Wednesday, July 11

Interview with Richard Hatch

Date of publishing: 8th July 2007
Source: Scifi World

Richard Hatch has enjoyed international recognition for more than two decades. He has starred in such series as The Streets Of San Francisco for which he won Germany's Bravo Award, the equivalent of an Emmy Award, and the original Battlestar Galactica for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. These two series continue to play throughout the world today. He has also guest starred in numerous television series including Dynasty, T.J. Hooker, MacGyver, Murder, She Wrote, and Jake And The Fatman. His feature film credits include Charlie Chan And The Curse Of The Dragon Queen with Michelle Pfeiffer, The Jungle, Prisoners Of The Lost Universe, African Fever and Party Line. Richard is also the author of a trilogy of Battlestar Galactica novels for Byron Preiss Publications. He has also been writing Battlestar Galactica stories for Extreme Comics and Realm Press. In 1999, Richard wrote, co-directed and executiveproduced a 4 minute Battlestar Galactica Trailer which not only won acclaims at sciencefiction conventions but also in the worldwide press. At present, Richard's other pet project, Great War of Magellan, which he created and wrote, is also currently being filmed as a Trailer directed by Richard, and he is in discussions to create a series and/or video game based on the story. Richard Hatch is currently playing Tom Zarek in the new version of Battlestar Galactica.

Gilles Nuytens: After three years on the new Battlestar Galactica, what is your overall impression?

Richard Hatch: I think that the new re-imagined version of Battlestar has turned out to be, you know, an extraordinary show in terms of the quality of the acting, the writing, the special effects - it’s probably one of the best if not the best sci-fi, produced sci-fi, show of all time on TV. And I think it’s quite amazing that they’ve gotten the studio support to do such a provocative cutting-edge show that seems to push the boundaries of how we’ve defined sci-fi or how sci-fi was defined in the public consciousness for the past 20, 30, or 40 years. It’s basically forced people to re-evaluate their opinions about science fiction and to realize that science fiction is not about four-headed monsters, but it’s about people, it’s about life, it’s about politics, it’s about what’s going in our world, from a fresh perspective that allows us to maybe put a mirror up to our society and see the world with a 360° vision maybe.

I think Battlestar Galactica has shattered a lot of old judgments and belief systems about the genre and has allowed people who never watched science fiction ever before to all of sudden realize that, “Oh my god, this is about something that I can relate to, this is about something that makes sense to me in my daily life, it’s something that’s going on in my world today, and it’s relevant.” I think science fiction lovers would have told these skeptical audiences that science fiction has always been about the world, about people, about life. But also it explores the theoretical probabilities and possibilities of life, and maybe the world has gotten to a place where we’re more ready to ask deeper questions. But certainly Battlestar has changed the landscape of science fiction on television and it’s opened up a whole - I think in terms of music it’s innovative, the story writing, the wonderful cast, being able to do again the kinds of special effects that are being done on Battlestar - I don’t think they’ve ever been done before for any science fiction show on TV. It goes to show you that what was considered impossible a few years ago is possible, and I think it stretched the limits of maybe what producers, directors, writers, are going to be doing in the future. I think Battlestar has been a benchmark in terms of the evolution of science fiction on television and we’re going to see a whole slew of new kinds of science fiction shows coming out that got their impetus, their inspiration, from this Battlestar.

