Tuesday, August 1

Wings of Apollo

Source: Battlestar Galactica Official Magazine
Transcribed by: Tunfaire

The Official Magazine talks to Jamie Bamber about love, war - and losing weight!

For Lee 'Apollo' Adama, the Battlestar Galactica's second year of flight from the Cylon armada was full of pain and adversity. From the near-assassination of his father in CIC and finding the AWOL Kara Thrace alive and well, to his own thoughts of suicide, things just weren't that easy. There were moments of happiness, however - his relationship with Anastasia Dualla, and taking command of the Pegasus, for example. But then came the settlement of New Caprica and Lee, always active, suddenly found himself more redundant than he'd been in years. Jump forward 12 months, and viewers can hardly recognize the chubby commander wearing both his uniform - and a distinct lack of motivation. What happened to Apollo, and will he be able to rise to the occasion following the Cylon occupation of the Humans' new 'home'? Actor Jamie Bamber took time out from filming season three to give us an update.

Ned Hartley: How did you feel when you first saw that "One Year Later" jump at the end of Lay Down Your Burdens?

Well, it completely passed me by to be honest! When I'm reading a script I tend to be quite fast, and I just tend to read the dialogue. So I missed the "ONE YEAR LATER" in bold letters between scenes! I couldn't work out how suddenly everyone was pregnant or was getting on with people they hadn't in the past! Once I was made aware, I thought it was a bit of a gimmick and a bit silly, but then I understood the potential for what it is. It's a cliffhanger in its own right. There is the anticipation of filling that year's gap in the form of flashbacks in the next season. I think that's pretty interesting storytelling, a way of keeping the audience's anticipation up, when on the surface of it the conclusion of season two is about settling, is about finding a home and starting again. It's kind of the resolution of the drama rather than the unfolding of more drama.

NH: How do you think that year affected Lee as a character?

When I started off this year, I didn't really know, because the writers hadn't really filled in the gaps for us. Obviously there's been a fallout between Kara and Lee, which is referred to in the confrontation at the end of episode 20, but we had no idea what actually had happened. Nor did the writers! Now I do know, and it's kind of huge. I'm not really sure how he's ever going to forgive her, and how they're ever going to stomach each other ever again. Because what does happen between them is very painful. What happens to Lee in the year is that he is very hurt and I guess [he] loses his way, his sense of purpose, [and] some of his self-esteem. He ends up marrying Dualla, maybe not from the best of starting points, and whilst the marriage and that relationship is actually quite a healthy and open one, it starts for perhaps the wrong reasons. [The fleet] is just floating around in space on Battlestars that are no longer able to function, really, or fight. They don't have a war. [So] Lee has lost his drive, his sense of self worth - although he doesn't realize it. He thinks he's perfectly happy. The [gain in] weight is just an aspect of that, it's a form of depression for the character, and it's one you can understand when your function in life is taken away from you, and you're feeling redundant as a human being and as an officer.

NH: How do you think his relationship with his father has been affected?

It's quite interesting because they've obviously been separate and together. They've been on separate Battlestars orbiting these planets, and they have to work together, but there's no work really to do. So the relationship is in some regards a lot easier, but they've lost something ... it used to thrive on steadfastness in adversity. The problem is that there is no adversity, so there's lots of time for the little squabbles to break out between them. They have differences of opinion in how peace time should be spent. Adama has become a bit obsessed about training exercises and drilling, to the extent that he actually risks the wellbeing of pilots and the crew. Lee can't really see the point in this manic practicing for something that may never come to pass. He's much more laid back and more pragmatic about what they are doing. There's a frustration each man is feeling within himself about being useless and being made redundant in the whole situation, which comes to the fore. They take it out on each other. They always end up shouting at each other.

NH: Do you think Lee really does need a war? Last year was a very dark place for him...

That's the surprise - he does need a war and he didn't know that to be true. There's a line where Dualla says that, and confronts him with the fact that he is his father's son, and he can't survive without the task he's learnt to perform. He is a soldier. He has always denied that, whether he's been in denial about what he wants to be and what his dad represents. At the beginning of season three I think he slowly discovers that with the return of the Cylons, suddenly the pieces slot back together in his life. He is still devastated by what happened with Starbuck, but he does start to come together again when the war kicks off again, so that answers the doubts in his own mind very deeply.

NH: Do you think Lee works better as a Commander of the Pegasus or as a CAG on the flight deck?

Well I think the whole Commander thing was great for the character, because it's playing out that particular beat of self-knowledge. There's no more obvious way he could become his father's son than by doing what his father has always done, by standing in the CIC and commanding the whole battlestar. While he's absolutely terrified of that whole prospect, he finds that it sits easily with him and that makes sense. That's another eerie moment for him, when he's actually capable, and that's something that works for him. That's something that has given him a sense of who he actually is.

NH: There are a lot of references to the way that Lee has gained weight. How did you feel when you first read this?

