Close Up With Paul McGillion

It’s June in Vancouver, BC, and it’s raining. In fact, it’s been raining all week. That doesn’t stop the production of Stargate Atlantis, though, and cameras continue to roll on the filming of season five episode ‘Outsiders’. At the moment the cast and crew are shooting on the expansive ‘village’ set, which has undergone an extraordinary transformation for the season. The team, accompanied by a very well-adjusted Carson Beckett, watch the unexpected arrival of some old foes.

Later, in his trailer, actor Paul McGillion settles down out of the rain to talk about Beckett’s return in season five. It’s telling that the actor even has a trailer – he’s no passing guest star, but rather an important, permanent part of the show. In fact, McGillion is back for at least five episodes of Stargate Atlantis‘ fifth year, happily reprising the much-loved character that met his untimely demise in season three’s ‘Sunday’. “I’m happy to be back,” he says with a smile, “I never wanted to leave the show in the first place!”

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that this Carson Beckett isn’t quite the same timid doctor we met in season one, and that’s not just because he’s become a little more inured to the terrors of the Pegasus galaxy. No, this Carson Beckett was cloned from the original by one of Atlantis‘ arch enemies, Michael, and rediscovered in season four’s ‘The Kindred’. Still, the differences are subtle… so subtle, in fact, that McGillion laughs at the question of whether they are there at all.

“He’s basically exactly the same. I think he’s much more handsome in season five,” the actor jokes with another laugh. “He’s been away from craft service and he’s dropped a few pounds! But no – there was some comment in our first episode back, ‘The Seed’. There’s a little awareness [that he’s a clone] at first, but that’s diminished now. ‘Outsiders’ is my third episode back, and I think it’s almost like, ‘Whatever!’” He laughs again. “You know that it’s Beckett. I don’t have any special super powers or anything. There’s really not too much comment.”

That won’t necessarily be the case throughout the season, however. After all, the character went through a monumental event. The actor agrees that there is probably something there that could be explored.

“The interesting thing is that Beckett had this happen to him, and hopefully the writers will look into that. Because you never know what happened to him, really. You don’t know what special things he might have to offer. That’s becoming apparent in this episode, so that’s cool.”

As for what else the character will experience in season five, it’s apparent that McGillion is excited at the prospects that the writers have opened up since his return. He’s been busy, filming on every day of the episodes in which Beckett appears, and it’s clear that’s an arrangement the actor is more than happy with.

“The great thing is that every time I come back they’re big Beckett episodes,” he says. “This one, ‘Outsiders’ is a big Beckett episode. The last one I did, ‘Whispers’, that was awesome.”

‘Whispers’, written by Joseph Mallozzi, is billed out as an all-out psychological horror episode. Forget the scary monsters: this is Stargate Atlantis doing something far more frighteningly insidious. And Beckett is right there in the thick of the action.

“It was really great – a difficult episode, but really interesting and different. It’s just Joe [Flanigan] and myself. David [Hewlett] and I have a couple of scenes at the start and the end of the episode, but throughout the whole episode it’s just Beckett and Sheppard. We’re the only main cast in the episode, and then these four women. That was a lot of fun! They established a bit of a love interest for me there. And so depending on what happens with the show, I can see the character growing again, hopefully.”

Despite that hope, and the clear character beats for Beckett in these episodes, McGillion tries not to speculate about what might happen further down the line.

“I don’t know what the future holds – I kind of gave up on that when they killed the character,” he laughs. “All I know is that I come here and I do my best and hopefully they like what I do. But it’s been interesting – and when I come in they want to optimize the time that I’m here, so every time I come to shoot an episode I’ve got every day of the episode. It’s nice to be that involved.”

McGillion has always given great kudos to his fans (and in particular the Save Carson Beckett campaign), for making his character so clearly popular and actively encouraging his return. Many would still love to see Beckett back as a full-time member of the team.

“Would I come back and work on this full time?” The actor ponders. “It depends. Right now I’m pleased that they’ve had me back for these episodes and we’ll see what happens in the future.”

Interview courtesy of the Official Stargate Website