Sackhoff: Edward James Olmos "taught me how to act in 30 seconds"
Behind the scenes at the Battlestar Galactica reunion at the ATX Festival last week, Katee Sackhoff revealed to EW that a costar once took her to task for her performance on the show — and his harsh critique changed her life (for the better).
Of course, we all know Sackhoff earned huge praise for her portrayal of Kara “Starbuck” Thrace on the 2004 series and became an instant fan favorite on the show. But during a scene that called for the actress to go deep into her character’s grief, her veteran costar Edward James Olmos (who played William Adama on the series) shocked Sackhoff by accusing her of not trying and “faking it.”
Here’s what happened (and you can watch Sackhoff telling this story — and two of her costar’s shocked reactions and clips from the scene — in the video above).
“I started acting when I was really young and I never studied because I just sort of luckily ended up on sets,” Sackhoff begins. “I just thought this was the best teaching ground that you could possibly have. My mom just said to ‘fake it until you believe it.’ For the first five or six years of my career, that’s pretty much what I did. I taught myself to act in a mirror, figured out what my face looked like, and taught myself how to do those things.”
Then came a scene in early in Battlestar‘s first season (episode 5, “Act of Contrition”) where Starbuck confesses to Admiral Adama that she’s partly responsible for his son Zak’s death (due to giving him an undeserved passing grade during flight training).
“I had this one moment with Eddie where I was just joking around [between takes] — because I joke around so much on set,” she recalled. “He walked up to me and he said, ‘If you tried this much, you’d be so good.'”
At this point while recalling the story, Sackhoff’s costar Grace Park (Boomer) says “whoa.”
and Michael Trucco (Anders) says “wow.”
“I was like, ‘Wow, okay,'” Sackhoff continues. “He goes, ‘Just sit here. Sit here and think about it for a second. Literally, think about what’s going on instead of being Katee. Because once you figure out how to do this, you can be Katee. But, you’ve got to figure this out first.’ I was like, ‘Okay,’ and he was like, ‘You’re really good at faking it.'”
At this, another “wow” from Trucco and a “damn” from Park.
“So, I sat there,” Sackhoff resumed. “We did the next take and I literally … started sobbing when I was telling him that I had killed Zak. When I was walking out of the room and I put my hands on my head to cover myself it was because I was literally sobbing — it was the first time I had lived as another person. I couldn’t take what had just gone on between me and this person that I loved. Eddie came back out and he goes, ‘Now, you can go back to being Katee, because now, you know how to do it.'”
Concludes Sackhoff: “It was weird because you can fake it in this business. So many people do every day. But it takes one person to come along and in a very beautiful way, call you out and see what you’re doing wrong — but in such a beautiful, delicate way — and be able to teach you how to do something that you already knew but you’re almost scared to do it. That’s Eddie. He just did that without even really trying. He taught me how to act in 30 seconds.”
Park replies, “That sounds like a life lesson right there … it’s like, yikes.”
For more, read our live blog of the Battlestar Galactica reunion panel from ATX Festival.
Check back next week for the exclusive People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN) special, EW Reunites: The cast of Battlestar Galactica, here or download the free app on your favorite device.