Tom McBeath interview
of publishing: 20th January 2006
Tom McBeath's film history is quite extensive (especially
considering he is primarily a stage actor). He has portrayed
a wide variety of characters, ranging from a poacher
to a priest and has received numerous accolades (including
three Jessie Awards) for his stage work.
Tom McBeath is also well known of the Stargate fans
for his popular role of Harry Maybourne. The Scifi World
got the opportunity to ask him some questions about
himself, his current works, Stargate and more!
Gilles Nuytens: Can
you firstly talk about yourself, what leads you in your
life as well as in your career, what do you like to
do in your free time?
I've two focuses in my life. The first is my partner
of 10 years, Karin Konoval, a fine actress, who shares
the second focus in my life, acting. Whether the work
is theatre or film & t.v. it is a profession that
challenges, excites, teaches, humbles and feeds me.
Karin not only shares those views but does the same
for me. The ups and downs in this business are considerable
and we manage to keep each other relatively balanced
As to free time I'm afraid at this point in my life
I'm mostly a blob. I don't do enough biking, camping,
carpentry, gardening or writing, all the things I like
to do and hope to do more of. I probably do a little
too much golfing but it does get me out in the fresh
Nuytens: What decided
you to become an actor?
In 1968 I had taken a job as a computer programmer for
Air Canada Finance in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I joined an
amateur theatre group in 1970 and enjoyed the fun, comradeship,
and parties. By 1972 I belonged to 5 amateur groups
and was spending as much or more time in the theatre
as my paying job. It was then that it occurred to me
that acting might be a career option. I entered the
University of Alberta acting program in Edmonton and
later attended the Playhouse Acting School in Vancouver.
Gilles Nuytens: You
play in an upcoming movie called "Beneath"
where Don S. Davis is also credited. Can you speak about
this movie, your role and your scenes (if you had some)
Tom McBeath: Beneath
was for me a one scene, one day job. You really don't
get to know the other actors or the piece very well.
It was a little scary as the scene was filmed in an
old mine processing plant on the side of a mountain.
I had to run down a set of stairs that was perhaps 400
meters long very steep and slippery. I was supposed
to have a limp and I was carrying a rifle. On paper
it doesn't sound that scary but I'm also afraid of heights.
At the end of the day the director seemed happy so I
guess I did the job. I didn't run into Don S. Davis
on the set but I do run into him from time to time here
in Vancouver. We've been friends long before he was
Your name McBeath is close
from the spelling of "Macbeth" who is supposed
to be cursed for a certain group of actors. Does this
had a good or bad influence on your career or on the
roles you got or didn't got?
McBeath: Macbeth/McBeath, they are both pronounced
the same. My father came from northern Scotland where
the name is not uncommon. Spellings in Shakespeare's
time were never consistent even in his plays and it's
probable that the two names are just two spellings of
the same name. Some actors are superstitious but I assure
them that if I'm there they'll be fine and then I whistle,
which is another bad luck superstition especially backstage.
To my knowledge I've never lost work because of the
name but then again I've never been asked to work at
Stratford, the big Shakespearean Festival in Ontario
in Central Canada.
Are you aware of the new evolution
of Stargate? With this new threat in the galaxy, do
you think or do you want to return for one or more episodes?
I think that there is a possibility that the planet
where we have last seen Maybourne is invaded by this
new enemy. So, a good opportunity?
McBeath: I'd love to return to Stargate. They're
great people and it's always been a joy to work for
them. I'm not aware of the new evolution of Stargate
but if it gets me back in the picture I'd be thrilled.
I'll wait for the phone call...
Nuytens: On what are
you working on right now and what are your plans for
I'm currently working on a French play called Six Miniature
Tragedies by Jean-Paul Wenzel whose also directing.
It's with students of the Studios 58 acting program
here in Vancouver. A very different kind of piece to
what I'm used to but that makes it exciting itself.
Gilles Nuytens: What
was the hardest thing you had to do for a movie/TV show
Tom McBeath: The
hardest thing, a movie called Run. Getting into a car
balanced on the edge of a 5th floor parking garage and
trying to remember my lines.
Nuytens: Your character
in Stargate is one of the character that have evolved
the most in the show, as you said before, from a boring
character, Maybourne became very interesting to play
and to watch for the viewers. What part of yourself
do you think you have put in him?
McBeath: The evolution of Maybourne as I understand
it was probably not a long range plan with the writers.
They developed the opportunities that presented themselves
in previous episodes. Richard Dean and I worked well
together for many reasons but essential to my characterization
of Maybourne was his determined but insecure mano-mano
attitude that proved to be fodder for the writers and
the playing of scenes.
In Stargate, there's something
like an alchemy between Jack and Maybourne and that
was one of the things that makes Maybourne so interesting
I think. Now without Richard Dean Anderson, and if a
return of Maybourne was possible, how would you see
his evolution with the other characters?
Tom McBeath: Now that Richard Dean
Anderson has diminished his presence on Stargate the
opportunities for Maybourne too may have diminished.
I hope not. Perhaps the writers will find some route
to keep him involved now and again.
Nuytens: Which Shakespearean
character would you like to do? And why?
Tom McBeath: Shakespearean characters.
I played many; Edmund in King Lear, Petruchio in Taming
of the Shrew, Iago in Othello and many others. Although
I've no real "must do" parts, any of them
would be welcome challenges.
Nuytens: How did you
enjoy playing George in "Who is afraid of Virginia
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. George has been one
of my very favorite parts. The depth and complexity
of the characters and plays in the American Classic
repertoire continue to amaze me. In the spring of 2005
I played Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman. Parts
like these demand all the talent, craft and hard work
an actor can bring to them. From the research through
the learning, the rehearsal and the playing, it's a
never ending growing process for the actor. You come
out of them with a deeper understanding of yourself
as an actor, a fuller understanding of what the profession
demands and a profound respect for writers. That's true
of any good play but it's perhaps because I'm North
American that writers like Albee and Miller hold a special
place for me. Then too it could be because I've finally
gained the experience to appreciate these masterpieces.
Gilles Nuytens: You
said once that most of the directors doesn't like working
with smart actors, why do you think that?
Tom McBeath: Smart actors. Boy do I
feel stupid. I know myself well enough to know I probably
said something that lame. It's possible this "gem"
came out of my mouth shortly after I was turned down
for a part I really wanted. Actors always find an excuse
for their failures. Further insight on this phenomenon
can be had by reading Simon Callow's "Shooting
What draws you to a role in
Tom McBeath: I
like material that is not obvious, not easily understandable
on the 1st read or even several readings. One of my
favorite novelists is John Galsworthy. He will sometimes
take two or three pages to describe a minute (as in
small) human quality that gets you right inside his
Thank you very much Mr McBeath
for this interview and for the time you took for answering
my questions. I wish you good luck with your career
and be looking forward to see more of you in the future!
Tom McBeath: Thanks for the interest.
by Gilles Nuytens for The
Scifi World / Stargate