Robert Picardo Shares Stargate Atlantis Memories
Robert Picardo has made an indelible mark as a successful character actor in Hollywood for the last 30+ years, starring as such beloved characters as Dr. Dick Richard on China Beach, Coach Cutlip on The Wonder Years, The Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager and most recently as hard-ass Richard Woolsey on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. Now that Atlantis is airing its finale Friday, Picardo talked with TVGuide.com about his time on the show, whether he'll be in the upcoming Atlantis TV movie, and his new gig on Chuck.
TVGuide.com: How you feel about the show ending?
Robert Picardo: Well, there were a lot of disappointed fans. I've met a lot of them at personal appearances, and I did a Christmas charity event and got a lot of sad eyes coming up to me. There was a certain amount of sadness that I saw in the regular fans, but I assured them that we would be making a television movie for Sci Fi channel. So, there will be more to come.
TVGuide.com: Do you know whether you get to be a part of that movie?
Picardo: I've been told so, yes. And, I'll still be the commander of the Atlantis expedition.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of fans, and being the commander, did you get some eggs thrown at you after taking over for Amanda Tapping (Col. Samantha Carter)?
Picardo: Oh yeah. Let's face it: Amanda Tapping's shoes are difficult to fill. She's a great actress and a popular character on Stargate; she's just a lovely person. So to come in and play an adversarial character like Richard Woolsey — he's not called "Dick" Woolsey for nothing. He's fairly unpleasant at first, and then perhaps you grow belatedly to respect the integrity of his mission. He doesn't have good people skills. I thought it was interesting of the producers to try to take someone like that who really wasn't a typical leader or hero on a science fiction show, and try to have him grow into one. Across the board the fans have been very kind to my transformation, whether they liked Woolsey or not.
TVGuide.com: Do think being on Stargate SG-1 first helped fans with that transition? They kind of already knew your character was a hard-ass.
Picardo: Absolutely. I think one of the reasons that I appeared more than once on SG-1 was that producers liked [Woolsey]. They decided, well, let's rehabilitate him. In "Heroes, part 2," I was a straight up unpleasant, completely unsympathetic — uh, what's the word — blame-layer. It was the very next appearance in "Inauguration" where they showed that I might be an unpleasant guy, but I meant well. And, they slowly gave me some personality quirks and all that.
TVGuide.com: You're such a well-known and well-liked character actor and you've been on so many fantastic shows, but do people recognize you more from Stargate than anything else?
Picardo: Some do, but because of my seven years on [Star Trek] Voyager, and because it's still in regular re-runs on Spike, I think most people still recognize me from Star Trek — at least the sci fi fans.
TVGuide.com: Do you have a favorite memory of your years on Stargate? I know it's hard to nail down one.
Picardo: Well, I love to play humorous moments in dramatic shows. That's always the most fun; to keep the logic of the character in a show that's basically action-adventure and then play the comedy moments. I would have to say the episode, "Reminents" from the last season. Woolsey begins to doubt his sanity because he's met this attractive female crew member at the base, and he makes a date with her. Turns out, she doesn't exist. That was very fun. The comedy of me playing crazy and "why can't you see that girl in the room?" was a great deal of fun.
TVGuide.com: Did you bond with any in particular in the cast?
Picardo: The cast was very welcoming to me and they're all unique individuals — a fun group. Joe Flanigan (Maj. John Sheppard) teased me a lot about being his new "lady" on the show because my two predecessors were both female. And David Hewlett — I pride myself on being kind of a funny guy; I like to crack people up on set. But, David Hewlett left me in the dust. He's a very funny man. But both Jewel (Staite, Dr. Keller) and Rachel (Luttrell, Teyla) I got to know a little better because I hung out with them more. At Comic-Con, Jewel and I were paired up doing a lot of the press and Rachel had me over for dinner early on.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you?
Picardo: I have an upcoming episode of Pushing Daisies (three episodes remain, with no air date set), where I play a crusty police detective who works with Chi McBride's (Emerson) private investigator. And on Chuck — it's very interesting. They're doing a very big story arc about who created the "Intersect," which is this special super-computer system (stored in Chuck's brain), and I think I'm not speaking out of turn when I say I figure heavily into that story. There are lots of cool surprises and twists coming up.