Thursday, September 14

IF Magazine interview James Callis part 2

Source: If Magazine

At the end of Season two of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, Gaius Baltar (played by James Callis) was President, and the Cylons had invaded New Caprica to take control of the last remnants of humanity. Is Baltar finally going to get him comeuppance this season? Only James Callis knows what lies ahead for Gaius Baltar. During the break in filming for season three, iF MAGAZINE caught up with Callis and got some interesting NEW info about the upcoming season on the SCI FI Channel (which kicks off with a two-hour season premiere on October 6) and why he now has no fear of public nudity.

When Jamie Bamber was in his fat suit did you give him a bad time at all?

JAMES CALLIS: No. I didn’t actually in that sense, we always crossed each other’s paths because I was filming one scene and then they were filming another one. Jamie is utterly phenomenal this season. I’ve seen the first four episodes and he goes through a huge character change and its brilliant to watch.

iF: All of you go through huge changes within the first story arc though right?

CALLIS: His trauma, and his fatness are connected. You’re going to find out why he is like that directly related to what happened in the year beforehand. I think the idea is actually Michael Rhymers’ and it paid off with premium.

iF: You’ve mentioned the traumas that Baltar has to go through this season, what sort of acting challenges that bring for you that you hadn’t dealt with before?

CALLIS: I haven’t seen yet. There is so much material that some episodes have been split into two, so whenever I talk about episode five it might be episode seven. Baltar is tortured, and that was a significantly horrible thing to go through. I know it’s acting, but you are acting go through being tortured. It was not a happy day, and it went on and on and on. Challenges like that, I know people are being tortured as we are speaking right now around the world, and even though this may sound strange I can feel the path of their pain. When you are doing something like this you don’t want to dwarf diminish or minimalize the real pain that people are going through. You can’t afford to let those kinds of people down. In some way, who better to be tortured than Baltar really? There’s a certain feeling among people who watch the show that is “when are you going to get your just desserts pal? When are they going to come for you?”

iF: Baltar isn’t our typical sort of villain though. To me he is a person who is completely human and gives into his humanity on a show where everybody is trying to be superhuman to survive.

CALLIS: Wow. Yes, I suppose. He’s weak and his weakness comes back to haunt him.

iF: Baltar is pretty much just out to save little pieces of his life that are important to him right?

CALLIS: That’s what makes this show so interesting is all of these strange dynamics that are trying to fit together. While you can say sooner or later push comes to shove, you made your bed and you’ll have to lie in it. When you watch it happen, I would imagine it’s what you are saying that it doesn’t make you feel comfortable or happy and there is some part of you; your heart goes out to somebody. It is distressing to see any creature in pain. When I am closer to meeting my maker, one of the things that I am accused of is something I really didn’t do. Then on a lighter note, as a challenge this season I had to get totally naked. Totally butt naked. It’s a very odd phenomenon when you are the only naked person in a room full of people wearing lots of clothes.

iF: They didn’t even give you flesh colored undies?

CALLIS: Funny enough they did. It’s was really like “why?” I felt with the flesh colored thing it was even more ludicrous. I’m a human being, I’m naked and I’ve got my bits, and so does everybody else. On that level I am not particularly shy, but it was a stunning revelation. There were lots of things about, where I felt Tricia [Helfer] has to get her kit off every other episode. She does it with such grace and never bats an eyelid. She’s a true professional. She’s got her clothes off and I’m wandering around in a shirt, and I thought let’s reverse it this time around and I’ll be in the position she is in every week. It was a testimony of my solidarity with Tricia Helfer, it was “I will do this as well, but I don’t look nearly as good as you when I half to do it.” It’s actually slightly more difficult. When we did the scene, Lucy Lawless was totally surprised. It’s all written, but Lucy just lost it. She walked in and saw me naked and fell on the floor laughing. She said, “nobody told me you were really going to be naked!” They might use that in an outtake, because it really was hysterical, all of that kind of terribly nervous laughter.

iF: So none of the crew offered to get naked with you then, like on some shoots?

CALLIS: Actually there was lots of crew walking into walks, because everyone was scrunching their eyes up. The boom ops were holding the booms and looking in the other direction or keeping their eyes closed. There was a bit where someone literally did smack into the wall. I wondered which was more torturous, being tortured or being naked in front of a bunch of people. I think I still have to go with torture myself. After awhile, it’s quite a liberating thing to do. I’ve done it, I’ve been there, and it’s not something that not too many people can say. I’ve seen the rush footage, and I really find it terribly funny. That’s one of the lighter moments before even more extreme darkness.

iF: Now that STARGATE is going off the air, BSG is going to be the next banner program for the SCI FI Channel?

CALLIS: They’ve been amazing. They’ve gone on for nine years, and I know Christopher Judge and Michael Shanks. They are just great guys and phenomenal actors. I would imagine they’ve run their course in these things, nine years in the same part? I would imagine they are busting to do other stuff. I’m not sure GALACTICA can run like STARGATE; I just don’t think we’ll do anything like nine seasons. There is something about keeping it tight, and drone on and on to suit the channel. I don’t think it suits the story. I think there will be a crossover with CAPRICA, and I think the shows should compliment each other for a while. Then I think it is CAPRICA that keeps the torch; if it’s anywhere near as good as I think it will be.

iF: You just did one of the first BSG conventions how was that?

CALLIS: It was great. I’d never seen so many women before. They’re always telling us that women don’t watch our who and that’s just not true. NOT TRUE. There are people from all around the world and most of them were dragging their husbands. They love the macho virility of the show. They said, “I don’t want to watch people being sloppy and kissing, I want to see you and the chief fire guns at the Cylons. I want to see Jaime come to blows…the blood and the guts.” They don’t want it pushed into a feminine slot; they love the show because it’s very virile. All the women on the show are tough and smart. As it were BATTLESTAR comes of age this season.

iF: Have you encountered the toys and busts and products based on the show yet?

CALLIS: I remember when we were talking about the idea of merchandising while we were shooting the mini-series, and all I remember saying is that I wanted shares in Tricia’s doll. I have a feeling that will sell better than anything else. I’ve seen the mini busts and I was at Universal two days ago with the sculptor who is brilliant. This is someone who looks at people and can instantly make them from clay. He has artist’s eyes; he was checking out my face and making tiny little changes in the clay. The tiny changes were amazing watching this man. I did see Tricia’s bust as well and it was beautiful.

Part one of the interview can be found here

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