|Leah Cairns GALACTICA.TV interview|
|Written by Marcel Damen|
|Monday, 27 August 2007|
On January 12, 2007 Marcel Damen talked on phone for almost two hours with Leah Cairns, better known as Magaret "Racetrack" Edmondson on Battlestar Galactica 2003. It started a special relationship, since he's currently working hard to finish her website (Leah Cairns - official site), which will open up soon. In this interview Leah Cairns talks about her life, her career and shares some great backstage stories of the Battlestar Galactica set.
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.
I'd like to start with your name. Is it pronounced "Lee-a" or "Lay-a"?
Because I think Leah is at least not an ordinary name.
No, it's a name from the Bible, I guess.
Yes, [Leah was] the first wife of Jacob.
Yes, exactly. When I was in Israel, everybody knew my name, but in Canada you don't hear it very often.
Do you come from a Christian background or were you simply named after someone?
No, my mom liked a song by Roy Orbison and named me after the song, apparently.
You started out wanting to be a professional dancer. Did you have any training?
Yeah, I started dancing when I was 3 years old and I took ballet, tap and jazz. I danced six days a week, and did it until I was 16, so I had 13 years of dance training.
At what point did you decide that this was going to be your career?
Probably when I was 3! (both laughing)
actress Leah Cairns
I always wanted to be a dancer. I wasn't very good at it. I did ballet and I was really horrible at ballet. My dance teacher actually didn't want me to compete with the rest of the girls, because I was so bad. My mom felt so sorry for me, and then she kind of broke the news to me that I wasn't very good, and I wasn't allowed to compete unless I got a little better. So I did get a little bit better, and they let me compete that year, and then the next year I quit ballet and went into jazz and tap. It turned out I was really good at those two. So I competed in jazz and tap as soon as I started those. I think I was probably in third or forth grade and it was all I wanted to do.
Then, at the age of 16 you broke your back. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Yeah, when I was 16, I was in a car accident. I was hit by a drunk driver in my home town on the highway. The car I was in was completely demolished, and out of it I broke my back.
And also it ended your dancing career.
Yeah, that was the end of that. When I broke my back I was in the hospital for about a month. I had major back surgery. I had my back wired, and I have got rods in my spine now. It was a major surgery, and then I was in a brace for three months, and I lost all my muscle when I was in the hospital. I basically didn't move. [I hadn't] used my back muscles for four months, and I had to wear this stupid brace to school. I remembered I was so worried, because I'd always been muscular and I'd always been fit. So I started to panic looking at myself getting so skinny, so I used to sneak... I couldn't go to my own dance school, because they knew about my accident, so I used to go to a fitness club where nobody knew me. I would sneak in there and I'd just wear a huge sweatshirt over my brace. I started doing aerobic exercise again. I was so bad! And then as soon as the day I took my brace off I went back to dancing. It was really hard. The doctor who did the surgery on me said: "You know, you have rods in your spine. It doesn't matter if it hurts, because you can't hurt yourself." So I went back and I finished that year. I basically broke my back, took six months off, and finished the year dancing with my old dance troop. I think out of that I did major damage to my back. It was so painful I had to quit after that. It was why I ended up going to Costa Rica, and I noticed that was also one of your questions.
I went to Costa Rica, because in the spring time... Because I had broken my back in September, and the following spring my dance group made it into the North American Championship for the first time ever. (laughing) Something I've been trying to do since I was 6 years old, and we finally made it and I couldn't go. So I thought: "I'm not going to sit at home, be miserable, and be all by myself and cry about it." So they all went during our high school spring break, and I was desperately looking for other things I could do during that time, because there was no way I could just sit at home while everybody was gone competing. So I found this environmental trip to Costa Rica and I applied for it. They accepted I think 15 or 16 Canadians, and 3 or 4 Costa Ricans. We went down to Costa Rica. We lived with a team of environmental scientists from all over the world that were [doing] environmental research at a research station in the middle of the rain forest, and that experience... I think I was there for three and a half weeks, during my spring break, and that experience completely changed my life. I was kind of able to accept that everything happened for a reason. Obviously I wasn't meant to be a dancer, and now I just wanted to travel and study Environmental Science in University.
