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Jamie Bamber GALACTICA.TV interview 3
Written by Marcel Damen   
Friday, 05 February 2010

Recently Marcel Damen did another follow up interview Jamie Bamber, better known as Lee "Apollo" Adama on the Battlestar Galactica 2003 series. They talked about the finale, his feelings on the ending of the show and his character, but also about Jamie's involvement in Dollhouse, that stars colleague Tahmoh Penikett and Law & Order: UK in which he plays Detective Matt Devlin. We conclude with his future plans and what else is up for him.

This already the third time we've talked to you for GALACTICA.TV so I'm just wanting to do a short follow up. Thanks again for doing this.

My pleasure, Marcel.

During the Battlestar Galactica finale Lee suggest the Colonials should abandon their ships and most of their technology and start new lives using only essential supplies and the planet's resources. This would hopefully prevent Humanity from repeating the same mistakes it made on Kobol and the Twelve Colonies. This idea was surprisingly well received by the crew of the Galactica. How big of a surprise was all of this for you personally? Did you hope or expect it to end this serene and peaceful, or would you have rather seen it go out with a bang?

No, at the time, I loved it, because I kind of agree. I'm not a big fan of technology. I don't think it has actually helped us in any way. I only think it's a bit naïve to hope that if we get rid of everything, we won't just create more and start again -- start the same thing all over again. I think the ultimate answer is that you hope that there's wisdom coupled with technology. The problem is that it's not -- human being aren't that clever. We can't contain our own desires, so we consume and make out lives easier. Technology hasn't solved the ultimate problem which is to create happiness. They have never done that -- create contentment.

That's what I suppose Lee is talking about at the end. It's not that surprising that the people on the Galactica were all happy to get rid of technology. It has taken them to hell and back. So to find a nice green planet that has no war or strife on it, other than the natural battles that occur in nature, is probably a blessed relief. But it's their offspring that will probably be undone by technology again and that's why he hasn't thought it through properly.

Technology has always been sort of self serving and not purposed on the essence -- trying to find contentment and happiness, rather than just advancing for the sake of advancing. What Lee forgets is that whilst all these people are sick and tired of the abuse of the technology, subsequent generations don't have that wisdom, because we don't pass wisdom down genetically. The only way you can pass down wisdom and experience is by writing it and by communicating it and that's a gap in the system.


Katee Sackhoff as Kara

Katee Sackhoff as Kara "Starbuck" Thrace and Jamie Bamber as Lee "Apollo" Adama
in Battlestar Galactica 2003


So you were happy with how it ended?

Yeah. Delighted. Ron Moore actually concluded it with enough room for discussion and ambiguity that it will forever live on in people's debates, arguments and thoughts. I was absolutely ran away by it when I read it. It was beautiful and I thought it was character driven. It said something about where we are today and something about this mad journey these people have been on and the kind of things they're willing to give up to finally achieve a state of rest.

Lee's father flies off in a raptor essentially telling Lee he would never see him again, everybody spreads out, and Kara vanishes into thin air leaving Lee all by himself. Were you happy on how it ended for your character? Since I kind of felt sorry for him -- him being there all by himself.

There's a strange moment of understanding that comes from realizing that you don't actually need the people that are closest to you to be with you all the time forever -- to have learned from them and to have them, since you carry them within you. I think that's really the message. The lessons these people learned are so groundbreaking and life changing. We all belong to each other and physical proximity isn't the most important thing to all that. I don't think there's really the implication... Kara is one thing, she and Lee are intertwined. I think that's the message in the end -- that the people that meant a lot to you, that guided you in many ways within you, and they don't have to be necessarily physically beside you.


Jamie Bamber as Lee

Jamie Bamber as Lee "Apollo" Adama in Battlestar Galactica 2003


I think with his dad it's the symbolic act that sort of has been latent through the whole show. Lee has been a prince in waiting all the way through and the prince only comes to fruition  when the king dies of course. I think that his dad abdicating and then gently leaving his son to become and be his own man. It's the same journey that Lee's gone through all the way through -- trying to find out who he is. Kara and his dad kind of show him that in the end there. So, I think it's quite lyrical, poetic and symbolic. Whether Kara is an angel or anything -- she is, she obviously guarded him through an awful lot, good and bad. She's also lead him through a journey, on a merry dance, but at the end of it the dance ended in that place. Who knows what happens after that?

