When Battlestar Galactica aired its last episode on March 20, 2009, there was already speculation on what would be coming up next. Would the franchise fizzle out? Would there be a prequel, sequel or even a new motion picture with younger actors re-creating the roles still fresh in the minds of fans as the saga closed in a spectacular finale.
So soon on the tail of their recent hit, there were mixed feelings about the idea of re-creating something that had so recently been re-created itself. These feelings came from fans as well as cast and crew who’d been along on this exciting journey.
I had the opportunity to speak with one of the champions of Battlestar Galactica (“BSG”), who played a large part in the revival of the show in 2003 as a mini-series.
Richard Hatch, better known as “Apollo” from the 1978 series and then again as Tom Zarek in the re-invention of the show in 2004, has always been a champion for a revival of the series and though it wasn’t exactly what he’d originally hoped for, his expectations couldn’t have been met with a better show.
In the wake of the too-short-lived spin-off, “Caprica” and now the upcoming new series, “Blood and Chrome”, the series seems to be retaining its momentum.
The series will be gaining a new lease on life beginning on June 11, 2011 as BSG is added to the roster of BBC America’s “Supernatural Saturday”. This is sure to revive interest in the show as the franchise reaches out to a new fan base while keeping the existing fans (there are many) happy.
Will this renew the idea of making a feature film? After all, it worked for “Star Trek”, right? Why not take another show that was re-invented over 20 years later and became a hit. Sound familiar? How much do we want to see BSG follow in Star Trek’s footsteps? We have seen it can be done. But does that necessarily mean it should be done?
The following interview was done on the heels of the finale of BSG in 2009. Of all the people entitled to weigh in, Richard Hatch is definitely one of them. Richard was very candid regarding his views on the idea.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Richard a few times in the past, and he’s always been absolutely charming. I was a fan of Battlestar Galactica from the word go. I am sure that what most people want to hear about is the history of Battlestar Galactica between the original series, the new series and the rumors of an upcoming movie.
For years you fought to make a trailer, revive interest in and possibly renew a film or series based on the original 1970’s series. Glen Larson was not selling. Then the new series, which you were able to be a part of, happily, came and hit much critical acclaim.
Now, Richard, once again the helm of Battlestar Galactica is to be commanded by another’s vision. If you can be so candid as to explain how you feel about it, I think many fans would be interested.
RH: As to your question about BG being commanded by yet another vision I only have this to say:
First I totally accept that BG is owned by Universal and they have the right to do whatever they wish with it, however as I’ve said before, in the end, the success or failure of their efforts lies ultimately in the hands of the fans. No matter how well produced, directed or acted a new BG series may be if the story doesn’t resonant or appeal to the fans than that’s all she wrote. I certainly have strong feelings about the BG universe and saga to bring it back, and it has certainly been quite a struggle not to become negative or frustrated when I see things happen that don’t make sense to me, but I’ve painfully learned my lesson to let all judgment go and have a little faith as life has a way of resolving itself in a positive way sooner or later.
There are many of the opinion that you were robbed of the helm way back before Syfy took control and you became Tom Zarek in 2004. This is old news to many, but you’ve lived with it a long time. In my opinion, you have handled the situation with style and grace and you will always be the face of Battlestar Galactica. And we shouldn’t dwell on “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” scenarios.
RH: I honestly feel blessed to have been on two amazing versions of Battlestar and would have loved to have been involved in the producing and writing end as well but hey, it’s all good and I’ve grown immensely from this whole challenging and ultimately uplifting experience. And although it seems a little early to do another re-imagining with the latest BG series ending only last year I sincerely hope they find a way to bring this amazing story to the screen in a very powerful, moving and innovative way as I have always believed that Battlestar belonged on the big screen.
What was it like coming into the new incarnation and actually working with the “new” Apollo [played by Jamie Bamber]?
RH: Working with the new Apollo [Jamie Bamber] turned out to be a relief and very meaningful and fun experience for me. They couldn’t have picked a better actor or more compassionate and quality human being who truly embodied this role to play Apollo, and believe it or not it’s been almost 35 years since I played Apollo so I’ve had enough time and distance to let go and not feel too territorial about someone other than me playing my character.
Do you feel that the characters were pulled into the next generation adequately?
RH: When I first heard about the new BG series being produced without any of the original cast I of course felt a lot of sadness and frustration about what the Studio was planning on doing, but once I met Jamie and the rest of the cast I was quickly able to let it all go as they were all amazing and dedicated artists who cared as much as I did about making Battlestar the best show it could be. And they certainly accomplished that didn’t they regardless of whether this version was your cup of tea or not. That doesn’t change the fact that I still would have loved to see a continuation of the original series but, as they say if you want to do something your way than you need to put together your own story and production and that’s of course what I’m doing. I will only say that I thought what Ron Moore did with his version was quite brilliant and that yes; there are many viable ways to take this story not just one. Believe me that’s a very painful revelation as we all think we know what is best for our beloved Battlestar story don’t we!! LOL.
How do you feel about an entirely new set of actors, probably quite a bit younger, coming in to take on a movie, less than a year after we saw the finale of the series?
RH: Hey, it’s challenging to bring in a whole new cast of characters for any show but BG found a way to suck us in to the core story and heart pounding cliff hanger endings long enough to build a relationship to these guys, many of whom we didn’t like in the beginning, but eventually grew to care about as their struggles, flaws and humanity slowly rose to the surface and made us care about them.
On another note, I remember that when I met you, you were conducting workshops not only for actors, but for those who wanted to learn more about themselves and nature. That must be satisfying for you as an actor, teacher and student of life. How have these workshops helped you as a human being to deal with nature and society and well…..human nature?
RH: I love inspiring people and helping them to reach their potential. I know from personal experience how fear and low self worth can cripple one’s ability to succeed in life. But with a little support, caring and inspiration miracles can happen. That’s why I love teaching and lecturing all over the country on many subjects related to finding more meaning, joy and success in your life.
I believe that you are more than the figure head for a science fiction TV show, and I am not alone in that belief. We want to continue seeing you helping others, growing, acting and entertaining. You have helped define a culture in your own way. Without your hard work and perseverance, who knows in which direction the series could have gone?
What lesson can you give to your followers/fans that will ultimately give them the most hope for the future in whatever endeavors they choose?
RH: I can only say that my career in this business and especially my journey with Battlestar has taken me up and down the rollercoaster of success, failure and rebirth leaving me a more sensitive, caring and compassionate human being and artist. I have been most blessed in my life and look forward to seeing where my heart and spirit want to take me next. So Say We All!!!