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Bodie Olmos GALACTICA.TV interview
Saturday, 02 August 2008

Last year Justin Berger caught up with Bodie Olmos, better known as Brendan "Hot Dog" Costanza on the Battlestar Galactica 2003 series. He talked exstensively about his part on the series, the action figure they made of his character and about some other projects he's doing.

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.


 

You play Hot Dog on the new Battlestar Galactica, obviously. What's it like working on that show?

Well, it's kind of changed throughout the years that we have been working on it. But it's a lot of fun. It's challenging and exciting to be a part of it. Yeah.

Your dad's obviously Edward James Olmos, who plays Admiral Adama. Starting out when you were a kid, was it always assumed that you would follow in the same footsteps as him? Or were there other interests you had before acting?

Yeah, there was kind of an innate interest in the film making part of it. I saw my father from as far back as I can remember as an actor and watching him do that, it was very exciting. There was that natural interest in that whole scene. But I did go on and experience sports and became a runner at a very young age. I was into cross country very early and doing triathlons and got into surfing and sports, then went into music. Always in drama class and doing theater. I'd help him out when he needed my help. So I was kind of always one foot in, one foot out. I guess you could say.

Right on. I also read that you were a drummer.

Yeah, I went into music. About 15, I started playing drums. A group of my friends were starting to pick up instruments and I was like "Hey, I want to do that, too." So just kind of fell into it, then realized that this was somewhat of what my father had done when he was my age.

Are you in a band right now?

No, not currently, no.

Do you just jam with people?

Yeah, occasionally. My brother plays guitar. One of my brothers plays guitar. So whenever we can, we'll play together. But, that was basically what we did. My brothers played instruments as well, so we formed our band. And, that is where I played most of my music.

 

actor Bodie Olmos

actor Bodie Olmos

 

Very cool. So how did you originally get involved with Battlestar Galactica? How did you get the role of Hot Dog?

Funny enough, my father had mentioned that he was going to be doing the show. And I immediately went crazy and was like "Woah, can I get on it?" And, he was like "Let me see." So, they had me read for Apollo. And I remember doing that scene, and it was one of the scenes where Apollo goes to his father in Adama's quarters. It's a beautiful scene and I read for it and I felt really good, and they ended up not giving it to me. So my dad said "Just hold off, hold up. There's some parts coming up." And I was like "OK." I don't hear anything through the whole miniseries, and I was constantly going "Hey, man, what's going on?" It was terrible. It was really just eating away at me. I was like "Come on". They came up with these guys - this group of washed-out fighters and they gave me the role of Hot Dog.

Is there any back story on who Hot Dog is that you were given by the writers? And is there any back-story you yourself have given Hot Dog to keep you on point with the character?

Yeah, interesting enough it was kind of left open, as far as what the writers had. Other than we were part of a class of fighter pilots who had been let go ... to join the fleet. So I kind of had to create some sort of story of where my parents were that I kind of developed on my own. I set Hot Dog as ... Brendan's father was in the military and was killed in action, and this was my chance. I had grown up around this environment and was really well versed in the planes and how to fly. But what got in my way was that knowledge. I thought I was better than the rest of the guys. My ego would get in the way of what I was trying to do and accomplish. I wasn't one to take instructions. So that was why I was released from pilot school. But when I got behind a Viper or whatnot and was asked to do something, I would certainly do that. That's kind of where I was hoping to take the character and develop it in that way.

With what you were just saying about him taking orders, one of the other guys from GALACTICA.TV had an interesting question from the show. He said, "When Hot Dog is put in the position to stop Lee Adama and Roslin from fleeing the Galactica and is waiting for the order to shoot or not shoot them down, do you think Hot Dog would have shot them down if given the order by Tigh?"

You know, that's something -- I think that Apollo had a similar experience with the civilian ship. I believe I probably would have. I believe Brendan would have definitely. If given the order, he would have carried that out. Yeah, absolutely.

Wow.

I know. Because in a sense, this is my only life. This is what I've been raised to do. If my superior officer gives me an order, that's what I need to do. And hopefully that's the best judgment. So, there you go.

 

Bodie Olmos as Brendan 'Hot Dog' Costanza in Battlestar Galactica 2003

Bodie Olmos as Brendan "Hot Dog" Costanza in Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

Hot Dog seemed from the get-go -- he's kind of a hotshot. He seems to want to impress Starbuck throughout the whole series and earn her respect. What do you feel Hot Dog personally felt when he learned of Kara's death?

