While we’ll have to wait until next April to rejoin Battlestar Galactica’s ragtag fleet in Season Four, in a week-and-a-half [Saturday, November 24, 9 p.m.], the Sci Fi Channel will premiere the two-hour BSG special, Razor. Razor fills in the gaps regarding how the Battlestar Pegasus managed to avoid destruction during the Cylon attack that kicked off the series. Recently, I was part of a conference call with Jamie [Lee Adama] Bamber. Bamber is a genial, voluble fellow and extremely eloquent. He addressed Lee Adama’s role in Razor and teased the fourth season, while also making known where he felt some of the program’s few flaws lay. It was the best teleconference in which I’ve participated in several years… So, ladies and gentlemen… Jamie Bamber!
I just wanted to ask (revisiting) your character at an earlier point before a lot of big thingshad happened to him like his marriage and what not – was it interesting for you to go backand sort of rethink where he was at that point?
Yeah, definitely. Yeah just on a nostalgic personal level it’s interesting to reminisce, you know, a couple of years in actor time and a couple of, you know, whatever it is – years in character time as well.
So yeah, definitely – I, you know, harking back to where Lee was and where Jamie was a couple of seasons ago. It was a lot of fun.
Can you talk in the movie about, you know, basically what it’s like for him and for your –kind of picking up when he’s first getting command of the ship?
Sorry, could you rephrase that?
Could you talk a little bit about, you know, what the dynamic is like for him in Razor since he is just taking over Pegasus?
Yeah. I mean, I remember it being one of the sort of pivotal moments in playing Lee – was that moment where he sort of puts on his father’s work clothes and takes the helm of the Pegasus in a crisis, which is the episode “Captain’s Hand,” which we made back in Season Two — which was, you know – was one of those crazy moments where I really did feel like the character has that goosebumps all over sort of thing where he’s become his dad.
So there’s sort of this difficult figure in his life that he kind of envied, looked up to, admired, worshipped, and also had a great many problems with – a man who he felt distant from and didn’t really understand, and felt was disconnected with his own upbringing and his own life.
So, you know, to get the chance in Razor to sort of flesh out that process with him gradually assuming command was really fun and really interesting because it was – you know, it was a quick thing when we shot it as part of the season. So it was nice to take a bit of time to sort of really look at how Pegasus was different and, you know, what that meant for Lee – and trying to sort of get the crew on board.
And, you know, obviously in Razor there’s this very significant other character — new character — called Kendra Shaw who represents the old Pegasus that has to be won over, and that’s largely what the story is about for Lee – is sort of gaining the respect of a crew that’s had its own leaders fall and get questioned by this other Battlestar.
And we’ve seen it from Galactica’s POV and now it’s time to see it from Pegasus’s POV.
I remember before this Battlestar Galactica was even a series, when the movie or the miniseries – or pilot, or whatever you all call it — was announced and some of the die hard fans of the original were so skeptical, you know, about everything.
A woman Starbuck, human Cylons – of course nobody had seen anything yet. And I was wondering what it felt like to be involved in the show when there was that skepticism and negativity around? And how aware of it were you? And how cool and gratifying is it today that the viewers turned out to embrace it the way that they have?
Yeah. No I remember it well. I’ll be honest though, to me it was exciting to have so many different opinions flying around. You know, most of the time as actors when you start a new piece of work you’re dealing with complete lack of knowledge. You know, you just do it and then the press publicity machine gets cranking and people start to get curious.
With this there was this innate curiosity and this immediate frenzied debate — if you’re going to use a polite word — or sort of a shooting match, you know, straightaway, as soon as it was announce. And then when it was – started to be cast, it represented so much for quite a sort of hard core bunch of fans.
And I personally, you know, wasn’t too scared by it because I knew the project was good. I knew the script was good. I knew it was better than the original just right from the words on the page.
So, you have…
You had the advantage of having seen the script, of course.
Yeah. I mean, I had seen the script and so I knew what was there. But at the same time, even that early script I had no idea really the direction the show would go and how political and how social, and how, you know, almost allegorical it would become.
And I had no idea that the mainstream, and even sort of high brow press would really champion it as, you know, a groundbreaking and thought provoking television. That I did not know would happen.
I knew we’d make it, you know, a good show. But I had no idea that we would: A, win over the die hard fans. I thought that was probably impossible; and B, I had no idea it would really strike a nerve and, you know, be touted as the number one show on TV by the likes of Time Magazine.
That was all a revelation.
It really was, and very gratifying. And the whole ride has been desperately exciting since then. And Razor represents, in a way, a chance to go back to the miniseries and make another miniseries, which is basically how I view Razor – is sort of an alternative miniseries – a pilot.
Don’t you think it’s remarkable, by the way, that science fiction – a show like this can oftenbe more topical and more on top of what’s going on than a show set in contemporarytimes?
I think it’s really gratifying that science fiction can do that and I think this is the first science fiction show on TV that’s really tried to do that for quite awhile. But that’s really, I would say, where science fiction comes from.
Science fiction has always been about the world in which we live and looking at the logical conclusions for the directions we’re headed in. I mean, that’s what, you know, H.G. Wells and Isaac Asimov, and George Orwell — and, you know, and the likes of the great science fiction writers. It’s what they’ve always been interested in
But maybe we lost sight of that post Star Wars and we got a bit too caught up in the surface of science fiction, in the – you know, the weird ass aliens and planets, and all this slightly juvenile side of it.
And I’m very grateful that, you know, Ron — from the very word go — he started his script with a sort of mission statement about what this show is going to be and he really wanted to ground it in the world in which we live.
And, you know, he and his writers — to their credit — really pushed it beyond what I even thought they were intending to do. And I know he raised a few eyebrows at the network and even with us, you know.
We were sort of excited by how close we were able to get to episodes like Abu Ghraib, much closer, you know, than you can when you’re turning a story set in the White House or set in Iraq — or in America — because, you know, you tell those stories and they’re immediately forgettable because they are exactly a mirror on the present.
