Last September TrekMovie.com first broke the news that Stargate Atlantis actor Paul McGillion auditioned for the role of Scotty in the new Star Trek. After Simon Pegg got the job we were happy to report that Paul still landed a different (albeit smaller) role in the film. This week Paul talked to TrekMovie.com about his audition and his time on the new Star Trek as well as his impending return to Stargate.
TrekMovie.com: When your character was written off of Stargate Atantis during the 3rd season, it sparked a fan campaign, something well-known to Trekkies. What was that like for you?
Paul McGillion: Overwhelming! It was crazy. When I initially started doing Stargate I was cast as a recurring character and I think the fan base were so behind Carson that the producers saw that in the first season so they made him a regular part of the show in the second season. I think a lot of that had to do with the fan response and so I am very grateful for that. I never fully grasped the magnitude of sci-fi fans until Stargate Atlantis. There was a rally for me at the studio in Los Angeles with hundreds of people in the pouring rain with a pipe band playing and a bunch of girls flashing Carson Beckett on their butts. It was flattering and overwhelming.
TrekMovie.com: So you attributed the campaign for being brought back again as a recurring character in seasons four and five?
Paul McGillion: I think the producers listen to the fans. Anyone who makes a show will pay attention to the fan base. They were getting inundated with letters and calls. People make changes in shows for dramatic effect and I understand that. I did the character for three seasons and they decided that it was time for the character to bow out and that is the way it goes in the business.
TrekMovie.com: Speaking of ‘coming back’ you have two episodes coming up soon, what can you tell us about your come back?
Paul McGillion: Yes I am in the final two episodes of the season. Friday the 22nd is "Kindred Part 1" and part 2 is the following week. I can’t tell you much about them except to say that I do come back. It is a great reveal and its clever with the way they have done it. It does have something to do with previous episodes of Atlantis and there is a connection there. “Kindred Part 2” is a heavy episode for Carson and I think the fans are going to love it, especially the ‘save Carson Beckett’ fans who spent so much time to get the character back. He is a character that wears his heart on his sleeve and I think a lot of fans can relate to the guy and it is a nice tip of the hat to the fans.
TrekMovie.com: Regarding season five, I understand you start shooting soon. What can you tell us about that and are your episodes bunched up or spread out?
Paul McGillion: I can’t tell you anything about season five because I really don’t know that much about what they have planned. I just got the first draft of the first script and they might kill me again if I tell you [laughs] I will be back for at least five episodes and I believe it will be peppered throughout the year, they will not be consecutive.
TrekMovie.com: OK now moving on to Trek. When you auditioned for Scotty in Star Trek, did you do ‘Carson’ or did you do ‘Doohan’ or did you do something different?
Paul McGillion: I never did Doohan doing Scotty. I was born in Scotland so I can do many variations of the Scottish accent. I think Carson has what my mom would say is a ‘Kelvin side’ accent which is a little more high brow than my interpretations of Scotty was. Scotty is an engineer and is more blue collar than Carson and so I gave it that twist.
TrekMovie.com: Is that something they asked for?
Paul McGillion: No, they just wanted a Scottish accent. My manager had sent in my tape which starts off with Scottish scenes and they called and said they wanted to see me. For me that was great. Ever since I started to do Carson people have asked me if I would ever want to play Scotty and I always said ‘Absolutely!’ What a great iconic character. It was a thrill to have the opportunity to read for it and as an actor you put your own twist on it. Obviously I would have loved to have gotten that role. But Simon [Pegg] is a terrific actor. I loved him in Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead; and I think he will do a terrific job. I am not one of those actors that gets all worked up. For me I applaud anyone who gets any role. I think that you just do your best and champion those who get the roles. It is a great opportunity for anyone and I am very happy for him. Obviously it would have been great to play Scotty, but at the same time even being part of the movie was a pleasure.
TrekMovie.com: Picking up on that. What can you tell us about the role you did get in the movie? And how long did you work on it?
Paul McGillion: As you know I have signed pages of confidentiality clauses. I can say that I had a scene with Kirk [Chris Pine] and that was pretty of cool. And I am not a ‘red shirt’ so there you go. I was around for about a week.
TrekMovie.com: What was it like on the set and working with JJ Abrams?
Paul McGillion: Well [First A.D] Tommy Gormley is from Glasgow and it was a great environment. And I can’t say enough about JJ. When I got to the set he came right up to me and said "Paul thank you so much for doing this, sorry I couldn’t give you anything bigger but I wanted to have you in the movie and the fans love you. But I had Simon in mind" And I was like ‘Wow.’ He really doesn’t have to say any of that. It really shows you that nice guys can get ahead too. From the short time I spent with him I really can’t say enough good things about him. There is a reason he does so well. He sets a tone for a really great environment and hopefully that will turn into a great movie.
TrekMovie.com: So besides the Star Treks and Gates, what else have you been working on lately?
Paul McGillion: I just finished up a play in Vancouver called "Reservation for Four." And I have a film coming out in early March with Melora Hardin, who plays Jan on The Office. I play her husband in that, no Scottish accent, it is a drama Lifetime movie. It is about divorce and its called "Me, Mom, Dad and Her."
TrekMovie.com: By the way, another Star Trek/Stargate crossover is coming up with Voyager’s Bob Picard joining the cast of Stargate Atlantis.
Paul McGillion: Yah he’s a great guy. I have worked with him once or twice. He is really nice to work with and I am really happy he is coming to the show. I also had a great time hanging with him and Jonathan Frakes and the other Trek people at FedCon in Germany last year. Actually I think I am the only one from Stargate main cast that’s ever crossed over the other way and gone from Stargate to Star Trek, which is kind of cool.
A final note…After finishing the interview Paul went out of his way to say how much he appreciated all support he has got from the Stargate and Star Trek fans and he wanted to be sure the fans knew he thanks them.
Audio clip Bonus
At conventions Paul has recounted the story (complete with Scottish accent) about how when he told his father he was cast in Stargate his dad kept confusing it with Star Trek. I asked how it went when he told his dad he really was cast in Star Trek…take a listen.
The original ‘Stargate/Star Trek’ story from SFX 2006
Catch Paul tonight (and next Friday) on Stargate Atlantis, airing on the SCI FI Channel.