Back in late 2007, when we received word that Amanda Tapping would not be reprising her role as Colonel Samantha Carter on Stargate: Atlantis, the production was faced with the task of choosing a new commander for the Atlantis expedition. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult given that Paul and I immediately agreed on the short list of candidates: “Picardo, Bob. That is all.” I picked up the phone and gave Bob a call, asked him how he’d like to join the show as a regular. He was surprised yet delighted at the prospect of coming aboard. “Uh, can I get back to you on Monday?”he asked me. “I need to run this by Linda.” Well, Bob’s lovely wife Linda thankfully gave him her blessing and so it was that Robert Picardo joined the cast of Stargate: Atlantis.

It’s interesting that, in season 5, Bob stepped into a position vacated by Amanda Tapping given that, whenever I do interviews, I often draw parallels between the two. They are both incredibly kind, professional, delightful to work with, and gifted actors who always elevate the performances of anyone they share a scene with.

As production on the show’s fifth and final season wrapped, I asked Bob whether he might be interested in doing a little fan Q&A for the blog. He was kind enough to say yes and, after shooting his last scene, dropped by my office to answer some of your questions which I dutifully transcribed and now present to you as part of this special Robert Picardo Guest Blog Entry…

Jason writes: “What was it like to work with Andy Dick on Voyager?”

RP: Andy dick was pretty wild to be around. The first day we met he said “Hey – Picardo. That’s so close to Captain Picard. Do you get teased a lot about that?” And I said “Wait a minute. You’re name is Andy Dick and you’re going to make fun of mine?”

I was actually concerned that when it aired that episode, T.V. Guide might do a close-up box about the episode with some unfortunate quotes like “Picardo and Dick Inseperable!” or “Picardo Handles Dick Adroitly“ or “Picardo Obviously Loves Dick“. But none of that happened.

Jason also writes: “If given a choice, would you prefer the Atlantis uniform or a suit and tie to wear when portraying Woolsey?”

RP: I definitely would have preferred Woolsey to stay in a business suit. However, I understand that it was very important for his identification with the team to be in a base uniform. I just wish that it didn’t look so much like a jogging suit.

Sylvia writes: “Please share description of a couple of scenes with the cast that stand out as memorable to you personally.”

RP: I liked my scene with Joe at the end of The Seed wherein Woolsey recognizes the necessity of casting aside the rule book. I thought that was the beginning of his real education as a leader. I also enjoyed the comic moments I was given to play particularly in the upcoming episode Remnants.

Laura writes: “Do you have any thoughts/comments about the closure of Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas?”

RP: I do think it was unwise of whomever purchased the Vegas Hilton to decide to close this attraction only a few moments before the Star Trek franchise if about to be revitalized by the new J.J. Abrams film. I am especially delighted to report that we reference Star Trek: The Experience in an upcoming Stargate: Atlantis episode set in Vegas. Dr. Mckay’s character points out that there’s only one place an alien could easily get a job in Vegas and that’s in Star Trek :The Experience. He of course gets a droll response from Richard Woolsey who happens to look more than little like that Doctor character from Star Trek.

Astrid writes: “What more character development would you have liked or would like to see happen to Woolsey?”

RP: I had hoped for a character arc with Ronon because I thought we were so marvelously mismatched: Ronon barely speaks and Woolsey can’t seem to shut up. I thought it would be fun if he agreed to Woolsey’s secret request to be trained in hand to hand combat and weapons. My thought was that Ronon would agree to wok with Woolsey with the caveat that he never open his mouth while they were training.

Amyfo writes: “The first thing I remember seeing you in was The Wonder Years. What was that like?”

RP: Even at the time I sensed The Wonder Years would be an iconic television show. People have enjoyed it so much in reruns. I also think that the writing was extraordinarily good. I think the scene where my character, Coach Cutlip, teaches sex education may be the funniest piece of film I’ve ever been involved in.

Amyfo also writes: “You’ve had guest roles on so many different great shows throughout your career. Any favorites?”

RP: I enjoyed playing Satan on Seven Days. Perhaps I’ll get to play Satan again even though Seven Days is long gone.

TM writes: “Would you do another book related to a character you played? It’d be pretty cool a Woosley’s guide to command or something.”

RP: I think its unlikely. The Hologram’s Handbook was fun to do because it was a satire of a self help book (which always annoy me). The basic conceit was that if you were an advanced Artificial Intelligence smarter than everyone else in the room, how do you get along with stupid people?

Glenda writes: “Now that SGA is canelled, will you be doing more convention appearances or will you be taking on more acting roles? What are your up in coming projects?”

