Paul McGillion was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1969. His
family emigrated to Canada when he was just two. He returned
to Scotland during his early teens for a few years before
heading back to Canada. McGillion has a degree in teaching
and, while studying at university, got involved in various
sports and ended up becoming a freestyle wrestling champion
for a while. After graduating, McGillion began teaching theatre
in Toronto as well as attending auditions. He has worked extensively
in film, TV and the theatre for the last 12 years, as well
as teaching scene study at the Vancouver Film School. Sci-fi
fans may recognise him from one of many cameo roles on Twilight
Zone, Smallville, Seven Days and The
X-Files. Darren Rea spoke with him as the second season
of Stargate: Atlantis was due for release on DVD...
Rea: What was it about the part of Dr. Carson Beckett that
you were drawn to?
McGillion: When I read the pilot it was just such a great
read and I really loved the character.
I don't know if you're aware or not, but originally Beckett
was not Scottish - they didn't know what nationality he was
going to be. They wrote his part as an international character.
The casting calls were looking for an "international
I was born in Scotland and the pilot episode was so comedic
for Beckett that I thought it just fitted for him to be Scottish.
The casting agent wanted me to do an English accent, but I
just felt strongly about doing him as Scottish. I love doing
an English accent as well, but it's closer to my heritage
so I stuck to my guns and auditioned in a Scottish accent,
and thankfully they went for it.
was really the writing that attracted me to the role and,
subsequently, Beckett's role increased quite a lot in the
show. I never knew how many episodes I was going to be in
when I started.
Hard-core Stargate: SG-1 fans may also recognise you
from an earlier cameo...
Yes, in Season
One in the episode The Torment of Tantalus
I played Ernest Littlefield - the first person to ever go
through the Stargate. That was a neat role to have.
How do your parent's feel about you playing a Scottish character?
Are they proud that you turned him into a Scottish role?
Oh God, yes. I was born in Paisley, but left when I was quite
young. I went back there when I was about 12 for about three
parents have very thick Scottish accents and I thanked them
for helping me, inadvertently, to get the part. I'm
one of seven children, and when I got the part of Beckett
I rang my parents to tell them.
parents are quite elderly now, they are in their seventies.
I called them up and said:
Dad I've got a really great part playing a Scottish character..."
dad then shouted to my mum: [Scottish accent] "Janet,
Paul got a part playing a Scottish character."
he asked me: "What is it?".
he tells my mum: "Star Trek"
I go: "No! Stargate."
it's Stargate, Dad. Stargate: Atlantis."
not bloody Stargate! It's Star Trek! I've been
watching it for years, man!"
I go: "No! It's Stargate: Atlantis!"
goes: "Hey! Don't raise your voice to your old man! Janet,
Paul got a gig on Star Trek."
my mum comes to the phone and says: "Oh! Are you on Star
I say: "Er... yes. Yes I am."
they do know what I'm working on. They've been to the set
and they watch the show and now my dad's like: "Ah, that's
not bad! That's alright!"
You've guest starred on quite a few sci-fi shows. How did
you find the transition from doing a few days on a show and
leaving that role behind to living and breathing your character
It's nice being able to take a character and flesh them out.
While I wasn't on the opening credits, I really did feel like
a main part of the cast in the first season of Atlantis.
I know that the producers also thought that too. They came
to me after the Season One episode Poisoning the
Well, and said: "We'd like to make you a regular,
but we can't this season. We'll do it next season." And
they kept true to their word. That was a really nice compliment
great because you grow with your character when it's reoccurring.
It's also great when you come in to a show as a guest star
and then you leave the show behind, like you said, so you
have a smaller arc for the character. You have to look at
the longevity of the character, and hopefully this is a long
run. Hopefully you'll get to see the character grow within
that as well.
been fortunate enough as an actor to have the writing that
they give me. Beckett sits on dramatic aspects of his character
as well as comedic. He's had many different adventures and
hopefully they'll continue.
