FedCon XIX: our interview with Aaron Douglas
By: Peter Glotz (Pedda), together with Robert Vogel
Date: May 21, 2010
His role in “Battlestar Galactica” started as a minor supporting character, but during the seasons, the “Chief” became more and more important. The actor behind the fan’s favorite mechanic, Canadian born Aaron Douglas, was among the many guest stars of FedCon XIX, held from April 30 to May 2 2010 in Bonn, Germany.
During the convention, he was kind enough to meet us for an interview. We talked about his time on board Galactica, the chief’s character development, and the possibility of a final five visit on “Caprica”. Also, he told us about his new character, Frank Leo on “The Bridge”, and what kind of beer he likes to during while visiting Germany.
You were one of the first actors from “Battlestar Galactica” to go to conventions. Did you spread the word to get your colleagues to go as well?
Well, they all know me as the guy who goes to conventions, so whenever they go, the first thing is they come and ask “So, what is this convention thing all about?”. I explain it to them and the people started to go. I always have a blast.
Are you going to continue to go to conventions, after the show ended?
I’ll probably slow down a little bit. There are a few that I’ve gone to recently just because I like going to those cities. I did one in San Fransisco and one in Calgary last weekend because I hadn’t done one in western Canada in a while. And of course, any chance to come here [to Germany], I’ll say yes.
This is your second convention in Germany. Do you already have a favorite German beer?
Oh, I like them all, but I was drinking Bitburger last night, and the local one, Kölsch. Those were really good, I like those a lot! The problem is you can’t just have one. It’s 4:30 in the morning, you’re having another one and you are wondering what the hell happened. When you come to Germany, you expect to have some fine beer.
During your time on “Galactica”, were you hired as a recurring character, or on an episode basis?
I was hired for the mini series just as a a day player actor. I don’t know if they had any plans what to do with this character. I think the original plan was that the chief dies somewhere at the beginning of season 1. I’m thankful that he didn’t.
What do you remember the most about your first day on set, and the last day?
You know, i don’t really remember the first day. I remember walking in and see the enormity of the set and go “Holy shit, this is cool!”, seeing all this kind of stuff and realizing that I’m on something that is much bigger than I am.
My last day? I don’t remember the last day so much, but I remember the scene that you see me last on the show, when the chief walks off to Scotland. I remember shooting that and then go back to my trailer, just standing there and thinking “That’s the last time you’re going to see this character, ever”. That’s kind of a weird thing. He’s gone, dead. Nobody is writing anything more about him. I have it in my head, what he did, but I’m not going to tell you about that.
After the first season aired, did you recognize that this Galactica thing grows more and more?
When it started to air, the fans really started talking about it and the critics picked up on it and started to write stories about how amazing the show is. It was a very small snowball that role down the hill and became gigantic by the end. At the beginning we had no idea what it’s going to do.
The Chief started as a minor character in the show. What happened that your character grew more and more during the series?
I don’t know. I know that the writers really liked what I was doing in the pilot. Then in season one, they started giving me a little more to do. And than they realized that I can actually act. So they gave me a little bit more, a little bit more. Ron started “Oh, I really like this character, there’s a lot of things we can do with this character and Aaron is a good enough actor to be able to do it.” So they started giving me more and more. And I could not be more blessed, I love the chief. If I had my choice of characters on the show to play, I’d pick the chief again.
How do you think your acting influenced the writers to write more about your character?
Well, they watch and see what you’re doing. If you’re giving a good performance, the writers will give you more to do. Because they know they can trust you, they don’t have to write around you. That’s what Ron talked about. He said he’s been on shows before where you had to kind of write around certain actors because they’re not talented enough to be able to do the material. They can write anything for anybody if they know they can pull it off. They see it, they trust you and they write some more. I also know that sometimes my performance was not what they had in mind, but they liked it better. They go “Oh, I never thought of that, let’s do this with him.” Yeah, they really put me through the years a little bit, those writers.
Is it a door opener? Do people recognize you as the chief on “Battlestar”?
Well, it gets you into a lot of rooms in Hollywood. They haven’t seen it but they certainly know that it was a great show and the actors are worth meeting and auditioning. It’s tough, though, because it’s the show that used to be on TV and they start to forget and ask “what have you done lately”?
During the days of the mini series, did you get any negative response from the fans of the original show?
I didn’t get anything because the chief wasn’t in the original. Had I played a boomer character or something like that, it would have been a different thing for sure. You get some people that come up and are upset about it, and they go all the way to tell you that they love the original and only the original and won’t watch your show. I don’t know why people feel the need to tell me they don’t like my show.
