As many of you know, we’re all saddened by the loss of Richard Hatch, who portrayed Kharn in Prelude to Axanar.
Richard, who best known for portraying Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica, was 71. He had been working as an actor for over 50 years, and was known by fans for his genuine interest in his interactions with them. Everyone I know has a story of Richard and how good he made them feel when they met him.
I first met Richard in 1993 at the 15th anniversary Battlestar Galactica reunion. I took an acting class with him shortly thereafter and we became – and have remained – good friends ever since. In 1998, I moved to Atlanta and Richard and I would meet at Dragon Con every year. His dinners at Benihana on Saturdays of the con were legendary. Ironically, we became really good friends by hanging out at conventions.
When I moved to Los Angeles in 2008, we started meeting up more often and after classes at The Howard Fine Studios and with Ted Brunetti, I started working with Richard again in his Tuesday classes. Richard moved down by me in Toluca lake in 2013, so we would meet all the time for lunch/dinner or whatever pretty regularly.
Richard was the first actor I approached for Axanar, and I knew I wanted him to play Kharn. Richard was such an underrated actor and brought everything he had to the role. He LOVED playing Kharn and said he always wanted to play a Klingon. He loved the whole warrior code and got the more subtle aspects of what that meant to a Klingon. I sat down with him early on in the process and talked to him about Kharn and we both saw the character exactly the same. In my mind Kharn was a combination of Kang from the TOS episode Day of the Dove , and Katsumoto from The Last Samurai. That was music to Richards ears as he was a huge fan of The Last Samurai, so Kharn grew organically from that.
Richard was such a good and dear friend that I often forgot what a celebrity he was in geek circles. We all grew up on Richard’s Apollo and then loved him as Tom Zarek (Richard would spend hours explaining to anyone who was interested why Tom was such a great character and a good guy). I always had to remind myself that Richard was famous.
More than once Richard would come up in conversation and someone would invariably say “You know Richard Hatch?” So I would always try to share Richard with everyone, because my friends would get such a kick out of meeting him and Richard was just amazing with fans. He would always make every fan feel so special and interesting and he just loved people in a way few people I know do. I learned so much from him. (Garrett Wang is the other person I will say that is truly amazing with fans). Reading Facebook yesterday and today, I loved seeing everyone’s stories about how much fun it was to meet Richard.
My birthday falls on Dragon Con every year, and the last few years I have had a dinner with some of my closest friends. Celebrating my friendships is the best birthday present I can get. This past year I told one of my best buddies, Curtis Callaway, who I have known for almost 20 years, and who is a huge fan of Richards, that he had to come to the dinner and I would sit him next to Richard. Curtis was so excited to meet Richard and it felt so good that I could do something cool for Curtis by simply sharing dinner with my friend Richard. Richard treated every new person in his life so well and was always genuinely interested in every new person he met. He was never annoyed by fans and seemed to have unlimited energy for people.
I saw Richard two weeks before he passed in the hospital and he was in good spirits and rather accepting of his situation. He just wanted his son Paul to be taken care of. I got to tell Richard I loved him and he said the same.
Richard was truly an amazing man, a great actor, a talented teacher and a loyal friend. I will miss him.
Other things to read:
Axanar co-producer and CTO Bill Watters writes for Bleeding Cool and did a nice compilation of quotes and Tweets from Richard’s friends. You can read it here.
Also, Joanthan Lane wrote a great piece on Richard, you can read on Fan Film Factor. It again shows how Richard is with his fans. I enjoyed reading this as it recalls another dinner with Richard.