The Passion of Richard Hatch
Richard Hatch has had a long and successful career. He has appeared on dozens of shows and has built a reputation as a die hard fan of the genre that made him famous. His work on shows like Battlestar Galactica has inspired generations of fans and it was with a sense of awe, I sat down with Richard and talked about his career. Richard Hatch is one of the most passionate actors I have encountered. He expresses his opinions without fear of judgment and his creativity has been proven, time and time again in his acting as well as his writing. His gift for helping others to achieve their acting potential is well documented and we are all in his debt for the work that he did with Battlestar Galactica. I cannot wait to see his upcoming projects, If they prove to be half as exciting as Richard says they are, then we will all be blown away. Lets get onto the interview.
I read on IMDb that you lead an adventure cruise. And I was hoping you could tell me a little bit about it.
RH: Oh right. I don’t know who writes these IMDB thing. First of all, it’s not an adventure cruise. I hosted several cruises with fans all over the country, all over the world for several years. I taught my workshops and did one on one life-coaching sessions and now I am doing another cruise which I’m not putting together which takes place up in Europe on one of the biggest, best boats in a fleet and that goes in Barcelona and it’s called Comic-Con at sea and it’s at first week of – in June. Starts from Barcelona and goes also to the Mediterranean. It’s got many actors in different shows and comic book writers and artists and people like that, so there are show business panels. So, I am going to put this one together but I did put several together and people can always go over to richardhatchcruise.com and check out all my past cruises and from time to time, I do some kind of an adventure somewhere where I host, you know, a gathering of fans and I then like I said I do my own workshops and seminars on those things.
Dude, that sounds so fraking cool. It must be loads of fun.
RH: Yeah, it is a lot of fun.
So, I’m thinking back about you over the years. Now, you were doing the original Battlestar as well as the second Battlestar. How was the transition from going from the hero to playing the guy that really seemed quite a bit of a villain?
RH: Well, to me I actually went from a hero to a so-called hero. For me, it was not a villain at all. I thought it was a pretty courageous, very smart, very pragmatic down to earth politician who had seen how so-called government people in positions of power who always claim to be the good guys, do many, many bad things. And so as always the man who challenges the so-called powers that be, just coined and phrased as the bad guy.
So, all I can tell you is that if you really add up all the craziness that Adama and Roslin did and add up the so-called craziness that Roslin and Adama said that Zarek did, they would far outweigh anything that I was accused of. So, all I can tell you is that the one thing we do know, he was willing to give his life for what he believed in and what he believed in was democracy, building consensus. He was against totalitarian, dictatorships and governments that took away people’s right to free choice and that’s exactly what happened on that show and it amazes me to this day that people still say Zarek was the so-called bad guy.
Well, you know when you give the argument so passionately that way, you are very convincing.
RH: Do you realize how we buy into all this stuff? We buy into what we want things to be and we buy into what people say as opposed to doing the research and thinking things through for ourselves and coming up with our own understanding of things because the world has been wrong, I hate to say it. When anybody says the majority believes this is true, I always say, which exactly is the reason why I believe it’s untrue. Because a vast majority of people are wrong about everything.
I can agree with that.
RH: It’s always been the – it’s been the minority, the people who have more insight, more heart, soul, who see the larger picture, who come up with the new ideas, see what’s going on, you know, ring the horn, ring the bell, you know, challenge authority and show people what’s going on and yet people are terrified of those people and many are way short including Jesus and Moses and Buddha and a number of others get strung up, put in prisons, you know, because they threaten the powers that be. So all I can tell you is, is that for me, I don’t buy into anything anymore. I let my own deeper inner intuition to tell me the truth.
You give a great argument and in essence I agree with what you are saying. Lets get back to Battlestar, you also wrote several books about Battlestar Galactica, are you planning on writing more?
RH: Well, at the moment, Universal has not been willing to give a license. We wrote six books. I wrote – I co wrote with three different authors. I wrote the stories and then we basically co – put the novel together. I was very instrumentally involved in those novels but Universal is kind of in a – has been kind of in a kind of undecided place about Battlestar where it should go, what should – you know, they, I think Star Trek Paramount was pretty good with understanding that there can be many different story lines. Universal kind of, you know, doesn’t quite know how to deal with the franchise and so it’s a little bit more confusing to them about where you go as a, you know, a story like the original Battlestar and whether they should license that. Although they did license Dynamite to do original Battlestar Galactica stories. So, maybe they are open now to continuing the book series. We wanted to go back and get a license because book 7 was really part of the two-book – two book story art with Baltar and we really wanted to write that. So it would – it might be good to go back to see if we could pick up a license to do that.
