With the fourth and final season of Battlestar Galactica finally upon us, executive producers Ron Moore and David Eick, along with cast members Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Tricia Helfer and Lucy Lawless chat to Tara Bennett about the fallout from the Cylon revelations, the return of a nasty character and the heartbreak of eventually saying goodbye.
Will the identity of the fifth and final Cylon be something you reveal early in the fourth season?
Ron Moore It will be late in the season, it won’t be in the first half.
How has it been acting with such a renowned and diverse cast?
Mary McDonnell There is something about the casting that is so extraordinary. You are surrounded constantly by excellence in the other actors...We are relishing the ensemble.
Did you agree with the selection of the four secret Cylons?
Katee Sackhoff Every single Cylon was aligned with a person in power or in a strategic position to be able to bring down the fleet.
You had Anders aligned with Kara and the pilots. Tory [Foster] was aligned with the President. Aaron Douglas’s character [Tyrol] was in charge of the Vipers and Tigh was directly connected with Adama. Each one of those Cylons is right next to a person that can take down the fleet which I thought was a very smart thing to do and something people didn’t expect.
Tricia, did you have a “Welcome to the Cylons” party for them?
Tricia Helfer No, I didn’t. I can say at the beginning of the season they are dealing with their own inner turmoil with what is going on and each of them reacts differently. I find it very interesting to watch the journey. I come from the perspective of knowing what I was all along so it’s interesting as an actor to see them go, “OK, I am on this side!”
Katee Sackhoff Michael Hogan [Tigh] is so in denial. He will not admit that he is a Cylon. It’s really funny actually because as an actor, he’s really pissed off. (Laughs)
How has the news of this being the final season affected the way you are writing stories? Are there any storylines that you have found you've had to get rid of?
Ron Moore We always end up creating more things than we can use. The longer we talk in the writers’ room, the more tangents we can spin off of for a long time. It’s always about paring down to what is the actual show.
The fact that it’s the final season just means that we are really focusing on each episode and we don’t have any room for an episode that doesn’t work. There is a more intense focus and I feel that from the writing staff and the cast, who are very involved in the stories this year. You can just feel that there is a different vibe in Vancouver that this is it and everybody really wants to go out strong.
Are there any stories that you’ve held back that could turn into something else later on?
Ron Moore I don’t think so. I think the show will end and we’ll sit around and talk about stories we could have told or things we didn’t get around to, but the decision is to end the show when we are at the top of our game.
We want to end it strong, on our terms, to a natural conclusion, and that choice precludes other choices. I think if the show was going on for two more seasons, there would be other stories and we would come up with all kinds of other things, but the stories would start to attenuate and wouldn’t be quite as strong as they are now. You always go off stage with them wanting more, and that is the same for us as well.
How did it come about that Lucy’s supposedly dead character, D'Anna Biers, would return for the final season?
Lucy Lawless Well, Ron called me and said, “We’re bringing you back…”
Ron Moore The story has to do with ‘un-boxing’ D'Anna. There are a lot of people that are very interested in un-boxing D’Anna because she knows certain things and there is a long plot that culminates in what she reveals. It’s a pivot point for the upcoming season. Once that happens, things change and drive us to the finale.
Lucy Lawless He told me that it was going to be a jolly, hockey stick reason - she was coming back to participate in somebody’s plan. I just said, ‘Dude, can you keep her vicious?’ What I loved about her is that she’s the grit in everybody’s eye. I just wanted to keep her trouble and he said no worries about that! (Laughs)
After the end of this series is there a chance that there could be new direct-to-DVD releases like other retired series (Stargate, Dead Like Me) are doing?
Ron Moore We’ll see. It’s possible that we could do more after [Razor], but there are no plans in the works for it. There is a practical limitation because at some point we will strike the sets and they will go away, so it will be very difficult to rebuild Galactica just to do a one-off movie in the future.
On that sad final day of shooting, are you going to take any mementos home with you?
Katee Sackhoff Mary and I were discussing earlier how on our show, except for Six, that we don’t have the clothes or jewelry that you would take to another show. So we have little things to take and I would take the Goddess of Aurora. And we have no more metal dog tags of mine left because they are all in my house!
Mary McDonnell I was thinking the other day that the fabric that was hanging in the Galactica would look good on my couch. (Laughs)
Ron Moore The big portrait of Baltar.
Mary McDonnell I think James [Callis] already has that! (Laughs)