So you go backpacking through 36 countries and travel 8 years?
Yes! Costa Rica is what started that, because I never had been anywhere before that. So I went there, fell in love with travelling, and as soon as I graduated, put my backpack on and I just went. But I didn't travel for 8 years straight. I travelled 8 out of 10 years.
So I'd come home. Get a new visa, get a new passport, do a semester at University, and then go back. So I think I finished two years at University.
But still, it's a long time: 8 years?!?
Yeah, I know. There are a lot of places to see!
And I was really slow. (both laughing) After a while I just wanted to... I really wanted to live in these places, and I really enjoy the culture and to study the language, study the religion, and just get more of a sense of being a part of a community, than just a traveller.
Can you tell a bit on how the trip was? Where you started and which route you followed?
Oh gosh, I went all over. My route made absolutely no sense at all. (both laughing) None at all.
The very first trip, I started off in Japan, went to Australia and was supposed to stay in Australia for six months; But I didn't really care for it, because I wanted some culture shock, I think. So I left Australia and went to Indonesia; So then through Indonesia I did a month... Well, Indonesia I did two months, because that's how long the visa was for.
The other country I did a month. So Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Nepal... And then I found the places that I really loved. And then I would go back to those countries and stay in them for a year. I went back to India for a year, I went back to... I did... Well, actually, you know, I got second to India to tell you the truth. I ended up volunteering at a children's home in South India, working at an orphanage. Then my dreams of seeing every country in the world kind of messed up, because I fell so in love with these kids, that I found it really hard to leave them. So every time I had a change to go travelling again, I would come back to India to see the kids and then travel more of the country. So I think I spent more time in Japan and India then anywhere.
But India is a tough place to live.
Yeah... I didn't really experience the culture shock that a lot of people experience. Probably because my motto in life is never to have low expectations. So when I was in Nepal and I went overland from Nepal to India, everyone was like: "You're so young and you're travelling by yourself and you're going to India in the middle of summer? Are you crazy? It's going to be horrible." And I heard that so many times from so many people that I was literally expecting that I would cross the border from Nepal into India and show up in hell. My expectations were so low and I was so worked up about how horrible it was going to be and so prepared for this terrible, hot, crazy country, there's no way it could have been this bad as I made it out in my mind. And I loved it. I loved it! The first city I drove into was Varanasi, and until this day Varanasi is my favourite city in the world. It will always be.
actress Leah Cairns
I liked Varanasi. It was nice. Did you also go all the way up to Leh?
To Ladakh? Yeah!
Oh, I loved it up there. Loved it! I worked in a place called Secmol. I volunteered building a school, teaching English, and gardening and stuff. It was amazing.
Did you have any trouble getting out of Ladakh again, because the roads are only open two or three months a year?
Yeah, but we didn't have any problems. We had to go via... We went over land, so we had to go via... oh my gosh my brain is failing me right now... What's the...?
Oh, I can't remember either... for me it's also been 5 years ago, so...
Oh my gosh, for me it's been ten years ago now. The place that is in the war, between Punjab and India, uhm that area...
No, no, no, on the other side. It's right on the border between Punjab and... Dal Lake?
Oh yeah. No, I've never been there.
No, because you're not allowed to go anyways! (both laughing) It's completely closed. There were travel warning and travel bans and all sorts of things, because... I think they might have been Dutch tourists that were murdered up there... and we went anyways! (laughing) We both got stopped because there was a bomb threat at the market, and the bus driver drove right through. I saw my life flash before my eyes. Then we waited and went to stay on Dal Lake, on this amazing houseboat. This was a place that looked like... It would be a five star hotel, except it was a humongous boat in this beautiful lake. We stayed as two Canadian girls, two Italian boys and one guy from Belgium, and he was hired by the BBC to do a report on the war up there. His English was really poor and I listened to some of his interviews and he was having a really hard time communicating with these people, so I proposed to [pretend to] be his wife, and we went to do an interview together with this militant that had switched sides and was now working for the Indian army. We interviewed this guy, and we were surrounded by guys with machine guns, and the whole story is quite long, but it's a crazy story. A couple of years later I was reading a book about the worlds most dangerous places, and in India the most dangerous man at that time was Ghulam Haider, the man that we had interviewed. (both laughing) Ah... I was so clueless... (laughing). It was really great. I really loved it up there. I think Chandigarh was the name.
