I have been working hard on these, and I'll be posting the transcript with commentary within the next couple of days. Since these are one-hour files, I realized that posting the entire transcripts with commentary at once might be, to quote James, "an almost Herculean undertaking", so I will do half and half instead. I'll post the first parts of both transcripts, then the second parts.
So this Q&A took place on the 7th of December in Heathrow, London, where the Starfury convention was held.
I've decided to transcribe everything Katee says as well, and might even indulge in a little Katee gushing. I like her, I think she is a great actress and she says some smart things here. James has a big-brotherly attitude on Katee here, and seems to constantly say things to reassure her or help her feel more at ease. Which was totally sweet. He also gave this incredibly sweet monologue about how much he likes Katee/Starbuck and how strong she is, but this will be in part 2.
So, applause, they come on and say hi. They remark on how cold it is, and I think Katee says the door in the bathroom was freezing. I have trouble hearing this very well, though, because the audience is still clapping and getting settled.
Hee! He sounds amused at himself, and I'm wondering if he drank too much, because he did look much more tired in the second day photos than he did in the first day ones.James: Did you all have a good evening last night?
Crowd: Yeah!James: Did you all drink too much?
Katee: I love the actress that plays Kat, it's a great girl. I found it hard to believe that Starbuck would ever be intimidated by another pilot. I didn't think that that was very true to form, and I also thought that if she was ever hit by another woman she would beat the shit out of them. And she didn't do it. So I kind of thought that it was an episode where... You know, and it happened a couple of times, but I think it was the first time I felt that... this isn't her. Um, and ultimately it ended up helping me find who she was at the very end. So yeah, it was difficult. It's always difficult to play those roles where you know, you... It's gotta be ? the the final five though, you play this character, you think you're one thing, you go four years playing this character, all of a sudden you realize that you're completely different. So then you start second-guessing everything you've done. So it was kinda like that.
What's interesting here is that James obviously had a lot of moments like that too, and he always contested them. Some of the scenes were changed because of his demands - "Baltar didn't just nonchalantly sign the death list in Precipice" being my favorite example that I keep bringing up. On the other hand, he did do the accent change in Dirty Hands even if he didn't really think that was true to form (more on that in the James/Mark Sheppard transcript). I'm intrigued by that "find who she was at the very end". What could that be referring to? I'm tentatively excited about the finale, and I think something very awesome might come for Starbuck - I loved that scene where she found herself dead.
[These next questions are transcribed partially based on the Youtube video file, which is why there's some commentary on how James looks.]
James is asked if he has "any desires to do a Hamlet", apparently because David Tennant is doing it. He sounds a bit like he doesn't have a real answer to this.
James: Um..uh.. maybe one day, I might... but I'm not, I dunno. I like Shakespeare, I haven't been on stage for a while. I think science fiction is a bit like, I remember somebody saying that Strek Trek is like bad Shakespeare, you had like these two [embassies] from either side, they've got a political debate, bla bla... Yeah, it's fascinating. I'd actually love to get a chance to see David Tennant playing Hamlet right now, but I imagine that... [someone says something from the audience] No, I mean that, but like totally sold out, so...
I'm not really sure if I'd like to see him do Shakespeare. For one thing, I wouldn't understand anything. I have actually read Hamlet, discussed it in class and seen a performance of it on video (as well as a modernized movie version), but I still don't feel like I really "get" it. James probably does, though.
James and Katee's singing voices are complimented, and I think the question is if they'd like to sing for the crowd today.
James: "Battlestar: The Musical. (?)"
Katee: "I always thought that would be kinda fun to do, like they did on Buffy."
They both look very amused, and the crowd laughs. It's a silly question, but it makes for a nice warm feel.(I'm glad BSG didn't do a musical episode, by the way. Those might be fun to do, but they always end up taking away from the reality of the show.)
I don't have much to say about this; the Dr Who thing is really persistent and actually a lot of the James blogsearch results will always be "I want James Callis to be the next Dr Who!" Now that the next Dr Who has actually been announced, maybe this will die down a little. It'd be a cool role, but I can see why James doesn't want to do it at the moment (and I'm not sure if they've asked him either, but it seems feasible that they'd consider him in the future, if they look at the online discussions at all).
