David Hewlett Says Goodbye to Stargate: Atlantis
David Hewlett has played the arrogant and often irritating Rodney McKay on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis since 2002. As the series comes to an end Friday (9 pm/ET, Sci Fi), David reminisced with TVGuide.com about his adventures playing the obnoxious McKay, what is was like smooching pal and cast mate Jewel Staite (Dr. Jennifer Keller) and the possibility of appearing in the upcoming Stargate movie.
TVGuide.com: I spoke to your costar Jewel Staite—
David Hewlett: She's a liar. Everything she says, absolute lies! Don't believe a word of it!
TVGuide.com: Good to know because she said kissing you [on the show] was kind of torturous because you're more like a brother.
Hewlett: (Laughs) OK, that's kind of true! We're kind of like Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show. You know, the two old guys in the top balcony? That's basically Jewel and I on set. Basically the ones standing there cutting up everybody on set and saying how stupid our jobs, our lives and the world is. And, we take great glee in that and usually end up cracking each other up and hopefully the people around us as well. But all the sudden [the producers] said, "You guys are in a relationship." And we were like, "What?!" The best way, honestly, to do a romantic scene in anything is to be introduced to them and then [directly] in the scene. So there's no time to be...
Hewlett: Michael Caine once said the best way to have a relationship in a movie is to just bring the breath spray. That's the most connection you can have with them before you go in — just hit 'em with the breath spray. Love scenes in general are the most technical things to shoot. But when it was Jewel and me, it was really quite funny because we'd be like, "What are you doing? What are you eating? What sandwich are you having?" We make sure we had the same sandwiches.
TVGuide.com: Can you tell me about McKay's relationship with Dr. Keller and how did your fans react to that storyline?
Hewlett: There's always two schools of fans, it seems. There are ones who love the idea of McKay being some kind of romantic lead. Which to me was like, "Why on Earth... surely there are better characters to see having a romance than McKay!" But the advantage of McKay is that he's such an oddball anyway, that I think it is kinda fun to watch. He's just so bad at [romance]. So, basically, the fans divide down the middle of "he should have a relationship, or he should not."
TVGuide.com: Tell me about McKay's journey as a character and your journey playing him throughout the years.
Hewlett: I think McKay has done more changing of me than I have of McKay. He was just the most unlikely lead. You know what I mean? He came in SG-1 as a guest star and my job as a guest star was to get in the way of Amanda Tapping (Col. Samantha Carter) and annoy [her character] mercilessly.
TVGuide.com: Well done.
Hewlett: Right? Job. Done. She's such a gracious, lovely actress to work with that she really let me have some fun. The weird thing is, if you come in [to a show] and you're insulting and demeaning to people even though everyone knows you're playing a character — people don't like to be weak. You have to give people a certain amount of latitude to get away with that kind of stuff. She was fantastic because you could tell that my character was getting under her character's skin. She was great, she would talk about it and say, "You know what I hate? Do this!" It was a fantastic way to play a guest star because I really got to go for it. ... [McKay] is an irritating, abrasive, intelligent but socially inept individual. So I've spent five years filling in the reasons for that.
TVGuide.com: McKay's a likable guy now, right? Have people warmed up?
Hewlett: I had a German interviewer come up to me the first year that said (insert German accent), "When I first heard that you were playing McKay, I hated you! I wanted you to die! But now I think you're very funny." And that in a nutshell is what started to happen. I think what Stargate has going for it is a sense of humor about their science fiction. Without it, things become very dry and tiring to keep up with all of that stuff. I was lucky to play McKay — a catalyst for all that sort of humor.
TVGuide.com: What was it like filming the finale? Was it super-emotional for all of you?
Hewlett: It's such a blur, the final episode. The reality is just miserable! I really love playing McKay. It's one of those roles where every day something is different. I don't think you can finish the last episode of a five-year show that's been this much fun to do, and sum it up the way that you have to. So I couldn't help feeling, "We need more time for this!"
TVGuide.com: Will you get to address that issue in the upcoming Stargate movie, perhaps?
Hewlett: I think so. The idea behind the movie is to keep the franchise alive and it keeps the stories alive and the characters alive, and having two hours to do that is fantastic.
TVGuide.com: You don't know if you're in the movie yet, but if you could be, what would you like to see happen?
Hewlett: Maybe some God-like powers... . Maybe a planet of just women. Now I'm going back to the old Star Trek episodes! (Laughs). I don't want to know what happens because I enjoy picking up a script and going, "I do what?!" The hope is that they'll do an Atlantis movie and, hopefully, they'll bring McKay back for that.