Saturday, March 17

BuddyTV Talks with Grace Park

Source: Buddy TV

Battlestar Galactica's Grace Park is no stranger to Sci-Fi, her resume includes stints on The Immortal, Stargate SG1, Jake 2.0, Andromeda, Outer Limits, and, surprisingly, more. She is probably best known for her role as the Cylons Boomer, Athena, Sharon ad infinitum. BuddyTV was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with Grace to discuss Battlestar Galactica's past, present, and future as well as the intricacies of playing a character with the most extreme multiple personality disorder on TV today.

BuddyTV: How did you first get the role of Boomer?

Grace: I just went in for a regular audition for the role of Dualla actually, who is played by Kandyse McClure and did a short little scene. The director wasn’t there but I guess he saw a tape and when he saw it he said, “Get her to come back in for Starbuck.” So I went in for Starbuck and did the first part against Katee down in LA because I did the other part up in Vancouver. Jamie Bamber was also there because he was going for Apollo and they were doing the two characters next to each other. And at the end of the day they narrowed it down to me and Katee, and Jamie and another guy and they told everyone else to go home. And then they couldn’t decide so they told us to go home. I think we had to wait a week and they called back. I had a bad feeling that I didn’t get Starbuck, but my agent told me, “But I have this character Sharon.” And I thought, “Sharon? Who’s Sharon? I don’t want Sharon.” I only wanted that other role. So in the end I ended up having [Sharon] Boomer, which I totally love and I couldn’t even imagine being Starbuck anyhow. And of course, Katee wanted to be Sharon, so it all works out.

So I read that at one point you studied psychology. How did you wind up in acting?

I have no idea how I winded up in acting. You know what it was? I had done some commercials and I really liked it. I didn’t even want to be in psychology. I was going towards architecture but what happened was I just ended up thinking, “Well, I like being on set a lot and for a year I’ll just try acting.” In the beginning it’s just one of those things that you never know. So I just gave it a shot. I got a Canadian teen series called “Edgemont” right away and ended up doing it. My parents kept telling me to get a real job and I was like, “No this is a big deal, I’m on a series!” Not that it paid very much. But, you know I just kept going with it a little longer and pretty soon I got Battlestar.

Of all of the different versions of Sharon, which do you prefer to play?

I think I usually prefer playing Athena, frankly. Yeah, because her little short snippets down on the planet, it felt like we were always doing some type of obstacle course; jumping out of lofts and barns, running through rivers, and some stunt or another was always attached to that character. So that seemed really fun because the other character is so conflicted and I think I have enough drama in my own life so it’s just nice to get away and do something physical. But then of course Athena ended up having a way bigger deal when she got back to the Brig. But it was still kind of more enjoyable to play. And now she has matured, so she has this wisdom and a different sense of value of herself, and being less conflicted is wonderful.

How do you see her internally? Is she more like this person who came from a bad family or is she struggling with this lifelong point of view that humans are bad?

Athena? Well, you know she’s robot right?

Yes, absolutely.

Okay, I know. I’m just teasing you about the bad family. Yeah, I guess the Cylons could be her big, giant extended bad family. I don’t really see her as coming from a bad family. I think, if anything, she had a very good sense of who she was and her people and a vision. I think when she was younger, when they were down on Caprica, I think at that point she knew she had a mission and that was to make Helo fall in love with her. And that was frankly a really fun mission and she didn’t think much deeper of it. But then as she started to fall in love with him and find out what mattered to her most, was it loyalty to her people or was it something greater than that, which was to her, love and unification of two nations or two different peoples at war with a lot of bloodshed. And I think she thought that was the higher value. So I think her having this sense of meaning and direction and vision really gave her a direction to go towards and allowed a healthy dose of forgiveness to get past all these other things that have happened.

Do you think Athena still has a bad Cylon streak in her?

Oh she’s always got that bad Cylon streak, it’s in her genetics.

As an actress, what kind of rituals do you do to get into the different mindsets of the different characters? Do they have different personalities to you?

Mmhmm. They do, they absolutely have different personalities. Quite a few different things; I think they’ve just developed over the years. I don’t use them all on any particular day but sometimes, just total actor perspective, besides doing a relaxation before I start, just doing a review of who this character is, where they’re coming from, what their past has been. Just trying to get as relaxed or get connected to my body because that certainly helps with accessing the different emotions and the states that they’re at. I feel like, I’m not sure if it comes across, but I know for me their voices do seem a little different or I think maybe where they’re at emotionally inflects their voices. I think Boomer right now is in not as good a space, lets say. So I think she ends up having a lot more edge to her. I think she’s a little more rebellious now and definitely angry.

When you took on the Athena persona that gives you the distinction of now having played two characters that were derived from the original series. Did that renew any fan backlash from the staunch original series stalwarts?

