BSG and Caprica: A Look Back and a Look Ahead
On a recent sweltering evening in late April, the ScriptPhD ventured out to Los Angeles’s majestic ArcLight Cinema Dome, which was playing host to the tenth night of the 26th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival, a preservation and celebration of the very best the small screen has to offer. Each year, a handful of select shows are selected by the Paley Center for Media to screen an episode and engage in a question and answer session with onscreen and production talent. This year, writers, producers and actors from the recently completed epic space opera Battlestar Galactica, and its forthcoming prequel Caprica, delighted a small audience with a sneak peek at the Caprica pilot and a candid behind-the-scenes look at the creative process behind both shows.
Fans at the beginning of the line had queued up as early as 11 AM to witness what may be the last gathering of BSG cast and crew for quite a while, while others paid thousands of dollars for VIP after-party access to the cast and crew. Echoing the diverse fanbase that Battlestar Galactica was able to reach and appeal to, the crowd around me was composed of all ages, races, and genders, of the geeky, the giddy and the gaudy.
And speaking of geeky and gaudy, the evening’s festivities were moderated by actor Seth Green, sporting a rockin’ blue Mohawk and more than a tad bit of fanboy revelry. At times starstruck, at times nonsensical and at times spot-on hilarious, but always a bit too verbose, Green came across as a genuine, appreciative fan. Like yours truly, Green came onboard after two obsessivethrilling catch-up seasons on DVD, provided a two minute monologue about all the reasons to love BSG and why it rocked his world, and then, the evening really began. (I kid Seth Green, with love and affection. But seriously, for comparison’s sake, Kevin Smith, who moderated last summer’s Comic*Con BSG panel, infused the perfect mix of humor, awe and order into the Q&A while still allowing the panel to be front and center for the fans.)
As a preamble to the screenings and panel discussion covered below, the heart and soul of Battlestar Galactica, producers David Eick and Ronald D. Moore (I’ll let you decide who’s who), thanked the two people responsible for the success of bringing Caprica to the attention of Sci-Fi network, writer Remi Aubuchon and director Jeffrey Reiner. They then brought an always-refreshing bit of mayhem to an otherwise dignified event by kicking off Caprica’s first major screening with a few good-luck tequila shots from a flask (ohhhh these are MY kind of people!).
When the event planners said “A Look Back and a Look Ahead”, they weren’t kidding folks! Perhaps for the sake of nostalgia, or for the sake of making us appreciate just how far science fiction has really come, Caprica was pre-empted by a clip of the 1963 sci-fi series Outer Limits. The series, with a rotating cast each week, tackled everything from hard science, space travel, time travel, and human evolution as it tried to answer the question, “What is the nature of man?” Remind you of something? Thankfully this trip to Cheesy Bad Production Land was followed by a savory preview of Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, the Edward James Olmos-directed 2-hour movie event set to air in November of 2009. If you missed it during the series finale (like some of us who don’t subscribe to cable!) here’s a link to the YouTube version:
Finally, we were treated to a pre-DVD release screening of the Caprica pilot in its entirety. My pilot review may be found in a separate post. Caprica will start airing on the Sci-Fi channel in 2010. The pilot is available on DVD.
Click “continue reading” to find the only full, unedited, word-for-word transcript of the BSG/Caprica panel to be found on the internet. Until the Paley Center releases the DVDs of the event next year, the only place to truly find out what happened without missing a beat? ScriptPhD.com!
The post-episode discussion panel included the following people: Magda Apanowicz (Lacey Rand, “Caprica”), Alessandra Toreson (Zoe Graystone, “Caprica”), Esai Morales (Joseph Adama, “Caprica”), Eric Stoltz (Daniel Graystone, “Caprica”), Grace Park (Boomer/Sharon/Athena, “Battlestar Galactica”), Tricia Helfer (Caprica/Six, “Battlestar Galactica”), Paula Malcomson (Amanda Graystone, “Caprica”), Jane Espenson (writer/producer, “Battlestar Galactica”), Ronald D. Moore (creator/writer/producer, “Battlestar Galactica”) and David Eick (producer, “Battlestar Galactica”)
Seth Green: The show… how did this all start? I mean, people remember the show from the 70s. Just Sci-Fi in general in the 70s had a silly tone to it. Did you guys have a hard time when you first pitched this to Sci-Fi, when you first conceived of this concept of reinventing Battlestar, making it something culturally significant, because it is such a Sci-Fi show, which could be perceived as silly or foolish in genre, and this is something that is so about a relatable human struggle. What was your approach?
David Eick: Well, the network agreed with that, you know. They had all these space opera shows on the air, and when the title floated their way, they said “Great! Battlestar Galactica. We own it, we’re gonna make money off of it, there’s a lot of value to it, but why does the world need another space opera?” And, in a weird way, their agenda and our agenda coincided, because we were on the same length. We both were very intrigued and driven by the idea of science fiction as an allegory for our times, as a metaphor for our reality, as something that was deeper and more adult and more sophisticated than summer action escapism, and it was the very thing the channel, the network, needed to rationalize or justify spending all this money on another space opera. So it was a rare, you know, coinciding of producers and network wanting the same thing at the same time, and it was beneficial in that respect.
SG: But the pilot itself was such a proof-of-concept, like, a way to demonstrate that this could function. You guys must have been really excited when it came off the way it did.
DE: Nauseous, but excited…
Ronald D. Moore: I mean, I remember the moment that I thought that we really had something in terms of its acceptance as a show—because I kind of always believed in the show, I just liked it and didn’t really care what happened because I always sort of felt like we’d done this thing and we were proud of it and that was enough. But you really still hope against hope that it’s gonna be successful. And the moment was when the day after the second part of the mini-series was broadcast. Because what traditionally happens in mini-series is you show Part I, it gets a certain number, and then there’s always a drop-off into Night Two, or Part II.
DE: It’s what you expect—
RDM: Because after the Night I ratings came in, we had a big conference call with David and I and the studio network, you know, going over minutia, the ratings of the overnights of Night I and the entire conversation was about “What’s gonna be the drop-off into Night II? How much are we gonna drop? If we drop to this it’s really bad, if it drops to this, you’re crazy and it’s really amazing but where’s it gonna be?” And the day after the second part aired the number actually went up. And no one had ever experienced anything like this. And there was this sort of like stunned group on the phone talking about, “Welllll, I guess that’s good, I mean it went up. Is this a mistake?”
SG: How do you like me now man?
RDM: That was the one where I really thought, wow we’re really gonna make the series and it’s really gonna work.
SG: But you guys talk a lot about, in the opening crawl it talks about ‘The Plan’, and then you guys have all publically said that when the writers’ strike happened the plan kind of changed, because you had a little more time to sit with what you’d conceived and where you wanted it to go. I’m just curious how significantly it changed.
DE: I just remember this conversation that Ron and I had. I was in the editing room, Ron was in his car on the way there, and we were building the main title. And it ended with “…and they have a plan.” And Ron was saying to me, “Are you sure we want to do that?”
RDM: I think I actually said, “There is no fucking plan!”
