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Anne Lockhart GALACTICA.TV interview
Written by Marcel Damen   
Thursday, 15 February 2007

On September 23, 2005 Mike Egnor and Marcel Damen spoke to Anne Lockhart, better known as Lt. Sheba on Battlestar Galactica 1978 on the day before the Screenheroes convention held in Utrecht, The Netherlands. We talked to her about her part on the series, how she got involved and what she is doing nowadays.

My name is Mike Egnor, and I'm here with Marcel Damen, and guest Anne Lockhart, from the Battlestar Galactica series, and we're here before the convention for Screenheroes. Anne, I'd like to thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview this morning.

Thank you for asking me! (laughing)

I'd like to start about by talking about your family. You're the fourth generation Lockhart to perform. I was wondering if there was ever any doubt that you would follow in the family footsteps?

You know, I don't know if there was any doubt on anybody else's part. The first thing I ever did I was four years old. I did a short film, that a friend of my mothers was producing, and it was called T is for Tumbleweed. It was very like The Red Balloon. I don't know if you guys ever saw The Red Balloon? It was very sweet, it was about a little girl.(thinks about her last statement) About a little girl, of course it's about me, you know. (laughing) The opening of the picture some bully boys take my red hair ribbon out and use it as a finish line for a foot race. It was shot in the desert in New Mexico, and a tumbleweed comes along and picks up my ribbon, and I chase my ribbon. It's just a short film, and it was actually nominated for an academy award as best short subject of 19..(coughs) (laughing) 57 or 58 or something like that, and it was playing pretend. I loved it, and it's want I wanted to do. My poor mother on her weekends home from work, every weekend was subjected to some long performance in the backyard, which I usually corralled my sister to play all the other parts in, and they were long, with costumes. So in my mind, no, it's what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be part of this business somehow.

OK. Your grandfather, Gene Lockhart, starred as the judge in Miracle on 34th Street.

Yes

Both your grandparents, and your mother all performed in A Christmas Carol.

Yes

 

Anne Lockhart's grandparents    Anne Lockhart's grandmother

Anne Lockhart's mother June


Anne Lockhart's grandparents and mother June in A Christmas Carol

 

Instead of home movies, you get to watch [family] movies on television.

Every Christmas I see my grandmother carrying a plum pudding in to Christmas dinner on television, and [I] blubber like an idiot. There are big tears streaming down my face. I have an interesting thing to tell you about A Christmas Carol. It's been a tradition in our family. I watch my grandparents on TV in this lovely film. It was my mother's first film, and they were the Cratchit family; Bob Cratchit and Mrs. Cratchit and my mother played Belinda. When I was growing up my mother would read the [A Christmas Carol] dinner scene before our Christmas dinner, and starting in 1997, I worked with the Santa Susana Repertory Company in Thousand Oaks California with an equity union company, and we do A Christmas Carol every year. I've been playing Mrs. Cratchit on stage [and] my daughter has played Belinda. When she first started she played Fran because she was too tiny to play Belinda. She's played Fran, she's played Belinda, she's played Mary, she's played Belle, and my son Zane has played Jonathan Cratchit and Peter Cratchit. So there are four generations of us that have played the Cratchit family.

That's wonderful.

Yeah, it's pretty cool. (smiling) I will be doing it again this Christmas. My daughter is now off in college, so she won't be working with us this year, and my son just started high school so it's going to be up to him as to whether he thinks he can manage the workload as well as doing shows because we not only do evening performances, we do 10 am school shows, we do shows for school kids [because] what better way to get Dickens than to see it live? So we double cast. We have two complete casts of kids so we don't yank them out of school all them time. We alternate them.

 

Carly, Zane and Anne Lockhart

Carly, Zane and Anne Lockhart in A Christmas Carol

 

Let's talk about when you said you were growing up and you mom was out working. When she was out working, did she ever take you to the stage?

Sure. Actually, my first spoken words on film were in a Lassie episode. I was one of the kids in the schoolroom. My character name was Susan, I remember that. I was about six or seven, and I think the teacher said "Susan, close the window" or something like that.