That's interesting, because being out of the show you grow to know one another and I think that all feeds into us as the characters, as well. I felt some sort of ... I felt a big loss. One, in that she was a great almost role model for me, almost like a bigger sister that I never had. She gave me that ability to try and prove something as a hotshot pilot. She was great, because she always was one step ahead of me. I always just loved trying to push through that. It was a big loss. It was definitely a big loss. And also for Kat too, because we came in together. All those nuggets that I came in with and watched them go. It's not easy, you know? You feel like you've lost part of your family. So it becomes really intense, really quick. Even just saying goodbye to Katee [Sackhoff] on set was pretty emotional.

Did it kind of piss some people off when they learned she that she wasn't really leaving?

(Laughs) Well, the funny part is, man, I didn't even realize until the very end of Season 3. I remember the day, and I was saying goodbye to Katee [Sackhoff]. Just saying, "It's been great working with you. You've been really great on the show, and I learned a lot from you personally and professionally. Thank you. Thank you." All this going on in her head is, "Oh my God, I'm holding this back." She just had to say "Sorry about the little upset." Yeah, fooled if nothing else.

Do you think in the long run, it really helped the show? Having that main character die and people really think "Wow, she's gone" - even the cast. Did it help your character to actually feel in real life that she is gone?

Yes, I think so, absolutely. I think that all works. You can use it as an actor. Those are great almost magical and fantastical things that happen. "Wow. That worked for me. Thanks for not telling me." It's great.

So, what's it like having your own action figure?

That is a mind blower. I can't ... It's so surreal. I can't even tell you. I was a big participant in action figure playing as a kid. G.I. Joes and all those action figures, when they came out were just like the world to me. Never would I have ever thought -- I can't even describe [it] -- I never would have thought that one day I would have an action figure. Although maybe, I dreamt about it. I couldn't even come up with a story that would have me in something that [they] would make an action figure out of [me]. The chances of that happening are so slim. It's just unbelievable. It's such a ... It's really special to me. It's a big deal. It really is.

 

Battlestar Galactica 2003's Brendan 'Hot Dog' Costanza action figure

Battlestar Galactica 2003's Brendan "Hot Dog" Costanza action figure 2003

 

Did they just make the mold from pictures or did they approach you and actually take physical castings or anything like that?

No, they didn't. No, they just created it themselves.

Do you think it looks pretty good, pretty much like you?

I was really nervous to be honest with you. I was like "Oh, gosh, what am I going to look like?" They did a wonderful job. They really did. I was so pleased with it and very happy with how it came out. I think it represents Hot Dog pretty good.

Those action figures are pretty good. Because you always get them in some movies where they look horrible, and they look nothing like the characters.

Yeah, I'm anxious to see their manoeuvrability and how well they are made. I'm anxious.

So, why Hot Dog? I know they only selected a few characters. Do you know why they picked Hot Dog as opposed to other people?

The only ... They didn't approach me. I really don't know their theory behind it. But, what I would gather is that I'm one of the remaining nuggets, so to speak. I think, for myself, personally, I always liked and was a fan of the secondary characters in a way. Boba Fett, for instance, of Star Wars -- to have that action figure was always kind of cool even though he wasn't ... he appeared so [few] times. There's always Boba Fett and you're like "Well, he's cool." So that's my guess, that they felt that Hot Dog was a cool side character and would be great to have him onboard as one of the figurines.

That's awesome, man.

Man, yeah. It's very exciting.

The official end of Battlestar Galactica was recently announced. What were your personal feelings when you knew the show was coming to an end? How would you ideally like see your character's story end in the series?

My initial feelings were: did I save enough money? (laughs) Because we're ending. No, I'm just kidding. It's a bittersweet thing. Because for me, it was just a privilege to even become a part of the show. I know all great things must come to an end. Would I have liked to have seen it go on longer? Of course. I would have loved to have been able to develop the character more. That was the only ... You think it is going to go on. Or, I thought it was going to go on for a lot longer. That I was indestructible and the writers would never kill me off, and I'll just have all the time in the world to develop this character. Before you know it, it's over. And you're just starting to feel really comfortable with him. And, that's not the case. They are in control of the show, and you have to do as they wish. I'm having a little trouble letting go of it and moving on. I know that this will open up other doors and hopefully continue on from here. But, it's hard. I try to not think about it too much. Another cast member had said, "You go on set and you're talking with somebody in everyday conversation. You just kind of have in the back of your head that we are going to be here tomorrow, but this is the last time we will experience this day." It gets a little touching and sad, because the cast is so fun to be around. In the little time we've shared with each other, we've kind of grown this bond and this love for one another. It's going to be hard.

For your character, where would you like to see him end up, in your head, in your ideal world?