And they also have to be aware of nuances of party politics and impartiality and all sorts ofthings like that. They have to tread a very fine line.
And never forget that television is a big corporate world, you know. I’m employed by General Electric, fundamentally, and there are sort of, you know, responsibilities within that world, that if you start sailing too close to the wind you can be edited and censored and changed.
You know, we have the privilege of being set in space and so nobody really raises – you know, puts the microscope on us. And we’re able to tell these stories in ways that are general enough to be resonant for future generations as well – I hope, and not just to be reductively about a particular era in sort of American politics.
A science fiction show can do a story about, say, racism and it’s not even – offend anybodyas long as the cultures are, you know, Venusian and Martian, you know?
Yeah, it can. The danger with it is that nobody really sort of examines their own life and nobody really questions their own choices. And they get too comfortable with the idea that this is about Martians and Venusians, or whatever.
You know, when it’s done really well, it’s not only about, you know, another context. But it’s also – the characters are so identifiable that you can’t help but involve yourself in their dilemmas and in their decision making. And, you know, the aim I would say of Battlestar is to really make a stink about our own civilization and what we do to ourselves, you know, on this planet.
What are some of the things that you like most about Lee Adama — not just as a character and as a person, but even the things that you’ve enjoyed playing, the things you enjoyed fleshing out?
Yeah. I enjoy his roundedness. The fact that he’s as comfortable, you know, having a discussion on Colonial One about some political or legal issue as he is in a Viper, you know, desperately trying to stave off a Cylon attack – Cylon Raiders.
You know, he’s a man of action and yet he’s a man of words, and a man of thought. I like that sort of renaissance element to him, that he’s a fully rounded, engaged human being in every fact of his, you know, albeit somewhat bleak existence.
You know, he does explore every aspect of that existence. And over those four seasons, I think more than any character in the show, he has been sort of an aerosphere of this fleet and tried to make a difference.
And, you know, as an actor that’s great fun to play an action sequence one day and the next to, you know, have a forlorn monologue, you know, of quite some complexity in an argument that has to sway a whole fleet.
So it’s the balance of all the parts that make Lee, for me, great fun to play.
What did you make of the basic concept of Razor – a prequel kind of building to the newseason, to fill the hole between, you know, repeats and new episodes?
The basic concept I was really, really in love with – I thought it was very bold, different. You know, every one of us in the Galactica family has always nurtured a not so secret passion to try and make a movie out of the show because there are so many things that on a week-in, week-out one-hour drama that you have to compromise on budgetarily and in terms of storylines and how much you can fit into 44 minutes of a narrative.
It was great to, you know, tell a longer story and to have a bit more money to throw at it. And to tell a huge arc, you know, that – to go right back from before the miniseries, before the very first shot that we ever picked up on, on the show, and go right the way through to the back end of Season Two.
It was a huge script in its ambition and it tried to introduce a new character, which I thought was a great way to reintroduce a different angle from the Pegasus angle – to see it all from a pair of eyes that we haven’t actually met before, that will have to meet all the main characters all over again.
I thought that was a very worth endeavor and a good way to bring in new audience members to Battlestar, you know, before a third season or fourth season being aired.
You know, structurally it’s very ambitious – Razor. And I know we’ve had some problems, you know, editing it and making the story clear, and the story work. But when I read the script, I was really excited and it sort of invigorated me yet again to start another year of Battlestar. It was nice to start from the beginning again.
How sad are you to see the show go? And is there something to be said for going out on top or is it too early for your case?
No, I think it’s a good time. You know, the – we’ve been saying from the very first season that the most important thing is to be able to finish this story in a way that is up to the people that create the story, and not up to the audience or up to a network, or up to, you know, the sort of financial criteria of what it is to make a TV show.
It should be about ending the story because the story begs an ending. And that’s the first and foremost thing about having ended. I mean, I think it is sad. I think there’s always nostalgia.
It’s been an amazing learning process for me personally and this experience is, without doubt, the most interesting and rich one I’ve had as a professional working actor. And I’ve learned everything from everyone around me, so it’ll be very sad to sort of disband the team.
And every day that we’re up here in Vancouver, there is an element of nostalgia about moments passing and little scenes that will never be revisited, and sets maybe that disappear because, you know, they’re gone forever. So that’s all, you know, very sad.
But, you know, personally I also – I look to the future and we all do. And I’m very keen to do other work and to test myself in other ways. So it’s positive nostalgia about, you know, all good things are only – in their ripening do they become truly, you know, tasty and edible.
And I think once Galactica is finished and the story is finished, it will be more perfect than it would be had we, you know, been cut short. So it’s inevitable.
The Razor movie is mostly in flashbacks, but there also seems to be some hints of what’s tocome, can you talk a little bit about if you’ve seen elements from Razor in the episodes tocome that you’ve shot already?
You know, that was one of the other things that I thought was really clever about Razor, is that it did sort of lean forward and beg some questions about Season Four and the direction we were going.
I thought it was – it had a bit of everything in it. I will just comment that I haven’t actually watched Razor yet, so everything I am talking about…
It’s really good. You should take a look.
Well I’ve got it in my bag and I do mean to watch it, but I haven’t had time. So – and I know they had to make some pretty big changes with the editing, so I – everything that I say is based on what I shot and what I read in the script. So it may not be 100% accurate.
But yeah, I know they are, you know, very conscious of fulfilling the hybrid Starbuck element. And that – I think that was the main thing that they introduced, which was a new seed about the direction that we’re going.
And obviously Season Four opens up literally seconds after the strange reappearance of Starbuckthat happened at the very last couple of frames in Season Three. So it’s very much the first question served up to the audience, is, you know, what’s going on with Starbuck? And that sort of occupies a good chunk of the drama and the interpersonal relationships in at least the first half of Season Four.
So, you know, that’s not shrugged off. It’s definitely addressed.
You’ve talked very eloquently about what science fiction has been able to do to this series.Were you – did you have that same feeling before you took on this show? Were you a fan ofsci-fi or was it something you thought, you know, that may be so special effects heavy itwould not allow me to be an actor?
