Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Movie Ideas For James...

Now that James is done with BSG, he's free to do just anything, and I have a few good ideas on how he can spend the rest of his career! These movies will surely make him the shiniest star in Hollywood or wherever. I have another idea which is a bit longer, so I'll make another post about it later.

Farmyard Follies - Depressed Dorset dairy farmer Willy Kunkel (James Callis) suffers from women troubles, money problems, cow ennui and unbearable ear itches*. He finds new meaning for his life when he expands his barn and gets sheep, pigs and geese as well as cows. The mysteriously sexy and likeable vet Emily Estrogen (Tricia Helfer) helps matters considerably. But just as things are turning around for Willy, his alcoholic uncle (Michael Hogan) and fussy aunt (Mary McDonnell) decide to come for a visit - that lasts the entire summer. How will the animals get their revenge..?

*= I love James' ears and this would allow for lots of dramatic and non-gratuitous ear closeups!

He's Having My Baby - Timmy Twat (James Callis) is an ordinary guy - except for one little detail: he is pregnant*. How will he explain this to his kind and incredibly sexy girlfriend Lucy (Lawless)? Before he can tell her the news, she has news of her own - she's pregnant too! How will they handle the pressure of twins and two simultaneous pregnancies?! Hilarities ensue as their doctor (Robin Williams) turns out to be a complete buffoon. From Russia*.

* = You can say what you want but this is NOT a rip-off, Junior attempted to explain away the male pregnancy in a scientific way but this time there'll be no explanation, he's just pregnant and no one questions how/why... Basically it'd be hilarious to have a fake belly on James, so this will work well.

*= You can say what you want but this is NOT a rip-off of Nine Months. You can have more than one Russian buffoon gynecologist, right?

The Chest Hair of Justice - the Honorable Conrad Conscience (James Callis) always knows how to rule - until his ample chest hair starts to behave in a very strange way indeed! Sometimes, when he acquits a criminal, the hair stands on end, piercing through the cape. And each time, the criminal ends up breaking the law again. When a mysteriously sexy and likeable young woman (Tricia Helfer) is tried for murder, Conrad really wants to acquit her - but his chest hair suddenly stands on end (as do some other, unmentionable body parts). Who will he listen to - his conscience, his chest hair, or some other body parts?

The Man With No Cheeks - Jimmy Jerkoff (James Callis) is a normal guy, except for one little detail: he has no identifiable cheeks. His chubbier-than-thou friends mock him, so he goes on a bet that he can gain half a cheek per week eating nothing but enormous burger meals.* Jimmy fails to gain weight and is depressed, but he's rescued by the owner of the burger place, a mysteriously sexy and kind woman (Mary McDonnell). As they get married, it turns out she's the richest woman in the world and thus Jimmy has something better than cheeks: money.

* = Say whatever you want, but this is not a rip-off of Super Size Me because it's not a documentary.

These are just some ideas - there's more where that came from! The best part is, I'm not greedy. I'd happily sell any of these ideas for only $ 5,000 - and write a full script for any of them for only $ 10,000! Anything to further James' career.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Random Googlebits, Part Deux

Just some fun James-related things I've found to cheer myself up. Warning: warm and fuzzy feelings might result from browsing through these links.

I'm not sure if I've ever linked to this before: "Gaius Baltar is the teflon scapegoat". It's one of the first interviews I saw. James looks very cute, but sadly red-tinted, in the video. There's also a transcript.

I actually realize now that I'm so much more fond of him than other people. No, I really care about that man. I feel so sorry for him.

Aww, but there are lots of fans who feel that way too, James! You're not alone!
Apparently, if the video doesn't play for you, you can listen to it in audio clips here.

An adorable interview with James from back in 2006, from the Emmy afterparty. My favorite part is where he's asked about working with Tricia and their chemistry together:

James: "I use an analogy whereby.. people like to say, 'Oh, isn't so-and-so good at arranging flowers? The flowers look beautiful.' Flowers do look beautiful, and you have to be pretty ham-fisted to make them not look beautiful. So when you act with somebody who is utterly gorgeous all of the time, it'd be kind of like, you know... Tricia will have chemistry with a plant pot, and similarly also luckily with me. I just happen to be the sidekick to her affections, and I'm...damn lucky."

Interviewer: "You're being far too modest, James, I know for a fact you have a huge following on the internet among female fans... (James' face: "OMG, people like me? I was totally unprepared for this!") Don't you know it?"

James: (totally flustered) "No, I really don't know it! Just direct me to the sites!" (looks down, embarrassed but, I dare say, pleased)

Interviewer: "Just go on Google and type in your own name and you'll find more information than you want to know about yourself, I think."

James: "Wow! That's something that I really might, like, do. [gets back on topic about Tricia]"

Yes, James, we are out there. So did you Google yourself and find us? :) I love how he can't handle the praise. You'd think he'd be used to it by 2006. I totally should blog more about his looks and title every post "James Callis is gorgeous". I hope his analogy doesn't offend any florist fans though! And I'm not usually a fan of the bearded Jesus look (see below) but he looks very cute indeed in this video. Gush!

These seem to be photos with fans from Starfury - the only ones I've found - but they're being used to measure his height, which... OK. James is looking cute, but kind of tired. I see he's wearing The Vest, as seen on the Audi S3 Sportback ad. Most of the conversation is people estimating exactly how tall James might be, which, even to me as a fangirl, is not particularly fascinating. But then there's this, also about Starfury:

Anyway, at one point we were standing in the foyer of the hotel and saw a Man with a beard go into the gentleman's toilet. Nothing out of the ordinary, well, except for him wearing high heels, tights and a black leather mini skirt. 30 seconds later James Callis walks in.

A couple of minutes later james walks out and the look on his face was priceless, the kind of look that Gaius Baltar would give - 'That was the men's room, right?'.

LOL! :D Hey James, it's a con, surely you've seen weirder than that.

James is asked about gendercide, and actually tries to give an intelligent answer. Hee!

James is asked about zombie apocalypse, and totally doesn't know what to say. Hee!
(Unfortunately, with both videos, you have to watch an ad for the Sex Drive DVD. The same exact ad. Blah.)

Another 2006 interview - IF, an interesting article. Too bad there's something wrong with the special characters like ' and ", because there are these broken-looking images all over. Part 1, Part 2. I tried to quote more but it comes out looking weird, so just a brief quote on his look for season 3:

I look very different right now. I'm wandering around Los Angeles, and it's a strange thing. Is it every person with long hair and a thick beard called Jesus? Everyone I meet is saying "Oh! It's Jesus - hello." I think I look a bit more like John the Baptist to be quite frank; I've been out in the desert eating locusts and honey for a while. I'm a cross between humanity and the missing link, which I kind of like.
He really did look like Jesus though. It's not every person with a long hair and beard - it's just you, James. Of course, some scientists claim Jesus actually had a wide face and short hair, so maybe it's more the popular idea of how Jesus might have looked. If that's any consolation.

Tricia shares an embarrassing story from filming (probably Taking a Break From All Your Worries):
"I was filming underwater with my [Battlestar Galactica] costar James Callis and I was supposed to surface right in front of him. You've got to start breathing out before you get there, but the water just slides up your nose and everywhere! So basically I was snorting and burping and everything right in his face.... It wasn't exactly the prettiest situation!"
Hee! That's not directly about James, but I just had to add it.