In my ideal world, I would have loved to have become a CAG, to a certain degree -- to move up in the ranks. In a certain sense, I feel that was one of the great flaws of my character. Something that you always, hopefully, root for. Sometimes we don't achieve that great [goal]. Even though our services could not have been done without, we never get to that certain place that we want to be. That's true in life. If I could go down in a dogfight, I probably would, if it helps the greater civilization that would be an honor for me. Or, live happily ever after, sure, remaining as a lieutenant.

To prepare for the role of Hot Dog, being a pilot, did you talk to actual pilots in the Air Force? Did you sit in some F-16s or something to get that experience?

I didn't get that opportunity to, although I probably could have. The time that I got notice that I was playing the character to the time I was actually shooting was pretty quick. I immediately got onto, actually I think, it was a Microsoft game - just a simulator game of flying. But, it wasn't jet flying per se, it was more airliner stuff. I could fly and take off. So, I spent a few hours doing that - landing, taking off, and learning some of the gauges as best as I could. To consume that amount of knowledge, in even four weeks, is pretty overwhelming. Because that was not as rich as I would have liked to have that experience and sit in a cockpit of an F-16 and stuff like that. Years and years ago, I was able to go into a flight simulator, a real one at Edwards Air Force Base. I was, I think, 9 years old. I do remember that experience, but it wasn't like it was yesterday. So I had to quickly gain knowledge of the relationships amongst the characters and the fleet. So it became more of a character to character experience, rather than of me actually being so savvy of the military and flying ships.

We always see Hot Dog in the Mark II Viper. Has he ever flown the Mark VII?

Nooo.

Does he know how to fly the Mark VII?

(laughs) I think book wise, he does. But, I think it would probably give him a run for his money. If he had the chance to, it would be a pretty scary thing to put in his hands. (laughs) I might try to do something that I really shouldn't be doing.

Do you think he sticks to the Mark II with what you said earlier, about his dad being in the military?

I think so. I think that's what he is comfortable in. He knows the ins and outs of it. Of course, the other plane is the ultimate. But that's what he is comfortable in and feels at his best.

Katee Sackhoff one time said that those flight suits that you guys use are basically hot as hell. And that it is really claustrophobic being inside that cockpit of the Viper. Is that true?

Yeah, it is. All you pray for is that it's a quick mission (laughs). Honestly, because it does get a little uncomfortable, and you don't have a lot of room to move around in. That was one of the trickiest things about learning how to work in those conditions. Because as an actor, you want to express with your body - that's part of your instrument. Here, you're strapped in. You're in tight quarters. You're in a fairly uncomfortable suit. If you're exerting any amount of energy - it could be just sitting there waiting - you're going to start to sweat. The technicalities of it are very tedious. There's perspiration. They need to wipe you down. So that means open the canopy. That means take off the helmet which means unhooking some cables, to wipe you off. Sometimes the air that is being filtered there can fog up. So there are a lot of elements that go along with trying to make one of those scenes happen. It's pretty fantastic.

 

Bodie Olmos as Brendan 'Hot Dog' Costanza in Battlestar Galactica 2003

Bodie Olmos as Brendan "Hot Dog" Costanza in Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

What was your first experience walking into the set of the hangar deck?

Just blown away. I didn't know if it was just going to be the cockpit itself. I remember walking in and just putting on the flight suit alone is a pretty overwhelming experience. Each time you get into it, you're automatically put into a certain emotional and psychological state of "I know what I'm doing. I'm a pilot." Then, when you walk onto the hangar deck where they are about to shoot the scene -- it's a standard stage - a sound stage - but they've really gone beyond belief in building this ship for you. It's an adult playground. It really is. From sitting in my bedroom as a little boy, playing with pint-size ships and flying them around your room to actually getting to experience that. It's pretty awesome. You got a huge, 100-foot green screen around you that's just beautiful. You know what they can do as far as technology. It's beyond anything I would have ever dreamed.

So you are currently shooting Season 4. Can you give fans any kind of taste of what we can expect from next season?

As far as my character goes, Hot Dog takes more abuse (laughs). It's really actually quite amazing. The few scripts that I have read have been very - again, still emotional, very exciting, and well written. The performances, I'm sure, will be great. Because it is our last season, so people are trying to really serve the material. I don't know how much I can say. Enjoy the ride.

You'll have Ron D. Moore hunting you down.

Oh, right. That's right.

Isn't that the dreaded question you always get too: tell us about what's coming up?

I think so. Would you really want me to tell you what's going to happen?

Not at all.

Not at all. But there's always of course, there's always ... Hey, believe me, I'm just as much of a fan as the rest of us. Well, I can't say to go that length. But I'm always in for a good spoiler, so to speak.

