|Grace Park GALACTICA.TV interview|
|Written by Justin Berger|
|Friday, 30 January 2009|
Justin Berger caught up with Grace Park, better known as Cylon #8, Sharon "Athena" Agathon, Sharon "Boomer" Valerii on the Battlestar Galactica 2003 series to do an exclusive interview. They talked about the final leg of the Battlestar Galactica series, ending it all, the upcoming Battlestar Galactica movie The Plan, her multiple parts on the show and what she'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.
This is Grace.
Hey, this is Justin with GALACTICA.TV.
Hey, how's it going Justin?
It's going good, how are you?
Very good, thank you.
[The BSG Cast and Crew] have already wrapped the series; you guys are done with it, but fans are just now watching the final episodes on the Sci-Fi Channel. What was it like on the last day of shooting after -- what was it -- seven years of taping the show?
I think it was like five and a half -- six years.
What was it like on the last day of shooting?
There were two kinds of, 'last days' I would say. There was the last day of shooting when the whole train was charging full steam ahead, back in July -- and it was a pretty crazy last day, because as the ending was coming closer, we knew we had an end date. It [felt] like the craziest episode, because it seemed like almost every day there were scenes we weren't getting -- every day.
I'm not just talking 1/8 of a page or, you know, like a 'target of opportunity' -- that kind of thing -- but it was like half of the day we weren't getting - like every day!
I had no idea [as] we'd never had that before. Sometimes you might not get one scene, but this was like three, four scenes a day, every day and I was thinking - so I guess, we're not going to end on -- whatever our last date was -- and they (the producers and directors) were [saying], "Oh no, we are going to end on that day," and I was like, "Oh really? So, what are we going to do? Just not finish the story? Are we going to come back and shoot all of this stuff?" and they [would say], "No, we have to finish."
And so we ended it on -- I think it was supposed to end on a Wednesday, and they ended up extending one more day. It's like one more day begets five days worth of stuff - or I don't know, maybe at least a week's worth? [So I said], "Why don't we just move it [to] another day, like Friday?". Their [response was], "N-n-n-n-no, no, no." That was like the F-word, Friday. No one was allowed to say that we could extend it anymore.
actress Grace Park
But essentially, at the end, I remember the last couple of days there was a lot of emotions -- whether it was up or down. I remember I was really stoked the second to last day, and the last day was pretty tough, because there was a lot of emotional stuff being shot as well. I remember there being a lot of gunfire on both sides, on two [sound] stages on either side of the main road -- going back and forth between two characters and not even finishing a scene and they (the directors) would [say], "Switch to Boomer." and I'm like, "But I'm not done with the scene." and they [would say], "Go switch. They're ready. They're lit." I'd go over there and then before we were done with that scene they'd [say], "You've got to go back there and go switch to Athena," and I'd say, "What? We're not finished with the scene," and they'd say, "They're lit. You have to go."
So it was just like this crazy Gong Show at the end. That was back in July, and that's when we popped the champagne and we were up 'til sunrise. That was a really beautiful time, because so many of us were there and we really embraced the ending, and it was this big race to the finish and like a huge celebration.
When we came back to do The Plan we also shot the webisodes and just a couple scenes that we didn't get for the series. That was very different, because instead of having, you know, like seven cast mates there and Ron Moore, and Michael Rymer and the whole crew -- it was like a real skeleton crew, because they'd been split up [so much]. A bunch of them had to finish The Plan, [so] some members of the main crew had come over to do the webisodes.
One by one we were finishing stuff off. I think within four days we'd finished the last day of the series, Season 4, we finished the last day of The Plan and the final day was the last day of the webisodes. It was a total opposite, because we'd gone from this high point down to just having a handful of people, with me and Alessandro [Juliani] shooting the last bit of the webisodes. I was playing these new characters that we hadn't really established for that long and it seemed a very opposite kind of ending. It was like the kind of quiet, sort of fading into oblivion without much sound at all. It was kind of like a sadder point. It was interesting because I read this article in which Alessandro [Juliani] had said that that was one of his favorite moments, and for me I think it was one of my sadder moments for sure. It seemed like quite the opposite way to go out on a show.
