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.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Commercial Break

Have you seen the new Audi S3 Sportback? It's one hell of a car.

The main features include:
* incredible fluffy dark hair
* soft kind voice
* beautiful British accent
* scruffy stubble
* lean sexy torso
* did I mention the hair?

What's amazing is that you can plug in your iPod and DID YOU SEE HIS HAIR? Swoon.

I'm way too excited about this. Yeah, it's an ad, and the things they had him say are cringeworthy indeed, but looking at him, I just don't care. He may be a sell-out, but he's such a CUTE sell-out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Two Awesome Fan Videos

And the Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence goes to...

"Clint Eastwood" by Gorillaz - a Gaius video made by bop_radar
(There's also a stream link, but it only streamed about halfway for me)


"I Touch Myself" by The Divinyls - a Gaius/Six video made by nicole_anell
(It also links to Youtube, but the video has been removed from there - bastards!)

These are seriously good videos. They seem to share the same strengths:

-the lyrics fit Gaius (and Six)

-the scenes are timed to the rhythm of the song, so they actually look like music videos

-there's a lot of humor in both the choice of clips and their timing

-scenes from different episodes and seasons have been intertwined instead of simply making a chronological video

Most importantly, both videos show the creators' own reading of Gaius/Six. There's something original about the choice of clips and the way they've been arranged; the personalities of the creators come through.

More of these, please!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Farpoint 2008 Q & A

So I really wanted to do a transcript of this, because it's an awesome interview. Then I looked at the videos I could gather on Youtube and realized that it's just a small fraction of the Q & A. But I was sure I'd seen the entire interview somewhere - and then I realized that I had read Dianora's comprehensive and very James-positive LJ posts about the Q&As. Day 1, Day 2.

I still want to blog about this though. So here's what I'm gonna do: I'll transcribe the clips I have, and for the rest, I'm going to use Dianora's post as a source for my own commentary. Dianora's paraphrases and comments will be in quote tags, and my own transcripts and comments will not be. I hope this is not too confusing. If you know of more videos of this Q&A, please let me know and I'll add them to the Youtube playlist.

A big thank you to Dianora for writing such a detailed account, and to everyone who's provided videos on Youtube - the videos in question are from amezri, rubanek, and emmyl658. Amezri also has some videos of an auction that occurred later at the same event, with James being cute and hilarious. My playlist with all the videos is here. Dianora's linking to it too, but here's nnaylime's photo gallery of James at Farpoint. Great photos.

So to kick it off, an interesting bit about Baltar's insecure body language:

It's a way to show that Baltar wasn't in control of something monstrous, i.e. genocide -- he used the physical unsurety to underscore the fact that Baltar didn't really know what he was doing. And that is also related to how different BSG 2003 is from the original, where everything was more black and white -- Gaius is "a microcsom of the macrocosm of the new show."

I loved this, and it made me wonder if the sympathy I feel for Baltar has a subconscious element related to the body language. There's something childlike about Baltar, and it's not just the selfishness. He somehow acts like a puppy who's demanding and annoying one minute and totally adorable and helpless the next. Thinking about it, it must be the body language. It's awesome that he's thought of this so much.

He mentioned that there was a scene that wound up on the cutting room floor where Baltar tries to "blend in" on the basestar by being naked, but was extremely self-conscious about it. Marina [Sirtis] had mentioned earlier that when you do nude scenes you have a closed set, but he said that in his experience, it was more like people sold tickets!

:D This reminds me of the third season gag reel when he's lying naked on the couch in the basestar, smiling at the camera all talk show-y: "Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the show! Tonight on Baltar's Basestar, we have some fascinating people joining us." It was hilarious but he looked a bit self-conscious, so maybe there were just too many spectators.

He did note that he thinks sometimes there are too many issues happening in one script -- he'd love to see a concentration on fewer issues so that each one can be given its due respect, rather than rushing through a bunch of different things. He also noted that sometimes on the show plot seemed to dictate character, and he feels strongly that it should always be the other way around (me too, James!). In other words a character shouldn't suddenly shoot someone because that character needs to die; there should be a reason he is shooting someone (I felt like he was maybe referring to "Fragged" here).

Totally agreed. I think one good example is Taking a Break From All Your Worries - you've got Baltar being mentally tortured and it's horribly brutal, and the next minute you see Lee drinking away his worries because he married the wrong woman. It just somehow isn't intense on the same level, and I hate the quadrangle, and it takes away from the intensity of Baltar's scenes. I'm not sure if James is talking about that specifically, though. The shooting reference does seem like it might be about Fragged.

