Profile: Aaron Douglas
By: Joseph McCabe
Date: October 2008
Source: SFX #174
SPOILER WARNING: There are spoilers in the below interview about the cylons/colonies/earth. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!!!
Galactica’s troubled everyman Chief Galen Tyrol gives away a massive spoiler – you have been warned!
So many of the characters on Ron Moore and David Eick’s reimagining of Battlestar Galactica fit our traditional notions of sci-fi screen heroism – the brash young hotshot [Starbuck], the straightlaced do-gooder [Apollo], the grizzled veteran leader [Adama] – that it’s easy to miss the unconventional nobility of the show’s quieter characters. Take Chief Galen Tyrol, as embodied by Canadian actor Aaron Douglas. Tyrol’s suffered as much as anyone, ever since his beloved Boomer was first revealed as a Cylon and killed by his-wife-to-be Cally, before being rebooted into the arms of another man.
Still, all Tyrol’s lost pales in comparison to his discovery, at the end of Battlestar’s third season, that he’s what he’s once feared of being: a Cylon.
“The four that were revealed at the end of season three,” Douglas tells SFX on set in Vancouver, “are what they are, but they’re one-offs. They’re the original Cylons. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, when there were 13 colonies on Kobol, 12 went that way and one went that way to find Earth – or create an Earth – and that colony was actually Cylons. They’re individuals, there’s no multiple models. The seven that we know are a different kind of Cylon that came much later. They’re probably ten, 20 years old, born out of the metal machines that fought back 40 years ago in the Cylon wars of the 12 colonies. So they’re essentially like the gods. And we were on the new Earth, and destroyed that and came back to the 12 colonies to rejoin humanity to find out the cycle of time.”
“Why do we create a world and destroy ourselves? Why does humanity do that? And why do we as Cylons follow that path to humanity? So we sort of turned off the Cylon part of us and went and joined the humans. They don’t know we’re Cylons, and we didn’t know until we started getting closer to Earth – that’s when we started hearing the music at the end of the last season and get woken up to the fact that we are.”
The ease with which Douglas describes his Cylon identity belies the reluctance he felt on learning Tyrol was to become his own worst nightmare.
“I found out when I accidentally saw a piece of paper at someone’s house that I wasn’t suppose to see. I just glanced at it and it talked about the chief being a Cylon. ” I went ‘What the….?!’ I spoke to that person, and they said, ‘You’re not supposed to see that. You can’t say anything, you’re not suppose to know!’ I was like ‘Okay…’ So I bit my tongue for about two months, until finally it came out. They took us into a room and said, before the read-through of the script, ‘Okay, you are in fact a Cylon.’ They had the final scripts, but then they had all these addendums that they didn’t put in the script, and we shot them secretly.”
“I really didn’t like the fact that the chief was a Cylon at all. I thought they were taking a character that the fans really like, and identify with, and making him the enemy. You take this guy that’s really likeable, even with his flaws, and make him perceived as evil, and… he really would be marginalised at that point. I told Ron, and we spent an hour and a half on the phone. And he explained it, and gave me the whys and the wherefores. At the end I was convinced. I think it’s a good turn, and I’m actually quite pleased about it at this point. We’ll see where it goes.”
We decided to pick Douglas’s brain, and find out just when it was decided that half the show’s cast would become. as their characters call them, “toasters”.
“They had no idea who the final five were gonna be,” he admits. “The writers didn’t figure that out… They’ve sort of been making it up as they go along. They liked the idea of a couple of us, and then they weren’t so sold on the rest of them. I was told that they came up with Tory because she has no backstory, and they can make her come from wherever and do whatever. The hardest one was Tigh, because he has such a history with Adama/ But the chief… Ron wanted to humanise the Cylons, and I think that the chief humanises them more than any other character possibly could.”
Despite the gloom that goes with playing a Cylon, and the precious few episodes of Battlestar that remain, Douglas – the poster child for many of the everyday joes who adore his lauded space saga – has a healthy attitude about the show’s current season. “It’s the business,” he laughs. “It’s the way it goes. I like the fact that Ron and David are going out on their own terms and they’re just gonna end the show. When shows go too long you start getting filler episodes and filler seasons. So I like the fact that we’re gonna wrap it up and end it, and hopefully when it’s ended that’s it. I have a felling they’re probably gonna want to do movies of the week or some damn thing like that, but who knows? We’ll see.”
In the first image below skip past the parts highlighted in yellow if you want to avoid the spoilers.
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