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Alessandro Juliani GALACTICA.TV interview
Written by Marcel Damen   
Friday, 05 June 2009

Recently Marcel Damen caught up with Alessandro Juliani, better known to Battlestar Galactica 2003 fans as Lt. Felix Gaeta. They talked about how he got into the business, early work he did and how he ended up and worked on all the Battlestar Galactica seasons. He also talked about his future plans and what he's up to nowadays.

Below you can read the transcript of this interview. If you rather listen to the audio of this interview then click the "PLAY" button below to start.


 

First of all, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

My pleasure, it's been a long time coming.

My first question is way back in your history. Your father was an actor / producer / writer / teacher -- your mother a dancer / producer / director. Was it watching your family that got you started in acting?

Absolutely. I think I made my stage debut at six months or something ...as a baby I think my mum was in a show dancing around with me in a little snugly. So like it or not, it was in the genes in me also. I was immersed in it from an early age so I didn't really have a choice in the matter. But growing up I did have lots of options, and the great thing that my parents did was that anything that I wanted to try -- whether it was sports or music or anything, they would do everything in their power to allow me to try it out.

So what else did you try out?

I was a competitive fencer, I did lots of different sports, I sang in a choir, I took all kinds of piano lessons and violin lessons ...which didn't last very long! I pretty much had an activity almost every day after school, something that I was into at the time. So uh, you could say they were grooming me to take over the world!

 

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica

 

So do you remember a certain point in time that made you decide that this was going to be your career -- in acting? Maybe from watching them in some performance, or whatever?

I think... (pauses) ...there wasn't one time, I think it was sort of a cumulative thing for me, and I wasn't ever really certain that I wanted it to be my career. I mean, I went away to school not for acting at all but for music in Montreal, and discovered through doing that degree, that I loved music but that I also loved the performance and there were things about opera that drove me crazy. The lack of attention and focus to the dramatic aspects of things, and the reality of things I found frustrating at times. So I think somewhere in there I decided that I wanted to change streams and focus more on acting.

You earned the Bachelor degree of Music in Vocal and Opera Performance at the McGill University in Montreal in 1997...

That's right.

What did you intend on doing once you graduated?

What did I intend on doing? I intended on travelling immediately afterwards, and I did... (laughs) and eventually I returned back to Vancouver where I began my career as an actor and got an agent and started going out for auditions. All the while music was a very intense part of my life -- and continues to be. I still sang opera while I was making that transition to acting and in the end, as an artist the more balls you have in the air that you can juggle, the better, the more versatile you are the better, so...

You've also done quite a bit of stage work, including Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry V, Twelfth Night, and even starring as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. What do you like better in live acting?

There's nothing quite like it, it's that instant gratification of having "an audience". I recently got back on stage this year for the first time in awhile. I'm in a play here in Vancouver right now, and the fact of the matter is it's like putting on an old sweater or something that you've loved and that you've forgotten about at the bottom of a trunk, and you pull it out and it just feels... it just fits and feels so right. That's kind of what I like in it too... being on stage. By the same token, it's exciting because it's a set of muscles I haven't used in awhile, so it takes a little while to get back into shape. There's nothing like it though. I mean, when you have an audience and they're enjoying the play. Well, hopefully they are, you know the feeling when you're riding that wave and playing the audience, it's a total thrill. You don't get the same kind of rush on set. Certainly it can be just as intense, but you don't get the same gratification right away, it's so delayed. I mean, the fact that we're talking now about ‘Battlestar', and in some respects, the actual process of shooting it, is a distant memory now. It's just so...it's just such a different discipline altogether.

So do you have a particular love for Shakespeare plays?

No not particularly, I just happen to have done quite a few. I mean Shakespeare is definitely an extraordinary writer but I don't have a particular affinity for "The Bard" over anybody else. All kinds of different playwrights and different styles and genres of theatre move me.

