Monday, December 29, 2008

Oldies But Goodies: Fan Expo 2006 Q&A

I must say, since I got the whole show and everything around James in the last five months, it seems almost like parallel universes to me - you've got the James with the floppy hair and the James with the long hair and beard and, most amusingly of all, some old interviews where he looks exactly like season 1 Baltar, and to me it looks like he's in costume. In this interview, we have what my girlfriend likes to call Garden Gnome Gaius, with the long hair and beard. It sounds like James, acts like James, but looks completely different. It's a bit confusing, although he doesn't look quite as old here as he does on the show with the beard. I think it's the emotional burden and depression that aged him on the show.

So this was a Toronto-based convention where he sat on a podium answering fans' questions. It's a very natural, friendly situation between James and the fans (truth be told, I haven't seen any fan interactions with him that weren't that way).

I will rely mostly on Forksmoker's files because they contain the entire panel. MovieBlog has a slightly better quality clip, but it's only a few answers (the HeadSix question / the first season 3 question). I also have shorter clips in the playlist, courtesy of bombrassier, but I feel like it would be too confusing to link them all individually because they don't follow the same divisions as forksmoker's files. Thumb through the playlist if you wish to see different clips.

Forksmoker, Part 1

James comes on to much applause and woos.

"Hi, everybody."

"Woohoos" are heard.

"Wow. So is everybody having a good convention?" [applause] "I just wanted to clear something up, because there were a few people before who tried to take photographs, and I don'tmind this at all, I'm not one of those people who's like "ugh, talk to the hand", I'm really not. It's just that recently Iv'e started, when people take photographs and like in close quarters, getting people to donate money to charity. But the event here wouldn't let me do that. And so for all the people who like take money in Atlanta and then in Burbank beforehand, it seemed unfair that like you guys could have done that and it didn't go to charity. So I just wanted to kind of clear that up for everybody who... cos it looked like I was one of those people who... [angry voice] "my god, [?]"...

Someone asks what the charity is for.

"It's a different charity in every city, so... And nearly always for child relief on some scale. So I raise money for child relief India, and a local children's charity in Atlanta, and it would have been a children's charity in Toronto, and from my fee, anyway, there will be money to a children's charity here."
[applause, woos]

Ah, this must be the vague charity for children that Nicole was referring to. I seem to remember an older post on the Unofficial website about India and the children there, which obviously made a very strong impression on James. This is from May 2007:

I have been helping on a documentary here in Delhi about performers who all live in one "Ghetto" called Shadipur (literally meaning - Marriage -place) Like many things aqui - it's a bit of an eye opener! Some of the most beautiful children in the whole wide world! so many crazy things happening - being perpetrated on this planet of ours! I myself am praying - and checking the internet every time I can in the hope of reading that Madeline has been found alive and well. And then you realize that this is happening all the time - like so many other things... bewildering and feelings of being unable to help are palpably boiling under the skins surface.

Obviously spending time in Delhi has changed his perception of the world. I think it's great that he's doing charity work, and it doesn't seem to be that common that stars give their fees to charity.

"So um, I haven't really been on a podium by myself. I'm normally surrounded by members of the cast, [laughter] and like you can field[?] off several things like uh... I don't really have anything specific to say about the show. So are you going to ask... In that sense of, normally it's kind of, I like to have questions, I suppose, if people want to ask them. And hopefully I can answer them. So... Hi."

He sounds insecure, but of course this became an awesome interview, and all Q&A's have been that way. I think he knew from the start how to go about it: don't put on a show, don't try to be entertaining, just let it flow naturally, talk to the fans and hear them out.

"For everybody, that was 'how did I get the job?' It's a total mystery to me actually. [laughter] I rolled up uh... I'd been working in England for several years, and I always heard about this strange phenomena in America called 'pilot season'. [laughter] In England, we don't have pilots, in the sense of.. There's just not enough money and the country's too small, like, if you make a program, the program's going to be made and it is going to be aired. But in the States, they make hundreds of programs that never see the light of day. And I'd recently got a magnager, who was like, 'Come out to Los Angeles rather than send me a tape all the time, people might get to meet you.' So I came up. And I found that he was like, Battlestar Galactica! Obviously I'd seen the original, I was like, 'Who do they want to be Apollo?' Obviously that was like... [laughter] "And he was like, 'No that's already cast, it's gone to a friend of yours.' I was like, 'Bastard.' [laughter] I said, 'Well, who?' He went, 'It's a great character, they love it, it's Baltar...' I was like, 'Me?!' I didn't quite believe it, and he was like, 'No, you can kind of make this thing any way you want it.'

I'm glad James didn't play Apollo, even if he might have made that role awesome too. Obviously, Baltar is the more fun role with more leeway to play it in a way that doesn't have to be heroic. You get to be a complete jerk, and then get to show a little humanity and surprise the viewers. Jamie Bamber has expressed regret at the limited scope of the role - how, at the end of the day, Lee has to be the good guy. I think that, considering James' talent for humor and emotion, Apollo would have been way too limiting.

And yeah, I don't think we have "pilots" in Finland either. Actually, Finnish TV is sad because we have such a small country, small budgets, small array of actors, so it's the same people in basically every production. I'm not saying they don't make good stuff, but in Finland it's possible to go to the theatre, the movies and watch the TV and see the same couple of people playing the main roles in all. It's a bit depressing. It might be why Finnish people are so into American shows. So British TV is at least a bit more varied than that - even if it sometimes feels like Sally Phillips, who was also in Bridget Jones with James, is in every comedy. But I digress.

"The joke was that I actually arrived to audition on the wrong day, when they'd actually closed like... it was already finished. And that was my fault, because I had thought in my head I had a meeting on Tuesday, when it was on Monday. So I rolled in thinking of my eleven-a-clock meeting, you know, 'Here I am.' They were all like, 'Who are you? What are you doing here?' And uh.. Anyway, they let me read, and um.. I think essentially I um..

You know, I brought something different to the party than everybody else was trying to do. I think everybody else probably was trying to, you know, live up to being evil, and whatever, and I really wasn't at all. And the scene that I had to audition was the scene where, in the miniseries, where I'm in bed with one beautiful girl and my girlfirend walks in on me. From then you have like one audition, and then the process is... It's tough! They really want to be sure they've got the right chemistry between people. And I maybe had like five or six meetings, keep on going back. It's like, what do I have to do? I've done it already. But no, someone needs to see you and somebody else in New York...

So by the time you go to this big place in the Universal studios, or the Universal building, there were about five or six Baltars, and there were about five or six Sixes auditioning. And I remember being in the room like this, not Tricia but this very beautiful girl walked in, and I wanted to kind of go, 'Oh, man', just say, 'Hey, you're very lovely looking.' And as I was about to kind of say this thing, another beautiful girl walked in and I'm like, I'm gonna be saying this all day. [laughter] So actually I didn't say anything at all.

It's rather brutal, the auditioning process, cos ...maybe like Survivor or Pop Idol, you're in this room, you can see other people with you, and then somebody just comes out after you've gone in to sit in front of the executives, and taps you on the shoulder in front of everyone else and goes, 'It's not going to go any further today, you can go home.' That's like ouch, looking at people who have to pack their bags and then leave. I went into a room with like 20 people, all with like clipboards... I'm like, who are they? And I thought I did really.. a pretty shoddy audition with Tricia. She was sat in a chair next to me and we weren't allowed to look at each other, cos they had a camera here, "No, we need the front face, because this tape is going to New York." Which basically made it like acting in a straight jacket, and I remember thinking, "This is not going well." But I heard some voice, while we were doing the audition, some voice in the back went, [hoarse voice] "Oh yes!" And uh... I had to wait like another seven hours, I was staying with a friend in Los Angeles. And by the time I actually got the phonecall, it was like, 'I don't even know if I want to do this right now, I'm like, so exhausted.' Then found myself in Vancouver, which was a first. That's about the process. OK, next question."

It's funny that Tricia also tought she wasn't going to get the part. The look on James' face when he talks about the harshness of the auditioning process and the people having to leave is just so sad, almost like he's got survivor's guilt because he got the part and had to watch everyone else leave. He's a compassionate guy. I can imagine that some actors would just be triumphant and even express Schadenfreude at those who didn't make it. But maybe my view of actors is too negative.

Fun fact: since Pop Idol is only called that in the UK, I didn't recognize the name of the show at a first listening. I though the said Popeye. Survivor or Popeye. What amuses me is that I didn't put it past James, like maybe in James' head, even shows that different have some connection. Cosmic.

It's a question that comes up over and over, and I wonder if James is bored with answering it by now. But maybe it feels triumphant to think back to that moment when you thought there's no way you're getting it. Maybe it's safe to look back and know you did get it and it was all worthwhile.

A woman asks a great question about HeadSix and HeadBaltar.
"Did you all hear the question?"
"The question was: what's my theory or my favorite theory of how I can see number Six in my head, and second part of the question is when I was playing Baltar in her head, how did I approach that?

I started to read some physics books. There's an interesting book by a guy called... I think it's Michio Kaku, it's called Parallel Worlds, or Universes. It's got this... I like to think that kind of she's there, in kind of a different reality, different universe, but I'm kind of in touch with it. And when you read some of these physics books, it's not so science fiction, apparently like there are parallel universes perhaps, all around us, just slightly beyond the tangibility of our grip. And uh, rather than kind of a mindmeld or anything, it's like they do exist, just kind of slightly beyond the frame of reference that everybody else can see. So that's my particular theory. [chuckles] I'm sure it's wrong. [laughter]

And as I approach the second one... Well, it was just like, you know, ah, finally this guy's got his shit together, the guy who's in her head. I don't have to be worried and nervous and scampering about for my own life, it's essentially like he's got his balls back. That was about the only note I made to myself."