A very old interview with James about an imaginary dinner party. His guest list is very interesting, but what amused me the most is this terrible after-dinner joke he'd tell:

"An old woman keeps hassling the police. Every night she rings them and says: `I want to report a man who keeps exposing himself. I can see him from my window and it's disgusting'.
But the police don't come round, so she rings them again, complaining: `He's still doing it. Come and see'.
After months of phone calls, the police finally give in, go to her window and look for the man.
`I can't see him,' said the officer. `No, you have to stand on the wardrobe', said the old lady."
That's like one of the worst jokes ever. :D Hee. Also check out the rest of the First Unofficial Website's Article Gallery.

This is supposed to be a page with James Callis quotes, but there's only one - "We are all products of the age we belong to." Couldn't agree more, but it'd be nice to hear a context for this quote. I'm not a big fan of random quote collections, because they tend to ruin the original meaning.

Who's Fulvio Cecere? Whoever he is, here's a cute (and from the looks of it, old) picture of him with James. Wow, a shocking picture of Tricia as well. I think it might have been the Gina days.

Finally, can I just say that I don't think James Callis looks anything like Alexander Siddig? Maybe a slight similarity but... Seriously, why is that one of the main things google suggests for a search? "James Callis Alexander Siddig". "James Callis Star Trek". WTF? "james callis glasses" is apparently also a popular search.

Even more bizarre are some of the combinations Google suggests that it's apparently saved from my searches. I can see the logic behind "James Callis"+"chest hair" or "James Callis"+ Jewish, but when did I ever search for "James Callis"+banghra? "James Callis"+saw? "James Callis"+chocolate? "James Callis"+"stalker info"? :D (Unfortunately, there is no stalker info page. Yet.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

James on Depression

I seemed to recall that James mentioned depression in some interview - and here it is, in the all-around awesome AV Club article:

I think Gaius, like so many of us, like myself, wants to believe in something. You're stuck in a spaceship, and you've been there for four years, and you're just sitting here in a tin can, you would really hope that there was something else. And that sustained hope might actually keep you alive. Because depression is an illness. And if it gets too bad, then you're irrevocably damaged and there's nothing to live for, and there's nothing to hope for.

It's somehow very comforting to know that he considers depression an illness. It sounds like he understands the nature of it quite well. I feel strangely validated by this.

I have many things to live for. One of them is James.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Personal Update / New James Callis Message & Site!

(That's one crammy title to end all crammy titles, but at least I hopefully made this post visible to Google blogsearch.)

This is a James Callis fan blog, not a personal diary (for that, you can see Deniselle's Diary Blog). However, I'm going to talk about myself a little bit now, because this affects my updates: I was diagnosed with depression on Tuesday and got medication for it. I'm feeling somewhat better already, but still tired, so the updates are going to come when I feel up to them. I'm mainly referring to the James/Mark Q&A part 2, which is in a sad state of disarray at the moment. I haven't had the energy to even look at it for a week. My writing skill and sense of humor aren't completely comatose, but I'm feeling quite depleted.

I'm prescribing myself extra doses of James, and it's actually been quite helpful. I'm currently staring mostly at this picture from the James Callis Fans Myspace page (dreamy dark eyes alert!), and enjoying this sample of James and Tricia being awesome together, courtesy of Nicole Anell's definitive Baltar/Six picspam (which I've already plugged twice, but it bears repeating). James' (imaginary) presence is friendly and soothing. It takes me out of my own head a bit.

Then for some James news:
James posted a new message for the fans at the First Unofficial Website forum! The forum is here, and a direct link, which might or might not work, is here. I'm on a total fangirl high over this. He begins characteristically by beating himself up for not posting sooner (when it's only been three months - I was hoping he'd post soon, but it's not like I was pulling my hair going "Why has he forsaken us?!"). In the interim, he's been to India and Switzerland and is currently in the States, preparing to go to MegaCon in Florida next weekend.

Next month, he's going to be given a Jules Verne award in Paris! I frankly have no idea what a Jules Verne award is, but it sounds awesome and I'm proud of him. A quick Googling shows that the award might look something like this.

And - he's filmed a pilot for the funny and filthy comedy he mentioned at Starfury!

Then Filmed a Pilot written by Howard Webster - who had contacted me 10 years earlier when I was making B.L - He'd finished translating his column to a screen play - it's called Meet Pursuit Delenge - and it's funny and gross as all frak!

Think if B.J'S DIARY was written by Withnail and I - then you have a rough idea of the genre - but it was a blast to film - with fantastic people - truly talented and committed (or shortly to be!)

This sounds very interesting indeed, although I hope it's gross in the "lots of dirty talking" kind of way, and not in the "people flinging poo at each other" kind of way.

The post is quite long and totally sweet, so go read it now. There are, according to my calculations, 33 dashes in it. The title is "Frak me!" - is that a request, James? Just name the time and place.

I keep meaning to plug Australian fan kixxa's new James Callis blog, All Things James Callis! Check out the beautiful images and essential information on James' projects there! It's exciting to see a new James fan page emerge - when I came around, there was only one page, and now there are three (including mine). Maybe there's a growing buzz for James online?

In other news, I'm going to own a copy of Beginner's Luck soon, ordered through my brother (who did ask me to pay for it, but it's still sweet of him). I've also gotten my virtual hands on Sex, Chips and Rock'n'Roll, Going Wrong, the James-relevant episode of As If, and one particularly bad episode of Soldier, Soldier, so I'll probably be blogging on those too. When I feel better. Which is hopefully soon. I probably will be updating normally about MegaCon next weekend.

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!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

First Reactions: "Blood on the Scales"

OK, I just saw this episode and am very moved. I'm going to start with all the negative, pissy things that bugged me about this episode, and move on to the great things that really left me moved. I will reveal everything major that happens in the episode, so if you haven't seen it, be warned, or be spoiled.

Pissy, angry and very frustrated notes

Firstly, the editing choices in this episode were completely botched in my opinion. I get that they shot a lot of scenes and some had to be left in the cutting table, but did we really need to see that many scenes with people shooting guns? Seriously, this kind of thing is below the show. Some action is fine, but so much of it just makes for a chaotic, sub-par episode. Lee killing a guy with a pen? Romo going all action hero? Halfway thru I was going "OMG, this is the worst episode ever!!" I don't think so anymore, because of the ending, but I give a big minus for the editing of most scenes in this episode. Also: a lot of what was cut was Baltar's story on the baseship. OF COURSE. Gigantic eye-roll.

Secondly, not just one but TWO scenes where Adama is almost executed - except not. Argh! We knew you wouldn't kill him, OK? Either have the guts to actually do it, or don't show any scenes like that at all. This show is smarter than this.

Thirdly, and this goes a bit deeper. I used to like Laura Roslin. A lot. I admired her when I was watching season one. I thought her position as the president - against her own will and completely suddenly - was touching and powerfully played by McDonnell. I think there are still great moments (The Hub) but I must say that during the last few seasons, I've generally come to hate her. In tonight's episode, she showed that nothing matters to her but Bill Adama. Not the deaths of innocent people. Not the security of the cylons they've allied with. Not peace. Just Bill Adama. Maybe I should be saying how human this is and how it's credible that she'd react this way, but what kind of selfish leader only cares about her love and not about the people?

