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Starbuck Fix: Talking with Katee Sackhoff of "Battlestar Galactica"

Longtime readers of this site know that there are a few series that I love with a fiery passion that knows no bounds: one is Lost and the other is Battlestar Galactica, one of the most thoughtful, thought-provoking and, well, all-around frakking great series on television today or any day.

With Season Four (the series' last) of BSG about to kick off on Sci Fi on Friday, I was curious to see what Katee Sackhoff--who plays impulsive hothead pilot Kara "Starbuck" Thrace--had to say about the series coming to an end, that shocking reveal about her character coming back to life after, you know, exploding into a million pieces earlier that season, and about what to expect this season.

What sort of emotional or mental state do we find Kara in when Season Four begins? "She's very fragile," said Sackhoff. "She’s extremely lost... You’ve never seen Starbuck so alone. And she’s a little distraught. Not only because of the way people are treating her, but because of the questions that her coming back has raised in her own mind."

One of the shocking reveals of Kara's return from the dead (beside for, well, her return from the dead) was her insistence that she's been to Earth. What does finding Earth mean to Kara? "I think it is her resolution, it’s her end," said Sackhoff pensively. "She’s putting so much weight on this one task that she believes is her destiny. I think she won’t let anything stand in her way. If that is the case, then you’ve got a very scary person on your hands. When they’re willing to sacrifice everything to accomplish something, that’s scary. You’re gonna see a lot from her this season that is kind of like a shell of her former self."

And if you're wondering just where Starbuck went during the time she was dead and what happened to her, you're not alone: Sackhoff herself doesn't know the answer yet. "No," she said. "We're [shooting episode] 14 and I've read [the script] for 15 and nope. I think they’ll leave that until the last second."

And what about that horrible prophecy in the two-hour film BSG: Razor, in which it's revealed that the Cylons believe Starbuck is a harbinger of doom for the human race? "When I read that end I went, 'Of course she is,'" said Sackhoff. "What else happens to Starbuck? Come on. Lay it all on me. It’s the worst possible end, and there you have it. She’s going to kill everybody. Great. I think that is something that has been carried through the entire season so far. As far as whether or not anyone knows, you’re going to have to wait and find out."

So does Starbuck's sudden spiritual quest affect how Sackhoff plays the character? "It doesn’t affect how I play the character, to be honest," said Sackhoff. "She’s always been religious. It’s not that she’s changed... it’s that she’s opened her eyes and allowed something else to come into her life. She’s the same person--it’s just another aspect of who she is--but she’s the same person."

Speaking of which, if Sackhoff doesn't know whether Kara is the original Starbuck, a clone, a Cylon, or something else altogether, how does she play the role? "I think it’s a strong enough internal choice to play the fear," she recounted. "Play that she’s lost. If I play that it leaves the door open to question what she is. I think our show is all about the reality of something. How do you play the reality of knowing you are something when you really don’t know what you are? You play the question; you play the uncertainty."

Look for her relationship with Admiral William Adama (Edward James Olmos) to hit the skids in light of her, er, resurrection and her fervent need to locate Earth. "It’s the worst thing that could ever happen," she says of the rift between their characters. "She gets her validation; she gets everything from him. He kind of sets the mood and the tone for how she feels about herself. To have that person doubt you is the worst that could happen to her. As far as she’s concerned, regardless of what she is, she’s the same person she was when she left. I think the worst thing is she wants his trust."

And the last thing Sackhoff would expect is a happy ending for star-crossed lovers Starbuck and Lee (Jamie Bamber). "I don’t think that Lee and Kara will ever be happy together," said Sackhoff. "I don’t think they’re meant to be together. They’re meant to be best friends, to push each other. They’re meant to have those arguments that drive you. That’s the purpose, I feel, they serve in each other’s lives. I don’t think they were ever meant to love each other... I don’t think they’ll ever end up together. I never did, really."

So who would Sackhoff see Kara end up with? "If there was anyone she’d be happy with, it’d probably be Leoben," she admits. "Anders is too weak for her emotionally. Lee’s too much of a boy scout; he makes her feel guilty for her anger and her faults just by being who he is. If there’s ever any person she can let her guard down with, and be happy with, probably Leoben."

Um, wow.

What else did Sackhoff reveal? She still doesn't play poker or smoke cigars like her characters does, she'd love to shoot a fight scene with Grace Park or Edward James Olmos, and she completely agrees with executive producer Ronald D. Moore's stance on not doing a Battlestar Galactica feature film. Instead, she views BSG's run as "a four-year movie." So there.

"We've been told who the final Cylon is," said Sackhoff, "and I personally don't believe it. I think that's something that's going to be kept to the very end."

Don't expect the fourth season to focus on the marital strain between Starbuck and Anders. "There’s a lot of really heavy things happening right now [and] I think her marriage to Anders is the least of her concerns," said Sackhoff. "I think Starbuck is starting to feel compassion for the things she hates the most. I think she, as everyone on the show, is starting to realize-- and these are the major questions of humanity and what the show has always kind of asked--is that if you found out tomorrow that your best friend, or your mother or something, was a Cylon, would that make your experiences you had with that person or thing less important to you? No. It’s the same emotions, the same feelings, the same things. But you had experiences and they’re different than you always thought they were. It doesn’t mean it's less."

If Sackhoff found out tomorrow that Starbuck was a Cylon, she says she'd be indifferent to the reveal. "I think the reason the four actors were upset about being Cylons is you play four years making choices as a character, and then to realize all of those choices would have been different had you known," admitted Sackhoff. "It’s interesting. You get the wool pulled over your eyes for four years and then are told your character is something completely different. But I would be completely indifferent. I have love for this character, and I think we all do. They were pretty angry, and I still think Michael Hogan still hasn’t come to terms with it. I don’t think he’s ready to accept it yet."

On a different note, Sackhoff said that shooting the sex scenes is much more difficult than the action scenes. "The sex scenes are harder than anything I've ever had to do," she admitted. She said that they feel "odd" and make her feel "cheap," in that they basically allow the actors to cheat on their significant others. "The fight scenes are pretty easy," said Sackhoff, "and come pretty naturally for me to be honest."

As for what's next for Sackhoff once production on the final season of BSG wraps this summer, she's not sure but she'd love to do something different from Starbuck and her Bionic Woman villainess, Sarah Corvus. "I'm looking for the opposite," she admitted and joked that she'd love to do a romantic comedy with James McAvoy.

As for what's coming up in Season Four, Sackhoff said "everyone will be very shocked" and that it will "probably ruffle a few feathers."

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Battlestar Galactica kicks off its fourth season this Friday at 10 pm on Sci Fi.


Starbuck happy with Leoben? Really? Maybe she's confusing love with Stockholm Syndrome.
The CineManiac said…
Strangely, and maybe because of the episode where we learned all about Starbuck's past and watched her explode, I could see her happy with Leoben.

Can't wait for Friday, but shouldn't we just call this what it is, the next to last season. With Sci-Fi Fraking us over and only giving us half a season now and the other half next year, they are basically making 2 mini-seasons. So while I'm excited for mini-Season 4, I'm sad once it's over I'll have to wait a year for mini-Season 5.
Anonymous said…
Has an official decision been made as to when the second half will air?
Anonymous said…
Jace, I'll always fondly refer to you as the lucky bastard who lands interviews with all the charming, blond starlets.

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