Heh, I was sure that he was mispronouncing some French name there, but it really is Kaku. Which amuses me, because kakku is Finnish for cake. Of course, kallis is Finnish for expensive, so he's James Expensive. But that was a James-worthy digression right there. I really like the idea that Six is in a parallel universe. There are some fans who are spinning theories similar to this one. I'm not sure how much of an explanation we're going to get, but Ron D. Moore basically promised that we're going to get some insight into it, and I can't wait to hear it. I like the psychological idea of how Head Six and Head Baltar are the idealized version of the other person, but with a conscience twist and an erotic twist, all at the same time. I also like the fact that Six can foresee things Baltar doesn't know about, and that obviously there's some mythological significance to her. It's quite intricate and layered, and I hope we get an awesome explanation, or an explanation that leaves a lot of questions and leeway for interpretation, because this is basically my favorite aspect of the entire show.

I love when James starts talking about the books he reads. It's like "This guy has this theory about the world - isn't this exciting and cosmic? Isn't the world we live in pretty awesome?" He has that enthusiasm about theories and philosophy that is just charming.

Forksmoker, Part 2

He's asked about the scene in Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down where Gaius and Six are having some fun in the lab and Starbuck walks in. "How many takes did that take?" There's a huge ripple of laughter in the audience, and James looks pretty amused as well. I'm not going to add "laughter" this time, because it's after his every sentence.

"Quite frankly, not enough. Actually, in the stage directions of that original thing, it just said that they were making out. It just happens that Edward James Olmos was directing that particular episode. Eddie's like [EJO voice], "I want her on the table! On the table..." I was like, maybe you'd like to ask Tricia? If she'd like to be on..." So she was, what do you say... As we'd say in England, a very good sport. And it was terribly .. All of that stuff and the exercise, all of it was like, that's not in the script, that's... what am I gonna do ? looking at you and... "Oh yes!"

And it was uh, it was funny, it was funny to film. I think Katee got... In fact, the reason we had to film it a few times was because we were laughing. And also, the logistics of that particular thing were such that, you know... Some of these things, they're not cut round, so like, Tricia will be somewhere and then actually have to hide behind the camera and move around and come back into the scene. And in this particular scene, Tricia's job was to like be on the table, and then when the camera kinda went to Katee, to slide under the table. And it's a metal table, and I think a few takes, I kept on like smacking her head, cos that's so close. Luckily we're close and she forgave me."

Awww. It's a funny story, and I will give an extra Fangirl Squee Award to "Maybe you'd like to ask Tricia?" Not all guys see a beautiful woman like Tricia as a person with dignity and feelings. I also like the word play with "close" in the end.

"What do I find the most difficult part of getting into the role of Gaius Baltar?

Um... People ask me a lot, you know, how much fun is it, and there's a lot of fun, obviously. The cast is great, the creative team, there's a lot of support, the thing is you know, and this us really actually one of the main reasons why I wanted to do the job, it's not Bridget Jones's Diary. [laughter] It's not like lots of silly friends wandering around talking about nothing in particular and uh.. You know, that stuff, that really is fun to do, you just.. you go in, you have a laugh, it's not like you know, at night thinking about, [puts his hand to his temple] "Oh there I was as Tom.. ahh...." [laughter]

But this time with Battlestar Galactica, for everybody involved, to some degree it has to be hard [?] and if it isn't, then you're not playing it right. It has to affect you. So really the most challenging thing is to get into the mental space. And this is like day after day. And... yeah. It's not like... you can just give it even after 3 years. You have to put yourself.. it's like uh... emotionally regressing to the time when the world blew up, and then you were in space and you were alone, and like, as it were, layering your onion to kind of uh... to get there. And the things that go on in the show because they mirror our world, they are dark, and the implications are horrific. And I would imagine for everybody really on the show, that's not easy, and... It's one of the greatest challenges of the show, it's probably why if you can do it, you feel fulfilled at the end of the day, and why when you watch it as an audience, you feel rewarded. Because you're not being pandered to or... There's... that's probably the most difficult thing, putting yourself at a level of emotional distress um... a lot."

It's like that for the viewers too. BSG can be very dark and even depressing at times, and I really have to not think about how I'd feel being in the position the characters are in, because it makes me feel pretty dreary. (That's why it can be therapeutic to see the gag reels and other fun stuff with the cast - they seem like a fun, happy bunch of people.) But it doesn't just depress, it also makes you think of humanity. The character of Gaius alone will make you think of guilt and moral responsibility, narcissism and empathy, reason vs emotion or faith, intellect, etc. It's been an educational experience to watch the show. I can imagine it's even more educational to play a role in it.

A girl from the back asks if James would like to get some donations right now.

"No, listen, what I'm gonna do is like donate part fo my fee, and it's all cool cos we didn't do that already. Thank you so much anyway. Thank you."

He seems genuinely appreciative. Squee!

"What can you tell us about season 3 so far?"

OK, this is not really current, but I will transcribe it all anyway, because I always enjoy hearing the actors talk about the show as they see it. It's not really the same as a viewer's perspective; there's always something a little more insightful, so even if he can't really tell them much about the plot of season 3 here, I really enjoyed hearing his views on the starting points.

"Mm, what can I say? How many.. I mean, has it gone spoiler.. no, we're not in the States. In the States it's going spoiler crazy at the moment in the sense of that... I think the first two episodes have gone to the press already. We begin season 3 with the colonials living under cylon occupation. And if the colonials thought that it was tough when they were in space, then they've got like another thing coming to them when they're down on the planet. It's like living in a police state regime or like Vichy, France. People disappear in the middle of the night, people are tortured, people are killed, people disappear.

Baltar himself has little or no allies and is kind of, in some way, fully aware that he's a kind of totem for human loathing. That's because, I think, everybody outside Colonial One, or the coziness of Colonial One, assumes that he's just, you know, 'Of course, cylons, of course, yes yes yes." Which isn't really what he's doing at all, he's like under the thumb, there's like very little leeway that he has to maneuver or do anything. And what I find in the beginning of this show is the amount of people that are like... where can I find so and so, they've been abducted, they're going to be taken away, and every single one of us like passes the buck. It's not me, it's a special ministry, I don't have access to ... everyone."

Side note here - I'm not really sure if this happened on the show? I don't remember anyone specifically asking Baltar about any missing persons, but maybe this is something from deleted scenes we didn't get, or is just implied.

"It's like the coming of age of Battlestar Galactica, this particular season, there's really nothing darker or more intense. Actually after I watched it, I just um.. I just like flicked it off at the end and just stared at the blank screen for like ten minutes. You don't want to talk to people, you won't want to ring up your buddies I think, you just wanna kind of... let it sit there. Before you have that burning thing about... [excited] When is the next episode coming out, how is this going to resolve itself? Collectively the show has matured."

I feel like every single episode has been this way for me, even with season one. But I will say this: I don't know how people can stand seeing just one episode per week, because I've seen it all on DVDs, the whole show in one month. I'm about to find out as the new episodes roll around. It'll be interesting to see how it affects my viewing pleasure - will it be frustrating or exciting? For once, I will be able to join in the discussions right after the episodes. I feel like I came so late for the party and missed out on all the immediate reactions. I'm actually really psyched about this.

[A phone rings] "That's my phone. How awful! [laughter] What's really funny is that... when you have that on set, it's like, 'No mobile phones!!' You're doing a very very big scene, it's always the director's phone that goes off. [laughter] So hopefully won't go off again."


Asked if there will be a mid-season break in season three, like season two.

"Yeah, there will. In fact, that's why I'm here right now, because we're in the mid-season break. Yeah, what can I say about season... I'm like still thinking about... Uh, Lee's fat. [smiles; laughter] Jamie Bamber gives the most astonishing performance this year. It's really really amazing. You're looking at somebody, again, who's gone through a turmoil and a crisis, cos we've jumped over the year, and then there will be, later on in the saeson, you'll find out why people are behaving in ways to each other. Cos you get to look back retrospectively, and uh, you know, the nasty and vindictive things that peple did to each other in that break. I myself am... I think it's fair to say I'm abducted and uh... yeah, spend a long long while away from both my friends and enemies on Galactica. Don't get back there for a long while. So... that's a spoiler." [laughter]

Heee, Fat Lee! I actually think that was a pretty sloppy storyline, stereotypical and vague, and they didn't really address it (was it an eating disorder? What else could it have been?). I think if you're going to do a weight gain storyline and depict how people deal with fat and dieting, in an intelligent way, go for it. If you're just going to have a thin actor in a fat suit ha ha look at him eat, don't bother. In this sense, I was disappointed, because I think BSG could have handled it a lot better. But at least Fat Lee is amusing to joke about - I don't usually do fat jokes, but I like to think I'm mocking the silly-looking fat suit and sloppy writing instead. Hee, Fat Lee. OK, I'm off my soapbox now.

I can't really hear the next question. James seems to have forgotten that he was going to repeat the questions.

