Richard Hatch's Last Director on His Unflinching Commitment and Seeing Their Film in His Final Days

The 'Battlestar Galactica' star put aside pain to make 'Diminuendo' a fitting bookend to a long career: "He was able to watch it a couple of times before he went, and he loved it."
Courtesy Bryn Pryor
'Diminuendo'

The sci-fi community suffered a big loss Tuesday with the passing of Battlestar Galactica star Richard Hatch, who had privately been battling pancreatic cancer for several months.

Before his death, one of the actor's last wishes was to watch his final project, the sci-fi film Diminuendo, in which he stars as a once-celebrated filmmaker picking up the pieces years after the suicide of his starlet girlfriend.

Diminuendo director and the team Bryn Pryor worked tirelessly to complete a cut for Hatch to see, with them planning on hosting a screening later this month for the actor. But when Hatch's health deteriorated, Pryor showed him a cut of the film on a tablet rather than waiting for the screening.   

"He was able to watch it a couple of times before he went, and he loved it. That felt really good to me, because it was important to him," Pryor tells Heat Vision of Hatch, who was known for starring in both the original and the 2004-09 reimagining of Battlestar Galactica.

Pryor was among the loved ones at Hatch's side when he died, and though many of the star's friends didn't know he was sick until after his death, the director thinks Hatch confided in him partially because the project was so important to him.

"Richard told me, 'Look, if you need ADR [automated dialogue replacement], you need to do it soon,'" recalls Pryor of the conversation that led to him learning how serious Hatch's health issues were.

During the Diminuendo shoot last year, Hatch himself did not know how sick he was, as he suffered from what he thought were just stomach pains. The actor prided himself on never missing a day of shooting during his 50 years in the business, and declined his director's offer to rework the schedule on his bad days.

"He wouldn't have it. It's a pretty heavy role, anyway, and on those days, they were days when he was supposed to be pretty beat up. His character starts off the movie with some serious substance abuse problems, and Richard just used it," Pryor says.

The team had a long break over Labor Day Weekend 2016, and afterwards, Hatch told Pryor he'd seen a doctor and that he had a blockage of some sort. That may have been when he found out about the cancer diagnosis, but Hatch didn't confide in the helmer at that time.

"I think by the time he found out, there wasn't really a lot to be done," says Pryor. "And he was just going to push on and keep going as long as he could go. He didn't want to burden people."

Pryor came up watching Hatch on the original BSG, and the two first worked together on the short Cowboys & Engines. Pryor had always been a fan, but watching Hatch work up close showed him just how impressive an actor he was.

Pryor and writing partner Sarah Goldberger penned the Diminuendo role specifically for Hatch. The film provided a lot of heavy material for the actor to dig into, with his character Haskell Edwards being asked to direct a film about his late girlfriend Cello (Chloe Dykstra), and becoming attached to the life-like robot who plays her in the film.

"I told him, 'I want to see you play the most f—ed up human being on the planet, because A) it's something nobody expects from you and B) I think you'd be amazing,'" recalls Pryor of his pitch to Hatch. 

Diminuendo will screen later this month for friends and family in honor of Hatch's memory, with stars from his other projects expected to quietly attend the private event. 

"I'm really glad at least he had this chance to show people what he is capable of, because it's just stunning. The people who've seen the movie … everyone is struck just by how wonderful Richard is," says Pryor.

Here's a look at Hatch in the film: 

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