At the recent Sci-Con Tampa, I had the privilege of attending a convention event which helped make the weekend in Tampa extremely worthwhile for me from a very personal perspective. Richard Hatch, who is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Captain Apollo on the original Battelstar Galactica as well as in his reoccurring role in the re-imagined series as President Tom Zareck, hosted an Acting Workshop. Fans of The Golden Globe Award nominated actor will also be familiar with him from countless other film and television roles such as All of My Children, Hawaii Five-O, The Waltons, The Streets of San Francisco, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Lady and most recently a science fiction internet production, which is gaining quite a bit of attention called Star Trek: Axanar.
The two hour acting workshop is one which Richard has given often around the globe, and in it Richard takes his attendees on a journey or self-reflection, introspection and discovery while also gaining insight into the acting craft. As the accomplished actor spoke about his own experiences, he illustrated through practical recollection, just how his life’s chosen path has been marked by a series of emotional bench marks and transitional times in his life where the acting process or method became a tool he could use to inform both his acting in practice as well as his life in general. What became eye opening for me was just how the two would become one when Richard spoke about being able to tap into that part of his own being that shaped who and what he was in ways he was never even aware of, until he learned how to see what he had never been able to see within himself in the past.
Richard talked about those ways in which his chosen profession would in essence be more a part of his life than he understood and it was only through a process of informed and practiced introspection that he would eventually begin to see how he could learn to tap into his life experiences in such a way so as to help him become a better actor and in so doing; a better person it seemed.
Richard has the presence of a natural orator and as the workshop progressed I found myself relating to Richard’s process by allowing myself to think about my own life in those ways Richard was talking about and describing to the audience. Richard illustrated how it was possible for myself and the audience to find some kind of commonality in our own individual and respective life experiences that would or could speak to the method an actor employs when trying to understand and relate to a character and by so doing, naturally be able to experience and relay as an actor, what it actually feels like to be cold, or happy, or upset .
At one point, Richard described the process of shooting a movie and in particular recalling a director having just one take worth of film left in the cameras for what was perhaps one of the most crucial parts of that film, with Richard needing to nail his scene perfectly as soon as the film started rolling. The actor spoke both about his frustration at the moment as well as his angst at having only one chance to do this important scene. He then described the process of how he was able to turn inward and find that place within his own life experience that enabled him to tap into the energy, emotion and feeling with which he was actually able to shoot the scene successfully in just one take.
I remember Richard talking about finding his way to the core of his being, back to a place in his own life when his raw emotions where somewhat of a mirror if you will, to those emotions needing to be expressed by his character at that moment. And as Richard took us back to that precise moment when he was standing in front of the director, the cameras, and lights, along with the assorted crew and actors, he was able to connect with that precise moment of emotion from his experience, as his face tightened right along with his posture and suddenly his demeanor changed instantly as he screamed out for the director to begin rolling the “DAMN FILM!” as he screamed out in front of the collected workshop audience, as if he were shooting the scene in that moment again.
All at once I saw something that was not there just a moment before as he was able to connect to a universal source, which the actor believes we all have an innate ability to tap into and connect with. It seems that Richard was saying that by learning to become aware of our emotions, life experiences and innate abilities, that process is able to inform the actor and person as actuality in the moment when it is needed.
It was truly something to behold and it made me really believe and personally understand that what Richard was indeed talking about was so much more than just the process of being a good actor. It seemed as though he was really describing the process of each of us being able to live a more fully actualized and fulfilled life in many of those moments which come together as a life well lived from moment to moment, if we are willing and able to understand and work towards it.
“As an actor, your job is not just trying to deliver words, you’re bringing flesh and blood and a living breathing human being to life and as you know, each one of us is motivated by many different influences and we have many different life experiences.” Richard is quite animated with his gestures and mannerisms as he continues speaking, “We’ve had a whole foundation and each of us is a little different than the other and this drives you.”
“You can tell when people are driven. Some people have this need to be funny all of the time right!? And they’re always trying to prove that they’re funny while others are always trying to show how smart they are because someone one time told them how stupid they were and their whole life is all about proving how smart they are.”
“Some people are driven because they don’t have enough, they have a lack of things and they feel like they have to get everything they can get from everybody, so they’re always manipulating the situation right!?” Richard waves his hands in a circular motion as if attempting to reap everything in around him, “Other people have this or have that, and the actor has to step in to those places; and again moving out from where you are, except that it’s still connected to you.”
Richard pauses for a moment letting the audience take it all in before he ties his point together, “This instrument that we are is amazing with what it can do. And it can step into a number of realities and explore a lot of hypothetical possibilities. And then as I’ve told you, you can step into this unfathomable place where you can tap into experiences you’ve never logically or in this life remember having. And yet you can have an intuitive knowledge of it.”
Richard Hatch seems to be a natural born speaker with an innate ability to communicate and express himself, yet to hear him talk about himself as an actor; it was not always this way. In fact it has been a life-long journey of growth and exploration, which has helped him get to a masterful place in his life in which he can now help others to begin that very same process.
By the end of the acting workshop I felt as if there was possibility all around me just waiting to be tapped into. It seemed as if there was more to be understood in the unknown within me, than there was to be found in what I already knew all around me, and as I walked away, I could feel the child in me who once saw Captain Apollo as a boyhood hero, smiling again with the innocence of potential.
Thank you Richard!
Written by: Tye Bourdony
Tye Bourdony is a Sci Fi cartoonist and creator of ‘The Lighter Side of Sci-Fi’, as well as a science fiction reporter and the U.S. based content editor for Sci Fi Pulse. Tye is a graduate of the Barry University School of Law, SUNY Purchase and H.S. of Music & Art, and he currently works in Florida’s 9th Circuit as the Staff Family Mediator. Tye also serves on the Board of the Legal Aid Society of Osceola County and also has a regular self-published column in Sci Fi Magazine and you can visit Tye on Facebook as well as at www.thelightersideofscifi.com. You can also send him your thoughts and story/article ideas to [email protected].