Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Starfury Q&A - James Callis / Katee Sackhoff, Part 2

I'm sorry for the delay with this. I realized the audio files are pretty demanding to transcribe, because you can't see what they're doing, so there's context missing sometimes. There are still many question marks, but I think you can make out what they're saying. So this is about 30 minutes and on.

Asked if they get confused while acting, or something. I can't really hear this question.

James: Is this like while we're filming it?

Fan: Yeah, do you get confused and misremember what you were doing?

James: No, I mean up towards the end, when basically we were filming lots of things from lots of episodes at the same time.
Every episode's pretty nametic? and quite specific ...but it can be that you can get confused about... Oh, wait... wait a minute... Yeah, there have been situations... they're not amusing, cos what they are is like dull... So you're supposed to leave the scene with the briefcase, and so-and-so hasn't come in and given you a briefcase, now we're gonna have to go do that again. And so it is um... It can be, but that thing, I find, happens very rarely, cos there's so many people? on set and continuity and... Really it's so specific in your mind, you can walk on set, find two people arguing over how a cushion is being placed. And they've both got polaroids of it from before on their cameras. And it is like, "it's like this", "it's NOT, it's like THIS!" It's like a tiny cushion on the couch, but there's two guys being serious, cos...

Katee: That happens quite a bit, like you shoot a scene... We did towards the end, we shot a scene.. My hair has been an issue from the very beginning. And we shot a scene in the very end where my hair was down, cos I wanted it to be down, and we realized that we'd shot a scene that was occuring, like, an hour before where it was on a ponytail. So we had to figure out, whilst holding machine guns, how her hair is going to fall down. (laughter) Make it slip out of the ponytail by the end .And the script supervisor was coming over, and every scene was going... "OK.. OK.. OK.. OK..." (laughter) "Do you think it'll fall out if you shake your hair a little bit?" ? this woman would come over and she had... everything in her book... she would meticulously watch that monitor and write down everything that you did.

This is one of those things that delay my transcripts. "Every show is pretty..." nametic? numetic? Neither word seems to exist and I can't for the life of me hear what it is and it's driving me nuts.

I don't have much to add content-wise, since I've never been involved in making a TV show. It sounds like BSG has so many supervisors though, I don't know how they ever get any scenes done. I can really imagine the kind of situation James is describing here.

The next question is something like: what's it like to see yourself on TV?

(they seem to think for a moment)
Katee: I fast forward to the stuff that I've done, because I want to, like, occasionally question um... I kind of, I watch my eyes to see if I was in a moment, and I make sure um.. but I don't watch... I think I already lived it, you know, I have it in my head, the way I want it to look, and the way it should look in my head. (?)

James: I'm totally the same.
Not much to add here either. It sounds a bit like they're not sure how to answer the question.

A wordy but very good question. Does Katee feel she was typecast as a "strong woman" (and was her role of Sarah Corvus on Bionic Woman a kind of typecasting), and does James feel that, after such a strong character, he'll be typecast as well? This is my favorite part of this Q&A.

Katee: Um... There are worse things in the world than to go to work every day and play a strong woman. Um, I enjoy a challenge. I am *not* very ... in my own personal life, I second guess myself all the time. I am not a very confident person. I love playing strong confident women, because there's a voice in them that I don't have. Um... so that's ... that's what draws me to them. Cos I would never shoot a machine gun as my real life self.

Am I worried about typecasting? No. When it is time for me to prove to everyone that I can play someone else, I will. It's not that time yet. It's, I haven't been given the opportunity. Um... at the end of the day this is a job. I can selectively... you know, sort of navigate my way thru it, but until... you know, financially you support yourself by it. And I'd love to say that I would live in my car [to enhance playing the role that's more fulfilling to me?], but I wouldn't. I have two dogs, they wouldn't like it. (laughter) Um, so... you know, there will come a time when I can play someone that is completely different, and right now I can do what I love. Um.. and I like them all in a sense to ... the common thing in Starbuck and Sarah Corvus is that they're very strong. Another common thread in them is that they're so vulnerable and so... wanting. Left empty. Um that that is also so much fun to play, it's two completely different sides to the point. So you know...I like it um... involved with it emotionally.