Yeah. I did have reservations about doing sci-fi. And when I first got the script, it definitely didn’t make me leap off the seat and grab it. I really did think – sci-fi, in my mind, had been reduced to sort of post Star Trek sort of kind of goofiness on TV. I would never, ever watch it – not in a million years.
So it was something that was definitely – was a leap for Stephen to pick up the script and to sort of think of it as something that I would want to do. But I really can’t stress enough, as soon as I did pick up the script, open the first page and read that mission statement that Ron had written at Dave Eick’s behest to try and sort of temper the bitter taste of reading a script called Battlestar Galactica.
I was enthralled by the ambition, by the – just the chutzpa really of what he was trying to do. And then as I read the story, it wasn’t about special effects. It was about – it could have been a US Marine aircraft carrier in any conflict of the 20th Century. And it just gripped me, the idea of this ship lost at sea and all hope of landfall is gone – and the people on board desperately trying to make sense of the bigger picture.
So as soon as I read that, I – we really all kind of latched onto that element of truth in the story. And we’ve all, I think, forgotten that it’s space or we tried to.
I mean, I have to be honest, there are elements in this show that still sit uneasily with me becausethey smack too much, too readily of sci-fi and I think we could have been even more bold at times. But it’s also very important to bring in the core sci-fi audience who are an audience that I’ve now come to know and really appreciate.
They’re very inquisitive. They’ve got tremendously interested in our show and their opinions and arguments are fascinating, and educative. And, you know, they’re quite a bunch to sort of be involved in a dialogue with.
So the whole thing has been a revelation on that level for me. And I think sci-fi has got a lot to be said for it as a genre. I just – I sort of get a bit disappointed when people talk of it as a genre because it’s, you know, it’s a pretty heavy little niche in literature and filmmaking.
And at its best, it does – it’s not worthy of just being marginalized as a genre. It’s just good storytelling, good character writing and good situation plotting, and using situation as plot device.
And, you know, you think of Blade Runner and nobody really thinks of Blade Runner as a genre film. I certainly don’t and I think – hopefully our series has done that – dissolved the boundaries and the ring fence around sci-fi, and made it a bit more appealing to the mainstream.
And that’s certainly my little personal odyssey through this, is that I don’t, you know, I don’t marginalize sci-fi anymore. I just look at the story and see what’s there.
But you could – you said there were elements that you – that sit uneasily. Could you give me one example?
Yeah. I mean, you know, the whole – the Cylon world, every time we delve deeper and deeper into that it – to me, it just becomes a bit reductive and, you know, these many copies of the same preacher having conversations on these futuristic looking ships which are so different from the sort of moth-eaten and dinged up interior of the Battlestar, which just works for me.
There are elements like that. I’m not – I don’t particularly like the kind of – the mystical deus ex machina process. It seems to happen with the plotlines of the show – suddenly revelations are made and people seem to be seeing visions, and dancing to some kind of distant, preordained, you know, sort of almost mythical journey.
I think our show works best in the cut and thrust of sociopolitical drama, and the decisions that humans have to make rather than suddenly, you know, feeling like we’re all on some preordained odyssey through space and time to the founding of humanity as a dictator, some, you know, monotheistic creator that we haven’t yet met.
Those elements of the show are interesting as long as they are also inexplicable and open to being questioned, and doubted. And I think sometimes in the show, that sort of miraculous event has been somehow too miraculous to be readily deniable, you know.
There was an episode in Season Two where the skies – we were in a cave and then the skies opened up, and you can see the constellations, and it’s the map to Earth — and it’s all stuff like that. Those sort of moments to me – I don’t think are my favorites in the show. But I know some people love them.
Now one technical thing – how far along are you in shooting this last season? How many episodes to go? How far – about halfway, a third, two-thirds?
We are just over halfway. We embark on Episode 12 on Friday.
I assume you know what happens to Lee at the end of it now. Did you have a vision? Did you have any idea of what you’d like to happen to him?
I actually don’t know what happens to him at the end of it now because I’ve only read up to Episode 12 and we have 10 more scripts to go – and they’re not written. So I don’t know.
I know where he is now and I would never really have expected him to be where he is now, to answer the first question. And the other thing is, no I kind of like being in the dark as to where the character is going, and I haven’t tried to steer too much, you know, in terms of my likes and dislikes, and wants, and fears for the character.
I like to be surprised by what the writers offer. And once it’s offered up, then sure, I sometimes, you know, get back to them and say listen I’m not really sure about why we’re doing this or what you hope to gain by this.
And, you know, the writers are so talented on the show that they’re not threatened byconversation and exchange of thoughts on things. And we’ve done that several times. And then I get involved in the sort of more minutia of the different choices that Lee makes.
But the bigger, you know, swings and changes that happen all come from Ron and his writers. And, you know, like the character I enjoy the surprise of future events rather than having them mapped out and having a sort of checklist of things that I’d like the character to do.
It’s much more interesting just to sort of be in the character’s shoes and then out of the future to sort of surprise him.
You said earlier on that both you and Lee have changed in tandem during the course of the three-and-a-half, four years. How do you think you’ve changed?
Well I – in so many ways. I started off this job, I was in my twenties and single. And although I was involved with my now wife, we got engaged, got married, had three children during the span of this last five years. We moved to LA via Vancouver.
And I sort of – in terms of my personal life, it couldn’t be more different. And then I’ve had the amazing experience and fortune to work with people that are inspirations like – people like, you know, Eddie Olmos who is not just my onscreen dad. He’s my American Californian dad now that I live in LA.
And, you know, he’ll be a lifelong friend — Mary McDonnell, likewise — and they’ve taught me so much about, you know, not just the work and how you can act better and be better, and, you know, tell stories in a costume better. But, you know, how to be a, you know, good human being and someone like that on the set, someone who’s liked and respected, and that people want to work with.