"Where have you seen up to in the show? [scattered replies] No, but you've seen until the end of the second season? Wow. Um... [his phone rings again] Wait a second, I'll just turn this thing off. [laughter]

Um...they're kind of, they're waiting. They're waiting for their moment. And they're fully aware that if they strike in the wrong moment with their... force that is totally dwarfed by the cylons, then it's the death of everybody. They're in this awful.. they're in another awful position. They're waiting venues, they're waiting to try and get back to help - knowing, really, that they can't get back and help. Which causes a lot of rows and arguments... And the Galactica, cos like it's been like a year out, you know, everything has become rather lax in space, it's not like this.. All of the kind of cream of the military units, they're all down on the planet, everybody wanted to be down on the planet. So it's like a skeleton force that are on those ships. And you know... The dress code has become more lax, people's interactions with each other show that they've just been, like, sitting around in space for a year. That's..."

He trails off a bit, perhaps unsure how much he can say. But it's a nice analysis, not much to add there.

Forksmoker, Part 3
Asked if he will be in the webisodes.

"I'm not, actually. Webisodes are a brilliant idea, they chart characters who don't have much airplay in the canon that comes out on television, but all of their stories are totally intricately related to everything that does happen in the episodes. So I wasn't uh, but they were filming at the same time, and I do remember there was a bit.. They were filming the webisodes, when I'm walking back to across the set, someone goes, 'Shhh shh! quiet please, were filming! We're filming on our set!' I was like, your set? Blow(?), I thought it was all our set. Yeah, they're really great, and they follow the story I think, initially of Duck and his wife. And uh... what happens to them."

I must admit I haven't yet watched all of the webisodes for season 3, or even for season 4. I tend to have difficulty focusing on stuff with the minor characters. Somehow I'm not as dedicated to them. BSG has a lot of them, and the military stuff is the less interesting aspect for me. Maybe I should give the webisodes another try though.

"What do you think of season three's commentary on moder day politics as BSG has tendency to comment on modern day events?"

"It's not really just season 3, I mean, it's the whole show, really. And I think that you know, we're just trying to get you to think about it, like you know, really, there was never ever any idea that you know, Baltar would be, or Baltar's really George Bush, cos he really isn't. He's smarter. [laughter, applause] But he's still a disaster and god forbid something like this becomes your president, christ. It's not good, but what we were trying to do is, I think, in some way, people make a lot of headway about, oh, the monotheists or the, you know, genocidal maniac killers and the polytheists and et cetera, et cetera. I think we're really trying to get you to look at faith and address what it means. And uh... just my own personal standpoint is, you know, I can't believe if there is a God, that he wants me to go kill somebody else because they have a different religion, or they practice something differently. And so it's trying to get you to think deeper... You know, below the level, the subversive level of what's going on rather than...
Yeah. Nothing is to be taken at face value, essentially. Apart from that I'm very sexy. [laughter]"

Edit: I was having difficulty hearing the last part, because he says it so fast, but thanks to M/Sidestepping/Wesoly, I hear it now - "apart from that I'm very sexy". A woman says, "That's true! I agree!" So do I, random woman from the audience, so do I.

As for the rest - I'm just trying to figure out if James thinks religious fanaticism is bad, which I agree with, or believing in God per se is bad, which I don't agree with at all. It seems like he's given a lot of thought to the topic and it would be interesting to have a discussion with him about it. Was he raised Jewish, do his parents believe? Is he sort of ambivalent about God or is he leaning on atheism? I'm a believer myself, even if I kind of left organized Christianity recently. I think both religious fanaticism and atheist fanaticism are bad. People should be allowed their own beliefs without pressure. I personally find organized religion to be limiting, but I can understand those who want to maintain it.

"Yeah, um, I think uh.. let me see... has Dean Stockwell joined us already? Yeah, ok, Dean's there. Lucy and I end up in a kind of liaison, it's interesting. [some woos] And there's a member of the cast from Alias who joins us briefly, and still we've got like another ten episodes to go. So I know they are thinking of bringing a few more names and people in to...spice our plot[?]. We're filming in British Columbia, so maybe you know what that means [sniffs the air]."[laughter]

OK, I'm going by what M/Sidestepping/Wesoly hears, because I hear "spice our fart", which makes zero sense, while "plot" does make sense. The problem is that I still don't get what any of this has to do with British Columbia. Maybe there's some Canadian in-joke here that I'm missing.

I don't hear the first part of the next question, but the second part is if he got hung over to do the scene in Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II.

"No, that was just good acting." [laughter] "It.. there's two things, you know. The people who write this show, Ron Moore and David Eick, they're both political science majors, and they are super super smart. And they have a writing staff, again, that is super smart and has a real integrity about keeping the program tight. And this is then enforced by some wonderful directors. But as Ron says to me, there's only so much that he can... actually to kind of like.. if he, uh.. like tied it up like in ribbons, like he knows how it's gonna be, that would actually change the fun from him writing it. Sometimes he's like on set, goes, 'Oh, I had another person saying,
"Man, you just, you know, you're just pulling these ideas out of your... wherever!" He's like, 'Of course I am, that's what writers do!' You have to think about these things, so they set something up and um... There's I would say, maybe 40 % is like spilling the ether for us to work out at home. It's never 100 % like... this is gonna happen and then this and then this, because that would actually destroy the creative process."

That's one way of seeing creativity. Others might say that Ron's way of working is haphazard and causes incongruities in the story. When I write, I definitely make it up as I go along though - I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, but it always changes the story and branches out new ideas. You could say it's worked well with BSG in some aspects, poorly in others (they did basically nothing with Simon, what was the point of introducing him?) As a whole, obviously BSG is something awesome, and I do hope the finale ties up some loose ends in a way that will leave fans satisfied. I'm actually a little anxious about that. I want the show to do well and fulfil expectations, but there are so many expectations.

"I forgot the second part of the question. Oh, was I hung over? No, I wasn't, and basically I said to Ron and David when I became president, I went, listen, I want my administration to be different to Roslin's, but I don't want my administration to be different just cos there's no people in my administration. And there were no people in my administration, and it was just me and these two girls. So I felt that all of this stuff you know, being sky high and popping pills and living this debauched kind of lifestyle was my idea really. Because I felt like to, actually sit there with a pen and actually look like I might be doing something, really made me look like an idiot. In the sense like, what's he doing? He's sitting there, he's not governing or doing anything. I wanted to show like, in some way, if um... if he wanted to or something, there were things that he could do, but it was kind of like a decision.

And I think, yeah, because he's a very childish, naïve, narcissistic individual, he really blames some other people in the sense of... These workers' riots that are going on, he's like, you know, 'We've been running for our lives for a year, we've almost been annihilated. Everybody wanted to come down on the planet, and now you're all bitching about, like, it's raining. Like get with the program! When was the last cylon attack?' And this is something Baltar, you know, really believes, because he feels himself totally diametrically opposite to Roslin. He understands that obviously, she's far better politician and probably a far better person. But she's a person who would like, if you voted for her, she wouldn't be doing your policy, she does what she thinks it's right.

Baltar, for the first time in his life, who feels... You know, the guilt on his shoulders for everything he's done, it's like, finally the people want to do something and I can facilitate that. It just happens to be a disaster. So no, I wasn't drunk or whatever, or particularly hung over, I find that in that sense, you need a lot of energy to be exhausted, to play exhausted. And if you are actually exhausted, you can't fire up your cylinders in the right way to portray it. And on that level, no, that wouldn't have been particularly helpful."

Wow. I always thought that, in Lay Down Your Burdens, it was more like "stupid planet, who wants to go there" and then "Oh, I can get some personal gain out of this? On second thought, I love this planet!"

As for that "hung over" thing, I guess I'll take James' word for it, but he did look really hung over in that scene. I think it was David Eick who claimed he got really drunk the night before just for that. Ron Moore seemed surprised when he said that, if memory serves, so maybe it was a misunderstanding from David. Or maybe what happened was that James forgot they'd shoot the finale that day, got really drunk and showed up hung over to work, claiming it was "character study" and "realism". Now he's forgotten all about it and the question baffles him. Yeah, sounds more likely.

Forksmoker, Part 4

People ask for spoilers. Blah. You've got James in front of you to talk about his work and character, and all you want to ask is spoilers? I've never understood this about panels. They cannot answer that stuff, ask something else. Also he just gave you a lot of insight into season 3.

James takes the questions with a smile, but remains tight-lipped. Do they run across other survivors? "Not yet." Laughter. "How many new models of cylons do we get to see in the first ten episodes of season 3?" "Can't tell you. Can't tell, won't tell." Laughter. Seriously, why are people asking this stuff? (And the answer was, obviously, none.)

A question I really like even if I can't really hear it - something about Gaeta and his position when Baltar is president.

"Gaeta has certainly become Baltar's aid, and he's pretty sick of himself in the position he finds himself in. But he's again another one of those people who are like, listen, we can say there's no game and we don't play, and we're just gonna end up with like a bullet in our head. But there might be a way of, you know, policing our own state, that then ameliorates the threat of the cylon force. But all of these people will be seen as collaborators, and when push comes to shove, and when it looks like the universe might right itself, the decisions that you have made down on the planet will affect your life and death. Because certainly nobody else is going to forget what side they think you were on."

Ameliorate. "To make better or more tolerable." Here's James teaching me new vocabulary again. I like Gaeta a lot, and I liked that his role was more prominent in the later seasons. But yeah, heavy stuff in Collaborators, and that was really one of the best Gaeta episodes to date. Alessandro Juliani is a great actor - he deserves more than "multiple dradis contacts, sir". Edit: I had written this bit a few weeks ago, and realize I said the same thing in the Starfury post, but maybe it bears repeating.

