Battlestar's Helo and Tyrol Interviewed

So the amazing guys over at Aintitcool had one of their contributors at DragonCon last month. He goes by "Grendy" and he sat down with
Aaron Douglas and Tamoh Penikett to discuss all things Battlestar Galactica. It's a long but incredibly good read. Here is a snipet:

I interviewed Aaron Douglas and Tamoh Penikett at DragonCon in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend at the fabu Trader Vic's over some Mai-Tais and something called a Blue Hawaiian. I looked for Elvis, but instead I got a fascinating conversation with two of BSG's stars, and some insight into what makes them tick. Without further ado, here we go...

Grendy- How are you dealing with, or noting the changes in the fans of the show, in between seasons 1 and 2?

Tamoh- in England the first season aired, it was still to a really small audience. And now here, you'd never really see people all dressed up like that before here, and I've seen everyone, even from the old shows. They're even in the flight suits that they've invented and with helmets.

G- Yeah, I know, (at DragonCon) I've probably seen about 10 Starbucks, a number of folks in the blue uniforms and a couple of burly guy-types in halfway wearing orange jumpers with the requisite two-tank tops look. They even sported the dog tags.

T- …And that stuff takes a lot of work, 'cause our stuff's pretty fancy in the show.

G-You can find some things online, but not most of this stuff.

T- Exactly. We just had one woman approach us, and said she's been making a lot of gear for people, and that she'd not even seen the show. I said "You better get on it!" (smile)…and she's been overwhelmed with requests for BSG gear.

G-I saw some nice Starbucks, and a rally good Roslin yesterday. Though with that all you need pretty much is a blue suit and a red wig and glasses. She (the woman dressed as Roslin) got to meet Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh) and was all geekin' out over it.

G- Okay, on to the questions:

Aaron, since it's known you're a fan of the original show, are you still as geeked out about it, not that you're two seasons in, and the third's about to start?

Aaron- I really still love it for what it is. And I literally do, often times, probably more then I should, sit and reflect and go "I'm the Chief" it's a remarkable thing to me. When it first started I kinda wondered… does LeVar Burton go "I'm Geordie"? that's pretty cool. I'll go down in history as The Chief. I mean there are police detectives and chiefs, but in these people's lives, for the rest of my life, I'll be the Chief. And I think that's a remarkable thing, and it's flattering and an honour and I am pleased about it. (Canadian spelling in deference to the fellas)

G- Do you like that Helo became such a fan favorite (his fans in the miniseries made it known that they liked him, so Moore et all brought him back for the series despite his being left to face nuclear holocaust, thus changing the whole storyline of the show) I mean, did you have to leave a job in order to start season 1?

T- I knew when I was in the miniseries that I would be dying. I'd accepted that. I die, you know? I didn't get to do too many scenes with the other actors. When I read the script I said wow… when I read the script, and I got to the part where I tell Sharon to leave me on the planet…

G- The big sacrifice

T- Yeah, the big sacrifice. I said wow, I gotta have this. It's mine. But the door was closed for me. (after that, as he'd been left on-planet) I got a lot of nice compliments in the end. "I really liked your work." etc… But the thing about this business is you don't put any weight on that until you have your contract. And even then, a couple of days in, then you can start celebrating the fact that you're there. The reality of it.

I had gone on after the miniseries and gotten a regular supporting lead on Cold Squad. It was huge, and I was really excited about it. So it finished, and I was in LA for pilot season. Funny story: I was in LA for pilot season. UI had a terrible audition. One of the worst of my life, and the casting director was a complete dick. And I was going: I can't believe I've been getting away with this for so long, because I can't act. I've been pulling a fast one over everyone, it's horrible. And I get home and get a call from the executive director of Cold Squad and it's like "Sorry buddy, we're done." as the show had been cancelled. The only thing that made me happy when I had that bad audition was 'well, at least I have Cold Squad' and it was a week later that Ron Moore called me up and said he's got an idea for the storyline. So I am a very lucky guy.

Aaron pipes up with "Cold Squad is the original show that Cold Case ripped off. Just wanted to point that out. (insert tone of Canadian pride here)

G- Well, we Americans steal everything.

A- And they won't admit it!

T- and since it's about a police unit that's been doing these cases since the 40's it's appropriate that it's set in Vancouver.

G- are you from Vancouver ?

T- well I've lived there on and off for about 10 years, but I am from the Yukon. Born and raised Yukon boy. If you know where that is.

G- I do. I am not an American with bad geography skills. It's west of Edmonton, east of Alaska

T- Yep. (slightly surprised)

G- I told you, I know my geography. Aaron, do you think, despite all the protestations of the chief, that he might be a cylon? An outside chance? Similar to Dean Stockwell?

Or do you just think, no way…

A- is the chief a cylon? No, the chief is NOT a cylon.

G- That's good, 'cause that would be lame. Oh, Sharon 's a cylon and I am a cylon and we both didn't know it.

