The latest issue (#347) of the UK genre magazine Starburst has an extensive interview with Paul McGillion plus other content related to this campaign and the casting changes to Stargate Atlantis. Paul finally speaks out about his experience being written out of the show. It makes for a very moving read and should inspire all of us to fight ever harder on behalf of Paul and Carson.
Here is an excerpt from the interview with Paul McGillion in which he talks about how he was let go from Atlantis.
Just as work on Phantoms was ending, McGillion received some news that would affect his future on Atlantis. “We shot most of this story on location, and when we got back to the studio for the final day of filming, one of the ADs said that the producers wanted to talk to me,” recalls the actor. “I didn’t think anything of it. Truthfully, I thought they might be telling me, ‘Great job in Phantoms’. However, when I went upstairs and they closed the office door, I knew it was serious. They said ‘Stargate SG-1 isn’t being renewed, and we’re not sure yet if Atlantis is going to be either. We need to shake things up a bit, and the long and short of it is we’re going to kill off Beckett.’
“Needless to say I was stunned, for lack of a better word. I didn’t see that coming at all. Personally, I felt like I was doing a good job on the programme and I think the producers thought so as well. I sat there and listened to the reasons behind this move and what they were looking to do. I was sad and disappointed by their decision , but yet this is a business. I understand that and I respect these guys for giving me the chance to play a character like Carson Beckett. I’m not being political when I say that. I’m being honest. Most actors never get a dream job like that in their entire career, and I had it for three years.
“After they told me, I said ‘I’m disappointed and shocked, but obviously you’re smart guys. The Stargate franchise has been around for a long time, so you know what you’re doing. So how do we move on from here? How do you want me to handle this?’ We would shoot Beckett’s final episode [Sunday] out of sequence, and the producers asked me if I wanted to leave after that. I said that I wanted to finish my contract the way I went into it, with integrity. Not only that but I wanted to honour the character as well as the cast and crew that I had been working with all this time.”
After finishing work on Sunday the actor returned to the Atlantis set to film the remaining episodes leading up to Beckett’s swansong. “The final story I did this season was The Ark,” says McGillion, pausing briefly to collect himself. “Only a few people knew it was my last day, including Martin Wood. He wanted to make a speech about me in front of the cast and crew once we wrapped, but I said to Alex Pappas ‘I can’t be there on set because I’ll break into tears. Just tell everyone that I’ll see them at the wrap party and shake each of their hands for being so wonderful to me over the years’. So I just let it go like that, and I hope I went out, hopefully, with dignity and class.”
Elsewhere in the magazine is another letter from a Carson Beckett fan and this editorial note about the campaign:
SAVE OUR STARGATE REGULARS
Will ‘Save Dr Beckett’ campaign become ‘Save Dr Weir’?
Well it’s not news, it’s history. Dr Carson Beckett was killed off in the Stargate Atlantis episode, ‘Sunday’. Scottish born McGillion was initially cast in Stargate as a recurring guest, but his character of the Scottish doctor Carson Beckett appeared so frequently in the show’s first season that he was promoted to main character at the start of Season Two. The savecarsonbeckett website had this to say: “We as a group would like to express our disappointment at ‘the powers that be’ for their disgraceful handling of the death of Dr. Carson Beckett, and the resulting dismissal of Paul McGillion. They have never given us any reasonable explanation on Paul’s removal from the main cast…It is an insult to the actor, Paul McGillion, who has been nothing but loyal, enthusiastic and supportive to this show”. A recent message from McGillion to fans on his website said “I am truly overwhelmed by the support that is happening for ‘Carson Beckett’. Although I can not comment on the situation at this time, please know that I have had the time of my life working on Atlantis and wuold embrace the chance to keep the good Doctor around! Lots of Luv, Paul”….
We’d like to note that the campaign quote above was taken from the “Save Carson” thread on Gateworld, not from this website. It does of course reflect many fans’ feelings on the matter.
Visit this link to order your own copy of the issue. Many thanks to SueKay for typing up this excerpt and providing it on the Gateworld forum.