Well I hope that that does happen. The books were pretty good. Now you brought up how Star Trek took a new direction. What do you think of J.J. Abrams vision of Star Trek?
RH: Well, I happened to love Star Trek. I love the original classic series. I really liked the next generation. I like parts of the Deep Space Nine and Voyager. I didn’t like Enterprise so much but I didn’t watch much of it but I thought they violated a lot of Gene Roddenberry’s, you know, foundational trek lore cannon. I thought that they took too much creative license there. When you’re playing in somebody else’s backyard, you need to have a respect for the person who owns it, who created it. And I just thought that they totally did what they wanted to do. So, you know, and when it comes to the movies, you know, I think what they have been true to is that, look, Star Trek – any kind of story, you can just keep hammering out the same kinds of things that we’ve seen before. But the audience changes, the world is changing. And I think there has to be an infusion of new creative energy and the important thing, though, is that you don’t lose what I loved about the original series. What did I love? I loved the chemistry of those characters.
The chemistry of those characters is what made Star Trek so amazing and we love watching them solve a thousand different situations. But we love the chemistry. We love those guys. And what I like about the movie is they took some of those sub-characters and really gave them so much more of a complete character and made them part of the whole, you know, team. So, I thought they did a great job of not going and trying to reimagine those characters. It really did a great job of going back and recreating who those characters might have been at a much younger age, so we had nothing to compare with and yet they really brought us a lot of who those guys could have been back when they were younger.
And then they were able to like I said, they were able to take us into a timeframe that we haven’t really seen before. And within obviously, new technology is a new ability to do just about anything visually. They could go anywhere and do anything and go over no man or woman has ever gotten before and do extraordinary things. So, for me, they recreated the characters at an earlier age really effectively and recreated which is even harder, the chemistry of those original characters and they even built upon that chemistry by bringing the other so called sub-characters more into the mainstream of that relationship.
And then they took us, you know, [Khan], I hate to say. I love Ricardo Montalban. But the new Khan is 50 times more dangerous, lethal, scary. The original Khan, that guy was supposed to be brilliant. The stupid things he did. How many stupid things that so-called brilliant guy did, it wasn’t Ricardo Montalban’s problem. He didn’t write it. But all I’m saying is the new Khan was so intelligent, so lethal. He was terrifying and incredibly played by that actor.
So all those people’s problem with Khan, you know, there are fans who are going to be – they focus on all these unimportant things, you know. For me, as long as you bring me the heart and soul of what Start Trek is all about, and I don’t think that’s been lost. I truly don’t think that’s been lost.
You know, you can change dates, places, names. You can change things here and there but if you haven’t lost that chemistry and the heart of the show, you know, which is exploring, right? Getting into and by the way, I mean, I think the way they did it, creating a kind of an alternate universe, parallel universe, I thought that was brilliant and allowed them more creative freedom and I love what they have done. So I love them both. What can I say?
RH: The plane! The plane!
Alright Tattoo you broke my train of thought and now I gotta know, if there was a real world Fantasy Island and you could go there, what would your fantasy be?
RH: Wow. Well, to tell you the truth, I’d love to go to the world of Avatar and make it with that really amazingly hot Neytiri. My god, I thought she was the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life and the actress who plays her is just as sexy because it’s her, you know.
And every ounce of fiber for being connotes just such a wise, intelligent, smart, powerful feminine goddess. You know, oh my god. I mean, like I have dreams about that. And you know, to be able to – I’m sure in some game at some distant, you know, decade, maybe or maybe only two years away, we can step in to have our own avatar step into that world. And I can have my own Neytiri to be my lady. So, who knows?
We can only hope that someday the world of science and entertainment conspire to give us something cool like Avatar or a holodeck, Until then what new projects will you be working on?
