Tuesday, September 26

Baltar and Battlestar

Source: Toronto Star

And Jen Gerson listens as the actor playing the most complicated (and slightly evil) character on TV expounds

Yes, the new Battlestar Galactica is that good.

Yes, the current show was re-made from a '70s sci-fi series featuring awkward, halting robotic villains, multiple capes and a premise based on both astrology and the Book of Mormon.

And yes, even that show was a made-for-TV rip off of Star Wars.

And yes, it was declared by Time magazine to be the best TV show of 2005.

Galactica is set to head into its third season and even murkier waters, when the show starts up again Oct. 7 on Space Channel at 9 p.m.

Over the past two years, the series has dealt with terrorism, religious zealotry — even graphic depictions of prisoner abuse.

And James Callis, who plays the tortured Dr. Gaius Baltar, says that the show is about to get even gorier.

The second season left Baltar — who unwittingly helped the robotic and villainous Cylons overthrow humanity, a key point in the television show's plot — as president of the few thousand survivors.

I.D. spoke with Callis about kissing co-star Tricia Helfer, coming out from under the shadow of his campy 1978 alter-ego and being so damn evil.

QHow much did you take from the 1970s' version of Baltar in crafting your version of Baltar?

AWell, pretty much only the name, I have to be honest. And I think it's only the surname because this is Gaius Baltar and the other one was Count Baltar.

QAnd how much of it was your character and how much of it was other people telling you what they wanted?

AOn the very first day Tricia and I shot our meeting scene. And it did feel a little bit like being directed by committee because there were so many people on-set. And then after awhile they slightly relaxed. Nobody was quite sure what they wanted at the time. I'm not sure, maybe they were very sure. I wasn't quite sure perhaps.

It's kind of give and take. There's not necessarily a mindset but there's an energy, that because the character shares the name with this traitor from the series beforehand in the '70s, it's like it has to be monitored all the time. Because if it isn't, it's a bit easy to make this guy that guy almost by the association of name.

That's something I try to monitor. I think that comes out (in the character as) angst and guilt ... I think he lives under an ever increasing shadow of shame.

QDo you find that your fans ever take your character too seriously?

AI think people would be hard-pressed to take the character as seriously as I do, so no.

I try to explain to people who don't see it. It comes like a trough of guilt and you're sliding up to your neck in it every day and they're like, `Yeah, and you get to work with Tricia, you poor devil. Yeah, James, tell me about how tortuous it really is.'

I'm not saying that there aren't great things that you get to do, but I'm saying that you can get yourself into a mindset, it's a very dark, abysmal place, to be honest.

QDo you take a lot of that home?

AI don't think you carry it with you in the way that you look, necessarily, or the way you behave but some parts of this show, especially this year, they can't fail to stay with you. Especially for the people who have acted them out. It's pretty crushing.

QWe're all waiting for that story arc to snap and for Baltar to be officially cast out of humanity.

Because you know eventually it's gotta happen. When's that happening? Do you know when that's happening?

AIn some fashion, it's happened already. And, uh, yes. I don't know how much I can say. Tell me, is this vetted by our PR department?

QUm, no.

AIn that sense, I shouldn't reveal things deep into the season.

QYou can't blame me for trying. I'm just curious because we know it's got to happen and we're just waiting for it and the fact that it's gone on for two seasons and it still hasn't quite, ... you don't have your throne room in the Cylon empire yet.

AOh no, no, no and he never will, I don't think.

That's not really his journey. It's not to say that he doesn't end up with Cylons but they don't want to give him a throne room, let's put it that way.

QWhat's it like making out with Tricia? Do your buddies give you a hard time about that one?

No, no, not really. This season we haven't really made out so much. I don't think anybody gave me a hard time. It's amusing. On some level it's amusing because I don't have to do very much and it's kinda fun.

QOh, well. Poor Tricia.

AWhy poor Tricia?

QBecause you say you don't have to do very much.

AWell, in the sense that the onus on those scenes is on the beautiful girl and certainly if I was watching the show, I wouldn't want to see me.

I'd want to see Tricia.

Newshound: SciFi

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Askinstoo said...
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