It’s funny because I have gone to many conventions and I’ve sat with the producers of Heroes, of several other top science-fiction shows, and many of them are huge Battlestar Galactica fans - they really, really love the show. I think it’s inspiring a lot of artists and creators to move in new directions and try new things and think out of the box. Ron Moore, I think, has courageously gone where few people were willing to tread. After three years I think Battlestar has demonstrated that this story is worthy of a three-generational audience; from the original show to this show, it’s quite a huge audience that has always loved Battlestar. And I think that the new series has more than justified that this story is a very powerful story and one that is worth telling. It’s not just that memory that we have of the original Battlestar, of this big space opera, but that Battlestar has always been about much more, it’s always been deeper, richer, fuller, philosophical, spiritual, political; it’s always been about all those things. Obviously thirty years ago they were not able to mine the rich and dramatic territory that the new show is able to do thirty years later, because number one, the creators involved are very out of the box, very creative, very imaginative producer-writers, and also because you’ve got a network that supports going in these new, innovative directions, whereas before we never had that kind of support. In fact ABC, the studio - nobody really supported science fiction back then. But again, a lot has to do with the evolution of science fiction in the minds of not only executives, but we’re realizing that science fiction is the number one, you know, it’s not just a niche genre, we’re realizing that the biggest grossing films of all time are science fiction/fantasy movies and television - I think seven out of the ten. It’s just kind of strange that it’s taken so long for the networks to realize that sci-fi is for everyone, not just a few crazy people walking around in costumes, and I consider myself one of those crazy people, because who in the world doesn’t like to put on a costume and role-play? I mean, we all grew up doing those kinds of things; it’s one of the most fun things to do, and fantasy and sci-fi conventions allow the whole family to go and have a great Richard hatch interview - Tom Zarek - Apollo Battlestar Galacticaweekend and step into a very imaginative topography and let their creativity soar. I have never met anybody that didn’t love a good book or a great story, and science-fiction/fantasy has some of the greatest stories ever told.

Again, I think Battlestar is on the forefront of all of this. I think these ideas have been laying dormant, have been explored in the past, but never with such commitment, with such passion, as the new Battlestar Galactica has explored this new territory. Again, I think the new Battlestar has proven itself worthy of an icon, becoming a sci-fi icon, and it’s demonstrated the viability that science fiction is about something that we can all relate to and it goes well beyond the so-called sci-fi niche audience. It’s like Star Wars in the sense that Star Wars appealed to fans of all ages, all backgrounds, all nationalities, and it appealed to people who never even liked science fiction before. But Battlestar again is different than Star Wars; it’s less of a space opera and it’s more about really getting into the heart of who we are as people, what makes us tick, where we come from, were we’re going, the infinite possibilities of life. I just think as an artist, for me, I live to be part of the shows that do what Battlestar is doing and to play characters like the one I’m playing, Tom Zarek, that allow me to really be challenged as an actor and to do the kind of work that you see on Battlestar all the time; some great acting, great writing, great producing, great production value, I mean this is a pretty amazing show.

Gilles Nuytens: Galactica is really an adult sci-fi, but when you say you like the show or you like sci-fi to someone, you can always notice a smile on their face - they won’t take you seriously. They have preconceived idea about what sci-fi is that hasn’t really evolved in years. It’s like we must produce extremely good stuff to attract the attention of media, which is a good thing in the end, because it means having a good product. What do you think about the situation and how can we change the mentalities?

Richard Hatch: Oh, I think the answer I just gave you answers that totally. Basically I answered about three questions probably, all at once, but obviously again, people who have judgments about science fiction, don’t know science-fiction, have not read science-fiction -they have a very cliché, limited, narrow view of what science fiction is and it’s not based on reality, it’s not based on fact. You know, it’s like anything in life - people form preconceived ideas about everything in life, and most of these preconceived ideas are based on fear, insecurity, lack of knowledge or awareness, and no framework of understanding. Does it mean someone is less intelligent or less gifted? It just means that it’s outside someone’s frame of reference, because maybe they grew up thinking that science fiction is this or that and, unfortunately, there were a number of science fiction movies that were made many years ago, that might have given people the impression that science fiction was just corny, stupid and silly and with silly costumes. But I think that in the age we live in, we’re shattering a lot of old belief systems, judgments, and paradigms, and if I’ve learned anything, we are normally wrong about most of our judgments, whether it be people, politics, religions, philosophies, most of our judgments are wrong because we only see part of the picture. And I think that today, fortunately because of the media, because of the ability to share information, to see situations from multiple viewing points, the world is beginning to debunk many of our judgments about everything in life, from alternative medicine to science, to UFO’s, to this and that. Some people live in a very narrow frame of reference, because of its terrifying to think that things may not be what we want or need them to be in order to feel safe or comfortable.