DE: …and I said, “You know, it’s good to say that, it’s a good idea. It’ll sort of coalesce the nature of this thing in such a way that it won’t feel bullshitty, it won’t feel like we were making it up as we go along.” And so at the last second we sort of agreed to do it and the idea that this last thing is called ‘The Plan’ is just like…
Jane Espenson: It’s possible that title was ironic.
DE: Yeah, it’s more than possible.
SG: Well, I’m a huge fan of the show, as I’m suspecting everyone that came out here was, and I personally found the summation of the series really satisfying. I like the idea that, like you guys said from the very beginning all of this has happened before and all of this will happen again. And it was interesting to actually watch it play out over the course of the series, and then relate it to other rises and falls of human culture. Are you fascinated by human history? Was anthropology something that you studied? How did this become the solution to the series?
RDM: Well I think David and I were both history fans from the get-go. It was something that we studied and something that we were sort of fascinated with. I was a government major in college and I was always interested in certain rises and falls of civilizations and sort of how that all worked out. And so part of the idea of ending Battlestar the way that we did was always, we always talked about a way of bending the show back towards its relevance to today and who we are and, you know, who we are as human beings. Because we always saw the show as something that was relevant and we wanted to sort of view our culture and society through science fiction prisms so the idea of at the very end, connecting it finally to what we were was something that was very important to us as we developed the finale.
SG: There’s so many metaphysical and moral, I mean really, theological debates. Just the concept of the many gods versus the one true god, and that being something that causes conflict. That’s something that we all deal with. One of the biggest justifications for war is basically the type of prayer that you like, that’s interesting how divisive that is amongst people and how ultimately became something so hotly debated. Where do you guys stand, if it isn’t too invasive of a question, just theologically. What is it that you believe in?
DE: Anarchy, uh…
RDM: Communism…anti-America, basically. I’m aggressively agnostic. I was raised Roman Catholic. I went through periods of atheism and then interesting Eastern religions, like most people in Hollywood. And I came to a place where I just realized I really didn’t know what the hell it was all about and I just sort of wanted to then make a show that was about a lot of people who were grasping for ideas and for answers. And I was fascinated with the notion of the clash of civilizations between a monotheistic culture and a polytheistic culture, which is all about the unknowable, about why we’re here, what’s it all about and what happens after we die. And if people are willing to kill each other over that basic concept, which you can never prove and never understand, and yet we will end our lives in an argument about that idea.
DE: But religion in today’s television culture is slightly short of penetration in terms of what you can speak to…and get away with.
Paula Malcomson: He’s been dying to say penetration all night.
DE: Short of penetration. You can’t. You can’t get away with it. And we were encouraged in an ironic way, again, by Michael Jackson [CEO of Universal TV, NOT the singer], who said when he read a line of dialogue… where Number Six said, “God is love” and said, “Wow, more of that! Terrorists who associate their agenda with religion? Love it. Keep it coming.” And we said, “Okay!” When’s the next time we’re gonna get, like, more religious, subversive irreverence in your script? So it helped inform not only the antagonist of the show but, by the third series, it was sort of built on that.
SG: I have to just like set up and compliment you guys, because one of my favorite things as a viewer to watch is just genuine human struggle, and relatable situations between people. And one of the things that I found was most effective about Battlestar was that these are just people trying to figure out what it is that they’re doing in this very new situation. They don’t have a planet anymore so it’s just a fleet, kind of aimlessly searching for some kind of ideal all based on hope. And when there was a moment towards the end when they say, “OK well this ship is not going to be something that we look at anymore. We need to establish some rules and guidelines for the citizens to follow.” Is that something that you guys were nervous about? Like introducing those concepts and what happens to all these people after?
RDM: I think I think there was always an interest in the show about, you know, this sort of post-apocalyptic world where, when everything you had counted on and everything you felt was stable and solid was suddenly taken away from you, and what would you try and hang on to and what were the elements of your culture that you would try and retain in those circumstances. And all the way through the show, right up until the end, the feeling was, well, let’s take away more. Let’s make it harder. Let’s call this into question. Let’s really put you in places where you said, “Okay the world is over but we’re going to hang onto this, now let’s take this away from you and see where you go from there.” And so at the very end it was, it was important… that as they face the moment where the Galactica itself is going to be gone and the world they knew was going to be over, they’re still making plans for Gaeta to be admiral of the fleet and Romo to be the president. It still, no matter how many survivors—”
DE: For Tricia and Grace to make out…
SG: Oh is that a DVD? A DVD extra? [Down fanboys, it was not!]
DE: Put your orders in! I didn’t realize I said that out loud. [Really, fanboys, it was NOT!]
SG: But you talk about the Galactica actually dying, I thought those scenes were so powerful with—anytime you saw Adama in the flight suit, that was wonderful by the way! That did make me wonder because all the while the prophecy of the dying leader leading them to Earth, there was a moment where I watched the finale and I wondered if the dying leader wasn’t Galactica itself. Was that something you guys considered or was it always meant to be Roslin?
RDM: I always thought it was Roslin. I never… I never…
RDM: But I encouraged that there were alternate theories. That there were ways you could read it where it was possibly Adama, possibly Starbuck and possibly the Galactica itself. Those were conscious things that we talked about in the writers’ room, you know, several times.
SG: But it is interesting just because if you study religion, there’s always the notion of prophets and people that are placed in charge of moving a people, that they themselves aren’t able to go to the promised land. Whether it was uh…. uh…. uh….. uh….Moses or uh… uh…. Abraham [really studied your religion there Seth, eh?], just the people that are meant to lead them can’t actually be a part of the delivery themselves.
RDM: Initially, that was, and for quite a while the thinking, with Laura, that she was not gonna make it to Earth. When I talked to Mary in the first conversation, I said, “You’re gonna be Moses and you’re not gonna make it to Earth. You’ll die just before they get there.” And that was always sort of part of the concept. And as we got towards the end I just sort of thought that I didn’t want that to be the end.
DE: And it was great, cuz I didn’t know that until I read the script. Because the last conversation we had about it she didn’t make it. And in the last two—well it became four hours, in Ron Moore speak it was a two hour script—she did and, you know, died in this very elegant sort of way at the very last moment. I thought it was a way of sort of abiding by the original concept and yet giving the audience something to feel connected to. You just wanted her to get there.
[Audience applauds vicariously. Amen!]
SG: Oh man! Well, let’s talk about that. Just the concept of angels and the concept of the Six and Baltar. Cuz, when I first started watching the show, and you saw the Six in Baltar’s head, I thought it was some, you know, latent programmed memory, perhaps him going mad. And the more that we realized that she was tangible, she actually had showed up on the ship at one point, and created influence on the ship. And everyone else could touch her and interact with her, and it just, it raised the whole question as to what, exactly, is she? What is she to him in his mind and what purpose does she serve and how does that even function? That was the one thing that I actually asked of you when we met, was, when you guys wrap this up, are you going to explain what the Six in Baltar’s head was. And then all of a sudden, a Baltar showed up in the Six’s head, in flashbacks, and you see him leaving the Earth in all these situations, and I was like “What is going on?” So, I mean, let’s talk about that for a second. If we accept that—and I’m just gonna go ahead and say that Kara Thrace is an angel and she’s not just hiding in the grass—
JE: She’s hiding behind the grass, it was fairly tall grass!