About playing pranks on set:

In the scene where Lucy was naked getting out of bed, it was originally supposed to be a body double, but he and Tricia kept telling her that they thought they spotted a big pimple on the body double's butt, and did Lucy really want people thinking that was HER butt? They were totally lying, but Lucy eventually believed them and decided to do the scene herself.

Heee! This was just really hilarious. Dianora also reports that he said the scene was too short and there was no sex, and I agree - I mean, what's the point of doing a very risqué threesome storyline if you can't even show it? It's the same with Razor: OMG Gina and Cain! Wait, when are they gonna show them together? Hey, this is just Cain staring at Gina while she's being tortured. Major disappointment. I know people can fill in the blanks themselves, but a few girl on girl scenes wouldn't have hurt. At least, like, a kissing scene. This is something I don't understand about censorship, because some James/Tricia scenes have been pretty graphic (torture S/M scene?) but even the scene where Caprica strokes D'Anna's arm was cut off.

So then, the first mix of Dianora's paraphrase and my transcript. Background info from Dianora:

Another instance which wasn't really a prank was -- omg, this is hilarious -- during the filming of "Pegasus." It was the scene where the Pegasus lands in the hangar deck and Cain comes out, and the whole ship is there to greet her. Adama is supposed to greet her, but EJO was AWOL -- had gone to make a call or something. The way the scene was being shot during that take, the camera only saw Cain, not Adama. So in order to help out Michelle Forbes, James started speaking Adama's lines -- in his best EJO impression, which he then performed for us. (I love that all the actors on this show have to contribute EJO impressions.)

And transcript:
Clip 1

Meanhwile, all of us were on shot and trying not to laugh, because it's kind of ludicrous. And then they shout "Cut!" And then somebody says, I think it's the director, "Does somebody want to get Eddie a glass of water?" And then they realized that he wasn't there [chuckles], and then I was in a little bit of trouble. [laughter] In the sense of wasting people's time.

The last time I tried a practical joke, it just fell totally flat, actually...

James Callis at Farpoint 2008 (the whole bit)
Clip 2 (just the bit about the prank)
Clip 3 (just the bit about Ratlab)

We were all walking through the Basestar... not Basestar, I'm in real trouble now, the cylon ship, baseship. And um, basically you know, when you've done a scene, then people come in and clean the set, and there's you know, like cleaning equipment, a broom, a mop, a bucket, and those cones to show that the floor is wet. So when everybody was, you know, we were walking thru corridors, just before the setup, I put the broom and the mop and the cone there, as kind of like... with people walking through like, 'Oh? They're doing maintenance work?' And then, literally just before they shouted action, the director went, "What the hell is in the shot?" [laughter] "What the hell is that?!" And I sheepishly went, "You know, it was me, I just you know...It's funny." [laughter] "You know James, this is not school. It's like, this is serious, this is our job. You just wasted ten minutes of everybody's time." I think that was the last time...I think, basically, this is the thing that you take from that: Youre gonna do something on set, involve somebody, a person.Then you can kind of get out of it. Don't just use objects. That was my lesson.

And otherwise, I'm not sure... Lots and lots of uh... I suppose one of the things that I find particularly amusing while it was totally stupid, is that uh.. It's not really a prank, it's just that Jamie Bamber came up to me, he was doing a very very big scenew ith Eddie James Olmos, which I think you know, they they kind of have to do every week, in that way... But it was a very passionate scene and he was very... you know, he wanted to do his best in it. He was asking me, you know, my opinion of uh... certain modes and ways, in the way that we all ask each other, you know, "Do you reckon I could do this and get away with this and everything". And I said to him, "Well, I think during the scene, one of the most important things that you can do is think that LEE spelled backwards is EEL." [laughter; James nods seriously] Which kind of fell flat on me, because then he's like, "Yeah, well, BALTAR's RATLAB!" [laughter, applause] "Since then, a lot of people called me Ratlab on the set.

End of transcript.
James does an awesome EJO impression, and he obviously likes to showcase it in many interviews. It's always a hit, but it cracks me up that it even fooled the directors. Also, I don't know how they didn't notice - James' physique is so different from Eddie's. I guess the voice was just so convincing. I also really loved that bit about Ratlab - it really fits too, he's a rat and a labrat... A pretty good one from Jamie, I must say. James seems to enjoy telling stories where he's humiliated in the end, and it sounds like he would be so much fun to work with. Well, he's fun to listen to, as well; he has the audience in stitches, and there's also a sign language interpreter who seems to almost burst out laughing while interpreting. It's a great little Q&A with an intimate feel. Watching the videos feels almost like being there and seeing him from the crowd.

