Actor Paul McGillion is known to many sci-fi fans as Doctor Carson Beckett from Stargate Atlantis. McGillion, a perennial fan favorite and a regular—in odd-numbered years—attendee of Dragon*Con, took a few minutes to talk to the Daily Dragon.
Daily Dragon (DD): What was the biggest surprise in being involved with Stargate Atlantis?
Paul McGillion (PM): The biggest surprise in being involved with Atlantis was I guess initially, for me, I was signed on as a recurring character in season one and then shortly thereafter they had (the episode) “Poisoning the Well,” they decided the fan base was responding well to the character. The producers brought me into the office and said, “We love what you’re doing and we’d love to bring you on as a regular. We can’t do it this year but we’ll do it next year.” And they did. So as an actor […] you don’t know when you’re recurring; it might be a couple of episodes here and there or something but then boom, 17 episodes in the first season and then you become a regular in the series so that was a big surprise, a very good, great surprise.
DD: Is there any aspect of the character of Carson Beckett that you wish that you’d been able to change or that you wish had been handled differently?
PM: I think it would’ve been great if Carson would’ve had more love interests.
DD: Other than David Hewlett’s character, Rodney McKay?
PM: [Laughs] No, McKay was not a love interest. Maybe from McKay’s point of view it would’ve been. He has to qualify that as a little something. You know [first season Stargate Atlantis character] Perna died on me. Cadman didn’t last long either. It would’ve been nice if we’d had a little something going on.
DD: What was your initial reaction to Carson being killed off and then returned from the dead, so to speak?
PM: Shock. Adulation. Initially, I was quite shocked by it, and I think, from what I understand, a lot of people were, and you don’t want to make Stargate fans mad. A lot of them amped the gears up on the “Save Carson Beckett” campaign: the turtles and the banners, flashing underwear at Bridge Studios, the pipe band rally.
DD: The pipe band rally?
PM: Hundreds of people showed up at Bridge Studios playing [bag]pipes and mooning the studio with “Save Carson Beckett” written on their underwear.
DD: How did you react to the news that Stargate Atlantis had been canceled?
PM: I was surprised. I definitely thought it would’ve gone another season. I felt there was going to be another season going on. After having seen the untimely demise of Carson and the return of Carson, I was a recurring character in the last season of the show so it didn’t hit me as hard as the other people because I had already moved on to a certain degree. Although I loved coming back and playing the character, I wasn’t holding onto it as much as I would’ve been [if I’d still been] a regular and then boom, they canceled the show. I would’ve felt really shocked and surprised. I still was a part of the show and I felt like I had a nice contribution in the fifth season. So there’s a sadness [but] it’s great to come to places like Dragon*Con to see my castmates again because you hang out with all of these people and become really close, like a family, and then all of a sudden, the family’s breaking up and you don’t really have control over that. Hopefully there will be a movie. I know [Stargate Atlantis producers] Joe Mallozzi and Paul Mullie have written a script so hopefully that’ll get produced at some point in time. I don’t know when but that would be great.
DD: You mentioned that you’re a teacher. What do you teach and how did you get involved in teaching?
PM: I did an education degree at Memorial University in Newfoundland, and I guess, when I was doing my undergrad work, I always had that sort of leaning toward the area of teaching. I taught physical education, sciences, and history [and they] are my teachable subjects. I did my education degree but didn’t teach full time. I supply-taught in Toronto while I was acting at the same time. But I have taught acting at the Vancouver Film School and I still teach private acting on occasion.
DD: I applaud anyone who undertakes being a teacher.
PM: So do I. We need great teachers out there because people need great role models. It’s one of those things that you look back and think about those really great teachers that we had and some who … didn’t make an impact on me and I think we learn more from them of what not to do. But, nowadays, I think the respect factor has to be added back into the school system and that comes from at home. The respect for teachers should be there. Education and healthcare are the two most important things if you think about it.
DD: Would you rather act or teach?
PM: Act. Yeah, I mean I really love to act. I love what I do. I do love teaching, though, as well. My focus right now is to be an actor.