battlestar-galactica-01.jpg

Share to Facebook Tweet This Send to MySpace DiggThis Send to StumbleUpon Send to Reddit Send to Del.icio.us

Jennifer Halley GALACTICA.TV interview
Monday, 20 October 2008

Recently Mike Egnor caught up with Jennifer Halley, better known as Diana "Hardball" Seelix in the Battlestar Galactica 2003 series. She talks extensively about how she got into the business, her role in the series through the seasons and her future plans.

You grew up in Vancouver, right?

I am, actually right now I'm just on Vancouver island.

Tell us about growing up in Vancouver.

It was fun. (laughs) I grew up quite close to the beach, and was really close to my schools, and my grandparents live up on the coast and so we went... there was lots and lots of camping, and outdoorsy things and sports, and lots of fun. Vancouver was - used to be - and it still is a real small city. And now it's just growing every day.

You went to primary school and secondary school in Vancouver?

I did, yes.

Did you do any acting then?

I took some acting in grade eight and nine. But then I had to choose between sports and acting, so I played sports.

What sports did you play?

Everything! I still play some sports, then I played mainly basketball, and volleyball, and soccer, and I ran. Yes, I still play a ton of sports. If I don't play sports I go a little bonkers.

You modeled internationally as a teenager?

I did. I didn't really model in Canada or the States even. I left, and I went travelling and ran out of money.  I had to figure out a way to keep travelling so I ended up modeling. My home agency was in Israel, and then I did trips from Israel to Europe, and from Israel to Japan, sort of a backwards way of doing it.

 

actress Jennifer Halley

actress Jennifer Halley

 

Is there any publications or articles that we can check you out in, or was that all European?

There were articles in Israel but I think I may have - I don't know - if you can track them down, good luck, they're in Hebrew. (laughs) I don't know how your Hebrew is.

That's going to hard to type into Google.

Yeah. (laughs) Actually.

So what happened after secondary school?

I left for travelling and I told my Mom that I was going to be back in time for Christmas, which was about six months out, and I didn't come home for about four years. (laughs)

How did she take that when you said, "I'm going to go travel for six months?"

She was really - my whole family - was really supportive. Then I think I came home for about, like over that time, probably about five weeks total? So by the time I came home she threatened to take away my passport. (laughs) She was like, "That's it." Then I came home for a couple of years, and then I left again, and I'd come home and leave. I've been fairly home bound for a few years now.

How did acting come about again?

I think it came... I was working as a social worker at the time. I became interested in it from modeling. I would only really enjoy modeling if I kind of thought of it as creating a character and making up a story in my head. Because otherwise it didn't really suit my personality. But if I felt like I was part of the creative process with the photographer and that we were trying to make a story, then it became really fun and quite exciting. So it kind of always stayed with me. I don't know why now, but I took an acting lesson, or acting class or something. I don't know what possessed me. I kind of just did it on the side for a long time, and I didn't even really want to admit to myself that I wanted to do it. Then I was a social worker and I needed to take a break because it was a very high stress, intense job. I took a month and did this really intense workshop and by the end of it I thought, "Oh my God. This could be a job. I think that's what I want to do." Then I pursued it right after that. I probably did a few more months of social work and kind of, I finished off - I can't remember how it all went now - then just started to pursue it and then worked in restaurants for a few years... (laughs) and took the classic path. (laughs)

Did you take any more professional training or schooling in acting?

It was all trial by fire in theater. I did plays and sucked in my first one. I just kept learning and taking classes, yeah, but I didn't go through a program. I meant to. I meant to, but I just never did.

What types of plays and theater did you do at that time?

Oh, anything that I would get cast in. It was all amateur community theater. It was only the last couple that I did that I got paid.

What did your family say when you said, "You know what? I want to be an actress."

(laughs) I'm not sure... I think it sounds a little crazy to anyone. I don't know if I would want my daughter to do it. For the most part, I think everyone, at least to my face, was supportive. (laughs) I don't know what they said when I left the room. It sounds really dodgy when someone says one day that's what they want to do. Because you're so far from the decision making process. You just can't go, "Hey! I'm going to go down this road, and I'm going to work this hard, and by the end of it I'm going to be here." There's so many unknowns that I'm sure your family doesn't wish that on anyone.

