Battlestar Atlantia: Exclusive Interview with Aaron Douglas (Galen Tyrol)
By: René Kissien (Lex) & Peter Glotz (Pedda)
Date: January 2006
Hello Aaron. This is your first convention in Germany. Is there anything you like in particular, besides the really nice people and the beautiful landscape between the airport and the hotel
I haven’t seen anything else to be honest with you. The beer is really good. This weekend is supposed to be for the convention and the people. The people who run this hotel do a really nice job, they’re very nice people. It looks beautiful outside, I just haven’t got out yet. Ask me when my tour in Germany is over, than I’ll have a better idea of what to think. Until now everything has been great, it’s fabulous. I haven’t had as much sleep as I’d like, but that’s because I’m nine time zones away.
Is there a difference between German and American conventions?
Not really, no. Only in size. This convention is only about 100 people, when you go to Comic Con in San Diego it’s 100000 people. They host it in the second largest convention centre in the world and the convention floor itself is probably the square footage of two soccer fields. It’s huge with literally hundreds of dealers. Some of these booths are the size of a large restaurant. It’s just huge. ‘Star Wars’ had a booth there and they had a full size Xwing fighter and another full size ship. And they had this guy is in Storm trooper and Boba Fett costumes just to man the booth. That was pretty cool. They have the small ones, too, but America also has 300 million people and that’s where the show is based, so a lot more people are interested in visiting such conventions. The next one in England for ‘Stargate Atlantis’ is about 450 people, I think. So, other than size, you know, everybody is nice. In America you got more odd questions than in Europe. You get sort of the random guy who is a little to into the show and he’s having a hard time differing between the show and reality. There’s a few more of those types over there.
Could you give us an example for this kind of questions?
Oh, you get guys who go ‘In episode six of season one, when you were fixing the Viper and you were working on the screen you pressed a red button which ran a diagnostic on this part of the engine. Now, in episode thirteen of the second season you pressed the same red button, but that button ran a diagnostic on the landing gear. Was this button initiating a specific diagnostic system no matter what it’s hooked up to or was that a mistake?’ I just said, like, ‘what?’. The attention to details is phenomenal, but some people take it to the Nth degree. Or ‘how did you feel when you shot so and so or when you punched Starbuck or whatever’. I say ‘well, I didn’t do this, my character did’. They have a hard time getting into it and see the difference between Aaron the person and Tyrol the character. They seriously do, they ask this really really high end aerodynamic questions, questions about physics and I have no idea.
Aerodynamic in space?
Yes, exactly. ‘Why do you need wings on the ships in space?’ I say, when you enter the atmosphere you need this wings. ‘Oh, yes, but this ship is not designed to enter an atmosphere.’ You know, when you pick on a part long enough you gonna pick it apart. Yeah, you get some bizarre questions.
How do you react to this questions? Like Shatner with a ‘get a life’?
Oh god no! Never never never. I have some answers. When somebody asks a question about the plot or the story that I can’t answer, I say ‘You know, that is an excellent question, but rather than answer it, let’s see if anybody else knows.’ And then you get like thirty people with the answer. Or I say ‘well, you know, some people haven’t seen this episode yet, so I don’t want to give away any spoilers. We are not here for spoilers, so ask me later.’ And then I leave the building. But the strangest one was the one with the red button.
You said you watch the show yourself. Who do you think will be exposed as a Cylon?
Oh. I think Gaeta is a Cylon. Although, that’s a little obvious. So I’m kind of thinking it might be Gaeta, but maybe not. It’ll be really interesting to see which one will be the next Cylon. I don’t think it’s me, I don’t think it’s Helo. I think Gaeta, or maybe make it, like, Dualla. Dualla or maybe Apollo, which would be really really weird. Gaeta is always like putting something up, putting something down. So they either trying to set him up as a Cylon so people can look back and go ‘oh, that’s why he did this and this. Or they’re just making it look like he is one so that you take the focus of everybody else and then Dualla stands up and shoots Adama again.
What would be the easiest way to get on the set, besides taking acting lessons for two years?
If someone wants to visit? Probably the easiest way is to contact the head of marketing for the show, she’s the on site marketing person on the production office. If it’s for instance somebody like yourself and you tell her that you are journalists from Germany and you like to have a set tour, maybe. If it is a regular person, there’s a lot of security. It’s tough to get on a film set in North America, especially since 9/11.
Even in film studios? Is that a terrorist target?
Oh yeah, al Qaeda is looking to bomb film studios to fight the American machine, I don’t know. Its overkill in my mind, but yes, the security at the gate is pretty tough, it’s tough to get on the lot. The average person needs to know somebody who knows somebody. Otherwise nobody gets close.