RH: Yeah, I’m working obviously. This – I want to call it. I don’t want to call it a Star Trek fan film because that’s normally, it is not a put down. Star Trek fan films have grown and come a long ways and they are doing a great job. And they brought in more and more professionals and that’s good. But you know, fan films are still about fans creating episodes and shows in a genre that’s their favorite genre and creating it in that world that they love so much. And so, you know, it’s always going to have fans who aren’t necessarily professionals who are working on those fan films because that’s why they do it. It’s an opportunity for them to act in those worlds. And it’s not that they’re bad actors, but they have brought in a combination of some very experienced actors to act along side some of the actors who are basically fans who may do some acting on the side but, you know, it’s not their profession. And those shows have really gained and they’re competent to see and they’re quality and they are doing a great job. I think what’s different about Axanar which I got involved in and I had no idea it was going to become this. But, I found the idea of playing a Klingon general. Interesting when they told me it wasn’t going to be the cliché Klingons that we’ve seen in the past although I love, obviously I love Klingons. But doing my research, it reminded me how many different versions of Klingons there have been? And so, it gave me a lot of freedom to kind of explore what kind of Klingon would I want this general Khan to be and the minute we got into that, it became almost Shakespearian to me in terms of the challenge of taking on the role. And I love the director, Christian Gossett and I love the producer and writer, Alec Peters. They’re so collaborative and so professional and so understanding of the business aspect of filmmaking. So, it’s been one of the true pleasures working on this production and seeing how they put it together, how they line their decks up, how they play, how they organize, how they work out the logistics, how they do all the things that I hate to say it. So many filmmakers never learned in school. And the trouble is, they don’t teach it in school. But they need to teach it because so many, wonderfully-talented, you know, men and women, young men and women really never gets a training about how to go about putting together the production. So you know, yeah, they may have a good idea, a good story and maybe they know how to edit it, and they know how to work with you know, the actors. Although that’s usually a process it takes time for young directors to learn. But, they don’t know how to set up the production, how to really use their pre-production to work out all the logistical challenges. So that the production can run smoothly, you can maximize the usage of every dollar, make your time count, get the quality that you’re looking for. And then make sure that you have the resources to do the post and not have to wait three years to do the post and then to know how to do the business side of it. Either sell the concept, make deals, find ways to get that product to the audience. So again, these guys are brilliant. And so they’re really bitten off a major chunk by putting together what is really an indie Trek film and it’s a movie, not a TV series like the other Trek fan films. It’s actually a movie and it’s on the level of a studio film. I mean the quality of the production, the quality of the actors, the quality of the special effects, everything they’re doing is high quality. And they’re taking their time to get it all set up correctly. They were going to shoot in June. They’re now going to shoot in October. You know, they’ve rented sound stages and they’re refurbishing them for three years. So they’re going to do multiple productions including Axanar here. And then like I said, they’re doing, they’ve mastered the art of kickstarted campaigns. And each one, they’ve had two, they’re going to do a third one, probably end up doing a fourth, I don’t know. But each one has raised more money as the fans seek proof of concept, meaning, they get a chance to see where the dollars go.
And every time they’ve taken money, they’ve shown that they know what to do with that money. And they always bring back and give you more than you asked for and so I think the fans get inspired by that, I know I would, if I was an investor, and then you want to come in and help them and support them. And so each time they’ve done it, they’ve raised more money in it. You know, they’ve raised close to a million dollars now. And they’re going to raise probably a lot more, in order to do this film which will still be miraculous because they’re going to be doing a studio quality film for a fraction of what studios make movies for.
So it’s going to be interesting, and I think, you know, the coming day, these fan films, like I said, some of them will remain fan films because fans want to make them, and they want to be a part of that world. But some of those fan films will get more and more professional and start to get to the level of you know, Paramount could license them as online series, you know and make – work out some kind of a business model. There’s no reason why when the studios are not filling that gap, and so filling that programming need a vast fan base that’s hungry for those kinds of shows, then why not allow these very gifted, you know, young, not young at all. There’s all ages fans who many of them, you know, like Ron Moore who are also in the industry as well. They’re actors, writers, directors. Some of them are, some of them aren’t. But again, it’s kind of nice to count professionals working with non professionals. It allows the fans to really learn the trade, learn the process, you know, how it works, and be part of the whole thing. So anyway, it’s, I think those are going to continue to grow and then, something like Axanar I think is going to be groundbreaking because it’s going to be such, of such quality, that honestly, you know, if I was Paramount, they might start realizing that these kinds of films, kinds of indie projects, based on, that’s not interfering with their timeline, that’s not getting in the way of what they’re doing, okay? Not violating direction they’re going in, just like Star Trek and multiple Star Trek series, you know, different time frames, different aspects of it, that they would work out some kind of a revenue-sharing, business model, licensing, you know agenda. So we’ll see. If nothing else is going to wake up the industry, that there’s a whole bunch of people out there that are capable of doing extraordinary things, for a lot less money.