In later productions, you also do a lot of sound design and musical arrangement. Is this a new area that you wanted to explore, being behind the scenes?

Yes, it was always something that I had an interest in.  Again, it was just something that I sort of fell into. I've led a very charmed life, I leave myself open to the universe and things happen to me, and in that case that was an example that I was asked to write some music for a play that I was in, and I enjoyed that process, and since then I've gotten more and more into composition and designed and composed for... well, too many productions. I can't even think at this point. It's something that I really enjoy getting a different perspective on the process and not just being a pampered actor for awhile is really beneficial, I would say, for anyone - whether it's in theatre, or film, or any other discipline. It just gives you a real appreciation for all the other work that goes on to make us actors look so good.

 

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica

 

Your first television appearance was in an episode of MacGyver, is that right?

Uhh yeah....that was my "stunning debut"!

So how did you get that role, and were you nervous about breaking into television?

Was I nervous? I probably was, I don't honestly remember... I'm sure I was almost paralyzed with fear, now that I think about it! I was probably almost eleven or something. It was the coolest thing ever. I got to miss a week of school, I got to hang out on the sets, I was playing some piano-playing street kid... It was probably the most boring episode of MacGyver in history unfortunately! There was nothing really that cool about it. It was like the MacGyver Christmas special for that year. So Richard Dean Anderson didn't get to do anything fun with Duct Tape. I think his big moment of ingenuity was moving a boxing ring across a room with a bunch of dumbbells. But it was still kind of fun and exciting to be a kid in that environment -- totally foreign, totally new to me. What do I carry from that now? I got to meet Richard Dean Anderson, who I also met again later as well, because I worked on Stargate a couple of times. Surprisingly, he didn't remember me! (laughs) But I still have the T-shirt that he gave me himself at the end of that week. It's a really good T-shirt to paint in, so it's seen a lot of wear and tear.

Then you did a lot of voice work, including cartoons. How did that come about?

When I was in my teens, my father was working for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) and he was in charge of radio drama at the time, and he needed a kid to be beaten up on the radio. It was a very heavy drama about child abuse and different things, and as I recall he needed to have a kid who could sound like he was being beat up, (laughs) so of course, he thought of me first -- and this is no reflection on our family life whatsoever! But he brought me into the studio and I remember vividly there was another actor there who had to pretend to kind of hit me and he would hit his legs really hard and I had to pretend to be hit and to cry. This was a Vancouver actor -- who does a lot of voice-over work actually -- by the name of Gary Chalk, and I still know him to this day -- we laugh about it now! Anyway, it was a very thrilling debut and from there I just thought it was so fun and I asked him if there was other things that I could do like that.

So, very tentatively I have to say, as my parents never really wanted me to be a professional that early -- but they did look into it, they looked into getting me an agent for voiceover. At that time in Vancouver the cartoon business was just starting up, the animated shows were just coming up - the first ones were coming up to be recorded. So I auditioned for a couple, and fortunately my voice was just breaking at that time so I had one of these crazy voices, and I booked a part in a show called Captain Nintendo -- Captain N the game master, all about your favorite Nintendo videogames, and that led to other roles, and in fact those roles helped pay may tuition at McGill university. I paid my way through college making funny voices.

Okay, cool! Can we hear a bit of your Gambit from X-Men Evolution?

Oh, my Gambit? That was a while ago. Oh, my goodness. (talking with a southern twang) He was a bit of a Cajun fellow. He talked a little bit like bit like that. Actually for Gambit... (laughing) It's been too long for me to conjure it up, but I pulled on all my best memories of the Quebec accent and kind of mixed that with a kind of Southern Alabama accent and found the happy medium between the two to create my Cajun.

 

Alessandro Juliani as Gambit (voice) in X-Men Evolution

Alessandro Juliani as Gambit (voice) in X-Men Evolution

 

You went on and started in Battlestar Galactica with the Miniseries, and played the role of Lt. Felix Gaeta. How did you get the part?