Chandigarh, yeah. So how did you get involved in an improv class at an ashram in India then?
Okay! So... (laughing) I think that after years and years and years of sleeping in a different bed every night, all the crazy bus rides... I think the longest I did was 54 hour train ride in India without a seat, crouching by the bathroom. My back was shot! And I was in Goa and I was really having a horrible time. My back was so bad, I could barely walk and I was only halfway done with my trip. And I was supposed to go from India to Israel to meet my girlfriend, and then I was supposed to go back for another six months in India, and go travelling with my mom for five weeks. I have all these great plans, and I thought I would have to cancel them because my back was so bad. I thought I would have had to go back to Canada. I knew about this ashram in Purna, and I thought it might be a nice place to go and relax my back to see if I could get it better, but I had also heard some pretty crazy things about this ashram, so I was a little hesitant. I thought: "Well, it's on my way to Bombay anyway and Bombay is the city I'm going to fly out of to go back home, since I have to leave. So I'm going to go there and check it out." So you go to this... Anyway, I have to make this story shorter, I can be so long. I go to this ashram, I get in, and there's this huge poster board with all of the events that are going on. It's all of this really spiritual stuff that I never heard. There is ore Samna healing, and craeniosacrel healing, and so I'm thinking: "What the hell is all this stuff?". I didn't know what anything meant, and then I saw a little line that said improv night. And I thought: "Oh, improv, like acting improv? I know what that is!" so I go to this improv night, and sure enough it was like what you'd find in a comedy club or something, and you'd do an improv sketch comedy. So, they're asking for volunteers to come up to the stage and I was really shy, because everybody knew each other, except for me, I didn't know anyone. But I really wanted to go on the stage and I was thinking in my head: "Oh, I really want to go, I really want to go!" and the guy that was leading the whole thing, said: "Come On! I need a woman up here. It's all men, I need a woman. Who wants to come up?". I think because the ashram was so full of so many spiritual people, like healers and... This one woman looks at me and she says: "Oh, this young lady really wants to come up on the stage!" and she was pointing to me and they pushed me up there. My heart was pounding, I was so nervous, and I got up and I did this little sketch comedy improv with these other guys and the teacher came up to me afterwards and asked me what company I was with. And I said: "No, no, I'm not with any kind of company. I don't work, I'm just a traveller." and he said: "No, no, what theatre company?". And I started to laugh and said: "Oh God, I've never done theatre a day of my life. I'm not with any theatre company." He said: "Oh, you're such a natural actor. You have to come. I'm doing an acting workshop next week. You have to come!" and I said: "Well, I can't. I have a really bad back and I'm just here for a couple of days. I'm probably going to fly home to see a doctor..." He said: "If I can fix your back, will you take my acting class?" and I said: "Yeah, of course I will." So he introduced me to a bunch of people. They fixed my back within three days. So I stayed and did his acting workshop, and it was really fun. There happened to be one other Canadian in this ashram and she happened to be an actress from Vancouver.
I know! She told me: "You know, Leah, I would never suggest to anybody to go into acting, because it's a very difficult, very arduous, gut wrenching sometimes, field to go into, but I really think that you should be an actress." I kind of laughed at her and I said: "Well, I grew up on the stage..." and it felt so good for my soul to be back on a stage. It felt so comfortable to me, I thought it would be a good hobby for me when I eventually went back to Canada. So I go back to Canada a year later... No, six months... No, no, almost a year later. I go back to Canada and I'm here to live, actually when I moved here. I looked up her acting teacher and I didn't know it was a very serious acting class. It wasn't for me. So I looked up this other guy in the newspaper and I find another acting teacher. I thought: "This looks good." So I go in and look at his class and sure enough his class has got costumes and lights, and they're on a stage and they're doing plays. I burst into tears just watching it. I wanted to do it so bad. So I went up and told him: "You know, I used to be a dancer, and suddenly I couldn't dance anymore. I really miss being on the stage and I really need a hobby. Could I please be in your class?" He freaked out! He started swearing at me. He said: "This isn't a class for people who want a God damn hobby! This is a class for serious actors. They're professional people..." (laughing) He got really upset with me and I was like: "Oh? Okay. You know what? I think actors are all insane. Forget it. It was a stupid idea. Forget it." And then he calls me back like three weeks later and he's like: "Hey, Wendy? This is Michael Simms calling and I just wanted to let you know I have an opening in the Monday night class if you want to come." and I thought: "Oh... Oh... Should I tell him that he has got the wrong number? No, I'm not going to!" and I said: "Yeah okay, I'll be there Monday." (laughing) And he never knew it was me! (laughing) I started taking an acting class with him, and within a month I had an agent, and within, I don't know, six months, I was acting.