He was asked about Messiahs, which is interesting but a bit too long to quote. Here's an intriguing bit:

He mentioned to Ron Moore at one point that in playing Gaius, he now truly understands the meaning of the Lord's Prayer, specifically the part about forgiving our trespasses, and that it would destroy Gaius if he ever had to say that and really think about it. RDM was into that and that's where Gaius praying came from. But he said that when filming that scene, the director told him he was playing it too genuine -- "Would Gaius really be able to do that?" -- which changed the direction of the scene.

It probably would destroy Gaius, and it's awesome that he points that out. I do wonder about that praying scene - did he really think he was talking to God, whom he doesn't necessarily even believe in and... The whole cult thing is a bit problematic for me. I mean, sleeping with lots of beautiful women, OK. But the part about being a messiah and really believing it? I don't know. I still say it seems out of character and hard to accept. Maybe the scene in The Hub where he talks about his crushing guilt and how the faith has relieved him of that kind of gives it some meaning, because we're talking about the master of "It wasn't me", and he's just looking for new reasons to think he's not really that guilty, if guilty at all, to the whole genocide thing. He's the flood! He's the hand of God! This, to me, is pure Gaius. Praying for the sick boy? Not so much.

Transcript time, and do watch the video, because his accents are really worth hearing:

Clip 4
"So they had this thing, they wrote this thing about my accent changing. And uh... That really, you know, he's a comedian(?), he's from somewhere else. And... You know, I've always found it slightly unusual that I'm practically the only person with a British accent in this show. Something that we have... glossed over, in British terms. There it is, the Brits are baddies. This speech came up and the producer, one of the producers but I won't name names, was like, "Yeah, you know, we want you to have this kind of um, we want you to have this voice, and you're talking about the farming..." And if you remember, it's all about how I was born on a sheep farm or something, tending to the cows. "Can you do a Michael Caine accent?" [looks around in disbelief; laughter] [Michael Caine accent] What? I was like, "Well, Michael Caine's like from the East End of London! They don't have any sheep farms here! [laughter] East End, what are you talking about?" He was like, [changes accent] "Yeah, but it's cool, the Americans don't, you know... Just wanna get a.... Can't you do a Micahel Caine impression?" I'm like, for god's sake, this is totally ludicrous! Then I said well, if you're talking about dairy farms, and you don't want me to do an American accent in that way, then I will do a regional British accent. And one of the places for dairy farms in England is like down in the south, Dorset, their home county's down there. [changes accent] They have a kind of strange accent down there in Dorset, so can I talk like that? Friendly, but that's kind of a bit Bristol[?], but that's down south regional accent. So I think the producer went, "But you look demented!" [laughter] "Can't you... I mean, I think... Can't you, I mean it's a little bit strange, I mean Michael Caine would be great." You know, East End switch off, oh dear. So finally, because that was the most, in that sense, that's where most of the dairy farms are, that would have been the most...normal for me. In the end I said, "Well, I'll do Yorkshire for you, because I spent 3 years in York University." [changes accent] It's a slightly duskier accent, maybe a bit more uh... It's a little bit more manly, you know what I mean? And a bit tougher. And these people are traditionally, you know, the miners, people who work with their hands... It's like, there are no dairy farms up there, but it will do.

So I felt at the time that, you know, I felt that it was ludicrous, really, I was not so into it. And then slowly, slowly, when I saw the way that they'd edited it and what had been done, I thought, "They're very clever." And I thought that certain nuances of this really worked. And one of the reasons for this thing, I believe, is to build the profile for somebody who wants to be a messiah. Because if he was going to just be the natural scientist, et cetera... Like I was saying, so many messiahs or fake messiahs in our history come from very humble roots, so it kind of made sense. Also, on that level, lots of fake messiahs sleep with everybody that they possibly can, it's aprt of their cult, and it seems very much a part of Baltar's cult as well."