James says he only has three minutes left. There's some groaning and he explains that he has to travel back to Vancouver for filming. The next question is what he does to relax, "tell us something about yourself."

"Something about me? I play the piano and I write music, and I find that to be possibly the most relaxing thing that I can do. Otherwise, I spend a lot of time with my young children. That is not so relaxing [laughter] but it's really really wonderful."

"How old are they?"

"Three and one. ["awww"s] They think Daddy's an astronaut, because last time they saw me I was wearing this hat. They don't understand what an actor is. Bye, I'm going to space." [waves; laughter]

Awww and hee! Now, of course, they're five and three. Still pretty young though. It amuses me that he says it's not relaxing - I wonder if they're rowdy little hellions. I'd like to blog more about Spooky later, but I'll say this: I was really impressed by the song, because it was somehow new, his own. I had expected a bland regular pop song - not to generalize, but I find most British music terribly formulaic - but he really blew me away. It's not an easy song and it's not to everyone's taste, but I think it showed he has some talent. I'd like to see him in a role where he sings or plays the piano.

A man asks why James was in India during the Miniseries Lowdown. Short answer: "My wife is from Delhi." I wonder why he never calls it New Delhi. Or is he talking about the county of Delhi where New Delhi is located?

I can't hear anything of the next question, but I assume it's something like "Will Baltar have funny scenes in the upcoming season?"

"He's had a few and I've heard form the producers, cos they were really funny and hysterical to film, and I've heard from the producers, you know, it doesn't suit them so much to show it. Because... every time that you can laugh, you release the tension and we have filmed some hysterical things, genuinely really funny, in the face of extreme adversity. And I'm really not sure that they're gonna get aired, cos like, as Ron and David tell me they're just too funny. Maybe whatever, come a year and later, everything of these things will be, you know, stuck on a dvd, and I really hope they are. There's a lot of stuff that, genuinely, that you guys never get to see that we, you know... Every episode comes in like 60-70 pages, and I think that we can really nearly only use about 35 of those. So pretty much half the script disappers in the editing. That's because we've got so much material and like only an hour. So maybe not so much this year, no. We have one more question. Who's it gonna be?"

I think they should have used the funny stuff. The deleted scene where Baltar is trying some small talk on the cylons, totally awkwardly, is awesome. I'm not sure why they cut that. I'd think that in a really dark season, humor is needed. It's often humor that we use to survive the hardest of times, so it makes sense. I think there's a lot of comedy in BSG, despite the dark subject matter, and I think it still works in season four (The Hub, Six of One, etc.). James has a great talent for comedy, and it's a shame if it goes wasted.

Don't get me wrong, I like the David Eick video blogs and the way the gag reels are done. It's a bit more creative, rather than just the usual behind the scenes stuff. But I'd still like to see this stuff too. I'd really like to see the funny scenes James filmed when he was going naked around the basestar (and not just because they show him naked!). I'd like to see the stuff we've only read about - James reading EJO's lines when Pegasus met Galactica, some of the outtakes, and so forth. I would be totally willing to weed through a one-hour blooper video with two or three genuinely funny bits, as long as I got to be the one to determine which bits are funny. It just seems like, with so much material filmed, it's a shame that we really only get a short edited ten-minute bit per season.

Once again, can't hear the next question.

"No. This is cast out of America, America know that they want their baddies to be English. [laughter] I imagine that must have helped me get the role, because actually what it said was, for Baltar on the thing, it was like, "please present all ethnicities", everybody to like come into this thing. I tried to put on a kind of a voice in the first day that we were filming. And the director like ran over, 'What are you doing? What are you doing?' I'm like, well... He went, 'Forget it! You're gonna be kind of like our human touchtstone, you're the people who people can kind of relate to. And if you kind of, have a VOICE and things like that, you are less relatable on that level. We want to keep you natural and as natural as possible.' And I think that was a very brilliant move, because that director, Michael Rymer, is very brilliant. And a lot of the stuff that comes out is due to the colors that fire off from his brain."

I love Michael Rymer and everything he's done for the show. So um, nothing to add here.

"I'm gonna go now and catch my plane. I wanna say... [applause] I just wanna say it's really really lovely to see you all, thank you very very much, continue to watch Battlestar, and genuinely, you can proselytize people, people who don't watch it, don't see it, don't know, then they're the people missing out. So... enjoy your safe journeys home, thank you very much."

1 : to induce someone to convert to one's faith
2 : to recruit someone to join one's party, institution, or cause

OK. Good to know. I actually guessed the meaning from the context. He could have said "convert", but his mind seems to default to the big word. It's kind of educational to transcribe these interviews - two new words in the same one!

And it does seem to work like that with BSG - it's like ripples, someone you know has seen it and gets you into it. A friend of mine got me to buy the on-sale first season box and give it a go, and I loved it. In a few weeks, I got my girlfriend to try it out. I was reluctant to watch it at first and so was she, but we both loved it. It feels funny now that I thought, "Ugh, sci fi, I don't like that stuff" and even, upon seeing the first season box, "Ugh, a hot babe, how original" (How was I to know that this particular babe (Six) would haunt my fantasies too?). Apparently I do like good sci fi. A lot. So I'm glad I was - proselytized.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Random Googlebits

OK, the holidays are over, and I managed to squeeze in quite a bit of James pondering. I have some transcripts coming (oldies but goodies), but today my head is indignant and my stomach wishes to register a complaint, so I think I'll serve a pot pourri of little stuff I've been meaning to post about but never have.

As a fan(girl), I make a lot of "James Callis" Google searches. Here are some of the random but cute things I've found about James. One of the reasons for making this post is that I can easily find these links here when I feel like revisiting them. If there are any cool links you know of, feel free to post them in the comments. Let's make a collection of James links to end all futile Google searches!

OK, this isn't from a Google search but I have to add it: Nicole Anell posted a beautiful Baltar/Six picspam. It's very sexy and sums up all the major Baltar/Six moments. If you're still at your parents' house, don't open this while Mommy's in the room.

And now for the googlebits!

Who would win in a fight, a minotaur armed with a trident or a centaur armed with a crossbow? James gives a pretty thoughtful answer!

From the same site:
Am I Lying with James Callis. Very cute. There are different variations of the "I'm lying" and "I'm telling the truth" videos, so go through several questions to see them all (worth just for his facial expressions - he obviously had fun doing this). However!

Want to look at somebody more attractive than James Callis?
Hey! James is attractive! Minus points for that.
My result is "Puppy dog". "You don't have an evil bone in your body - you probably can't even spell 'evil'." Damn. (I will play until I get the extra question from James, if it takes me all day!) Interestingly, James says "God bless" in the end. I thought you didn't believe in God, James? Edit: Hey, there are several different bonus questions! I am going to play this all day and all night now.

James is part of the tribe! (Scroll down to "I am such a dork".) I knew he's Jewish, but I'm impressed that he apparently knows a lot of Hebrew. Ken, lo, more tov, mora tova. Ani Deniselle. Eh. I actually took a brief Hebrew course ten years ago, but that's all I remember. (That's yes, no, good male teacher, good female teacher, and I'm Deniselle, if memory serves. Let's just say the teachers had big egos.)

James the good daddy:

Punk asked if he could take a pic, and he said "not with my child." We said understood, no problem and started to walk away. He said "I'll just hand him over to my wife!" He smelled very good. The end.

Awwww. That's not only totally protective of his children, but also totally considerate to the fans. And it's not the first time someone mentions that he smells good. *fangirl squee* Also, very good behavior from the fans there. Some people should take note: you ask for a picture, and if he says no, you politely walk away. Because he's a person with a right to privacy, not public property. Thumbs up.

James the bad influence:

Ron smokes way too much during those podcasts. It's pretty much the only time he really smokes, except when he's hanging around with James Callis. Together they are out of control.

Heeee! How shocking!

James shows courage (or just lack of self-preservation) when faced with an injury:

James Callis was sitting on set quite happily until the call came out to move, at which point he stood up with all force and enthusiasm... the top of his head promptly cracking straight into the end of one of these I-beams. Apparently, James then stood there, one hand clutching his head and protesting that he was alright right up until blood started gushing down his face, whilst Aaron was standing there doing the typically male "suck it up dude" joke, up until Callis fell over and everyone suddenly realised it was a lot more serious. To top it off, they rushed him to the hospital (he needed stitches, and had a concussion) but given how slight James Callis already is and that they were covered in wound makeup for the episode, the hospital went frantic when they arrived!
Ouch! That's scary stuff. Seems like a typically James "I'm alright, don't fuss over me" response. This entry is about Aaron Douglas talking at a con, and it's actually very interesting reading overall. Oh, also - "according to James Callis, it's apparently Baltar-star Galactica". And yup, that's where my blog title comes from.

Bob Hoskins admires a young James:

"James is brilliant-he's just out of drama school, so he knows he has nothing to lose, but he's not quite sure what he has to win, so he has just come to do the play. There's no sideshow: The play is the most important thing. We're completely different people - the only thing we have in common is this play, and both of us have such an understanding now of each other in the play. There's nowhere to hide - there's just the two of us onstage for two hours. But I know he's watching my arse and I'm watching his. We trust each other completely. Our characters are, like James and me, also completely unlike each other - two different people with nothing in common except music."
A young James admires Renée Zellweger:

The other thing that a lot of people don't realise is that Renée's a very clever cookie. I think she's got a degree in social anthropology or something like that from the University of Texas so she's scarily bright. She knows everything about everything.
James obviously doesn't realize how much that sounds like him.