actress Leah Cairns
But you were near Bombay? Didn't you do Bollywood movies when you were there?
No! But I did do... When I was working at the children's home at the orphanage, there was... We were nowhere near Bollywood, we were way down south, but they had a big movie and television industry down there as well. They knew that there were always white people at the orphanage because there was a constant bunch of volunteers there, so whenever they needed white people, who were usually the villains on the shows, they'd come to the orphanage and hire us. So I worked on a couple of local TV shows, I got an acting award...
...and it was nothing more than glorified background that I think that... I don't know... I got a plaque and everything. (laughing) I had to go and give a speech. It was hilarious. I was in a music video and a friend of mine was in a big movie. So when I went back to India, I thought it would be really fun. You know, I said I missed dancing so much, maybe I'll be a dance choreographer, because there's so much dancing in the Bollywood movies, I thought I'd do that. I got my resume together and brought all my dance clothes and went to Bombay and I was meeting up with my boyfriend at the time, who is now my husband. He was working in Bombay for a little while. I was so excited to give it a shot and I had a place to stay and as soon as I arrived, he said: "Great news. Guess what? We're going to Goa. I've got a new job!" and we left and I never got to try. One day, mark my words, I'll be in a Bollywood movie.
That's too bad, because...
It only seems right that I should be in a Bollywood movie!
You learned [the profession] over there. That's what you got hooked. You should have at least starred in a Bollywood movie then.
I know, I know! Well... I know... It was long before I ever became an actor, so I'll have to go back and try again. We'll see.
You appeared as Jenna in 19 episodes of Godiva's. It's about 10 young exiles living in a high-paced, fast world finding a home in Godiva's. Kind of taking family where they can, similar like you do when you're travelling the globe for 8 years. Jenna is also an inspiring dancer. I guess, you can really relate to this character?
Yes! I can definitely relate to the character. Jenna is much better dancer than I am at the moment. (both laughing) That was hard. To pull up the dancing, since I hadn't done it since I was 16. It was really physically a hard role for me, but it was a very funny show to be on because it's about a restaurant. I worked my way around the world working in restaurants. I started serving [tables] in Canada when I was 16, and I've been working in restaurants ever since, and whenever I lived here. And of course I worked five years, I guess three years in restaurants when I tried to get acting work, living in Vancouver. I was so excited to finally book a show so I could finally quit serving altogether...
(laughing) ...and you do a show where you star in a restaurant?!?
...and my character is a damn waitress! (both laughing) It's ideal work, you know, on the set, carrying people's dirty plates, punching stuff into a computer, pressing out bills. And I say: "What? How could this happen? (laughing) I'm still a server!". I think I've been a server a couple of times. One of my first commercials, I was a server as well. I know I just can't get away from it. (laughing) You don't have to do any character research. It's an inspiring dancer, who's a waitress. Really the only two things that I am.
Matthew Currie Holmes as Stick and Leah Cairns as Jenna in Godiva's
Did you like the comedy?
You know, I saw that question and I really had think about it. I still really feel I'm a very new actor. My very first acting class was five years ago. My very first audition was September 11th when New York went down. I haven't been doing this for very long. So I don't feel I have enough experience of doing either yet to really know which one I like to do better. At this point I just like them both.
Okay. Evidently you liked the show enough to name your dog Godiva.