Did hanging around the sets, and watching your mom, did that help you in your career, seeing what the professionals did at an early age?

Oh absolutely. I learned how things worked, and I learned what all of these other people on a set are doing. I was able to learn a great deal by observation.

OK. Your mom played Timmy's mom on Lassie. And you, you were a little girl on the set. Did you ever get jealous that here she's being Timmy's mom? Were you ever jealous of Jon Provost?

No, I was never jealous of Jon Provost. I had a working mom, you know. People would always say oh wasn't it difficult, or wasn't it hard, and I had nothing else to compare it to. You know, it was my life. It was fine. I mean she was gone a lot, you know. I can remember hearing that garage door opening at 5:30 in the morning, and she wouldn't come home till after dinner, but [I understood] that she was a working mom, you know.

So you knew even at a young age that she was acting, being somebody else's mom?

Oh yes. Although I will tell you there was in the first season -I think I was about four- there was an episode, which actually is one of her favorite ones (laughing)... There was an episode where she was driving, it was before they had pick up trucks, they had like a woody station wagon, and she's driving it through the woods. I was watching, and she was out to dinner. She'd gone out to dinner and I was home with our housekeeper watching the show. [In the episode] she drives the car into the woods and gets a flat tire. She gets out to try to change the flat tire, and tire rolls away into the woods, and she has to go chasing it, and she gets her foot caught in a bear trap, and there's a cougar in the tree above her growling at her. Well I flipped. I was four, and that was my first, you know, real conscious time that I learned that what's on TV is not what really happens. Because I was panicked, I thought this giant lion is going to eat my mommy, you know, and our housekeeper called her at the restaurant and said "You need to come right home and let her know you're ok because she's beside herself.

Did you have any formal acting classes later? Were the other kids jealous because of your pedigree? Did it help or hurt you?

No, I never took any formal acting classes. I have in later years studied a lot and read a lot of plays. I have worked with coaches on a specific role or some specific thing I wanted to do, but no, I didn't enroll in an acting school. Earn while you learn was kind of my training (laughing) and I went right to work as soon as I was out of high school. As far as the other kids being jealous, I think they all sort of expected that I was going to get a Ferrari for my sixteenth birthday, (laughing) you know we lived this exuberant life, and had bikinied starlets dancing around the pool every weekend, which was not the case at all. My mom is just a working mom. She was home every weekend. She never really was on the party list. What happened at our house every weekend was like a few friends came over and played ping pong and we barbecued and that was about it. (laughing) You know, I don't have any salacious details to tell you about my childhood.

OK. You and Laurette were both in similar shows before Battlestar Galactica. You were both in B.J. and the Bear. You were both in Happy Days. Do you think this had anything to do with you being cast later in Battlestar Galactica? Did you ever talk about that you were both in those shows?

B.J. was later. B.J. was afterwards.

Was it after?

Yeah.

OK.

B.J. was afterwards. I think Laurette was under contract to Universal. I was not under contract, but everybody thought I was because they kept hiring me. I kept doing all those Universal shows, and people thought I was a contract player. Laurette and I had met, and we might have even been in something together, but we used to see each other on auditions all the time. I mean it was all the time, like at least once a week we'd run into each other.

Did you meet at the audition of Battlestar Galactica?

No. I had no audition for Battlestar Galactica.

You were first cast by Glen Larson. Glen Larson sent you a script of the pilot.

Yes.

Glen sent you a script for one of the main female roles. Do you know if it was Lyra [who later became Serina]?