Was the chaos of the actual shooting of the series -- did it kind of lend itself to the story as far as, everything was so chaotic -- did it kind of help you stay in character, because everything was just nuts?
Yeah, I think it did. I think it really did help. There was an energy there, because we all knew it was the very end and a lot of us were there, and I think having that momentum of going towards the end helped charge the scenes, because the scenes were all so quite heightened and there's a lot of gunfire and chaos.
For me, I think the last day of when we were shooting the bulk of Season 4 back in July, I was resisting the end, because I knew it was the last scene that I was going to have, and also the nature of the scene was pretty emotional, so I was certainly resisting that day. It was not very fun.
Also when I was shooting the last scene of the webisodes, I was resisting, because I didn't want to finish shooting Battlestar [Galactica] on a webisode, with characters that I didn't know. It wasn't Boomer, it wasn't Athena, it was just like Sweet Eight and Hard Eight. And I'm like, "Who the hell are these two anyway? I don't give a shit about these guys," and plus it's a webisode! It's not the same attention to detail, and length of time... I mean everyone was still doing their best, but we essentially shot ten webisodes in something like - for all my stuff -- three days, I think? Something insane like that, so the day counts were sixteen pages, and I was like, "What?! Are you crazy?" and then we got through [about] a quarter of it, (laughing) I thought, "Oh no, here we go again." So that got extended by two days.
It was a bit of a Gong Show. (laughing) Everything was coming apart at the end. It was like the Battlestar itself [was coming apart] - you'd be trying to steer the ship and the handle would fly off.
Grace Park as Sharon "Boomer" Valerii on Battlestar Galactica 2003
During Season 4 we've seen Boomer side with Cavil, going against her entire model. Is this something that's going to be explored more in the last episodes?
Just a little bit. A little bit. But it's kind of more indirect in Season 4.5, and it's a little bit more clear, I think, in The Plan.
When we started shooting The Plan... The Plan -- I mean the title itself just tells you it's more about the Cylon perspective, and so we went back and we dealt a little bit more with Boomer and some with Cavil. And that kind of threw me for a huge loop because there are a lot of scenes that aren't explained, so as actors we fill them in ourselves as best we can. And somewhere along the line, I think it was when I got the script for The Plan, they offered a bunch of new information that really didn't fit with what I had sort of built everything else on for the last four or five years. So I kind of feel like I've built a stick house on a pile of rocks that can all just fall down.
I was just doing ADR today and more and more often I'll be stumped, just trying to figure out, "Which Sharon is this again? Can you guys help me out, because I'm really lost." (laughing)
In Season 3 Sharon (Athena) and Boomer finally cross paths, after a long time of watching these two characters go these different ways. Do you feel that Boomer is kind of jealous of Sharon, because Sharon's kind of taken over what Boomer wanted. That life in the fleet with her family. Is there a jealousy there, do you think?
It's interesting, I think there's a jealousy -- she doesn't want Hera and Helo, but I think there [is] a jealousy of Athena's position in Galactica. I mean essentially Athena has taken over Boomer's role -- albeit as a Cylon, with that knowledge [known by the] Humans.
I think there's a sadness for Boomer, having lost what was really close to her heart. I think Boomer has always struggled to find her place again, amongst the Cylons and/or the Humans, and with all the celebration around Athena and what she did -- even though she's kind of aligned herself more with the Humans -- the Cylons still quite revere her for having the first Human-Cylon baby and what that could mean and ultimately if that's going to be the unification of the two races or not. But either way they champion her because she represents something really important to the Cylons. She's a symbol of hope and of faith and newness in love -- something that they were striving for for a long time, and I think Boomer being sort of cast aside now, and though she was a hero of the Cylons for a while, once her leadership with Caprica Six fell apart, down on the occupation on New Caprica, they sort of gave her the role of Hera's caretaker and I think for a while maybe the Cylons thought that was the best fit. But ultimately I think Boomer didn't want to be second fiddle to somebody else.