And Michael Rymer, similarly – you know, he’s an Independent Filmmaker, Writer, Director who I’ve had a chance to work with on about 30 episodes of this show. And it’s – you know, you can’t help but learn from someone like that.
And then Ron and David in particular. You know, Ron’s writing and storytelling, his decision making, his crafting of big arc, and David’s sort of savvy sense of know what an audience wants to see – I will never forget. And they’ve sort of opened a passion for me to go into that kind of, you know, Writer/Producer sort of mode.
And I would dearly love to do that. That’s something that I’m trying to pursue.
Have you earmarked any bit of the set or any bit of your costume as a souvenir to take away with you?
Yeah. Oh yeah, definitely. Well, I actually swiped my dog tags after the miniseries because I wasn’t even sure we would go to a series. I’ve already got them in the bag.
But the flight suit – I think if there was anything in particular that I would love to take, it’s the horrendous green flight suit that we wore in all those cockpit Viper scenes. I would love to have that.
As for the set, no – I can’t see myself getting my chainsaw out and sawing off a corner of the CIC or anything like that. But, you know, definitely items of wardrobe, I think those flight suits – I was thinking about it the other day — that would look good framed, hung on the wall. So I think I might do that.
Battlestar Galactica is a very entertaining show. It’s also a very challenging show. Thereare echoes of Abu Ghraib and Mai Lai, and Palestinian suicide bombers and so on and so forth.
Can you comment on how Battlestar has sort of walked to that thin line – to what extentyou think this has been a successful experiment and how you think this might survive afterthe end of the show?
I think the key to anything like that is to show both sides and to have you – have the audience abled – and I think the thing about Battlestar is every single character is empathetic and also antipathetic at the same time in equal measure.
You know, the bad guys of the show — the Cylons and/or Gaius Baltar — all deeply loveable, empathetic characters that at different times in different moments in the stories, you can totally align yourself with.
And the suicide bombing one is, you know, the perfect case in point in that, you know, in our show the suicide bombers were not the bad guys – but were the good guys. And they were making mistakes and they sort of admitted – and the fallout from the suicide bombings mastered a whole season of guilt and recrimination, and repercussions.
So – and that’s the other point, is that nothing is done simply for the effect. We desperately do try and explore the fallout and the aftermath, and the consequences. So it’s not irresponsible sort of opportunistic, sort of headline grabbing, media mirrors that we’re playing with.
We’re really trying to put – and this is what drama is ostensibly, is to get the audience to be able to put yourself in a position that you would not otherwise perhaps experience in your everyday lives.
And when drama is good, that’s what it does. It puts you into an extraordinary position.
And along those lines, what – Battlestar is a very unique show, very different from the original Battlestar Galactica, very different from anything science fiction on TV right now.
What do you think will be its legacy, you know, ten years down the road when people lookback on Battlestar Galactica, sort of seminal show? How do you think people will regard it?
I think people will regard it as groundbreaking television in every way because not – in the way it’s shot, the way we use multiple and very, very free-ranging cameras, the story arcs, the shape of the show telling one epic story. And it, you know, it is an epic. This is, you know, more akin to Homer’s Odyssey than it is to Desperate Housewives or anything on TV right now.
It is a quest and it is a search and it is a creation story. It’s a genesis – it’s Exodus, basically. It’s the book of Exodus in the bible. These are old, old sort of archetypal stories we’re messing with.
And I haven’t seen that on TV for a very long time, going back to, you know, the origins of story itself and where stories come from and explaining the birth of societies and civilizations.
So, you know, and there’s – in a sense, we’re doing something very old, but we’re doing it on the newest medium on television. So I think that’s what’s groundbreaking is that, you know, we’re doing something very old-fashioned and very simple, but something that maybe television has forgotten how to do or never knew how to do.
And I think the one thing that TV producers forget is that the one thing that TV can do better than any other medium is to tell these long novelistic stories with multiple – many, many characters. And often TV forgets that and spits itself inside a hospital or a courtroom and just stays there in the same location week in, week out and basically replicates what can be had in, you know, a decent movie or a soap opera.
So I would hope that Battlestar just lives on as a really, really good old-fashioned story that TV had the, you know, the balls to tell over 70/80 episodes and it’ll be enjoyable by future generations because it is complete and done, and finished.
I’m wondering how it feels to be a sci-fi sex symbol?
I – that’s not how I think of myself, but thanks for reminding me. It’s great, you know. I love when I meet fans and I see the excitement that they draw just from talking to me and meeting me, and sharing their – some insights that they have about the show and insights that I have about the show — and the anticipation.
There’s nothing better than that. It’s genuinely exhilarating to think of myself and to be reminded that some people do think of me in that way. So yeah – but, you know, it’s not real to my life at all as I see it reflected in other people and that’s exciting.
So you sort of mentioned the sci-fi fans – do you find that you’re getting more attention from female fans than from male fans?
No, I don’t. I find that the sci-fi sort of world that that really – express their love and really pursue their passion, you know, completely unisex. I find as many men come up to me and go I need you to sign this for my wife or I want this for my brother. We love the show.
The women tend to have a different angle when they do come up, but they are not outnumbered by the men, nor do they outnumber them either. It’s just one big band of obsession and love.
In what way do the women have a different approach than the men?
Well they – I mean, obviously they tend to request photos of me without my shirt on and stuff like that. And they get a little bit giggly at times. And the men don’t tend to do that so much.
But, you know, sci-fi is typically — or stereotypically a male dominated preserve and it’s all, you know, about teenage boys and teenage boys that never grew up.
But what I’ve found is that they are – at least with our show, anyways, there are as many women out there who love sci-fi and who love, you know, who love the show.
So if I can bring a few more women to the screen to watch it, then that’s great. But I’m sure I’ve done the same thing for men.
Because television is so fluid and there are so many different contributors between the time a script is written and it gets to the air, what kind of influence have you had on the development of Lee Adama, do you think?