Are you in the mini-movie coming up, the "Pegusus" arc thing [Razor]?

No, I am not. No, I did not make it.

Well that sucks.

Yea, I was totally bummed. Where is Ron [Moore]?

I also want to talk to you about some of the other stuff you did. You were in the show, American Family. You played the younger version of your father's character, Jess Gonzalez. What was it like to try to emulate your father's character while still retaining your own concept of the same character?

It's funny, because we did develop a little bit of the character together. We spent some time talking about him and stuff like that. Then, I would go on my own and figure out what it meant for me and all that and what I wanted to bring to it. It was a little overwhelming, because one it was really the first episodic television show I had done. On top of it, I was playing the younger version of the character my father was playing. So the pressure was kind of intense for me. But it was funny, because in some ways I emulated my father - did an impression of him, so to speak. But then again, there was a side of me that was able to come out in young Jess. That was really endearing. I really wish that show could have gone on a little longer as well. Again, I got to live out experiences that I wasn't able to do in my own personal life. One, being the varsity quarterback of the football team. Which is like "How cool is that, right?" So there was this kind of nostalgic feel to that character for me. Because it was almost so close to our own personal lives -- being from that area -- I wasn't personally, but my father was. I saw a lot of my father's own personal traits come out in that character. It was very surreal almost. Then, you added the time period of the 1950s that I got to play in and learning a little about that -- The Korean War -- and I studied a little about that -- it was very rich in family values. My character of young Jess was the beginning of that whole family. It was a really great opportunity for me to play as an actor.

Do you get - I don't want to say typecast. But, because you look really young - even though you are in your early 30s. But, you look like you could be 20 years old. Do you get approached to do younger roles because of that?

Yeah, sort of. I don't know if I get approached to do that necessarily. But I know I'm not being casted as the mid-thirties young man. Not necessarily. For instance, in Walkout, I got to play 19, say, 20. I don't really think about it too much. It's just not really a problem. If I can play 20 until I am 40, sure (laughs).

Very much so. Your dad has directed a couple of episodes of Battlestar Galactica. He directed you in Walkout. Is it different having somebody direct you that you know that personally as opposed to somebody that is just coming into the TV show or movie?

Yeah, kind of. No, it definitely is a lot different. There is a sense of comfort and ease that happens when I'm directed by my father. Where it can be anything from a look across a room that I know what he is talking about, or just a few words. It's a comfort thing, absolutely. Whereas a director just walking on, I try to open up to be open to what they are doing. But it's different. It's very different.

What is your favorite episode thus far of Battlestar Galactica or some of your favorite episodes?

I really, really enjoyed the final [episode] of Season 3 ["Crossroads"]. I thought it was really cool. It was a great mixture of the current and past - as far as the music. I really enjoyed the performances, especially of Colonel Tigh, Michael Hogan. It just goes to show, I am moved by it. I can feel a lot of the pain and the great performances. Also, I loved the first episode that I was on ["Act of Contrition"] where we were featured for the first time. It was so cool, and I go back and watch it. It's very ... You can see we are just young punks. We just have no idea what we were doing, and we really didn't. But, we were cocky and we were really just full of ourselves. I just think that's great and it's very kind of real to me. They all have their moments.

In "Maelstrom", there's this scene where Hot Dog is watching Starbuck while she's sleeping. And she is kind of having a sexual dream, so to speak. I just love that scene because Hot Dog is just sitting there staring at her the whole time until she wakes up. Is Hot Dog kind of a perv that way?

Well, I mean, you're locked on a ship, in close quarters. Come on. No, it was kind of a really, just bizarre scene, to say the least.

For sure. It's really funny though. I think it really adds to the scene - she wakes up and there's Hot Dog just staring at her.

(laughs) A lot going on there, sure.

That was just one memorable Hot Dog moment I wanted to share.

Thank you. Thank you.

 So what are you going to do after Battlestar Galactica? What can we see you in next?

I don't have anything lined up as of now. But, it's the life of the actor. We go on, read for other stuff, and hopefully, continue on doing work that we enjoy doing. I don't really have anything lined up as of now. I've got a couple of things that I'm waiting to hear back from. But, it's back to the grind.

The cushy job's over.

The cushy job is over, back to being a civilian again, so to speak.

But just having the experience from Battlestar Galactica, I imagine, is just mind-blowing in a way.

Yeah, it is. It's definitely an overwhelming and a fantastic feeling that I wouldn't have traded for anything. It's just been so great. Personally, it had a lot of effect on me. I've grown as far as an actor and the work that's needed to be done. All around, it has encompassed a lot of wonderful things that I am just so thankful for.

