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Stardust: The Cast and Crew of "Battlestar Galactica" Talk Beginnings and Endings

If there's one constant about Comic-Con from year to year, it's that the panel for Battlestar Galactica is always a huge draw.

This year was no different, though I did enjoy last year's "Women of Battlestar" panel a hell of a lot more, though this year's panel--moderated by potty-mouthed Kevin Smith, at least afforded a sizable number of laughs. Much of the panel was devoted to the cast, including Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, Tricia Helfer, Michael Trucco, and James Callis, remembering their favorite moments over the past few seasons as creators Ronald D. Moore and David Eick teased the audience with a few morsels about what's to come in the final ten episodes of Battlestar Galactica, slated to air early next year.

Of course, there almost wasn't going to be a final ten episodes. Production on the second half of BSG's final season was interrupted last winter by the writers strike, which shut down production and left the cast wondering whether or not they'd ever return to the series' Vancouver set... or if that midseason cliffhanger--in which the crew of Galactica and their Cylon allies discovered Earth--would instead act as the de facto end for the series.

To illustrate what I mean, I'll turn to Eick and Moore themselves to explain:

"We knew we had to end the midseason [finale] with something," said Eick. "We argued about whether to reveal that Baltar was the Fifth Cylon or-- wait a minute!"

"The end of the first half was almost the end of the show, because of the writers' strike," continued Moore. "We were all, well, that would kind of suck: They get to Earth and it sucks. Thank you! Goodbye!"

"There's a fair amount of what do we do next?," said Moore. "And then the story continues in unexpected ways. There's a tremendous amount of upheaval. It's not really the most happy-go-lucky ten episodes we've ever done... which I'm sure doesn't come as a surprise."

"Lee gets really fat this time," joked Eick. (The less said about that fat suit from the New Caprica days, the better, in my book.)

The big question everyone wanted answered was, of course, the identity of the Final Cylon. But Eick and Moore weren't talking. "I can tell you," said Moore, "it is someone you've seen." (Fans, start your theorizing now.)

One of the more interesting sidenotes was a discussion by James Callis about how he approached the role of Gaius Baltar. "In an American story, the bad guy gets more tail," said Callis. "When you're preaching that you love god, can you be a complete nymphomaniac on the side? Does that make you less spiritual? It took me three years to work that out. There are so many people who have goodness in their heart, but they're obsessed with something. One particular thing. These last few reasons, I've found that Gaius makes peace with himself on that." He later went on to say that guilt plays a major role in the construction of Gaius' psyche; after all, he was indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people.

Like Callis, Katee Sackhoff also found it difficult to come to terms with the inner conflict of her character, Kara "Starbuck" Thrace. "It's nice, I guess, to be a role model," mused Sackhoff. "It's a little scary at times. I hope that people teach their children to take Starbuck's bad and throw it away, the drinking a lot and sleeping around. Use protection. I'm just rambling, because I have no idea to answer that question. There's a fine line we've tried to walk with her, where she's very good at her job, and then there's a fine line of turning her into some kind of superhero. There's a fine line of what's realistic and what's not."

Tricia Helfer, meanwhile, has had the distinction of playing what seems like "96 characters" (at least, according to Smith) on the series. Helfer said that it was an actor's dream to be able to perform that many different roles, let alone all on the same series. (See: Caprica Six, Natalie, Gina, Head Six, etc.)

Jamie Bamber, meanwhile, praised the series' "gender blindness." "The show is groundbreaking in many areas," said Bamber, "especially the way it deals with gender. The men and women on the show shower together, fly together, and still sleep together. It doesn't matter."

As for the reveal about the identities of the Final Four Cylons last season, Eick admitted that he and Moore had wavered about who would be included in that group and whether or not it would be Anders or Gaeta. (Curious.)

Michael Trucco, however, was stunned by the revelation that Anders was a part of this group and is just happy to be a part of the series. "It was like winning the lottery," said Trucco, who recently filmed a comedy pilot called Man of Your Dreams for NBC, of landing the role. "It was a dream job. I stuck around, and at the end of Season Three, they give me a script that says you're a Cylon and I'm, like, fucking wow. Guess I'll be around for a while. Aaron Douglas [who plays Tyrol] was the first one to tell me. He was, like, dude dude dude, you heard? We're gonna be Cylons. And I was like, shut up. They don't even know my name on this set. They're even calling me Steve."

So what are the cast members' most memorable kick-ass moments from the run of the series?

"When I came on the show," said Trucco. "My Mexican standoff with Helo and Sackhoff."

Bamber loved the pullback reveal of Earth while Callis absolutely loved the dark humor-laden scene between Adama and Tigh in which they discuss a "paper shortage."

"When Galactica fires its cannons," admitted Sackhoff. "They're really neat. My other one has to do with guns as well: the Mexican standoff with Trucco reminded me. When Helo and I rescued Anders, our stunt guy gave me two machine guns and says, 'You can have two machine guns,' and I'm, like, awesome." (Trucco chimes in to correct her, saying that the prop guy didn't hand Sackhoff two guns, she demanded two guns.) She also recounted a story about when the director told Tahmoh Penikett (Helo) to stop acting like a girl during a gunfight scene.

"I got to shoot some guns," said Helfer. "Finally. James and I, we started the first scene of the miniseries having sex and we finished the main shooting with shooting." Callis concurred: "Filming the end of Battlestar was like being in Apocalypse Now," he said. "It was frakking awesome."

"It's hard to pick one," said Eick. "Hard to identify one as the best. For me, the most memorable moment was watching Starbuck and Number Six pound the entire living shit out've each other for an entire act at the end of Season One... They wouldn't kiss, though, no matter how much I begged them."

So what can we expect for the big wrap up at the end of Battlestar Galactica? "The ending is an ending," teased Bamber. "It's utterly sublime and a perfect way to finish the show. It took me by surprise. I remember the final read through was a disgraceful exhibit of tears and lower lip quivering as we got to the end. It does everything justice."

Joining the panel late, Tahmoh Penikett added, "The final two episodes are perfect. There's a lot of closure to a lot of the storylines, but there are still some questions, which are the way that things should be."

So say we all.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the great Battlestar post! I wish I could have seen the panel. I've been to one Battlestar event and it was fantastic...great cast and writers. The best! I am so sad that it's going to be over but am really looking forward to seeing how they wrap it up. Sounds like it's going to be pretty incredible.

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