I think somewhere deep down inside Boomer would probably want the family as well, but she has to discover for herself what that means for her and she kind of seems a far away ways from that. She's really conflicted and hasn't really found her way out yet -- how to break the surface and get some air. She seems to be constantly struggling and fighting. There's a lot of cloudiness and confusion for her still. She seems to have taken a darker path. Instead of just surrendering, she seems to be somehow seeking - but not really with a guide. So yeah, I think she's perhaps jealous of Athena's situation but not necessarily wanting to trade places with her.
It seems like 8's are a little bit different then the rest of the Cylon models. Like we see Sharon turn her back on her whole entire race to be with Helo, Boomer goes against her entire model to side with Cavil in the civil war. Is there something fundamentally different about 8's that make them more independent and rebellious because they just seem a little different then the rest of the Cylons?
That's a good point; I never really saw them as more independent. I don't even know if they think that themselves either, but I think what they are, they're really lead by their hearts and whether that be something that's good or not...
Boomer, I feel like she had her heart broken in many ways because of the Chief, and because of the whole Human-Cylon war and losing her connection to the fleet that she kind of knew as a family. There was a lot of heartache there and I think that's what sort of got her to side with Cavil. Not because she's independent, but she's easily led as well. The Eights are easily led, they're quite influenceable, they're emotional and I really think that's probably why they side with Humans often because they can be quite sympathetic.
Grace Park as Sharon "Boomer" Valerii on Battlestar Galactica 2003
That makes sense. We have the reveal of Tyrol as a Cylon and the death of Cally, so is there a chance of a reunion with Boomer and Chief?
(Laughs) Uhmm, yeah you know who planned Cally's death all along, right? No, I'm kidding. That's a good question. I think that...
You know I actually have to sit here for a minute and think back to whether or not Boomer even knew that Cally had died. The Cylons seem to know everything, so I am sure she would, but I don't think I really thought about it at the time. If there is a reunion it's hard to say what terms that will be on, because though Boomer knows that Chief is a Cylon I think that Chief has had a lot of his own conflicts about what he did with Boomer and sort of ostracizing her and blaming her for a lot of things and at the same time, the whole while, he was a Cylon.
But he didn't know as well, so it's interesting that he's virtually in the same shoes as she is, because they both were -- she was a sleeper agent, he's not necessarily a sleeper agent but he was shielded from his own identity, but it would be really interesting if they were to meet what kind of conversations they may have.
It's always that kind of thing with old flames. Do you act like everything is kind of all fine? Is it really? Or do you sort of get back in touch with where you were a long time ago? There's always a bit of a barrier there, so, that'd be interesting to see what happens there.
I was doing some research, I read that you have a degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia. Does that knowledge help you in preparing for roles, or motivation for the characters you've portrayed, especially Battlestar Galactica where you play different characters with different motivations? Does the Psychology aspect kind of help you... sort them out?
Yeah, it does, and it would be cool to go back through some of my notes to see specifically which things helped me be able to analyze and break down and study psychology because after you learn something, if you don't have anything previously there before, it just helps shape how you think, not what to think.
So, though there were courses -- I did take a motivation course, Psych 308 -- and I do remember learning things about animals, mice -- pressing the bar and getting the food and shocked, and stuff like that -- but that doesn't necessarily pave the way for how Cylons would act when they are at war with Humans and if you're a sleeper agent and stuff like that. (laughs)
So there's definitely a lot more research that was involved. I'd watch the Manchurian Candidate to help me out a little bit, and I actually took a personal development course which also gave a lot of information to how people form their postulates of the world and at the time that was pretty new information to me and I didn't even know how that would work on myself. It was only until I started having more insight and studying a little bit more, that I really recognized how that did shape me and then I could therefore take that and see if other characters had a similar thing or a totally different outlook.