RDM: That’s the kind of thing she would do.
SG: When you cut to present-day New York, and Six and Baltar are there, and they’re just discussing about what God likes to be called, let’s discuss for a second how you see them as the, in the context of angels and what their purpose was as far as guiding these characters through their experiences. I was just curious about that. Cuz Kara is constantly, she’s told that she’s the harbinger of doom, harbinger of death.
RDM: The prophecy is she will bring them to Earth, and she did. She brought them to the original Earth, and the end of that, and the destruction of that, and potentially everything. So she fulfilled that part of what her destiny was supposed to be. I think that overall, my thinking on the Six front, the original idea was not to know whether she was a chip in his head or she was a hallucination of his subconscious. In the first year of the show I was really invested in the idea that she was a manifestation of Baltar’s subconscious, that he was essentially driven mad over the guilt about what he’d done, by participating in the genocide of his entire people, that she was essentially his own voice speaking to him. But even as I said that I was working in sort of plotlines along the course of the first season that sort of suggested there was something else happening. And as time went on and as we got into the third act of the show, I started to come around to the idea that she couldn’t just be a manifestation of a man gone mad, that she had to be something more. There was some other presence, some other force, something else at work in the show that had to be justified and be validated or else what was all that about?
SG: Because she, I mean she applied influence in so many situations, that it was undebatable. Like it was actually helping service the Cylon—
RDM: There were things that she did or said that could not be explained by rational events.
DE: Well not to mention that in Episode 7, ‘Six Degrees of Separation’, when she appears literally and physically and everyone else can see her, and Baltar is forced to deal with the fact that—
SG: That she is actually, that that is actually happening.
SG: So, I mean, just in the concept of angels and God’s hand, or a divine force’s hand in all of these events, it would seem that these angels can take a shape, can choose to be tangible, and then there’s other that are faced with, if I may, with the burden of living a life that’s human. You know, that’s the same way that the Cylons were kind of rebirthed as human beings and forced to live that life through their own experience, Kara has no idea what she is. She’s haunted by that. So she’s fearless in these situations—the perfect pilot, the perfect war machine, and yet, can’t ever get close to anybody.
RDM: There was an expression we used in the writers’ room over and over again when we would talk about the hybrid—which was the being that the Cylons used that sort of lived in a bathtub and sort of babbled craziness as she controlled the Cylon base ships. And we always talked about the idea that the hybrid sort of could look into a level of existence above our own and just the mere fact, sort of rising through the surface of that water and seeing something greater drove her mad and that she couldn’t really explain it to us in any rational terms. And so there was a sense of there being something else that human beings could sort of perceive on a certain levels and not understand. And that we in Galactica were going to see sort of small shafts of light that came down from this other plane. And we would see them and experience them imperfectly and never be able to truly understand what that was all about. And the more that I thought we reached toward a definitive explanation, ok, she’s an angel, she’s a demon, she’s a this, she’s a that, the less interesting it became—
DE: We could all have the mystery.
SG: Well there’s always that philosophy that if advanced civilizations were to visit a prehistoric culture, that they would appear as gods to them. You know the same way when the crew, the fleet, when everyone from the fleet on Galactica arrived on Earth, and they reached pre-verbal humans, is this kind of a contextual explanation for what we on Earth know as the Mayan temples or the Egyptian pyramids, things like that.
JE: I like that science fiction is open to interpretation and that the answers aren’t all nailed down. And that maybe, maybe, what we called angels in the show are just some civilization that’s so far beyond ours that that’s the only way that we can think of them.
SG: Well I gotta talk to Tricia and Grace [um, yes please Seth!] just because you guys had—
DE: No, no, no, that’s not necessary.
SG: You two, I mean you two are some of the most complicated characters on the show just because they’re copies of you physically, so you as an actress are forced to play all of these different manifestations of the character. How difficult was that? I mean, I know I rely so much on what the writer gives me, what the director gives me, to inform me who this person is and what their sensibility is. You’ve played so many different versions of the Six, I find you do that flawlessly, I told you when we first me that I was really impressed by how detailed each performance was. How did you prepare? I know it’s a silly question, but what did you find most satisfying about it?
Tricia Helfer: Well, the first one really was Shelly Godfrey and that was ‘Six Degrees of Separation.’ And I remember talking to Ron, going, ‘She’s written differently, can I play her differently? Can I do that?’ And up until that point it had been Head Six, which I didn’t understand who she was at that point. I was just playing her. I didn’t understand until I watched the finale.
TH: But after Shelly Godfrey and then there wasn’t another one for quite a while until the middle of second season with Gina. I saw them as different characters. And, so it’s easier to play them when they are a different person. Their psyche, their mind is different, their experiences have been different, and so I saw them as the same base model or like identical twins who have been raised separately. Their individual experiences or how much contact with humans they’ve had altered them.
SG: Well, yeah, the first time you see her when she’s walking down that hallway and it’s the introduction to the skinjobs, and she is so wide-eyed and fascinated with being able to touch humans and that’s just so cool.
TH: In the mini-series?
TH: Yeah, to me, she hadn’t ever seen humans before. So yeah, she was there to do her job, but at the same time, she wanted to touch. She wanted to touch and feel.
SG: You can come over! I’m right here! [In your dreams, Seth!]
SG: And Grace, you had a unique challenge as well because you had I mean, Sharon and Boomer and Athena, like they’re such—just the Sharon, had such an extensive arc in all of the horrible things that she had to do.
TH: [to Grace Park] Yeah, how many times did you kill me?
Grace Park: How many times did I kill myself? I died more, yeah, I had enough deaths for any actor’s career.
SG: It was such a nice, I mean in the finale, it was a really great redemption for all the horrible things that she’d done, and that wonderful flashback scene with here and Adama where he says, “You owe me one.” And was entrusted with their lives, and she did. And I just thought that was a very heroic thing that she did. Just very, heroic, it was just heroic. [Was it heroic Seth?]
SG: Did you find it difficult to cavort with so many leading men?
GP: Actually no, that was easy.
SG: Kinda hard to keep your love life straight with Helo and Tyrol, and—
GP: Yeahhhhh. [The ScriptPhD hearts Grace Park!]
SG: You know he’s not here, but I do just want to talk about Alessandro Juliani for a moment, Felix Gaeta. Because he’s such a complicated character, and…right? One of the things that I thought was so difficult with him was that you guys really get into ethical quandaries, and what is correct in that situation. And here’s a guy who, when the Cylons occupied New Caprica, and everyone thinks that they’re saved and it just becomes this military occupation and here’s a guy who is working with the enemy but fighting for the resistance and secretly putting himself in danger all the time for the sake of humanity and then he’s told, “Oh, no it’s cool man. We’re gonna work with the Nazis.” And he’s like, “No, no! This is not at all what it should be.” And he all of a sudden is the dissenter and he winds up working with Tom Zarek, who thinks he’s right and he’s ultimately killed for it and I just thought what a complicated and well-written character. And I love that you guys showed it from both sides like that. Can we talk about just some of the decisions to make that character take the path that he had?