The mutiny is not about Bill and Laura. It's about peace in the fleet. It's about people having to come to terms with the cylons somehow, when they're used to fleeing them and hating them - and this is a valid concern, by the way. Because, while there may be a lot of racism there, it's also very hard to kiss and make up when the cylons destroyed your home planet and everyone on it. Bill and Laura should have given a lot more thought to this. They should have listened to the people a lot more. They should have realized that just because they had a change of heart, it doesn't automatically produce a change of heart in all of the people in the fleet. For this, I think both are pretty bad leaders. Or at least used-to-be-good leaders who let their power go to their heads and became tyrants.

But you know what? This is still all good in some way, because a lot of viewers will disagree with me. I have a right to read Adama and Roslin this way, and their fans have a right to read them the opposite way, just like some people hate and despise Gaius, while I love him despite his flaws and mistakes (and partially because of them). Not everyone is going to agree about Adama and Roslin, and on some level, I think this still goes back to the greatness of this show - the fact that no character is perfect, not even the heroes.

But. There is someone I've hated throughout the show and still hate, and that is Tom Zarek. And this is something I only realized tonight: I hate him because the show wants me to. He has always, without fail, been written as a complete scoundrel with no redeeming qualities. He has no family, no lover, no faith in anything, no real backstory. He's just a rebel for the sake of being a rebel; he's willing to execute the entire quorum simply because they called him vice-president. He's an evil cackling villain for no reason at all. What baffles me is that both Michael Angeli and Richard Hatch said he's not a villain. What is he then? Who is Tom Zarek?

You can say what you want about Gaius Baltar being a coward, a liar, a nymphomaniac, an abuser of various substances, a weakling who will always run away from his guilt (although I am intrigued to see if he will change now). You'd be right. But he's a character with a soul. He does feel guilt. He does feel empathy - in this episode alone, he had empathy for his cult AND Gaeta. And whatever you may say, he never meant anyone any harm.

No, Baltar is not the villain of this show. Tom Zarek is. And they gave Zarek no redeeming qualities. And in a show like this that is otherwise so good, this is just lazy writing. He could have been an intelligent critic to Adama and Roslin, a true voice of resistance, but he wasn't. Epic fail.

I'm torn about Adama shooting Gaeta in cold blood. Zarek, sure - he "executed" the quorum and he's tried to sabotage the fleet so many times, he deserves to go just for the history alone. But Gaeta? From a storytelling point of view, this was a powerful way to kill him. But from the point of view of Adama's character? They were once friends. Gaeta worked for him for so long. Now he questions Adama's authority and deserves to die? I really don't know. I wish Adama at least had some remorse over it, or questioned the decision. But he probably won't.

One more brief note - why would you bring back Romo only to butcher the character? Argh. "Don't let your pride get in the way" was good. The running around with a gun and almost not stopping for Starbuck and Anders? Not good. At all. I like Romo, the way he was in Crossroads, but if they're going to write him like this episode and Sine Qua Non, just stop writing him.

Awed, excited and very positive notes
(yes, you guessed it, mostly about James Callis.)

It was nice to see Tory Foster again, taking a lead in the cylon fleet. She's been sadly ignored throughout the season, but I like that she, unlike the other final four, stayed with the cylons. However, I was hoping she'd say something back to Laura about that "wider view" on things - Laura only seems to care about Adama herself. Gaius, on the other hand, was talking back to Roslin, which was awesome.

I enjoyed seeing random Sixes again - when was the last time we did? One possible one in Sometimes a Great Notion. And even if I'm still mad for the miniscule role of Caprica Six lately, it was nice to see her carrying Hera and saying, "I can take care of myself!" It really felt like, in today's episode, the cylons were back. I've missed seeing Tricia, and I hope we'll see a lot more of her yet.

I feel like saying something very mad about still not having any Gaius/Head Six scenes, but the sexy and beautiful scenes with the random six on the baseship almost made it up for me. James and Tricia together again! Squee! I say almost, because I would have liked to see a LOT more of it, to make sense of it and give it more space. But the baseship with its flickering, streaming colors is always beautiful to me, and Tricia with brown hair usually looks more beautiful to me than with blonde hair - it is her natural color after all. They definitely should have had more long-haired Sixes on the show. So beautiful. As always, her tenderness with Gaius was touching. What is the attraction between Gaius and the sixes? It was nice to see Gaius interact with a cylon again, and as usual, it seems to make him search his soul. And this was the first scene in the episode that didn't feel rushed or chaotic. It was calm, it was about the characters - it made me feel like maybe this episode isn't so bad after all. Great acting from both James and Tricia, and their chemistry together never fails.

After a nightmare about Adama being executed, Gaius wakes up to feel guilty for leaving the cult - for running again, not even for fear this time, which seems to make him feel worse, as if fear somehow makes it OK. He ran because he didn't appreciate the cult - something you could plainly see, but it's still nice to hear him admit it to someone. I think that, on a deeper level, it's his guilt for failing Gaeta so many times; his guilt for running away from responsibility all those years and not admitting to his role in the attacks; his guilt for Gina and New Caprica... Well, he has a lot on his conscience. It's possible that the brown-haired Six reminds him of Gina, which brings up painful feelings of both loss and guilt.

Finally he takes responsibility for something or someone - if only for the cult, which I hope won't have a big role in the last episodes (I hope for more Gaius/cylons). Is this what James meant about Gaius finally growing up? Some people are already saying he won't be fun to watch anymore, but I wouldn't necessarily take this to mean that Gaius will be a complete hero who never lies again, etc. He's got a lot of work to do to become a hero - or even "a good person". Even if he became a boring goodie-goodie, I think James would bring the funny somehow. And suggest scenes that subvert the goodness.

A slightly negative side note.
The scene is edited a bit awkwardly, so that you can't see Gaius' naked chest, and I have to wonder if it's because James was so sick and emaciated while doing these episodes (he had a stomach parasite). I knew about it and thought I'd be prepared, but my heart just sinks when I see it. His thinness has never bugged me, because it's always seemed so natural for him. But this time it's just... different. There's some fundamental difference between being thin because you're sick and just naturally looking that way. And his eyes... just don't look right. They look miserable and in pain. I'm glad to know that he's better now and that it's not something serious that still affects him. He's a good guy and deserves to feel good. *fangirl sniffle*

However, his acting is still as good as ever. The following scene made me forget all about his illness, because it was so frakking amazing.

"I know who you are Felix."
This scene was so powerful, perhaps the most powerful scene so far in 4.5, at least for me. Both James and Alessandro do a lot here with just a look. Before being executed (sniff!!), Gaeta sits with Gaius. They smoke, drink coffee and talk. This scene was in the previews, and I think I misread it as Gaius being in jail and Gaeta coming to see him, when it's really the other way around. What can I say - it feels weird to see Gaius on the side of the "good guys" and Gaeta on the side of the "bad guys", although my sympathy for Gaeta never stopped throughout the mutiny. I think he genuinely wanted to bring peace to the fleet, Zarek just had his own agenda, as usual.

