Tricia Helfer Talks Podcasts, Revivals & 15 Years of ‘Battlestar Galactica’
All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again… to celebrate a huge milestone for the beloved Syfy hit Battlestar Galactica.
Coinciding with the show’s 15th anniversary (the miniseries premiered on December 8, 2003), Tricia Helfer, perhaps best known to fans as the cunning and enigmatic Cylon Number Six, and EW journalist Marc Bernadin spun up the FTLs and have launched a weekly podcast through SYFY WIRE.
“Battlestar Galacticast” offers commentary and insight into key moments and themes from the show while also taking fans behind the scenes and giving them an even closer look into the world of Cylons, the Colonial Fleet, and the struggle for humanity’s survival. So say we all!
TV Insider spoke with Helfer about the new podcast, what it was like to play several versions of the same character, her memories from the early days of Galactica, and whether she could see a revival happening in the near future.
So Battlestar Galactica recently celebrated its 15th Anniversary. That’s a pretty huge milestone. How are you feeling about it?
Tricia Helfer: I’m feeling old! [Laughs] Last year or the year before, ATX brought us in and did a reunion panel, and Comic-Con did a reunion panel, so it seemed, to me, that it sort of all fit in. Fifteen years — wow, that’s a long time. But there’s so many people that are just discovering the show, and so it still feels relevant. It doesn’t feel like it’s been 15 years.
Are there any particular episodes you’re looking forward to discussing on the podcast? Or certain scenes?
Oh, absolutely. I’m really looking forward to talking about the Pegasus episodes because that’s one of the first times I get a character that’s vastly different, so I have a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff with that. And I’m also looking forward to “Downloaded.” And we have an episode coming up where I have Shelley Godfrey. We’re going to have (series and podcast composer) Bear McCreary on one episode, so I’m excited to have him on as well. Probably my favorite ones that we’ll do are the ones where we’ll have Eddie (Edward James Olmos), or James Callis, so those’ll be a lot of fun to tape because I get to hang with my buddies and reminisce.
Number Six was so interesting to me because she wasn’t programmed to be human, but there was humanity to her, especially in the “mercy killing” scene where she snapped the baby’s neck before the attack on Caprica. How did you find her human side?
She had to be human enough, in the miniseries specifically. Once I started getting multiple versions of Six, then I based it on how much interaction that particular one had had with humans and what their interaction was. So if they didn’t have anything to do with humans, they would have been a little more against humans. The ones that had a lot to do with humans, like Caprica Six — then what was their interaction, and how much empathy would they have toward humans?
But in the miniseries, when we really only knew the first Six, there’s a particular line of, “You always knew there was something different about me. Something that didn’t quite add up.” So that’s what I was trying to balance — that wouldn’t set off red flags when you first watched it, but if you rewatched it you might go, “Okay, that’s a little cold,” or “I might have questioned, if I was Baltar.” So, it’s finding that line.
Since the podcast discussed the miniseries… do you have a favorite memory from filming those first two episodes?
There’s so many things. I was so brand new, it was my first series. James Callis and I were the first to film — we were the last cast, and the first to film — and of course we shot the spine-glowing-red sex scene the first day we shot. [Laughs] It’s like, “Hey, nice to meet you!” But the first couple of days are all sort of a blur because you’re new to it.
I remember at one point we were doing a scene, and because my stuff was with James and he’s English, I remember the director coming up to me and [in the scene] I said something about a Cylon party. Michael Rymer came up to me after we did a take and he was like, “Tricia, Number Six isn’t British.” I’m like, “What?” He’s like, “You’re picking up James’ accent!” And I didn’t even know I was doing it!
Now I’m thinking about it, though. What if Six had been British?
[Laughs] Every episode she comes out, she has a different accent…
What has surprised you most when you re-watch — or watch — the series?
Throughout the years, having been on panels with some of my other cast members and things like that, you hear stories of your cast mates that unless you were in the scene with them, you wouldn’t know. So to rewatch some of these things, I keep getting reminded of these little stories that I’ve heard from my co-stars, and it kind of flavors it — it kind of takes me a little bit out of it, because I do have my own memories and stories from my co-stars, but there’s been enough time removed that I can enjoy it as a viewer.
I’m always struck by how relevant Battlestar Galactica is, even today. How do you see the show’s themes in today’s world?
I was actually kind of blown away when I started the rewatch when I started this podcast, of how relevant it is. I guess, when you’re talking themes of human survival, but war, and politics. You’re never really going to get away, in our world, from those types of themes, but it does take you by surprise. It took me by surprise by how relevant some of the themes were 15 years later than when we filmed them. And I guess it’s just a testament of maybe we never learn, as humans, and we keep going through the same cycles, the same issues, because we’re not really learning. And maybe 50 years from now, it’ll still be as relevant. Hopefully not. Hopefully we learn a little bit!
You and Katee Sackhoff do charity work together through “Acting Outlaws.” Do you think you guys would act together again someday?
Oh, I’d love to, yeah. We haven’t had an opportunity for the last few years because we’ve been on different shows, but I’ve had this in my head that she and I would be fantastic in a Cagney and Lacey reboot. If that could ever happen, that would be fantastic and I couldn’t think of a better partner to be doing it with than her. Her and I didn’t have a lot together because our characters didn’t really have a lot together, but when we did work together we worked together very well and then became very close friends — which all of the cast has. We both have a similar sense of work, we love the job and we’re both hard workers. We like to joke around, but we’re not pranksters on set. We’re focused on the job. So it would be a lot of fun to work with her again.
With all the revivals and reboots on TV today, would you want to do a Battlestar Galactica revival? Could you see one happening?
I certainly see it being remade at some point. I think everything seems to be remade at some point — I mean, ours was a remake. [Laughs] I do think maybe it’s a little bit too soon. We never had theatrical rights, we had television rights. So even though we did a couple of movies, we never had any ability to release them into theaters. I know there have been, over the years, different incarnations of a Battlestar Galactica movie being made and they’ve all not happened at this point. But I could see that happening, or a remake. It’s too interesting of a project and story not to. But I do think it’s a little soon. Fifteen years is a while, but it’s still so fresh that it doesn’t make sense to do a whole new re-imagining of it yet.
If one were to happen sometime down the line, is that something you would want to participate in? Or is it a chapter of your life that has closed?
I think it all depends on the project itself and what was involved with it. Is it the same group of people? Is it something different, where they just have a character or two coming in as a cameo? Or coming in in a different role like Richard Hatch did, with originally being Apollo and then coming back as Tom Zarek in our show? It would just depend what the specifics were; who was involved? Do I like the story? If it made sense, I would absolutely be open to it because I think there’s a ton of stories there that could still be told.