RDM: A lot of that just came out of talking in the writers’ room, really. We have an exceptional writing staff, and Gaeta was one of the characters that writers tended to give interesting bits to whether they were in the outlines or not. You would often read drafts, and there was always something for Gaeta. And Gaeta’s, you know, you outline the arc of the character quite well. Gaeta, during New Caprica, we talked him in the room as being the flunkie under Baltar who saw him in idealistic terms and blind to all this and that. But really as the drafts started to develop, and as the writers sort of took all those drafts and embroidered all of them, Gaeta became something greater than that, and from New Caprica forward, he became this much more complex character who had really sacrificed, who had extended himself and put himself far out there for ideals that he believed in. And then I remember different discussions in the writers’ room about where we can take that character, right?
DE: Well, you know the actor too has something to do with that. You know, if Gary Burghoff in M*A*S*H had been responsible for coordinating an attack on the United States by the North Koreans, you would have gone “Radar is the one?” And we had that option with this actor because he was so versatile and he started off being sort of, you know, Sulu. And by the end, he had really sort of evolved into this very multi-dimensional actor. And so writers in the writers’ room are inspired by and are helped by what they see onscreen. And how they view their jobs can be made if not easier, then at least more interesting by what actors provide them with. And AJ, as we call him, is an actor who was reading off jumble jargon and scientific coordinates and yet there was something about him that made you go, “Wow, there was something about him that we can do something with that guy.”
[ScriptPhD note: if you guys have not watched the Battlestar Galactica webisode extras on SciFi.com, you should. Not because of their superior storytelling quality or what it adds to the mainstream storyline, but because a lot of Gaeta’s later motivations and the atrophy of his idealism is better understood by watching them.]
JE: It’s one of my favorite things to do – to take a secondary or tertiary character and put them in the center. Nobody in real life is a supporting character. Everyone’s the hero in their own story so we can tell those stories. And they’re often the most interesting stories because they’re a character you’ve never looked closely at before.
SG: Being a character actor, I totally agree.
SG: So, I gotta ask, because the internet’s been abuzz. Let’s talk about Daniel for a second. The ‘Seven’? The boxed Cylon.
RDM: There’s really not much to that.
SG: Was it just like a mathematical error?
JE: It was a mathematic error that got resolved… we had to explain who the ‘Seven’ was, why there was no ‘Seven.’ We don’t know much about how the numbered Cylons were given their names. The only one whose story we know of is I believe, Number One, Cavil. And we know his name was John and that he was named after Ellen’s father. That’s how that particularly numbered Cylon got its name. We don’t know how the rest of them got named.
SG: But that is interesting. In the concept of “All this has happened before and all of it will happen again” let’s talk about Kobol for a second. And you guys are starting to touch on it with Caprica, with the invent of the Cylons and perhaps the concept that the Cylons were invented as a military application. Perhaps they’ll be used in warring capacity with the other planets. What can we expect from the series? Are we going to see all the things that lead to the fall or other planets developing their own A.I. military technology?
DE: Ah, well, the place where we pick up Caprica, is that Caprica [the planet] is just one of twelve colonies, all of which tend to have a real good relationship with one another, but tend to war with each other now and again. And it’s not a unified nation-state, so much as it is Twelve Colonies that have squabbles, but trade among each other, as they are the only people in the Universe that they know about. The Cylons represent a breakthrough in technology on Caprica, but the Burgess Company is on the same path on Tauron and there’s probably a couple of other places applied technology exists in the Twelve Colonies. But essentially they’re all on the cusp of this breakthrough.
SG: Well, according to the scriptures in Pythia [oh my gods, Seth, REALLY?!?!], and according to Ellen Tigh [the audience is DYING], the survivors of Kobol were led by the Lords of Kobol to found the twelve colonies. So these are these twelve colonies. So what happened on Kobol? Like if all this has happened before and all this will happen again, was there a conflict over technology, were they [unintelligible] the A.I., did they go out in space? They go out in space, they found these twelve colonies, like check it out, Earth!
RDM: Well, there once was this paradise named Kobol and then came gay marriage, and all of it fell apart.
RDM: Essentially, man and the gods lived as one. The essential creation myth is that there was paradise, and then there was a fall, and we mortals exist afterwards. This is essentially our parable then. On Kobol, once upon a time, man and the gods lived as one. Man stole fire from the gods, which in our case is the secret of AI or artificial intelligence. Humans invented the first Cylons on Kobol and somehow that broke paradise and 12 tribes went that way and the 13th tribe of Cylon went that way. That’s essentially the creation myth as we have it.
SG: Like Twin Peaks. [Ugh, no Seth, BSG is NOTHING like that show thankyouverymuch!]
DE: Or Two and a Half Men.
SG: But that raises a very good point. Because if Alessandra [Zoe Graystone on Caprica] is sort of the first Cylon, are we gonna get to witness the Cylons gaining their own self-awareness? Because it’s talked about in Battlestar that they created the skinjobs, essentially. Is that something that we’re gonna see?
DE: Not really. Caprica takes place well before those events. The backstory in Battlestar—
SG: You guys aren’t going to do 58 seasons?
RDM: Sci-Fi Channel has only given us the green light for 50 seasons.
SG: Well, let me ask this because people are going to be disappointed online if I don’t. So Kara’s dad played her “All Along the Watchtower” which is the trigger song for the Cylons, and it’s the coordinates to Earth […AND the ScriptPhD’s ringtone!]. Who was Kara’s dad? Did he exist? Was that a real thing? Was that all kind of embedded memory for her? Is it angelic foretelling? How did you guys see that?
RDM: Well…. Well, no, Kara had a father, Kara had a mother. Her father was a piano player and a musician… and essentially we felt that he had died, he had died in the apocalypse along with many others. And in Episode 19, she had an experience with the image of some representation of her father, either as a literal soul who’s come back to explain himself to her and guide her on a path or again, or her tapping into some greater reality that you couldn’t quite understand, and this was how she was able to sort of perceive it. But in either case it steered her towards a path of realizing an answer that was in front of her, that there was meaning in this music, that there was something greater to it and it wasn’t just a meaningless phrase that she repeated over and over again. That she was on a path to sort of draw meaning from that and help humanity to find its salvation.
SG: That brings me to something that actually troubled me. Leoben, who was a Cylon, who figured very importantly on New Caprica, held Kara hostage, insisted to her that they would fall in love, assured her that she was incredibly important to all of this, and then in the one moment where she takes him to her grave, essentially, to her charred corpse, and says “What am I?”, he’s like “I’m out!” I was curious, because I always thought he would figure more importantly, I was curious, like, in Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste, was it about actor availability?
RDM: Uh, nooo, I think it was something that David [Weddle] and Bradley [Thompson] [two BSG writers] came up with. They had decided that Leoben—there was something interesting I kind of recall about here’s a guy who appears and says he’s your guide, is your spiritual leader and you got to a moment where that guy, the spiritual leader, says, “I don’t know what the fuck is going on.”