You also have quite a lot of technical dialogue. Can that
be a problem?
Sometimes, but you just have to do your homework on it. I'm
the doctor so I'm going to be hit with alien, medical, Scottish
jargon at times [laughs]. It can be a little tricky. Sometimes
I'll read it and go: "Are you guys doing this on purpose?"
I have a brother whose just finishing his PhD in medicine
and I call him up. He has a good Scottish accent too. So firstly
he'll tell me what it means, and secondly say it with a Scottish
accent. So I do my homework and I work very hard at trying
to make it come across as naturally as possible.
This interview is being held back until the DVDs for Season
Two are released. Can you give us a taste of what your
character gets up to in the second season?
Wait until you see Duet. That was unfortunate for Beckett!
It's kinda creepy David Hewlett [who plays Dr. Rodney McKay]
is still calling me for kisses. Duet was a lot of fun
to do. David and I are great friends and that was a really
great episode I thought - especially for him. He gave another
Didn't he unexpectedly kiss you before a take too...?
[Embarrassed] Erm... yes he did [laughs].
What was all that about?
I'm still wondering that myself, Darren. Yeah, I'm still having
therapy for it right now.
No tongues or anything then?
No! God, no! Come on. He's got bad breath and has lips like
character goes quite dark in the second half of Season
Two. And there are some really interesting moralistic
and biological issues that we are dealing with surrounding
the Wraith retro virus. That really effects the relationship
of the characters in various ways. They have a lot of burdens
on their shoulders - especially Beckett and Weir. We are basically
dealing with this retro virus that will, if executed properly,
in theory wipe out the Wraith. So we are looking at the survival
of mankind, but also the extinction of another race.
second half of Season Two gets quite dark in that aspect,
for the whole of the Atlantis team, starting with an
episode called Michael. Connor Trinneer [Commander
Tucker on Star Trek: Enterprise] guest stars as well.
Is there anything that you'd like to see your character do
in the future?
It would be really great if he got a cute, female, Swedish
nurse [laughs] as a sidekick. That would be amazing.
would be nice to see something of Beckett's history. We've
never seen his quarters, or anything like that. I think we've
seen all the other major character's quarters, so it would
be neat to see a little bit more about Beckett's personal
life. We had little glimpses of that in the pilot where he
pops in and he's talking to his mum and then in Letters
from Pegasus you see his mum feeding him haggis. But we've
only had an indication of his history so far, apart from some
descriptive stuff in Poisoning the Well.
really happy with the way the characters going. I've really
been blessed with some great storylines this season and last
season. So, I'm very happy with the direction that the character
is going in.
If you ever got bored of playing Beckett, or he was written
out of the show, how would you like him to go?
[Laughs] Hopefully as an apparition, so I can come back if
I want to. [Laughs] How's that answer? [Laughs]
Hopefully I won't be killed off. I guess I don't really think
about that. At this point I'm not bored. I'm really enjoying
it. It's a great time. I just love the cast and the writers
and producers. They all treat me really well.
Do you ever worry about typecasting? That you'll be attending
conventions as Beckett when you are old and grey?
No, it doesn't really bother me. I'm doing a movie in January
with David Hewlett, a comedy he wrote and will be directing.
It's a three hander with myself, him and his sister. It's
called a A Dog's Breakfast and I'm really looking forward
to doing that.
If you weren't acting what do you think you'd be doing now.
I have a teaching degree, so I'd be teaching in some capacity.
I really love teaching. If I ever stopped acting I'd love
to fall back into teaching.
Do you think you'd have ever taken up wrestling professionally?
[Laughs] Have you seen how big I am? No! I'd be a midget wrestler
Thank you for your time.
thanks to Alex Smith at DNA
Two - Volume One of Stargate: Atlantis is available
on DVD from 10 April 2006
this DVD for £14.99 (RRP: £19.99) by clicking
Atlantis - Season One Box Set is also available from 13
Order this DVD for £44.99 (RRP: £59.99) by clicking