By: Paul Spragg
Date: October 2006
Source: Cult Times (Special #41)
A Galactica interview in which we learn the valuable lesson ‘Don’t put four hyper actors in one room and expect to discover much about their show’
Perhaps it’s the weather, perhaps a side-effect of jet lag, perhaps they’re always like this, but four of the stars of Battlestar Galactica (three current, one former) are extremely hyper. Therefore it’s suggested that they could chat amongst themselves and see if questions are even required.
“You don’t want that,” warns Kandyse McClure, who plays Petty Officer Dualla. “It just gets dirtier and dirtier,” agrees Aaron ‘Engineer Tyrol’ Douglas. Nicki Clyne, who plays felloe engineer Cally, says the article will wind up reading, “And then he blank and we blank blank blank.” “My answer to that is f**kity f**c f**k,” confirms Paul Campbell, also known as President Roslin’s now deceased aide Billy. The conversation then becomes a re-enactment by Campbell and Douglas of the South Park movie. “Let’s just start, okay?” sighs McClure.
When we last left the characters, the crew of the Battlestar Galactica had been forced from its homeworld by the Cylons (Human-created robots who’ve rebelled) and had discovered a new place to live. Then the Cylons arrived there too. As Douglas explains, “The show gets darker and darker; Season Three is certainly that way, as Season Two was over Season One, and One over the mini-series. It’s darker, it’s very contemporary, it’s very topical: an analysis of the world today and what’s going on.”
“They’ve blended even more the notion of ‘Who are the bad guys?’ in Season Three. Some people only see black and white. The Colonialists, the Humans, are the US, the Cylons are everybody else, but it’s not even close to being the case. The lines blur back and forth and in Season Three the Humans do some horrifying things. For me the challenge has been to keep [Tyrol] likeable because it’s really, really awful, awful stuff – and Cally goes through a bunch of shite. It’s been great to see Nicki – who I’ve worked with more than anyone else for the last three years and I know how good she is – finally get a lot of stuff where she gets to show her chops, not just be another pretty face.”
With a lot of the show now being filmed on location at Vancouver’s Richmond Sand Dunes, do any of the cast miss being on the soundstages? “well, that’s the thing,” replies Clyne. “It’s always nice to venture outside the studio and go somewhere new and different, but it doesn’t take long to look back and appreciate what you had, which is warmth and [it’s] slightly cleaner and the grease on the hangar deck doesn’t compare to the dust and filth that is on the planet.”
“Going to the bathroom is a challenge,” admits McClure. “‘I have to pee.’ ‘That’s, like, 20 minutes, man. Can you hold it?'” “Or there’s a line of 73 extras waiting to go,” observes Douglas. “And teamsters after lunch. And you’re wearing a pregnancy suit,” says Clyne, shaking her head sadly.
Considering all of the actors have appeared in multiple Vancouver-based Sci-Fi shows, it seems reasonable to assume they’re all fans of the genre. “I’m not. I’m truly not,” says Campbell. “I enjoy Battlestar, but…” “You like Star Wars,” points out Douglas. “I like it, but as a kid. I don’t rewatch it now and love it. As a kid, it appealed to me on a level of ‘Cool lightsabres’ but now I’m not, like, ‘Cool lightsabres’. It doesn’t have the same appeal. But I wouldn’t compare Battlestar to Star Wars at all. I like Battlestar because I think the acting’s phenomenal, it’s not campy. I don’t dig campy stuff, I don’t buy it. It just looks cheap to me. Stargate, Andromeda, just have no appeal to me.”
“Andromeda’s a little campy. Everyone knows that,” agrees McClure, having a flashback and bursting into laughter. “Oh my God, I said some crazy lines on that show. It was hysterical. I had to bite my lip to stop from laughing just to get through the take!”
It’s become a joke around the office that there’s a casting pool of about 20 Vancouver actors, hence so many cropping up repeatedly in all the shows filmed up there. But apparently it’s not that far-fetched. “Basically, it’s that,” nods McClure. “Kandyse is one of four beautiful black women in her age group,” continues Douglas. “Seriously. In LA there’s 5,000 guys who look like me; in Vancouver, there’s, of the guys that work all the time, 20? I go to an audition, it’s the same guys all the time.”
“You can almost pick out who’s gonna get it,” Campbell agrees. “because you just know they’re usually cast for a certain look and you know what people’s strengths are and you go, ‘It’s between those three guys’ and you know if you don’t have a chance.”
“Unless you show up and there’s a black guy, a white guy, a Chinese guy, a red-headed guy, an Asian guy,” grins Douglas. “Then you just know that they don’t have a clue. They’re bringing in the United Colours of Benetton.”