How did I get the part? I auditioned. Actually at the time I was in a play and we were in thick with dress rehearsals [when] I got the call for the audition. Actually at the time it was a bit of a nuisance and I almost didn't go to the audition because I was so busy. Thank the Gods of Kobol that I did! But I do recall rushing myself across town, putting myself on tape, rushing back [and] kind of forgetting about it completely. You know, in the back of my mind I thought it was pretty cool -- Battlestar Galactica. I played with those toys as a kid and that was fun. I remembered that show. Didn't really think much of it and then the play I was in opened -- we were in performances of it. Then I was called back to read again for Michael Rymer and I think David was there for those auditions -- David Eick. Anyway, I did a call back and really didn't think anything of it as well. As an actor you go through so many auditions. You learn to live in the moment and then complete forget about the matter when you're done. But some time after that I got the call that they wanted me to come and play Lt. Gaeta, who at that point didn't have a first name. It was totally unexpected, and yeah, absolutely fun.

You mentioned the original series. Did you know Gaeta was an equivalent of Lt. Omega in that series, also a communication officer?

No, I didn't remember that at all. The show was a childhood memory and I didn't really have a Lt. Omega action figure, that's for sure. (laughing)

When did you find out that the show was being picked up for a series?

Oh, that would have been some time after the Miniseries. Again, none of us necessarily expected it to go to series. Those of us who were cast from Vancouver, I think for the most part were excited. Once we got to set in the Miniseries and we saw the quality of show they were striving to make, that certainly got us excited. But you also, again in this business, you learn to have low expectations so we didn't expect it, I don't think. When it did get picked up it was a completely new experience for me. It was completely... To be a part of something like that from the beginning, was pretty thrilling.

What I found funny was that Felix means "happy" in Latin. Gaeta is anything but happy, right?

Anything but happy... (laughs) Well, maybe by the end! (laughs) But actually at the end of the show he has found a certain amount of peace. But oh, old Felix, he starts out like a pretty chipper fellow. Maybe he takes himself a bit too seriously. He likes to have a good time. He learns to have a good time and play cards. It's only when the fates truly seem to continually conspire against him, he gets beat down. But I don't think too many people can take the amount of punishment and abuse that Felix has taken over the course of the series and be all sunshine and roses every morning.

 

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica

 

That's true. Gaeta is a highly efficient, loyal, and dependable subordinate, whether it is taking orders from Adama or Tigh, or pushing President Baltar in the right direction. Some might call him a wimp, but he does snap from time to time...

WIMP?!?! He's not a wimp! That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

In the beginning he is a bit. (AJ laughing) Maybe later on he has a totally different kind of mindset, but in the beginning he starts out like that.

Well, he's a bit of a nerd. If nerds are wimps, I guess you can call him a wimp. I never saw him as being wimpy or lacking in spine. He certainly always stood up for what he wanted. He stood up for what he believed in -- even from the early go. You know, like everyone, he had a breaking point. He showed flashes of temper even early on in the series. He was certainly keen and idealistic. He believed in the chain of command. He believed in his superiors and idolized some of them. He was certainly a judgemental young man. I would have never, ever thought of him as a wimp, but that's...

What did you put into the character of Gaeta yourself and maybe the writers later picked up on?

What did I put into the character? Well, in any character there are aspects of one's self, but there are huge differences between him -- as I discovered him -- and my own personality traits. He's extremely scientifically minded. What side of the brain is that? I thin k that's the right side of your brain and I couldn't be more left brained. I'm hopeless at all things mathematical and scientific. I sort of thrive in chaos in my life whereas Felix is the type of person that probably eats everything of his plate in order, folds his laundry and has all of his uniforms color-coded in his closed. I think he thrives on order. Any other things that I've brought? You know, over the course of the seasons Gaeta got more and more to do on the show. To begin with, I was sort of left with my own devices, which was great. There were no major plot things for Felix in the first season. So I was left to kind of figure out and flesh out my character myself. Which allowed me to lay in all kinds of little touches in the background and in the foreground. Whether it was sort of his hero worship of Baltar or any number of other things, the writers are always watching, and do pick up on those things and flesh them out as the series went on.