James: I slightly disagree with you. I think that you're terribly strong, I think you're outrageously talented and very beautiful. And... ("awww" from the crowd) That, seriously, that's like the whole package and the whole deal. You can talk about playing strong women, but there's very few people who could have played Starbuck in the way that you did. And what I think you brought ot the party was real charm that I think if you did have somebody who necessarily was just... they can't, they don't have that pizazz.

And to me it wasn't that you're so brave, cos that's like me coming from England and like looking at GI Joe and American Hero, I have a slightly different idea about bravery. What I always saw about Starbuck and what I also see in you is that you're really plucky, and when somebody says no, it's just like.. It is not no for you, it's not no for you ever. And... that's something that then, we watch this show, and you're involved in it emotionally... You're like, it is the end of the world, it is chaotic, billions of people are dead, but there's this one girl in the mix who is holding her own. And no matter what is being thrown at this individual, they are... on some level they are always keeping it together, they are consistent. So that's my... take on that. And now to myself.

That's beautiful. I love how he just jumps in and tells her she is too strong and does too kick ass. This is really respectful not only of Katee as a person, but of strong female characters and women in general. I just melted hearing this. This goes in, like, "the top ten moments that prove James is an unusually kind person". I should blog the top ten sometime.

I also agree with him and I think that in the above, Katee does sound insecure, but at the same time very intelligent, and her discussion of strong female roles is well thought out and competent. In other words, she sounds strong, something of which she seems completely unaware. I think what James is ultimately saying is that insecure is not the same as weak or cowardly. I agree. And I love him for it. A lot.

OK, so on to James' response about typecasting:

James: I may never work again. (laughter) But I, you know, I explore a lot of avenues and in the sense of, having to support yourself as a jobbing actor, who knows what avenues and roads. I was gonna say that I'd even think about experimenting with porn, but I have done that on Galactica, so that'd be typecasting as well. (laughter) So ... um, I'm not sure. Maybe, you know, the closest piece of like not typecasting would be to be like... An extra in Crimewatch UK, walking into a bank with (?) and shouting with a shotgun, (tough voice) "Get on the floor! Get on the floor!" (laughter) Wasn't James Callis amazing in the (? ?)

[Katee says something, but I can't make it out]

I had some trouble with this bit. He says something after bank and then says the same thing in the end, but I can't make it out. I didn't know what Crimewatch UK is either, but according to imdb, it's a kind of reality show where they discuss real crimes and re-enact the situations with actors. It's so... :D Imagining James doing something like that... I have no words, only laughter. Awesome. The audience seems to agree, because it takes a while for the laughter to die down. (The porn comment - I'm not even going to go there. Private emails. Ahem.)

Katee is asked about the scenes she did in Maelstrom about Kara's childhood.

Katee: The little girl that played... Oh my god, if there is a sweeter little girl in the
entire world... She was so cute. And the scene where she falls on her head on the ground... We had to lay there and stay there, so they told her that it's strawberry jelly and you're asleep, and she was like, (little voice) "okay". (laughter, awws) And she did not move a muscle for like fifteen takes. And finally, we were all ? and her little butt was in the air cos she was on her knees and it was so cute. And she was just adorable. So I had the fortune of falling in love with this child as a person, not an actor, before we shot that scene where they took her away.

Um... I've never experienced like that, so I didn't draw from any experiences of my life. But what I did say was... in my head, was... This is a girl whose mother did not love her. Who did not respect her, who really, really hurt her emotionally and physically. And to think you have an opportunity to make her world right, in a sense, and.. love something so completely and perfectly. And then to find a peace in that and then have that taken away from you... It's uh.. I can't imagine anything more painful in my entire life. So I think that was the moment where Starbuck really cracked. And she never really, I don't think she ever came back from that. So...
That's a beautiful answer. Katee sounds like a very kind, caring person. If you want to leave a good impression on me, one sure way is to talk compassionately and caringly about children. Kind people always have a soft spot for the children.

I feel a bit torn about Starbuck's childhood being so traumatic. On the one hand, I like to think that Starbuck's spunkiness is in her character, not just the result of something bad in her past that she needs to fight against, because that would sort of nullify it. I also don't think they would write a spunky male character as traumatized, necessarily. I'm not sure how others are reading this. On the other hand, I do like seeing Kara's sensitive side a bit more. I really liked Maelstrom; there were many aspects that I really enjoyed in it. The interaction with Head!Leoben, the child actor... It was beautiful.

