We were lucky enough to catch up with Robert Picardo, who's joined the cast of Stargate Atlantis full-time as the obnoxious Richard Woolsey. He told us what it's like to take over command from Amanda Tapping's Samantha Carter. We also talked to Picardo about working with notorious comedian Andy Dick on Star Trek: Voyager, plus the differences between his holographic Trek character and Data the android.
Congratulations. You're finally in charge!
I'm finally in charge. I'm finally Captain Janeway. If you live long enough...
That's a better way to look at it. You're not replacing Amanda Tapping...
No-one can replace Amanda Tapping. The fans say, How do you feel about having to fill Amanda Tapping's shoes?" I said, look, "I would rather wake up in the morning, go into the bathroom and see Amanda Tapping than me." So I understand how the fans feel. She's a great actress and a beautiful person. I, on the other hand, am a very good actor and a very beautiful person.
I understand there's going to be a journey for Woolsey this season.
Yes, I'm changing. I'm growing. I'm becoming less of a dick. I appreciate the fact that he's Richard Woolsey and not Dick Woolsey, because that would be hard. To go to work every day and have people calling you "Dick" all the time.
And part of his epiphany comes from just not being able to work the technology.
I had two or three very humorous moments, where I don't know how to use the doors, I don't know how to find the cafeteria... I'm the new guy. And also, because he's not sort of a people person, people don't feel comfortable walking up and saying, "Mr. Woolsey, the cafeteria's this way." But I am warming up, and people are starting to feel sorry for the fact that I'm kind of a loner. I think by the end of the season, all the regular guys are going to, if not love me, respect me.
And you have a thing where you have nine pages of dialog where you argue in front of a tribunal?
I have the big dialog days. You play a hologram on Star Trek, and you have to spew line after line. I spoke in paragraphs on Star Trek. So I think they liked the fact that I handled dialog pretty well, so they give me stuff to say. But on the other hand, now that I'm playing a human and not a hologram, I'm allowed to say things like, "Well, uhh," or "You know..." which I could never do before. I had to be precise and I could never funfer. Now that I'm just a person I can funfer occasionally. Not funfer like soap opera actors funfer when they can't remember their lines, which is one of my favorite things to watch. "Hey, uh, you know man." That kind of thing. I don't do that.
What was it like working with Andy Dick on Voyager?
The first day on the set, he said to me, "Hey your name is Picardo. It's so close to Captain Picard. Do the fans make fun of you?" And I said, "Excuse me. Your name is Andy Dick, and you're going to make fun of mine?" And after that, we got along pretty well. He's wild. That was the week that the TV Guide article came out about him while we were shooting. What should I say? It was very, uh, revealing. I know that he likes to expose lots and lots about his life. Which I admire and respect, but actually, you know what? I don't think my life is quite as exciting as his.
I think your life is way more exciting than his at this point.
I like that you think that.
On Voyager, you were playing this artificial life form. Unlike Data, you looked human, but you weren't. You were like the opposite of Data.
He was more human than me. Especially early on. Wow, you've got it all. In fact, the next time I get interviewed, I'm going to call you. Because you understand my role on Star Trek even better than I did.
Did you try to convey that you looked human but weren't?
I did try to do this sort of funny, Johnny-on-the-spot kind of... But Data also moved in this exaggerated sort of way. I liked being a know-it-all. Of course, he was a know-it-all too. But I was sort of a stuffy, arrogant, curmugeonly know-it-all, where he was a childlike, sweet and Pinnochio-like know-it-all. We were both know-it-alls. Is it knows-it-all or know-it-alls?