After the presidential election and settlement on New Caprica your role of communication officer gets a nice twist. Gaeta becomes the adviser to President Baltar, and becomes disgusted with Baltar's lack of concern over the forming union workforce, as well as his womanizing ways. He provides the resistance with the location and time of the New Caprica Police force graduation. Did he really want Baltar to get assassinated at that time, do you think?

Well, that's a good question. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I think at that point his belief in Gaius Baltar had been completely crushed. He had seen him for the shadow of a man he had become. So absolutely. I don't think that he intended that plot to fail. I think he wanted it to succeed. It's a pretty complex relationship as it ended up with, with Baltar. Later on, on New Caprica, he has the opportunity to kill him and doesn't... and let's him go free to supposedly save everyone. We all know about the pen stabbing, later on. It's been quite a rollercoaster ride with those two. There was a great connection between the two of them, but at the same token there was a sense of betrayal as well.

 

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and James Callis as Gaius Baltar in Battlestar Galactica

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and James Callis as Gaius Baltar in Battlestar Galactica

 

When he later goes back to the Galactica, he is tried by the inner circle on charges of collaborating with the enemy. Instead of pleading for his life, he tells the circle that he already had defended himself. Wouldn't this have been a good time to start yelling "dog bowl" to anybody that would listen?

(laughing) Dog bowl! Dog bowl! Uhm, well, not necessarily. I think there was a lot going on there for Felix. First of all, he felt like he had already defended himself to Starbuck earlier on and I think, at that point, looking at the faces that were around him and were about to execute him... I think at that point he felt like to beg for his life or to somehow defend himself was futile. But there were other things working within him, I think, and there was a sense of guilt within him too. Felix is someone who always really took on the burden of anything that he perceived as failure or a lack of judgement in his part. He fully took the brunt of all that and was never someone who'd shake something off easily. So all of the death on New Caprica, the innocent people that he felt like he could have done more to save... I think the weight of all of those people was on his shoulders in that moment too and he was like: "Alright, if you're going to kill me, go ahead!" I think, he was already on his knees, he wasn't get down any lower and grovel for his life.

Unfortunately, Gaeta -- for a long time -- doesn't have a love interest when the rest of the fleet is off frakking each other. (AJ laughing) You've even said "I don't care at this point -- man, woman, human, Cylon. I'd frak a daggit at this point. You know guys, just throw me a bone." Were you happy they finally threw a love interest in the form of Lt. Hoshi?

(laughing) Was I happy? I was surprised. It had taken so long. I was just convinced that Lt. Gaeta would go down as this icon of chastity and celibacy. So, I was surprised. I had reservations about it. I was worried that it would come across as a sort of tokenism. Particularly because it was really the only homosexual relationship that had been touched on -- with the exception of Admiral Cain and one of the Sixes. It was... I was worried that it would feel that it was kind of caked on. I had conversations with Jane Espenson who wrote the episodes, and we talked about a little more. It did occur to me at that point that the way it was handled, the matter of factness of it, was actually very, very positive and tasteful. They didn't make a huge deal of it in the show, because it shouldn't be a huge deal. It would just be like anybody else. What put it in a strange context though for me was that Felix had never been seen hit up... I'm sorry, hooked up, with anybody through the course of all seasons. So for the fans of the show, for the hardcore fans, it was going to be a big deal regardless... Whether he hooked up with a man, woman, or whoever, they were going to be looking for it and make a big deal out of it. For more casual watchers of the show, then it could be interpreted as just a very illuminated way of looking at sexuality. A matter of fact of looking at a same sex relationship. So, I was conflicted about it. In the end I conceded and I think that it was handled well. You know, again, these decisions are made in a more arbitrary way than a lot of people would think. What I learned over the course of this show was that it's the actor's responsibility to always be vigilant and make sure that some of these arbitrary decisions, that don't make sense, are given full justification and weight.

