HUB STARGATE CONVENTION
March 6-7, 2010
Richard visited Australia for the first time when he joined fellow Stargate cast members Christopher Judge, Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Dan Shea, David Nykl, Connor Trinneer, and David Blue for the HUB Productions Stargate 2010 convention.
The weekend consisted of two separate conventions, the first in Sydney on March 6th, and the second in Melbourne on March 7th. Each event featured photo sessions, autograph sessions, guest panels, and an auction which offered a selection of props and memorabilia to raise money for HUB's designated charities.
Richard's appearance was in support of his own charities, including the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Below are some pictures and summaries of the event.
Sydney - March 4th
Richard arrived in Australia a few days before the convention began, and on March 4th he took advantage of the opportunity to be a tourist in and around Sydney. His sightseeing included a visit to the Sydney Aquarium and the Sydney Wildlife World, where he was given a private guided tour by the curatorial staff. During his visit, he was introduced to Jay the koala, who seemed to be less than enthused about meeting MacGyver and Jack O'Neill.
Sydney - March 6th
During Richard's panel, the final one of the day, he appeared on stage alone and delighted fans with O'Neill-like mannerisms. Freely admitting that he is no expert on the storyline of "Stargate," he often met questions from the audience concerning plot details with a blank stare, joking, "Don't you know who you're talking to?" When asked for his favorite O'Neill-ism, he paused for a moment before offering his trademark deadpan, "...What?" to rousing applause. He referenced the wonders of the comic pause, and mentioned that "for crying out loud" is more of a Minnesota-ism, before being prompted by the audience to offer O'Neill's, "Ya think?"
Recognizing that he has gained weight since leaving "Stargate," he acknowledged the change in appearance upfront, explaining that several surgeries, and semi-retirement, and enjoying time at home with his 11 year old daughter have contributed to less activity in recent years. Someone from the audience called out, "You're still a legend, Richard!" which brought a flattered smile from Richard and a warm reaction from the crowd.
Perhaps trying to settle more comfortably in his chair, Richard stood up inexplicably during one of the questions and began emptying out his pockets, placing a little pile of items, including a stress ball, a camera, lollipops, and various papers and pens, on the stage beside him. As he sat down again, someone called out, "Are you going to make something?!" That brought a huge laugh from Richard, who acknowledged the "MacGyver" joke by responding, "That's very good! And.... NO."
During the session, Richard frequently moved about the stage, sometimes fidgeting with the microphone or the items from his pocket, and often turning to view himself on the huge live feed video screens behind him. Checking out his clothing and his hair, he joked that it had to be the most expensive way to see the back of one's head. When a little boy tried to make an inconspicuous exit, Richard joked with him, asking if he was leaving to use the bathroom. Then, concerned that the boy might have been uncomfortable having attention drawn on him, Richard made a point later of stopping to talk personally to the boy after his panel had ended.
Richard answered a question about his favorite TV shows by mentioning titles like "The Simpsons," "Family Guy," "Community," "The Middle," "The Office," and "Parks and Recreation." He admitted that he lets his daughter watch "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy," with his finger poised on the mute button. He talked about Dan Castellaneta's appearance on "Stargate" and how it led to his "dream come true" appearance on "The Simpsons." He also mentioned his earlier series, "Legend," which is still a favorite of his, though it aired for only 13 episodes in 1995 before being canceled. Someone called out that it had aired in Australia, to which he quipped, "Oh, that's where it went."
During the panel, Dan Shea, Richard's stunt double since the "MacGyver" days, reentered the auditorium and did a bit of playful heckling from the audience. When asked whom he would choose if he could go back in time and get rid of any one character from the beginning of "Stargate," Richard said he couldn't think of anyone, but a voice in the audience called out, "Dan Shea!" and Richard laughed when he recognized Dan's voice. Asked what his hardest stunt had been, Richard joked, "getting out of bed to go to the set," then he gave Dan Shea credit for making his life easier when stunts were called for, adding that Dan had been punished so much on the set over the years that he no longer looked like Richard. He mentioned that no one ever got hurt by the weapons on the show, "except dear Amanda," who had been hit in the helmet by some stray casings.