James: I think it would be like that radio... phone-in hoax line, it'd be like... actually the guy from Canada who rang up Sarah Palin and pretended to be Nicolas Sarkozy. [laughter] And so... yeah, no, I um... Time travel... It's not... It's that on some level, the parts are similar in my mind, not that they are at all, but I have been a doctor or professor, whatever, in a sci fi drama. Being Doctor Who is not the right idea for me right now."
There's a ripple of (mock?-) disappointed "Awwww" in the audience. (James looks amused)
James: "Sorry. (laughter) Maybe, but I mean they could cast maybe a female Doctor Who? [Cocks his eyes meaningfully at Katee; laughter] A real kick-arse woman [like her]."
On a first listening, I thought he was saying, "Maybe they could cast me as a female Doctor Who?" That would have been funny. Kinda nonsensical, but funny. I love when James says "kick-arse" or "bad-arse". It just sounds amusing. I guess to my mind, American English is the norm and the other regional varieties are always a bit exotic.
And hee at the hoax bit! Always so self-deprecating. Somehow it feels funny that he'd bring up Sarah Palin - she's someone my girlfriend and I have often discussed (mostly mockingly), so it's odd to see the same topic come up in a James context. I realize we live in the same universe and all; it's possible he celebrated Obama's victory just like we did, but it still feels a little surreal. (I had another dream where James was elected president of the USA. Maybe it was because of writing that bit in the post.)
Katee: That movie was shot simultaneously with Battlestar. So my days on White Noise 2 are filled with fog. I don't really remember much. It was also the paint episode with Callum. So it was all.. I was going from White Noise, Nathan dying, to painting with Callum. There was... he is a prankster, but the one thing I have to say is that he got me to quit smoking. So he told me a story that was so.. hard to hear about um.. I can't remember who it was about, a family friend of his who ultimately passed away from smoking, and told me the entire story from the diagnosis with cancer till the end. I felt... I couldn't smoke after that, I was like.. oh my god. So... anyway. I miss it though. (laughter)[End of video]
James: And the funny story he told you was...?(laughter)Katee: (laughs) There's no but, there's no funny story. Nathan is a very very good guy. The pranks he pulled with everyone else, it was them more than me.
It's interesting that she was working on something else while doing the very intense paint scene with Leoben. That was one of my favorite episodes from season 3, and Katee was great in it, so maybe she had trouble focusing on a movie project at the same time. I could imagine that any BSG character, and definitely Starbuck, would take so much from an actor that it's impossible to do something else.
Katee: Of course. Yeah. Starbuck walked into that situation knowing that she wasn't going to walk out of it. She knew she wouldn't come back. And.. She is.. At the end of the day, she's a very good soldier. She always did what she was told. And I think um... even if she did it ? and whining and crying the entire time, she still did it. So she would have done it. I'm very sure.And how would her relationship with Adama have looked after that? (A really good follow-up question, too.)
Katee: I don't think Kara would have made it out of there alive. There were too many marines? with rifles pointed at her. That was what it was, it was a suicide mission. And that's how Adama played it, that's how myself and Jamie played it. Jamie didn't go, but he was supposed to go with her, that was how we chose to play the scene, I don't know if that's how it looked, but that's kind of...
Silence falls for a moment, and James quips: "Do you know any good songs?" Hee. People laugh. I like James' ice-breaking little comments; he seems to be determined to put both Katee and the audience at ease.
James is asked about Gaius and Gaeta, by someone who met Alessandro Juliani and he had said he's not "against a romance between Gaius and Gaeta" (the audience laughs a lot at this one).
James: I just wish he'd told me, it's tragic that I found out through the grapevine now. (laughter) I think that that was something that he really had programmed into the background of his character. He's a very subtle, very clever actor, a brilliant actor. And for a while I think fell a bit... Oh, *I* felt initially that, you know, he had the rather thankless task of talking kinda technobabble in the CIC and stuff. He's quite brilliant to work with. And so really, again, totally taking his own lead. He said to me on several occasions, he was like, "You know, I just don't buy the ridiculous hero worship that you know, I'm going to..."
