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.


Wesoly said...

"Nothing is to be taken at face value, essentially. Apart from..."

He jokes, "Apart from I'm very sexy."

You can hear a woman comment, "That's true! I agree!" :-)

In the other quote, I thought he was saying "[add] spice to our plot."

kixxa said...

Loving these transcripts, and loving you for doing them. Just a small pick-up though when I listened to part 3 just now. You've got "Maybe 40% is like spilling the ether, for us to work out at home." I think he really said, "for us to work out and hone." Sounds more James-like, never taking the easy option!

Deniselle said...

Ah, could be! I thought he meant they can do thinking work at home and work it out, but you may be right. I'll have to listen to it again.

And thank you! :) As a fan, I love doing transcripts because it helps me understand James' way of talking and thinking. I'm so glad that others also like reading the transcripts.

Hullu said...

I saw the first two seasons on tv, once a week, big breaks between seasons! Can you imagine?? Well, I watched season 3 on dvd recently (which still hasn't aired in Finland for crying out loud!), and it took me a month or so.

Even so, the experience was perhaps a little too intense, but that's probably because it was such a "heavy" season in general. On the other hand, I feel like I lost out on some of the unbearable excitement and anxiety over waiting a whole week for each episode.. Often the waiting is half the pleasure.

Did you see season 4 too? I'm going to wait until it comes out with Finnish subtitles. I've tried watching them without subtitles, but they speak very unclearly sometimes.. no matter how high you turn the volume, it's the damn ship making those humming noises..

Great work with the transcripts, I didn't even finish reading yet. :P

Deniselle said...

I wrote a long response, but I think blogger lost it. I'll see if it comes up after a while, if not I'll write another one. :P

Deniselle said...

OK, I see my giant comment never made it on here. Blah.

I'm glad you enjoy the transcripts! More are coming soon. :) I enjoy writing them, because they help me parse James' (often complex) way of talking and thinking, so I do it mostly for selfish reasons, but I'm glad the other fans have found them helpful.

I actually watched the entire show on DVDs so far, and I've also seen 4.0 (I will probably post about 4.5 when it starts airing soon, so beware of spoilers!). I can do without subtitles - even if I always end up hearing something wrong, my girlfriend is American and helps me out.

It's interesting to see how the subtitlers have solved some linguistic puzzles though. I've noticed a difference between the translations of "frak": the Swedish translator always uses regular Swedish swear words - blasphemy! - while the Finnish one uses "frak" but fits it into a Finnish way of swearing: "Niitä on niin frakin monta" etc. I definitely prefer the latter style!

I've learned to enjoy watching a whole show quickly on DVD. While you do lose momentum, the problem with watching from week to week is that you tend to forget little hints and things that are addressed later, and particularly intelligent shows often work better when you can watch more than one episode per week. I hope I can handle watching 4.5 one episode at a time and waiting for each new one for a week - I'm not a very patient person! Yet I'm not patient enough to wait for the DVDs either, so I'm frakking watching it.