SG: He was prophetic to Roslin as well early on. To her, he was—
RDM: Conceptually the 12 Cylons, the initial idea, early in the first season was each of the 12 models represented a mechanistic point of view that said, “You know, if you boil humanity down, there’s really only 12 of you.” And these are the 12. And that Leoben was the one who saw the greater puzzles of life, sort of lived in the stream and saw the rivers go by him and was tapped into some greater sort of mystical thing and the rest of them weren’t. And there was something interesting about, at the end of the day, that character was then faced with the reality of maybe it’s all bullshit. We thought that was a fascinating sort of break away, that he really didn’t see the greater truth in every single way, he saw shadows of it, like everyone else did.
SG: Uh, Eric, you know I’m a huge fan of yours. [So is the ScriptPhD. Seriously this guy, Eric Stoltz, UNBELIEVABLY talented actor and director. Love that he has a new vehicle to showcase his talents!]
Eric Stoltz: What happened to your right hand?
SG: [Embarrassed] That’s not important. I mean this part, you’re like, the architect of humanity’s downfall. And yet, and yet, he’s coming from such an altruistic place, and he even says it in some of the last frames of the pilot, “This is not what I intended.” When you play a character that, is it more satisfying? I personally as an actor, I always try and find, like Jane has said, you’re the hero of your own story. What kinds of things did you use? I mean, do you have children of your own?
SG: I told Esai, it’s so heartbreaking that performance, and especially when you see your daughter for the first time and she doesn’t understand you, I just thought you guys gave such an amazing emotional and effective performances. Just as an actor, there’s always a hesitation about doing a series. What did you see in this character that was exciting for you?
ES: [long pause] 58 seasons, maybe. Penetration. And working with Paula Malcomson.
SG: I loved you in 24 by the way.
Paula Malcomson: That was another Paula Malcomson.
SG: Oh my god!
PM: I think there’s two of us. It is true, you haven’t done your homework.
[Seth is reminded by the whole panel that she was on Deadwood]
PM: You’re getting another spanking!
SG: I know. I, welcome it, though. I mean, we can take this off-stage… Well, OK, I mean obviously, the Adamas are featured in the series. Are you guys going to feature any of the other ancestors of Battlestar characters? Are we going to see C-3PO with no armor?
RDM: I mean, we’ve talked about that, but I think we’re going to try real hard and resist that. You never know, never say never, things change when you get into stories. And suddenly you’re in love with Tigh’s father, oh my god!
SG: I mean, do you guys think you will do any flash-forwards?
RDM: There’s no plans to. The intention of Caprica is to make it really its own show. It was really important to us as we created the show to create something that did not mean that you had to be a fan of Battlestar Galactica. Here is a series that stands on its own, that is part of this larger universe but is not predicated on knowledge of, or love of, the original. That was very important to us. I think that’s the way the pilot looked. I mean, it plays as “Here’s a piece. If you don’t know anything about Battlestar Galactica you can invest in this and these characters and their story. And if you know Battlestar, you can love it for all kinds of other reasons.” It has a greater depth to it. But the idea was not to really connect—
DE: Yeah, the connections to Battlestar should be subtle, they should be Easter egg like, fun but not imperative, not necessary to understand the show.
SG: So, Magda [Lacy Rand on Caprica], you never watched Battlestar Galactica prior to taking this job.
DE: Esai had to watch every single episode before we took him.
Magda Apanowicz: I did have a little marathon afterwards. I really wanted to not watch it and make it our own. Just like you said, Caprica is its own show.
[Nice save, Magda]
PM: I think she needs a little spanking there, too.
SG: I mean, it is relevant, because all of this happens well before then, and it’s sort of like being able to look into a crystal ball to get perspective on how you behave today, but you, uh. Well, actually, I’ll ask Alessandra, your character is so hugely pivotal in this and yet she’s just a girl trying to find her way. How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?
Alessandra Toreson: I’m almost 22.
SG: 22. What attracted you to this? Was it just like, “All right I’m employed!” or…. No, because it’s a very complicated character and she’s got—
AT: No, no, no absolutely. What attracted me to this role is that she’s just an incredibly brilliant, strong, powerful young female and there’s not a lot of roles out there anymore for girls my age. And she has such a huge impact on this world, everything. She’s just incredible. And who wouldn’t want to play Eric Stoltz’s daughter? It’s as simple as that.
SG: Eric, as a redhead, do you find there’s a lot of pressure to dye your hair? I remember in Waterdance you went dark. Is that something that comes up a lot?
ES: You’ve gone purple, man.
SG: I got a history of bad hair decisions. Had any of you known each other prior to that [Caprica]? Had you known each other?
ES: I had met him during the filming of Bad Boys. Fifty years ago, or so… and I haven’t seen him since.
SG: It’s such an interesting relationship, though, people coming together over tragedy, like a shared tragedy, and finding solace in one another, and yet having completely different methods of grieving in the end. How did you guys rehearse, how did you interact? Or was it just like, “All right let’s just throw this up and do it”?
ES: Geez, how did we interact?
Esai Morales: Well, the interesting thing is that Jeff Reiner, the director of the Pilot, is amazing. We would go home at three, four o’clock sometimes.
TH: [laughs incredulously] Not AM?
EM: PM, meaning, what takes other people, like they overshoot, and he knows, he’s got an instinct about where the scenes should go and he doesn’t belabor it, especially for me, it’s the same thing.
ES: Jeff Reiner, when he’s directing, also has a wonderful ability to say, “Man, that’s bullshit! I don’t buy that at all. Let’s try that again and try and make it decent.” And it’s really freeing as an actor, like “Yeah, I sucked in that.” Why don’t we try to find a moment that’s real? Like with us smoking, which we both turned green with nicotine poisoning. Finally I think he beat us up that they’re not poisonous. He found a place of sorrow.
PM: He had enough cameras sort of positioned so that all the sort of self-consciousness of performance went away. He was always catching everywhere. And that’s how we worked so quickly. So as opposed to doing a master and a close-up, we had all that and it was like creating a play and really working and really doing a scene instead of, you know, we’ve done 13 of those and how was that one and was my close-up good. So it took all the math out of acting. It was really real.
SG: Yeah, I mean it was really, Paula it was just—
PM: [defiantly] I want to get paid for 24!
SG: I know someone in the residuals department. But this part that you play, where you have to be the disciplinarian, you have to be scolding the kid and teach them right or wrong and living with that pain, and teenagers are so mean, the things that they say are so affirmative. And then your daughter is killed and I just thought it was so great. You did an amazing job in that.
SG: All right. Let’s resume with some of the Battlestar stuff. So at the end of Galactica, those Cylons are given their independence. Like, go do what you gotta do. Are those, come on we’ve been setting you up for almost 50 years as the Cylons, and now they’re back in?
DE: But everyone asks, “We’ve done our jobs here. Can we come back?”