Did you also discuss it with Brad Dryborough (Lt. Hoshi)?

I didn't discuss it with him until the first day of set. I mean, I don't think Brad was supposed to be my original lover. Well, that's the thing -- poor Felix. He finally gets to hook up with somebody and nobody wants to be with him. It originally was written that Narcho was going to be his partner.

Okay!

They couldn't get that actor. Sebastian [Spence] was busy on another show. So they came to Hoshi. Anyway, it was all sort of case of after the fact, since they shot the webisodes well after the series had wrapped, while they were shooting The Plan, the prequel film. So in some respect it was a case of the writers going back and watching the tape and trying to find tapes where there might have been an embrace or a connection between me and Hoshi. I mean, we barely shared a scene, let alone a dialog, before then. Again, that contributed to my feelings, initially, with the whole relationship, but then... It all worked out well and then Brad [Brad Dryborough] and I, I think, sparked the screen with our chemistry.

 

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and Brad Dryborough as Louis Hoshi in Battlestar Galactica

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and Brad Dryborough as Louis Hoshi in Battlestar Galactica

 

That's true!

That one fleeting kiss.

Fans love it.

Sure. Sure, absolutely. Now they finally get to see a little more hot and heavy.

Gaeta holds a grudge against Baltar, and even tries to stab him in the neck at one point. During Baltar's trial, Gaeta lies about Baltar being forced at gunpoint to sign the death list. That's pretty bitter of him don't you think?

(laughs) Ha! Bitter?!? I don't think it was necessarily bitter. I think that was a bit of a turning point for Gaeta, and it was the first time that he consciously did something quote-unquote wrong -- broke the rules. But I mean, honestly at that point, how many lies does this Gaius Baltar have at that point? He really wanted to try to seal the deal. It makes their subsequent reconciliation all the more touching, I think. In that moment when he perjured himself on the stand, that was the beginning of the end for him.

I called it bitter, because still Gaeta also looked up to him in a mad genius sort of way, maybe even in a loving and respecting kind of way?

Well, I think at that point he stopped looking up to him. He had stopped having the same respect and admiration for him. He'd seen the true person behind the facade of Gaius Baltar -the hero worship he had earlier on. He'd seen him for the kind of pathetic, ego-maniacal narcissistic man that Gaius Baltar is. So I don't think he looked up to him anymore at all. If anything I think he sort of pitied him and ultimately there was a great deal of anger there and still of betrayal.

 

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and James Callis as Gaius Baltar in Battlestar Galactica

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and James Callis as Gaius Baltar in Battlestar Galactica

 

I've seen your great and funny improvisation skills on stage at the Galactica con in the UK. Combine this with the always humorous James Callis and I can only imagine this must have let to a lot of hilarious moments on set. Were there and can you share some?

Can I share some? (pondering the question) Well James... Yes. I don't know if I can remember any off hand, but working with James is a constant exercise in concentration -- not to crack up, because he's truly mad in the best sense of the word. Maybe we should go back to that question. I'll try to think of an anecdote or two if I can. Nothing specific is coming to mind. Needless to say we had a great chemistry together. We enjoyed each other's company and we always had a good time working together.

Okay. Gaeta later becomes part of the Demetrius's crew on its mission to find Earth. After Helo and Gaeta refuse to jump to a Cylon baseship, Sam shoots Gaeta in the leg, and he later loses it. Is this the defining moment that Gaeta develops his hatred for the Cylons that we see later in the series? Or was it the combination with the things that happened in "The Face of the Enemy"?