Your first credited work on IMDb.com is as a waitress in Lunch with Charles. Is that right?

No, actually. No, it's Limp and that was Duane Lavold, who was the writer, director.

Where was that done at?

Vancouver. I think it should be on IMDb.

Maybe the order is wrong.

But that was my first. That was actually just a couple of months after I got auditioned. I think I decided that I was going to be an actress in May and then that was my first lead role. I think that I auditioned for that in August or something.

So how did you get that gig? Did you have an agent? Did they call you in?

No, my agent didn't want to send me out for this role. A friend of mine knew them and said that they were having a really hard time finding this role, because the person had to shave their head. So I went and I was just terrified. I mean I was so nervous, just shaking. Oh my God. I think it was Duane who... he could see how just traumatized I was. But he cast me, and I shaved my head. The audition process and working is just so different. I had a lot of fun, and I learned lots, and was never that terrified again. (laughs)

You were in an episode of Stargate SG-1? How did that come about?

Just the usual auditioning. I would love for someone to just call me. (laughs) One day, people will just call me, but not yet. Everything I've got, I've auditioned for.

 

Jennifer Halley as Diana 'Hardball' Seelix on Battlestar Galactica 2003

Jennifer Halley as Diana 'Hardball' Seelix on Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

Can you explain to me the difference between starting out and that you have to go towards auditions and then later on, people call you?

Can I explain that? I think you have to like... someone like Katee Sackhoff, I think people just call her. There's some rules that they'll always... I think... Gwyneth Paltrow doesn't audition. When you've got a body of work behind you, that you don't to go through that. I'm probably not the best person to ask. I mean I know lots of the Battlestar people that have gone on to other shows, I'm not sure if they were offered - I think some were offered - maybe some auditions? I'm not sure. I'm, uh, still conflicted over the auditioning process. (laughs) It's not the most comfortable thing to do.

I guess my question is, when you're trying to get work, does your agent call you and say these things are available?

Oh I see. What happens is like if I'm a director and I have a role - or a producer - and I've going to cast this movie, I send my character breakdowns to a casting director. Then the casting director contacts the agent. Then the agent submits their actors for what roles that they think will be good. Then the casting director will say, "Yeah we'll see this person, we'll see that person, we won't see that person." So you get a call from your agent saying, "You're going in to read for this role." There's a lot of steps involved.

You were in five episodes of The Chris Isaak Show?

Yeah, I thought I was in more. (laughs) I think I was in like nine. I'm not sure. The Chris Isaak Show was fun.

You could have been, the site's often wrong. Can you tell us about your character?

She was awesome. She was so fun to play. She was... (laughs) she had her own ideas and looked down on everyone. (laughs) She was really fun, I really liked... Those writers, Andrew (Schneider) and Diane (Frolov), the writers behind that, they're just so awesome. I would do a walk-on, if they wrote it in for me.

Did you work with Luciana Carro? Was she there during that time?

We never had scenes together, but there would be times that we would be shooting on the same day, and say hi and chit-chat, but we never had scenes together.

How was she?

Oh, she's really fun. Yeah, she's really sweet.

Did you work with any of the other Galactica actors before you came onboard with Galactica?

No, not at all.

Had you heard or seen the original series?

I'd heard about it, but I never watched it as a kid. I was never a big space fan. My husband's a space nut bar, but I never was into it.

How did you get the role of Seelix?

I just auditioned. It kind of grew into this part. They just kept writing, and I'd just keep showing up, and saying the lines. (laughs) I think they just... they didn't kill me, so it all worked out. (laughs)

Did you audition for any other parts?

On Battlestar?

Right.

No, just for this role.

 

Jennifer Halley as Diana 'Hardball' Seelix on Battlestar Galactica 2003

Jennifer Halley as Diana 'Hardball' Seelix on Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

We first see her on Season One, episode twelve which is "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 1". At that point, you're uncredited, and we just see you on a Raptor. In the next episode, they crash land on Kobol. At this point, were you told that you were a deckhand under Chief?