SG: Well in this case, I mean, the whole time that this was going on, the war has been going on [in Iraq], there seemed to be not some direct allusions to it, but some debatable allusions to it. When the Cylons arrive on Caprica and occupy it, and the Boomers and the Sixes expressed regret over the genocide on Caprica. And the Cylons’ intent to [destroy] humans on Caprica. This sort of working together, to help develop an infrastructure, did you guys, was that consciously related to what’s going on?
DE: Sort of. I mean, it was half and half. We’re news junkies and history junkies PoliSci and government debate in school, so there was always an initiative I think to form the work with current events and sociopolitical realities, and as I say, an allegory for our times. But what was interesting was to take what audiences would expect, you say “OK, we’re gonna do a metaphor for our own reality, therefore the good buys are going to be the Americans, and the bad guys are going to be the [Iraqis]” and instead, we had the good guys be the polytheists, who were suicide bombing, and the bad guys be the monotheists who were trying to orchestrate some sort of a détente with the humans. And that is when it became interesting. And so I think in a way it freed us from the need to feel like we were Dick Wolfe on Law & Order, ripping the headlines from the New York Times, saying let’s do this episode. That was never really the approach. It was really based on story, based on character first, and sort of the continuation of whatever the story arc we’d established and whatever cultural or political or sort of world relationship the stories had was subtle, and tangential. And it was sort of a delicate influence as opposed to a deliberate adaptation.
SG: I’m really excited to see the show!!! Did you know when Tigh gives Ellen that poison that she was one of the Final Five?
DE: No, cuz she was fired!
RDM: The Final Five was a late blooming idea in the show, honestly. It’s not how the show was developed. If you want to know how the sausage is made, this is how the sausage is made.
SG: So is the CIC always the Opera House?
RDM: A lot of these were images or thoughts or ideas that were either born in the writers’ room, in discussions among the staff or somebody sort of creating them on the page or someone had a suggestion and it sort of worked its way into the fabric of the show. We would say, “That’s an interesting idea, I’m not quite sure what it means but I love the iconography of it.” The Opera House was something that actually Michael Rymer the director came up with as a place to put Baltar, whatever the original iteration of that was. But there were various versions. And then later the challenge of doing a series like this, in my opinion, is then to sort of take those inspirational ideas where you’re throwing something against the wall, you think it’s pretty, you think it’s an interesting place to go, and then to make a mosaic out of that. Say, “Okay, well, yeah, I heard something here and I didn’t know what it meant but now it’s a part of the picture and what can I do to make the picture fill in, make the picture interesting. And then how do we get to the opera house? What does the opera house ultimately mean in this circumstance and how can I bend the story sort of back to there and give it meaning and make it feel satisfying and make it feel like it was [unintelligible]. Because in my opinion whether you sit down at the beginning of the project and say, “I’m now going to map out everything that happens over the arc of this story” and you follow it or you invent it along the way, improvisationally, like jazz or something, either way is valid. And all that really matters is what you end up with. What’s the final picture at the end? What is the piece that you’re presenting?
DE: But a lot of guys in your job don’t have that discipline. A lot of guys in your job, head writer, say either we’re going to map it out so painstakingly and specifically where there’s no room for improvisation, jazz is not allowed, or hey let’s just make it as we go along man, it’s cool, that sounds good, that sounds good. I started writing on this show. I wasn’t a writer before Battlestar and one of my most painful and yet I have to say instructive quotes from you was, “I know that’s what we were saying then, this is what we’re saying now.” And it was really instructive. Because you have to be willing to borrow from or be adherent to the spine that you’ve set up, and we always got together to set up what that spine was. And we’re pretty religious about it.
SG: I’ve never seen you break your own rules.
DE: Well, there were rules. There were very strict rules, and yet, within those rules there was a great flexibility and freedom, and what I like to say or call ‘infecting the staff with accountability’. If they feel as responsible for the success of the show as we do, then we’re not going to lie awake in bed at night wondering, hey, they’re actually contributing and worrying about it and in a very profoundly personal way. And that sort of balance is what I think not just about Battlestar, I think can be true about Caprica, but I think that’s where television is going [SPhD note: sadly, not in every writers’ room ]. The age of “Do it my way, write it my way, write the show in specific terms” is dying and that we’re heading toward a much more collaborative or certainly flexible and fluid medium.
SG: I’m super interested in seeing Caprica! Before we open up to Q&A, just what are your hopes what are your expectations, what do you want this series to be? Setting up some really dynamic relationships with people who have similar and opposing viewpoints, setting up Zoe and Lacey to be supporters of one another with the—and even drawing the infinities [symbol used in the show] sort of the way the early Christians did to define themselves among original Greek gods set up a—
RDM: Christian formula?
SG: Thank you. What do you hope for the series? Is there some mission statement that you, similar to what I heard you set for The Mandate, like a mission statement for Battlestar. Are there mandates for Caprica? What do you guys hope to achieve and where do you see these characters going?
RDM: I think the mandate in a lot of ways is the same, which was to try to do something new and to try to do something different and to try to break the mold of what had gone before. And I think our challenge in Caprica is to now break the mold of Battlestar. As much as we love Battlestar, it was an amazing experience, we now have to destroy it. We have to say this show is going to be nothing like that Battlestar. We are going to something completely different. This narrative is not going to follow the same path of that narrative, the style’s going to be different, the characters are going to be different, but we’re going to take the risk with the audience. We’re going to say to the audience, “We know you love this, we know you’re invested in this and we salute you for it. Okay now, here’s something literally, completely different.” And we’re going to lose some people in that transition and we’re going to gain other people. And it’s not so much about the loss or the gain, it’s really about, at the end of the day, which is a terrible expression, but at the end of the day, are we proud of Caprica, do we feel this is a great show that lives on its own and that whether you like Battlestar or not, this has an integrity to it, this has a truth to it and this something we’re all going to look back on in 20 years and say, “I’m glad my name is on Caprica.” And that’s really the challenge.
SG: You guys have set up Eric as sort of like an Oppenheimer-like [figure]. He’s just like, and I’m just so excited because of the way that every one of your characters on Battlestar was invested with an honest purpose, something that they believed in, there’s this guy who came to one of the greatest war machines with the purest of intentions, I’m just really excited to see that unfold. I guess we should open it up to the audience.
PM: Ask me!
SG: Magda, do you want to pick somebody?
Question #1: My question is, like in Battlestar when they’re searching for Earth, and the Cylons are chasing them, what’s going to push Caprica? Is there gonna be a story that wraps up every week? How’s it that you’re gonna format this? What should we look forward to? [Great question!]
RDM: It’s more of a serialized show.
JE: It’s more serialized. The word soap opera has a dirty feel to it, but that is what it essentially is. It’s more serialized. It’s more about the personal lives. They don’t have the threat of death breaking down their neck every moment so that you can feel more lived in, you can explore this culture more.
RDM: It’s a different show. I mean, losing the action-adventure is a risk. And it’s a risk we took knowingly. It’s more serialized than Battlestar. And it’s an investment in these people. I mean I’m fascinated by stories that are about people and characters and this is truly investing yourself—you either love these characters and you want to follow them every week and see what they do next. And there’s no Cylons coming in to sort of destroy the Galactica every once in a while, fate and humanity doesn’t hang in the balance yet. And you’re really living and dying on the audience’s affection and interest in these people.