Gaius: Felix..
Gaeta: What? And please, no religion.
Gaeta's eyes: It's OK, Gaius. I'm going to die, but somehow this was all worth it.
Gaius' eyes: I always failed you. This could have been avoided if it weren't for me. I'm so sorry.

We already knew he'd say "I know who you are Felix" - I half hoped for him to say more, but rewatching it, maybe it's best left like this. Gaius says very little, but his eyes talk a lot. This is Gaeta's big scene, his final one before he dies - and yet it's also a big scene for Gaius. I love that the stories of these two men have always been somehow intertwined. If you read Gaeta as being in love with Gaius - and as we know now, AJ totally meant to play it that way - this scene is also a bittersweet goodbye between him and the man he loved. There's nothing sexual about it per se, but there is a tenderness to how Gaeta talks to Gaius, how he still, on some level, seems to admire him as a scientist (if no longer as a person).

The execution scene. The silence - the look between Gaeta and Zarek, and then -

"It stopped."

The pain in his leg? The restlessness in his soul? That was just beautiful.

I will miss Gaeta a lot, but I feel like he was given a worthy sendoff. I'm very sad to see him go, yet very happy with how it was done.

Alessandro Juliani - thank you for giving us Gaeta. You touched us, and you made your character alive. I hope to see you soon in other roles that are worthy of your talent.

Friday, February 6, 2009

First Reactions: "A Disquiet Follows My Soul"

(I know I'm two weeks late with this, but I still haven't rewatched the episode, so these are my first reactions.)

All in all, I thought this episode was classic BSG. I'm not fond of CIC scenes, but I realized I had missed them. The show was well paced and competently written, which can't be said for some of the other season 4 episodes. I think Ron Moore as a writer makes a world of difference. I can understand the value of a quiet build-up episode, but on the other hand, you only have eight episodes to go, so something definite could have happened. This was my biggest disappointment with the episode: that basically nothing new happened. There could have been way more discussion of the revelations in Sometimes a Great Notion. I can't believe they didn't mention any of those again.

Doc Cottle is back! I love him and his grumpy, inappropriate, chain-smoking ways.
Nurse: "That's a lot of smoking around a pregnant woman."
Cottle: "She'll live."
Hee! Cottle, how I love thee! Besides, I'm sure cylon fetuses can handle a little cigarette smoke. They can cure cancer, after all.

Mixed feelings about Caprica-Six/Tigh. On the one hand, it was a very sweet scene and we got Caprica's reaction to her pregnancy! On the other hand - noooo this is so wrong this should be Baltar's child! Baltar and Caprica 4evah!

I was hoping we'd get some answers to questions that have bugged me: is Caprica still in the brig, or with Saul now? Is she being "pardoned" (not that she did anything except be a cylon and get on board the ship)? Are they going to let her have the child? What does HeadBaltar think of all this? But no, we move straight on to the other characters and Caprica isn't seen again until next episode. I'm beginning to feel that Tricia got an even more raw deal out of this season than James.

And what about Saul´s reactions? He just realized his dead wife - whom he killed - is the final cylon. We get no scenes with him dealing with this, and only one WTF scene where Lee tells the journalists that they believe the final cylon is dead - she died some time ago, and they realize he knows who it is and get on his case. The WTF element being: how does Lee know? When did Saul tell him? Is there a big scene that was cut here where Saul told them, and we never got to see it? The big final cylon reveal is now completely brushed away? Argh.

Nicky's Daddy issues: Ugh. Hot Dog? He's not an important enough character and I think this is just stupid and soap opera-ish. Chief raised Nicky so far, so I don't see why Hot Dog has to suddenly take responsibility. I don't have much to say to this, except that I love the toddler who plays Nicky. He's so adorably chubby, I enjoy any scene he's in just for that.

I liked Gaeta's growing discontent, it seemed true to life and fitting for his character. Gaeta started out an optimist, admiring Adama and Baltar, and feels like he's been betrayed by them both by now. The Gaeta/Kara scene was intense - but why no more Kara in the episode? Hello, she found her own corroding corpse. So yeah, it's nice that she's in a bad mood, but what about in private? Did she get a visit from HeadLeoben? Did she ever try to tell Lee again?

As usual, way too much Adama/Roslin. I get that they're the "heart of the show" to many viewers, but I think their scenes always run a little long, usually at other characters' expense. I did like that Laura was going a little insane and Adama had to be alone with the tough decisions. And we have a scene with them in bed. Enjoy, A/R shippers. I knew this would come sooner or later; it doesn't evoke particularly strong feelings for me. On a first watch of the miniseries/season one, I really liked Laura Roslin, but I've come to like her less and less over the years (months, for me, as I've only been a fan for the last six months). I don't know if the writers are trying to make her a tyrant, or if their idea of democracy is that the "moral winner" gets to lead however she chooses, but I think it's problematic. I'll return to this with the next episode.

And - yay for Baltar! Unlike last week's 5-second scenes, this time he has a real scene where we see his reactions. He's drunk, smoking, and losing his religion (which he probably never had in the first place). I loved the selfish rant against God and not even trying to soothe his followers or give them any hope. Great leader. One of the things James is really good at is playing drunk; he has just the right amount of slur and ridiculous melodrama.
Also: "Are you children? - Well, obviously you're a child... There are some children present, but..." Hee!

What is Baltar feeling? Does his guilt revisit him now that they weren't led to the promised land? Does he feel cheated by Head Six who promised he'd be the hand of god and that it all has a meaning? We don't know, because there was a HeadSix scene here and it was cut. That's right, it was cut. See Bear's Battlestar Blog for a photo of Baltar/HeadSix in that scene. What a waste! Head Six has been an important part of Baltar's psyche, and the show, from the very beginning and I think it's just wrong to keep cutting her out. This has been going on since season three, and I'm very annoyed.

If James and Tricia are going to have such a miniscule role on the show, you might want to take their names off the credits and replace them with, like, Richard Hatch. Because he had way too many scenes in this episode. Wayy too many. I'll discuss Zarek more in the next post, but I'll say that I just can't bring myself to like him or get any of his motivations, and at the same time, I hate feeling like the show wants me to hate him. This is not supposed to be a black and white show, and if we're going to see so much Zarek, at least give him a personality outside of politics, a life story, something.

However, the fact that Gaeta is teaming up with him is very intriguing.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Starfury Q&A - James Callis / Mark Sheppard, Part 1

I promised this a few days ago, and it's always a bad idea to promise a time frame, because that's when your internet connection will go down. The problem I had with this file was that I really didn't get Mark Sheppard's accent very well in the beginning, but I think I'm getting the hang of it now. There are still some question "marks" (heh heh), so if there's someone reading this who was there and wants to correct me, feel free to leave a comment. (Be gentle though - I am not a native English speaker.)

So this Q&A was the day before the Katee/James Q&A. The difference is that the latter is really the Katee show. She's obviously more popular and does fewer cons, so she gets the majority of questions. The James/Mark Q&A, on the other hand, is the James show. It's not just the audience, either - it seems to me like Mark is genuinely fascinated by James' work as Baltar and seems to talk more about that than about Romo Lampkin. The interaction between James and Mark is also very different from the James and Katee dynamic. James has a crazy sense of humor but Mark's is even crazier; James seems protective and big brother-like with Katee, while the interaction with Mark is much more "buddy"; the humor is racier and James seems more teasing, albeit not in a mean way. They don't have the same kind of warmth that James and Katee seem to share, but there is a camaraderie there.