You know, I can't remember the name. It was a really early, early, early script. I mean it was before the Serina character was written, before any of that stuff. It was a script that was very heavily focused on the men. I had worked for Glen. I had done Hardy Boys for him. I'd never met him though. I'd never actually met him in person, and he sent this script, and I read it and I thought you know... (sounds unenthusiastic) I called him up. I called him up and got him on the phone. I can't believe I had the nerve to do this. I was living at home with my mother and had about seven dollars to my name. My house had burned down. There'd been a fire that started in the house next door and my house burned to the ground and all my stuff in it. I'd rented a house in the hills. My roommate was out of town and I had to call her and tell her "We have nothing". So I went home while the landlord rebuilt the house, and stayed with my mom and this is when this happened. I called up Glen, and I said "I'm very flattered that you think enough of my talent to offer this to me, but I don't think I'd be happy in this kind of a role, and I really would want to do a good job for you and I'd have to be happy to do a good job". He said "Well, you know we could rewrite it and build things". [I was] so silly. I said "I understand that, but I have to make a decision based on what you'd sent me". So I said no! (laughing, feeling foolish). What an idiot [I was]. Actually it worked out fine because of course he went on with it and went through several rewrites and what premiered as Battlestar Galactica was wonderful. But it was supposed to be a miniseries, not a weekly series. Then the network ordered a weekly series. Jane Seymour didn't want to do a series, and Glen called me again and said "I'm writing a new character into the show and I'd like to write it for you, are you interested", and I said yes. He said "Well, I'll send you what I have so far", and he sent me the first twenty five pages of The Living Legend. I called him back and said "What time do you want me to start?" I found out later [when] I met this guy, I mean years later, like in the late eighties, in a restaurant who was an agent. He said that his client screentested for the role of Sheba. He said she had the deal made and everything was great and there were a couple of actresses, and then you came in out of nowhere, when did you audition? I said I never auditioned, it was written for me. I was devastated to think that here were these girls who... but I guess they had to legally audition people for it. I thought here were these girls who were trying hard to...

I had this theory that maybe Glen Larson already had an idea that you would hook up with Richard Hatch as his girl, like Lyra, who later became Serina, because Glen was already maybe thinking about that.

Apparently he was.

 

Anne Lockhart as Lt. Sheba on Battlestar Galactica 1978

Anne Lockhart as Lt. Sheba on Battlestar Galactica 1978

 

That's why after Serina had died in the previous episodes, he looked for another character for you, so you could still hook up with Richard. You were meant to be together.

I think so. I think that was his plan.

And I even think that if there was a second season, you would have evolved more, like in the last episode, when you were getting romantically involved.

Yeah, and you know what I just found out? They were going to kill me in the second season. They were going to kill me!

Oh wow!

Poor Richard! I mean he gets a new girl every year and they kill her at the end.

How were they going to kill you off?

I don't know. I have no idea. I would have fought it. I would have gone "You can't kill me! Please don't kill me!" (laughing)

You started off in a fantastic episode, "The Living Legend". You have said that you were already good friends with Cindy Bridges, [daughter of Lloyd Bridges] and you came to her house a lot. How cool was that, that Lloyd Bridges was almost like a father to you before that, and he got to play your father in the episode?

It was wonderful. You know when I came in...

It's almost like coming home.

When I came in on "The Living Legend" , I knew that I was joining the cast. No one else knew, because they were still I guess working out the particulars of the deal, or you know, whatever business an agent and those folks do. But I knew, and no one else knew. They all thought I was a guest star, with the exception of Lorne. Lorne Greene knew, because one morning at the makeup table he was in the next chair and I was getting my face fixed and he looked at me and said "this could turn out to be a good thing for you" and he winked at me. I smiled and I said "I know".

It was more than just Lloyd. Cindy and I had been in school together since the first grade. So I had more than just Lloyd, as you know playing my father, there was a warmth and it was very cool. I was really welcomed into that family. Lorne Greene is Canadian. My father was a doctor and went to medical school in Canada, and he and Lorne stayed on the same floor of the same boarding house while my father was in medical school. Our cinematographer on Galactica was Ben Colman. He shot Lassie. I'd known him since I was four. So I had a lot of daddies around me. It was really cool, because coming into a show like that, that's already established, they'd been working together for many, many months. They're all close, all their relationships, and you're just the guest star of the week. It's kind of an awkward thing, and you're trying to be part of the gang, but everybody's already closer than you are, and I didn't have that feeling because I these daddies looking after me. It was pretty sweet.

