The Paul McGillion Interview

Here’s one for fans of Sexy Scotsmen then. As those tripping over this via a Google Link may know, I interviewed Paul McGillion of Stargate: Atlantis fame earlier in 2008 for the Scottish Sun newspaper. I waited a while to see if it would run but it didn’t before I moved on to bigger and brighter things.

I felt duty-bound not to rush it onto the site and give The Sun a chance to run it, but it never seemed to appear. And then my laptop died. And then the website went slightly dead due to some halfwit trying to upgrade to WordPress 2.5 and making a howler of it.

Anyway, as the website is now, getting back to life slowly – and it’s nearly six months on from when I went to interview Paul – it seems a decent enough time has passed. So here’s the Paul McGillion interview, not as it would have appeared in The Sun, but a mix of questions I asked for the fans, along with the Sun version and wee bits I can remember.

(for those who are about to moan that the article contains a lot of stuff Paul fans already know, all I would say is wheesht: this was written for a mainstream audience and Paul hasn’t had a lot of exposure over in Scotland – or the UK actually, so it’s a flavour of the man. In fact there’s a question, what flavour would Paul be?)

(and if the fans don’t mind, instead of lifting the interview, could they just post the link back here please?)

(also have to say: great interview with Paul here)

Useless factoid before we begin: I posted up an interview with Iain Banks/Iain M Banks and that attracted moderate interest. Those hits were nothing – a dot on a pin on a dotted thing – compared to what happened when Paul’s name went on it.