Fine, because they're putting me in a huge prosthetic every day. This is the funny thing, at the end of season two, in the last few scenes on Pegasus, I'm wearing a huge fat face prosthetic and a lot of people hadn't picked up on that! But I do four hours of makeup putting on this prosthetic face, and I actually wear Grace Park's pregnancy belly that she wore when she was pregnant in the show as Boomer. I put that under my uniform, so I'm pretty rolly-polly! And that's definitely a conscious thing that the character's got to do at the beginning of the season. It's been great because it changes him. It changes, obviously his weight, but it gives him a sense of gravity in this commanding capacity. It makes him look more like his old man actually, from what I've seen of the dailies of them in profile talking to each other. They have similar profiles now, not that I am saying that Eddie is overweight, he's not, but against a middle-aged man, Lee suddenly looks older, he looks more weighty, and experienced. It's interesting because they look more equal than they have been. I've enjoyed that as an actor.

NH: You weren't tempted to start eating loads and put on weight like DeNiro in Raging Bull?

I would have gladly done that! No, because that within three or four episodes there would be a need for a flashback, and also the story will move on and Lee sorts himself out. That hasn't happened yet, but I have shot flashbacks where I had to be the old Lee. So there was no real question of being able to go on a massive donut binge. But I do get lots of abuse from the crew whenever I am eating! I feel really self-conscious just about the act of eating, and you don't want anyone to witness it because you get grief. But it's good to play a character in a different position. He's always been ridiculously fit. When I first got the job they gave me a personal trainer. I've been used to the character being defined by being kind of lean and efficient and motivated. It's great to take all that away and go the other direction completely.

NH: Where do you see the character going? What would you like to explore more?

Lee has very rarely been involved in the main drive of the Galactica plot. He's more relationships, his relationship with his dad and with Kara and the with Dualla and the President. He's someone that moves through the fleet and interacts with everyone, but he's never been involved in the war and the flight from the Cylons and the search for Earth. I'd like to get more involved in that, come face to face with some of these human Cylons. But I'm happy to be a tool of the writers, and as long as Lee is part of the plot then I'm very happy to go wherever they want me to go. I think it might be interesting to be more at the forefront, especially now as a character he has to carry more weight, and I use that word in terms of responsibility, not just in terms of layers of fat!

NH: Last season Lee was in a difficult place. Was that hard to play?

No, because the premise of the show is so dark, it's almost a relief when you are asked to actually embrace the true reality of this situation. Most of the characters are amazingly efficient at surviving and creating a life in this tin can in space, and they are able to ignore the apparent futility and desperation of the whole situation. So when you get a chance as a character to suddenly spin out and question the worth of the struggle, then it's actually quite easy, it's quite a valid way for them to go. If you look at the show, almost every character has been there, Baltar seems to go there about twice an episode, Starbuck goes there quite frequently. There's a nihilism in her inability to connect with people and relationships and there's a real sadness to her. I think it's something that's natural.

NH: Many of the situations presented in Battlestar Galactica seem to have relevance to situations and events in the real world. Is that something you think about as an actor when you read these scripts?

Oh yeah definitely, the first two scripts of season three were I think the best scripts we've had since the very beginning of the first season, just because of that. For me as a more European [actor], parallels with Vichy France jumped off the page, when you've got collaborators and a resistance movement. In the episodes we're about to shoot right now there's an episode about vigilantes exacting revenge on collaborators, which is exactly what happened at the end of the Second World War in France. That is definitely the reason I like this show, it is that it is not so much about science fiction as about societies and people and the way in which they are built and also tear themselves apart. The whole New Caprica storyline, I was a bit anxious about it because it undermines the premise of the fugitive fleet in space without a home, but it's a very valid experiment. What we've been able to portray there is the way in which societies try to establish themselves, and in times of conflict often it's the divisions within groups that comes out. We're in a unique position because our context is so different that we can make very bold and dramatic storylines about things that otherwise would be maybe too controversial or party political.

NH: How would you like to see the series develop?

I never want to see the show drift too far away from the study of people and how they cope with different situations. For me the show works less [well] when you reveal too much about how the Cylon society is different from ours, it becomes a bit sci-fi and a bit irrelevant. That kind of musing doesn't interest me so much as looking at the way that people deal with the enemy, the way they deal with being homeless and the way they try and establish life. The Cylons are interesting to me. They are a humanity without the baggage of history, and they are trying to perfect what humanity has messed up. Their Theology is interesting to me, in that they have a creation story, they have an open idea of God. Downloaded as an episode is maybe one that went a bit too far, there are some great scenes in it, but I think looking at the Cylon society for me is the same as looking at the shark in Jaws. The more you see the shark and the way it moves, the less fear it holds. I think that to me is where the core of our show lies; [it's] not so much trying to explain the notion of humanoid robots. I think the whole point of making them look human is that you're trying to look even more closely about what it means to be human. Putting humanity under the microscope interests me.

Newshound: Sci-Fi

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