Asked if the characters - "some of the most complex, intense characters on the show", I'll second that - got to them so much that they dreamt about them or were otherwise emotionally ensconced in them.

Katee: Um, towards the end I was ready to go see a therapist. I honestly um.. Starbuck was a very hard character to play. She was always down, she was always beaten down, she was always... She had a walk to her that was even... depressing. And so I .. at the very end, I was a wreck. I wasn't sleeping, I was exhausted, I was very depressed. And um, I realized that I was kind of internalizing her own pain (?) and taking it on as my own. Because I wanted to make the end of it... right, I wanted to do her justice and make sure that it was... complete, I guess. Um... and so I did used to dream as if I was her. So I was kind of glad when it was over.. sorry. Because she's very hard to play, a very depressed person. And I try to be happy. Thank you!(?)

James: I thoroughly immersed myself in the part, and I tried to take home as many acolytes I could. (laughter) So we could have group therapy sessions. (laughter) Everybody in the cast thoroughly... was immersed in their part emotionally. Everybody dreamt about it or whatever that you.. This wasn't really a job that... you couldn't really, you couldn't just leave it when they shouted "cut" at... whenever it was, 11 o'clock at night, most nights or something. We filmed, as it were, in an atmosphere of smoke, nearly always, like really grinding smoke makes you look good on film and grainy, it gets in your throat and it gets in your fingernails, and...what's the... Forgive me using a swearword as well, but it was like crawling thru shit on some level, emotionally. Everybody is getting just dragged through the mud. And just the fact that somebody shouts "cut!" at eleven, it wasn't like (happy voice) "Oh, we can go now!" You're not like that as a human being, because you've being (?) and thinking yourself in a different mindset all day long to being someone else. You might be surprised if anybody - and that wasn't just the actors, I'm sure the film crew as well, you're all in that arena. And I wouldn't say that I dreamt about it, but we all collectively... worried a great deal about our characters.

I hear now today about people playing video games, and how you become desperately obsessive about your avatar. It's like your creation, it's your baby, you made it... They just sent somebody to prison in Japan because she chopped off her husband's avatar, or something. It's a nice trick if you can pull it. (laughter) And in the same way, these characters were our avatars, so that you know, when they felt an injustice, on some level, we did. And when they had a triumph or they did something right, so did we. We were kind of living vicariously through them cathartically so then we couldn't really close it off.
One of the signs of a good show - or maybe just a really dark show - is that it gets under your skin. The first time I watched the first season, it actually left me pretty depressed, but also in awe. The second and third season even more so. Some of the episodes on season 4 haven't been as intense for me, but the last one really got to me again. There's always the risk of being dark just for the sake of being dark, and I know some people criticize BSG for this, but I think they've still kept the balance, because there is some humor, and there is a lot of warmth. It's obvious that the actors are very passionate and care about their characters deeply, and it's one of the things that make the show more human and relatable.

A less serious note: it's really amusing when you've just watched the mockumentary where James is swearing every other word, and then you see something where he's all "I'm sorry for using the word shit". It's not even the first time he's been tentative about using the word. I think he should apologize for the disgusting mental image rather than the word itself.

Also, Professor James is "cathartically" and "vicariously" living through someone. I must say, he really revved up the big words in this Q&A, and even if they're not malaprops - he always uses the words correctly - and it doesn't seem like an attempt to brag, it's become one of these little things that really amuse me about him. When you read a lot of books, you sound like a book. It's endearing.

One more note about that bit: you can hear someone writing notes, I think. A pen is running through paper, trying to write down what they're saying. It's a cute sound.

A question for James - very wordy, but the gist is: who would he like to play?

James: (a name I totally can't make out.) I hear he's a bit racy as well. (laughter) Baltar has been a really amazing thing to... Anybody playing this character would have had a field day. As I said yesterday, not high bound by the same parameters as other people. And because... a bit like Shakespeare and this character in it, he's been allowed to have resonances that totally, uh... fit a kind of signway? picture throughout episodes. Because his involvement in the episode, your enjoyment of him, is for episodic intensification. For that episode, he's a hero of this one, he's a villain in that one. He's still a villain, he's gonna do something... other people have a more rigid set... So I have been allowed to play, I mean, every single role kown to man, almost. I feel like I've been a clown, a joker, a scientist, a concerned parent, a worried watcher, a traitor... All of these things bound up in one man.