If you don’t like my show, fine, don’t watch it, turn the channel. It’s bizarre to me that people feel the need to do that. I just say “Okay, thanks, I won’t watch your show either”. The people who refuse to watch it, because they love the original… I love the original, too. I love them both, for different reasons.Too bad, you miss out on about 96 hours of great television. You’re missing out on some great stories and some great entertainment. If you’re that small minded, go frak yourself.
You played an union leader in season 3, and I talked to some actors who told me, Aaron is exactly the guy who’d create an actors union at our set and that’s how the writers got that idea.
Aaron Douglas (laughs): Yeah. I don’t like it when people are being threated unfair. And I have no problem speaking my mind.
Now that the series has ended, there has been one follow up, “The Plan”. Do you think there’s a big demand on more “Battlestar” related stuff? Or do you think it is finished for good?
I never say never. There’s too much money to be made. That’s what makes the word go round, what makes television happen. There’s some accountant sitting there somewhere going “look at all the money we made of this show. Why can’t we make another mini series, another movie?” I think the plan with “The Plan” was to make three, that one plus two others. But then they scaled it down to the one, just “The Plan”. I don’t want to see any more ofter the end of season 4, don’t go show what the chief is going to do in Scotland. Bu I think a back story ore stuff like this could be interesting. Or something from between “Caprica” and the beginning of our time line. There are 40-50 years, there’s gonna be something. But who knows?
Have you seen “Caprica”? What do you think of it. Do you think it would be a good idea to see the Final Five in “Caprica”?
I have not seen it, I haven’t had the chance. I haven’t been home very much. But I’m very excited to take a look. The crew that did “Battlestar”, those are the same guys that make “Caprica”. And I talked to those guys a lot. They said it should be really cool. Well, as far as the Final Five go, you know, I don’t understand that whole time line thing (laughs). We’re Cylons, we’re thousands of years old. I can’t really wrap my brain around that. I think it would be very cool for one of the characters to walks into a coffee shop, Michael Hogan sits in a corner, reading a paper. Tory is behind the counter making me an espresso. I think that would be very interesting. We’re not the Final Five, like, he’s not the chief but somebody else. That would thrill the fans for a week.
I heard rumors about a remake of the original “Battlestar Galactica” movie. What do you think, as a fan yourself, does it make sense?
I have no idea. I heard that rumor, too. Glen Larson and Bryan Singer going to do this thing. I do know that Bryan Singer is a brilliant film maker, I love his movies. I think he’s a great director and if he were to do it, I know it will be outstanding, it will be great. But why to remake a show that’s just been remade, I don’t understand. I’m sure those guy have a plan that it will all make sense.
Like you said, maybe there’s an accountant somewhere sitting at Universal thinking “‘Battlestar’ is popular right now, let’s make a movie!”.
Well, you know, NBC Universal never had the rights for a theatrical release, they only own the rights for TV. So Glen Larson still has the movie rights. So I think he wants to do something to put it into the theaters.
You recently told me that your new show, “The Bridge”, has been sold on the international market, so it is likely that it comes to German TV soon. For all those who are not familiar with it, what’s the premise of the show? What can the viewers expect? How did you get that role?
I got the role because somebody at [the Canadian station] CTV is a big fan of “Battlestar” and a big fan of mine. He thought that I would be great as this character, Frank Leo, who was a cop for 12 years and the he becomes head of the police union. So he’s in charge of 8000 men and women on the street. The story is about his life as a union leader and how he balances taking care of the membership and fighting with city hall. What happens when cops get in trouble, what happens when cops do bad things and how does he protect them? It’s a pretty dark show, something like what if Tony Soprano was a cop? This guy is a bit of a bad ass. Yeah, I quite like the character. It’s doing well in Canada and it’s waiting for CBS to air it, and then the rest of the world can get it. It has been sold to a hundred and thirty some countries. It’s just a matter of when they be allowed to put it on. We’re all just standing around, waiting a little bit. Waiting for CBS to put it on their schedule.
The last question: There’s another project that seems to be in post production hell for quite a while and I don’t know if it’s ever going to be released.
Is this “Blood: A butcher’s tale”? I have no fraking clue what the hell they’re doing with that. It’s all green screen, shot in a studio, smaller than this room we’re in, probably 15×15 meters. It was a weird thing to shoot. I haven’t seen it, and I haven’t heard of those guys in three years. I have no idea what’s going on with that show. I would be surprised if it suddenly comes out. I was paid, so, yeah, I passed the point of caring. Too bad for all this work, and somebody put millions of dollars into it. Vampires are popular right now. You’d think somebody would put it out, straight to DVD or something like that.I don’t know. Maybe it’s just awful. (laughs)
Okay, thank you very much.
Okay, see you guys around.