If you haven't read this old interview yet, go read it now. He talks about men and women being friends, and it's nice and in-depth. He also talks about his wife:

That's how it was when I met my wife Neha. She was beautiful, easy to talk to and even easier to laugh with - it had all the makings of a good friendship. But I had an overwhelming feeling that if I didn't ask her out immediately I would regret it for the rest of my life. I didn't want to become "friends" and risk losing the chance of romance between us - I wanted her to know how I felt straightaway - luckily, she felt the same way.
Weird, I had the same feeling with my girlfriend. After a while, I just had to tell her how I felt, even if it meant rejection. Probably the biggest risk I've taken in my life. It was really worth it.

I've struggled with this link several times, but I got it now. Tutorial:
1. Download this file.
2. Scroll to about 30 minutes, and there's a phone interview with James! Yay!
3. No need to download the other episode of Slice of SciFi with the James interview - the one in part 158 is a rerun of the one in part 88.
The interview is from 2006 and obviously done right after the torture episode is aired. James is able to joke about it a bit: "I'm holding the phone to my left ear" and about the sex scenes: "If you pardon the pun, it was a hard day to keep it up." Heee!

How to make a James Callis sculpture out of a Hugh Jackman sculpture? Hollow out the cheeks and make the nose pointier. I had to read this a couple of times before I understood what's being discussed here. Also, "Callis-like ears" sounds cute, but maybe that's just because his ears look cute to me.

This post became somewhat longer than I intended, and I'm finding more links all the time, so maybe I'll make another one later. I feel all warm and fuzzy and Jamesy now.

Check back in the next few days, as I'm planning a few posts before the new year. James on you all and I hope you're enjoying the holidays!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Jamesmas!

This is me on Christmas 2006 with a thin Santa who, of course, reminds me of James now.

A little announcement: I am going to be at my parents' house from the 23rd till the 26th of December. There will most likely be no updates during this time. If I have access to the internet, I will most likely update only twitter. (That's in the sidebar, or here:

In other words, if you planned your Christmas around following my blog updates, now's the time to change plans.

This year, I think I'll celebrate Jamesmas. Basically that means going home and spending Christmas as always, but secretly thinking of James Callis the entire time. I feel a bit naughty, because not only have I renounced Christianity (something I won't tell my very religious Mom), but I worship a Jewish man who isn't Jesus and doesn't even believe in God. How much more blasphemous can you get?

I've been a fan for about six months now. Everything I've found on James online has been overwhelmingly positive, which still feels a bit too good to be true. I started out thinking he'd be a super talented, but kind of arrogant guy (based on how he acts as Baltar), but that changed with about the first interview. My image of him right now is just a really warm, sweet guy who's unaware of how talented, handsome and likeable he is. If he finds this blog, I hope it gives him some idea.

I've really enjoyed writing this blog and meeting new people through James here, at Skiffy and the James Callis website. M/Sidestepping, Daniela, Janine, Nicole, Ivana, Pedda, Triny, Rikkie, Pip and everyone else I've crossed paths with - you're awesome and I've had so much fun. Let's have even more fun next year!

And to quote Krusty the Klown, I wish you all:
Merry Christmas!
Happy Hanukkah!
Kwazy Kwanzaa!
A Tip Top Tet!
and a solemn, dignified Ramadan.

And an especially warm [insert holiday that agnostic-Jewish British-Indian families celebrate] greeting to James Callis and his family, wherever you may be. I wish you joy, happiness, good health, and great roles for James in the future.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"I Know Who You Are Felix."

Edited on 7th February 2009: This post is about the preview. If you want to read more about the actual scene in Blood on the Scales, see the post here.

You know, I've been a bit nervous about the lack of Baltar in the new "season" promos, but today we got a Baltar-centric clue in the You Will Know the Truth section. Gaeta is talking to Baltar - somewhere, about - something, and says eventually he hopes people will know who he is. As the screen goes black, we hear a whisper from Baltar: "I know who you are Felix." I don't have technical words in my vocabulary to describe how the whisper sounds, but it sounds frakking awesome.

As usual, the clue evokes more questions than it answers:
Where are they? Is this a brig? Interrogation room? Private quarters?
Is Baltar a prisoner or are they just having a heart to heart?
Is Baltar scared of or just feeling sorry for Gaeta?
And most of all, of course - what does "who I am" refer to? Is it a fifth cylon red herring - or a tip that he is the fifth cylon - or a reference to his sexuality... There are so many options.

I, for one, would be incredibly happy if Felix Gaeta turned out to be the final cylon. But I'm not holding out any hope for that.

To be perfectly honest, I don't care who the final cylon is, and I think this "Who shot JR" guessing game is below the show. Every single character has been suggested by now, no matter how minor, and in some way they'd all be disappointing. I hope the "new season" will blow my socks off with the metaphysical stuff and unravel some of the mysteries, but as for the fifth cylon? I just hope the reveal is over and dealt with as soon as possible, so we can focus on something else.

On the other hand, I'm really looking forward to seeing more interaction between Baltar and Gaeta.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

James Callis Related Post

This post exists only because Google blog search apparently doesn't find my blog with the search "James Callis". If you're not looking on Google, you can ignore this post.

This blog is about James Callis. In this blog, I discuss James Callis. James Callis the British actor. James Callis who plays Gaius Baltar on Battlestar Galactica. So if you're looking for stuff on James Callis, look here.

By clicking the blog's title, you can find many other posts about James Callis that, you know, actually have some content in them. This content deals with James Callis.

James Callis, James Callis, James Callis, James Callis, James Callis, James Callis.

(You know how, if you write something many enough times, the word loses all meaning? I feel that way about his name now. I'm almost beginning to wonder if I invented the name myself. The name I'm talking about is James Callis.)

Starfury - James Quotes and Transcripts

Photos by Janine, more great James shots here.

This post is for the quotes/paraphrases/transcripts of James at Starfury (5th-7th December in Heathrow, London). I'm trying to prevent the main Starfury post from becoming a gigantic post of doom, which is threatening to be. I've added some commentary, but sadly, there are no new updates since Dec 17th. I'll update this post when/if there are. If you were at Starfury and want to include a quote from James, it's most welcome - leave a comment or email me at swanjonasAThotmailDOTcom.

There were two Q&A sessions - James and Mark Sheppard and James and Katee Sackhoff. The two videos uploaded are from the James and Katee one.

FIRST VIDEO! James is asked about the Gaius/Gaeta shipping. I was listening to this again and I think the person asking the question is saying she met Alessandro Juliani and asked him about the Gaius/Gaeta slash fic, and Alessandro had "said he is not against a romance between Gaius and Gaeta". So the question is what James thinks of it.

I must admit I've been secretly curious about how James feels about this, but I would have been worried to ask him, because he's mentioned before about people thinking he's gay, and he didn't seem happy about it. (Although "oi, you fucking gaylord" isn't exactly the same thing as "I wrote a story about your character being in love with this other character of the same sex".) I must say I was relieved to see James very calm about the topic here, and not acting like it bothers him in the least.

"I just wish he'd told me, it's tragic I found out right now. [laughter] I think that that was something that he really had programmed into the background of his character. Very subtle, very clever actor, he's a brilliant actor. And for a while I think fell a bit... Oh, *I* felt initially that, you know, he had the rather thankless task of talking kinda technobabble in the CIC and stuff. He's quite brilliant to work with. And so really, again, totally taking his own lead. He said to me on several occasions, he was like, "You know, I just don't buy the ridiculous hero worship that you know, I'm going to..."

Because he was so clever very early on, he could have exposed me or found out that it was really... me. There's something about the computer codes and I ask him to erase them, in the miniseries, in the pilot. And I think he had the idea then that he'd have this fawning respect, based on maybe a kind of... a latent homosexuality, that would continuously blindsight him, and think about the better side of Gaius' qualities. Gaius being the ri... gargantuan egomaniac and narcissist that he is, is like...[chuckles] has no idea that's going on on some level. He's very surprised. [Or: he'd be very surprised] To, you know... So i think it might have been... you know, not reciprocated on that level unfortunately."

OK, this is a great answer. It proves that Alessandro had really thought of this from the start, and it's not just something the fans projected onto the character. There were some complaints about that recently at Skiffy, and I feel very validated now that this is obviously not just the fans' imagination running rampant. Gaeta loves Gaius! Squee!

I also like how James points out the "technobabble in CIC" thing. Yes. Thank you. I really like Alessandro as an actor; I think Gaeta's a great character, and I really think he was shortchanged in the first season doing those boring "dradis contact, sir" scenes. I've been glad to see him as the star of the new webisodes and hope for a more central role in 4.5.

SECOND VIDEO! The title refers to Katee, she's the one who quit smoking, not James. (Whew. Socially acceptable response: OMG smoking's bad for you I wish he quit! Genuine response: He looks so damn hot when he smokes, I'm glad he hasn't quit.)

Asked about playing Hamlet. Not sure why.
"Um..uh.. maybe one day, I might... but I'm not, I dunno. I like Shakespeare, I haven't been on stage for a while. I think science fiction is a bit [?] like, I remember somebody saying that Strek Trek is like bad Shakespeare, you had like these two [embassies] on either side, they've got a political debate, bla bla... Yeah, it's fascinating. I'd actually love to get a chance to see David Tennant playing Hamlet right now, but I imagine that... [someone says something from the audience] No, I mean that, but like totally sold out, so..."