Because he was so clever very early on, he could have exposed me or found out that it was really... me. There's something about the computer codes and I ask him to erase them, in the miniseries, in the pilot. And I think he had the idea then that he'd have this fawning respect, based on maybe a kind of... a latent homosexuality, that would continuously blindsight him, and think about the better side of Gaius' qualities. Gaius being the rid... gargantuan egomaniac and narcissist that he is, is like.. has no idea that's going on on some level. He'd be very surprised. It adds elements to that. So I think it might have been... you know, not reciprocated on that level unfortunately."
This is a great answer. It proves that Alessandro had really thought of this from the start, and it's not just something the fans projected onto the character. There were some complaints about that recently at Skiffy, and I feel very validated now that this is obviously not just the fans' imagination running rampant. Gaeta loves Gaius! Squee!
To continue a bit on my original notes, the complaint at Skiffy was that people are "desperate" to see Gaeta as gay, and even after the first webisode spoilers and pictures came online, people were still saying this. Like, they were comparing to seeing the original Starbuck and Apollo as a gay couple. I think there's a huge difference, because in this case, the subtext is on the show itself, and not just "I want to see more gay characters on TV". (Not that there's anything wrong with that subtext either, but it does get tedious if all friends on TV are suddenly gay.)
I also like how James points out the "technobabble in CIC" thing. Yes. Thank you. I really like Alessandro as an actor; I think Gaeta's a great character, and I really think he was shortchanged in the first season doing those boring "dradis contact, sir" scenes. I've been glad to see him as the star of the new webisodes and hope for a more central role in 4.5. Addendum: his role in the season is still building up, but I'm intrigued that he seems to be going "evil" and joining Zarek. I just hope this doesn't mean he'll be dead by the end of next week's episode.
Which characters would they have liked to have sex with? (lots of laughter from the audience)
James: How long have you got? (laughter) Christ, oh. I don't know about Katee, but you know, our set was filled with just the most beautiful women all of the time. All of them happened to be, are, superb actresses as well. I was very excited to get a kiss out of Mary McDonnell. To be honest, it really wasn't written that way. It was just written that she blows a gun off in my head. We were saying, wouldn't it be... I think there was an idea about, you know, oh Baltar's kissed everybody, so [wouldn't it be funny] that in a dream... It's so unusual that Laura would kiss Gaius. And so that was the thing that we went on, cos we just shot that as a kind of thing that, oh we possibly weren't going to use that. But it was the... what was fun to me in that moment was the kind of thing about.. I knew it was a dream, because why would Laura Roslin ever want to kiss Gaius Baltar? Yes, lots of people... If only the show had gone on another year, I'm sure I could have accommodated several more. (laughter) Over to you, Katee. (laughter)
It was written as her shooting Gaius? Wow. Absolutely the right idea to keep it like this. So this is season 3, Collaborators, where Gaius has that dream where everyone supposedly forgives him and is all, "Water under the bridge", even frakking Tigh. HeadSix goes in angry conscience mode and Adama can suddenly see her. And then Laura Roslin suddenly says, "I've always wanted you" and leans over to kiss him. I thought it was a very Gaius dream - self-justifications and women randomly throwing themselves at her. In the third season gag reel, you can also see that Mary falls onto James' lap while doing the kiss, and they both laugh. It's very cute.
Katee: Um.. I don't know if there's many men on the show that I didn't have some [communal?] with... I was disappointed that they never talked about the fact that Kara and Gaius slept together, it literally just happened and was never brought up again! (laughter) I don't know if they had like a ratings dip in that scene or something? They went, "Well, that's not working!" (laughter) (chuckles) Um.. so I don't know. I always kind of thought that Michael Hogan is just a ... just a beautiful person and such an extremely good actor. And uh.. (laughter) He kinda makes me feel all special! (laughter) And of course I want to hear him go, (imitates the Saul Tigh laughter) Hoo hoo hoo! -in the middle of a sex scene. (laughter)
Heee! The famous Saul Tigh laughter! It's actually interesting that Lucy Lawless, too, mentioned in her Q&A that she's always had a thing for Michael Hogan. Maybe there's something particularly sexy about him when you see him in person. I'm not sure what Starbuck fans thought of the Gaius/Kara sex scene, but I always thought it was a good example of Gaius' ego at play: woman says someone else's name, you're wounded and driven to drink.
