Indy Pop Con celebrates different aspects of popular culture from movies and TV to comics and YouTube stars. During the con, I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Hogan and attending his panels. Michael Hogan is an accomplished actor, best known for his roles on Battlestar Galactica (Colonel Saul Tigh), Teen Wolf (Gerard Argent), and as the voice of Bailey from the Mass Effect video game series.
The first panel began with the moderator asking Michael about his early life and career. His father was a prospector, and he grew up in the bush in northern Ontario, Canada. He went to high school in North Bay, but he quit in twelfth grade and hitchhiked across the country for a couple of years. In 1967, he ended up in Toronto; at the end of the summer, he decided to go back to high school so he could get his degree and go to college. He went to a different high school than before. One day, while walking to class, an English teacher approached him and informed him that the drama club wanted him to be in a play. At first, he didn’t want to be in the play, but he enjoyed the experience enough to want to try acting with professionals at least once. He applied to the National Theater School in Canada and quickly forgot about it. He was working in a mine, planning to work and save for college, when he got the acceptance letter.
During his first year, he noticed “the prettiest girl in Canada,” who was in her third year. After she graduated, he ran away with her. Michael and Susan Hogan did a lot of regional theater together before his first movie. His first film role came about because they needed someone to fight Peter Fonda in High-Ballin’.
The conversation then moved to Battlestar Galactica. He almost didn’t audition because the role was for another military guy. He reconsidered, telling the audience, “Edward James Olmos is playing Adama; he doesn’t just do things; he does things for a reason. And Michael Rymer is directing it. My wife and I saw an independent film called Angel Baby a few years prior to Battlestar Galactica came on the scene, and we’re Canadian, so we do these kinds of character driven, low budget dramas.” The film, written and directed by Rymer, impressed the couple. These factors made him think that “there is something to this Battlestar Galactica.”
“I went and auditioned. Michael Rymer is the kind of director who loves the business, he loves actors, and he loves working with actors. So when you go into an audition room with someone like that, it is totally worth the experience.” They worked together for twenty minutes in the room. A couple of days later, he was called back, and Rymer wanted him to do something about his accent. “Is there no Canadians in space?” The audience laughed. Even though others got to keep their accents, he dropped his and got the part.
When asked if he knew about being one of the five, he said, “I had no idea. We knew that the final five were going to be revealed in a certain episode coming up and as it got closer to it, of course we were guessing and teasing each other on set. Someone told me they had been on the net looking at the likelihood of anybody on Battlestar Galactica from like day players to Adama, their likelihood of being a Cylon, and I was the second to the last.” As the reveal drew closer, Rymer asked if someone had spoken to him. Ron Moore eventually flew up to Canada and informed Michael that he was one of the five Cylons. “I vehemently disagreed. I thought it was cheap, and they did it for the sake of surprise, and I thought they were better than that. It’s foolish and cheap.”
Although he was against the revelation, the writing is what turned it around for him. “In the long run, look at what they wrote for Battlestar in [season two], look at what they wrote for Tigh in that season. I’m so proud of what we did down there on the planet with the resistance. So when the Cylon thing came up, you know, I’ll fight it, but I got to go with it. Not that I had any choice, really, but [Ron Moore] was dead right in both instances (the other being about Tigh’s wife). To choose Tigh, he was the most human of everybody alive. He is the most loyal. He is the most dangerous because he had been fighting the Cylons forever, a lot longer. And if he isn’t the oldest human being alive, literally, or close to it, so to choose him to be a Cylon. Wow. I agree, in the long run. And I’m honored.”
The moderator asked how he got into working on video games. “Getting into that is easy because they asked me to do it.” He drew on his past experience performing radio plays and book and poetry readings. “I have done a lot of voice work in that, so voice work for video games is the same thing, but it is different. It is more strenuous.” He is not a gamer; he held up his flip style cellphone and joked, “If you email me, phone me and tell me.”
The discussion moved to Teen Wolf. Michael came aboard the show during season two. The self-described journeyman actor was contacted by Jeff Davis, the creator of the show and fan of Battlestar Galatica, and offered the part of Gerard. “What a gift that was,” he said. He thinks the show “rocks,” and said being on the show was fun.
The panel ended with Michael Hogan recounting the first day of shooting on Battlestar Galactica. The first day of filming was the scene in the room with all of the coffins. Adama walks around and gives his speech. At the end of the scene, Adama returns to where he started the speech. It was Edward James Olmos who urged everyone to increase the emphasis of “So say we all” on each repetition. Afterwards, Michael realized that they “were in for a ride.”
And then he gave us a Battlestar sendoff:
Michael: So say we all.
Crowd: So say we all.
Michael (more emphasis): So say we all!
Crowd: So say we all!
Michael was not pleased. “ATTENTION! On your feet, maggots.”
We obeyed our Colonel and stood.
Michael: Gods damn it! So say we all!
After a better performance of the “So say we all” refrain, our Colonel yelled, “Dismissed!”
On the last day of the convention was his second panel, which was the panel for the Not Another Teen Wolf Podcast. The hosts interviewed Michael Hogan for episode #128. After the panel, I cautiously approached him, calling him “Mr. Hogan” of course, and told him that I’ve been to many conventions and attended several celebrity panels. I can tell which celebrities are just there to pay their rent, and I’ve been around some standoffish and rude celebrities. I told him that I appreciated how much he loves his fans and how much joy he has in sharing his stories with us.
He looked me in the eyes and told me how much he appreciated hearing that.
And then he hugged me.
Thank you, Mr. Hogan, for the best con experience I’ve ever had.