No, I never had [the time] to get to like the show. The dog was my birthday present from my mom. She wanted to buy me a dog. I booked the show, and got the dog hours apart, and my mom was so excited for me, that her daughter finally got a fulltime acting job. It was so exciting, so she said: "You have to name your dog Godiva." The dog was supposed to be called Mr. Farly and since it was a girl, we decided that was a bit ridiculous, so we went with Godiva. Now the show is cancelled, and everybody makes the joke that I should call her Racetrack, but no, she's Godiva. (both laughing) I have to get another one.
Your dog and Katee Sackhoff's dog Meatball are best friends?
Yeah, I've heard that and that's not true. They've met once, maybe twice, and don't even particularly notice each other. Meatball is pretty, uhm... He's a little grunt. He just kind of waddles by and sniffs a little, and keeps on walking. Then Katee got a puppy called Melly B. this year. The cutest little pup dog you've ever seen, and my dog absolutely despises puppies, so we had to get them away from each other. But I've read that on the internet too that they're best friends and, you know... I just laughed. They've met twice.
Were you and Katee friends before, or did your both having dogs around lead you to get to know her?
No, we've met before I ever brought Godiva around, but we didn't meet until the show. We just met because we had some scenes together, and from working together, but I was friends with a whole bunch of the crew before Battlestar [Galactica] ever existed. Katee was not one of them. She's from LA, she's American so... I just knew all the Canadians.
They sometimes say a dog resembles its owner. A Chihuahua is quick, alert, self conscience, and very brave, especially seen his size, and therefore also very self confident. Anything you can relate to?
Tough for my size... What was the other? Quick?
Yeah, quick, alert...
Yeah, I'm quick, alert and tough for my size. Yeah... (laughing) My dog is a mirror image of me, completely a mirror image of me. She loves to eat and she absolutely hates the cold. I don't know, I guess you don't know, but we're having record breaking weather right now in Vancouver. It's really the most dysfunctional city ever. No one can get anywhere. I'm snowed in right now. I can't go anywhere and my car is stuck. We broke every record for the amount of rain and snow that we had. We've set a new Vancouver record, and it's an absolute Gong Show. There were 350,000 people without electricity, and we had a water ban for three weeks. We couldn't drink the water, and you didn't want to bath in it. It was so gross. We're just starting to get back to normal right now. But there are mountains of snow on the ground in a city that doesn't get snow. Nobody drives with winter tires. We don't have any snow ploughs. It's really ridiculous. And my poor dog refuses to pee on the snow. She doesn't know what it is. She won't go near it. So I have to buy those pee pads and she has to pee in the house.
Is the snow high enough to bury her?
Oh yeah, she can fall right in and then she's gone. I tried to take her for a walk and she wasn't really interested, but she jumps around a little bit. And I keep a leash on her, since otherwise I'd lose her. (both laughing) Just gone.
Leah Cairns with her dog Godiva, backstage at Battlestar Galactica
I can imagine that. They're really small, Chihuahuas.
Well, she's not particularly small. She's 5 pounds, she's normal, but there's just a lot of snow. It's just unbelievable.
Now that you have been involved in acting, do you look back and regret not being able to be a professional dancer, or are you happy with acting?
No. As far as the dancing is concerned, I said I think that absolutely everything happens for a reason and I was not meant to be a professional dancer. I think probably very few of the girls that pursued professional dancing, that I used to dance with, have come out extremely healthy. All the body image. I just don't think I could have gone through all that and come out well. So I think that being forced out of dancing was really good for me. As far as acting... Like I said, I'm really new and I didn't really choose this career, it kind of chose me, so I'm going to go with the flow, and whether this is what I'm going to do with the rest of my life? I still have no idea. But I'm going for it right now.
So if you weren't an actress, what would you do? Not an actress, not a dancer...
My dream was to open a guest house on an Indonesian Island and just live on the beach for the rest of my life.
Oh yeah, it would be nice to do that on the Gili Islands...
Yeah, exactly! Exactly! That was the goal. To become an actress was never in the plans. (laughing)
Oh, you're doing pretty good so far, so...