Katee: "I don't. I made the mistake of doing that in the beginning and um.. you know, you can never... win everyone. You can never..."
James: "She was talking about fan fiction."
Katee: "Oh, fan FICTION, someone handed me..."
James: "So you know, like, that somebody's written about... projective ideas of...your character..."
Katee: "Yeah, yeah yeah. Someone handed me one time...um...something about... me being a porn star." (laughter) "Um, and I was like, really offended. And so I don't."
James: "She gave it to me." (laughter)
James: "To be honest, I haven't read it. Uh... I know it's out there in the sense of on the internet, but I just feel that that takes um...uh... It's one of, you know, I play Gaius Baltar, I'm not really interested now in that kind of... What other people feel and see, it's like... My donation to the party is kind of... over, like that, and uh... So I haven't."
Katee: "I just want to add, mine was written about me as a person, not as Kara. That's why I was so mad. That's why. Sorry."
(shocked oooooh in the crowd)
I can see why they wouldn't read the fan fiction. I think James is trying to be really nice here, knowing there may be people in the audience who write fan fiction; he sounds a bit apologetic and tentative. What I assume he's saying is that it could never feel real to him because he's been inside Gaius' head. If the show is real to you as an actor, it might be harder to get in the mindset of enjoying fan fiction. Perhaps he's also referring to how many fans really misread Gaius. I mean, half the stuff in the forums is like "he's evil, has no remorse, no conscience, no empathy..." I don't know how much James has read of that, but it angers me on a regular basis that people refuse to see the good sides of Gaius' personality. I think the show needs subtitles for dummies: "Gaius is exhibiting empathy for another person." "Here, Gaius is feeling guilty even if he is also feeling horny. It is possible to feel both at the same time."
I have mixed feelings about fan fiction; I've loved some of it, but other times I've felt I could be reading a story about any set of characters, because it doesn't really have anything to do with BSG. I think James might enjoy some of the crack fic though, because it's just that kind of humor. You could even say that his own pages in the BSG book are like a crack fic written from the point of view of Gaius Baltar.
And a special message to the fan who wrote that fiction about Katee: You are a complete, utter douchebag and should be ashamed of yourself. Just because you find a star attractive, it doesn't make her your personal sex toy. Keep that stuff to yourself, dude.
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it's a shame if they don't read what the fans say about them, because there will be many people whose lives they have touched and who can't go to conventions for whatever reason. I think for them, for us, it would be nice to know that they also read what we write somewhere online. On the other hand, I can totally understand her reaction because forums can be huge and disorienting (Skiffy certainly is), and some stuff online is just plain mean. Some people don't really consider that the stars might be reading. Criticism is one thing, but you can be critical without being a complete jerk. (And you can watch the show before you start saying she wouldn't be able to play the role. Eye-roll.)Katee: This is where it was... started to say before I understood it was fan fiction, I dunno... I did make the mistake in the beginning of reading the message boards, which was wrong. I should never have done it. Because... I think that people have such a love for the original series, they still do, that any... drastic change the character was going to um, kind of, you know, create this panic. And so I read that while we were shooting miniseries, I actually went to like a.. java page in Vancouver, I looked at the...website, and um... and ultimately ended up playing Starbuck way too masculine in the miniseries because of the messageboards. Because people were convinced that I wouldn't be able to play Starbuck.