And you know, there are going to be people who want to take advantage of that business opportunity. So, anyway, I’m part of it, Gary Graham is in it, you know, everybody knows Gary from Star Trek and J.G. Hertzler, one of the most amazing Klingons ever, always playing a – he’s not playing a Klingon in this. Kate Vernon from the new Battlestar, myself and Tony Todd, who by the way, we know him from all the [horse legs] he’s done, and Candyman. But Tony Todd is Academy Award-winning actor. That guy, I’ve watched him onstage. He is extraordinary. I’m blown away by him in the Axanar project. I’m blown away by everybody. Every single actor, I honestly, I’m inspired by everybody’s work. And all they’ve done so far, obviously is this, very ambitious, 21-minute documentary style intro into the world, of Axanar, the Battle of Axanar.
So anyways, so I’m involved in that. And then I’m also in a pilot with Malcolm McDowell called Cowboys & Engines which is steam punk pilot and I play a really wonderful character in there and, one of the starring roles. And then Walter Koenig was in there as well. And then in this other movie called After the Harvest which is a post apocalyptic series pilot that Vernon Wells who starred in the original Mad Max has put together and they’re pitching that. And then I’m doing a whole bunch of other projects. I’ve been asked to direct this movie called With Honors which is about a Vietnam vet that walked away from the war after, becoming a medal-of-honor winner. And he lost so many men in his last mission, he couldn’t handle it, walked away from the war and we pick up with him 30 years later, and through a series of flashbacks, we’ll see what drove him to where he went, and then we also get to see his path and his challenge for redemption. So it’s a real powerful piece and you know, coming off the heels of this, you know obviously sniper movie, doing so well.
So I’m looking forward to directing that and then I’m playing my own project, Magellan which is this, this labor of love. I’ve spent ten years developing it. They were putting the novel together now. I have a series of graphic novels that are going to be coming out. And I’m going to film a high-end web series to launch the novel. And then we’ll see where we go from there. But it’s been probably after I tried to pitch the Battlestar, second coming trailer, that I filmed 15 years ago to inspire revival and Universal, just couldn’t seem to understand. There was a fan base out there for Battlestar and then I finally reluctantly started developing another story where I could explore all the theoretical probabilities and issues that we are facing, looking at space where we came from, where we’re going, how are we going to get there. All of the logistics of that.
I have a wonderful piece that I put together, so I called it The Great War of Magellan, short, is Guam, is foreign. So, I’m working very hard on that. And it’s just, there’s multiple, I mean, I’m going to be on a Comic-Con at sea cruise at the Mediterranean in June, you know. I’ll be at WonderCon, coming up here in early April and I teach, like I said, I teach acting and in life. I teach breakthrough acting and life techniques, at all the conventions I go to. And then I’ll go visit colleges, universities nearby and I’ll talk to the theater departments, the film departments. I’ll do that as well. And then I do my own ongoing class each week here in Studio City. And I do weekend seminars as well around the country.
So, acting, teaching some of the breakthrough, acting and life techniques because for me, life affects your artistry and artistry affects your life. And so, all the things that get in the way are those two agendas, those two parts of ourselves, I help people to work through. So they’re not only do they develop their talents and abilities to the fullest, but they also develop their life talents and abilities to go out there and leverage their abilities into the marketplace and become more successful, doing things that not only they want to do but they’re gifted to do, that they have the skills sets to do.
That’s very admirable. I am going to have to find a way to check out your Comic Con at Sea, it truly sounds like a blast. Thanks for taking the time to talk to a true fan of your work.
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