Well I have had some. I mean, I have a very good relationship with Ron and David, and all the writers. And I have – I’ve had a constant – not battle with them, but my sort of refrain has been a gentle reminder every season really that Lee is not a sort of – a cardboard cutout, do-good, heroic type – that he is someone who has some very difficult opinions and beliefs.
And that is, he’s more pragmatic than idealistic or he’s more pragmatic than people might think And I – if there’s been a battle that I’ve had it’s to force him to the more interesting surprising areas where Lee becomes – well this season, you know, ambition is the thing that we’ve – that I’ve sort of tried to highlight in him which is not always an attractive quality and it can be a quality that causes you to have to trample on a few fingers and toes.
So I’ve always looked for those things in the character that make it more interesting and make his, you know, innately heroic nature more real and more of a struggle. And I know speaking to Richard Hatch who played the original pilot who was a – basically a two dimensional character. Richard was constantly trying to find a third dimension that sort of made this sort of innate nobility of the character more interesting just by creating the shadow in the darkness in there.
And the writers have done that. You know, they’ve created a very difficult past, a difficult relationship with his dad. They’ve created a – and he was a sort of chippy adolescent in the beginning of the miniseries which I had to come through. And gradually he emerged as someone who is unwilling to hold down the same job for any length of time because he is constantly looking for new challenges, that there’s an element to him which is sort of self-seeking, self-serving as well as being a good officer and community spirited and slightly self-effacing.
He has a genuine sort of ambitious desire to hold the reigns of power and to be, you know, over and above, a CAG over and above in front of a, you know, of an Admiral or a Commander, you know. So it’s been those things that I’ve pushed the writers into. And when I’ve – normally I think when I’ve made my case they’ve really taken it on board because it’s – Ron says it’s – he finds the hardest character to sort of make work on the show and I sort of understand that and it has been a battle but I think, you know, they’ve done an amazing job with him.
I think despite the general dark tone of the show at its core it’s always been about hope. And most people recognize that. At first it was hope lost and now hope rekindled. How does Razor play into that aspect of the series as a whole and can you maybe tease the upcoming fourth season just a little with your discussion on that?
Well, you know, yeah – Razor is going back to the very bleak pretext that the miniseries confronted which is just that, you know, unthinkable apocalypse suddenly striking. And we live that again but this time through the Pegasus story and with that particular little what its struggle to just survive those initial moments of terror and confusion and disorientation were.
And, you know, within that and towards the end of the season there is hope in the reconciliation of the old Pegasus crew with the new commander and the – and them sort of actually coming face to face and working together. And I don’t know if the hope is innate in the sense that we have since then lived through two-three season of Battlestar Galactica in seeing the world develop and society develop and human and Cylons begin to interact. And, you know, specific humans cross lines into final worlds and Cylons cross lines into the human world.
And I think if, you know, there is – I agree with you. The show is dark and it sort of inhabits this darkness very well and the premise is extremely bleak but as you rightly say that the whole thing is about survival and coping and the dignity of humanity in the direst of situations. And that – for me there is no more joyful thing than dignity in adverse circumstance because, you know, that’s the human condition fundamentally to be back in this difficult conscious brain that we all have with some difficult thoughts and yet knowing that life seems to be a slightly cruel circular (impetuous) thing that we won’t share beyond our 80 years or whatever it is we get to live.
And the things that make life worth living are the hope of future generations and joy within that time and I think our shows has been honest about that and honest about Adama and about mankind and if there’s a question that are show is about it is, you know, what is worthy and noble and worth saving about humans and humanity? And that’s really the question behind every season.
And this season as we embark on the fourth it’s really picking up the loose ends of Season 3. And the core of the story is really these four Cylons. They find themselves suddenly aware of being found and thought they were humans all their lives. And they are the – they’re for stake really. They’re sort of the (unintelligible) between the needle that oscillates between the humans on one side and the Cylons on the other and how these two different factions are going to proceed, whether they can live together or not.
So it will really tie it up in those four and how they cope with the knowledge that they are actually sort of inherently treacherous to who they thought they were. And I don’t know yet because I’m in the middle of Season 4 but that’s really the big question – is what future is there for these two different kinds of humanoids.
I guess a real simple question is leading up to the reveal of the last four Cylons like you just mentioned, on set was there a kind of a nervousness for people who didn’t really know if their characters were going to be revealed as Cylons? I mean, did people know that going into that part of the season?
The way it works is, you know, we tend to see scripts like an episode or two episodes in advance…
And before that occasionally, you know, the actors will get hold of a breakdown of the story which we’re not really meant to see but we do.
And that’s how the news spread. And I think all four actors that were revealed as Cylons were – well, certainly Michael Hogan in there and (Douglas) who were the sort of longstanding members of the cast were absolutely shocked and angry. They felt a sense of betrayal by the writers that they’d been portraying all this stuff which was nothing but empty lies, you know, in their eyes. And they really did feel a sense of the rug being pulled from underneath them.
I think the other two felt more excited because they’d been slightly more – Michael Trucco and Rekha Sharma had been slightly more on the margins of the show and this was a real indication that they would be at the core of where this, you know, show was going which is true. And that gradually became the opinion too of Michael and Aaron who have had some amazing stuff today in Season 4.
And they’re really, you know, they’re living this existential angst every second of every day of who are they and what are they responsible for and what – are their actions preordained in some way? Did they always have to make new decisions? Are their lives worth anything as a result? Are they traitors or are they heroes? You know, and did their interpersonal relationships with the characters around them then become immediately imminently complex?
So no, it’s – with things like that we get indications and we have opinions but you can’t really tell until the stories start coming through and I think they’ve all been really, really very pleasantly surprised. And we’ve all loved playing these stories there. It’s very interesting to have someone, you know, we all love bring out the best in us as a double agent but how much more interesting when a double agent is a kind of a Manchurian candidate who doesn’t know their own nature and gladly finds out it’s a really heady mix.