I think that the root of the hatred of the Cylons comes from the genocide of his race -- to be honest. I think that's probably the root of everybody's hatred for the Cylons. I think there was some level of tolerance for the Boomer model of Cylon, the Athena Cylon, early on, when that was still being explored -- the confusion around that. I don't necessarily think that the shooting in the leg has anything to do with his hatred of Cylons, per say, because at that time no one really knew that Anders was a Cylon. I think that the shooting and the subsequent amputation and then the lack of punishment for the people involved in that certainly added to Gaeta's bile that was slowly rising within him and that led to the mutiny for sure.

While in recovery, he sings a sad song that's known as ‘Gaeta's Lament'. Were you pleased that you were able to show off your vocal talents?

Was I pleased? I was nervous. I didn't know how it was going to work when I first read it. I was concerned that it would be one of two things -- either laughable or trite, but again with a certain amount of consultations with Michael Angeli, the writer, and Bear McCreary, the composer, we came up with something that worked really well and that was haunting and unusual in a way that Battlestar is at its best.

It certainly was one of the best moments.

Yeah, it was really... Battlestar constantly defies expectations. That's when it's at its best and that's when it really soared. I think that really was one of those moments. We were really like: "I can't believe he's doing that. Why is he singing? It's so weird and so moving and so awful"... Yeah... Unexpected.

 

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and Richard Hatch as Tom Zarek in Battlestar Galactica

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and Richard Hatch as Tom Zarek in Battlestar Galactica

 

How did they do the special effects of showing your stump? Where was the rest of your leg?

Oh, well... There was kind of the low-fi version and the high-fi version. The low-fi version was that we would just hide it behind furniture, kind of like Austin Power-style. I'm convinced (laughing) I actually was executed in the mutiny because I became too expensive to shoot. Because the high-fi version was that I had to wear a green screen sock, like knee socks, and they would paint my leg out afterwards. I was wearing this bizarre S&M like harness, that would keep my leg at the right angle as I hobbled around. When they saw me in a wide shot it instantly became a visual effect shot, which instantly makes the cost of shooting me up by 300%. So it became this constant negotiation of: "Do we need Gaeta in the scene and how can we hide half of his body?" But the low-fi version was hiding behind furniture and also, for example, when I was in the scene in bed with my stump. In that case they'd have a prosthetic stump they would stick onto my knee and the rest of my leg was just -- they cut a hole in the bed and the rest of my leg was sticking down through it and they sort of bunched it up with sheets and cushions to seal the hole. That's it.

After the formation of the Cylon/Human alliance, Gaeta talks Tom Zarek into staging a coup and leads a rebellion against Adama. He seizes the ship, and is appointed commander by Zarek. At several points, I thought Gaeta looked uncomfortable with the situation. Was this something that got out of hand of Gaeta's actions, or something Zarek pushed Gaeta into?

Oh no, I don't think Zarek pushed him into it. You're referring to just the mutiny? No, I think it's quite the opposite. Gaeta initially comes to Zarek and Gaeta in a lot of respects is the instigator of that whole thing. Zarek would not have -- I don't think would have the clout or the military backup to mutiny within Felix coming to visit him and forming that alliance. So in a lot of sense I think it's the other way around. I think that if Zarek had not been interested in mutiny at that point, Gaeta would have found someone else on the Quorum to be a political henchmen for his adaption.

 

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and Richard Hatch as Tom Zarek in Battlestar Galactica

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and Richard Hatch as Tom Zarek in Battlestar Galactica

 

There's a scene where Gaeta is behind Adama's desk, and he's looking at the Admiral's rank pins he gave him in the CIC. This is after the Quorum shooting but before the showdown in the CIC with Zarek. Many have commented that Gaeta stops the countdown because he knows the game is up, but I've been wondering if this particular scene in Adama's quarters was an earlier nod to Gaeta knowing that he'd failed and that Adama would be back?