They set up and James jokes something that I can't really hear. Mark says that people usually ask questions in these things. James, who's in a very cheerful mood, decides they should interview each other a bit. The questions are very deep and analytical:
James: Well, I suppose if you don't, we can ask each other a few questions. How are you feeling today, Mark? (laughter)

Mark: Not bad, I had a good sleep, you?

James: Yeah, actually similar myself.

Mark: Did you come far for this?

James: No, I didn't. Just down the old circular.

Mark: That's great.

James: It's a lot sunnier today than it was yesterday, which is nice. Although trying to have phone conversations outside is difficult with the planes going over your head (laughter) every second.

Mark: Welcome to Heathrow(?).

James: So has anybody got some questions for us since we're here? Hi, here's a question.

James' tone here is hilarious, he sounds totally amused with himself. Like in the Katee Q&A, James acts as an ice-breaker and gets the situation going. He's got quite good skills at managing these things, it seems. I actually think the fan Q&A's could benefit from having some kind of moderator. I'm not sure if I'd dare just stand up and ask something in a situation like that.

"A completely random question for James. Was that your own singing on Sex Chips and Rock'n'Roll?"

James: Yes, it was actually. It's all our own singing on that, and a bit of our own playing as well. I did a show called Sex, Chips and Rock'n'Roll. And I dunno, they described it as like, one character got all the sex, not me. One got all the rock'n'roll and they went, "You're just chips." (laughter) In the mix. I was the drummer, and the funny anecdote about that is that these.. The people when we were doing it, set all of this stuff, I was on stage here, for example, playing the drums, and they had the guide? track being played at speakers right at the back of the hall behind the camera. And then they kept on coming up to the band and then like, "You're late! You're not in time." And it didn't really take a physicist to kind of say that, "Sound travels slower, you put the speakers at the back of the room." That's why, you know, musicians always have pieces in their ears rather than... somebody shouting out the time in the back.

So yeah, it was my own singing voice. The drumming to a certain extent a bit, and then on the day that the rack was being recorded, they got in this guy who was the most phenomenal drummer, and totally went.. can I just say apeshit on the drums? (laughter) Hit the most off, like.. like... I just remember watching him, cos there was a thing where I'm acting it and I gotta pretend to be him, and I'm like... even if I had an entrance planned, it's not going to be that way. (laughter) that. I think to subvert that dilemma, there were lots of shots of me just hitting the cymbals. (laughter) ? there it is.
I love that someone brought up a show other than Battlestar. Not that there aren't any good questions left to ask about BSG and Baltar, but I've seen so many interviews with James about Baltar and so few about the other shows. It's refreshing to hear about Sex and Chips, and incidentally, I just watched the show myself and loved it. This is a British miniseries set in the 1960's, and James plays a drummer called The Wolf. He's very skinny, has very long hair, and wears very sexy tight shirts. Also, he's absolutely charming in the role, and the character he plays is both funny and warm, so it suits him well. Highly recommended, if you can find it. But I did chuckle at the cymbal-hitting, because he's not exaggerating about the drummer going apeshit in that track. It really does sound like the drummer totally took his own lead there.

A rather long-winded guy asks Mark about Romo's accent and why he seems to sound Irish. Ironically enough, I had real trouble understanding Mark's accent in this bit, but hopefully it makes some sense anyway.
Mark: I think it was the fact that... David Eick gets very confused at times about where I'm from, because ? like an Irish, but I have various back(?) I used to live in Dublin. I left Dublin to go to America…from Dublin…through the Eighties or so. And uh... so actually I had a thick Dublin accent when I left then. I think David wasn't sure what my accent actually was and... so he was very polite when he...was stating the idea of the character, I think he said he was Irish brogue or something like that. And I thought there was a directive, (laughter) so I followed it. And there was a situation where it couldn't be too thick or it would be too difficult for the American audience to grasp it. So like a little bit, added in to add a little interest to the character. I think it was fun to do, it made it more… I tried to make it a bit more poetic (?). I thought it made him a little more poetic in a way, that’s what I was reaching for.

I'm not an expert on the dialects and wouldn't have recognized it as Irish, just "a thicker British accent than James's". One thing I always found funny is how differently people pronounce Baltar - the American/Canadian actors say Ball-tar, while the British accent seems to make the a sound more like in "cat". James' pronunciation of Baltar isn't as close to "cat" as Mark's though. When you hear Romo say "Gäius Bältär", it's really amusing. Um, at least to me. No offense to any Irish people.

The same guy asks James - equally wordily, I might add - if the humor with Baltar and Head Six was James' own genius or someone else's.

James: No, I .. you know.. it's not... I brought that to the party, I think, and I brought it to the party for lots and lots of reasons. Ron wasn't actually there during the making of the pilot, David certainly was there. And I think I got the audition um... on the strength of a.. [a plane goes overhead and James stops talking; laughter] when you're...(chuckles) Actually, when you're filming, I mean...

Mark: Everybody waits.

James: Everybody waits like that. It's like one of those things...

Mark: Holding for an ?

James: Holding for an ?, can't use the sound, that's a weird thing I found myself doing. (laughter)

Mark: I've been doing that a lot.

James: So it was something I brought to the party, and... yeah, they liked it. Initially I think they were a bit nervous about it, but like... from after the miniseries I think they really ? ?. And I went that way because um... I suppose I couldn't take myself seriously next to this... next to the beautiful Tricia Helfer (laughter), and play it like I was some guy who really knew what was going on...I just thought that would be even more ridiculous. So I was kind of... striving for something slightly different.

And I do remember when we were filming the thing in the CIC, essentially the big comedy came... It's called horrid laughter, there was this thing where Gaeta's saying to me about, "Oh you must feel really dreadful about something" and.. Six has her hand on my... testicles. (laughter) And uh... you know, essentially it was just this thing about... I decided very early on Baltar would be a bad liar, he'd be a very very, you'd see thru him there was all this "Terribly sorry, isn't that awful." And that just looks so... inappropriate when you're talking about the genocide of the planet. "Oh, I'm very sorry your dog ran out this morning...Dreadful..." I mean, you know... [??] I thought it'd have more ? like that.

I loved that scene. "Oh yeah, I do feel... responsible... in a way..." All the while, HeadSix taunts him about not having a conscience, which obviously he does have, and if you read HeadSix in that scene as a manifestation of his conscience, it's even more meta and amusing. I think it was one of the moments that made me love Gaius Baltar, because it's somehow a very defining moment. It's like he's not quite like other people - he's much more narcissistic and in his own world - but he wants to pretend to be like them, so they'd appreciate him and love him. I got the feeling that's always been his game, and then to add to that, there's the truth about who caused the genocide, so it just adds to that.

