Filmmaker and comic book author Kevin Smith moderated a panel of “Battlestar Galactica” cast and crew last Saturday at Comic Con International in San Diego. While feigning disappointment in not being involved in the production of the show, Smith brought his trademark humor to the proceedings. In attendance were Producers David Eick and Ronald D. Moore and stars James Callis, Tricia Helfer, Katie Sackoff, Michael Trucco, and a surprise extra guest, Jaime Bamber. They were later joined by Tahmoh Penikett.
After a clip revealing tantalizing images of the remaining eleven episodes of the Sci Fi series, Smith begin the questions in earnest. Starting things off in his signature way, Smith asked a rather pointed question, “Will there be a Caprica equivalent to cocksucker?” After the laughing died down, Eick responded with “We’re working on it. Saving it for ‘Caprica,’” the forthcoming spin-off prequel.
Moving onto a more serious topic, Smith asked if the group were relieved or sadden to be finished. Moore responded, “It’s hard. You know, we wrapped production on our final episode of ‘Battlestar’ three weeks ago. It was an emotional time for everybody; very difficult to let the show go, I think there was a general sense of for everybody behind the scenes, the cast, everyone associated with it, that this was the time to end the story we reached the point of a tale we felt it was time to resolve it, put a period at the end of the sentence. There’s a great deal of satisfaction when you get to tell the end of your story.”
Eick then added, “The problem was when we had the wrap party --which is when typically get to make out with someone or tell someone to go screw themselves, the person you’ve been holding back from all those years -- we couldn’t because there was still shooting left to go, so it sort of ended with a whimper not a bang, so this is sort of the goodbye right here.”
To this, Bamber responded, “In that case, go screw yourself!” After the crowd cheers died down, Eick said, “Exactly.”
Smith then pitched his idea for the mid-season finale, “[A] series of missiles launching from Earth.” Moore responded that the writers knew they had to give a big revelation and there was some discussion as to whether the fleet would arrive on Earth or to reveal the final Cylon. “Actually with the writer’s strike, that could have been the end of ‘Battlestar.’ That was floating around the set with the WGA strike that would have been the end.”
Smith then asked, “So what do they do in the final ten [episodes]? Sit around and say, “Fuck, why didn’t we stay where we were?” Moore responded, “There’s a fair amount of recrimination and sort of wondering where they go next. What do they do with the knowledge that they discovered [on] Earth. What it means to each of them. Then the story continues, I think, in unexpected ways. There’s just a tremendous amount of upheaval. Things aren’t pretty on ‘Battlestar’ for a while.”
Eick then joked, “Lee gets really fat this time.” The crowd was amused.
Asked about his character of Lee Adama becoming a politician, Bamber said he was relieved to ditch the flight suits. “It was a breath of fresh air to be a catalogue model for a while,” he said.
Asked about the complex equation of spirituality, guilt, and sex in the role of Gaius Baltar, Callis remarked, “An America mindset says the bad guy gets more tail, I think it’s a good way of putting it.” Early in the season, he had to wrestle the new component of Baltar’s ministry into the character. “If you’re preaching to people that you’re in love with God, can you also be a nymphomaniac? Does that make you less spiritual?” A member of the audience shouted “No!” Callis responded, “Absolutely! It took me like three years to think ‘does that make him a bad person or not reliable or does he have one thing on his mind? I’ve found a way to Gaius make peace with himself on that level, he’s doesn’t mind and he doesn’t care, at least on the tail issue.”
Turning to Katie Sackoff, Smith called her “the single most influential female in the history of entertainment.” He added, “You kind of took over old Lucy Lawless as Xena as the lesbian icon, that’s a lot of responsibility.” Sackoff was floored by this. “That’s the first time in my life I’ve been speechless,” she responded.
After thinking about it, she added, “It’s nice to be a role model, scary at times, but I hope people teach their children to take Starbuck’s bad stuff and throw it away.” After labeling “drinking a lot, sleeping around and all that stuff” as Starbuck’s good attributes, Sackoff realized she lost her point. “I’m just rambling at this point I absolutely don’t know how to answer that question I should have just said thank you, and shut the hell up.”
Smith then commented that the character is never a damsel-in-distress, which Sackoff was ready to elaborate upon. “She’s very efficient, very good, doesn’t have to be rescued, but then there’s that fine line of [not] turning her into some superhero. She does bleed. She can die. She’s not a guy. There’s a fine line of what’s realistic and what’s not.” Sackoff used the boxing scene from the episode “Unfinished Business” as an example. “It looked at one point that she was beating him, but she knew she was cheating. She knew she couldn’t beat up a guy so she had to drop kick him.”
Commenting that she has had to rescue both Lee and Anders several times, she joked. “It’s all right, they should just stand there and look pretty.” The crowd cheered.
Turning to the pretty, Smith asked Trucco about his character Anders’s status on the show. Trucco said he won “the television lottery.” He thanks Sackoff for the character’s continued existence. When he learned about the character’s Cylon nature, he quipped, “I guess I’ll be around for awhile.” Eick jokingly suggested the choice of Anders as one of the final five was decided over “tequila shots” in the writer’s room.
Smith lauded Tricia Helfer’s ability to play the various Model Six Cylons over the years. She recalled the first variant on “Number Six,” a character called “Shelly Godfried.” She recalled asking Moore, “Is she supposed to be a carbon copy or is she a little different?” This lead Helfer to play that version more as a “sleeper agent.” The later character Gina was “a lot fun.” Despite the torture the character endured, Helfer said, “It was a challenge and I like challenges.”
While answering a question about “favorite bad-ass moments,” Sackoff recalled a favorite filming moment from Season Two. During a shoot-out on Caprica, “The director came over to Tahmoh and said, ‘stop acting like a girl.’” Sackoff recalled Penikett’s expression was “somewhere between ‘Blue Steel’ and ‘Xanadu.’” When Penikett arrived to the panel, he explained, “I was having so much fun.” It was also revealed that director never told Penikett he was “acting like a girl.”
Penikett, who had been in Ballroom Twenty earlier for the “Dollhouse” panel joked, “I swear I’ve seen all of you before,” to the audience. He was pleased to hear Trucco defended him in regards to Sackoff’s memory. Referencing an earlier comment, Smith asked Penikett if he knew Trucco’s first name. Penikett responded, “Ted?” Trucco is referred to on set by his last name and he joked, “People call me ‘Steve.’
When a member of the audience commented on the “yahrens” between the mid-season gap, he begged for a clue to the final Cylon. Eick responded “What’s a yahren?” The reference is to the original series term for “years.” Moore then said, “It’s someone you’ve seen. It won’t be a guest star.” Eick then joked, “And we didn’t even have to recast Boxey.”
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