Oh I don't think he knows that Adama will be back there. I think he... (pauses) I mean, he has no reason to think that Adama is not about to be executed when he makes that call. That's just an interesting beat for him. It's the only private moment that we see of him by himself, and I think we see his regret at the way things have gone...

I mean, a lot of people can and will continue to debate his motivations in mutinying, but at the end of the day I think Gaeta persisted in having the trial for Adama -- even though it was a bit of a joke of a trial -- but ultimately I think he just wanted Adama to admit that he was wrong, and if he had...who knows what would have happened. Who knows if Felix would have continued through to the execution? But as we know, Adama doesn't. Adama refuses to admit any culpability, and stubbornly refuses to admit anything. So we're left with Felix by himself in that moment.

I think he's afraid to be present for the actual execution. In the deleted scenes there was a scene before that which maybe at some point people will see on the DVD where Gaeta is at the hanger deck, they are preparing to execute Adama and Narcho is there, and Gaeta is looking at Adama and says "he doesn't have his Admiral's pins, he should die with his pins on", and he excuses himself from the hanger deck under the pretence of going to get them - but what we see is that he had them all along and that ultimately, he just couldn't face... he just couldn't be there to see Adama executed.

So that adds a lot of insight I'm sure into what that beat was about for me at the time, and without that context of that previous scene it could be interpreted a lot of different ways.

 

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica

 

Because it looked like he was leaving his pins on the desk for his (Adama's) later return or something...

No, no... not at all, not at all! If anything, that beat of me throwing the pins on the desk was a beat of just general...unease, y'know? There's a line in Shakespeare, something along the lines of: "uneasy is the head upon which lies the crown" -- or something like that. He doesn't feel comfortable putting those pins on yet. He doesn't feel worthy of it perhaps. He's a good man ultimately, so there's a real sense of conflict within him regarding the whole path the mutiny has taken -- it hasn't gone how he wanted it to go. I mean, as idealistic and naïve as it is, I'm sure that Felix hoped that they could've mutinied without a single casualty. That would have been his ideal, and that's the difference between him and Zarek -- Zarek knew all along that hundreds of people were going to lose their lives, if not more, so maybe he intellectually knew that, but I don't think he knew that in his heart, or was really willing to face the consequences of it and didn't really understood how it would feel.

Because it's actually Gaeta who finally stops the mutiny even though Zarek is trying to push him onward.

At the end of the show you mean?

Yeah.

I think at the end he just realizes that it's not a question of stopping the mutiny at that point... IT'S OVER, and he realizes that the "jig is up" and that he has been beaten... that they have been beaten, and at that point... to go down guns blazing is just completely a waste of human life. So he actually does the honorable thing I think in that moment in standing down.

 

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica

 

Then Zarek and Gaeta are back in the same location, and even executed just like they had planned for Adama. Does this mean that Adama is not better than they were?

Wow. Well, I do think that it's a bit of a black mark on Adama's record. That certainly that they were executed -- they weren't shown the same mercy that other people over the course of the show who have similarly bucked authority, had been shown. And in this instance, there was none. I did feel like that was... harsh. But fitting -- it was a fitting end, and it really kind of cements poor Felix as a tragic hero I think in the arc of the show.

Ultimately, the interesting thing about all these characters on Battlestar[Galactica] is that none of them were cut out necessarily to be heroes. They were on a ship that was kinda like, on its last legs, and was by no means the crème de la crème. A lot of these people on the ship wanted to be other things, but were thrust into a position of being the last gasp of humanity, and the great defenders of a whole civilization. A lot of them were in way over their heads. So I think that as an audience, most of us aren't heroes either, but when put in those circumstances, we would like to think that we would rise to the occasion.

I think Felix did the best he could, and went above and beyond what most would in his circumstances -- and that makes him a hero. And I think that his conclusion was tragic. Because I think he just never caught a break. He was very unfortunate with some of the people that he allied himself with, but he always had the best of intentions for the most part. And that's what makes his demise ultimately... tragedy.

