Last night the SciFi Channel had their upfront presentation here in New York City. The big announcement of the evening was that the network was picking up Battlestar Galactica, one of the best shows to ever run on television, for a full fourth season, after only initially agreeing to 13 episodes. As part of that announcement, Grace Park, who plays Sharon Agathon, a Cylon living and working among the humans – out in the open – as a pilot (callsign Athena), was on hand. The upfront is really just a big party, and the way it works for people like me is that you hover around the talent like a creepy guy at a singles bar until you can get one of the SciFi Channel publicists to introduce you, and then you get a couple of minutes to talk.
I managed to get six minutes with the very gorgeous in real life Park near one of the two bars at the place. I don’t know how she was doing, but I was a couple of beers and cocktails into my night. However many she did or didn’t have, she was funny and quick on her feet, and she told me her opinion about the impending end of Battlestar that may be in line with how some fans of the show feel…
This season has been really interesting and is ending on this intense cliffhanger… but they don’t let you know what’s coming next, do they?
They don’t tell us what’s coming next. The thing about a straight-to-DVD movie – that’s news to me! They don’t tell us anything. I think my manager called to tell me there was a spin-off show, and the day before we had been sitting in the board room with Ron [Moore] and David [Eick]. Did they say anything? Not a peep.
That is some CIA-level shit.
It makes me wonder what else they have up their sleeves!
When you first signed on, at the beginning, did you know you were a Cylon?
I shouldn’t keep admitting this, but I didn’t know. In my defense, it’s because I originally went out for Starbuck, and I didn’t really understand the weight of ‘By your command,’ which was said at the very end of the mini-series, which outed Sharon. When I read it again I did a double-take and I went to Ron Moore and said, ‘Why did you switch this?! Is it something about me that made you think you could do this?’ and he said, ‘No, it was always like this.’
When they’re keeping you so much in the dark, is it harder as an actor to create a character?
They already love to drop the scripts on us [at the last minute]. They treat us like the viewers even though we’re in on it with them! So it’s actually a bit perplexing, a little confusing, but you can tell they love their job because they want us to experience the same thing everyone else does. But it can get a little grating, because it’s like, ‘We are part of this show with you! You can’t keep us in the dark until the last second!’ But it seems to have worked so far. We’ve done so many scenes where I’ll ask Tricia [Helfer], ‘What are you guys looking at?’ and she’ll go, ‘We have no idea. The director didn’t tell us anything.’
What kind of input do you have into your character? While TV is such a writer’s medium, you’re playing these characters every week, so you sort of get to really know them. Do you ever go back to Ron and say, ‘No way, Athena would never say that?’
Absolutely. The wonderful thing about our show is that Michael Rymer and David and Ron are very open to the things we have to say. We’ll call Ron, who is at the airport and running for the plane and run ideas by him and he’ll say OK. They’re open to it, and it makes us feel great because it’s nice to be acknowledged by the people at the top. Do we always get our way? No.
But your voice is heard.
Yeah, but they’ll do what they want! They’ll roll their eyes wondering why you’re there. And I’m in line behind Jamie Bamber, who comes in and rattles off a few things and they’re shooting his scenes, so he has to go. But the fun thing is that things are always in flux, and it’s a creative ensemble in many ways.
Ron Moore has said that the end of season three begins the third act of Battlestar, heading towards the ending.
Yeah, I feel it.
With that in mind, where would you like to see Athena end up? And considering what kind of show she’s on, where do you think she’ll end up?
Everytime I assume something they do something different, so I can’t even start to guess with any accuracy what’s going to happen with Athena. I do think you’ll see some development with her family, the meaning of Hera and what role she has to play, and hopefully some kind of coming together or closing of the seam of these two ripped fabrics. I don’t think everybody is going to be saved, but I think there will be a patchwork quilt of them. I do think you’ll see more of that starting to happen. I don’t know if they’re going to go to Earth by themselves. I personally don’t want to see them go to Earth.
You don’t want them to go to Earth? Why?
Am I a pessimist? I think it’s because, first of all, I’m wondering at what time period are they going to hit Earth – the medieval era, the future, where? And I certainly don’t want to arrive there and have President Bush blow us all up. But I think that this show is so timeless and to bring it back to the AD timescale will bring up this other sense of reality that may take away from the metaphors.
But this is why I’m a pessimist – I believe Earth is a beautiful place that is still somewhat untouched, and I think if they go there, I just know that the Cylons and the humans, whether they get there together or not, are going to bring their baggage with them, and spread it. I feel like Earth is the last hope, and I want to keep it that way.