Battlestars in his eyes
By: John O’Brien
Date: April 14, 2007
Source: The Courier-Mail
IF YOU ever wanted evidence that remakes don’t have to suck, look no further than Battlestar Galactica.
The original 1970s series was a huge hit, following on the heels of the first Star Wars movie. It starred Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict and Lorne Greene as leaders of the last colony of mankind fleeing the evil robotic Cylons and searching for the fabled planet Earth.
So when the idea of a reimagined Battlestar Galactica was first mooted several years back, fans of the classic series were up in arms – they didn’t want anyone tinkering with the show they remembered so fondly. And those who had loved Benedict’s portrayal of the gambling, womanising, cigar-chomping Lt Starbuck were unimpressed to learn the space cowboy would be a cowgirl this time out (played by Katee Sackhoff).
Star of the new series Aaron Douglas knows exactly where the fans were coming from. “Absolutely, and I was in complete agreement, because I’m not a big fan of remakes,” he says. “Things that have been done well before, why would you do it again? If somebody decided to remake Jaws I would be really offended. I think that great pieces of art should be left alone and people should come up with their own ideas, so I completely sympathise with the fans.”
However the new series has been so impressive that it has largely won over the sceptics, and drawn in a new audience besides those fans of the classic series.
Despite only the hardware bearing any real resemblance to the classic series, the new show’s dark feel and flawed characters have made for compelling viewing.
“I think the view I’ve taken now is that you need to really see them both for their own merits,” Douglas says. “Nothing that the new one’s done has taken away the greatness of the old show and the memories and the nostalgia of it. And there’s nothing that the old show has that will take away from the new one.”
“I see them as two separate entities that are great for their own reasons and stand alone on their own merits.”
As for his character of Chief Petty Officer Galen Tyrol, Douglas sees a simple man with a heart of gold in a complicated galaxy.
“The Chief is sort of the everyman on the ship,” he explains.
“He’s someone the fans really relate to because he’s just a very hard-working blue-collar guy who makes mistakes and owns up to them, and nothing’s done out of malice, he’s doing the best he can with the situation that he has.”
“He’s confused and he’s tortured by his demons and all of those great things, which makes him a very interesting character because he’s just a really ‘human’ person.”
Despite having made the role of Tyrol his own, Douglas actually landed it by default.
“I had originally auditioned for the part of Apollo, which Jamie (Bamber) got, which is great, because Jamie has to go to the gym and be thin, and I certainly don’t wanna have to do that,” he jokes.
“I got a call back for the part of (Lt Alex) Gaeta, and didn’t get that, and they just wanted to put me somewhere and didn’t know where, and the Chief was the last role that was cast and they didn’t have anybody for it, so they just offered it to me, and it’s grown into what it’s become.”
“He was pretty small in the mini-series, but the writers have given me a lot more to do, so it’s great.”
Douglas, a Vancouver native, has the luxury of living and working in his home city, which is home base for Battlestar Galactica, as well numerous other sci-fi and fantasy TV shows in which he’s had bit parts.
But for now the convention circuit is bringing him to Australasia.
“I love going to the conventions, I love meeting the fans, I love talking to them,” he says.
“They’re all so interesting and so passionate about the show and the character and the stories. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a great reward – you’re treated like a demi-god for a weekend, and they’re the best fans of any genre of television or film.”
“So I’m gonna get to go learn about Australian culture and New Zealand culture for the next couple of weeks, and I’m very very excited about that!”
Aaron Douglas is a special guest at the Supanova pop culture convention at Brisbane’s RNA Showgrounds today and tomorrow. Details at www.supanova.com.au
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