They didn't tell me anything. I didn't know I was a deckhand under Chief until Season Two. I think you wrote in your e-mail that you had heard the story that Aaron was the one that gave myself and the guy who played Tarn our names.

Right. Is that true?

Yeah, it is true. The director (Michael Rymer) asked - he asked me what my name, like what my character's name was, I sheepishly looked up and was like, "I don't have a name!" (laughs) Then he goes, "Someone give these guys a name!" And Aaron just yelled out, "Seelix and Tarn." And that was my name.

Did you ask him where he got that from?

No. (laughs) I was like, "Are you sure? Really? Seelix? Really? Couldn't it be... Like it sounds like Feelix. Come on." But, it stuck.

After that episode, did they tell you that you'd be coming back for the next season?

No, I had never had any idea when I was coming back. I thought every show was my last show.

In that same episode, we see Seelix treating some wounds, and she later gets shot in the leg after escaping a Cylon anti-aircraft emplacement. Can you tell what they used to show the wound?

When he had the pulmonary problem?

No, your character got shot in the leg, right?

Oh! Well that was in Season Two. I didn't get shot until Season Two. I can't remember how. I thought you were talking about the other guy's injuries. I think they probably just put - what are they called - I can't remember the things that kind of pop and blood, fake blood, comes out of them. It's pretty fun to fake getting shot.

 Does it hurt when it goes off?

No, it doesn't hurt. But the sounds, the sound when fake gun fire is happening, it really is scary! (laughs) So really, you don't have to act at all. You just let the - yeah -  it sounds scary.

So Season Two, they call you up and say, "We want you back." Is that what happened?

Yeah, for Season Two, they started on Kobol again. Usually shows kind of start in a different... time has gone by... but things started exactly where they left off. So they hadn't killed us yet, and killed me yet. So I did episodes one, two and three and made it onto Battlestar! (laughs)

When you go that long from shooting, but the episodes are one right after the other, does your hair have to be exactly the same length?

Yeah, and I had cut my hair so there's a lot of Season Two where I'm wearing a wig. I think maybe all of Season Two I'm wearing a wig.

 I was wondering how they got around that. Did that give you any problems?

It was uncomfortable but nothing like prosthetics, or anything like that. (laughs) So it was fine.

The scenes where Seelix is on Kobol, where was that shot at?

I believe... I can't remember the name of the park, it's outside Coquitlam. It's out of Vancouver. It's this gorgeous park, it's really unbelievable. I've shot up there for other things before, but always meant to go on a hike out there, but it's just in the most beautiful setting. I can't remember the park, but if I remember to, I'll email it to you. But it's outside of a place called Coquitlam.

Did shooting outdoors cause any problems?

Um... no. It's always nice to kind of be in the real situation. So you don't have to act like you're wet and cold, you just are wet and cold. (laughs) It's nice to be in the real setting instead of a set.

Ok, I was wondering if there was any lighting problems? If it rained?

Oh, all the technical stuff I don't know. I just do what I'm... I'm sure there are lots of problems for the crew guys; the mud, and the cold, and the rain, it's different for them. But for us, it just creates a very real environment to live in.

 

Jennifer Halley as Diana 'Hardball' Seelix on Battlestar Galactica 2003

Jennifer Halley as Diana 'Hardball' Seelix on Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

Seelix then is rescued and brought on board the Galactica. We see her as a deckhand under Chief. She helps throw a welcome back party when Cally gets out of the brig, and helps Chief to build the Blackbird. We learn then that she specializes in avionics. Did you have a back story, or create a back story, on how Seelix got training, or what she was doing before she ended up on the Galactica?

No, there were a few back stories that I had read that came out. I think some of them got edited out. So I just tried to keep it as simple as possible. Because Seelix, you never really knew what was happening moment to moment. I just keep that stuff private and really simple, because you never know how it's going to change.

We see Seelix later on New Caprica, where she helps with the resistance movement, and she helps save Cally, Zarek, and President Roslin from a Cylon execution squad. Can you tell us her thought process for getting involved with the resistance and the rescue operation?