I'm not really sure if I'd like to see him do Shakespeare. For one thing, I wouldn't understand anything. I have actually read Hamlet, discussed it in class and seen a performance of it on video (as well as a modernized movie version), but I still don't feel like I really "get" it. James probably does, though.

James and Katee's singing voices are complimented, and I think the question is if they'd like to sing for the crowd today.

"Battlestar: The Musical, [live on stage]," says James.
"I always thought that would be kinda fun to do, like they did on Buffy," adds Katee. They both look very amused, and the crowd laughs. It's a silly question, but it makes for a nice warm feel.(I'm glad BSG didn't do a musical episode, by the way. Those might be fun to do, but they always end up taking away from the reality of the show.)

Someone asks a question for a friend who can't be here this weekend because she's attending... some other weekend in Belgium. I can't really hear it, but the crowd seems very amused by this, as does James. "Great," he says and people laugh some more. This is the kind of stuff that doesn't really translate well if you weren't there.

Anyway, on to the question. Speaking of David Tennant, would he be interested in being the next Doctor Who? If someone called him and said, "James, come to Cardiff and play Doctor Who, what would you say?"

"I think it would be like that radio... phone-in hoax line, it'd be like... actually the guy from Canada who rang up Sarah Palin and pretended to be Nicolas Sarkozy. [laughter] And so... yeah, no, I um... Time travel... It's not... It's that on some level, the parts are similar in my mind, not that they are at all, I have been a doctor or professor, whatever, in a sci fi drama. Being Doctor Who is not the right idea for me right now."

There's a ripple of (mock?-) disappointed "Awwww" in the audience. James looks amused.

"Sorry.[laughter] Maybe, but I mean they could cast maybe a female Doctor Who? [Cocks his eyes meaningfully at Katee; laughter] A real kick-arse [???]."

Sorry about that last bit, but I just can't hear what he says after "kick-arse". I thought it was "boots", but I don't hear that anymore. Boo-something? On a first listening, I thought he was saying, "Maybe they could cast me as a female Doctor Who?" That would have been funny. Kinda nonsensical, but funny. I love when James says "kick-arse" or "bad-arse". It just sounds amusing. I guess to my mind, American English is the norm and the other regional varieties are always a bit exotic.

And hee at the hoax bit! Always so self-deprecating. Somehow it feels funny that he'd bring up Sarah Palin - she's someone my girlfriend and I have often discussed (mostly mockingly), so it's odd to see the same topic come up in a James context. I realize we live in the same universe and all; it's possible he celebrated Obama's victory just like we did, but it still feels a little surreal. (I had another dream where James was elected president of the USA. Maybe it was because of writing that bit in the post.)

Katee is asked about working with Nathan Fillion, and she mentions how Nathan got her to quit smoking by telling a tragic story about a relative who died from cancer. "I couldn't smoke after that, I was like oh my god... I do miss it though," she says. James quips, "And the funny story he told you was...?" The audience laughs, as does Katee. She says there is no funny story. James is lightening the mood a bit there, I see. The interaction between him and Katee is very friendly and mutually appreciative. Katee seems slightly nervous, and James' presence is soothing and calm.

It's kinda weird that all questions to James in that file were in the "would you play this particular other role" vein. I've seen the Doctor Who discussion online - imdb, Doctor Who forum, Youtube - but I didn't think James would be interested, considering that he's done sci fi for five years now. I'd personally like to see him in a more grounded everyday life drama, maybe something British. Something a bit more low key with humor. (But not as low key as Bridget Jones' Diary.)

OK, that's my transcript. Here are the rest of the quotes I could find:

Sarum posted a funny story at Skiffy:

James Callis and Mark Sheppard were a terrific pair. James was joking that he could have slept with the entire female cast if only the writers had shown a bit more spirit. He mentioned that he worked on Merlin, had long hair and looked dishevelled. When another disgusted guest in his hotel in Canada asked him how long he was staying there for, and James said six weeks, the guy looked really shocked. Mark said that he should have added 'and my name is Merlin'.
Hee! :D But wait, does this mean that the Merlin hair was his OWN?! Did he grow it all that fast? It really looked like a wig to me, with the lighter color and all. Weird.

Sarum later added another bit about the Mark Sheppard/James Q&A at the same thread at Skiffy. They were asked about props:

James said there are problems. Sometimes he tried too hard. He'll remember to take off his glasses, pick up a pen, write something, take a drink and then realise he's completely forgotten to actually act!

The German fan community Caprica City has a few updates here. These are my translations of their paraphrases, so I have no way of knowing how close it is to James' actual words, but the content certainly sounds like stuff he would say.

-He said in one of the panels that Baltar should have been made to juggle and dance, all at the same time, to avoid being airlocked.

-Stewardesses treat him like "the second coming of Christ", and he supposes it's because they still remember him from Bridget Jones.

-He told the fans that he had played Santa at his kids' school some time ago, even if he's not nearly fat enough for the role.

Thanks to Daniela for translation help.

My favorite is the Santa bit. A true professional would have gained weight for the role, of course. By the way, don't you just love the Sci Fi Forums censorship when you can't quote a German text? They censored "dick", which means "fat". "He's not nearly **** enough for the role" - sounds like a naughty Santa!

As for the stewardesses - they probably get a lot of rude jerks pinching their asses and drunkenly hollering, so I can imagine that a customer like James, who's not only very cute but also very charming and kind, would be a dream. (Not that I know how he acts on planes, but I just can't see him being rude or sexist.)

A brief report here:
And how would Callis like Baltar to finally die, given the choice? "Baltar would die during an orgasm with a smile on his face," said the British actor.
I can just imagine a very dark finale where Baltar dies in a very comic relief orgasm. Heee. The author also says that James has a wry wit that makes it hard to tell when he's joking, which baffled me. I don't feel like it's that hard to tell. Maybe it's because Finnish humor is also very much like that, saying funny stuff with a serious face (or conversely, saying serious stuff you mean but with laughter in your voice). Basically, I often write tongue in cheek, and I hope my readers can tell the difference.

-Heard at the meet and greet: "James misses Vancouver and hates London stress and traffic."
I visited London in 2006, and I must say I hated that part of London too. There's a lot to do and see there, and it's a town with a rich history, but the sheer amount of people! I don't know how he can stand it. Move to Finland, James - not too many people here! It's a bit like Canada.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

James at Starfury (check back for updates)

Updated on Dec 17th, 9:49 PM Finnish time
This post will be updated every time I find something about James in the Battlestar Starfury convention (Dec 5th-7th 2008 in Heathrow, London). If you were at Starfury and want to write a report or send a picture, I would be more than happy to post them. My email is swanjonasAThotmailDOTcom. (By the way, this offer also stands for anyone who's met James at any con over the years.)

Also see the new post with just the James quotes/paraphrases and my comments. I've edited them out of this post.

A photostream on flickr with many photos of Starfury here!
You can see James during the closing ceremony, which is new - he looks quite sad while saying goodbye. I think he was waving in this one - either that or his hand looks very strange indeed.

Lots of photos, including many gorgeous James shots, at ruthkit's (newbieUK) Livejournal here!

A brief con report - I didn't really get the part about James:

James is hysterical and filthy minded (how to tell someone is living close by - they ask people to be really careful on the roads going back)

Hmm? How is that filthy? Is that supposed to be some kind of euphemism? Or is the part in brackets in no way related to the part about him being filthy minded? I must admit I don't really associate that idea with James. He doesn't do super naughty humor as far as I've seen. Eddie, sure, but James?

SECOND VIDEO! Which is longer. James answers a few questions and Katee answers one. The title refers to Katee, she's the one who quit smoking, not James. (Whew.) This video is more upclose and you can see their faces.

FIRST VIDEO! James is asked about the Gaius/Gaeta shipping.

A few quotes/paraphrases posted by infinity at Caprica City:

Jennifer und James haben bei uns allen gleich einen umwerfenden Eindruck hinterlassen.
James erzählte, daß er vor kurzem den Nikolaus an der Schule seiner Kinder spielen mußte, obwohl er doch gar nicht dick genug dafür wäre^^

Er hat uns einen tollen Vortrag über die Definition von "evil" gehalten und meinte, daß er immer von Stewardessen auf Bridget Jones angesprochen und von ihnen wie "the second coming of christ" behandelt wird.
My translation:
"Jennifer [Halley] and James left a stunning impression on all of us.

James told us that he had to play Santa at his kids' school some time ago, even if he isn't nearly fat enough for the role.

He held us a cool lecture about the definition of "evil". He believes stewardesses still recognize him from Bridget Jones and therefore treat him like "the second coming of Christ"."

A new photo of James cutely frowning, once again thanks to infinity at Caprica City. He reminds me of a frowning baby. I don't know why, but I find all of his expressions really cute.
(I've rearranged all the photo links below, this is the only new link.)

Lots of photos, including many of James, here!

Four new James photos at Caprica City! See them on this page - and OMG what is that hat he's wearing?! The text says that he also had it on when someone saw him walking around the corridors in private or something. (addendum: he apparently also wore it for one of the "Lowdown" extras and looked not unlike an alpaca.. :D)

Janine posted her Q&A photos at the Unofficial website! There are plenty! See them here.
He looks really good and I'm incredibly excited right now.

The first photos are online at Caprica City! Two of them are with James. Single links to the James photos here and here. He looks SO good! Another picture with Katee and James laughing here! Sorry for not crediting the individual photographers before - this one's by Victim_Boomers_Revenge, and the previous two by infinity.

