Brothers Sig and Edgar Hansen have been Alaskan crab fishermen for most of their lives. It’s only recently that they’ve become celebrities — featured players on the Discovery Channel reality hit “Deadliest Catch,” which begins its third season at 9 tonight. The skipper and deck boss of the Northwestern came to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center last month to speak and sign autographs at the International Boston Seafood Show. Between cigarette breaks, they joined us for a chat.
Q What made you first decide to do the show?
Sig: We did it because of our family’s heritage. Fourth generation and all that. Our dad is a pioneer of the crab industry, so we thought it was kind of like a tribute.
Q How did other fishermen react?
Sig: Friends that I’ve known for 20 years turned their backs to me. We said, “It’s good for industry, you know? Don’t worry about it. We’re not going to do anything stupid on television. We’re just going to be professional.”
Q By now, do you think people in the industry have come around?
Sig: Absolutely. Now they see the flip side, what we predicted. The benefit.
Q You guys seem to have a little bit of sibling rivalry. What was your dynamic growing up?
Sig: It wasn’t the kissy-huggy family.
Edgar: Yeah, it wasn’t “I love you! Merry Christmas!”
Sig: And then think about it — your dad’s got three boys, he’s not exactly going to be all kissy-huggy with you, either, if he’s going to train you to be fishermen. And then when [Edgar] started fishing, I had already progressed to the wheelhouse at a young age. So then I can’t favor him because he’s family, so then he got it worse. Basically, I was telling the rest of the crew, just treat him like [expletive]. Make him feel at home.
Q (To Edgar) And did you feel at home?
Edgar: No. Not for three years. I was pretty much a fish out of water.
Q Did you ever consider doing something different? Not fishing?
Edgar: No . . . just waiting for Psycho Sig to settle down
Q Somehow on TV, you guys look like giants. In real life . . .
Edgar: It’s all camera angles
Sig: It’s a Tom Cruise thing. I’ve had women go, “You look so much taller on TV.” And my comment is, “You don’t have to be big to fish. Sorry. You’ve got to have heart.” I get that a lot, man.
Q I didn’t mean it badly! It’s just because it all looks so physically hard . . .
Sig: I’ve got friends that are skippers, they’ve had guys who are ex-military, big giant guys, [who] bawl out crying. They can’t do it anymore. You’ve got to have it in your head if you want to fish like that.
Q Have you gotten used to public speaking?
Sig: No. Not at all.
Q Is that the reason for the cigarettes?
Sig: (Nods, then starts to interview himself.) Do you smoke a lot? Yes. Today? Three. Do you smoke more when you’re fishing? Yes. Are you going to quit? Yes. We got hypnotized last week. It lasted for three days.