A- I'd be pissed. I would stake an episode-fee on it. He's not a cylon.

G- as people, or characters do you think anyone else is one?

A- (super fast answer) No one is. It is my belief that we've seen all the Cylons that we're gonna see.

What about that black male doctor on Caprice? He was an 'outsider'/

A- I think all the cylons have been revealed. There are 12, but what you'll find out in season 3... …cylon models get what you call "boxed".

G-Like retired?

A-No, they just turn them off. They take every single copy of that model number and put them in a box and turn them off. You can turn them back on… but they get boxed. One of the cylon models gets boxed in this year.

G- Very cool. (inside my head I am figuring odds on who it might be)

A- The four or five remaining models that you haven't seen; they've been boxed. I think that they've been boxed.

G-Yeah, if you reveal two or three a season, after a few seasons, you're done, no more to show. And no where to go.

A- See, the thing for me, you've seen all these scenes on the cylon ships, or the gatherings of them and you've only seen these specific characters, so if you suddenly introduced a Chinese guy, you'd be …'Where the hell has he been?' If there are millions of copies of this model where has he been? You've seen 20 copies of Dorils, and 15 copies of Sixes. And it's a little chintzy if you go with or say more of the cast is cylon.

G-But I am sure there are people who watch everyone's moves. To see if they're showing signs.

A- That's part of the mystery. The possibility.

G-I would love if it was Khandyse McClure, (Dualla) personally.

T- wow, really?

A- yeah?

G- There are some long takes, like PT Anderson does in Magnolia, or Boogie Nights, that linger on her. And you see her thinking. There's a scene in the head with Gaeta that might be telling… man, if she's a cylon. I told my brother, if I am right about this thing…then man, you owe me something.

T- Well the show does go in unexpected ways. The show is so awesome, it's so unpredictable.

A-The audience nowadays is so much more sophisticated.

T- I have one coming up now that I am just dying to work on. I want something juicy.

G-Is it a Helo-centric storyline?

T- It is.

G-I'd like to bring up something about the show's storylines that you're not going to see elsewhere, (by this I mean that other shows would not tackle this topic) and it's not pleasant. The storyline where Grace's character was attacked and raped….a friend of mine finally saw that episode…and frankly her first sexual experience was being raped, and she saw that episode… (before I can even finish Aaron and Tamoh have looks of horror and shock on their faces and Aaron says " oh my fucking god' …{this puts both of them in the -these guys are real human, feeling, people, so it's a sure bet they're not from Hollywood-category}…and that episode just wrecked her. And she said 'Goddamn… that show. And she thought it was really well done. How it was handled. The empathy, the class in which it was handled. If you see someone in that situation, that's how you react, if you're human. Whether you're in love with the person or not. Now I knew this about her, but it's not at my forebrain all the time… but to have her say that made me stop and think… god, yeah… I can only imagine that there were thousands of women and men who saw that…

A- There are women who don't watch the show anymore. Because they were so horrified by that. It's real life. I am sorry, but…

(at this point, since we've somewhat referenced Abu Ghrab, I apologized as an American for our current administration. This led into a very off topic conversation about the current Canadian Prime Minister and how he's a conservative…)

T- More importantly… when that scene was happening, is it rape if it's a cylon?

G- Yeah, where do you draw that line for your enemies?

T- And she's talking to Apollo (actually, it was Adama) and she says basically, " What, it doesn't count as rape, because I am a cylon'? These parallels are obvious to what is happening today. We have a lot of separatism in religion and politics in the world.

G- I am with ya on that one…

T- It's sad. The fact is that so much of the west is ethnocentric.

G-(somewhat sarcastically) Why should they care about other cultures, when they've conquered them all and made them assume their McDonalds and Starbucks cultures and ways of life? (And then here was digression about Dr. Joseph Lowery and how I'd met him recently, and his lambasting of Bush at Coretta Scott King's funeral and more drinks were ordered.)

A- ...and how often are you going to have dialog with the president? In Canada you have to show up to the parliament and take heat from the other side. The liberals have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in scandals and we could not, in good conscience vote for them again. (Tamoh's father was a member of a leftist party in Canada) Just so we know, it is a minority, right?

G- huh?

T- A minority government...

G- oh yeah. no one I know voted for that guy.

T- He had all the money

G- and frankly, they (democrats) didn't present a viable enough candidate last time. saying "I am not George Bush" just isn't enough.

T- and wavering on topics as well.

G- if bobby Kennedy was still alive he could have walked right into the presidency...

T- yeah, for sure.

G- okay, sorry for the digression. Now, if it's okay, I'd like to talk about you some more. (they smile)

G- Aaron, do you think, as a person or a character that Tyrol took up with Callie because it was "easy"? It's not having to having to deal with the grief over Sharon v.1, and she's just 'there' you know?

To find out the answer to that and other questions, click here to read the entire interview!


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