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Paula Crist GALACTICA.TV interview
Written by Marcel Damen   
Friday, 19 February 2010

Paula Crist-Pickett was kind enough to answer some question by email about her work on the Battlestar Galactica 1978 series. Paula helped with the costume fittings of the Ovion creature and also played one in Battlestar Galactica's pilot "Saga of a Star World". Next to that she did some additional stunt work on the series.

How did you get involved with Battlestar Galactica?

A friend of mine, Tom Sherman, a model builder for movies, recommended me for the job of model for the Ovion costume to , I think, Glen Larson the Producer. I interviewed with him and because of my skills got the job. They needed someone who was very coordinated to work the multiple arms and I was a gymnast and dancers as well as a stuntwoman.



Paula Crist's Ovion costume fitting on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist's Ovion costume fitting on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist's Ovion costume fitting on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist's Ovion costume fitting on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist's Ovion costume fitting on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist's Ovion costume fitting on the Battlestar Galactica set



What were they working on when you arrived? Did you see other props, models or costumes that were being made?

I was the first one to be brought in to start working on the concept. I did see some Star Wars left overs such as the Luke Skywalker land speeder and an old C-3PO tucked up in the rafters. This was where a lot of the special effects were done for Star Wars. This was the original ILM Studios. I was introduced to John Dykstra and he showed me the Dykstraflex camera used on all the Star Wars effects.

How did they go about making the Ovion costume? Can you remember some of the names of the people involved in designing it (Phil Tippett, Jon Berg, Laine Liska)?

It was a long process. First there was the concept art of the Ovion. Then I was sent to a sculpture who sculpted a clay model of me. He then put the form of the Ovion over "me" in clay. This was then molded out of fiberglass as a whole creature and sent to the Studio. They painted it to see if this was what they wanted. Then I was sent to a clinic that specialized in prosthetic limbs. They made a set of full arms and a set of small arms for my hips. So now I had six "arms". I took the prosthetics home and practiced the moves they wanted the Ovions to use. I could aim a rifle as well as deal cards; etc. Back at the Studio John Dykstra held up a film can in front of me, to see how well the "arms" worked together, and asked me to grab it. To his surprise I did with all the "arms"! Thus the Ovion was born. No, I don't remember the names of everyone who worked on me and the costume.



Paula Crist's Ovion costume fitting on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist's Ovion costume fitting on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist's Ovion costume fitting on the Battlestar Galactica set



In the series of photos we see the costume in development. Can you remember what the time frame was of this creation process (days, weeks, months)? How many fitting sessions did you for instance have (5, 10, 20)?

No, I don't remember the time frame exactly. It was probably months. After the sculpting and arms were made then they made a fur suit as you see in the photos. They cut apart the original sculpting and made pieces out of it to mold. They then put it together on each of us as you would fit armor. The photos show this process. I just don't remember all the tiny details. You also have a photo of me being molded around the mouth and chin- This was done so the head piece would fit me exactly and not slide or flop around. We could not see out of the eyes so slights were where the nose would be to see out of. You really couldn't see much.



Paula Crist at the Ovion head mold making on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist at the Ovion head mold making on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist at the Ovion head mold making on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist at the Ovion head mold making on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist at the Ovion head mold making on the Battlestar Galactica set



In the photos we also see you holding the chimpanzee. Was this Evie, the chimpanzee who wore the Daggit costume (since someone told me you own/owned a chimpanzee too, that you took to sets)?

The chimpanzee was mine and I just brought her to work one day cause everyone wanted to meet her. A lot of people don't get to see a real chimp baby up close.



Paula Crist and her chimpanzee on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist and her chimpanzee on the Battlestar Galctica set

Paula Crist and her chimpanzee on the Battlestar Galctica set

Paula Crist and her chimpanzee on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist and her chimpanzee on the Battlestar Galactica set



Did you also play an Ovion on screen? Can you remember meeting some of the other actresses that played the Ovions (Diane Burgdorf, Sandra Lee "Sandy" Gimpel)?

Yes, I did meet the other women who played Ovions. Yes, I did do an Ovion on screen.

Did they also go through a similar costume fitting or was the costume that made on you the general one the rest was made from?

Yes, they all went through the fitting process but the Ovion armor pieces were the ones made on me.



Paula Crist's Ovion costume fitting on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist's Ovion costume fitting on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist's Ovion costume fitting on the Battlestar Galactica set

Paula Crist's Ovion costume fitting on the Battlestar Galactica set



Did you do any stunt or acting work on the Battlestar Galactica movie or series? Can you remember some of the stunts you had to do or some of the scenes you worked on?

I did an episode of the TV original series as myself as a human citizen. We were in a crowd and running and fell in the crowd. I really can't remember which episode.

Can you remember any other anecdotes from fitting this costume, working on this set or any interesting details that we haven't discussed yet?

I remember that it was hard not falling off the high set we were on cause my back was to the edge and as I said before you couldn't see well. I did a lot of work inside suits so had a sense of where I was even without seeing. I was lucky and go hired because of my special sense without having to see and coordination. The Cylons had real difficulty seeing as well but they had to move around a lot more than we did. One scene they were running down an elevated gang way and one went right off the side. Luckily there were spotters and he got caught and not hurt.

I really enjoyed my work. It wasn't really a job but an adventure. But compared to today -- it was like we were a wagon train and now they use star ships. Now they have CGI to do all the things we did. I enjoyed creating a character through being on the sets and in the costumes. I think we were lucky. I don't think I would enjoy looking at a green screen all day. But I do enjoy what CGI can do and the overall affect of something like AVATAR.

 
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