Awesome accents, a lot of fun to listen to. The scene in Dirty Hands is a bit odd - it comes out of left field, but I think in the end, it worked well. The camera focuses on his mouth and that makes the dark, dusky accent more powerful. It might sort of explain why he sounds British compared to the others - if he started with an Aerelon accent, he may always sound a bit unlike the other Capricans, a bit like he comes from somewhere else. I also think that, in the end, the story of Baltar coming from a worker's planet actually makes sense in terms of his personality. There was an interesting thread at Skiffy about this - A Theoretical Exploration of Baltar's Psyche - where someone built a pretty intricate psychological profile of Baltar based on this tidbit. Just a few quotes:

Baltar is rejected by his fellow Aurelions, particularly his peers, at an early age because of his intelligence because it is so far beyond theirs, just like kids today that are gifted are often shunned, harassed, teased, and bullied. Also, to make it worse, if what Baltar is saying about Aurelion "culture" is true, he may have been rejected not just because he was super intelligent but because that wasn't seen as a good thing...

Then, not only does Baltar find that he is rejected by his fellow Aurelions, he finds that he is rejected by other colonies because of the stereotype that goes along with Aurelions. Therefore he feels very alone, isolated, unloved and rejected by everyone.

Baltar then goes about distancing himself from his Aurelion roots and adopts a non-Aurelion persona, preferring to think of himself as Caprican. He distances himself both because of the treatment and rejection he received from Aurelions because of his intelligence as well as from non-Aurelions because of being Aurelion.

It's really interesting and makes a lot of sense, in terms of his narcissism and other issues.

Moving on, the last bit about the first Q&A:

When he was in Bridget Jones' Diary he was nervous about being able to seem gay enough, but it apparently worked too well, because everyone on set thought he was gay, especially Hugh Grant, who would run away every time James tried to talk to him. (He illustrated this for us. *g*) And when James' wife came to visit him on set, Hugh was like, "Your wife? Really???" He also mentioned that his wife gets upset when he kisses other women on screen, so he has this running joke with her where whenever they're watching a love scene he's like, "Oh, look at that snogging. What great acting. That is an Oscar-worthy snog, right there."
I guess I'll have to admit that I really did think he was gay when I saw him as Tom, and this was long before my BSG fandom. I totally didn't associate him with Tom when I saw him as Baltar, and I was very surprised to hear he had played that role - it's just so different. I think he did a great job, and one that was sorta believable and not just a gay stereotype. I say this as a bisexual (I don't have a lot of gay male friends though, so your mileage may vary). Also, I'm not a fan of Hugh Grant anyway, but that really makes me think less of him.

My pet peeve with Bridget Jones: I haven't found one Youtube clip where James appears for more than two seconds. Is it because BJD is such an old movie by now that all the good clips have been removed? Or because he really appeared in that movie so little? I think I'm going to have to rent the movies and see for myself that he really did play Tom. It just feels so surreal, like part of a different life where I wasn't yet a James fan and still managed to see him on the big screen, twice.

Also - heee, "snog". It's one of those British words that I've never really used myself, but it always amuses me.

Apparently there were two Q&A's, and the next bits will be about the second one.

My question was tangential to the first one, so I raised my hand. James looked at me and said, "Dianora?" [Only he used my real name, ahem.]

As if we were, you know, close personal friends.

Major fan envy. No, but seriously, that's awesome. I think he has a very natural way with the fans in these things, and he really talks like everyone's just good friends with him. It's the same tone he has in the messages on his website. It's a great way of interacting with fans. So Dianora asked a question, and funnily enough, I have a video with just that - "James Callis answering Dia's question". The question is whether he's staying in the US or going back to London after BSG.

"Uh, that's actually got to do with visas, to be [true or truly honest?] [laughter] Um, I don't really know, actually. I've been totally in limbo, that's a strange thing for me, having done BSG. I left London in 2003 for a three-week jaunt to Los Angeles, I didn't know that I would get a job and be in Canada for the next five years. Essentially, we rented out our house in London so we don't have a base in London. And... you know, I actually don't know where.. I suppose, essentially, I will go where the work takes me and where somebody wants to employ me. Hopefully it will be in London or Los Angeles, but you never know." [laughter]

And then he relocated in London and got a job back in Vancouver and went job hunting to LA, and I'm guessing he's back in London now after visiting his grandmother in France... His life sounds really hectic and exhausting with all the traveling. I actually hope he gets a job in some great British drama or sitcom where I could see him and buy the DVDs, because the BBC shows at least will always be aired here. Or some super popular US show where he's playing one of the leading roles. I really want to see him in something like that.