DE: There’s also a larger conceptual construct. Which is: the advancement and evolution of artificial intelligence. That is sort of—that is to Caprica what the space battles were to Battlestar. So there is that element there as well that will attract and entice new audiences from week to week.
JE: Yeah, you have corporate intrigue, you have sexy virtual world—
DE: And you can see that every week if the network allows the standards!
SG: Do we have another question?
Question #2: This is a question for Tricia and Grace. This is from an acting standpoint. You guys have obviously acted opposite yourselves a lot and I wanted to know, less from a technical side, but more from an acting side, like usually another actor influences your performances, and you’re influencing yourself. Like, were there instances where you’d do your take as one character and then that would inform your other version of yourself? Or how did you prepare for that? How do you rehearse with yourself? Both of you…
GP: Well, the first time I got to do a scene with Athena and Boomer, we had Jen who plays, what does she play?
GP: Seelix, yes! I played opposite her, so I had a real-life actor to be able to work with, and no I didn’t have the thing where you do one side and then you do the other and you’re like “Can I go back? Change hair and makeup? Cuz I really didn’t like how you do that?” But I think I was much more scared that I would end up doing what James [Callis] ended up doing later in the series, which was have one camera like this and then time it all out so the camera was not moving in both the characters. It was flawless, what he was doing, and he also got to work with an actor as well. I refuse to do that. You prepare each character separately. And then ideally you can pull it off.
TH: It comes down to, like I said earlier, seeing each character as an individual. So I had more of an extensive hair and makeup change than you did for most of my characters, the white wig or whatever. And that gives you a lot of time in-between or whatever. When we did the Gina, the “Pegasus’ episode, I wanted to do Number Six first, because I felt that, I needed that time in-between, I didn’t want to go from being beaten up and that mindset to Number Six, so you make changes like that. You say, “Well OK, do I want to do this character first over that one?” But it’s definitely easier when you’re working off someone. In the last season when I shot myself, when Trucco or Anders, well you guys know what it is…
EM: [covering ears] Yeah don’t tell us, cuz we’re still catching up.
TH: Okay. You end up working off somebody. My stunt double, we had her in the scenes, and so if you work with somebody repeatedly then they get it more so than just having a day player in there. Where, Monique, my stunt double, she knew, she kind of knew the characters separately at that point. So that really helps a lot, to have off of. But then other times you’re working by your complete self. In The Plan, at one point, I was playing Shelly Godfrey and I was already a new Six, Top Six, in the dark hair, so, and Edward James Olmos was directing it and he just let it go at the end because there was Doral over there, and Leoben and Top Six, and everybody, but with the way it went—what is the camera that you can’t, is it Lock-Off? Motion control that you can’t get anything else in there?
TH: Lock-off. So, you can have somebody standing in for the character for the first pass, but then when you’re supposed to be that character you can’t stand anybody in there. So I was literally looking at nobody. I was the only one in the room. There were supposed to be five people in the room. So at this point they were just messing with me—Matthew Bennett just started saying funny things and so the entire time. And I’m the only one on camera, everybody is watching me and I’m like talking like, where am I talking? Here? There’s a tennis ball over there, there’s somebody over there… I don’t know, it gets kind of really confusing and makes for some good out-takes.
Question #3: I just wanted to say thank you so much for creating such an incredible show that I have watched for years. And I’m not a science fiction fan at all, but when the show came out, it left me hooked. And seeing Caprica and it’s such an accomplished cast, which—I loved Trixie by the way—[Paula Malcomson’s character on Deadwood]. I had two questions for the writers. And it’s referring back to old Battlestar of course. One was, with regards to how you ended the show, with the Adamas, with the father and the son, what was the motivation to separate them? You know in that final scene, where you have Lee talking to his dad and –
[Esai Morales is furiously covering up his ears, much to the audience’s delight]
–well, I don’t understand why suddenly he’s just is gone, and he’s not his dad anymore. And then that scene with Gaius Baltar, where he’s been here and it’s like, “Well, of course you’ve been here, it’s the Battlestar.” Like, I didn’t understand that scene and I was hoping that you could elaborate on that.
RDM: The final Adama and Lee scene, I just felt like Adama was not someone who’s good at goodbyes or could say goodbye and that he wasn’t going to come back. And there was something about, the line that spoke the strongest to me is when Lee says, “My earliest memory of my father is him getting on a plane and flying away, wondering when he was going to come back.” And that sort of defined their relationship for his entire life. It was a series of goodbyes of his father never really saying goodbye and his father kind of disappearing…and then his father was divorced, and then he left them, and they had a tenuous relationship for years, and he was there and he was not there. And I just thought, Adama is not gonna come back. And that was probably a character flaw, it was probably a failing of the man but I thought that’s who the man was. I thought that he wouldn’t leave his son like that, he would probably hug him one last time and get in that Raptor and probably never see him again. I just thought that was the end of their story and it was heartbreaking but it was intentional.
DE: Yeah and there’s always been that sense in storytelling, of fathers and sons. It’s a very powerful theme. Fathers leaving things to their sons. Sons clinging to messages and moral lessons that their fathers grant them, fathers ensuring that their sons are not left alone, or not left to survive the evil. I believe that there’s a connection or a bridge between them, and we just didn’t want to do any of that.
SG: That’s a really interesting point to raise, with respect to telling new stories in Caprica. You have an opportunity to really see this very familiar character as a young boy and see the influence that his father had on him, and the lessons that he is personally taught an everything. You can potentially witness them. What do you guys, what are you thinking there?
RDM: Well I think the challenge of the Adama relationship, and Esai and David and Jane and I have talked about this, is to really make it an unexpected journey. I think the most unsatisfying thing would be to start telling stories about Joseph Adama and go, “Well, obviously A leads to B leads to C and this is how he becomes Admiral Adama.” And I think the fun of that character, that relationship and that story is to not understand how you got from A to B because I don’t think any of our lives are linear and I don’t think that people really, you know, set out from here and clearly, obviously, they end up over there. And I think that’s going to be the fun of the series is to sort of say, “Really? Jesus this is how fuckin’ Adama got to be the Admiral?” Are you kidding me? And I think that will be a fun show.
Question #4: Okay. Caprica cast. Tell us about the audition and when you heard what the show was and what the script was, for those of you that knew it. Were you excited? I mean kind of, just each one of you kind of roll of how you got on the show. [I actually thought some of the responses to this were HILARIOUS!]
MA: I remember getting the sides—the part that I had to read for—and I had no idea what my character was talking about. I’d never seen Battlestar and I didn’t know very much about it. I just had to come up with whatever backstory I could to make this world make sense. And I remember going into the audition and I was getting my wisdom teeth pulled like two days later. And then I got them done and I got them infected, and for like a month my face looked like a chipmunk, and they needed me for callbacks. And I’m like, “I can’t! I literally cannot speak!” And I’m vomiting from the pain because the Percocet is not working. And my face is infected. And they just, they trusted in me, which by the way, I’m so grateful, thank you, that you trusted me from a tape. That—
SG: A drug-fueled tape!
