''Battlestar Galactica'' stars Michael Hogan (Col. Saul Tigh) and Katee Sackhoff (Capt. Kara ''Starbuck'' Thrace) tell EW.com about the upcoming fourth -- and final -- season, what it's like acting with one eye, and whether or not Thrace lives
A frak-load went down in Battlestar Galatica‘s revelatory third season, but none went through more than rough-edged warriors Col. Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan) and Capt. Kara ”Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff). Tigh lost an eye and killed his Cylon-collaborating wife, only to discover that — oops! — he’s a toaster too. And Starbuck, well, she died — only to pop up in her fighter next to Capt. Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber) in the season finale.
So, for this EW 100 online extra, we jumped on the phone with Hogan, 58, and Sackhoff, 27, in celebration of the momentous season — mere days, it turned out, before the announcement that the fourth season of Battlestar, launching Jan. 2008, would be the show’s last. In a quick follow-up the day after the news broke, both actors said that they weren’t surprised by the announcement — it had been on-set scuttlebutt for months, explains Hogan, but ”when you hear it announced officially, you go, Whoa, OK, they’re serious.” Still, he says, ”it would be good to finish while it’s hot.” Sackhoff agrees, and she’s excited for what’s ahead: ”I can imagine now, knowing that this is our last year, that it’s going to be such a tremendously amazing, action-packed season.” She adds, ”I think by the end of this season, Kara Thrace will have said everything she needed to say.” Wait, so does that mean Starbuck’s alive?! Read on and see for yourself…
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start at the end — last season’s finale was quite the humdinger. How did you two react when you first got the script?
MICHAEL HOGAN: Disbelief. I couldn’t believe it. And I still can’t believe it. That was my reaction to it.
KATEE SACKHOFF: I think everyone was pretty shocked. My feeling was that it made sense that the four [final Cylons] were all aligned with a person in power who could individually take down the fleet if they wanted to. Col. Tigh’s with Adama, Tori’s with the president, Tyrol controls the ship, and Anders is with, you know, Starbuck.
Speaking of that, Katee, do you know what the heck Starbuck is?
SACKHOFF: No. And even if I did, I couldn’t tell you. I have no idea what she is. I have no idea if I’m alive or if I’m dead.
Can you at least confirm if you’re, you know, corporeal? That you’re not just a figment of poor Apollo’s mind?
SACKHOFF: Well, I do know that I am [corporeal]. Not a figment. And if I am, I’m a figment of everyone’s imagination.
Michael, had you ever thought that Tigh would be a Cylon?
HOGAN: Never. Never at all. Someone told me that there was a survey on the Net and that Tigh was the second lowest of everyone ever involved in Battlestar Galactica [suspected] of being a Cylon.
How are you managing that?
HOGAN: Well, I haven’t had to manage it yet, because we’re [shooting] the flashback movie, but it hasn’t been that much of a problem yet because Tigh doesn’t believe [he’s a Cylon]. He doesn’t know what’s going on. And Hogan‘s not convinced that he’s a Cylon.
SACKHOFF: [Cackles] I love it. I love that you can justify anything on a sci-fi show.
The use of a remixed version of Bob Dylan’s ”All Along the Watchtower” in the finale was also pretty striking.
SACKHOFF: I couldn’t believe they got the rights.
HOGAN: Neither could I. I’ve been very affected by that song since it first came out, so it’s very spooky that that’s the one they used.
Michael, did you know that’s what you were hearing when you were hearing the ship ”sing”?
HOGAN: Yes. Tigh wouldn’t know that that’s ”All Along the Watchtower,” but yeah. We did know that that’s what it was. Now whether they were going to actually get the rights to it, and we were going to use it, was another issue.
NEXT PAGE: ”When you said that, I felt flattered. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s so sweet.’ And then I was like, ‘Wait a minute, he’s talking about Starbuck.”’
This past season was such a pivotal one for Tigh and Starbuck, but your characters didn’t have much time together.
HOGAN: No, but we’ve never really had much time together.
SACKHOFF: I was disappointed that they didn’t dive deeper into the friendship that they developed down on New Caprica.
HOGAN: Yeah, exactly. It was interesting that I grew to have an immense amount of respect for Starbuck over that time. She was definitely a thorn in my shoe, but I had to respect her. Because if there’s anybody I want beside me when we get into the thick of things, it’s Starbuck. She’s my first choice, for anything — not that we would get along.
SACKHOFF: [Pause] When you said that, I felt flattered. I was like, ”Oh, that’s so sweet.” And then I was like, ”Wait a minute, he’s talking about Starbuck.” [Laughing]
HOGAN: Oh, I was talking about Sackhoff too.
SACKHOFF: Oh yeah, uh-huh. [Laughing]
HOGAN: Because you never know what the hell she’s going to do! Some of the rest of [the actors] are predictable, but oh my God, no acting required when you’re with Sackhoff, right?
SACKHOFF: Right, exactly. Because everyone knows I wake up and I am Starbuck, right?
Have you shared acting tips on how to play someone who’s completely plastered?
SACKHOFF: I think the only acting tips on acting drunk that we ever [got] were, you know, the wrap parties every year. We have a cast that’s really, really close, so I think we all like to, uh — well, I can’t speak for everyone, but when I’m with them, I like to tie one on. [Laughs] I just take mental notes on bar napkins all the time.
Katee, how will you manage your role on Battlestar and your recurring role on NBC’s new Bionic Woman series?