 

Jack Stauffer as Lt. Bojay and Anne Lockhart as Lt. Sheba on Battlestar Galactica 1978

Jack Stauffer as Lt. Bojay and Anne Lockhart as Lt. Sheba on Battlestar Galactica 1978

 

You started off with a lot of new actors, Jack Stauffer being one of them. Why did you never get hooked up with Bojay on the Pegasus before then? It was like you two were kind of a match, coming on the set. Why did you never hook up on the Pegasus? It seemed like immediately that you turned to Richard.

We were just partners. We were just flying partners, and that was one of the things I loved about the character of Sheba. Sheba was a warrior. She was equal to the other warriors, and gender wasn't an issue.

Are you proud of that?

Very much.

That you broke a barrier as a female warrior?

Do you know that I found out, again years later, that I played the first woman in a military capacity on series network television who was in combat every week? I didn't know this. I was the first one!

You were the first?

Somebody told me that. I said wait a minute, what about Lt. Uhura [from Star Trek], and they said no, she wasn't in combat, she was...

The communications officer.

Had the thing in her ear. It was me. I was the one who was out there every week blowing the Cylons out of the universe. Interesting, huh?

Yeah. Very Interesting. I found out that you are an expert horsewoman.

Oh yeah.

Do you wish that you had been in the episode "The Magnificent Warrior" so that you could have jumped up on a horse and shown off your abilities?

Oh yeah. I ride cutting horses and I team pen, and I run barrels, but I run barrels badly. In fact...if I were not here I would be competing in a cutting in Dallas right now...which I have done every year for the last fifteen years. [It's] a charity rodeo for the autistic treatment center which is my charity that I work for.

Is that Pro-Celebrity Rodeos?

Yes.

Who are some of the other celebrities that are involved with that?

Barry Corbin, Lee Horsley - boy we have had so many over the years - George Strait, Linda Blair, Alex Cord, Robert Fuller, James Drury - boy you ask me this right now [off the top of my head] (laughing). There are plenty of them.

 

Anne Lockhart on the Pro-Celebrity Rodeos

Anne Lockhart on the Pro-Celebrity Rodeos

 

OK. You did some acting this summer. You helped form the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival in Thousand Oaks, California.

Yes I did.

Why did you do that?

There was a need. Where we are in Thousand Oaks, this area is kind of half way between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. The nearest Shakespeare festival, which is a nonunion company, is in (inaudible), and then there is the Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival. But there was nothing where we were, and my good friend Lane Davies, who also founded the Santa Susana Repertory Company. Do you know who he is? He was on Santa Barbara and General Hospital, and he played [Tempus] in Lois and Clark. A wonderful actor, and he and I - it's really his idea and I just kind of help get it started. Our goal - and we were free in the beginning - was to bring free Shakespeare. We now, in order to pay bills, we are free for kids under eighteen. Anybody eighteen and under it's free. We also have a terrific program which goes into schools. A lot of Shakespeare groups will go into high schools. We go into middle schools. We send union professional actors and do an entire day of seminars, and we teach them fencing, and work on sonnets, and perform. It's really wonderful.

Why did you choose Shakespeare? Because there was a need, or because you wanted to do Shakespeare?

I've never done Shakespeare in my life. When we formed the company, Lane said you've got to be part of this and I went "No, I can't do that. I just fly spaceships, I can't do that." (laughing) For the first six years, I never performed. Finally, he said "Look, we need someone. We've got to have a Calpurnia in Julius Caesar. Would you please consider it? Would you please come in and just at least read for the director?" And I went ok, well it's a small part, I can try that, because I never believed I could do it, you know? Well, silly me, I loved it. I loved it! And I thought what an ass I've been all these years because now I'm too old to play Ophelia, (laughing) and Juliet, and Hermia, and all these other wonderful parts, but thank goodness Shakespeare writes for all ages. That summer I did Maria in Twelfth Night, and I had more fun, I had so much fun. I did Maria and I did Calpurnia in the two shows. The next season I only did one show. I did Henry V and played Mistress Quickly and the Queen of France. I played two roles in Henry V. And then this summer I did Richard III, and I did Queen Margaret in it, and had a really good time. Do you know that one?

I saw a picture of you in that play, and you looked like you weren't the heroine in it.

Oh no. Do you know the show at all?

Yeah.