What am I gonna do next? Very few things will offer me that same canopy where I can run riot in my head and do something. What would I like to do? I'm actually about to do a comedy which is really funny and filthy, um... (laughter) and looking forward to that... But I suppose I'd like to do some more... something a bit serious. When you've been doing Battlestar Galactica like we have, you... I think I've became vaguely addicted to that kind of dark, political, (?), step out of your corridor, wonder about your next-door neighbor.. kind of feeling. Then you're going to other jobs, and it's like being in a Fairy liquid commercial, compared to what I want to do, so something serious.

Heh heh, "episodic intensification" AND "canopy where I can run riot"? :P

I'm actually really curious about the comedy. Is it a movie or a series? British or American? How filthy exactly... I hope James lets us know soon.

I can imagine that anything feels a bit deflated after BSG. What I'd really like to see is a new movie written and directed by him. Or, well, even the old movie written and directed by him, if I could purchase it somewhere. And I'd love to see him in something serious, preferably a longer-standing series where he gets to really build up the character. I'd love for him to have the leading role in something truly great like The Sopranos or Mad Men style show. Something where the characters are built subtly, where the writers really give human psychology some thought, etc. I do count BSG as one of those shows.

What have been some of their worst auditions, and it might be that they got the role, because some actress had gotten the part after the (in her opinion) worst audition ever..? Once again, you can ask a question without talking for a whole minute. It's a good question though.

James: My worst audition. How long, again, do you have? (laughter) (chuckles)

Fan: All night.

James: Exactly. I just... I got a few ones I just remember, quickly. One... I've only ever been to one commercial ever. I have lots of friends do this the whole time, make a small fortune. I went to ? for a beer commercial. ? in this beer commercial, I can't remember who, but there was a friend of a friend, it was like a thing about... a thing about, listen, we know that you really... It's gonna be in Holland somewhere nice, European, it's gonna be three days, it's gonna be paid a fortune, it's pretty sealed up because the director's seen your picture and you look like the part. And all you gotta do is walk on, hold the beer can, have a sip, it's like finished, and you like chuck it up in the air and you catch the beer can and that's it. I went on and I just... (laughter; I imagine he's doing something very funny. You can hear a sip-like sound.) And I didn't get the job. (laughter) That was one of them.

And then another one I just... ? embarrassing auditions... A few days beforehand for some... I dunno.. unbeknown reason, I'm not sure if it was a bet or whatever but I was, we'd dyed our hair. And I'd gone really.. um, orange. Which is actually what happens if you put peroxide on, you know, dark hair. Thinking that it would go some nice, I dunno, maybe a bit more like Katee's color. Obviously, [I was too dark for that?] so I looked like Ronald McDonald. (laughter) I had an audition. This is years and years ago, about 15 years ago. So I was quite young, and stupid, okay.

And... I was like, I really need to desperately change my hair for this next thing coming up that was like a specific thing about dark hair, whatever it was. And I just couldn't be bothered to go down the street and buy some hair dye. I'm like, that's so boring anyway. I've got some ink over here! (laughter) I just remember getting like a little brush and I... you know, it was actually working. I just went, oh sod this, and I just like... (laughter) not realizing that it would just run all over my forehead, and it was permanent black ink. I spent like hours... Not hours, I didn't have hours, the audition was like in 45 minutes, I'm in the bathroom trying to scrape off permanent black ink. And then like... I have no idea what I look like, a dreadful fly? going into this audition. They said, (worried tone) "Are you quite alright? You're leaking..." like looking at my forehead that still had, what's it, traces of the black ink all over it. That is also a job I didn't get. (laughter)

Heee! This is one of the funniest stories I have heard him tell. The laughter ripples on throughout the story, and James is also laughing himself, so I kinda gave up on the "laughter" notes after a while. But wait, 15 years ago..? So he was 22? That's still too old to be that dumb, James! :D He usually doesn't sound this amused at himself, so it must be one of his favorites. Heee.