Grace Park as Sharon "Boomer" Valerii on Battlestar Galactica 2003
But that being said I think it's quite interesting how the casting process is done because sometimes people, we ourselves are unaware of how we are but others, they can pick up on it. They may not be able to describe it, but it fits and I think that's the reason why I was picked to be Boomer initially. I thought it was interesting how some of my other cast mates and their characters seem to blend or mesh quite well. If not right at the beginning, then I would see the characters start to change and evolve to mesh more with the person and what the person was doing with their performances, and I thought, wow, that's kind of cool. Or it would match with something that I knew about the actual actor, but I knew the writers did not know. And they'd write a backstory that was eerily similar, and I thought well that's kinda weird how everyone else has that but me. [Then I was like] oh wait, do I have that too?
That's when I started to look at my character, because sometimes people would say, "oh, are you [like] Boomer? What are the similarities and what are the differences?" and I used to not... I was pretty laden in realizing that I was conflicted and I was struggling with my self-esteem and denial, stuff like that. So, there was a lot of growth to be had there.
So, I think psychology started it, but there was certainly a lot more character development that happened that was encouraged just by life and other great acting schools.
The first half of Season 4, Sharon shoots Natalie, the rebel Cylon leader for fear of her taking her daughter, Hera, and she gets thrown in the brig, but in the next episode she's out. Were there any cut scenes that better explain why Sharon was forgiven so quickly for that?
Hmmm, I don't know if I watched that, so I'm not sure what was [left in] or taken out. Sometimes even when you read a script and then you go to shoot it you don't realize that they've actually taken a scene out because once you've read it's sort of been deposited into your memory bank, and so sometimes it has to be pointed out that something was actually omitted.
I think it was actually described more in scenes with other people with, perhaps... between Adama and maybe Helo? But yeah, there wasn't a lot of scenes with Athena. She was pretty much thrown in the brig and I think there was something that she did to kind of justify herself.
After Athena takes the Colonial Oath, does she ever have a conflict of interest being a Cylon or does she feel 100% committed to the Colonials and never looks back on her Cylon origins?
I think when she takes the oath it is a really big step for her. That being said there are times when she is tested, especially when they found the infected Cylon Baseship. She was certainly conflicted, but I think at that point it was so close to when she'd taken her oath, and she had so much riding on the line -- she'd just gotten out of the brig, she had just gotten a new uniform -- she knew just how much it meant for her to be out and that her coming out and becoming actually a soldier for Galactica, it was a huge step forward for unity, or maybe a step towards seeing each other as beings, as persons versus just as robots and humans, and opposite races at war. So she knew there was a lot riding and if she had faltered who knows what that may have meant for her and her family, and so to her she really had to divorce herself from the Cylons and look forward.
Was she conflicted? Internally, yes, but I don't think... it's not that there was nothing there, I think she was actually just suppressing it so much and shoving it down -- so much to the point that even her own husband was telling her to rethink what she was standing for, because he knew that was going to be hard for her. I'm sure there are certainly other times, but I think more and more with every step that she stepped away from the Cylons it was easier and easier for her to keep walking away.
I want to talk about The Plan, the new Battlestar Galactica TV movie, which I guess airs after the series finishes. Can you give us any insight into that story line and which versions of 8 we can see in it?
What can I tell you? Not sure what I'm allowed to say, to be honest, and I would love to tell you guys more, but sometimes I don't say anything, and then I find out that Ron [Moore] and David [Eick] just spilled the beans, so then I start saying more and then I get into trouble, I guess because my last name is not Moore or Eick. So, I don't think I'm going to be fined a million dollars or something like that. But essentially it offers another perspective of some of the same experiences that we've already witnessed, so there will be some things going back in time.
Grace Park as Sharon "Athena" Agathon and Tahmoh Penikett as Karl "Helo" Agathon
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