RP: I will be doing two movies: a scifi creature flick called The Awakened and a horror movie with Joe Dante called The Hole. I also will be performing with The Dallas Symphony Orchestra in an evening of Star Trek movie music co-hosted by John Delancie. And I’m still doing post production on the first horror movie that I star in, Sensored. Check out the website, www.sensoredthemovie.com. I also have upcoming appearances in Bournemouth England, Bonn Germnay, and Sydney and Brisbane, Australia as well as a number of domestic ones.

Nicole Gustas writes: “Why did they drop the whole “naming the doctor” thing on Voyager?”

RP: To begin with, the reason that became a recurring joke is probably my fault. The show had not yet premiered and we were shooting episode 5, I believe, and I had a big scene where I confessed to Kes that I would like to have a name like any other crewmember I asked Rick Berman, our Exec Producer if they intended to list me as Dr. Zimmerman in the opening credits (as my character was listed as Dr. Zimmerman in all of the scripts thus far and in the series bible). He said “Of course.” and I said “Well, if we’re going a storyline where I’m hoping to get a name, doesn’t this kill the suspense?” And he agreed and they changed my title credit to The Doctor. They enjoyed playing the character who couldn’t decide on his own name for a number of years. I think the whole notion of an indecisive computer program is rather amusing. But like any joke that’s played too often, it can get tiresome. So they basically dropped it except for a parting reference to it in our finale.

Nicole Gustas also writes: Why are you so awesome, Robert Picardo?  Doyou try to make potentially a#@hole characters equivocal, or is that just a special talent you have?

RP: I enjoy playing characters that are initially disliked but need to be reassessed as you discover more about them – their motivation, their beliefs, their quirks. I think that we too frequently judge people on an initial impression in life and I think it’s gratifying when you discover that this initial impression was wrong and you grow to like someone all the more (perhaps because of guilt or perhaps just sheer delight in the perverse). I think that I have brought additional conflict to the Atlantis palate. It is difficult to serve a leader that you don’t particularly like or have complete confidence in and I think the journey of Richard Woolsey becoming a leader impacted on those who were obligated to follow him. I also appreciate that there have been some nice comic moments with Woolsey accommodating himself to his new environment and responsibilities.

Patricia Lee writes: “I am looking forward to seeing the horror movie SENSORED. The behind the scenes on the website are great and the trailer is shocking and scary:
1. What was it like filming such a deep physiological thriller?”

RP: What made the character appealing to me is that he was pretty ineffectual in his own life but could create an absolutely terrifying version of himself in nightmarish images that he implanted in the people he was manipulating. It’s basically an “evil twin” challenge for an actor but in a more unusual context. Yes, I am very creepy in the creepy scenes. My teenage children will hopefully treat me with much more respect once they’ve seen the movie.

Arctic Goddess writes: “I enjoyed your character in China Beach. He was one of your best. But then, the doctor on Voyager was also very intriguing. You were wonderful at demonstrating his frustration when his little world of sickbay was ignored by the rest of the crew. Of all the characters you have played, which was your favorite and which one the most difficult to portray?”

RP: I would say that China Beach was the most difficult because of the emotional demands of many of the episodes. We were doing a series about a very unpopular war that had devastated a number of lives, especially among those who lost family members in the war and those who never fully assimilated back into society once they returned. We felt a tremendous responsibility had been given us in doing the show, that perhaps in some small way we could contribute to the healing of these old wounds. And I’m very proud of the work we did and impressive company of actors that I was honored to be a part of.

Rebecca T. writes: “Do you like to cook? If you do then, what is your favourite food item/meal to cook?”

RP: I love to cook! And I make many different dishes and many kinds of food, but if I had to pick a favorite it’s one of the simplest things I make with only a few pure ingredients. And that is my fresh spinach pizza and home made crust.

Neb writes: “When will we get to hear you sing in Atlantis!?”

RP: I don’t think Woolsey‘s CAN sing – which is a shame as the giant staircase in the Atlantis control room would be perfect for a musical number. I’d like to see Woolsey do A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody.

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Abbas Karimjee
Abbas Karimjee

Nice interview

Patricia Lee
Patricia Lee

“When will we get to hear you sing in Atlantis!?”

RP: I don’t think Woolsey‘s CAN sing – which is a shame as the giant staircase in the Atlantis control room would be perfect for a musical number. I’d like to see Woolsey do A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody.

OMG… that would be hilarious! YES PLEASE JOE!!!

