INTERVIEW: Officer Material

Officer Material
By: Steven Eramo
Date: November 2004
Source: TV Zone #182






While the likes of Starbuck and Apollo are jetting around in their Vipers, it’s down to Chief Petty Officer Tyrol to keep the Galactica’s fighters shipshape and ready for action. Actor Aaron Douglas chats with Steven Eramo about how his two-line part expanded into a major role …

It’s been a bumper year for Aaron Douglas in terms of acting work. Along with roles in no less than six feature films – including I,Robot, Catwoman and The Chronicles of Riddick – the Vancouver native recently finished playing Chief Petty Officer Tyrol in season one of the new Battlestar Galactica TV series. He made his debut as the character last year in the Galactica mini-series and, as the actor recalls, landing the part wasn’t easy but well worth the effort.

“I auditioned on tape back in November 2002 for the role of Captain Apollo. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the part and with good reason. Jamie Bamber has done a better job as the character than I ever would have. I did, however, get a call back in January [2003] for the role of Lt Gaeta. When I went in to read, Grace Park and Alessandro Juliani were also there along with my friend and fellow actor Ty Olsson. Grace had originally tried out for the part of Starbuck [which ended up going to Katee Sackhoff] but wound up landing the role of Lt Boomer, while Alex was cast as Gaeta. The producers were going to give Ty the Tyrol character but decided instead to make him Captain Kelly.”

“Apparently the production team was sitting in the casting room and wondering, ‘Who’s going to play Tyrol?’ Someone suggested, ‘What about Aaron Douglas,’ and the mini-series director, Michael Rymer, said ‘He’d be perfect’. So that’s how I got the role. At first I thought I was being given this little two-line part and was like, ‘That’s OK. I’ll do it and then go on to the next job.’ However, when I got the script and began reading it I realized, ‘Wow, this guy is much cooler than I ever imagined’. No offense to Gaeta or Captain Kelly, but Tyrol certainly fits me more than any other character would in the show.”

A tough but fair man, Tyrol is a born leader and as such understands that people make mistakes, just so long as it’s not the same one. He is one of Galactica’s chief petty officers and in charge of the Deck Five crew. The chief and his 15 deck hands are responsible for, among other things, restoring Commander Adama’s (Edward James Olmos) old Viper fighter from the first Cylon war. Tyrol admires Adama and is fiercely loyal to him. While his character could have easily become just another wisecracking intergalactic grease monkey, Douglas’s talents have allowed him to take Tyrol beyond such stereotypes.

“In the mini-series, Tyrol started out as a much smaller role,” notes the actor. “However, after a day-and-a-half of me ad-libbing, David Eick [executive Producer] and mainly, Michael Rymer, realized, ‘Hey, Aaron is bringing more to this role than we first envisioned. Let’s use that to both our advantages.’ So they began writing Tyrol into scenes that he wasn’t originally in.”

“My part grew by about a third in the mini-series, and when the the order came in for the first season, the writers gave me even more to do. I’ve had a great time on the show, We’re all really excited about the work and happy to put in the effort to make the best series possible.”

It will be at least February 2005 before the Battlestar cast and crew hear whether or not the show has been picked up for a second season, but Douglas is already betting that it will be a hit. “I’ve seen the first episode and it’s as good if not better than the mini-series,” he enthuses. “So the show should do well.”


In Appreciation

Like most actors, Douglas is thankful for being given the opportunity to pursue a career he is passionate about. Getting to hear what audiences have to say about his work is the icing on the cake. “There is no great compliment than for someone to tell me that they’ve been moved by my work,” says the actor.

“For example, with Tyrol, I’ve had people in the military remark to me, ‘Tyrol reminds me of a chief I once served with. He was just like your character; a bit of a hard ass but deep down a big softy who looked out for his guys. Thanks for bringing him to life.’ I mean, I’m not a military guy at all. I’ve never been in the army or anything like that, so to be told that I’ve pulled off such a role and in a believable way means a great deal to me.”

“I was at Comic Con in San Diego back in July and couldn’t believe that fans would stand in line for hours just to meet me. It blew my mind. I felt terrible that they had to wait so long, but I was genuinely touched by their affection and response towards to me.”



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