Many of the scenes in "Window of Opportunity" had been Richard's own inspiration, so a fan asked him what had been the best part of that episode for him. He replied, "Kissing Amanda... in all twenty takes." Then after considering some of the other moments from the episode, he added that he liked, "kissing Amanda, with a mouthful of Froot Loops, while riding a bike." A question about the Sam and Jack relationship was met with the typical explanation that their relationship had always been kept within the guidelines of the Air Force. He also mentioned that he would gladly appear on Amanda's new series, "Sanctuary," if asked, but that he felt that might be unlikely given the restrictions that govern hiring within a Canadian production. He also said that he hoped to return for a third "Stargate" movie, but he seemed somewhat less optimistic than in the past that the planned movie will be made.
Richard also spoke about his support of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and he mentioned that he was hoping to stop at Hobart during his stay in Australia to welcome the two Sea Shepherd ships, the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker, which had just come in to dock that same day after completing their anti-whaling campaign in the oceans off the Antarctic.
As Richard's session came to an end, he picked up all his items from the floor and returned them to his pockets, all the while being cheered enthusiastically by the audience. He also used his camera to take a few of his own pictures of the roaring crowd, who snapped more pictures of him in return. Then he made his way to speak to the young boy in the front row before joining the autograph session, where he donned a white hat and warmly greeted the hundreds of fans who lined up for his signature.
Melbourne - March 7th
The event in Melbourne got off to a bit of a rough start due to torrential thunderstorms and hail the night before that temporarily closed the airport, delaying the guests' arrival from Sydney, and flooded portions of the venue. Nevertheless, the convention went on, with some delays, and when Richard arrived on stage he began with an apology, admitting that he had fallen asleep in his hotel room and was a bit late to arrive since his earplugs made it difficult for the organizers to wake him up. He greeted the audience wearing sunglasses and his white hat, and he snapped a few pictures of the audience with his camera. He mentioned again about having gained some weight, and as before he playfully checked himself out on the huge video screens, joking as he would turn abruptly for a view, "I keep trying to catch myself!"
He talked about how much he had been enjoying his first visit to Australia, announcing, "I love this place!" as he described his daughter Wylie's disappointment that she wasn't able to accompany him this time. But he said that he hoped to return one day and to bring Wylie with him. He spoke with pride about his daughter, and said that she would like to become an actress.
In typical fashion, Richard continued to move about the stage and fiddle with props at hand. When someone brought him a cup filled to the brim with very hot coffee, he placed it on the floor so that he could carefully remove the lid, and he tried to drink it from there. As the audience continued to laugh, he remained on his knees and began interviewing the coffee, holding the mike toward it and asking, "How hot are you? Oh yeah, you're hot." Occasionally during the session he'd duck behind the lectern where the cup remained on the floor so that he could take a sip. Similarly, he also responded playfully to the sound coming out of the speaker on the stage, which made it difficult to localize where the questions from the audience were coming from, and he joked that the fans with questions needed flares to make it easier to spot them in the crowd.
The first question was from a fan who asked if he enjoyed playing MacGyver or O'Neill better, to which he diplomatically replied, "Yes." Then he elaborated, explaining that he liked them both for different reasons. MacGyver had given him his first "sustained job." He had been young and single then, with the energy to carry the show almost entirely on his own, and it was a lot of fun to do, despite the impact it had on his social life. The role of O'Neill was also a lot of fun, especially when the producers allowed him to insert his own humor into the character, but he was very glad, at that stage in his career, that he was surrounded by a wonderful cast and didn't have to carry the show on his own.