Well, you know Richard is just so deliciously bad. He's bad just for the sake of being bad. And Margaret is the deposed queen, and usually Margaret is played as this wild haired, gray old lady who's been locked up in the dungeon, up in the tower, and she's insane. She's crazy as a coot, and kind of a witch, and she comes down and spews out all these curses, every single one of which comes true by the end of the play. Well, we set ours in Victorian times. We set it in Victorian England. Well, you would not much believe me as a seventy year old lady with wild gray hair. So my choice was to...You saw that picture and I'm holding a goblet?

Yes.

It was my choice to play Margaret having had a couple glasses of wine. And I came in with that goblet. She wasn't drunk, just loose enough to tell everybody what she really thinks of them, you know. You know how you go to a party and someone will have a couple glasses of wine and suddenly all those things they really wanted to say comes spewing out of them? So that's how that particular characterization of Margaret came out.

So how is it doing live acting? You don't get takes like when you were flying the viper. Is it more thrilling because you've only got one chance, how is it different?

It's wonderful because it's different every night. You know your audience is different every night. The other show I did this summer was, we did Merry Wives of Windsor, and I did Mistress Quickly in that. And we set Merry Wives, do you know Merry Wives? It's really silly. It's like the goofiest play Shakespeare wrote. (laughing) We set it in, I mean it's obviously in Windsor. We set it in Windsor, in England, in the sixties, with like bad afro wigs, with tie dye, and horrible bell bottoms. And Falstaff is this large man, who thinks he's God's gift to women, and the two wives decide to get revenge on his flirting with them. We had just a terrific time, but every night the audience is different. Some nights the audience will get some jokes, and other nights they don't get them. Your timing is different, and something different happens with just a little fine adjustment that might happen with an actor. Live theatre is terrific. There's nothing like it. Nothing like it.

To conclude, I'd like to ask you something about the new Battlestar Galactica...

Oh we're done already? (laughing) We're done?!? (acts disappointed)

 

Anne Lockhart on the Screenheroes convention

Anne Lockhart on the Screenheroes convention

 

Have you seen the new Battlestar Galactica series?

I have, although I...

You can honestly tell what you think of it. We want your honest opinion.

I don't get it where I live, ok? I live by a lake, kind of in a rural sort of area back up against a mountain, and I don't get it. I'm just getting satellite, so I never got it at home. In the course of my travels - one of them was in Columbus actually. I have been in hotel rooms where it's going to be on, and I'll go "Oh good, I can watch it", after I've been working somewhere. And in Columbus, which is the exact same thing that happened the other time I tried to watch it, I got in bed, propped up my pillow, turned it on, and lasted about ten minutes. I went right to sleep. (laughing) Not because of the content of the show, [but] because I was completely exhausted. I was trying desperately to watch it. I've seen pieces of it, and from what I've seen it looks really good, and I know people either love it or hate it. I can't really give you a good opinion on how I feel about the fact that Starbuck is a woman, and that Boomer is this lovely lady. I know I'm a big fan of Eddie Olmos. I think he's a terrific, terrific actor. And Mary [McDonnell], I know Mary actually. I worked with her years ago on a sitcom that no one remembers called ER (Season 8). Mary's a wonderful actress. So it's got terrific performers in it. I know it's a much darker vision than our show was, but look at the times. I mean our show, we couldn't have done something that dark in 1978. I mean look what was on TV in 1978 and 1979. You switched a channel and it was, you know, Daisy Duke in hot pants. (laughing) It was a completely different time and mind set of the audience and the times.

I'm asking you this because they're bringing back the Pegasus. It is now Season Two.

Yeah?

The next episode (Ep. 2.10 "Pegasus") will be about the Pegasus.

How do you know this?

(laughing) It's on tonight. They're bringing back the Pegasus, and I wondered. You have a daughter who's into acting. What would you say if she was asked for the role of Sheba? What would you advise her?

I would advise her (stops to think) to show up on time and know her lines and do a good job.

OK.

It won't happen. She's a brilliant actress, gifted actress, gifted onstage, and last week she started [at a] university and she's premed with a major in sociology.

Another mixup, for the new series, is tonight Cain is going to be a woman...

