Aaron Douglas Interview
By: Shawn O’Donnell (Battlestar Galactica Fan Club Co-President)
Date: February 3, 2005
Source: Battlestar Galactica Fan Club
The Battlestar Galactica Fan Club Co-President Shawn O’Donnell “BGR” recently interviewed Actor Aaron Douglas, who plays Chief Tyrol on the new Battlestar Galactica series. Mr. Douglas was kind enough to take a few moments and sit down and chat with us about his career, and the new series. Much thanks to Lena Leeds and Russ Mortensen at Pacific Artists for making this interview possible. And special thanks to Lisa Christensen who takes care of Aaron’s website at: http://aarondouglas.biz/
What was it that started you in the field of acting? when did the notion come to you?
My mom tells me that it was my desire to be an actor since I was a little boy. I do not remember ever saying this to her but who argues with their mother? I have done drama in school all of my life and after high school I participated in dinner theatre and community theatre.
I had never thought to ‘go after’ acting professionally until Garry Davey, the artistic director of the William B. Davis school in Vancouver took me aside one night after a scene study class and told me I should pursue this as a career. He told me that they had a full time acting program that started in the fall, it was April at the time, and that he would hold a spot for me if I chose to attend.
I thought about it for many months and then one night after attending a performance of Ragtime at the then Ford Center for Performing Arts I decided to leave my job and go to acting school. I was 27 at the time.
What do you consider your first “big break” in the acting field?
Big break? Not sure. My first really smart move was hiring my present agent, Russ Mortensen and my present management, Roar. I guess Battlestar would be the show that has given me the most work and notoriety. I am still relatively unknown so I don’t think the traditional ‘big break’ has happened yet.
Let me ask you about your first Television experience, was that a commerical or series?
First on set experience was Inspectors 2. I had no idea what I was doing or where I had to go or who I had to see so I wandered around until people started asking if they could help and I told them I was an actor and needed to check in. I was directed to the background tent and then finally to the circus where I was ignored by an Assistant Director until he figured out who I was and then bent over backwards to make things good for me.
I remember thinking that this guy didn’t give a shit about me until he realize I was an actor and not a low ranking crew or background person. I thought that was pretty shitty. I will never forget him. But it was fun and I did it without wrecking the scene, so it was all good.
You’ve done a lot of films! 2004 was very busy for you, “The Chronicles of Riddick”, “Walking Tall”, to “Catwoman”… So far these have been supporting roles, do you think that you’re developing a “standard character” so to speak thats adaptable to those roles?
All the roles of 2004, which were all shot in 2003, were basically no name guy with two lines. There is a casting director in town who really likes my work and whenever a show needs a one line good actor guy, she offers it to me. They get a good actor and I get to put a big show on my resume.
That is, all those shows are resume builders. That and I believe you should try not to say no to anything, within reason. You get to meet a new director and producers and work with some really great people. My time on I, Robot and X2 will never be forgotten because I met people like Will Smith and Hugh Jackman, who are two of the best human beings you will ever meet.
Everything good that has been said about those two does not do them justice and that was a great experience for me. To see how mega-stars act on the set..and that there is no reason to be the prima donnas that so many are these days.
Now a movie like Walking Tall is a great example of a small role that was offered to me that became a pivotal point in the movie. The director, Kevin Bray talks about this in the commentary on the the DVD. Stuff like that gets you remembered.
On that same subject, do you want take that character (if there is one) and try to project that into lead character parts?
I don’t really have a standard character. I am just me. Some of these small parts I do are really simple and it is just a matter of standing there and saying a line.
Following up, do you see yourself doing leads in the future? you certainly are building up a resume…
I do want to have much larger roles in features, and that time is coming…
Going back to the Television question, what series do you get the most out of that you’ve worked on? outside of Battlestar Galactica.
I really enjoyed the sense of fun and play on the Smallville and Andromeda sets. I also was interested to see the amount of work that a guy like Anthony Michael Hall…on the set of The Dead Zone, has to put into everyday being basically a one man show. He is in almost every scene and works everyday. It was a good learning experience for me in terms of preparation.