Please have Ivon film that little ditdy for us and put it on the season 5 DVD…

Thanks to Robert Picardo for such lovely answers and humor galore!

Cheers
Patricia Lee

Morjana

Hi, Joe.

Many thanks to you, and Mr. Picardo, for the question and answer special edition.

Best wishes, Morjana

majorsal
majorsal

lol @ robert’s fears on how he and andy dick would be advertised for the episode!

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

Fantastic interview of a terrific actor. I’ll be looking up his upcoming movie appearances (except for the sci fi channel flick; I’m no longer watching that network except for Stargate and Sanctuary). Thanks to Mr. P. for taking the time to do the interview, and to you Mr. M. for making it happen.

wraithfodder

Ah great, now I’ll never look at Atlantis’ staircase again without thinking of Woolsey singing a song, with the team behind, as backup singers/dancers wink

Shawna

Heh. There’s this video of Patrick Stewart in full Picard uniform doing a song and dance number on the bridge of the Enterprise. You guys should totally do something like that with Woolsey, maybe as an easter egg on the DVD.

Jason
Jason

Thanks for answering my questions. It was a great interview!

lis
lis

Thank you Robert Picardo! I’m a huge fan of yours and it was great to read a guest blog from you smile

BridJess
BridJess

Bournemouth!! Its so close, yet so far at the same time. Alas I shallnot be able too make it. It’s weird all this talk of Patrick Stuart, he’s a Chancellor at my uni, bet I’ll never meet him tho, just my luck. gd nite world xx

Mary
Mary

Watching First Contact right now. Wow! That’s all I can say right now, well, besides COOL. Otherwise am inarticulate.

Back to watching.

Mary

Haina
Haina

Great interview! Thank you!

Weird Person
Weird Person

I want to hear woolsey sing, too!

Karen MT
Karen MT

Thanks for the interview! And I totally agree with Shawna about the dance sequence.

Random question: What books were Chuck and John reading in tonight’s episode?

Mary
Mary

I’m still pretty inarticulate about First Contact, but I will say that this is my favorite episode of SGA yet. I am completely blown away by it. Great story, great effects, fascinating mystery, wonderful character moments. I’m a little irritated at Sci-Fi’s previews because they took away from the cliffhanger a bit, but the episode was just amazing.

I think I know who these people are too. We’ll see.

And I think that das is most likely fairly happy, too.

Mary

maggiemayday

Thank you, Mr. Picardo for the guest blog, very intriguing. Joe has the bestest blog ever!

First Contact. Wow. Yay! Wait … they … they … and then they … but then they … and they … and then… and then … and I have to wait TWO frickin’ weeks? Ooooh, that was good.

My brother is improving, he’s begun making red blood cells now too, and his liver looks okay, kidneys are borderline. He still has several serious complications which keep him in the hospital, but he’s making progress. Thanks for all the good thoughts.

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

Wow. First Contact really kicked ass…but…but… Todd made me whimper. sad Damn him!! Why did he have to go and get all sentimental on me!!! Guuuuuh!

It’s like I’ve said – what will they be if they are no longer ‘Wraith’. God, I just want them as is, now – and for the damn Lanteans to go the hell home and let the Wraith feed in peace. Yup. Yet another episode that has made me hate those meddling Stargate folks even more.

Still…it was very good. Todd was wonderful, as always. But it has also left me terribly depressed. And my husband is gone for two days taking classes, so I’m alone, AND depressed.

I need some chocolate. AND a Todd plushie.

*sniffle*

das

t'loc
t'loc

“today is a great day, Robert Grosseteste once said”, i love richard woolsey.
why was this series cancelled?

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

Just had to drop a line to say how “wow”ed I am by First Contact. By now you’d think I’d be used to having you folks delivering above and beyond expectations. I’m even willing to overlook the ignominy of Daedalus being taken over. She’s avoided the fate of too many television space ships, both in and out of the Stargate universe, up until now. And at least she was taken by Todd. But the balance of humor, action, and sheer tension is as good as anything in the series to date. I’ve been having fits trying to rate the episodes this season, and this isnt’ making my job any easier. Kudos to all concerned.

Randomness
Randomness

No, No. Sing you are my Sunshine(Make it a 2nd time you’ve sung)
That song would be perfect for Woolsey, but I can’t imagine a situation where he could sing this though.
Maybe if Woolsey got paired off with someone or was close to someone, or maybe giving someone lessons on how to “express” feeling to someone on Atlantis.

But yes, I’m all for Woolsey singing on Atlantis, make it happen smile

Mellow Yellow
Mellow Yellow

Jason writes: “What was it like to work with Andy Dick on Voyager?”