About the Esther movie One Night With the King:

He was in the movie with Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, John Rys-Davies, etc., and couldn't believe he was with those guys. He went up to Omar Sharif and said, "So, Omar, I assume that when you heard I would be in this production, that made your decision to participate that much easier, hmm?" Luckily for him, he said, Omar Sharif has a great sense of humor. He said that one time Omar was wearing a funny hat for the film and James said to him, "Omar, when they said put the kettle on, they didn't mean on top of your head." He cracked himself up with that one.
Heee. :D I have a feeling this isn't a great commentary, all I can say half the time is "hee". He's just very naturally funny. I don't think that much of the movie - I've seen only a bit of it so far, and I must admit I find it pretty boring. James' role is very different from Gaius, and it doesn't have that ambiguity, so it's not as interesting to me, and I think it's a bit black and white. He does a great job though. But it's nice that he sort of honored his Jewish heritage there, even if he, ironically, was playing a guy who wants to destroy all the Jews.

Unfortunately, my last video clip:
And the whole thing was that, he was like, before you can play the piano, you have to start singing, [get your gift out?]. And so in an American accent I had to sing German love songs. [laughter; James speaks German in an American accent abit] How I ever did... And the director was very helpful, he was Australian, he went, [Australian accent] "James, if you murder the songs, the audience will hate you!"[laughter]

Dianora's bit that maybe clarifies that:

His first play was with Bob Hoskins, and James played an American, and in an American accent he had to sing German love songs. And the director was an Australian who said that if he was bad, everyone would hate him. And he illustrated all this with the appropriate accents, it was awesome. He played an artist who was supposed to come out and show these gents his pieces, and so he would try to crack them up on stage by substituting nudie pics. And the proper older Brits would just look at him disapprovingly like "James, really." This guy can't catch a break with his attempted pranks!

Heee, again. I can't believe he's done so many pranks that people haven't appreciated. Where's their sense of humor? I also agree with Dianora that James' accents are delicious and add a lot to his stories.

About doing an American accent:

He said that in London, you can be in a serious Shakespearean production, where you're spouting poetry on stage, but backstage everyone is trying to sound like Keanu Reeves. "You've got a hair trigger pointed at your head!" said in his best Keanu whilst pointing an imaginary gun. Hilarious. He noted, though, that the trick to doing an American accent is to sound as much like yourself as possible, because if it's bad, it sounds like "South Park on acid." He did get a role once where he had to use a Latino accent and he said he was "berry berry bad."

Awesome. I wish there was a clip of this. I think the British and American accents aren't actually super different, and I've been impressed with James' American in, say, the Sci Fi Q&A. I think he could do a show in American English quite well. It's not quite as natural as Jamie's, but then Jamie's half American.
He writes music, and Bear McCreary makes him feel like a loser, basically, because he's so young and so talented.

Yeah, that was my reaction to Bear too, especially since he was born the same year as me. He's done all this awesome stuff, and I've - written blogs. It just amuses me that even James, who by my standards is very successful, feels the same way. It's a bit comforting.

This part made me gasp. It's about the scene in Precipice where the cylons "ask" Baltar to sign the death list, and he refuses:

He pointed out that if Baltar were to commit that unforgivable an act with no pressure or provocation, that the character would essentially be dead and there would be nothing to even do with him any more, writing-wise, because he was so irredeemable. So all of the stuff that was in the episode -- the yelling, the gun holding, shooting Six in the head -- was all put there to accommodate James' objections. In fact, when they first started shooting the scene, when Matthew Bennett was giving him the warrant to sign, he was doing it too gently, and James said to him, "This has to feel like an al-Qaeda torture session. If this feels like anything else, I am not going to sign the effing paper." And then he was the one who requested that we don't even see Baltar's hands signing the document, so that the way it is shot, with him listening to head Six and finally signing it, is done as if in a dream, and he doesn't even realize he's doing it, almost.

So - in the original script, Baltar just... signs it? And basically all of the emotional power of that scene is all James? Doral's hardass attitude, the dreamlike thing where we don't see him sign it, the Head Six bit? That scene would be nothing without those things. I always thought that this scene referred to the beginning of the episode, where Gaius tells Laura that he's always followed "the dictates of his conscience" - one of the most ironic Baltar lines ever - and this scene is where he actually tries to follow his conscience and they won't let him. But that it was all added afterwards...

Don't get me wrong, James is a brilliant actor, but sometimes I feel like he should be a writer/director instead. Because he really made that scene. What would Baltar be without James?

There's a bunch of awesome stuff in Dianora's posts that I didn't quote, because I feel like I already quoted too much. This Q&A session is one of my favorite interviews, and I wish they did more of these at conventions. I'm going to do the FanExpo 2006 Q&A soon, even if it's a lot older. I hope he'll have some kind of personal Q&A at Starfury, because while I love the panels, they don't give a lot of time for one person to speak.

More transcripts coming soon.