When I say “get the most out of” of course I mean work satisfaction, experience etc. How about the films you’ve done? I would put the same question to you, which one so far have you gotten the most out of?
Films. Satisfaction would be Final Destination 2. Taking a small non-descript role and making him the bumbling cop on my own and having them…the director, etc, letting me keep going farther with it. It was where I really learned that I could improvise and unless they told me to stop to just keep going. Many directors lose the best work and best pieces because they don’t let their actors play or bring their creativity to the role. This is especially true of some writer/directors.
Meeting the cast of X2 was tremendous. They are all so gracious and professional. Hanging out with Will Smith. The time I enjoyed the most was doing a movie of the week for ABC with Patrick Dempsey, Kimberly Williams and Jennifer Copping.
Another one of those roles that was three lines in the script but where the director, my friend Harry Winer, let me loose and let Patrick and I play. It was so much fun.
Theatre, playing Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. That and one time I played both Theseus and Oberon in the same production.
I have heard that you are the most ardent fan of the original Battlestar Galactica, is that true?
I remember the original Battlesar Galactica from my childhood, .I loved that show.
Yes, I am a fan!
Was it difficult for you to adjust to you’re role on the new series considering the big difference between the two shows?
Tyrol was not in the original so I did not have that prejudice. On one hand I hate remakes. Hate them. Some things should just never be done. So I was mad when I heard they were redoing this but after I read the script I was able to see that it was something different and new.
I can now look at them as two separate pieces. Like The Lord of the Rings. Those books are amazing and when I heard they were making movies out of them I thought that was really too bad. But the movies were so great that you really have to see them as two separate pieces of art. They will never match each other, but they don’t have to.
It is not about that. I like both Battlestar Galactica’s.
BGR What do you see for the new series…? It’s future I mean…
I have no idea where this show is going. Hopefully it runs for a few years. My main wish for it would be to keep pushing the envelope. Get Tyrol to do some really cool stuff that stretches me as an actor.
What do you see for yourself “beyond Battlestar” as it were…?
I have no idea there either. I take it one day at a time. I don’t get too caught up in the future or the past. All I have is today. Take care of today and tomorrow will take care of itself. Life is not a dress rehearsal. There is no second take. So do what you love right now and trust that desire. Why wait?
Do you have some other projects in mind?
I am working on more of my own stuff. I have a group of friends who get together and we make all kinds of short films and send them to festivals all around the world.
I am almost finished with my first feature script, so hopefully we will be shooting that in the fall of 2005.
Do you have a specific “dream role” or something that you have aspired to do as an actor, or writer, or director for that matter?
Dream role. I would really like to do a Thin Red Line type of movie. That ensemble camaraderie ugliness of war film. I want to do a movie where people walk out stunned. That and a great comedy. A crazy boys out of control movie. And a hockey movie.
Any suggestions or hints for aspiring actors and actresses out there?
Aspiring actors. A couple of things. In the audition room remember this: They want you to get the part. They are dying to cross that character off the list and say good, we got that one. They are not against you. Don’t make this audition your reason to live another day. It is only a TV show. You are not saving lives or fighting for your life 3,000 miles from home. There are worse situations. Pop into a local V.A. hospital and you will see. Also remember that if you are the last one standing you will be chosen. Persevere. Grab stories of your favorite actors and read what every one of those who have gone before you went through before they could quit that serving job. And enjoy the journey. It is the stories along the way that make the movie of your life, not the ending. It is those little moments that you will remember and others will remember as well. See the baby steps along the way and you will see how far you have come. There is no ending. There is no ultimate goal. If someone told me that I have made it and that is it, I would be devastated, I am 33 and that is it? Am I done then? I remember the times in the car and the hotels and the bad road food more than I remember the place the road trip was taking us. The time on the bus is often better than the game itself. Keep going and work hard, but have fun. We all came from that screwed up family in the small town where no one thought we would make it.