 

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and James Callis as Gaius Baltar in Battlestar Galactica

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and James Callis as Gaius Baltar in Battlestar Galactica

 

A lot of fans also wondered why you were sitting down at the execution. Did you discuss that with the writers?

Sitting down?

Yeah, they were sitting down during the execution. Why weren't they standing up?

I think, without it sounding too kind of..."technical", I think we were sitting down because of the leg. It was just too expensive to shoot me standing up!

So you think it was more like a technical thing then?

Yeah, I think so.

Was it sad to see your character die, or was it nice that since the series was going to end anyway, that it was nice for your character to get a great new storyline and go out with a bang?

Yeah, it was great. If I had to die before the conclusion, I couldn't have asked for more. It was a true gift from the writers and the creators of the show to give me this arc -- to really see Felix flex before he expired. Watching it, it was with mixed feelings, great feelings of pride and great feelings of sadness that we'd never get to see this character, to whom I'd grown so close to, ever do anything new again.

So Aaron Douglas said that you guys are friends, but unfortunately never got to do scenes together, and he said you often played guitar in front of his trailer.

In front of his trailer? (bursts out laughing) I think that was back when Aaron Douglas was smoking a lot of Crack! Because I've never brought my guitar to the set. But I think Aaron is getting confused because he used to bring his Japanese Flute to the set, and would play it in front of my trailer. But this was when he was hoping to kinda seduce me ‘n' stuff, and it got really complicated and messy, so I probably shouldn't go into it! (both laughing)

Was that to relieve stress, what did he you play?

It was to relieve stress for him! For me it was annoying as heck when he was playing outside my trailer all the time. (laughing) I had to get security to take him away eventually.

 

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica

Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta and and Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica

 

You are in the new Watchmen movie that's coming up and Travelling (Brand New Day). Can you tell us about those roles in what you do in those movies?

Oh, sure. In Watchmen I literally have -- I was in one scene and I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up on the cutting room floor. It's such a massive movie. They called me in while we were shooting Battlestar [Galactica] actually and asked if I could just come in for one day and play this -- no big surprise here -- this scientist, technician part. So sure, I did, I came in for the day and I had two lines. I had to run on and yell something to the effect of: "It's Mars! We found him! It's Mars!" Something like that. It was fun. Fun to go in and see the absolutely massive sets they had built here in Vancouver for that show. It's going to be epic and I'm excited as a fan of the graphic novel and that film, just to go watch it, even if I don't make it into it. Still thrilling. It will be a huge visual spectacle, I'm sure. And Travelling (Brand New Day), that's a Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy that myself and Rekha Sharma were both cast in to play sort of Jennifer Aniston's ethnically ambiguous friends (laughing). So, we've spent a few days in Vancouver and Seattle, hanging out with Jennifer Aniston, Aaron Eckhart and a few other actors. Chumming around and pretending to smoke hucas and drink beer. And we got to go to Seattle on one particular night in the movie.

So what else is new for you? Do you have any other future work planned?

Right now, I'm doing my taxes. After I've done my taxes, I'm going to figure out where to watch the Oscars. After that, I'm in a play with my partner and my confidant for six years, Meg Ro, who's an actress here in Vancouver. We're doing a play together at the Vancouver Playhouse, where we met six years ago, just before Battlestar Galactica happened.

That's really nice!

So that's very special and we're looking forward to it. It's one of those full circle moments, where everything comes back round and in a new light, but completely the same.

Is that something you plan on doing for the next few years maybe? Doing some stage work again?

Definitely. Yeah. Hey, I'm available for hire, so... (both laughing) It's wide open for anything as long as it's great, you know? That's what I also mean by full circle -- for the past five years I've been relatively unavailable and now all of a sudden the clock is ticking.

Okay, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

No problem Marcel. I'm happy we've finally found the time to get connected with you. Best of luck with all of your future endeavors.

Thank you very much.

 
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