Though Stargate Atlantis
has reached its triumphant fifth season, David Hewlett
has been playing Dr. Rodney McKay
for some eight years now. His character was introduced in the fifth season of Stargate SG-1
), and went on to win fan acclaim as a main character in the spin-off series.
As David tells us in this new interview, however, that wasn't always going to be the case.
GateWorld caught up with David Hewlett just a few days after the SCI FI Channel and MGM announced that this year will be the last for Atlantis
-- though they plan to make a series of movies starting in 2009 (story
). The actor candidly shares his disappointment, tempered by the optimism of an actor who is ready to try new things.
GateWorld's interview with David Hewlett is 20 minutes long. Listen online at your leisure, download it to your MP3 player, or subscribe now to the iTunes podcast
! The full interview is also transcribed below.
Also be sure to listen to Episode #8 of the GateWorld Podcast
, in which Hewlett joins us for a special, extended discussion of "The Shrine!"
Look for the podcast on iTunes
, subscribe with your favorite podcast program, or listen right here
at GateWorld. Our thanks to David for spending time with us.
GateWorld: Tell me when and how you first heard the news [of Atlantis's cancellation].
David Hewlett: Well, the weird thing for me was it was actually one of the first days in months that I wasn't at work. It was this weird scheduling thing where I was in the first scene of the day and then was off for the rest of it. So I literally got a phone call -- I got a phone call from Joe and Paul.
It's such a weird profession this way. There's a sense when you are doing it that it will go on forever ... but everyone knows that it won't. So there's that weird sort of duality the whole time, realizing that while it feels like this will go on forever it doesn't mean that that is necessarily going to be true.
GW: For viewers it's like you guys are family, and you are our family in an extended kind of way. But the industry is transitory.
DH: Incredibly so. And it's entirely market-driven and business-driven, and you sort of lose track of that sometimes. I think actors lose track of it more than other people, because you really -- I'm not ashamed to say I love McKay. I think in the same way as fans, I'm going to miss him on a weekly basis. I've really had an awful lot of fun doing that part.
Since the Atlantis cast are like family, it is hard to remember that an actor's life is transitory. From "Tao of Rodney"
They're talking about the movie stuff, and that's great. We'll see what happens with that stuff. Again, as usual the business has to step in now and figure out how to make those work. But the film thing is a wonderful concept because you've just got so much more time to get this stuff out. The weekly grind of knocking out an episode every week is -- we're nearing the end of the season now, and it's just exhausting. So I don't think it's really going to sink in for me until I've had time to chill out.
I think it's very odd for everyone. It's a bit like a break-up. It's a bit like a relationship where you're living with a woman, you're living in her house, and you have nowhere else to go for three weeks! So you're chomping at the bit to start rearranging the furniture, but you really can't because you've obviously got work to do. It's definitely a very strange situation.
And it's very funny -- though "funny" is the wrong word -- to watch the emotional roller coaster that everyone goes through: from sadness, to anger, to giddiness. Because as an actor, we didn't get into this for secure jobs. We didn't get into this to do the same thing every day. So you can't help but have a part of you be a little excited about the prospect of different things.
But, I tell ya, McKay is definitely one of those characters that I hope is around in some way, shape, or form for a long time. Because he really is such a pleasure to play.
GW: He's just such a great character for you.
DH: I think that's the saddest thing, for me. That, and obviously the crew and stuff. It really is one of those things that I think is going to hit me on the hiatus, the extent of a dramatic change this is in one's life.
GW: Obviously you're a young guy and you've got a lot of years ahead of you ...
DH: Ha-ha! You'll get a lot of argument from people on that, I think. [Laughter]
GW: How do you feel about being remembered for McKay just as much as Tom Baker is remembered as Doctor Who?
DH: Hey, if you're going to be remembered for anybody, I think McKay would be the one for it. There's always that need to go on and move on, and there's always the hope that there will be other, McKay-like characters that people will identify with. But I feel like for five years I did everything I possibly could to make that character come alive, and I'm very, very proud of the years we've had. And I'm very, very proud of the people I've worked with, and the crews, and everyone for everything they have put into this.
Hewlett has no problem being remembered by future generations for this character.
You know, when you're up there and McKay is saving the planet, it's easy to forget that there is a whole infrastructure behind that, that makes that possible. They've just done an incredible job.
GW: I've got a special place in my heart for Atlantis, because that was the first year that they brought me up to the set, for your first year. You were shooting I think the first episode after the pilot ["Hide and Seek"].
DH: Was that the first time?
GW: Yeah! So I was all nervous and green, wet around the ears ...
DH: As probably was I!
GW: I just remember covering the show, and covering the press releases and stuff when they first started talking about Atlantis. Doctor ... what was his name? Who became McKay ...
DH: Oh, Ingram!
GW: Yeah, Ingram, the African American doctor ...
DH: Who knows! Maybe Ingram will go to Universe. Maybe they'll finally find their Ingram.