(big laugh) Are you kidding me?!?

So who knows, Sheba may be a man. And many, many people have said [when finding out that Michelle Forbes] who played Ensign Ro in Star Trek, The Next Generation [was going to play the part of Cain, that] many people have said that they would much rather that it had been you. What would you have said if they had come to you and said we want you to play this part?

What time do I show up? Tom DeSanto, I imagine you know about the Tom DeSanto version. His version would have had a Pegasus. We had some phone conversations - this was four years ago in the summer - and he said you're not in the pilot, but you're coming. What I want to do is... they think you're dead. They think you've gone off and blown up, and they haven't heard from you in years. They think you're long gone, and suddenly out of the black of space one day comes the Pegasus, and you are the Commander of it. And I went "Really?!? Really?!? You mean I've gotten a promotion past Lieutenant and the boys will have to salute me?!? Me?!? I outrank Apollo and Starbuck! Yes!!!" (laughing)

Well it was very funny because Stu [Phillips] made a joke in Birmingham [Memorabilia]. He said I've got Glen Larson on the line here, and he wants to know if Anne wants to play Lorne Greene's part of Commander Adama.

(laughing)

So I thought it was a funny one. Maybe Cain would be more up your alley.

You know I have to tell you, the most difficult part of being cancelled, and it's still the fact that it's gone on and that I've gotten to talk about it, and people loved that character, the hardest part was like I wasn't done. I'd just begun to explore this woman who was such a good warrior. She was an excellent military character, and she was so her father's daughter. But what she was bad at, which is what I loved about her, was socially and personally. She was very awkward with her personal relationships which was why the Apollo/Sheba thing worked so well, because we were like oil and water. It was very difficult for her to admit that there was an attraction to him. Her mother had died so she was raised by her father, and she had none of that. She had no education or training in personal stuff, and I loved playing that.

And I think that we saw that when we saw Laurette Spang's character Cassiopeia. She starts hanging around Cain, and Sheba does not like that at all.

Sheba didn't care for that at all.

Because she was originally a Socialator, and the only time that Cain could have met her before, was when she's...

...working.

So what's the daughter going to think of her father hanging out with this woman again?

Yeah.

 

Laurette Spang as Cassiopeia and Anne Lockhart as Lt. Sheba on Battlestar Galactica 1978

Laurette Spang as Cassiopeia and Anne Lockhart as Lt. Sheba on Battlestar Galactica 1978

 

In the first season, we paint a picture of the characters. We establish who they are. The second season was supposed to develop these characters, and you talked about the strengths and weaknesses of Sheba's character and how you were going to expand on that. Assuming that you are standing on a table and saying "You can't kill me", what do you think the second season had in store for Sheba?

Well I told you that there were going to kill me. The relationship between Sheba and Cassi kind of reached a good place. They respected each other as colleagues, but they also even cleaned her up. They put her in a dress up to her neck and down to the middle of her calves and made her a nurse...

Except for "The Living Legend" episodes. She turned back to her old part again.

Well she was still kind of on the fence there, but it was after "The Living Legend" that she pretty much became [cleaned up]. I think that was a network decision. They kind of said gee we can't have this character on, because back then we had something called "Family Hour", and we had something called "Standards and Practices" which is no longer really in existence. And then the "Standards and Practices" - my favorite line that anybody ever said to me on that show. I'm sure you know this story. "Nothing can harm you as long as I am inside you." (laughing)

That was Patrick Macnee who said that.

Yes. Oh, sweet man, and he tried, and I tried, and every time he said it to me I'd just go (big laugh). I tried. I looked at his ear. I looked over the top of his head. I looked everywhere I could, and every time he said it we would just bust up laughing. You probably have seen that little interview in the [Battlestar Galactica] DVD set where I talk about it.

That's true.

I just couldn't believe that guy found that little piece, and you can see it. I didn't answer that question that you asked me did I? What would have happened in the next season?

You were killed off.

That's what they said, but I would have certainly raised my voice loud and clear and said "Please don't kill me, I have too much to do". (laughing)

OK, thank you so much for doing this interview.

Oh, thank you!

 
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