To James - Baltar is such a ladies man, and "having gone thru pretty much the whole cast" (laughter) - is there anyone else he would have liked to sleep with? (laughter, applause)

James: It's funny you'd say that. We had a .. we made a book at the end that all in the cast wrote in, all of the crew.. like a Battlestar yearbook. It's one of a... it's a real priced posession. And in that we all wrote little notes and one of the things I wrote was you know, "Over time now, hopefully David Eick and Ron Moore and Michael Rymer will see what a very bad idea it was that I didn't have sex with you know, multiple copies of Six and like you know, more and more and... Where was the bed scene with Mary McDonnell..." (?) (laughter, woos) I wrote this stuff..So you know, yeah, Baltar's sexual habit is gracious and inexorable. As far as he's concerned, far too many people who escaped his...

Mark: Well, how you explain? out in space when you wanna go and get her? (laughter)
Inexorable. "a process which cannot be prevented from continuing or progressing; a formal word." Wow. That's hilarious, actually, but it's even funnier that James doesn't use, like, "unstoppable".

Let's quote him directly, since we have the scans of the book now (random dash alert applies):

"Hopefully more critically - but sadly a little too late - I hope I've managed to change your minds and make you see that NOT having Gaius sleep with Boomer, Athena, Pilot 8, Natalie, all the six's in the Resurrection Hub, Laura Roslin, Cally, Racetrack, Seelix, Starbuck more than once, Head six (in every episode), Caprica six in every other, - was a HUGE MISTAKE on your part - which hopefully you will readdress in all the upcoming work - you will be lavishing my way..."

I heartily second at least the Head Six in every episode bit - I've really missed that part of the show lately. And don't stop there, James - what about Dualla, Elosha, Maya, Ishay the nurse, Emily the dying woman (although she did seem to be a Baltar fan so who knows), Sarah, Rya, the hooker Lee was with in The Black Market, any random journalists apart from Playa... The list goes on and on.

James is asked about impersonating other cast members.

James: We all take off each other and what's funny is that nearly always people take each other off, not to your face. You only find out about it when somebody looks at you and bursts out laughing, like, "That's so funny, that's how Aaron Douglas does you." (laughter) (?) So I um... I think the easiest one really is Eddie. Only because you know.. (EJO voice) Very few people...will have that kind of voice... (laughter)

(I think Mark does EJO here as well, there's a lot of low-voiced grumbling. Something about "sea bass". Hee!)

James: (EJO voice) .. what the real Edward James Olmos would sound like(?). (back to his normal voice) And so there's a.. yeah, I suppose Eddie is the most...

Mark: Can you do Jamie?

James: No, I couldn't possibly, I sound too similar to Jamie. (laughter) No. But yeah - Eddie, essentially.

Actually, he tried a Mary McDonnell in the one David Eick video blog, but I think that just made him sound gay. His Eddie is pretty good though, and I love how he can just suddenly launch into EJO mode in interviews. It's always a big hit.

A guy starts asking James about the soft porn thing in his character. The audience laughs. James, who's in a very good and apparently mischievious mood, decides to misunderstand on purpose.

James: Who's he talking to? Is it you, Mark? You got yourself doing that soft porn. (?) The hardporny rocket? stuff is ok, but...

Mark: (?) Parasol..

James: Exactly.

The guy, sounding pretty amused now, continues the question, apparently wanting to know what James would still like to do as Baltar.
James: It's too late, its' all finished.

He says he knows it's too late (still sounding amused but pursuing the question confidently), but was there anything left undone that James would have liked to do?

James: I think if there's something else I'd like to add...

Mark: Singing.

James: Yeah, exactly, juggling and dancing at the same time. Trying to save from the airlock. (laughter) That's a very good idea Mark, you should be a writer. (laughter) No, to be honest, I think that I've had a barefoot? exposure and been allowed to.. The interesting thing about Baltar, the reason he's been allowed to be so many people, is he's not on some level high bound to the idea of his own personality and there are.. For example, the heroes in our mix, like for example Adama or... Apollo, they've got quite a rigid set of parameters in which they play in between, and Baltar never had any of those, really. So I got to playing lots of colors in that room. I've been really truly satisfied, it's been amazing.

This is a really good point about Baltar. He can be what he wants to be, because he's "not on anybody's side" - he's the political buskin, like James himself said in the James/Katee Q&A. Baltar's inability to stand up for anything, which James has previously mentioned as his greatest moral failing, really makes him a versatile character. He can be anything or anyone. That's what makes him so much fun to watch and, obviously, also a lot of fun to play.

Asked about the cult, and if Baltar really believes in the cylon God. I think this came up in the Dragon*Con panels also. It seems to confuse the viewers a lot.

James: I don't think he believes in the cylon God, I think he's one of these... The joke about the cult and everything was that it was going to be... after the ? and the trial?, it's dreadful being in a prison cell, it's actually worse being idolized and worshipped by a bunch of nutcases (laughter) and you're the only strangely sane one in the mix. We have this joke for that... even in Monty Python and The Life of Brian, they've got this thing where, I think somebody.. is it Brian? He drops his sandal... "We will follow the sandal!"And then they're like, "I will follow the sandal!" And then he drops his water tank which is a gourd, and they're like, "No, we will follow the gourd!" You get the idea of people.. people coming to see magic? almost over nothing.

Um.. no, I didn't totally believe it... Not believing in the cylon God, I don't know about Baltar believing in God in that way. But Baltar did believe that there was... If you were a cylon, it wasn't your fault if you were a cylon. You couldn't do anything about that, you were made, you were fabriated, you were a robot. So a lot of the hatred that the colonists have for the cylons and their very being, I felt that Baltar was kind of a step above that in his level of consciousness. Maybe because he was sleeping with so many of them. (laughter)
Ah! He mentioned Life of Brian! We have seen the same film! How can this be? Worlds collide. Sorry, I went into spontaneous fangirl mode. I'm still not sure how to really deal with the cult plot. I don't think it's totally in character for Baltar, and I don't think it necessarily fits in with his story. Despite what I just said above about him doing and being anything. I sorta got the feeling that, after the trial, they had to think of something for Baltar and that was the only thing they came up with - because hey, he loves himself and beautiful women! The problem is that it's not really established whether he's purposefully being a false prophet or whether he believes in what he's preaching. It's a bit confusing. But maybe they will tie it in some nice neat package that all makes a lot of sense.

It's interesting that James also mentioned Baltar's sympathy for the cylons in another recent interview (the Sky1 interview, also made at Starfury) - and then, too, he ended with a joke. It seems almost like he feels touched after talking about it, so he has to deflect into joke mode. Maybe this is a part of his own approach on people. There's a general sympathy he seems to feel for other human beings, which - sniffle... Now I feel like ending with a joke. Tigh's eye, Gaeta's leg and Baltar's schlong walked into a bar... Hm, I'd best not continue that, it started out very badly.

But yeah, this is a side of Baltar that is very rarely mentioned and bears repeating: he's actually less prejudiced and less hateful of others - especially cylons - than most of the colonials, especially people like Laura Roslin and Bill Adama, who are usually toted as the heroes. He doesn't hate anyone, while many of the more morally straight-backed characters do.

Mark is asked how it is to work with Joss Whedon. He simply says, "You've got interesting theoretical concepts.. ask Joss." Laughter. Heh, but I'd be kinda embarrassed if I asked a question and he did a joke like that. It sounds a bit like "your question sucks, next please."

OK, another question instead: what if Romo Lampkin were the final cylon?