Right. And going into Season Four and kind of marrying the shows sort of as an – xenophobia have the other actors including yourself kind of caught yourselves acting differently in scenes with them, even subconsciously, or is it also…
Yeah, I think probably. Yeah, there’s definitely a sense in which we all obviously know in actors here they are and you just have to try and forget that. You try and put it to the back of your mind. But yeah, there is – there’ll beats and stuff which are written into the script of these four sharing looks in scenes when they’re involved in scenes together when the conversation takes a turn about Cylons or whatever and they realize that these humans are talking about them and they don’t know they’re talking about them.
But we have to, you know, do our best to be oblivious of it and just notice what’s on the surface. And, you know, occasionally there’s something inappropriate between them which, you know, but all that – all those different kinds of layers of truth within a scene, you know, at first could make the scene more interesting whether they’re conscious or not.
I know that now the show has kind of – has obviously taken off. But with merchandising going on now too there are toys coming out. Did you ever think that you would have a toy made in your likeness before? Or have you even seen it?
No, of course not. And I’ve seen some of them…
I’ve seen Adama and stuff like that. But, you know, the thing about I said it’s primarily and adult show…
So I wouldn’t associate it really with toys. And the toys that they make will be for big kids to buy.
I mean the collectors of this world more than anything. And I think, you know, when toys go crazy it’s like my friend Yellen in Fantastic Four and I walk into a shop and I see his stretchy man thinking now that’s pretty out there because you know that every kid in the whole world is going to have one of these things.
You know, with our stuff it’s slightly more niche. But yeah, nevertheless pretty damn weird to see a 6 inch – 12 inch doll of yourself. You know, I haven’s seen the one of me yet. But I’ve seen the one of Aaron and I’ve seen the Cylons and stuff and, yeah, that definitely is weird.
But you’ll eventually have one for your own desk.
Yeah – yeah, of course. I’ll grab one and use it to – I don’t know what I’ll use it for.
I was going to say I checked out Razor the other night. It’s very good, and I kind of noticed you’ve come full circle. You’ve almost become your dad now.
I was wondering what was it like to work opposite Stephanie because you were used to working with Katie all the time… and I was just wondering what Stephanie was like.
Stephanie is lovely. She’s Australian as you can tell from the show and, you know, a very different energy to Katie playing a different kind of character. And I think Stephanie had a very difficult job, you know, coming into a cast that’s known itself as well as we all know ourselves and know the story and know the myth of the show. We know the background. We know the background. We know the significance of details and things. And she had a tough job and I thought she, you know, she was a pleasure to work with.
I haven’t seen the show yet so I can’t really comment on her performance but, you know, she is a pleasure to have around. And it’s always interesting to introduce someone else to the show who hasn’t really been aware of it before and to see how they react. And it was like looking at myself, you know, a few years ago walking in and being, you know, sort of a bit stiff about the whole thing and, yeah, it was heartwarming to see her develop and grow within it and I look forward to seeing it evolve.
Right on. I also wondered when you were reading the script did the relationship between Cain and Gina – did that surprise you at all?
Cain and Gina – I – yes of course it surprised me. But, no, I really liked it. I thought – again, I haven’t seen it so I can’t, you know, fundamentally comment on how it looks but on the page I thought it was sort interesting. We’ve had quite a bit of flack over the years about not having a gay story line or a gay character. And I’m not sure whether it stands up at bat or not but I thought it was an interesting choice.
And yeah, it’s a texture that we haven’t seen and it’s maybe – I don’t know – in terms of the characterization of Cain she’s already a very rich character within the show, you know, within Season 2. I’m not sure she needed that extra sort of hard edged element to her character – or what Michelle thought about it but, yeah, you know, I – the things that surprise you in a script where you know so much about the world already are always interesting.
Do you know if you’re going to carry one of those relationships over into this season?
Well obviously the Cain one won’t because she’s dead.
I also read that the movie’s going to be hitting a few select theatres on November 12. I was just wondering, do you guys have any events set up around that?
You know, I think I do. I think I’m meant to be in Seattle. I think someone told me that. Yes, thank you for reminding me.
There’s been plenty of conflict with your father and of course you guys butted heads again at the end of last season over the trial of Baltar. What is the state of their relationship this season?
Well I – post trial of Baltar there was a kind of implicit acknowledgment as well that some truths had been told. They’re in a way more mature place than maybe ever before. And they’re acknowledging that they’re different men and that that’s a good thing and that they can understand and appreciate and respect that. And so they’re in a, you know, they’re in a good place. They don’t have – there are certainly not so many scenes with the two of them that’s in Season 4 but for good reasons, that they kind of understand and respect each other and don’t need to be butting heads.
What are your thoughts on continuing Battlestar Galactica on further direct to DVD projects?
Well I love the show to death as long as the writing continued to really push the boundaries and as long as there could, you know, as long as the script – it’s going to be tough because hopefully we’ll resolve this story. We’ll end the show. And so any future project would have to sort have to acknowledge that. And I think Razor is probably a good model to have gone on in that he does use a new character to re-introduce everyone to a completely different audience if you haven’t seen any of this stuff before and yet there’s stuff there for the seasoned viewer that sheds light on questions that you already had about stuff that you’d seen.
So that sort of tangential story line – I think that’s a good model to go for. So I – you know, if the quality was still there I would dearly love to, you know, pick up the role again and pick up the project again. And I’m sure it could be done with, you know, not the whole cast at every throw of the dice and to look at – examine different aspects of this big affect and the fleet and, you know, maybe even continue the story beyond the ending that we find.
I don’t know what the ending is so I can’t say how continuable (sic) it will be. But no, as a concept I’ve always sort of really deep down hunkered a wish to do at least one, you know, feature film with the kind of budget that we have never really been able to use to flesh out the world and to tell the stories that sometimes have appeared in the scripts that we’ve been unable to shoot.
David scooped up Katie for the Bionic Woman and Tricia for Them. Have you talked about collaborating with them on future projects?
No, not at all. Ron and David are best friends and, you know, I talk to them about all sorts of things. I would certainly like to work with them again at some point – that’s – no, that’s not something that, you know, that we have specific addressed.