AT: Ah, well, I heard about it and I thought, “Well, why would they want me to audition for it when they can just put a robot and play me as a robot.” I had no idea anything about Battlestar, I just knew that every time I mentioned it to someone they’d be like, “Oh my God, you have to do it, you have to do it!” And I was like, “OK I’m not familiar with this, but ah…” I met with the writers and I met with the execs and I met with Jeffrey, our wonderful director. And it was just mind-blowing to me. And I had never even auditioned for something so incredible in my life and it was something that I did not expect. And as soon as I auditioned, I was like, “Oh, I need this role, NOW!” So I did everything to get it. [Off the subversive laughter] Well, not EVERYTHING.
EM: Well, how do you follow that? I heard that there was this project and I heard about Battlestar, and I remember Battlestar from the 70’s. [Makes cheesy space noises] And I was like, “Well, really? That’s still goin’ on?” And I read this character and he had such a nobility to him, you know, he was such a, just a good guy trying to make sense of nonsense in his life. Nonsense of losing your wife and daughter, your connection to the world. And I remember going in, and a friend of mine was helping me with the lines, my music buddy and to this day he goes, “I got you that part, duuuuuude!” And I went in and I remember I saw this other actor whose work I really enjoy and—
ES: Who was it?
EM: I can’t say. But it was another actor who looked just like Edward James Olmos, and I’m just like, “Well, that’s it. Why did I even bother?”
ES: What’s his name?
EM: I don’t think it would be fair.
RDM: It was Eddie, actually in drag.
SG: Was it Danny Treo? [WHO?!]
EM: No. You’re bad. He had similar qualities, you know, high cheek bones, the indigenous combination—
ES: Dabney Coleman.
EM: I’ll just give you the first initial of his name. A. Actually that’s his first name. A. A. Martinez. And he’s been working for years, and I worked on a project with him and he’s just adorable and a good human being and I’m like, “Well, there goes that project.” And I say it like that because I walked in and I said, “Now, do you guys want me—like how much of Edward James Olmos do you want genetically in this character?” Hey, you know, he’s no slouch in the show! He’s such an indelible figure. And they said, “You know what? We don’t want you to feel constrained by having to imitate him.” Because I was like, [in a remarkable EJO impersonation] “Whatever it takes.” And I knew that the fans would appreciate that, but then I—they said, “It’s a spiritual quality, basically.” And I realize that not all parents look and act like their children, and vice versa, so that was liberating. And I gotta tell ya, it was one of those things where you just feel like you were dead on, and I said well I’m gonna go for this anyway, and I think they saw that I could portray this character, which I’m still working on, and people go, “Isn’t it such a heavy character?” It’s not…yet. I’d like this show to last for many seasons so that the gravity develops.
EM: You know what I mean? Because if you play him already at that level, where is there to go? So in that sense, this guy is the dupe of Graystone. He’s the guy who thinks he’s getting all this and he’s actually getting used. And I was just very grateful to have the job in these hard times, but especially a job from a Peabody Award-winning writer, director, producer Ronald D. Moore.
SG: Eric, were you familiar with the program?
ES: Oh, uh, it’s me again. I was shooting something in Provo, Utah. And you know, when you’re working in a location like Provo, Utah, it’s…tough. And my agent sent me the script. And it was sitting on my dresser in this… room on location in Provo, Utah. And I kept meaning to read it. And one day it was gone. And I was like, “Where did that script go?” And it turns out that the maid had stolen it. Yeah! Someone had paid the maid, I’m sure she mentioned that she was cleaning an actor’s room and that he had this script and what it was, and some Battlestar fan in Provo, Utah paid her to steal this—
PM: [pointing to the crowd] Oh now, now, where are you?
SG: Someone has got a watermarked copy of Caprica.
ES: And that’s when I thought, “Geez, what—these are—wow. I’d better read this script.” And I just thought it was a great script. And so I arranged to sleep with David Eick and Ron Moore. Not together. Later on at the same time.
SG: Paula, were you familiar with the show? Before taking this part?
PM: Yeah, I was knocked up by both these men. I actually originally auditioned—I don’t know if you guys know this, the role of Sister Clarice? And Jeff Reiner in his madness said, “You’d be a great Amanda.” And I went home and someone called me and said that and I said, “No way.” So I had to talk myself into it a little bit. Cuz I had this idea in my head, and then I started to read it again, with this entirely different outlook on it, and I thought that it was a great idea. So… that’s how that worked.
SG: Phew! What a question.
At this point, there were sponsored trivia questions involving prizes mostly consisting of Zunes, signed pictures, etc. See if you could have answered these:
•For what crime is Tom Zarek incarcerated at the time of the Cylon attack?
•What is the name of the stealth fighter that Tyrol builds from scratch?
•What is the name of Sam Anders’s pyramid team?
SG: I’m going to wrap this up with just a couple of questions. So, Gaius Baltar. Looks a little bit like Ron Moore. And both look a little like Jesus. What do you say?
DE: When I met Ron to talk about this show, he had really really short hair and no beard and glasses. And so you have to ask, it’s sort of a chicken and egg question. Which came first?
RDM: Christ or me?
SG: Well let me ask the question, when they landed on this Earth and interfaced with all these pre-verbal humans, was there the possibility that Baltar became sort of a Christ-like figure?
RDM: There really wasn’t in my head. But I cannot tell you how many times people on the set pitched this to me. Remember this? The camera crew was convinced for quite some time that Gaius Baltar was in fact, Jesus Christ. I remember, them coming up to me every once in a while, going, “Hey! Baltar is Jesus, right?”
A few other fun tidbits from the evening:
•Grace Park and Tricia Helfer chit-chatting and snickering, inside joke style, the entire evening—clearly these two have missed each other since Battlestar has finished filming…
•Seth Green’s note cards for the evening’s moderation were cut on the corners to adhere to the octagonal shapes of the BSG-verse!
•Seth’s awkward attempt to compliment actress Paula Malcomson for her work on ‘24’ only to be informed that she had never been on ‘24’. Oops! Paula did offer to spank him for his error, a not unwelcome punishment to Seth.
•Eric Stoltz taking pictures of the Caprica and Battlestar Galactica casts onstage with his cell phone. See? These events are memorable to the fans and the casts.
•Magda Apanowicz putting a stop to the evening by bolting from the stage to use the bathroom. Ahhhh celebs…they’re just like us!
•The heaving phalanx of rabid fans attacking the stage the nanosecond the evening was over. The Script PhD has never seen several hundred people go from their seats to the stage in sixty seconds flat. She was quite frightened, and made a hasty escape, stage left.
Fear not, this is not the end of our Battlestar Galactica celebration! Please join ScriptPhD.com this summer, when we celebrate the release of the series on DVD and Blu-Ray (July 28, 2009) with a special two-part series on the esoteric humanist questions and the science of Battlestar Galactica. So say we all!