And I didn't really... I knew that I was doing it at the time, but I didn't think I would notice it when it came out. But I ended up watching it and it... I guess it worked in a sense because I think my insecurity from those messageboards came through as Starbuck's insecurity. So it ended up working, um.. but that was the last time I read the messageboards. So I just um... Like I said you can't, you can't make everyone happy. That was kind of the realization I came to was that... There's always going to be someone somewhere who thinks you are horrible. And that's fine. I don't need to talk to them.
Every time I write a post, I try to keep in mind that James (or his family or friends) might find it one day. I write to the fans, but I want the blog to be a place that he would feel comfortable visiting too. If I want to discuss perverted sexual fantasies, I can do that in private emails. So my conscience is clear in that sense. (Not that I have any perverted fantasies, ahem.)
A question about Starbuck and Boomer being played by women. At this point, I can't hear very well what either the question of the answer is.
Katee: I kept reminding people that, you do remember that Boomer was a black man. And now she's a Korean female. That didn't seem to bother them much. People loved Dirk Benedict, they still do, and um... You know, had they cast a man, I think it would have been worse. So...
James jokes something which I can't hear, but that I guess is something like "Gaius would think so, certainly". People laugh. Katee says it's not "unfair", or it's not "an affair". Um, I'll edit this bit later. :P
James is asked about getting "pushed around by women". Is it him or Gaius?
Katee: He loves it! (laughter)James: I dunno. No, I really wouldn't say it's me, at all. Um, but there's something about... uh... about that that's terribly funny and amusing. And uh...oh, dear! It's one of these things that's like .. I think a lot of people, a lot of actors would be very adverse to doing that. Because it's something about, you know, looking like a coward or being uh, being... you know, not strong, not physically strong, but in this light it's kind of uh.. I suppose I really get pushed around physically by.. Tricia Helfer, who is either an extraordinary, extraordinary robot, as the whole idea of... they push you, they can crush glass, they're cylons. Or she's a manifestation of something in my head which is equally strong, you know, you can't fight against it.The only other woman that I'm constantly up against is Laura Roslin. And that very much is a battle of wills. And I've been on... in this series as well, they have another ? apart from playing Gaius Baltar. The way we see this thing is that Laura, she ? more than Gaius. She's right, he's not. And what we have, or what Gaius has for her, is tremendous respect. He actually likes her. Can't say that.. Cos Laura's ... more of an adult, I'm sure she doesn't like Gaius. [chuckles] It's not as mutual on that level. But yeah, being pushed around is totally... Being pushed around like that in that fashion... and being.. Are you familiar with the term "political buskin"? Buskin is a kind of... It's a shoe that apparently was worn by Athenian dramatists back in the Greek drama, ? and Aristoteles, back in the day, and the advantage of a buskin is it fits on either foot. So Gaius is a real buskin - He's like, "hey I love you, I love you", "I totally hate you"... like whatever the situation demands, I'm not uh... like that, you know.
Professor James teaches us about the buskin. (Which is a really cute word and has me in giggles, having to type it over and over. Heee, buskin!) I'm constantly learning new words and concepts - I don't think I've done a transcript yet where I didn't learn something new. Actually, this is something that's related to his profession, so it's slightly less amusing than something like "I was randomly reading a book about parallel universes..." But it still amuses me. It's true about Gaius, too. I think there are two characters on the show who have been politically playing both sides, and I'd say they're Gaius and Zarek. However, the difference between them is that Zarek has an agenda, while Gaius is just trying to survive and, if possible, get people to admire him. Of course, it looks like Gaeta is joining Zarek's side now, which will be very interesting.
What I'd like to sort of challenge here is the idea that Laura is "right" or a good person. Laura has done a lot of things that I felt were downright cruel (like taking Hera away from her loving parents). I think Gaius might have more empathy than Laura, in the end, for individual people (and definitely for cylons). Laura's actions have benefited more people and Gaius' have brought more destruction and suffering for more people. But that doesn't mean Laura is necessarily a kinder, better person than Gaius. She has higher moral ideals for sure, but I'm not entirely convinced that she's so caring. When Elosha got on her case, "You don't love people!" I was like, "WORD! Finally someone points that out!"