One of the biggest issues for many people has always been the fear of really thinking there may be life out there beyond us. I could go on and on [about] every scientific experiment, every new technology brought forth into this world has been ridiculed and put down, people have burned at the stake, put on the cross, tortured, thrown into prisons because they had new ideas or new ways of doing things that terrified people. People have always been afraid of something new. I think that science fiction is not just a bunch of garbley-gook, it’s always been written by the visionary, most intelligent people on the face of the planet, and it has always extrapolated from where we are now and where we might be hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of years from now. Science fiction, especially intelligent visionary science fiction, can be almost prophetic, in terms of some of the issues and areas of exploration. Most of us just need to look over all our judgments, and keep an open mind towards everything and maybe do a little more research and open our eyes to maybe looking at life, and art, and situations from what I call a larger, more expanded viewing point, as opposed to a narrow point of view. There is so much more out in the world than most of us see and again we limit what we see by these judgments that we make about things, and most of the judgments about science fiction have always been wrong.

Gilles Nuytens: The new show describes the human condition far better than most of the shows we can see on television right now, do you agree with that?

Richard Hatch: I totally agree with that. In the past we tended to show life through rosy-colored glasses; we only wanted to see the so-called positives, the things that we felt were up-lifting and inspiring, and we wanted to show the positives as opposed to the negatives. But I think that in this reality-based world where we’re being forced to look at ourselves in the mirror, we’ve come to deeper revelations and understandings about life, about ourselves, about the world, about politics, and so our naivety has been pierced, and we now in a sense are much more open and ready to look at movies and television shows that more honestly reflect the world. Now doesn’t mean that we don’t like a touch of fantasy throw in, or that art is a way of showing life, but it also helps us to see things we don’t see. Ultimately I think art should be inspiring, but that doesn’t mean it should all be black or white, good guys versus bad guys - you are either good or you are bad. Everything has been kind of relegated to clichés. I think that the new art and new movies have come to the realization that nobody is all good or bad, even bad guys are capable of doing good things and good people are capable of doing bad things under the right conditions. Battlestar has put people into the most extraordinarily challenging conditions and we’ve been able to see the best and the worst of humanity in a very, very powerful and realistic way. And that’s one way of mirroring the world. You could also do it in a little bit more [of a] fantasy context where you’d be one or two steps removed from the world, but at the same time you’d still be able to view the world and still be able to explore sociological, philosophical, spiritual, [and] political issues. But again, there are different ways of doing it and Battlestar does it in a very in your face, very direct, very blunt, very honest, very gutsy way; it’s a very powerful show and [for] some people it’s almost too dark for them and [it may be] too much for them. I would only say to them that ultimately at the end of the day I think this new Battlestar, even though it maybe dark, it is inspiring because it shows that deep down inside of everybody there is a spark of life, a spark of goodness, and that even the worst of us has a longing to do the right thing. And yeah, we see the flaws, imperfections, and the conflicted struggles of every human being on the Battlestar Galactica, but at the same time we see the real hope, real inspiration, and the true hero is not always the one who’s got the shiny clothes on and the mask and the cape, or the so-called perfect person. Sometimes it’s that courageous struggle within all of us to find our way in the world and to overcome our challenges, our dark side, and maybe it’s in the struggle that we find more [of] a powerful sense of humanity, and whether we win or loose or whether we succeed or not, is not even as important as the struggle. I think it’s all about the struggle within and each person to deal with their demons. Battlestar really reflects and mirrors that in a powerful way and ultimately I think that’s even more inspiring, than the so-called cliché of the good guy beats the bad guy down and wins in the end, which is what we have seen in the past.

Read the rest at Sci-Fi World

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