 

Bodie Olmos as Brendan 'Hot Dog' Costanza in Battlestar Galactica 2003

Bodie Olmos as Brendan "Hot Dog" Costanza in Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

Do you go to science fiction conventions?

I did. I went to my first one just this year. June 1st [2007], actually at the beginning of this month. I went to one in North Carolina - ConCarolinas.

How was that? How did the fans embrace you?

They were awesome. They were just completely excited and enthusiastic beyond my wildest dreams. I've never experienced it. I've heard about it, and it definitely lived up to what I was expecting. They were very ... Just the knowledge that they have of it and the excitement that they have for this show and other shows. It's just really cool to see. From young kids to older adults, they are just into it. I got to be a judge in a costume competition. It's all there, the gamers -- I participated in a Battlestar Galactica game which was really neat. They got a kick out of that - here was Hot Dog playing. It was really funny. It was just a great time, and they were really welcoming and very grateful that I came.

Do you have a chance to meet anybody that you kind of looked up to over the years or maybe from when you were a kid?

Not at this one. No, I didn't. But, I've heard at others that I probably would.

Can we expect to see you at future conventions?

Absolutely, I actually have to get back to a lady about a future one. Hopefully, coming up next month.

Awesome. I know that people would like to hear that.

Yeah, it will be great. I think it is in Ohio. I'm looking forward to it.

I've got some questions from the scifi.com boards that people asked. I put something up there and said: "I'm going to talk to Bodie Olmos. If you want to ask him something, now's your chance." We'll just go through these. Again, I take no responsibility for these questions. First question, Truthseeker013 asks: "Hot Dog, where did you get the rash?"

(laughs) Umm, it was a long night. I don't know. It was fun though.

Was that something the writers had in mind or is that something you thought of?

They had put that in there, with no real disclaimer or any of that. So, I just went along with it.

Hot Dog seems to have these little moments where he just throws in random humor. It's awesome.

I love it.

coffeecake512 says "I really enjoy your character and your portrayal of Hot Dog. I felt it was a much needed role in Battlestar Galactica, as humor goes a long way to make life worthwhile, especially in difficult circumstances such as the RTF [ragtag fleet] find themselves in. How much input does your father and yourself have in the development of your character, Hot Dog?"

It's great in the fact that it's open to my interpretation and what I want to bring to it. There is a lot of room for us to explore ourselves.

I know that you kind of already answered that question. Bebe567 says: "How do you think Hot Dog's character is going to develop in Season 4?"

Hello, Bebe567, I would love for him to continue in the ranks of the Galactica, so to speak. I would love to become a CAG, to have a little bit more responsibility, as far as an officer in the fleet. Again, at this point, we are all lucky to still be around. It's so great just to be able to serve as I am doing now. (pause) Who knows what they are going to do with my character? I don't even know which is so great.

Wouldn't it be funny if Hot Dog was the final Cylon?

I've heard talk about that through fans and such. But, it could or could not be.

The next question is from Ryan from Hudson, Wisconsin. He says "Hi, Bodie, would you say your character of Hot Dog is close to your own personality?"

Yeah, to a degree. Yeah, it is. I'm kind of a humor guy, in a sense, lighthearted. But I think in a certain sense, I think Hot Dog is a little ... I don't know what the right word would be but ... I think he's got a little more confidence than Bodie Olmos does to a certain degree, which is always fun to play.

The next question is from MaliB. They ask, "Who are you favorite castmates to work with? Anyone whose acting style meshes particularly well with yours?"

Well, I'd have to say probably Luciana Carro's. One, because we worked a lot together, and I felt that we had a lot of fun working opposite each other. It played well. I enjoy working a lot with Tahmoh. Tahmoh Penikett is great to work with. Mary [McDonnell], even though I haven't had a lot of work alongside of her. She's great just as a person, and her performances are always fun. It's a great cast. I could go down the list and just go on. It's been awesome.

 

Bodie Olmos and Luciana Carro

Bodie Olmos and Luciana Carro

 

Next question is from Jeremy. The question is: "Is Hot Dog the CAG after Apollo turned in his wings? If not, who is? Who is the new CAG?"

That is yet to be determined. But there are ... I don't want to give that away.

Yeah, don't.

I don't want to give that away. But the appropriate officer will, hopefully, carry on the position.

Can you say it is someone we have seen as CAG before? Or not?

Maybe (laughs).

That works.

That's pretty much it for the questions. Dude, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. It was very much fun.

You’re very welcome. Thank you so much, likewise.

 
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