SACKHOFF: I hope to be able to do both well, and to do both as much as possible. That’s every actor’s dream. They’ve certainly facilitated it enough for me, considering they’re [shooting] both of them in Vancouver.
Michael, any non-BSG projects in the hopper?
SACKHOFF: Michael’s in Bionic Woman!
HOGAN: Yeah, man, yeah. But aside from that, no. It’s Battlestar, Battlestar, Battlestar.
That’s right, there are several BSG actors in Bionic Woman.
HOGAN: Yeah, we’re probably contract players for [Battlestar and Bionic Woman exec. Producer] David Eick.
SACKHOFF: I’m the only one who had to audition for the damn thing! David came up to Canada and just started giving parts to these guys. I worked my ass off! [Laughter]
HOGAN: Once Sackhoff was in there, he knew he needed someone to calm her down.
Katee, what do you know about Michael that we wouldn’t necessarily expect from his role on Battlestar?
SACKHOFF: When you see Col. Tigh, and then you see [Michael] with his family, the coolest thing is that he’s such a devoted dad and husband. When I first saw him with his wife, it made no sense to me. I was like, ”Wait a second, that’s so weird! He’s so sweet!” Like, he has a dog, and he’s like, ”Let’s go kayaking and go to the beach!”
Michael, any juicy insights about Katee?
HOGAN: Nothing as flattering as that. I think it’s obvious the dedication that she has to her craft. She has all the makings of a huge star and a major celebrity, but the art of the craft is the main thing for her. You work with a lot of young people where they’ve got things backwards. They don’t have longevity. I could tell right away that, ”Wow, that lady’s a natural. She’s got all the tools in place.”
SACKHOFF: I’ll take that! I’ll take that in lieu of a husband and kids any day! That was nice! [Laughs] That was a better compliment than I gave you, in my eyes!
HOGAN: Well, I’ll call you later and you can call Adam back and say, ”What I meant to say about Hogan…”
SACKHOFF: Yeah, exactly, you’re going to have to give me the money and the script and I’ll call him back.
NEXT PAGE: ”I get a phone call from David and [executive producer] Ron [Moore] going, ‘Just so you know, we love you, but we’re going to kill you.”’
Katee, what would you like to see happen to Starbuck next season?
SACKHOFF: We’d shot maybe one episode of the last season, and TV Guide asked me, can you tell us anything about the series, and I said as a joke, ”Yeah, I’m a Cylon, and I die.” And then seven episodes [later] I get a phone call from David and [executive producer] Ron [Moore] going, ”Just so you know, we love you, but we’re going to kill you.” So I want to say I have no idea what’s going to happen, and I just hope that it leaves the fans happy.
Is your presence on the show going to be what it was in previous seasons?
SACKHOFF: Unless I piss David off, yes. [Laughter]
Michael, is hard to act with one eye?
HOGAN: [Laughs] Yes it is. Television actors especially, your main tools are your eyes and I got 50 percent of my tools taken away at the beginning of last season. I think it’s worked amazingly, but it does get frustrating. You’re kind of in a tunnel. You have no peripheral vision. But I’ve got a friend in town here that’s got a full prosthetic on his head. When I listen to him talk, I’m like ”S—, I’m alright.” Ron wanted something [to remind us of] New Caprica, the occupation, something permanent. I appreciate that. It’s fascinating, but to act with it is a real pain, man.
Katee, anything you’d like to see out of Tigh?
SACKHOFF: If the final four we found out from last season are Cylons, you know, there’s a side to you that wants to be in the club. Really. You kind of go, ”Well, if they’re Cylons….” It makes you wonder if the Cylons aren’t the good guys, if you can’t kind of co-exist. I’d like to see that if these four are Cylons, that we don’t pick up guns and kill them.
HOGAN: Yeah, and it’s interesting to see if being a Cylon can not necessarily be a bad thing.
SACKHOFF: How interesting would it be, though, if Starbuck got back from Earth and she knew who the four Cylons were.
HOGAN: I have scenes with [Cylon] Number Six in [the first season four] episode, and I’m really looking forward to playing them. Tigh’s going to be very curious to have meetings with her now. I’m going to want something completely different out of her.
Katee, at the end of last season, we’re definitely left with impression that Starbuck could very well be the final unknown Cylon. Any resolution to that question?
SACKHOFF: No. I think there’s better choices out there for the final Cylon, to be honest. Even if she was, I don’t think she’d ever believe it. I just don’t think that she would ever wrap her brain around that. It will be very interesting to find out.
It does appear that she’s the Keanu Reeves of the Battlestar universe, the savior. Does that role sit well with you as an actor?
SACKHOFF: I don’t know. I think Starbuck’s used to carrying around a heavy load, and she can handle a lot of responsibilities. She may do it with a chip on her shoulder and she may not do it the most reasonable way, but she always seems to get things done.
HOGAN: There is no escape from this. There’s only 30-something-thousand of us left. In any other walk of life, you’d kind of go somewhere else, but none of us have anywhere else to go. So that tempers your acceptance of things. We haven’t hugged anybody in a long time. We’re just in a battleship.
SACKHOFF: I’m going to tell [the producers] that I’m hugging you in the next episode. [Laughing] I’m just going to walk up to you in the [command center] and give you a big frakkin’ hug!
HOGAN: And I’ll say, ”Gee, I needed that!”