By Craig McGill

HE’S travelled half-way across the universe in Stargate and Star Trek but for actor Paul McGillion, he wants nothing more than to be a corpse in Taggart.
The Paisley-born hunk might have fansites by admiring females across the globe, be chased by women at conventions and have a glamourous LA lifestyle – but Taggart is where he wants to be.
He said: “I’d love a role in Taggart, even a murdered body.
“Don’t get me wrong I’d be happier with a bigger role, but Taggart’s got such appeal and is so well known to my family that to be in Taggart would be great.
“I’ve actually just been arranging with agents to get more work in the UK as I’d love to be in more British dramas.
“Of course there’s also work like Dr Who and Torchwood and to be in them would fantastic.”
McGillion rose to rapid fame in the first few episodes of the spin-off of the hit Stargate show Atlantis.
Originally only cast for a couple of episodes he was made a recurring actor and continued to be a hit with the viewers across the globe, each episode pulling in more than 10million viewers.
But as he was starting to enjoy stardom, the rug was pulled out from under his feet.
Bosses told him that he was being let go.
He recalls: “I was surprised when they told me that the character was being let go. I had been promoted up to a series regular and then was told I was leaving again.
“I’m not going to lie – I was very disappointed, shocked and sad about it as it came out of the blue.
“But that’s acting and that’s a show like Stargate – they have to shake things up.
“Rejection is 90% of acting so you have to take your blessings where you can and to be in Stargate for three years was great and I realised that it was better to be grateful for the opportunity I had instead of being bitter about leaving the show.
“But as far as I was concerned, that was it and I set off to do other projects.”
But what no one anticipated was the reaction of the fans – and mostly females.
Outraged at the move, fans of Paul – mostly female – set up websites to save the character and emailed the studio, sending in things to the bosses.
They then topped that by hiring a pipe band to play outside the studios where Atlantis was filmed.
The first Paul knew was when a friend got in touch.
“A pal phoned me and said ‘turn the telly on right now’ and there it was on the news – a pipe band playing outside my old work.
“It was incredible.”
At that point the studio realised they under underestimated the character’s popularity and worked on ways of bringing him back for the end of season four – showing on Sky One at the moment – and the forthcoming season five, which started filming the last week in February 2008.
Paul’s delighted to be back.
“It’s great to be back amongst friends and it’s good to see the fans getting to see a character they want back in.
“And hopefully now I’m back, they won’t kill me off again, but I’m looking forward to catching up with all my old pals.
“I’m delighted to be coming back and seeing everyone again – and I don’t know what’s planned for me past these five episodes, but I would like to think that I’m not getting killed off again.
“Take from that what you will.”
That doesn’t mean it always as much fun as the fans would think. There’s been a few embarrassing moments, that have made Paul go red even so many million miles away in the Pegasus Galaxy.
“The one that alway sticks in my mind was when I was to do a kissing scene with Rodney and there we were before the take and he just grabbed me and planted one on me. Totally took me by surprise and everyone got a big laugh out of it.
(laughing)”It’s quite worrying that I can’t shake that memory”
But while he may have been given the kiss-off from Atlantis, science fiction wasn’t finished with him.
Paul was given the call to try out and audition for the role of Scotty in the new Star Trek film – and was endorsed by Chris Doohan – son of the original Scotty James Doohan.
According to Paul: “To have him vouch for me was really humbling and I owe him a pint if I get to meet him.
“I wasn’t bitter about not getting the role. It would have been fantastic and probably changed the course of my career, but that’s acting. Some you win, some you don’t and all the best to Simon Pegg.”
One thing he didn’t expect though was then to be called and told that he was getting another role in the film.
“My agent called me back and said that on the strength of the audtion they wanted to me to do another role. The director JJ Abrams wanted to find me a role.
“So I’ve done that but there’s not a lot I can say about it. It’s scenes with the new Captain Kirk and I don’t get killed off, so I could return if wanted…”
“What I will say is that I think moviegoers are in for a treat. The sets, the costumes – it all looks amazing and I don’t think anyone’s going to be disappointed.
“I’m also the first actor to go from Stargate to Star Trek, which is a nice touch.”
And while debate rages over the new Star Trek and if it’s a remake, reimagining or really something else, Paul says revisiting classics isn’t something he intends to do a lot of us – unless it’s a certain Steve McQueen film.
He said: “Classics are called classics for a reason and shouldn’t be touched. Having said that, who wouldn’t want to be Steve McQueen in Bullitt? What an incredible film that was – and how cool was he in it?”
“But for now I’m concentrating on the new season of Atlantis and having fun – I may be single but that’s no reason to be dull.
“Then I’ll be heading over to the UK to try and see what’s happening.”
Of course the plum job in Science Fiction is said to be up for grabs soon – that of Doctor Who – and would he want it?
He jumps in without hesitation: “Who wouldn’t want to be the next Dr Who? But I think it’s doubtful they would give the job to two Paisley boys in a row.
“And David has been incredible in the role. He would be a hard act to follow.
“But it would be great, as would working with the likes of Ricky Gervais. Extras and The Office were both incredible.”
One person who might not be too happy about him gaining his second doctorate is his brother – who’s a real-life medic with just one doctor qualification.
He said: “My brother just became a doctor not long after I did – on Stargate – and I used to call him and ask him how to pronounce jargon and then when he finished his studies I said ‘well done, now there’s two doctors in the family’ and the response was ‘piss off!’.
“But my family rip the mickey out of me all the time. We may have moved away from Scotland, but they still have the sense of humour that keeps you grounded.”
And while his family may not love him – or pretend not to – his fans certainly do.
And while some moan about fans, Paul can’t see him ever being that ungrateful.
“I could never see the fans as a burden or a problem.?
“As an actor, you want people to appreciate the work that you do, so how could I ever moan about people getting so engaged in the characters I play – it’s a compliment to me and to the people who write/create the characters.?
“Meeting with fans is a joy as well because they show you what they think of the character and their take can sometimes be totally different from yours.?
“There’s also another point of view that shows – from a business perspective – that I have an audience and a fanbase?
“But no, fans will never be a burden to me. I’m flattered that they take the time and spend the money to enjoy my work.”
Paul’s also concentrating heavily on keeping his workload strong, which means he won’t be at many fan conventions this year. A trip to Milton Keynes in May is as good as it got for him.
“I may manage a few more,” he says, “but the best way to find out where I’ll be is by checking my website at
“Cons like DragonCon I try to get to every second year.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky with the fans so I try to make sure that I get to see as many as possible to thank them for their support over the years – but sometimes you can’t get along because of filming or other work-related matters.”
But in the meantime, while waiting for his Taggart corpse call, Paul will just have to content himself with his treks amongst the stars – and his larks on Earth.
He chortles as he says: “David has always called the place I live the Ivory Tower – it’s a really nice flat and he’s always called it that.
“As for children in my future, well let’s just wait and see. I’m single just now and have my fun.”