RP: Andy dick was pretty wild to be around. The first day we met he said “Hey – Picardo. That’s so close to Captain Picard. Do you get teased a lot about that?” And I said “Wait a minute. You’re name is Andy Dick and you’re going to make fun of mine?”

I was actually concerned that when it aired that episode, T.V. Guide might do a close-up box about the episode with some unfortunate quotes like “Picardo and Dick Inseperable!” or “Picardo Handles Dick Adroitly“ or “Picardo Obviously Loves Dick“. But none of that happened.

OMG! Can I just say I laughed so much I snorted..yep..that does not happen often with my very dry sense of humor but that response had me crying!

Love First Contact…funniest line..I didn’t snort but I did bust out laughing..Caldwell to Woosely..Robert who?

I enjoyed this episode A LOT..can’t believe I have to wait 2 weeks for the next!

Linda Gagne
Linda Gagne

Just got done watching First Contact and am not happy I have to wait two weeks. If I think about it though it’s not so bad cause girls weekend is next weekend and the hotel surely doesn’t have the scifi channel. So, I guess that is something. Oddly, I seem to be wishing the days/weeks to go by faster so I can see the show. Bittersweet though cause the faster it goes by the sooner it will be gone.

The show had all kinds of great moments, but I have to say I laughed hysterically when they called for sheppard in his room and he woke up saying “I was just resting my eyes”. I had just done that ten minutes before the show. I fell asleep and my daughter was like, “mom your gonna miss it” and my response was ” I was just resting my eyes”, really though I was sleeping. Guess you had to be there.

Thanks Bob.

wolfenm

Thank you, Mr Picardo! I suppose it’s fortunate for you, Joe, that SGA is cancelled, because now I just want a musical ep all the more … Aaaaanyway … Re: First contact, Wowee!! It was great to see two of my fave characters, Daniel & Rodney, together! Loved the little heart-to-heart they had! Loved Rodney’s little geek-outs, too, like about Tesla, and the batcave. Liked how the transitions were handled, moving about the city. The thing about the wall was really cool, too! Did Todd seem depressed to anyone else? (He seemed to be feeling as I do about the political clime these days — like we’re screwed no matter who we choose for Pres.) I’m glad to see that his turning on them was a contingency plan, not something he planned to do no matter what. And I think he was upset that Sheppard wasn’t there — maybe even insulted? Speaking of Sheppard, loved his “teen agnst”ness when dealing with Woolsey, especially the “not making any promises” line. Flanigan’s faces in that whole sequence were too, too funny! XD Of course I also loved how worried he was for Rodney. And I know they don’t die, but that last sequence was really thrilling! Great job, David Nykl — he really sold it! I know we haven’t seen the last of McKeller, but I’m still rooting more for Ronon/Keller and was happy to see it here — I’m sorry, but for me, they have much more going for them in the way of physical chemistry. I think Rodney and Keller make great friends, but without that physical component, there doesn’t seem a point in going any further — their kiss in Last Man seemed awfully chaste, and one-sided. Granted that doesn’t mean Ronon and Keller should end up together either, necessarily, as a mentaal compoent is important to a good relationship *too*, but if she’s going to end up in a relationship with a physical aspect … yeah. I like McKeller only for how it gives the writers some ways to develop (or mess with) Rodney — I don’t find the idea of them being together long-term appealing (or, frankly, believable, as she seems to act like he’s got a cute crush and she thinks he’s sweet, not like she’s actually resciprocating — maybe she’s supposed to, but if that’s the case, Staite is just not selling it for me). I wouldn’t stop watcing if McKeller did end up being where things end up, but I’m not rooting for it either. Of course, with the cancellation, that’s moot anyway, I guess. I just personally would rather see the movie focus on Rodney & Sheppard’s relo and not be distracted by McKeller, even if Mckeller is only platonic. (But yes, I would still buy the movie no matter what, even if McKeller ended up married or something.) Also, sidenote, why does everyone keep saying lately that Rodney & Keller were married in the alt timeline? I saw no indication if this,… Read more »

t'loc
t'loc

this could become dicey, with the replicators, Micheal and now this new enemy it just seem to me that a lot of those 60 hive ships that were mentioned in the first season are being either destroyed or inoperable, i don’t see how they will play a major role in a movie format after this season. That being said, I would watch a movie dealing with the Wraith.
By the way Shepard’s in trouble, he blow the city.

tm
tm

Great interview. It made my day. I loved that my question got answered..