I think for me it was just about being loyal. At that point, I hadn't really thought about the Cylons, it was just about loyalty, choosing a side and sticking to it. I think Seelix was really hurt by the disloyalty.

Can you tell us what location they used for New Caprica?

That was I think out in Richmond. I'm not sure actually, I forgot.

Did they bus you out? Did they take cars?

No, I drove out and they then used, from the airport, there were cars are available. They drive a van to where you need to be.

So at this point, your character is getting more involved in the show. Do you have any ideas why they decided to use you more?

Maybe because someone else wasn't available? (laughs) I mean, at that point, that was just at the beginning of Season Three - and I didn't come back - and that was episode three and four- and I didn't come back until fourteen or something. So I had no idea when, how I was coming back, or when, or anything like that.

But you come back, and then Seelix ends up as part of the inner circle, to identify and execute members of the fleet that conspired with Cylons. How did she feel personally about being judge, jury, and executioner?

Again, it was about loyalty and somebody had to do something. Apollo, you know he sometimes... not going through regular political channels or to be more effective. I mean it's all very... lots of the characters struggled with that. I think we all did.

Later on, Seelix tries unsuccessfully to help Chief and Cally out of the airlock. She ends up watching their son, Nicholas. I'm wondering how she ends up being the babysitter? Was it because she was friends with Chief or Cally, or was this just another grunt job since she was under Chief?

I think that they... I think because I had, you know, hung out with... Seelix had hung out with Chief and Cally at the beginning of Season Two, I think that, for me, it just made sense that I would have seen them socially and I think it also came out of Seelix being a part of - as tough as she was - that she did have medical training and she did know had to take care of people and there was something maternal about her.

 

Jennifer Halley as Diana 'Hardball' Seelix on Battlestar Galactica 2003

Jennifer Halley as Diana 'Hardball' Seelix on Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

Later on, it's found that Seelix wants to become a pilot. Is this something that was discussed before, that you brought up?

No, I had no idea. Yeah, I had no idea.

How did you feel about it, when you read the script?

Pretty excited. (laughs) And then scared because it just became a lot easier to kill me. (laughs)

Seelix passes the written exam, but the fleet wants to keep everybody where they are, to keep the fleet operational. How did Seelix take that?

I think she's pretty vocal at the time that it's not fair to be worked. Obviously she worked hard and she was smart enough and good enough to do it. I think that the writers are really smart in exploring how people get stuck in positions in society. They're a very, very, very good writing team on that show. They've managed to explore issues without being preachy and still find the drama in it, which is really fun for an actor.

Afterwards, she is promoted to ensign and she becomes a nugget. How was acting different for you in a flight suit and without anyone to interact with?

Well the flight suit wasn't fun, and the helmet you had to wear, I didn't like. (laughs) But they were manageable. Yeah, it's challenging but it's something different when you have to stare out into a hangar and pretend like someone's shooting at you. That's where imagination and bravery comes in, because you can really feel like an idiot if you think about what you're doing. (laughs) It's make believe, so it's pretty fun.

I've heard that Katee [Sackhoff] passed out, or almost passed out because there was no air flow in the suits.

Yeah, I mean it can be very claustophobic.

Seelix becomes a very capable Viper pilot and even destroys a missile meant for Colonial One. You'd think saving the President would have got you a medal, right?

Mmm hmm! Right, I know. You got to talk to somebody.

We find out her callsign is "Hardball." Where'd that come from?

Well, it was the writers. I actually just found out at the end of the year and I wish I had enough guts to ask them. But apparently, it came from some kind of... where people were hitting on Seelix and she turned them all down.

She becomes part of the crew of the Demetrius to go with Starbuck to find Earth. You got to work with more and more of the main characters. You're getting a bigger and bigger part in the show. How was that for you?

It was really fun. I really liked working with Grace [Park] and Alessandro [Juliani]. They're very fun and have a really great work ethic.

After awhile, Seelix mutinies against Starbuck, and thinks she's a Cylon and wants to throw her out of the airlock. Why did she think she was a Cylon?