Yeah! So far, so good. It's a lot better than I ever thought it was going to be. I remember in my acting class when I first started, the teacher made us write down in ink, how much money we wanted to make that year as an actor. I remember just laughing and thinking: "How ridiculous that someone would actually pay me to do this." So I never really dreamt in a million years that I'd be a full time professional actor. It is still kind of makes me laugh. Why do people pay me for this? I'd do it for free!
You have to have some profession.
Yeah. No, I know, it's great. It just all blows my mind.
You have to pay the bills with doing something.
Going to Battlestar Galactica. Were you aware of the original Battlestar Galactica? Have you ever seen it?
No, I never watched it when I was a kid. You know with all the dancing that I was doing, TV wasn't really a big factor in my life. I also lived in a tiny little town. We only had 13 channels. I'm not even sure we got Battlestar Galactica to tell you the truth. Maybe. But, I've seen it once, since I started on Balltestar [Galactica]. I should probably watch it. And I feel like, for me, it was one of those shows that I probably needed to grow up on and have kind of a nostalgic feeling towards it.
The joy. Because it's really dated now, I think. I can see the appeal if you'd grown up on it, but I didn't, so I haven't really grasped it very well.
Leah Cairns as Margaret 'Racetrack' Edmondson in Battlestar Galactica 2003
How were you approached for Battlestar Galactica?
Basically my character was just supposed to be in the very last episode of Season One. So it wasn't really like any... It wasn't supposed to be a special part or a lead part. It was just supposed to be the one day. So it was just a regular audition like any other part like that. I was told by my agent that I had two auditions that day. One was for Battlestar Galactica and I can't remember what the other one was for. I have to admit that I find performing for science fiction is really hard, because I don't watch a lot of science fiction. The shows that we film here are Battlestar Galactica, Andromeda and Stargate. I didn't watch any of those shows, so I didn't know the stories. When you get to audition they just give you your scene. They don't give you the entire episode. They don't give you a story breakdown. So, I don't know what a Cylon is, I don't know what a Baseship is... I don't know what's going on. Having to do that for Andromeda and Stargate, I just find it so difficult, because I don't know what they're talking about. So I actually was going to tell my agent that I wasn't going to audition for science fiction anymore and that I found it too stressful. Then she gave me this last audition. I said: "Okay fine. This is it. This is the last one. I'm not going for any more of them. They never hire me. I'm not very good at it and I don't understand it." I tried very hard to be late for the Battlestar Galactica audition and I know that sounds really bad, but the two auditions were really close together. I knew I should have rushed and I didn't rush. I kind of took my time and thought: "Well, they'll be all gone and I don't have to do it." (laughing). Oh, I should actually say this before... So, the night before the audition I didn't understand the material and I was really stressed out. I was getting angry, so my husband said: "Okay. Okay, just relax. You need to think of this in a different way." and he put in Top Gun. He showed me one of the air fights in Top Gun. He said: "You see, you hear the words that they're saying? That's what it is. You're a pilot in this show and this is what you're talking about. Your raptor is about to crash and you're going down. It's exactly the same thing." and I'm like: "Okay, okay.". I probably watched that scene from Top Gun about 15 times. I said: "Okay, I think I understand it. I think I get it." So off I go to my audition and I'm kind of going slow, and they waited for me. Well, now I feel really horrible because I actually hate when people have to wait for me, and I'm usually extremely punctual, but this was kind of a special circumstance. So, I panicked and said: "Oh my God. Can I go to the bathroom?" and they said: "Yeah, fine", so I ran downstairs to the washroom, I went in and peed really quick. I was running out of the washroom and wasn't paying attention. I turned around from the sink and I ran straight into the stall door and I knocked myself straight onto the ground. I bashed my eye, I had a huge bruise later on, and I couldn't stop blinking my eye, and it was watering. (laughing) I was in so much pain, and I'm sort of like: "Oh, for the love of God! Why? Why?!?". So I go into the audition, and I'm trying to stay calm, and my eye is like involuntary pulsing. I tried to do the audition, and at the end of it all these tears are streaming out of my face and the casting director is like: "Are you okay?", because it wasn't a sad scene. I said: "I kind of had an accident with the bathroom door." and we laughed it off and that was that. I thought: "There's no way I'm getting that part", because how horrible was that audition? I couldn't even see... And I got it! So I show up on set and I still didn't... They don't clue you in. I still had no idea what this show was about, but Grace Park and I were really good friends, so I said to her: "Grace, what in God's name... What am I doing? What's a Cylon? What's a transponder? What's a Baseship? Can you explain the story to me?" and she explained the story and everything. By the end of that episode I was a huge Battlestar Galactica fan.