A brief con report with two quotes from James:

He launched right in with the opening gambit: "Playing Doctor Who is just not the right idea for me right now…"
And how would Callis like Baltar to finally die, given the choice? "Baltar would die during an orgasm with a smile on his face," said the British actor.
Hee, no surprises there. Looks like he's following the internet discussions where he's often being suggested as the new Dr Who. slight correction - someone apparently asked him about it. But I still like to think he's followed the discussions.

-The German fan community Caprica City has a few updates here. Concised translation of the James bits:
-he was very kind and intelligent.
-he looked really cute. I am so adopting the nickname Super-Schnuckel.
-he made Katee feel more at ease at their joint Q&A. Awww!
-he was wearing the Audi spot outdoor vest.
-and a brief quote to even those with limited German skills:
James Callis ist hilariously funny, totally charming und ein wahrer Gentleman
Tip: "ein wahrer" means "a true".

-A brief positive bit here:

James Callis was hilarious and very very nice. He could diffuse the odd questions about who else would you sleep with with humility and humour and a great deal of obfuscation.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Finale Even Hitler Would Love

Yeah. So, apparently James is in LA right now getting a job (I hope), and he was talking about the finale of BSG. LA Times quotes him:

"Honestly you can't be disappointed," he said. "I think if Adolf Hitler were back, he'd be crying in his handkerchief."

You what? Adolf Hitler?! Is this a misquote? Coming from a Jewish person whose family comes from Poland, this is kind of odd.

And I mean - if Hitler is evil, wouldn't something that moves him have to be evil too? I'm not sure if I get his logic here. (Or maybe I'm overthinking it.)

Don't get me wrong, I have very high hopes for the series finale, but there's such a thing as overselling. Less is more, James.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sci Fi Q & A

This is the Q&A from the Sci Fi website. The questions were sent in the forum and different actors came to the Sci Fi studio to answer them. There's no interviewer; James simply reads the questions directly from the computer. It's an interesting setup, because you get to watch and listen to James, which is always a pleasure, but fans also get their voice heard. I'd say by the look of James' hair and general cheek hollowness that this was made in 2007, but I could be wrong. I've trimmed out the introduction he does at the beginning of each video.

Along with the Galactica Quorum podcast, this was one of the first James interviews I saw, and is still one of my favorites. James is genuinely warm and engaging, and he seems to enjoy answering the fans' questions.

Part 1

James introduces himself and says he'll answer the fans - "So literally, you have me where you want me. Yesh. Shall I move on to the first question?"

Hee. It's not a particularly good joke, but I'm a sucker for lame puns, because more often than not, I can't resist making them myself. He looks like he knows it's not a great joke, so that helps too.

"ochreluna 13 has asked: what is your favorite aspect of Baltar's personality? Do you enjoy playing silly Baltar, sneaky Baltar or the Baltar in Six's head best?

What I really enjoy doing is showing Baltar who has compassion. Playing this.. I was gonna say, rather revolting man and at the same time being allowed to show, sometimes, the window to his soul...which shows that he IS thinking about these things and he DOES care for people, is... I'd say it's quite cathartic. And what is the most fun is probably, silly Baltar is a lot of fun, of course he is."

I like the way the question is set, even if James goes slightly outside the types of Baltar mentioned there. I've expressed some doubt before about how much compassion Baltar truly has, but after rewatching some of season four, he really does seem compassionate. You could say he has a thick layer of narcissism over the compassionate nature that is, perhaps, his true nature under his issues or character flaws. I always hesitate to say such optimistic things, but if James himself seems to think so...

"Why do you think the producers let you keep your British accent for your character?

I think you should ask them. Why did they? I think there's a thing in America that you guys haven't still got over whatever, the colonial war... and basically all bad guys are British, essentially. I tried to change the accent on the very first day, the director said, "I want you to be in some fashion as natural as you possibly can be. What you don't understand, I don't think other people understand, what I'm going to make happen is that you're the touchstone, you're gonna be the person that people can relate to in some way, a person who doesn't know his way around the battlestar, a person who doesn't immediately come up with the right thing to say. You're like people's inroad into this drama in some fashion. And the more of a... character as it were, you become or you try to play, then I've lost all sympathy with you already. I need you to.. to retain some part of your innate nature."

I love when he quotes someone directly and then includes big words like "innate nature" or "inroad into this drama", which don't actually seem to quite fit. It's obvious it's not a direct quote, and while that's fine, it's amusing how he adds big words. His mind seems to default into big words rather than more common ones. As for Baltar's accent, I don't think James really sounds the same off character. As Baltar, he has this refined upper class enunciation, while as James, he sounds more like Ricky Gervais - his accent is more lax, he drops some consonants and generally enunciates less. James sounds warmer and more relaxed, Baltar more arrogant and like he's trying to impress. Which is probably just the difference between their personalities, coming to think of it. There's a whole Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde thing going on there, but luckily the kinder personality is his real one.

"Isn'tdaveone. One of the most important questions that you're going to hear this afternoon: are those your own glasses or are they a prop from the show?

Actually they're both, isn'tdaveone, they're both. I started wearing a pair of my own glasses on the set, because Harvey, one of the producers, saw me wearing them and he was like, "Yeah, you look pretty smart, you look like a scientist." And I had a pair made identical or as identical as I could to that pair. And actually I walk around that pair, which is like they've made five pairs on set, the anti-glare ones, the ones with the flair, the ones that reflect the lights, and there's a pair that I use for driving. So they're kinda my own and they're kind of a prop for the show."

I didn't realize he has glasses in real life, probably because he almost never uses them when he's doing a role. So either his sight isn't very poor, or he uses contacts most of the time. At first, listening to this response, I thought he meant that he had a pair made just for vanity reasons and doesn't need glasses at all, but if he uses a pair for driving, he probably does need them.

The next question is pretty hilarious, and he reads it really fast, which makes it sound even funnier.

"Rictorious: Let's look at your tally - Six D'Anna Starbuck Gina reporter - some Caprican bimbo before the bombs [laughs] - your playmates as president... Felix Gaeta?"

He looks at the camera with this mischievious smile and frown, which suggests that he's amused, but this isn't the first time he's heard this suggested. (Naturally, with all the cast jokes about Gaeta being gay, this might be a familiar idea. But I like to think that he's read some Baltar/Gaeta slashfic too.) The editors have added a moment from Baltar's trial where Gaeta says, "" in a voice that suggests he's lying. Brilliant.

"You sure get around. How much of a player are you in real life?

In real life I'm married, I'm happily married. I've been married for nine years. And I have... we have two children. So... uh. Was I ever really a player?, to be honest. Had a fun time at drama school, but I wasn't really a player."

He sounds almost sorry that he can't give a more exciting answer. But it's not really the kind of question that requires a deep answer, it's just a funny moment. Funnily enough, this question came up in a discussion about homosexuality on Galactica, and Rictorious seemed happy with James' reaction to the Gaeta bit. It remains to be seen how sexually charged the relationship between the two men is - we've been promised some closure on Baltar/Gaeta in the new season.

Part 2

"Atmo: What was your favorite scene of the series that you were not in? Which series, Atmo? "

Hee. He looks at the camera a bit indignantly, which really sells the joke. I wonder if he's also thinking of series=season, like they say in the UK.

"I think that I would have loved to be in the boxing stuff in Unfinished Business. They had such a laugh doing that, it brought everybody together, the... the shots and the shooting of that thing looked fantastic, and uh.. yeah, I was.. my character obviously couldn't be there, so that would have been... great to be involved with in some way."

Episodes like this are probably exciting for the actors, because you get to do something a little different, and it's probably fun to beat someone up on camera. There were quite a few clips in the Gag Reel that were from this episode, and you can tell they had fun doing it. Whether it's equally fun to watch depends on the viewer's taste. I must admit that I personally don't like that episode. Reason 1: Baltar's in it for like two seconds. Reason 2: I don't really care for boxing. Reason 3: I hate the Quadrangle stuff. Reason 4: I think they could have done so much more with the flashbacks. Like, we know Cally and Chief ended up having a baby, so we don't need to see them happy and newly pregnant. I'd rather have seen the new government at work and Gaeta starting to realize that Baltar isn't what he thought. Well, that goes back to reason 1, I guess.

"What does your wife think of your randy American fans? Does she wish she'd married a quiet government employee instead of a young sexy actor?"

Heee. He seems to pick a lot of funny questions, which somehow makes the mood of this Q&A more close and personal. He's joining in on our jokes. (Well, I wasn't a fan yet when this was made, so maybe I shouldn't say "our".)

"No, but maybe her mother does. That's a joke, a shout out and lots of love for my mother in law. I don't think my wife knows that there are randy American fans, and my wife wouldn't have thought of me, when we married, I don't believe, as a young sexy actor, although it's very nice tro be described as such."

He always acts like he doesn't think he's sexy at all. Maybe I should focus more on his looks in my posts - certainly lots of material there. On the other hand, maybe no one thinks that much of their own looks. By the way, some of the randy fans are not from America. :P

"If you could project, atmo asks, whatever world around you that you wanted, like the cylons do, what would it be?

Ah yes, I read this one on the internet, I like this question. And I would not change the world at all. The world is very very beautiful, the one thing I'd like to cut out of it is all the aggression and violence and hatred. Obviously then it would be a slightly different world, but the planet and the people on it are beautiful. I wouldn't really like to project myself anywhere else. This place, but this place in peace. Wouldn't that be wonderful?"

