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His colleagues just thought he was having stomach issues. But Richard Hatch, who died in February at the age of 71, never let his director or fellow cast members know just how much he was suffering while filming Diminuendo, the last film he completed before succumbing to pancreatic cancer.
“No one knew what was going on with him,” remembers Bryn Pryor, who co-wrote and directed the high-concept thriller. “He was such a professional. He was proud of the fact that he had never taken a job and canceled. He would shoot through any circumstance. [While making the movie] I didn’t know he would stop behind takes and throw up in the bushes. He took everything that was going on, as cliché as it sounds, and channeled all of that into his character.”
Hatch, best known to his legions of fans as Captain Apollo from Battlestar Galactica, plays a character named Haskell Edwards who falls for an up-and-coming actress named Cello (Chloe Dykstra). After she wins her first Oscar, she kills herself at 27. “She decides it will never get better and she doesn’t want to get old and irrelevant,” Pryor explains.
Nine years later, Haskell is hired to direct the movie of her life that will feature an animatronic version of the woman he once loved. “He’s obsessed with it,” says Pryor of the robotic version of Cello. “Haskell slips into madness.”
Several of Hatch’s scenes from the movie were screened at Comic-Con, including one where he’s directing the high-tech version of Cello. Pryor and his writing partner Sarah Goldberger left a seat open for Hatch at the panel.
Since filming was completed last year, Pryor said they were able to show Hatch a rough cut of the movie while he was in the hospital. “He loved it. I’m glad he at least got that.”
“This was not an easy movie for Richard to do,” adds Dysktra. “He wasn’t feeling so great when he did it, and I was amazed he would show up and shoot. He didn’t let people see and he gave an amazing performance.”
Pryor said he’s still working on distribution but hopes the movie will hit select theaters early next year.
Hatch was also honored at the Battlestar Galactica panel Thursday, where Syfy announced that it would be airing a full-series marathon of the show in September.