Just a few weeks ago FACTS announced Richard Dean Anderson and that made my day! Richard Dean Anderson played the role of one of my childhood heroes: Angus MacGyver. "Macgyver" ran from 1985 to 1992 over 139 episodes. He is also known for his role of Jack 'O Neill in "Stargate SG-1" (175 episodes, 1997-2007).
First of all: "Who is Richard Dean Anderson?" Anderson was born in Minneapolis (Minnesota) in 1950. He was the oldest of four brothers. As a child he dreamed of becoming a professional (ice)hockeyplayer. This dream ended when Richard broke both of his arms at the age of 16, but he kept his love for the sport. Growing up he was quite the adventurer. Besides hitchhiking and hopping freight trains, at the age of 17 he took a 5641 mile long bicycle trip through Canada and Alaska. He developed an early interest in acting, music and art and tried to become a jazz musician for a short time (his father was an accomplished jazz bassist). Richard studied drama at St. Cloud State University and Ohio University, but he dropped out just before receiving his degree. He travelled to New York and San Francisco and eventually he settled in Los Angeles. He had multiple jobs (street mime, juggler) and he even worked at Marineland as a whale handler. He also wrote and directed the show. Richard describes this period as the happiest in his life. In this period he also played in theatres and he even joined a rockband. In 1976 he got his first serious role as Dr Jeff Webber in "General Hospital". After five years he left the show and he appeared in a few other tv series. In 1985 however he was cast for his role as Angus MacGyver in ABC's "MacGyver". And the rest is history....
In the weaks leading up to FACTS it came to my attention, that there are people who don't know Macgyver....( OMG!)...so before I can start my story about FACTS, there is another question to answer: What is the story of Macgyver?
"Macgyver". The show revolved around Angus MacGyver, a secret agent for the US Governement and a troubleshooter working for the Phoenix Foundation. Sounds very James Bond-like right? Wrong! Macgyver is the classic anti hero. He is educated as a scientist and worked as a bomb team technician during the war in Vietnam. He is afraid of heights and he doesn't use weapons, well except for his Swiss Army Knife. With this, his practical application of scientific knowledge and inventive use of common items (like a paperclip or Duct Tape) he can solve the most difficult problems. There is actually a very simple and short answer to the question "Who is MacGyver?" and that is this one: Macgyver ís a hero!
Photo op Richard Dean Anderson
Back to FACTS. I bought my photo op ticket for Richard Dean Anderson online, because I was afraid it would sell out. And it did! In fact, FACTS decided to fill up the empty slots in their photo op schedule with extra shoots for Anderson. With this in the back of my mind I knew I could expect a huge queue. And oh my God it was! Normally I wouldn't mind it that much, because normally Carola is with me in line. And we always have a lot to talk about...hey we are women, what can I say. But now Carola was not there and minutes seemed like hours. By the time the line began to move( I was in it for more than a half hour already) I counted everyone in line for Ray Park, I read the print on the photo op ticket over and over again ( I knew it by heart), I checked my Facebook a dozen times, had a talk with Carola over Whatsapp and mastered the art of looking like a doofus. But then it moved!!! I was over the moon and kept thinking about all the things I could say to Mr. Anderson. And then the moment came.....it was my turn! I walked up to my childhood hero and I absolutely froze. I shook his hand and my mind was blank. All I could do was make a sound, that should have sounded like "Hi, how are you?'", but I actually sounded like a cat (while being strangled). But Richard was very nice and started reading my shirt. In the meantime I was still trying to pull myself together and stop looking like a complete douchebag (well I failed lol). The photographer took the picture and yes there was the strangled cat again. Walking out of the photobooth I couldn't stop smiling and looking at the picture you can see how happy I am. I made my way back to the Q&A area and was happy to see, that Louise Brealy was still on stage. After Louise's Q&A it was Richard's turn...
Q&A Richard Dean Anderson
The Q&A was great. Richard looked very relaxed and happy to be there. It was nice to see how much Richard's personality resembles MacGyver's. He actually talked about how MacGyver's personality was written around his activities in real life. When asked what the reasons behind these similarities were, this was his answer:
" Good casting...Actually what really happened
was that I get cast into the role, that's a long, old story..But once we started production and
scripts started being produced, they started
realising that my time off, any time off that I
had, I would go skiing in the mountains. Go the the ocean and get in trouble there. I raced cars
later on , when we moved to Canada. And played
hockey. What they started to do is, they started
to write around the things that I did..."
About his input in the show and the production proces he said:
"After about the second or third year, I started being a
part of some of the production meetings and throwing
ideas in. But it was the first big show I had ever done,
so I was, you know, at first very agreeing about
the production end of it, but quickly learned...
And then became a real brat..."
He also talked about how he hurt his back, while shooting MacGyver. It happened while shooting a scene and he immediately felt something odd. When he stepped on the ice that evening to participate in his hockey game,
his lower back felt like it exploded. He was paralyzed for 4 days after this and couldn't use the left side of his body. This injury is still haunting him today (he even had a "procedure to fix things" recently) and he warned the audience about reading the signs of your body and pay attention to them. When asked wich show he loved the most, he answered the following:
"Has anybody seen "Legend"? Really? Three..four, that's really
only my friends in the front here. That was the show that I
loved the most doing."
The show is about Ernest Pratt, a hard-drinking, womanizing writer, who has created a dashing literary hero called Nicodemus Legend. Because Pratt writes the novels in the first person a lot of people think Pratt and Legend are the same person.
"The author's name was Ernest Pratt, so I protrayed Ernest Pratt. But occasinally would
be forced to play Nicodemus Legend. Pratt was a drinker, a gambler, a womanizer...
uhm all the things that I love in life. Forget MacGyver, I was more like that guy at
the time....I kid....uhm and the character he was writing for is very like...you know
he is a hero and looked like one. He took postures of one, wearing beautiful matching
leathers .Anyway it was a lot of fun to play, cause it was unlike anything I had
It was a great Q&A and it was really funny to see Richard joking around. Carola had never seen MacGyver before (nor any other thing he played in), but she enjoyed it too. He was really relaxed and interacted with the audience. It was at that moment I decided to try to get an autograph on Sunday. That would be quite a challenge, because there was a huge queue in front of his table all day long on Saturday....
Will I get an autograph? And how was Richard's Sunday Q&A? Read all about it in the second part of "Meeting one of my heroes"...
To be continued (oh yes it's a cliffhanger!)... Check out part II!