Mark: Well, would it make a difference? I mean I've always wondered. The first time I ever read Romo in the script, (?) the first question came up: (?) the final cylon? And then the second question that came out was: Does it actually make a differnce? And I'm really not sure if it makes a difference whether you find out that Romo's the fifth cylon or not.

James: But how is it working with Joss? (laughter)

Mark: Alright, so. Okay, so I get a phonecall, I'm doing Leverage, (?) and I get a phonecall: "Joss has something, it wasn't originally for you, but he wants you to work anyway. Do you want to do this thing?" And I'm like, "Sure, it's always fun to go work with Joss." So I said, "Sure", and I get the script secretly sent to me with my name printed on every page. (?) I get the script and the character's name is Tanaka. (laughter) I'm like, "Hmm, I wonder if this is written for a person of a slightly different ethnicity?" (laughter) So when I arrived at Fox, the very next day, Joss met me backstage. I said, "Hi, this is very interesting." I said, "Can I keep the name?" He goes, "I knew you were gonna say that." (laughter) So I'm called Tanaka. That's... all I will say. (laughter)

I like the Joss story, but what to make of the final cylon thing? It might be that the final cylon, indeed, doesn't really mean anything - if there was a thirteen tribe that was made of humanoid cylons, then there's no knowing what the ramifications of that are. I think Romo, while a fan favorite, isn't an established enough character to be the final cylon - we've really only seen him in four episodes. Ellen, while not one of my favorites, was at least more established than that.

Someone asks about the use of props, stating that James and Mark are two actors who use props more than others on the show. I'm not sure if I agree - I hadn't thought of that before.
James: Well, I think it's rather unfair to call Tricia a prop. (thunderous laughter, applause. He continues but it's drowned out:)...very beautiful... (not fair to?) the people involved.

No, I um... I'm trying to think... For my sins, I smoke cigarettes, and I wanted to bring in... Having a cigarette, whatever, maybe it doesn't but psychologically, it calms me down. And that's one of the things I want to be is calm and comfortable in myself, even if I'm playing like a fruit loop on television. And... So I found initially I wanted a cigarette in the scenes and then there was this whole thing about, (mock-strict voice) "You can't smoke! You know, it's Battlestar Galactica.." I'm like, I'm not exactly a role model. (laughter) I think it's OK if the baddie lights a cigarette now and then, I have killed all these people... (lots of laughter)

I think that there is... There is danger certainly with - what we call it is business, actually. It's like there's too much business going on. And I, in that sense, have certainly found myself caught out in scenes sometimes - it's like I have an idea of wanting to take the sunglasses off, then have a drink of this, then have a cigarette.. busy doing so many things, like - oh, and I forgot to act. (laughter) Sometimes you think it's terribly useful like uh... they're telling of character. I'm just interested in that sense of.. I know that Mark has sunglasses... Yeah, and the cane and the cat...

Mark: Dead cat. (?)

James: Lucky old cat... (laughter) Lot of props that I haven't used a lot.
In the beginning of the quote, it could be "for my scenes", but it really sounds like "sins", so I'm guessing he's being gently self-mocking (he sounds amused at himself, but when doesn't he?) My girlfriend and I were talking about this, and neither of us can imagine Gaius without the cigarettes. It's an important part of his persona, and once again, I'm surprised that it was brought in by James and not a part of how he was originally written. I've been watching James' older stuff lately, and he smokes in almost every role. With each character, he smokes differently; it's like he applies the character's personality to it. How they take a cigarette, how they light it, how they breathe out the smoke, is different each time. It's fascinating.

I think it would have been idiotic to forbid Baltar from smoking. James sounds very mocking about the "you can't smoke" attitude, so I'm guessing he feels the same way. I mean, if that's an issue, why do they let Doc Cottle smoke in like every single scene, why is Tigh shown smoking all the time, etc.? I remember Ron D. Moore saying that if people want to smoke, let them, we're all adults. I think it's a good attitude - health nannyism doesn't change anything, and it would be dishonest to portray a world where no one ever smokes.

The "Tricia being a prop" joke is a huge hit, of course, and it takes a while for the laughter to die down. James has this quick wit; he sometimes hits upon something quite brilliant, and I think this is one of those moments. One thing that bugs me, though - if you are in an audience (or listening to a recording taped among the audience), it's impossible to hear what they say on stage if the audience is still laughing. You should really wait until it properly dies down, because probably only Mark heard what he was saying there.

The guy who asked the question wants to know a bit more, clarifying his point a bit: "you interact with the environment more than any other actors."

Mark: (?) I mean, sitting still and speaking the line would be incredibly insulting.

James: I remember when we were doing the scenes together in preparing for the trial, and uh... There really was a lot of us doing things like writing things down and.. you know, to make it look more plausible, like we were having a real...

Mark: We did the scene least four times, there was so much stuff that had.. The pen, the writing..
James: Drinking.. I always felt, when you watch sci fi as well.. Eddie talked, we've all talked about this. Other shows, they never got to eat or drink... Or go to the bathroom, it's like you know.. they're just on the set. "I'm gonna press that button here and...(?)" So I felt, really, that having a relationship to...seeing people eating on Galactica is always fun. Especially when, now, you think that the only thing they eat is algae weed. (?) That's all we've got to eat, which is gross.

Mark: Are you happy with that answer?

Fan: Yeah, it was good.

It's a common problem on many shows, I think. I'd say soap operas are the worst culprit in this respect, but probably it's true of any genre where the focus isn't on realism. On something like The Sopranos, you will see people going to the bathroom (which isn't always a good thing), and you will see them eating and drinking. That's the realistic approach. I think it's nice to see people eat, drink, smoke and use the bathroom on Galactica, but it's not like they run around in the corridor shooting and then have to take a bathroom break, which would really take away from the drama. I think it's a fairly good balance.

But I have to say, when speaking of Baltar, that it bugs me how we very rarely see him eating. He seems to enjoy smoking, drinking, sex, and even occasional pill-popping - surely a hedonistic person like this would love eating as well. I'm trying to remember eating scenes, but the only one that comes to mind is the one where Baltar went to Tory in Six of One. Also, he had an apple in his hand. Where did that come from? Was it an apple made completely out of algae? Um, I digress.

They're asked about future roles and what they've been working on, and Mark is asked to say more about Dollhouse.

Mark: Uh.. yeah, I play a guy called Tanaka... (laughter) My character on Dollhouse is intercepting a lot with Tahmoh's character, which is really interesting. That's all I'll tell you. I've got a lot of stuff going on right now, a whole bunch of stuff I've been doing back-to-back, which is really (?). I just got to work with my Dad a couple of weeks ago. I was doing a TV series called Leverage on TNT, starts this week... I have this a wonderful role on the show, it's fun... Got a call like, "Do you want to come and do Dollhouse?"

Then I get a call, "We're offering your Dad an episode on NCIS, we'd like to do these flashbacks." So my Dad and myself just went and played a Polish torturer who feels no pain. (laughter) He has a genetic disorder, he feels no pain. So I was on set with my Dad for a couple of days, we worked out... We decided he's gonna take his eye out in the role, so he's actually taking his eye out of its socket. (?) scar (?) socket and stuff... So I'm playing the young torturer and he's playing the old torturer. We got to work together. I was doing Burn Notice, I missed Tricia by about two days. (?) (to James) Have you been busy?