Some guy starts with how there are strong female characters on the show and Laura Roslin can be president and stuff (there are actually female presidents in real life too, like the one in Finland..), then goes on to suggest that Kara and Lee are a "great gay couple on TV". Um, what? I'm a bit annoyed by this question. Do people really have such old-fashioned gender roles still? People can have both masculine and feminine qualities without being gay, right? Right?
Yes, me too. Thank you. It's a good answer, and it's an interesting point that Lee could be played by a woman as well. I noticed that, at this point of the transcript, I had started writing "Kara:" instead of "Katee:". Not that I equate the actors with their characters or anything! The next question, which I can't hear, is about Lee and Kara.Katee: In a sense, I think... Yeah, I dunno. I think that Kara's very feminine. We were talking about this. I do think she's very feminine, she has a lot of feminine qualitites, and... I don't really... I mean she also has a lot of masculine qualities, and Jamie has... Or, you know, Lee has a lot of masculine qualities, but also some feminine. So I dunno... I think that's what's interesting is that they could have made Starbuck a man and Apollo a woman. It could have, I think that both roles could have been played either way. So I don't know. I don't uh.. I think that they very much heterosexual.
Katee: I think it's just because they're kindred. You know, I think they have a relationship that transcends... physical relationship. They are emotionally... ? Lee is... Lee knows her better than she knows herself and vice versa. It's like they just.. they just are one and the same, they're almost the same person, kind of. So um... I think that's... you know.
I don't much care about Lee/Kara to be honest, so I have no comments.
Next question: Starbuck and Tigh, despite their disputes, have many similarities. How much is Kara emulating him? I loved this question, very perceptive.
Katee: I think that um.. I think that Kara is her own person. I think that Kara isn't ? ? some other person. I think she's influenced very much by the men around her she respects. Um, and.. so in that sense, I think that because she does have a respect for Tigh, which we got to see on New Caprica - it was never really explained, but she kinda regretted. They kinda, you know, she is desperately seeking someone to parent her. And she gets that from Adama, he's like the good parent, Tigh's like the bad parent [chuckles]. And then they both love her. And they both protect her in different ways. I don't know if she's channeling them purposefully any more than... I look in the mirror in real life, as much as I don't want to do that, I do. I'm my mother in a lot of ways, and the more you try not to be them, the more you become them. So I think that's kinda... why she is very much like a lot of people around her.I think it's a very interesting point about Kara. Tigh and Kara are initially set up as enemies, but as the show goes on, you can see more and more of Kara's sensitive side, Tigh's kindness under their respective gruff/hardass exteriors. It's something that I've found both consistent and surprising about these two characters.
[Asked about the rumor that Starbuck is actually Tigh's daughter. The fan uses the phrase "child of Tigh", which amuses me.]
Katee: I thought she was for a while.
The fan: You did?
Katee: I did, until I had the...the... the stuff with my mother in the flashbacks. That's when I realized that she wasn't.
[There are some extra noises here so I can't hear what comes after this. It's not a very long bit - I'll edit this post if I hear it better.]
And I think it's really intriguing that even Katee had the idea that Tigh might be Kara's father! The fan sounds very surprised that Katee actually thought so, and so am I. I always thought it was a bit of a silly fan rumor. I apologize to those who believed it, even if apparently it didn't turn out to be true.
For James: How much did he watch the original show and base his Baltar on John Colicos' version?
It's interesting that he hasn't revisited it. I wonder if it's because he wanted his Baltar to be truly his own, or because, when you've seen something as a child, you are sometimes very disappointed when you finally rewatch it as an adult. I doubt the original show would be my cup of tea, from what I've heard, but I won't comment on it as I've never seen it.James: I haven't seen it since I was eight. I didn't watch it, revisit it. I was just surprised um.. that they you know, that I would be up for Baltar, and I didn't want to play that role at all. That was very much in my mind from the very beginning. But I didn't mean to... I haven't seen it since I was a young kid.
[Something about Baltar sitting on a throne]James: yeah. Uh... ? Do I want my own throne? No, thanks. Thank you so much for asking.(laughter)
To be continued in a few days!