It was just so good. Then I heard this thing that Ron Moore brought me back because he thought I was good, and that's another thing. I don't know where that came from. Who said that?
It was on several message boards, but maybe it was on one of Ron Moore's podcasts.
That's what my mum said. That it was on one of his podcasts, but... I think that's very nice, but I have to hear it for myself to really believe it. Because when I was leaving Eddie, Edward James Olmos actually filmed one of my scenes. He got behind the camera and did the camera work and he was like: "Good job. We'll see you next year!" and I said: "No, no, no. I won't be back, because this is just my one episode." He just kind of chuckled and he goes: "See you next year!" and he walks away. I just figured: "Oh..." Because when you don't die on Battlestar Galactica, we all kind of come back... until they eventually kill you! I thought that was really nice what Ron Moore said, but I'm not sure how true that is.
Even when they kill you, you're not sure if you won't come back as a Cylon.
Yes, this is true. There is always that!
You can always come back.
Let me tell you, they're popping them off this season: left, right and centre! Oh, it's scary. Every single time I get a script, the first thing I do is to go to the end page to see if I'm still alive. (both laughing) It's true. We all do. Every single one of us.
Yeah, because there's a huge rumor going on that one of the main cast members will disappear at the end of the season.
Yeah, they said one of the top seven is going down.
Leah Cairns as Margaret 'Racetrack' Edmondson in Battlestar Galactica 2003
I asked many already, but nobody knows. It is supposed to be the big secret on the set as well. Even all the actors are afraid that they're going to be the one.
Yeah. Yeah, it's crazy. It was a pretty funny year. For sure! So... I'm Sorry, what was the question? Oh yeah: how I was approached. I wasn't approached in any way special. It was just a regular audition and it was just a fluke and a job I ended up carrying into three seasons.
So you also didn't try out for other parts? Because a lot of the actors also tried out for...
Yeah, I did. I did actually audition for Six.
How funny would that be? Can you imagine that? Me as Six? (both laughing) That's hilarious.
Well, I could have seen that!
I don't think anybody, except for Tricia [Helfer], who can do that role.
Now maybe! But maybe not back then.
Yeah, I know, I know. Still, it's so funny to think of that now.
Were you given a backstory of Racetrack?
No, nothing. I wasn't even given a backstory about Battlestar Galactica. (laughing) I went in knowing absolutely nothing. I found out my name was Margaret Edmondson at the same time that you guys found out. I didn't know her name was Margaret Edmondson, you know, I knew nothing. So I just made up my own.
Did you create your own story?
Well, I did yeah. I created my own story and then this fan wrote me some fanmail and she wrote this story about me and Helo, Racetrack and Helo. I thought her backstory was better than mine, so I used hers! (laughing) I think I asked her. Yeah, I wrote to her and asked her if it was okay and she said "Yes". I've been using that one ever since, but the writers didn't really... Because in her version there was a little something-something going on between Racetrack and Helo, and the fans kind of picked up on that. Even though it was unintentional, it's was interesting to see that the fans thought that. We decided to run with it and Helo... Uhm... Tahmoh and I worked it into our storyline. Unfortunately, I don't think any of it really has been shown. So much of our stuff gets edited. They overshoot so, so much, and they give the editors tons of stuff and material to work with. So much gets cut. My favorite show part about working on this show is the few seconds before the scene actually starts and the few seconds after the scene ends, because this group of actors... They have the most incredible improvisation skills and they improv so much before and after, but unfortunately so much just gets lost in editing. That's when you really have the opportunity to develop more character stuff and that's when Tahmoh and I try to do it. I don't think it really came across, so.
Tahmoh Penikett as Karl 'Helo' Agathon and Leah Cairns as Margaret 'Racetrack' Edmondson
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