Aww, how sweet, father and son playing torturers together. I still remember Mark from his role on Medium, where he plays the ghost of a serial killer that goes into doctors' heads and makes them murder young women. It's not as corny as it sounds and Mark is pretty damn good in that role. It's not all that different from Romo, apart from the moral aspect - he gets to play his wry wit there. It's interesting that he gets these darker roles a lot. He really seems quite laid back and sympathetic in this Q&A, so it's not like he's so menacing. Also, he sounds genuinely interested in what James has been up to, which is nice.

James: Well, no, I haven't been as busy as that. I just did one short movie now, called Merlin and the Book of Beasts. And it's kind of a strange story, I haven't seen it yet so I don't know what it's going to look like. All I know is that I had uh... personal hair extensions down to my bum. The hair extensions didn't exactly match my hair. (laughter)

Mark: Did it match the hair on your bum? (laughter)

James: I don't know ?, otherwise I woud have been in a lot of trouble. So rather than dye the hair extensions that are too expensive and too important, they had to dye my hair (laughter) so it matched the hair extensions. And it was a kind of... what's the word.. coppery kind of metallic color, and I had a beard, large beard that we dyed kind of amber blond. And I looked like a kind of missing link between the human being and the orangutan. (laughter)

And I was halled? up in the Sutton Hotel in Canada, where by looking like that, I looked like a kind of homeless Jesus. (laughter) And then when I would ask for things in the store, I was like, "Hello. Can I get some batteries?" The shop assistant was like, "It's homeless Jesus with a personality disorder. (laughter) This guy thinks like he's English or something." (laughter) I got followed around, not let into taxis in the sense of looking.. so undesirable.

And then just recently like the very last few days I was going up in the lift, and this couple... like, standing there in the lift... (I think he's imitating how they looked; laughter) I mean, the looks I would get like... "You know, totally unnecessary to look like that... Do you own a comb or brush...?" I could hardly tell people, it's not really mine. You needn't worry. (laughter)

And so anyway, they're holding back and then we're going up and up and up in the lift, and I can see this man is like, you know, "I'm in the lift with a... weirdo. Who shouldn't be living in a hotel." He went, "You got a room here, buddy?" (laughter) I'm going like, "Yes, I have." And he, "You uh, you staying long?" I went, "Oh, about six weeks." (laughter) The look on this man's face was that I was the orangutan who's also a multimillionare. What was I doing living in the Sutton Hotel, looking like that, for around six weeks? It wasn't normal.

Mark: You topped it off by going, "And I'm Merlin." (laughter)

James: And I'm Merlin, right. So uh... you know, it was like very strange being outside the character. And I think that genuinely, in the sense of, yeah, having a staff which is like your version of a magic wand and having CGI lights like flash thru so it looks like a thunderbolt going thru..I think it's more the domain of teenagers and that kind of market than really Battlestar Galactica. It was certainly a lot of fun to do, I just don't know what it's gonna look like.

Heee! :D But... why couldn't they afford to dye the hair extensions..? I still hope the movie is going to be decent (frankly even James sounds dubious), but I must admit I've taken to calling it Merlin and the Depressingly Small Budget. But of course, it's a hilarious story, and it's just delicious that someone like James, who's so sophisticated and well-read and - as mentioned by basically everyone who's met him - a true gentleman, would be mistaken for a hobo. If you haven't seen how James looked for Merlin, see here. Well, maybe it's not so surprising that they thought he was a homeless Jesus.

"If you had been a judge during Baltar's trial, would you have chosen guilty or not guilty?"

James: Well, that's a great question. (thinks for a moment) Baltar is certainly really guilty. He's guilty of so many things, but he may not have been guilty of the thing he was charged on in the trial. This is the whole deal that I... One of the reasons I have the platform that I do is because John Colicos was so amazing, he's edged into everybody's minds so there's a real thing about... Hey, this is the new guy and this is the other guy. His guy was really guilty. I mean he wanted to sell out his own race and species, and essentially the cylons gave him a bathrobe with his name on it(?) and that was enough. (laughter) Seemingly. Our one is slightly more complex.

I always used to say to the producers and the directors when we were goind the show, and they were like, "Ah you know, you're such a weasel and a snake and a bad guy..." I went, "Listen, for the cylons to want to kill all of the human beings, a deep moral rot has set in before Gaius Baltar was a twinkle in his mother's eye." We're talking about a mindset that... So literally, Gaius Baltar is the imbecile who was vain enough to get himself caught up in the clicking of a button. But he's like a domino and it strechtes way way back... Is he guilty about, like, the cylons killing all of those people? I'm not sure. He's certainly reprehensible. If I was a judge and I'm looking at the thing.. and in that courtroom and in the sense of Galactica.. No, I'm pretty sure it would have been...

Mark: That's my job.

James: Yeah well, I had the amazing, amazing defense in that... not just from Mark, but also from Apollo, from Lee. But I... yeah, I think that it was... You know, the judgement was subverted and I think Baltar... You as the au.. .Everybody wanted to see what the guilty verdict would be.

Mark: One thing that I thought was interesting, by the way. I remember going back and watching.. Eddie had given me Taking a Break From All Your Worries. And the line in Taking a Break From All Your Worries when he asks you - your response is what allowed me to have my defense. Which is when he was asking you about treason, which requires intent, the point being that it requires intent. And intent is something that was never...definitively... laid out as far as I was concerned by Baltar... which is what gave you... sure, maybe you're guilty of everything...

Which is what I was saying in Crossroads with Lee, when he's doing his...(?) "So, you know he's guilty, right?" (chuckles) And I'm like.. "Well, he's guilty of something. But is he guilty of what he's being charged with?" And that's always been the great question. I had no problems as a person defending ... I mean, if I was very angry about the fact that I had to defend your rights, in that manner, which I thought made the whole thing so ? ... Sure, you were guilty of a whole slew of shit, which is none of my business and nothing to do with me, I have no right to judge you for these things. but for the charge that you were being brought up with, you had every right for solicitation, because you, as far as I was concerned, you weren't guilty for what you had been charged with.

Interesting stuff, and a very central theme of Baltar's character. Personally, I don't think he's guilty of the genocide. The visual metaphor that I'd use is, like, they're frakking and Six just slams Gaius against the wall, and on that wall there's a button that makes a nuclear bomb go off. That's how I saw it and that's why I feel so sorry for Gaius. I'm a big softy though, and if someone feels guilty for what they've done, I usually forgive them on the spot because aww, they're feeling bad. But for Gaius, it really does seem more like he never intended anyone any harm. He's selfish; he's lazy; he cheats with his work, letting Six do it; he broke the law and many people's trust by giving her the codes; he cheats on women and lies to people all the time. But he's not a genocidal maniac who wants people dead.

Is he guilty of the New Caprica disaster though? He's responsible for them settling there; he's responsible for the cylons spotting them from space, so maybe he is. On the other hand, when the cylons actually came, what could he do but surrender? Resistance could have made things worse. Refusing to sign the death list, he would have been shot and the list would have been signed by someone else. So his big mistake was running for president and giving Gina the nuke, but I don't know what I would have done differently during the cylon occupation. (Maybe not taken quite as many pills.)

To be continued...