I don't think there's any implication that the human race is going to disperse entirely. They're going to create a community, they're going to create a dwelling place there and Lee is going to be part of that. He's not entirely alone. It's kind of like a metaphor after the journey he has been on. It's about standing upon his own two feet, being content with who he is and learning from those around him and what he has done.

Lee talks about exploring new worlds. Where do you think he ended up and how did he live his life? Do you think he ever looked up his father again or tried finding him or any of the others?

I haven't given it a moment's thought. I think that's really for the people to decide. I'm not going to tell you what I think, because I haven't thought about it. I was just concerned about the beauty of that moment and what happens after that, I guess we all end up where we are today. So what Lee's role in that is, is sort of irrelevant in the 50,000 years that follow.

I personally didn't care all that much about "The Plan" since I felt it didn't bring anything extra to an already perfect piece.

I haven't seen it, so I can't comment about it.

Eddie Olmos said if they ever make another movie he would like it if it started with Bill sitting in his cabin, there's a knock on the door, he opens to find his friend Saul Tigh saying: "We have a problem". Do you feel they should leave the series as the completed piece of art it is now or should they make more movies that widen the storyline? How do you personally see your role in any of those if they're made?

Until I see something that means -- if I read something or someone tells me an idea that is really amazing, I think we should leave it as it is.


Jamie Bamber as Lee

Jamie Bamber as Lee "Apollo" Adama in Battlestar Galactica 2003


If they make an interesting Battlestar Galactica movie, with a great storyline, would you be open for that?

I can't tell you until I see what it is. At the moment I don't feel the desire to do it at all. I think it should be left. It ended rather brilliantly. I like the way it is. If someone comes up with something brilliant, I read it and they want me to be involved in it, I'll have to make a decision then and there. But no, right now, I can't see that happening.

Okay. You're currently starring in Law & Order: UK as Detective Matt Devlin. Are you happy to be back in the UK and what are the biggest differences between working in America and the UK?

Yeah, I really enjoy being back in the UK. It's been a great opportunity for my family and my kids in particular to be in London and Europe -- to understand this part of the world and to meet and get to know their relatives over here, to meet their family, our friends and to meet the kids of other families. I've really enjoyed reconnecting in that way.

I find working over here at times frustrating, because of the lack of budget and the lack of commission that goes on, on TV here. It's going through a very bad time and I do find that frustrating -- the limitations that you work with and the fact that the network doesn't seem to take very many risks. But that's just the model of TV over here. To be honest, I do prefer working in the States -- very much. I think there is more -- within television anyway -- television is going through a fantastic period, especially the cable networks who are producing these great shows right now. I think that's bearing on the networks as well. Television is very much happening in America and not anywhere else right now. So, I do feel like I'm... but I'm very proud to bring an American product like Law & Order to the British TV. I've loved working with British actors and directors over here -- it's been really fun. I still have to do a lot of time over here, but unfortunately they don't have much money to give it now.


Jamie Bamber as Matt Devlin in Law & Order: UK

Jamie Bamber as Matt Devlin in Law & Order: UK


Matt Devlin is in my opinion similar to Lee Adama in the sense that he's also very idealistic, and one of the true good guys. What are the biggest differences between the two of them?

I don't see them as similar at all. Lee is very... sort of cerebral, pensive... Yes, he's an idealist, but he's also very pragmatic about his methods. I think Matt Devlin is someone who hasn't experienced half of what Lee has and is black and white because of a lack of experience, more than anything. He's much more cavalier than Lee is. I don't see them as that similar. Lee's also privileged, because of his background. Matt is an ordinary guy, who grew up in a working class neighborhood and now is a policeman who solves crimes for a living. Lee is someone who's situation is entirely different. His way of responding to crisis is very different. No, I see Lee is much more self conscious, I suppose, than Matt. I don't think Matt is self conscious.

That's true, but wouldn't you've rather played an entirely different character for a change, like the salt-of-the-Earth Ronnie Brooks?

I think Matt is also quite the salt-of-the-Earth. I disagree with you.

When I last interviewed you I asked you: Lee against Archie in a barfight - Who wins? And you said Archie doesn't have a chance. I'd like to ask you again: Lee against Matt in a barfight -- Who wins?

Yeah... (pondering the question) Don't know! I think that might be a draw. (both laughing) I think they'd both hurt each other.

Tell us about your role as Martin Klar in Dollhouse. How did you get the part? Was it fun working on that set?