I don’t know. I’m not sure if it has or not. I haven’t gotten any fan mail post the new name. I’ve been very blessed not to have too much of the backlash, but if it’s out there I’m sure it’s on the internet and yeah, I’m not really welcoming that. Because I was like, Athena, why would they call me Athena? But then again I look nothing like Boomer either, so…

No, not at all. How much backlash was there for you over that?

I only had a little. The fact that Starbuck took the brunt of it really gave me a nice, calm lake to go out on, to sail out on. I really thank her a lot for that. But I mean she also does have the role of Starbuck, which is very flashy and a lot of charisma in that character. So she gets the benefits and also the disadvantages of that character.

Also very up in the air at this point.

Yeah, I know. Very up in the air.

Yeah, maelstrom has gone by. Last time we saw her she was particles floating in a dust cloud as far as we know.

Yeah, she’s gone.

What has been your favorite moment so far in Season 3?

I think one of my favorite moments was - I hated filming it but I really enjoyed watching it – when Boomer and Athena talk to each other for the first time. When she says that her baby is still alive. I really liked that scene a lot. I very much enjoyed, they seemed very different to me. I’m like, “Ooo.” There was no like, “Oh, we’re the same just with different outfits.” It really felt very different. I feel very satisfied watching that. Everything is good. Boxing looks good; the effects look great, when they got back onto Galactica. I love watching Tigh. I feel like ringing in side to my gut whenever I see him, especially when he’s thinking about his wife or something like that. It always gets me.

Were you worried about whether the series was going to be renewed?

Yeah, I was. I thought we were on Sci-Fi. I thought everything on Sci-Fi went 8-10 seasons! No, not us, we’re the one show where we never know if we’re going to go again. We don’t even know how many episodes we’re going.

They put in an order for 13?

Yes, we have a 13 and I think, I mean I’m crossing my fingers that ideally we could work out 22 but we just have 13 right now.

Do they do that with every season; start out with a half season order?

No, no actually every season they’ve known just how many but this is the first season they’re trying to work something. They just haven’t got it nailed down yet.

Do you know much about Season 4 at this point?

No, I know nothing. I know a vague structure, which might be a two-hour something or other between now and January next year and then maybe the rest of the episodes. Which would only leave 11 then if we only did 13. That’s all I know. The keep us totally out of the loop. The other stuff is all hypothetical so I won’t even say what it was. I don’t know what’s happening.

Having the inside scoop on the finale, would you agree with the buzz that it just leaves everything in a totally different place than where the season has been going so far?

Uh, yeah. It really begs another season. It’s like the perfect ending or a perfect prequel to a really exciting season. I think the end of the first season was such a jaw dropper when Sharon shot Adama but you kind of knew there was going to be some mayhem but not as much as Season 2 when it’s like a year. That left so many doors open for flashbacks and what happened in between and trying to figure out what happened in that year when you see the new relationships. And then this one is going to like, this one’s almost just like, “Oh my gosh!” It’s like I don’t know if it’s going to leave you lost or stressed or excited but you’re just going to be dying for the next season. I know I am! I want to see Season 4! I want to see a script! I think everyone does, I think I’m going to have to call some people.

Since your character is a Cylon, does leave you open to make appearances in the spin-off series if that comes about, in Caprica?

I don’t think so because I think the humanoid versions came out during the 40-year armistice. Basically there was a war and then there was this long gap of time and within that the Cylons got to a new level. That’s why when it was revealed that Cylons look like humans it was such a shock. I don’t think so. Unless I’m like lying in a bed somewhere, like prototype but I kind of doubt that. My cameo role!

What about the direct to DVD movie? Have you been approached about that at all?

Oh yeah that was a thing that I thought we were going to do but I heard that we’re not doing that anymore. Unless you know something else that I don’t know, which is very much possible. I didn’t even know the series Caprica was a spin-off until it came out in the press and then my manager called me.

It’s funny because you read about these things and then they come and go. Caprika was killed at one point and all of a sudden it was on and they were talking about it again.

Yeah, Battlestar was killed too. This is the second re-imagining.

Yeah, originally it was Bryan Singer.

Yeah exactly, and I think they were going to keep it more in line with the original.

In the beginning, did you know that Boomer was going to be a Cylon or was that something they came at you with in the 11th hour so to speak?

I accuse Ron Moore that he made that up and he insisted that it was in the original script. And it was in the original script when I did see it. And the reason why I didn’t see it the first time was because I was reading for Starbuck and the second thing is, I didn’t know the weight of “by your command.” When I read that I thought she was actually the leader of the Cylons but I did realize that she was a Cylon. I just skimmed over it so much because I was reading for Starbuck. I read it but it didn’t move me to that point. Once Ron saw my little conniving face he said, “You must be Cylon.”

(Interview Conducted by Jon Lachonis)

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