It seems like James most enjoys telling stories where he makes a fool of himself. It's a part of the kindness, I think - when you joke about yourself, you're not being mean at anyone else's expense. Maybe it's also a sign of a healthy self esteem, though. He can laugh at the things he failed at because they didn't crush him. You move on and try something new. That's really the only attitude you can have, if you ever want to make it as an actor.

Katee: I have so many jobs I haven't gotten...

James: Basically just embarassing audition stories. Rather than, you know, I...

Katee: I don't know. Embarassing ones? There's always embarassing ones. I can't think of any right now at all. Sorry! I can't think of any! I'm such a klutz, that's like, if anyone knows me, I'm really klutzy, I drop things, I bump into things, I fall on things and... My best friend says it isn't a party til Katee breaks something. So there's been a couple auditions where I blocked in and like, you know, bumped into the camera, it falls down... (laughter) They're like, 'Well, we're gonna have to do the audition later...with the camera broken.' Things like that or like, you know... I've done that quite a bit actually, not breaking cameras but running into things, or like doing the audition without realizing that... [?] slightly raised up... falling off... things like that. Usually ends up with me hurt. (chuckles)

James is sometimes a tough act to follow, but what impressed me about Katee in this Q&A was that she had some really funny moments. I got the impression that she's very smart and funny, but also very shy and insecure. I think what happened here was that she got a bit nervous because James' story was so funny. She chuckles kind of nervously, the audience sounds to be "awww"ing rather than laughing throughout most of it.

James: I just said recently, I was just dubbing... you know, you.. samples aren't good in one take or somebody's talking and phone goes off, and you have to go and dub it. It was a scene where I was in bed with Tricia. And... uh, she's kissing me, and in the scene, I got to dub this thing where I'm like, "Hey, stop! Stop it! Stop, alright?" and I'm on the phone to Los Angeles, and they're... I'm in London, but they're listening to me and taking the best take that they want. I said, "That has to be one of the hardest things I've ever had to do." They said, "What? Being in bed with Tricia Helfer?" (laughter) I said, "No, you idiot, telling her to stop!" (laughter, applause)

Wait, was this the scene in the last episode, on the baseship, where he tells the random six to stop? Because I can't think of any other scene where he would have told her to stop. Unless there are more coming, and I sure hope not. I mean go all the way, you always did before!

Katee: I can't compete with that. (laughter)

James: Again, just like really emotional scenes, seriously or...

Katee: You know, it's not really emotional, but the scene that got me the most was...
There was a scene where, on the first day, it just so happened to rain. Then for the rest of the shoot on location, we were outside on location in Vancouver, and it's very cold. They decided to bring in rain towels. So it was freezing cold, there's a wind chill, we got rain towels, everyone else is ... They came down from Galactica, so they were prepared to the rain, I was in a sweatsuit. So I was like soaking up the water, and trying to like, you know... And at one point the medic looks at, comes over and says, "We need to get you out of these clothes." "What?" He was like, "You're falling into hypothermia" or, "You have hypothermia." I was like, "No, I'm fine, I finally stopped shivering." He goes, "I know." "Oh." And I was purple(?). I had no idea. They had to do it slowly, they couldn't just warm me up, so they had to take the clothes off, keep me warm...

James: Close you into bed with me and Tricia... (laughter)

Katee: Yes. [?]

James: [I can't hear him here. There's more laughing.]

Katee: (laughs) I didn't come down with pneumonia until a couple of weeks afterwards, but a lot of us did. Sam had it for a while, he was in ? with Crashdown... We all kinda had pneumonia (laughs) from that. That was hard.

Wow. I also heard that James got an ear infection from the Taking a Break scene where he's in water. I know they always say how well looked after they were (catering and all), but this Q&A makes their work conditions sound kind of harsh.

Again, you can tell Katee feels a bit nervous in front of an audience (I'm a bit surprised at how insecure she seemed here), and James tries to make her feel at ease. He's very caring and big brotherly. Gush!