As before, he often needed prodding from the audience to recall details from the "Stargate" episodes and the storyline. Asked about the favorite people he had worked with, he relied on the audience to call out suggestions, and he confessed that he enjoyed working with each of them. For his favorite episode, he described the one in which he had aged, which the audience identified as "Brief Candle." Despite the tedious makeup process for the episode, he had enjoyed being able to get away with so much as an old man. He didn't admit to playing many pranks on the set, although when reminded he recalled Amanda's outtake, "stuck on a glacier with MacGyver," in which the lighting was too dark to catch his reaction on camera. He did admit, however, that it was his decision to make the O'Neill character "dense" because the stoic nature of the Kurt Russell character couldn't be maintained through the longevity of a series. He confirmed that both he and Chris Judge did know how to juggle for their scene in "Window of Opportunity," and that he had learned how to juggle early in his career when he earned money as a street performer juggling grapefruit. He also acknowledged that, like O'Neill, he does like both peridot and Mary Steenburgen, "because 'Mary Steenburgen' is just fun to say." Once again he addressed the question about the relationship between Sam and Jack by indicating that the show and the characters must remain respectful to the Air Force, and he engaged in some coy teasing about innuendo when asked about the relationship between Jack and Daniel, finally admitting that the dynamic was intentional because "he could talk so fast... and I can't." He made light of a question asking about on-set romances, saying that he was older than most of the cast, and that no, that sort of thing didn't happen.
As in Sydney, Dan Shea returned to the audience while Richard was on stage, and he engaged in some playful banter for some of the questions. When one fan asked about the "fishless pond" at O'Neill's cabin, Richard confirmed that the pond and the location are indeed real, even if the fish were props. He mentioned his own cabin in northern Minnesota, and he described the location of Jack's cabin, a real cabin in a park in North Vancouver. Then he turned to Dan Shea for more details about its location, and the two joked about whether it was anywhere near Dan's home before Richard finally suggested that the fan get directions from Dan later to visit it. Later, someone asked about how many of his own stunts he had done, and Richard confirmed that he had done most of his own stunts during "MacGyver," which contributed to the injuries he has now, but he turned once again to Dan to address the stunts from "Stargate." As if giving a rehearsed response, Dan announced, "No, you did all of them, Sir! Would you like me to get you a coffee, Sir?" The two continued to joke, using the nicknames they had come to use for each other - Dan referring to Richard as "Big Boy," and Richard referring to Dan as "Coattail."
He spoke about favorite TV shows and shared again the story of how Dan Castellaneta's appearance on "Stargate" led to Richard's guest role on "The Simpsons." When prompted by the audience, he agreed that "D'oh!" is his favorite Simpsons quote, and he added that he'd like to also do a guest appearance on "Family Guy." Another fan asked if he collected the action figures, and he said that he didn't, although some had been sent to him. He also related the story about how action figure prototypes had been sent to him for his approval during the development stage and he had always insisted that his figure be anatomically correct, though that suggestion was never followed.
A few of the questions had to do with "MacGyver." He has heard about attempts to revive the show in various ways, including the series "Young MacGyver," which failed, and rumors of a theatrical movie, but he is not involved in any of them, feeling that he would be too old for the role now, and he does not know what Paramount's plans are for the franchise. Asked if he ever tired of people handing him a paperclip and a rubber band and asking him to create something, he deadpanned, "Yes, I'm sick and tired of it." Then he clarified that it did not bother him at all, and that there was a certain charm in the way that the homage has lasted so long and that people remember the show, though he added, referring to the inevitable requests, "But I do wish they'd mix it up a little bit!" When a fan asked if he, like MacGyver, was handy enough around the house to change a light bulb or fix a tap, he answered, "Ab-so-lute-ly! I call that plumber right away!"
He talked about his love of dogs and confirmed that dogs really are his favorite people. He also addressed the question of whaling, speaking at length from behind the podium about his involvement in the anti-whaling movement, and giving the impression for a moment that he was a guest lecturer. He said again that he hoped to have the chance to meet up with Sea Shepherd at Hobart before his trip ends. He also referenced the weather that had greeted him in Melbourne and said that he loved to experience the power of nature, to feel the earth shaking or the skies opening up, "such a human experience."
Finally Richard's panel drew to a close, and before he left he asked the audience to stand so that he could take another picture of the crowd with his own camera. Then he said goodbye and left the stage to join the final autograph session. The line for his autograph was tremendously long, and the session ran well past its scheduled time, but Richard stayed until the very end to be sure that everyone who requested an autograph got a signature and a moment of his time.