the wonderful things about having worked with actors such as Karl Malden and Lorne Greene was being able to learn from their wisdom. I mean they had absolutely no ego whatsoever and were always on hand to help out any of the supporting cast members if they were having problems with the script”.
I also asked Richard if he thought that a revival of the show with himself and Dirk Benedict could be as big as the ‘Star Trek’ franchise.“Yes absolutely! if you go back to what I said before about science fiction being able to challenge and entertain an audience, it is these factors of ‘Battlestar’ that have kept the fans interest. The trouble with science fiction television is that it is only hitting the demographic of people between the ages of 15 to 30, whereas shows like ‘Battlestar’ and ‘Star Trek’ appeal to all age groups. The thing with television today is it’s dependency on advertising. More often than not, if the advertisers want to sell their product, it can lend an influence on actual television scripts. The networks seem to look at science fiction as an entertaining diversion, whereas it is so much more than just a diversion, and what I have tried to do is show them that a show with a premise like ‘Battlestar’ can still be educational and still have live action sequences and remain both entertaining and commercial”.
” I am a big fan of science fiction and a big fan of ‘Star Trek’. However, in my opinion ‘Star Trek’ is in a very strange place right now, and I think that it could be telling much better stories than it actually is. The trouble with ‘Star Trek’ right now is that they have made too many shows too close together and I think it has had an effect on the stories. It almost seems as if the producers and the network are trying to squeeze the last remnants of juice from the apple! I feel that they would have been better off if they had given the ‘Star Trek’ franchise a few years break and come back with a new team of fresh writers and producers for the series”.
I then askedhis thoughts on the proposed re-imagining of the ‘Battlestar Galactica’ series. ” I honestly don’t understand what the ‘Sci Fi channel’ hopes to achieve by re-imagining a classic TV show like ‘Galactica’. It is not what the fans want. The fans in all the polls all around the world want a revival and what Sci Fi is proposing is not a revival!. What they want is to see the characters and the storylines from the original series continued only 24 years from where the series left off. I’m sure that Ron Moore is a very talented writer, but the networks really need to listen to what the fans are telling them, because it is these people, the fans, that pay their wages. It is also these people that have been lobbying for a revival for the last four years. This is why I have posted the article on my website, because this to me is the final battle, and in the final analysis, it is the fans that are going to make the difference”.
We then went on to talk about his novels and how he came up with some of the newer characters in those books. ” I really did what I always do and used my imagination. With my books being set 24 years from where the ‘Galactica’ story left off, I had to project into the future and try to imagine how the lives of the characters had changed over that period of time”..
Richard then told me about some the story threads from the ‘Battlestar’ series that he had chosen to elaborate on. One of the things I personally found interesting was the use of ESP in the characters of Apollo and Athena. ” I thought it would be interesting to continue the thread of the Adama family and in one of the episodes we did of ‘Gallactica’ there was a thread where Commander Adama was practicing his abilities with ESP in order to try and find a way to deal with Count Iblis. So I thought it would be interesting to have Apollo and his sister inheriting those abilities and developing them”.
Another aspect of Hatch’s book that I found intriguing was the relationship between Apollo and the Borrellian noman. “Yes I liked that idea too, I thought it would be an interesting idea to have two characters who are opposed in their beliefs start out as enemies and become friends and have to get to know each other and work together. I got this idea from the movie ‘Enemy Mine’. It is concepts like this that make good science fiction story telling”.
For the last two years Richard Hatch with his company ‘Shu Shan’ have been developing what is hoped will be a new sci fi series titled ‘The Great War of Magellan’, so I asked Richard to explain a little about his premise for this new project. “The ‘Great War of Magellan’ is actually set in aneighboring star systemto earth called the Magellianic Cloud and the story is set in a post apocalyptic future. The story revolves around a character called‘Akillian’who is somewhat of a genetic throwbackto an earlier age in theMagellan planet’s history. ‘Akillian’ is looking to explore where his abilities came from and sets about looking into the planet’s past. However,‘Akillian’finds out through meeting various people that he’s not the only person who has theselatent genetic abilities. The people he meets soon become a part of hisjourney of discovery. However, while‘Akillian’ and hisnomadic group are trying to find the answers to their quest, they are being hunted by a group called the ‘Kabba’, in fact I’m actually considering changing that name from the ‘Kabba’to the‘Nephilim’, both these words areHebrew.”
If you would like to learn more about Richards new Project click here and go to ‘The Great War Of Magellan’ website.
Richard went on to share information with me in regards to his teaching. “Over the years I have learned a great deal from the set backs that I have faced in life. The classes I do are basically about overcomingshynessand fear. Basically I am trying to pass on what I have had to learn the hard way, in the hopes of helping make it easier for other people to utilize and learn through me sharing my own personal experiences. I have taught at womens groupsandbusiness classesand one of the tools that I use isacting workshops. It is a proffessional hobby of mine to try and inspire people and help them make their dreams become a reality. You can actually read more about my teaching on my web site Richardhatch.com.”
I would like to close this article whith a question that Richard Posed to Ron Moore and the production team behind the Battlestar Re-Imagining. Richard sent me this a few weeks ago in the Email, and as a fan of Galactia as well as all other Sci Fi shows. I feel that the following sentiments expressed by Richard are the most appropriate questions to ask these people, who seem to be under the impression that all they need is to redo a classic series in order to win new fans. “Why are they so willing to risk so much when they could create a win/win situation by honoring the original show and at the same time add new and exciting elements that would update the story and premise?”This question of Richards is a question that all the fans of the series are asking, and I cannot see the fans quitting until they get their answers.
During the time I spent on the phone with Richard, he held my attention completely. His very passion for what he does as well as his love of Science Fiction and Human drama is mesmerizing. The constant theme of which would touch any SCI FI fan. And I, myself, couldn’t help but enjoy talking about, especially with someone like him. We talked about a great many things in our phone conversation. Topics such as philosophy and how it is intermixed with Science fiction and we even discussed the deeper meanings behind movies such as The Matrix. So in closing I would like to thank Richard for the time he shared with me, and I would also like to thank Richards webmaster Michael Fairis for all the support and help he gave me in putting this together.