It was just an opportunity that came from the left field actually. It's funny to go to LA for a holiday. I got a call from Joss Whedon's office and I'd consider doing this role he'd written. I  thought: "Oh God, I am going to say no to Joss Whedon and I think I don't want any work, because it's a holiday." and I politely said that I wasn't available. I talked to my wife about it and she said: "Are you crazy? Go work for a week, I don't care." So I talked to my manager and said: "Maybe I want to talk to him after all, but what if I really hate it? How do I say ‘No’ after that?" He said: "Just ring the guy" and I did, but I was so nervous I was stumbling over my words -- because he's Joss Whedon and I'm not. (both laughing) So I said: "It depends when it shoots." It happened to fit and he happened to make it fit. He described it to me and I hadn't seen the show, so none of this meant a great deal, but it's a bad guy and it sounded cool, really cool.

I asked him: "How do you want me to play it?" He said: "I want you to bring your sort of nice and charming self to it, so he's not all bad and you can understand he's heartbroken. That's why I called you, because I hope you can bring that." and I said: "Okay, great. I'll be the bad guy." You know, I admire Joss Whedon very much -- what he's been able to do within that sort of restrictive system that works in Hollywood in TV. He's been able to write, produce and direct his own stuff and I'm very impressed by that. So I was very keen to work with him, to establish a relationship.

There was a big buzz for me to meet Tahmoh [Penikett] on set as well, in his own show and to be his own man. I was kind of humbled by that and was excited to see him in that role. Tahmoh came on board on Battlestar Galactica, sort of creeping in from the side. He was supposed to die in the Miniseries and he became one of the stars on the show. This time he was the star of the show from the get go. He was great on set. For me that gave me such a positive feeling. It was very emotional, just to be on his set and I loved it - and I loved punching him. (laughing)


Jamie Bamber as Martin Klar and Tahmoh Penikett as Paul Ballard in Dollhouse

Jamie Bamber as Martin Klar and Tahmoh Penikett as Paul Ballard in Dollhouse


I jumped at the chance once I knew it would fit in with my plans. I enjoyed it very much. What else was great? Oh yeah, I had a G5 jet! I just came from the set of Law &Order: UK and I show up here and I got all great limousines, bodyguards and a G5 shining jet inside an aircraft carrier and it's all on camera. It's ALL on camera! In Law & Order: UK we shoot people over the telephone! (laughing) People overhear a shooting and say: "He just got shot!" It's like a play. So, I loved to be on the show: it was fun to meet Joss Whedon, it was fun to meet Tahmoh and it was a fun week all day.

If the series had continued, were you going to come back?

No, I don't think so.

What else is up for you? What's new? What are you future plans?

I don't have any other than finishing Law & Order: UK this year. I'll probably go back to the States to our house there, somewhere around the summer time. Hopefully, I'll find some interesting work and try and start to get some interesting balls rolling myself.

What do you think is interesting now in the US? What do you like seeing on TV?

My favorite thing in recent years, I suppose, has been -- like everybody else -- I like Mad Men a lot. I quite enjoyed watching Hung actually, the new HBO show. There's not a lot of the new stuff that I like, to be honest. This year's stuff doesn't appeal to me, really, stuff that I've seen.

I've been under contract for 7 years now. It's going to be quite interesting to be free and be able to be available for things. It's that freedom that attracts me more than anything, but I think it's going to scare the hell out of me in about a week and then I'll be desperate for something to happen. No, it's the idea that I don't know what's around the corner that's quite exciting to me.

Are you looking forward to one day go back to scifi like Battlestar Galactica or a period piece like Hornblower?

I don't really think in those terms. I'm not thinking of flavors and colors. I'm just interested in...

...roles and good storylines?

Yeah, someone writing something that's interesting and that I could be considered for. That's the other thing. It's not like I can pick and choose. It's just when things match. But I've always said that I'd love to be in a Western. I'd like to do a couple more movies. That's sort of the idiotic schoolboy that kind of responses. I'm realistic. Scripts have to come along, someone has to be interested and you have to bring something to it. It's not about choices at my level, not at the moment.

I'm hoping to start -- I've come up with a few ideas of my own and I'm teaming up with writers and producers. I'm seeing who's interested in working with me. That's something I'd love to sort of do, but that's in a very early stage, so we'll see.

Okay. Thanks again for taking the time.

My pleasure.


This interview is a follow up on two earlier interviews we did with Jamie Bamber in 2007 and 2008: Jamie Bamber GALACTICA.TV interview and Jamie Bamber GALACTICA.TV interview 2

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