Awww. No, James, you're beautiful. When he says this, he just looks so warm and caring. There are many ways to answer a question like this, including petty or selfish ones - "I'd project a world where everyone serves me" or "I'd take away all the stupid/ugly people" or whatever. James seems unusually appreciative of other people, and it makes me all warm and fuzzy to hear him say things like this. Fan squee!

There's a clip of Gaius telling her ... disciples?... "You are perfect just as you are!" which makes me wonder if the editors think he was being hypocritical here or something. Maybe I'm reading too much into it. I did notice that there were a few too many clips from season 4 in this Q&A, as opposed to the other actors' Q&A's where there were more earlier seasons stuff. What's up with that?

Part 3

"werealljustfloating.. is actually the name of somebody whos asking me a question. "

A transcript-related note: I always seem to write "everyone/someone" on a first listening, but it always turns out to be -body instead. Maybe James is partial to the -body endings. Also, I was amused by how the actors approached the fans' screen names in these Q&A's. Lucy Lawless was amused at "Martin8or" and I think there were some other similar things. It's cute. It almost makes me want to have some funny name, but I always use Deniselle everywhere because I'm boring like that.

"we'realljustfloating has asked:
Who do you think Baltar really loves the most? HeadSix or CapricaSix?

Because I'm playing him, I think I can tell you what I think. I think Baltar can't really tell the difference. The Head Six is as real to him as Caprica Six. When she holds him, she kisses him, it's real. Nobody else can see it, but he can see it, he can FEEL it. It's in his head. And I suppose because of that, more recently, he's had more interaction throughout the whole series with Head Six. But I suppose he fell in love with Caprica Six. So it's... It's six of one and half a dozen of another!"

It's an interesting question, but one that might be impossible to answer, both because of Baltar's complex love-hate relationship with both, eh, copies?, and the fact that we don't really know what HeadSix is. Throw in Gina and it's an even bigger mess. James seems to have trouble articulating what he's thinking, and it's quite a fuddled answer. In the end, he looks kind of bugged, like he was hoping he could say something more interesting but he just doesn't know how. I think what happened here is that he liked the question, but realized too late that it's too complex to give an adequate response to, and he doesn't want to say something definite that he might regret later.

"sonofcylonagent: I must say that the best bit I saw you do was the torture scene. How did you mix pleasure and pain without making it look comical?

Because, sonofcylonagent, I was um.. I really had that in my mind that I didn't want it to look comical, and I was sure that it could really go in that way, and the way that it doesn't look comical essentially ist hat the pain is all the way thru, and it's a real pain and it looks like, from the guy's face and the way his voice is breaking, that he can't actually take it very much longer. Because that was the true line, you're never gonna find it funny. If you're undergoing that much pain, then the pleasure is only.. It's like dulling the pain, rather than making you, you know, "woo-oo"-flap your legs about and get really excited."

This, on the other hand, is obviously something he had given a lot of thought to. Even if he's analyzed Baltar deeply as well, it's probably easier for him to talk about his acting methods, which are his own thing and not written by someone else. It's nice that fans have told him they appreciate the torture scenes, because I can imagine that was a hellish thing to go through as an actor. Personally, I hadn't thought of the possibility that it could look comical - I guess if he had overdone it, it might look that way, but to me it just seemed very real and very painful. Here's a link to a "behind the scenes" article about season 3, written when the torture scenes were filmed. A brief excerpt:

After three-plus hours of this sadism, lunch is called, and Callis — shaken, spent and seriously hoarse — retreats to his dressing room.

Three-plus hours?! It was hard enough to watch the extended cut in the deleted scenes which went on for maybe ten minutes. But he actually had to do that for that long? It feels downright cruel to make him go through that. On a lighter note:

Cracks Callis, "I don't know what's more torturous, being tortured or being the only naked person in front of a crew of people who are doing everything possible to avert their eyes."

Back to the Q&A:

"freyja also asks: do you believe that Stockholm syndrome plays a part in Baltar's loyalty to the cylon race and his desire to belong?

Actually, I think he's playing them all along. He doesn't really believe, I don't think, that he's a cylon. Part of this existential crisis is, you know.. he's ended up with a group of robots, and the first thing to say to save his life is.. "You know, I might be a robot as well.. yeah! I like licking radiators!" Something like that."

It's a very interesting question. I thought the Stockholm syndrome might come in with the love affair with D'Anna (from torture to threesome). On the other hand, he really only seems to care about himself and whether he's a cylon. I'm not sure if you can read the Temple of Five scene as just survival tactics, because he's alone, asking God about the truth. But then, I also have trouble believing that Baltar really thinks he's a cylon. It's more like he's desperately clinging to some hope or some sense of belonging, even if he knows it to be false.

Part 4

"renewing spirit : in the act of portraying Baltar, do you see him more as a victim of circumstance, or a diabolical passive aggressor?

In the act of playing him, what do I think? Of course he's a victim of circumstance, and like so many things in life, he's also put himself in this position. Is he a diabolical passive aggressor? I definitely think he is not a diabolical passive aggressor. One of the things I think is interesting for you guys, and for me as well, before the fear of discovery, before the annihilation of the species, Baltar is not a politician. Baltar is a genius scientist. I would presume when you're that brilliant, you don't play politics. Why would it ever enter your mind that you have to forethink how you're going to manipulate other people? No, you're just brilliant, everybody's gonna listen to you. And you've never looked behind your shoulder once, only looked in the mirror, seemingly. And then when this thing happens, that's when the machinations and the politics have to spring up, because it's about saving your life on almost a minute by minute basis."

The question is set kind of funnily - it's like two mutually exclusive ways of seeing Baltar. James, of course, has sympathy for his character and doesn't see him as diabolical in any way. He even seems to be defending some of Baltar's more manipulative moments. I actually think that seeing Baltar as fully evil is always derived from the viewers' own attitudes. It's impossible to read that from the show, because he has so many fits of kindness. He can be kind of passive aggressive, though.

This is one of two moments where James seems amused at just how self-centered Baltar can be - "only looked in the mirror", he says with a little smile. It's one of the things that amuses me about Baltar, and it's nice that James seems to feel that way too.

[in a pretty convincing American accent] "Grimmjack66 asks, Could you do a sustained American accent like Jamie Bamber? I really don't know if I could do that for a really long time in the show. But I think I could give it a go. Maybe Baltar have a brother or something like that..."

Hee, a brother. I think his American accent is pretty good, but I don't know how someone from the US might see it. I'd love to see a role where he has to speak American the entire time. It might be quite different.

Next, James looks for a question that he apparently saw before and especially liked, by Freyja:
"How has Baltar's development affected your own personality? Has James become more like Baltar, or has Baltar become more like James?

It's a great question. Um, playing somebody as complex as this has really made me think. It's made me think about so many things that otherwise I would never have thought about. Has that made me become the man? No, definitely not, but it made me cut my hair quite recently so I wouldn't feel like the guy when I got out of bed in the morning. Has Baltar got something from me? On a broad brush stroke level, he's slightly more human because I'm playing him. [chuckles] That's the most stupid thing in the world to say. What I MEAN is that I didn't want to be a caricature on some level. The thing perhaps that Baltar has from me, that he did not have in the script, is warmth. He's quite warm. There are quite a lot of cold people on Galactica. And that warmth makes him sympathetic in some way, and gives him an understanding into...people, when he can be, if he can possibly think about them for one second, other than himself or his own reflection. So that's something that I think I've added."

It is a great question, and it seems like he loves to answer the questions about acting (which, of course, is something he's given a lot of thought to). I love how he mocks his own answer like that. But I don't think "he's more human" is necessarily that silly - I think he just meant that Baltar has more positive, warmer human traits because of him.

Again, he seems amused by Baltar's narcissism - it's irritating, but at the same time, it makes him a funny character. I like that he brought warmth to the character, and that he considers it such an important side of Baltar. I think a lot of viewers - especially casual viewers - seem to overlook the positive sides of Baltar's character and only focus on the negative ones. Yes, he can be narcissistic, devious, and incredibly childish, but he's also warm and compassionate sometimes, doesn't hate anyone, and isn't cruel to anyone. I think even some of his negative outbursts of emotion add warmth - the temper tantrums, nymphomania and guilt-riddled anxiety seem to give him color, as opposed to some other characters who always keep their cool (Cain, etc.). I also find a character like this much easier to identify with, because I'm an emotional person myself.

It's funny, but writing this, I also realized that Baltar has made me think about things I wouldn't have thought of otherwise - guilt and complicity, compassion and narcissism, what makes a character a villain... It's the mark of a truly great show, and it's great that it makes the actors think about deep stuff too. If an actor has to consider deeper issues to portray the character, that must mean the character is not a caricature, but complex and difficult just like real people.

"I wanted to thank you for your time. it's been a real pleasure for me to see what you are thinking and where you are... um, enjoy, take care, be good and if you can't be good, be careful."

There's a genuine warmth to how James says this. He really seems to enjoy encounters with the fans. I like his catchphrase in the end - he's used it in several of the messages at the unofficial website as well.

I remember first watching this, trying to "get to know him" a little. It felt a bit like, if he's gonna be arrogant or rude or bigoted or something, I can still pull back and just enjoy the character. It took me by surprise, and still often does, just how warm he seems. There's a kindness to him that goes beyond what I had expected. I remember watching this and thinking that I can't help it - I will be a fan of his, because he's just a beautiful person.