On set you have a Viper in actual size. Did you ever climbed into it and played pilot?
No, but I bring my nine year old son and put him in the Cockpit and he flies around. It’s funny, when he was younger, he watched the show but didn’t see it as fantasy versus reality. So he came down to see the spaceship and he asked me ‘can I go up in one?’ and I said, ‘no, they don’t fly’. ‘Yes they do, I saw it on TV’. I said ‘No, that are special effects. They don’t actually fly’. He was devastated, he was so upset. It was really funny. He was heartbroken. Yeah, we have two of the old Vipers, we have the one new one that Apollo flies, the Mark VII. We have a full size Raptor and a Cylon Raider. And some props like missiles and torpedoes.
Can you remember your first day on the set?
When we first toured the set they were almost done. I think it was the hangar deck that wasn’t quite finished. I was impressed by the size of it, it was huge. I remember walking around the corner and see a Viper for the first time. I haven’t seen one since the original series as a little kid. I walked to it and had to touch it to see that its real. These studios are massive, they are like aircraft hangars. No pylons or anything, just a huge box. It’s like a IKEA, but three times that big and they build sets in there. They’re big enough to build houses in there, sometimes a whole street. Incredible. Did you see ‘Sleepy Hollow’ with Johnny Depp? A great movie. It all takes place in a forest, but the forest was indoors, it’s on a movie set.
What about those scenes on Kobol? Were they made on such a set?
No, we were outside in a rain forest near Vancouver, a hour and a half drive away from the city. The climate is rain forest, that’s why it rains so much. It’s always green and warm. It rarely snows, just once every four years and then it goes away. It’s five, six, ten degrees in the winter time. Right now it’s like 13 and raining. I love it. It’s the only city in Canada I could live in. Everything else is just f**king cold.
You’ve been to a couple of conventions. What was the nicest actor you’ve met?
I always had a great time with Alexis Cruz (Skaara, ‘Stargate: SG-1’). He is a great guy. The first time I actually met Richard Hatch (Apollo, Original ‘Battlestar’) was at a convention, the Comic Con, and he is one of the best guys you ever meet. Laurette bg (Cassiopeia) and Anne Lockhart (Sheba), who were in the original ‘Battlestar’, they’re just absolute dreams. Noah Hathaway (Boxey) is a great guy, too. Met him in August. Those ones would stand up most in my mind, yeah.
We won’t ask about the most unpleasant person. Earlier on the Panel you mentioned Joe Flanigan (Sheppard, ‘Stargate Atlantis’).
I’ve never met Joe. I just heard stories. He could be the nicest guy in the world. I probably meet him next weekend and I hope he’s a great guy. Jason Momoa (Ronon Dex, ‘Atlantia’) said, he’s a great guy. I take Jason’s word and got my thumbs crossed. You know, rumors fly around and people say all kinds of nasty things. You got to meet people for yourself.
What about Dirk Benedict? Did you read his Article ‘Starbuck: Lost in Castration’?
I started to read this thing but then I put it down. I met him once or twice and that’s all I have to say about that.
How does the actors at the show interact with the other crew? We often hear stories that the actors are separated and don’t treat the crew very well.
We’re not like that at all. Our set doesn’t have that at all. You know, that’s very true, I’ve been on some shows where the actors thought they were the king of the world. I worked on some movies with actors that were just absolutely obnoxious assholes and that’s painful. You just want to flip them a quarter and tell them to buy some self esteem. I hate that, it’s brutal. Our set is great. We’re all equal. Everybody realizes that it takes us all to make the show and that nobody is better or any job more important than anybody else’s. They always say ‘the fish rots from the head’, and the head of our show is Eddie (Edward James Olmos) and Mary (McDonnell) and you could not find two greater people and two greater examples of how to live life and threat people. If anybody got out of line, Eddie would very quickly put him aside and go ‘Who do you think you are? Knock it off!’ And so, we’re just trying to follow that example and live respectfully with everybody else. We have a great crew, they’re very very cool. It’s great fun to hang out with them. You got to work with all those people all those time. If you’re a dick, it’s just gonna be a painful experience for the entire season. We try to keep it light and funny.
Are there people on set who are vital for the success of this show, but never been mentioned?
Well, everybody knows who Richard Hudolin is. He’s the set designer and the guy who is responsible for the look of the ships. He and his crew, those guys are amazing. Patricia Murray is the key make up artist and she’s fantastic everybody needs to get some accolades for what they do. Mark Verheiden is executive producer, but he also is one of the writers who does rewrites. He is just a tremendous hard working guy. I should stop naming people, or I start leaving someone out. They’re great.
Thanks a lot Aaron.
You’re welcome. That was fun.