Because she was crazy, she was acting crazy. You never knew who was going to be turning into one.

Did this effort to go ahead and mutiny come about from her work in the inner circle, where she's used to being judge, jury and executioner?

I hadn't thought of that. I think at that time... you know everything is so life and death that you kind of jump on hunches without really thinking them through.

 

Jennifer Halley as Diana 'Hardball' Seelix on Battlestar Galactica 2003

Jennifer Halley as Diana 'Hardball' Seelix on Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

She ends up on the mission to try to destroy the Resurrection Hub. She talks Eammon Pike into not jumping away in his damaged Raptor, and ends up destroying the Hub with a missile. She's really become accomplished as a pilot, right? Again, shouldn't she have got a medal for those actions?

I know, I'm telling you, you've got to talk to someone for me.

Her first name is Diana, which is found out in the episode "Dirty Hands."How did that name come about?

Again, that was the writers. That was really helpful because it's a warrior goddess and it just added another dimension to help me create a character, a little bit more information for me to play around with.

Without giving away too much, will we see Seelix in later episodes? Is there anything that we should look for?

Where are we now in the scheme of things? Where have you brought me up to?

That we just find out that the other four are Cylons.

Oh yeah, she's in Season Four. Where are we in Season Four now? I can't remember where we ended.

You ended at the point where they found out that Tigh and Sam...

Do you remember what number that was?

I don't. I do not.

Yeah, I think Seelix is in a little bit, a little bit more. I can't remember the... I kind of know the episode numbers more. But I can't give away... there's so much stuff, there's so much action that happens, that I'm afraid to give anything away and get in trouble.

Are you pleased with the way it ended?

Ah yeah. They've done an amazing job. It's so exciting.

 

Luciana Carro, Jennifer Halley and Leah Cairns at V-Con

Luciana Carro, Jennifer Halley and Leah Cairns at V-Con

 

There's a pretty popular picture of you, and Luciana Carro, and Leah Cairns taken from V-Con in Vancouver. What was the convention like?

It was my first one, it was really fun, I'm doing another one just outside of London in September. Yeah, it was really great to talk to people who love the show. Hopefully I can do more, because they're really fun!

What's the fan reaction been to your acting in Galactica? Do people on the street recognize you and say hi?

Um, sometimes. I think you have to be a pretty big fan to recognize me. You have to really know the show quite well. (laughs) Every now and then, I get, you know, someone asks me if I'm on it, or they'll recognize me, but not very often.

You wrote and appeared in Sarah In The Dark, which you wrote, directed, and starred. Was this work your idea? How did it come about?

Yes. I had been writing it - it was just a little idea, just a little skit - and then I just kept working on it and working on it and a few years later it became a short film.

What's it about?

It's about the little voice in your head that's not so little. So she battles it out. That voice in your head that's always getting in the way and I just imagined what it might be like if that voice isn't as big and powerful as you think it is.

You won an award for best actress in the Winnipeg International Film Festival. How'd that feel?

I know, that's crazy! I was really pleased. I was happy, but because I wrote and directed it... it almost felt... it didn't feel as satisfying as... I mean if I just wrote it, I mean sorry, maybe if I had just acted in it, then it would feel satisfying. I mean I was very, obviously very, happy but there was so many other people that did such tremendous work that I almost felt like they should have been recognized more, or not recognized more, but it's like I didn't want to exclude anyone with the awards. It's been seen at a few other festivals and it was also shown for the Lunafest, which is great, because that's the whole film being recognized, which I'm pretty proud of and proud of everyone's work on it too.

Any future projects you have lined up?

I'm still writing. I'm writing away and I hope to be shooting something else next summer.

Any hobbies?

Golf, right now. I'm pretty kooky on golf.

You said you were married?

Uh huh.

Do you have kids?

No.

How long have you been married?

I'm coming up on my one year anniversary.

How is marriage or how has your life changed?

Marriage is great! If you pick the right person, it's pretty great. (laughs)

Good answer. Well Jen, I appreciate your time.

Thank you so much Mike.

 
< Prev   Next >