James is asked about the cylon detector and whether it will be revisited in the new episodes.
James: I think that.. that's an interesting point, just in terms of reference points within the show. I think that was a device that got lost in the mix, to be quite honest, in the storytelling. And even up until the end, I was constantly you know, maybe unhelpfully thinking I was being helpful, coursing? to writers and directors that - hey, there's this thing, the cylon detector and like.. essentially because I had this idea that um, that the cult was actually a total front. You know, like that thing in James Bond [?] He's supposed to be this guy running an empire, actually he's somewhere else totally doing something else totally. And I suggested that that would be in accordance with a teribly smart guy who could... you know, just flip takes out and then he becomes a [voice?] and he's all around Galactica. Oh, he's held up there, but whilst he's supposed to be with these people in this cult, actually he's really doing sth else. Actually he's working on the cylon detector or trying to find out who the last cylon is. He's involved in something and that's his smoke screen. And they, the wirters, were like, with so many millions of stories being tied together right now, that just... got lost in the mix.

...Why didn't they use that idea? I'll admit that I'm missing something because I've never seen even one James Bond movie (*embarrassed grin*) but it could have worked. Somehow it would have been nice to have some explanation for the cult, it sorta came out of nowhere.

There are so many things that have sort of been forgotten and dropped with the Gaius storylines and, in the end, the storylines of all characters. It's a huge show, so many storylines, so many characters to keep tabs on, I can sort of understand it and yet it bugs. Of course, as a James fan, I focus very heavily on Baltar, and that's when you remember all the little things and ask all these questions. Usually the answer has to be "They just forgot about that."It annoys me, and this is one of those things where it can be a bad thing to be such a great show, because you do expect a lot in all respects. I know that BSG writers and directors are just human and can't do everything, but I do tend to get very annoyed with plotholes and forgotten threads, simply because I know how good the story can be.

Asked how they'd like their characters to die.

James: I can't really talk about the end of that now, cos even our projected ends could suggest or say what kind of hasn't happened or isn't going to happen in the series...
I'm sure they signed contracts that specifically state "don't reveal anything about the final events". It's not a bad question per se, just really difficult to answer. Well, when in doubt, cut to a sex joke:

James: I think Baltar would go out in an orgasm. (laughter, applause) With a smile on his face.
Of course he would. It's a big hit with the audience, and I wondered why my own reaction isn't all that strong. Then I remembered that this was quoted somewhere before, and it's in one of my previous Starfury posts. It's a funny mental image, but not his best joke during the Q&A's. I wonder why the ink in the hair story was not quoted - I thought that was hilarious.

Katee: I was gonna say that I can't answer that question cos she already did.

(The fan says something I can't hear.)

Katee: She did, though. She went out in a blaze of glory, you know.

She did! It was a worthy sendoff, and I like how they've dealt with it in the 4.5 episodes, but I hope there's a lot more coming with that, too. This is where they, rather abruptly, have to cut it off.

It was a great Q&A, and I hope you've enjoyed the transcript. I got a positive idea of Katee from this, although I'd seen her in a few interviews before. She seems smart and charming, but also shy and insecure. It's not surprising that James' behavior towards her is warm and appreciative, but also protective and encouraging. It was interesting to observe them together. More of the James and Mark Q&A coming soon!


kixxa said...

Poor Katee! I think James is a very hard act to follow, and that hair story he tells is really hilarious. Permanent black ink is not a good thing to pour over your head, not good at all! *g*

Thanks again for all your hard work with the transcribing!

Ellu said...

I think I have this video somewhere. I recognize Katee's answers. :P

I didn't dare read other than that because it might have spoilers. But Starbuck first thinking she had a child, reluctantly and then adoring it, and then to realize the cylon had been effing with her head! That was the most horrible part of season 3!

Even so, I kind of like that cylon, I forget his name. He's much more human-like than, say, D'Anna.

Deniselle said...

kixxa, yeah, I can imagine I'd feel insecure myself having to follow that. James was trying to make Katee feel at ease, but I think at that point he was too amused at himself to let her answer first.

Ellu, have you seen a video of this? The first part had the stuff from the two youtube video clips, but this part doesn't have anything from videos I've seen, so if you have a video, please link!

You can feel free to read it - there are no spoilers, as this interview was made before 4.5 aired, and they were very careful to not spoil.

The cylon's name is Leoben - I like him too, but I also find him kinda creepy.There's some more stuff with them in this season, but not enough.