Friday, September 29

Fast Chat with Grace Park

Source: Newsday

Grace Park plays what may be the most fascinating role on perhaps TV's most provocative series, "Battlestar Galactica." Actually, she's played two of that Sci Fi drama's most complex characters.

Park debuted in 2003 as hotshot military pilot Sharon "Boomer" Valerii, fleeing with other remnants of the human race when their home planets were nuked out of existence by the Cylons, a line of human-looking robots who concluded they could build a better civilization than their violent creators. Boomer shocked even herself by turning out to be a covert Cylon loaded with a stealth program to assassinate Galactica's commander (Edward James Olmos). Thwarted and then herself killed, Boomer exhibited emotional yearnings that live on in another "copy" of the same Cylon model. This second Sharon has fallen in love with a human officer, been brutally imprisoned on his ship and finally joined her torturers in their deadly moral rivalry with the ultra-religious Cylons. "Galactica" so effectively mirrors the ethical ambiguities of our own conflicted world that it recently won a Peabody Award for its "parallax considerations of politics, religion, sex, even what it means to be 'human.'"

As the third season begins (Friday at 9 p.m. on Sci Fi), Sharon is asked to go undercover against her own people. Human "insurgents" are launching terrorist attacks on a planet controlled by Cylons, who vow to spread their faith by "any means necessary."

Park recently discussed these audacious allusions with Newsday's Diane Werts over lunch when Park was in Manhattan shooting Michael Kang's indie feature "West 32nd," about Korean-American assimilation.

When I Googled you to get some background, the first link that popped up was to your Maxim photo shoot.

My Maxim spread! (She cackles, then explains.) There's this one shot, where I'm in heels and shorts, and my legs are like [splayed], in a chair. I was so scared to do that shoot! Mostly because you see the girls in the magazine [looking sexy] - I don't look like that! I had like a breakdown at the hotel the night before. And then you get there , and it's like, oh, it's so casual. All the lingerie is so pretty. And everyone acting so casual just kind of made it like, "Oh, I guess this is normal."

So the Internet paints you as this sexy babe, while on the TV show, you're an action figure in fatigues toting a gun.

Exactly. When fan people say, "Well, how do you feel about being a sex symbol of sci-fi?," I'm like, what are you talking about? Have you not seen all through the second season, I was bruised and bloodied and cut? I was beating people up or I was getting beaten, I was getting tortured, I was freaking out screaming or crying. None of that in my book is what I imagine to be sexy or attractive. Now, should I start worrying about my fan base? Maybe. (She laughs.)

If humans treat Sharon so horribly, why is she helping them?

She's trying to see beyond the limitations of the Cylons and humans and the way they treat each other. I find that if you're part of a group, it's easy to turn a blind eye to what other people have criticized your group about. But once you step away, you can see all the horrors that your side has done. Yet because she's seen the atrocities that humans are capable of, she does not want to do the same things that they do. Once she fell in love, it was not just Cylons and humans, but it's like stepping into that divide.

I'm sure many people in the world can identify with her. There's a lot of people pushed out of their home countries and settling in other areas where they're not wanted or they're being judged or persecuted. Something similar, if less serious than that, is immigrants and their children growing up in another country. Like myself , I'm a visible minority. In one way, this is my home. But I'm not white. So there's still a difference.

And if I were to go to Korea, I wouldn't fit in there, either. Basically, you're almost like a bridge. It's like you're between two kinds of established cultures or heritages or schools of thought.

It's amazing how many hot buttons "Galactica" touches - politics, prejudice, spirituality, terrorism, civil liberties, betraying your own values.

I think it actually just opens its mouth to let the conversation start about all these topics that a lot of people would rather not go to, 'cause it's either not PC or they get uncomfortable, or it's like people have an agenda so they don't want you to start thinking about what's actually going on behind the curtain. A lot of people are just deep in denial and like to stay that way. I think sometimes we all need that, but is it a way to live your entire life? For some, I guess so. If you're truly happy. But then I think you're in denial. (She laughs.)

Newshound: SciFi

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