Saturday afternoon’s Battlestar Galactica (BSG) panel, “Welcome to the Quorum” provided the audience with a great surprise. When Katee Sackhoff wasn’t there when the panel started, we were all assured that someone was on their way. But when her name was eventually announced, the actor to walk on stage wasn’t Sackhoff at all. Instead, Aaron Douglas strutted out to a huge round of applause by the audience and hugs from the other cast members. Douglas was not slated to be at Dragon*Con this year, so his sudden arrival was a welcome sight.
When Jamie Bamber was asked about experience of having his wife, actress and musician Kerry Norton, appear on the show, Bamber said, “If I could define the show as one thing, it was a family experience, due to Eddie [Edward James Olmos] and Mary [Mary McDonnell].” Norton was still required to audition for the role, but Bamber said that Olmos told him long before the audition that Kerry “would be on the show.”
The actor who fielded the most questions was James Callis. Among other topics, he discussed the many transitions that his character, Gaius Baltar, lived through on the show, from scientist to politician to religious figurehead. He found himself wondering, “Can’t [the writers] give this story line to someone else? How many more things will I have to do?” When an audience member asked a question about his long hair and beard for some of the darker parts of the series, Callis noted when they were shooting those episodes, it was around the time when Saddam Hussein emerged from hiding, with a heavy beard, looking as though he had endured tremendous stress. Callis felt a character like Baltar experiencing those sorts of extreme situations would also likely look rather ragged. When Callis grew out his hair and beard, the change helped him to embrace the new direction for his character.
The always charismatic and down-to-Earth Aaron Douglas was asked to repeat the story of how he knew of his character’s big reveal—that his character was one of the final five Cylons—long before he was officially supposed to know about it. At a pot-luck dinner, Douglas stumbled across an outline for the rest of the season, and flipped through to learn details about his character’s fate. He noted that it was brutal to have to keep this secret for several months before the rest of the cast found out. As a follow-up, when asked what he would look for in a script, he said, “I would flip to the last page” to see if his character was still alive by the end of the episode.
When asked to compare his consulting work on BSG to his work on Eureka and Falling Skies, Dr. Kevin R. Grazier said, “The job is the same but on different shows it’s different.” On Eureka, the science was much more speculative, and the science consultants were always looking at emerging technology for inspiration. On the other hand, BSG and Falling Skies were more grounded, and most of the technology was based on real science (except for the FTL of course).
Richard Hatch had the opportunity to compare his experiences filming the original BSG and the new show. He assured the audience that he “loved them both for different reasons.” In the original, we didn’t “have a lot of rehearsal or collaboration,” he said. On the other hand, the new show was “far more deep, profound and edgy,” with opportunities to portray a “richer, deeper more interesting character.” Ronald D. Moore allowed the actors a “chance to talk, explore, and get creative feedback. It was actor heaven.”
On the subject of pyramid, the sport Michael Trucco’s character Sam Anders played on the show, Trucco talked about how he and the stunt coordinator Mike Mitchell “made stuff up” concerning the rules of play. During pyramid shooting, the director set up a really wide shot and then said, “just play” and Trucco would have to make up moves and reactions for about eight minutes. “We had no idea what we were doing,” said Trucco. And when he was asked about his character’s “untraditionally stereotypical relationship” with Starbuck on the show he made a quick joke, and then said there was a “flaw in Anders and he just didn’t get it.” Trucco did add that he really enjoyed playing the dynamic, despite the fact that it “wasn’t easy being a doormat sometimes.”
Overall, as usual, the panel ended with a frakking enthusiastic, “So say we all!” cheer. This year, Hatch rallied the cry for team BSG and the audience.