I know you’ve worked with him before but working with Felix [Razor director, Felix Alcala] on the movie as far as a director can you maybe tell us a little bit about your experiences in that regard?
Yeah, Felix is a – he’s kind of a different character to the other directors. He’s got a certain thing about – he’s like a little General. He walks on the set and it’s his set suddenly and, you know, we may have been working on this show for eight months but now Felix is here and it’s his sort of thing. He brings his boom box and his little – he has his stand that he – he doesn’t sit down. He sits behind it and between takes his music comes on and he’s kind of a little one man Mardi Gras going on in the corner.
So he brings a very different energy to the set. Felix is very economical and very shorthanded with the way he puts his shop together. And I know the crew and the cast, you know, really appreciate that steadiness, the story telling steadiness about him. And he’s been really, you know, the helm for some of our most ambitious episodes – the Exodus episode in Season 2- 3 which he was Emmy nominated for and now Razor. So those are the two times he’s come off and both of them very successful.
So, yeah – and he’s a great guy. I mean, I like his energy very much and he comes from a very visual action background and he loves to tell – put action sequences together so that’s really, you know, what we’ve used him for and he’s done it very well.
I know you can only speak in sort of very general terms, going into Season 4 can you maybe tell us a little bit about your approach to your character this season and maybe how he’s further grown and developed in the ten or so episodes you’ve shot so far.
Yeah, I mean, this season he’s, I mean I’ve sort of said this every year and I guess it’s something innate to the character. He’s always looking for new challenges and he’s always trying to stretch himself and trying to contribute to those around him and I think the experience of Baltar’s trial has changed him completely, the experience of sort of re-engaging with the figure of the grandfather – this legal champion of human rights and having to examine the Baltar question and to except that, you know, to every angle there’s an opposite and that the fleet is a lot broader than justice acts as a power that Roslin and Adama share.
And that’s really the change that sort of fuels Lee in Season 4 that he can see that he’s been – he’s had a front row seat. It all was a big decision that the fleet’s made and it’s all a big decision to be made between these two people. And suddenly, you know, to see Baltar hung out to dry just because he’s not one of those two people and he doesn’t really share their – he’s not in their clique as it were – in their club and so he’s hung out to dry because his presidency was a failure.
And I think that well if he really doesn’t respect or like Baltar himself that reality dawns in me that for many, many people on this fleet they live in fear because they are completely without knowledge of what is going on or where they’re going or why they’re going where they’re going and how scary and nihilistic that existence must be.
And that catapults me into a new direction in Season 4 which I can’t really talk to you much about but it fuels a new side to him and he – it means that he butts heads with characters that previously he would not have butt heads with. And he finds himself in line with the characters he figured that he wouldn’t be in line to. And there’s a new side of me, a new ambitious side of me that comes out too which I find interesting, so.
I’m curious in relation to Lee and Tara, do you think those two characters, you know, are destined to be together or are they just sort of a disaster that keeps happening? What’s your take on that?
Yeah, well thus far I would say they are definitely a disaster that keeps happening. As to their destiny as I say I haven’t read the last ten scripts because they haven’t been written and I don’t know where they’re going to end up as yet. But it’s, you know, it’s definitely one of the many, many loose ends that this show is going to be addressing in the final season and, you know, it’s been, you know, the – perhaps the single most interesting relationship for me to play all the way through.
And I think the two have an amazing bit of magnetic affinity or repellent, whatever they have. They’re drawn and repulsed at the same time and they have to deal with each other at some point in this season. And that point we haven’t arrived at yet, so I can’t really say too much specifically about it.
I also wanted to ask – we heard a lot about when, you know, Kara seemed to die and that they were trying to kind of keep the secret that Katie wasn’t really off the show and that extended to some of you guys too. What was your take on that whole situation? Did you not know for awhile if she was coming back or not?
For, you know, for a few days. But, yeah, I didn’t know for a few days like everyone else but then – you know, it was one of those things, right? You understood what Ron and Dave were trying to do. They were trying to keep it secret but they – they went about it in a slightly mistaken and sort of ill advised way by asking one cast member to keep a secret and keep an act going from the people that she’s closest to and works with every day. And that’s not really conducive to a good workplace environment.
And they realized that after a couple of days and they brought, you know, five or six of us in on the loop and then we knew and some other people didn’t and it was all a bit confusing. But, you know, fair play, you know, they were trying to surprise the audience and it’s a noble endeavor. And, you know, I know this year suddenly the scripts have started to get locked down and we’re not allowed to e-mail them and all sorts of stuff like that.
And we’re really trying to keep Season 4 secret so that people genuinely can watch it and watch it without prior sort of inklings of what’s going to happen. And I think that’s a good thing. I mean, that’s a noble endeavor, so if it didn’t work with Katie’s thing and, you know, and the fact that she was coming back makes the death slightly less impacting anyway. And I think by the time she died everyone kind of knew that she was going to come back, so it’s just an indication of how hard it is in this internet era to sort of keep information fenced in, basically in…
I was curious if, you know, you’d heard anything more about Season 4 scheduling-wise since I know there was some talk of them possibly splitting the season over two years.
Yeah, I’ve heard nothing that’s for sure. I’ve been – I believe that is the plan to split it over two blocks of ten. I mean we always shoot these seasons with a mid-season climax. We’ve always had a break in the middle. I think in the way it aired never a long, long wait, six-seven months right when we may have this time.
But, you know I can understand why Sci-Fi would want to draw this thing out. It is, you know, great TV and you don’t want it gone. You want it to be savored. So that as far as I know is still on the cards, but nobody’s really talked to me about it since we’re in negotiations at the beginning of the year.
You did speak about how there’s already a little bit of nostalgia going on on set but I’m curious, knowing that it’s the final season has it otherwise sort of changed the energy at all knowing that, you know, these are the final episodes you’re going into?
Yeah, definitely. It has. I don’t think you can say the end is coming with anything and it not change the energy. I mean, we all live lives outside of Battlestar Galactica and we have to start, you know, addressing bigger questions like, you know, what’s next and where are we going to live and all those kind of things that we do on a show.