“A lot of the time the casting directors just have the go-to people,” explains McClure. “The shows come in, they go, ‘We need somebody to do this’ and it can work for or against you, because if a casting director has a certain idea of you, then it’s hard to break out of that and try to do different things.” “They don’t really need to see other people; they have reliable actors,” says Douglas, before McClure continues, “They have a track record, they know they do a good job, they know that you can look good in dirt.”
“You both look good in dirt,” Douglas tells the girls. “You know,” muses McClure, “of all the pictures that I’ve seen of Nicki, it’s amazing how awesome she looks in a burlap sack and some dirt on her face. Sweat her up and she’s even more gorgeous.” “It brings out my eyes,” Clyne grins.
On the positive side, all four actors have kept in work but it’s not been easy. Clyne: “I think you always have options. You can move to LA. I think we’re fortunate that we live in Vancouver and that we have gotten the work that we have.”
“If you want a lead in a show in Vancouver you have to go to Los Angeles, book the show, then fly back and shoot it,” explains Campbell. “You pretty much can’t get those big parts in Vancouver.”
“On Smallville,” reveals McClure, “I auditioned for that show countless times. But I got on that show because I was in Los Angeles. I was in LA and they called me and they’re like, ‘We have this part and will fly you back out to do it?’ ‘I’ve been auditioning for you for four years and it’s never come to anything!’ It’s very strange.” A taxi arrives and she has to dash off. Luckily, the others are happy to stick around.
From an outside perspective, Galactica seems to have been renewed for further seasons effortlessly, but Douglas insists that’s not the case. “Oh, that’s not true at all. Not even close. The renewal process for this show is so difficult. Talking to David [Eick, executive producer], it’s a really, really expensive show to do and there just aren’t enough people watching it. They’re putting a huge effort into Season Three to try to improve the ratings because it’s really hard to justify how much we spend to have a rating of 1.92 or 2. The only thing [in our favour] is that we’re so close to syndication numbers and if they stop it’s basically throwing money away. If they can get the syndication numbers, which is the end of Season Four, it’s a much more saleable show.” So how long will the series continue? “My opinion is possibly the end of Four but no more than Five.” “I think it’s wise to quit while you’re ahead and maintain an integrity to the story,” believes Clyne.
That’s Battlestar taken care of: is there another question the stars would like to be asked? “I would like everybody to visit the websites of two people,” jumps in Douglas. “My sister, Joey Daniels, who’s a country singer, joeydaniels.com, [and] my friends The Town Pants at thetownpants.com. And give generously to your local cancer foundation.”
There’s sudden silence. “Wow!” Paul breaks in. “What was the question: ‘What foundation should I give generously to’? I’ve been asked every question ever,” he adds, but Clyne has a suggestion: “What colour is your underwear?” “What underwear?” he replies. “Lunch with anyone,” asks Douglas. Campbell thinks for a moment. “I said at a conference, lunch with Christopher Walken. But I’d say lunch with Paul Newman and just order salads so I could use all his dressings.”
“They’re really good!” enthuses Clyne. “I use his dressing all the time! When I grow up I wanna have a salad dressing!” “I wanna wear a straw hat and hold a pitchfork,” says Campbell, possibly more realistically.
Before this gets weirder, is there any other show they’d like to appear on? “Deadwood,” responds Douglas with lightning pace, but he’ll be out of luck as it’s over. “Family Guy or The Simpsons,” he reconsiders. Or American Dad. The rest of TV is shite. Everybody Loves Raymond is gone, Seinfeld is gone.” “Arrested Development’s gone,” Campbell chips in. “I’d like to do Paul’s show,” says Douglas, setting up a plug.
“Paul has a new show,” explains Clyne. “It’s called Nobody’s Watching,” says Douglas, Campbell continuing, “It was a pilot that we shot a year and a half ago, right before the start of Season Two, and it just was picked up by NBC for six episodes. I’d love to have Douglas and Clyne on the show.” “That’d be so cool,” smiles Clyne.
When the new Battlestar Galactica started, it got a lot of flak. Old fans were horrified by the revamped elements and those who hated the original saw no point in a new version. “I don’t get the people that are pissed off Starbuck’s a woman any more,” offers Campbell, when asked how people’s attitudes have changed. “Or even comparisons to the old show at all,” considers McClure.
“It’s so drastically different,” believes Douglas. “I would say the old one was great; it was part of my childhood, I love it, I have the DVD set and this one does not take away from that and that one will not take away from this one. They stand alone. It’s like Lord of the Rings the book, Lord of the Rings the movie. The movie is phenomenal but it’s not the book. You cannot compare the two, they’re the same in name only and a couple of characters.”
“Other than that, it’s been embraced by people who didn’t want to give it a chance in the beginning. Now they’re, ‘Okay, some co-workers badgered me into watching this,’ and they sit down and they watch it and it’s four o’clock in the morning and they’re rubbing their eyes going, ‘One more episode, one more episode!’ And then they get back to the office and say, ‘Do you have Season Two? I have to watch it! What happens?'”
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