Richard Hatch Has Turned One Season Of Battlestar Galactica Into A Lifetime

Actor discusses his 40 year journey associated with two Battlestar Galactica series
Richard Hatch has Turned One Season of Battlestar Galactica into a Lifetime
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In 1978, Battlestar Galactica ran one season and 26 episodes.  While quickly fading into oblivion off all the publicity it received as a Star Wars rip off, core fans never forgot it, and the show’s star made its resurrection almost a life’s pursuit. But before Richard Hatch became ensnared in Galactica’s mythology, he was a down to earth TV actor who first received name recognition by replacing Michael Douglas in the Streets of San Francisco.

“That was pretty terrifying. When you’re a stranger entering into a successful formula, everybody is friendly, but they are also waiting to see if

you will be able to carry your part,” said Hatch.

Complicating matters was the mixed message he was getting from home in regards to replacing Michael Douglas. “The problem was my girlfriend was in love with Michael Douglas. So instead of being excited for me, she was upset that he was leaving the show,” said Hatch.

Nonetheless, Hatch settled in with the support of Douglas, who shared the screen for two final episodes. “I got a look at my early footage, and I realized it was working on some level. That gave me confidence and things got easier,” said the Santa Monica born actor.

Only lasting another year, Hatch’s career was off and running. “It was a big launch for me. I got a bunch of cop roles and movies of the week afterwards,” he said.

The workload, though, didn’t leave his interest in science fiction in a lurch. “I’m a huge Sci-Fi fan, but intelligent visionary Sci-Fi, said the 70 year old.

So when all the talk of Battlestar Galactica went into hyperdrive in 1978 Hatch must have done the same. “I turned down the audition, he said. “Not reading the script, I assumed it would be a cheesy rip off of Star Wars.

As time would tell, his preference for having a project he could sink his heart and soul into fell prey to being an out of work actor. Outreach from show creator Glen Larson also played a part – even though the plot didn’t necessarily move Hatch. “It was all the amazing space based and futuristic artwork that hooked me,” said Hatch, who has authored a number of Galactica books.

The whole mythology and Mayan and Egyptian motif also moved him. So did the universal search we all make for a home. “We grow up, move into the unknown and hopefully persevere past the challenges to find our place. In Battlestar’s case, the journey is an epic one where the best and worst are brought out in a life and death struggle for survival,” said Hatch. 

Unfortunately, playing Apollo gave rise to mixed emotions around the mythology. “The first few episodes were good, but he really didn’t develop into the type of conflicted character I was looking for. He was the good guy, he had your back, but I was looking for something more edgy,” he revealed.

Season’s end did show signs of evolution but to no avail “We did not get a second to further develop and flush out character flaws,” said Hatch.

24th place in the ratings usually enough but not here. “Since ABC had seven of the top ten shows, they lost interest – especially given the cost,” he said.

ABC did reconsider – factoring in space/time to cover the costs. “They wanted us back but not for the big budget. That meant bringing us to earth, and

to me, that ruined the story. I just wasn’t interested,” he says of Galactica 1980.

Time telling other shows getting their reboots, Hatch saw no reason to come down to earth over Battlestar. “I started writing stories, meeting with studios and pitching my ideas,” he said.

The fans hadn’t forgotten either, and the environment was ripe enough for a trailer he made in 1999 called Second Coming. “We got rave reviews, which was a little scary, because it created a groundswell of support and people thought we had a movie to go with it, said Hatch.

Unfortunately, Universal still couldn’t see the viability of bringing it back, and the SyFy series that emerged left him with doubts and disappointment. “We were all frustrated that this was going to be another cheap rip off,” he said.

Ron Moore’s vision turned out to be time well spent for the franchise, according to Hatch. “I saw what he was doing, and yeah his vision was totally different from what I was hoping to see, said Hatch. “But I realized this guy was really talented,”

The admiration mutual, Hatch was offered the conflicted character he wanted in Tom Zarek. “I played him as a good guy who basically was a political idealist. He spent 25 years in prison, fighting against an oppressive regime and now is a wounded idealist. 

A state he definitely relates to. “I feel the same way,” he said. “It frustrates me to see people vote against their own interests and get manipulated by the forces with the most money.”

The Galactica’s case was a bit more extreme and party lines acted in kind.  “My thought was you can’t conveniently suspend democracy – even though Adama and Roslin thought they were serving the greater good, but minus the consensus building democracy requires,” Hatch asserted.

In turn, Hatch defends his character’s move to double down. “We were forced into a circumstance that made us go to the extreme of a coup, which means whoever is against you must be taken out,” said Hatch.

Of course, the victor writes the history in deep space too. “I was hoping for some form of redemption at the end, but at the same time, I could understand.  Regardless, it was very difficult for me as Richard Hatch to play some of those scenes,” he revealed.

In the end, Hatch can’t help but praised the reality of Moore’s vision. “I found the situations Ron Moore put characters in to be always interesting and dynamic. That’s his brilliance and the shows,” he concluded.


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