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Feature: Stargate Atlantis

Spare the Rod!

David Hewlett as Dr Rodney McKay Last seen blasting off into Space with the rest of the Atlantis team, the fourth season brings many new challenges for David Hewlett’s Dr Rodney McKay…

David Hewlett’s a talented guy, but his good luck continues to hold up too, and that’s a potent combination. A guest spot on Stargate SG-1 as Dr Rodney McKay turned into a recurring role, which earned him series regular status as the character on Stargate Atlantis. Whenever he and Amanda Tapping as Samantha Carter shared scenes together on SG-1, they jumped off the screen thanks to the chemistry between the actors. Now, SG-1 is no more, Atlantis is the only Stargate game in the galaxy, and Tapping has joined the Atlantis cast for its fourth season, which means the promise of more McKay-Carter fireworks. And as if all that weren’t enough, Hewlett’s long-gestating film, A Dog’s Breakfast – which features such familiar SG-1 and Atlantis faces as Kate Hewlett (David’s real-life sister), Paul McGillion, Christopher Judge and Rachel Luttrell, and was made with the help of plenty of SG-1 and Atlantis behind-the-scenes crew people – just arrived on DVD.

“Life is good,” Hewlett smiles. “Life is very, very good. This whole experience, it’s one of those things where I had no idea how big the whole thing was. On SG-1, when I was a guest star, I only saw a portion of the episodes, especially at first. I mean, you get the whole script and you read the whole thing, but you’re only a small part of the whole storyline. Basically it’s your job to set everyone up to look smart. So when you go from a character actor to one of the leads, all of a sudden you’re everywhere and the scope of the job becomes so much bigger. Even if you don’t have scenes, you’re still there. And it became so much of a bigger job than I expected. But it’s amazing. You go on the ride, you do the best you can and you have as much fun as you can with the character and the people around you. And that’s what I have tried to do. For a nerd like me, it’s a dream come true.”

Speaking more specifically as an actor, Hewlett has enjoyed the rare chance to take a character and build upon him as his own job evolved from guest to recurring to regular. Right from the get-go, in 48 Hours, the character’s first SG-1 episode, McKay was established as brilliant, arrogant and ridiculously attracted to Carter. “He was very unlikeable, very opinionated and just butted heads with Carter,” Hewlett recalls. “That was my role, just to rile her up and to be proven wrong. So I was surprised that they brought the character back because he’s not a likeable character. He’s really not. So we sort of started at the end and all this time we’ve been filling in the stuff below to build up the character. So, through Atlantis, we’re discovering why this guy is who he is, which is kind of fun because it’s the opposite of what they have been doing with all the other characters. The other characters are new and new to Atlantis, whereas McKay had a past and we’ve been filling in the history. So it’s been neat to maintain this, I suppose, likeably unlikeable character, and to fill in all of the reasons why he is the way he is.”

by Ian Spelling

Read the full interview in
Cult Times #145

Photo © The Sci-Fi Channel
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #145
October 2007
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