Four members of the Battlestar Galactica cast were on the panel, “BSG: A Visit to the Fleet,” on Friday at 4PM (Marriott). Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh aka “The Betrayer” and the Fifth of “the Final Five”), Tricia Helfer (Six aka “The Cylon Betrayer”), Michael Hogan (Colonel Saul Tigh), and Richard Hatch (Tom Zarek, and also Apollo from the original series) all shared how being part of this show affected them.
Every one of the panelists described how unique and powerful a show BSG was and how working on the set itself was different from other shows. Helfer said she’s “never been on a set as collaborative as BSG was.” She described how the writers and directors worked with the actors, often giving them a heads up when a scene was coming up that could be problematic or traumatic.
And there were some traumatic moments for the actors. One audience member asked how the difficult and controversial scenes affected the panelists as people. Hatch described how incredibly hard it was for him to play the scene where he ordered the deaths of the entire Quorum, as well as the scene following, during which he was questioned about that decision. He commented, “These scenes are incredibly powerful. Life affects acting and acting affects life.”
But no matter how difficult, the set became a second home for the cast and crew, who grew very close during the filming. One of the beauties of this show, according to Hogan, is that it was more like a movie that took five years to shoot and watch. In other words, rather than the quick story arc of episodic shows, or the sometimes inconsistent writing associated with other serial shows, this one had a clear trajectory, with complex plots and characters, and the audience followed along the whole time.
Hogan went on to recount a conversation he had with writer and executive producer Ron Moore about how long the show would run. Moore thought it would take three seasons to tell the story. Even though it eventually took five, Moore said in that original conversation that the show would be done when the story had been told.
Vernon relayed how excited and emotionally touched she was when she found out that she would come back from the dead to play the Fifth Cylon, the final secret Cylon that seemed to take forever to be revealed. She had to keep the secret for two full years, allowed to tell only her mother and her agent. Vernon said the whole experience of being on BSG was “an amazing journey,” one she was very proud to be a part of. She also described how she “always couldn’t wait to see what the writers had written, the script was delicious from the get go.”
Helfer reminisced about how much fun she had doing the fight scenes, especially the first one with Starbuck in the Hall of Apollo. Apparently, the crew hadn’t told her which of the statues were not “breakaway statues” and she “chucked Starbuck into one that didn’t [breakaway]”. The audience laughed with her at that memory. An audience member asked if it was difficult for Helfer to change characters and while her answer was largely “no,” she did relate another funny story about falling into her “Six” persona while doing a scene in her new series.
“It changed my life completely,” said Hogan. Helfer stated that BSG will be “one of the highlights of my life.” Vernon described how this show and her role was “everything I’d ever dreamed of.” She also loved how BSG brought her to the fans, unlike other types of shows. And Hatch, the man who acted in both the original series and the most recent, said it best: “This was one of the most extraordinarily written, produced, and acted shows—everyone was phenomenal. Once in a lifetime experience.”