And that does change the energy and it does in some ways make every day more precious but it also has the opposite effect. You start distancing yourself and cutting off from what has been, you know, very much the half of our lives the last five years. You start letting go. And I’ve got an inkling that there’s going to be a bit of a body count within the show for awhile so some of us will probably be taking early baths and – from the show as well, so you have to start letting go.
You have to start thinking of other things and thinking, you know, what creatively am I going to do next and how I’m going to try and match this experience and that’s a very sobering thought that, you know, that some of us that may never get this kind of quality which writing for a TV show that we may never find ourselves so lucky again.
There’s been some tension between Lee and (Dee) and obviously continuing tension between Lee and Kara. But, you know, in the end, do you think Lee is best as a loner? You know, by the show’s end do you think he should be with anyone in particular?
I think there has been an element of the loner about him. He has been someone that’s sort of exercised restraint and then when he did find himself in a relationship kind of ruined it. So, you know, he has sabotaged his chances of happiness with slightly unwittingly as to his previous history with Starbuck.
But I don’t know, you know, I don’t know if he’s a loaner. Does anybody know before they find the one or get happy and settle down whether they can or whether it will ever actually happen to them. I don’t think we do, and I as the actor am not really sure. I haven’t, you know, I think he’s capable of happiness with someone else. I think that’s probably what he, you know, dreams of. But you have to sort of reconcile that with the day to day kind of adrenaline-fueled struggle with survival in this fleet and maybe, you know, meaningful long term relationships in that framework don’t really stand up.
And I guess there aren’t too many within the show that have really worked – relationships I mean. And it’s easy to see why when, you know, every day is a possible final day and when the highs and lows are so sort of highly charges and so extreme the comparative modality of a day to day relationship is probably not, you know, well suite to that. That’s why there’s a lot of sort of frenetic violent sex scenes in the show because people are, you know, so hyped up and that’s more the sort of par for the course. It’s snatched moments of intimacy rather than sustained relationships within the show.
But who knows, you know, the end could be a gentle ending in which people settle down and who knows about the Admiral and the President? Maybe they might get together one day. You never know.
Can you talk about other projects you might be looking at post Battlestar or perhaps even now such as Pulse 2.
Right, yeah, no – I did get a recall on Pulse 2 in the break this summer and I had fun doing that working with two really great producer-directors, (Joel Flason) and (Mike Leahy) who are lovely people and I enjoyed working with. I took that project on as an exercise really because it’s – I’d never carried a movie before and I though it might be a good opportunity to do before I leave the show in a quite quiet arena. I quite like the script.
And I love the original Japanese movie that Pulse is based on, Kairo. I thought that was a really interesting movie and we were trying to do something a bit more similar to that than the original Pulse remake. And that – that Wes Craven wrote.
So, yeah, I did that one and now I am very much thinking about the future and other projects and I’m considering a couple of pilots at the moment that I might do. And yeah, I’m making those kinds of decisions that unfortunately there’s nothing definite. I can’t really divulge anything because nothing is decided yet.
I was wondering – you clearly take a very thoughtful approach to divulging your character and is there anything about the character of Lee that you find difficult to bring or hard to portray?
I – yeah, I mean there are a couple of things. You know, at the beginning, I think it was – I was a bit intimidated by the name – by Apollo – by, you know, all of the sort of hangover baggage that that sort of brought. I was this, you know, British actor suddenly asked to be this Greek named heroic sort of type.
But I think it’s really difficult to play a hero or to try and play a hero and I gave up pretty damn quick. And I though well I’ll just play a snotty adolescent who’s got a problem with his dad instead because that was what was on the page. There’s, you know, there’s that kind of thing I found intimidating and awkward.
And the other thing with Lee is, you know, he hasn’t – there’s not much humor to the character. So the more I’ve continued to play him the more I’ve tried to find very understated moments of sort of awkwardness or self-consciousness which I find funny to play and I’m sure nobody else sort of realizes but, you know, to try and flesh it out a bit because at times I think, like Katie always says, why do I play him like he’s got a stick up his ass?
But there’s a sense in which he’s been sort of proper and militarily brought up from a very early age and had to bear responsibility in he’s constantly aware – very conscious of how he behaves and who he is. And that side I can – I find quite easy to play. That’s kind of straightjacket – that trying to play a role within your own life sort of brings – trying the be the good (opposite), trying to be the son of the Admiral, trying to be all these things, trying to do the right thing at all times.
But the hardest thing is to try and hint at what he would be like without that – what he’s like but – what he would like to be like, you know. And I think there is an element to me that wants to be the creative spontaneous, you know, long haired bartender and not this sort of West Point guy that he actually is. So it’s those little things that I try and find and find difficult to find in the character.
Would you say there’s a particular episode or episodes that you’re really pleased with, either in your performance or just in the story as a whole?
Yeah, I mean there are a lot of them. I love the first episode – the very first one – 33 – sort of struck to the writing that just the predicament that these characters are in. I thought it was just an amazing way to introduce a whole middle existence and the whole range of characters to an audience. I thought that was great.
And then, you know, I always get drawn to the finales – to the big finales. The Season 3 finale I thought was without pullback to earth was a real goose bumpy moment after an episode of a lot of soul searching. I loved Collaborators in Season 3, the aftermath of the occupation of new (Caprica) and actually the new (Caprica) episodes I thought were incredible.
They’re ones that my character wasn’t really in very much but I loved the struggle of trying to set up a whole new world on a planet’s surface and seeing the trade union’s (unintelligible) start off and then seeing the resistance grow and all the difficult decisions and the bit of controversial nature of all the suicide bombings (unintelligible). I thought those were great and, you know, an area where our show really does something quite unique and interesting.
Battlestar Galactica Razor airs Saturday, November 24 at 9:00 pm Eastern and Pacific on SCI FI. Our conference call with Stephanie Jacobsen – Kendra Shaw in Razor – will appear on the weekend.