GW: But then the press release came out with the casting, and instead of Ingram it said: "David Hewlett as Dr. Rodney McKay." And I thought, "Ohh ... that's going to be brilliant."
DH: "What a disaster that's going to be!" It was an odd choice. And they took a risk, and I'm really glad that they did. And I get the sense that they are, as well.
There's something very nice about coming in basically as a secondary character -- when I came in for the pilot, the understanding was I would be following Torri around and doing a couple of days here and a couple of days there, like the commander does. Basically the commander would command and I would stand behind her and say, "Oh, my God! We're losing power!" And it was so nice to have it expand into a character ... he came into his own, and I feel like I did, as well.
The other thing I liked about Atlantis is Atlantis has this fantastic sense of humor to it that SG-1 certainly started -- but I really feel like Atlantis came into its own in that it had this fantastic ability to ... not "wink" at the camera, but it felt very inclusionary. It felt like we were including the people who were watching this in the fun. If that makes sense. It wasn't just about sitting there and watching these people have their adventures. It was about sharing the silliness and the awkwardness of being in space and trying to be heroic about it!
David originally expected McKay's role on the series to be much smaller.
GW: Yeah. And Rodney came into his own early. I remember that episode, "Hide and Seek," where he's got the personal shield and he's the hero at the end. Then you got that line at the end of the episode where Sheppard says, "You passed out." And [Rodney] says, "Oh, thanks for not saying the other thing." ("You fainted.")
DH: Yeah, yeah. And again, that established the Sheppard/McKay banter, which is I think such a big part of the show.
It's been a lot of fun. It's going to be very, very odd without it. And I shouldn't say "without it," because they're working very hard on getting these movies together. But I'm such a pessimist -- I can only work with what I know. And right now I know we won't be back for next season, so I just have to apply myself to other things.
GW: Do you feel like Atlantis has been given the short-shrift at all, when the show is I think creatively still on the upswing, and the [ratings] numbers are doing well? Do you feel like you've been cut a little too soon?
It's really hard to say. I don't know -- you never know. You never know what Season Six was going to be like. I do understand the financial issues with doing another episode of Stargate. I know that that is certainly more expensive than starting up something else. I have to trust that they have made the right decision -- and the fact is, I don't have a choice. The reality is that they've made their decision and I'm not going to question that.
Would I have liked to do a Season Six? Of course. I would have loved to come back. In my heart I'd always kind of hoped that we'd go 10 years as well, and surprise everybody.
I think there's good and bad. There is a possibility here for us to do some really neat stuff, outside of the episodic arena. And I know for myself, there's something really nice about actually having the time to learn my lines! As opposed to spending every waking hour of the season trying to cram those lines into my head. I think it will be really nice to see what they come up with. And I really do hope that the films work out, because they've just spent to much time developing these characters and the Atlantis portion of the franchise that I think it [would be] a shame to see it just go.
The smug Dr. McKay found himself headed for the lost city of Atlantis in the series premiere, "Rising."
DH: But I'm less surprised that Atlantis is cancelled than I was that SG-1 was cancelled, frankly.
DH: I was truly shocked when they cancelled SG-1. [With] Atlantis, I understand -- the numbers on cable aren't as good as they used to be. And not just us -- I think everyone in general is having problems with ratings these days. But I know, as you know, that the people who watch Atlantis are a savvy computer bunch that are going to be watching this thing either with PVRs or through iTunes, or that kind of stuff.
I think it'll be nice to see it "grow up" into a movie or a series of movies. That would be ideal! I would love to come up and do a couple of movies a year. That would be perfect.
GW: That would be fantastic -- tell some bigger stories.
DH: Well, that's the hope. I think that you'd have more resources to throw at it and hopefully come up with some exciting stuff. On the downside, I suppose, if we were to do a Season Six there's the chance that we may not have had the budgets we needed to tell the stories we wanted to tell. You don't want to watch a show that every third episode is either a clips show or -- "Oh, my God! We've gone to a planet where there's nothing! We must stand around and discuss nothing!"
And on a purely selfish level, it's nice to have some time to start really pursuing the stuff that I've been working on while I can. But I say that ... the reality is I have a sneaking suspicion I'm going to miss it as much as the fans do.