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Matthew Bennett GALACTICA.TV interview
Written by Marcel Damen   
Saturday, 20 January 2007

Recently Matthew Bennett, better known as Aaron Doral / Cylon #5 on the Battlestar Galactica 2003 series, was kind enough to answer some questions for us by e-mail. We asked what got him in the business, about his part in the Battlestar Galactica 2003 series and his future plans.

What got you started in acting.  With many actors, they can remember a specific point in time where they got the "hook" that that was going to be their career.

I was in a one act play in high school called An Actor's Nightmare. The play went to The Sears Festival which was an Ontario wide competition and I won the "Outstanding Achievement" award for my performance in the lead role. I had a great time preparing and rehearsing for the play and so much enjoyed the performance aspect that I knew I would have a good life if I could make a living as an actor.

You were born and grew up in Toronto.  When you were 20 you moved from to Vancouver to pursue acting, going two years to a theatre school.  Were there not as many opportunities in Toronto? 

There were lots of opportunities for me in Toronto, but I felt a need to move away. I was at a point in my life where I needed a completely different experience. I guess in part I was trying to re-invent myself.

Did you have to become a Canuck instead of a Maple Leafs fan?

No... once a Leafs fan, always a Leafs fan. (Always root for where you're from...).

Aaron Douglas is a hard core Canucks fan.  Do you and he (or anybody else from the cast) brag about whose team beat the other?

I don't talk to Aaron. He's a Canucks fan... LOL...

Actually, I don't have many opportunities to speak with the rest of the cast members. When the "Cylons" are working, its usually just the "Cylons", so I see a lot of the same faces.

You started out in crime dramas such as Street Justice, A Killer Among Friends, and The Commish.  Then you started doing some scifi with such shows as X-Files, Andromeda, and Stargate SG-1.  Do you have a preference between crime dramas or sci-fi?

To an extent I enjoy working as an actor in the "sci-fi" genre a little more. I think that overall, there's more freedom when it comes to storylines and possibilities within those stories, and I also enjoy the fact that I can get out of my "world" for a few moments.

Do you have to prepare differently for either type of series, or does it just depend on the role?

I prepare for all acting roles in the same manner. A part is a part, and a character is a character. The type of work and considerations that go into all my preparations are consistent from genre to genre, no matter if the story is set in the future, the present or the past, the characters I play are all people and need to be looked at that way... even Doral.

 

Matthew Bennett as Detective Len Harper in Cold Squad

Matthew Bennett as Detective Len Harper in Cold Squad

 

You were nominated for a Gemini award for your work as "Detective Len Harper" in the series Cold Squad. For those of us outside Canada, can you tell us about the award and the show?

A "Gemini" award is the Canadian equivalent of the "Emmy" award in the United States. In other words, it's the Canadian television awards.

Cold Squad was a police procedural show that ran for eight seasons. In total there were 98 one hour episodes, of which I "starred" in 41.

The show was based around a specific section of the police department that only dealt with cases that had gone "cold", meaning those cases that had gone unsolved for years... hence the title, Cold Squad.

You were in a Canadian series recently which is called At the Hotel. Could you tell us anything about that since I heard it even involves singing and dancing?

The show did involve some singing and dancing although I wasn't part of that.

The character I played was named J.J. Knowlton. He's was a member of the family that owns the hotel, and also a candidate for political office.

I had a great time working on this project. I got to work with a lot of Canadian actors whom I have a great deal of respect for, and I got to work with a director named Ken Finkleman who is a bit of a legend here. It was a job that I didn't want to end.

You are married to actress Brittaney Edgell.  Did you two meet on shows that you've done together? 

I met my wife shortly after graduating from theater school. We had graduated from different schools and were first represented by the same agency. When I saw her photo (8x10) on the office wall I knew I had to meet her.

You say she is your best friend. Why do you feel that way?

The acting business is a very strange and difficult business at the best of times and it certainly can put you through a lot of ups and downs. My wife is someone who understands that entirely and has helped me steer through so much in my career. She's also the ultimate travelling companion.

She has appeared in Cold Squad, but also on the scifi series Highlander, Forever Knight, and Earth: Final Conflict.  Any chance we will see her on Battlestar Galactica?

She would love to be on Battlestar! Everybody write to the producers and get her on... seriously... your voice is stronger than mine.

Did you watch the original Battlestar Galactica? If so, what did you think of it?

The original show was indeed something I watched when I was growing up. I loved it. It was a great motivator for me wanting to be a part of the new series.

 

Matthew Bennett as Aaron Doral / Cylon #5 on Battlestar Galactica 2003

Matthew Bennett as Aaron Doral / Cylon #5 on Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

How were you approached for Battlestar Galactica? Did you do a screen test for this particular part? Did you try out for other roles?

My first audition was for the part of Baltar. My second audition was for Doral.

At what point did you find out that you would be playing a Cylon character, when you auditioned, when you were hired, or when you read the first script?

When I was offered the part of Doral, I read the script before I made any decisions. The script wasn't released to us here in Vancouver and I wasn't going to take the part unless there was a good "hook"... (i.e. something interesting to play). When I read the last few pages of the script and had a meeting with Michael Rymer (the director), my decision was made and I was ‘on board'.

Do the producers ever keep from telling the actors that they are Cylons until it is time to reveal them so that they will appear more "human"? 

I have never spoken to the producers about my character. They've never offered any advice or stated at any time that things had to be done in a certain way. It's an amazingly freeing experience to be able to play and develop "Doral the Cylon".

How surprised were you when they decided to do a regular season after the Mini-Series?  How did you find out?

I wasn't surprised at all that Battlestar was going to series. I knew when the mini-series was being shot that it was going to be something special and I knew it would find an audience.

I found out from my agent that the show was going to series.

 

Matthew Bennett as Aaron Doral / Cylon #5 on Battlestar Galactica 2003

Matthew Bennett as Aaron Doral / Cylon #5 on Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

Early on, we would see the spines of Six and Boomer light up whenever they are in the heat of the moment.  Although I'd rather see them, our female fans want to know if the male Cylons spines light up as well, and if we will be seeing Doral's spine lighting up the night anytime soon?

I think if the fans want to see the male Cylons' spines light up they should write to the producers and make that request... I'm in...

The Doral models are the most cold, militant, fanatic of all the Cylon models.  Are you any of those things in real life?

No, I'm not like Doral in my ‘real' life, although we do share the same kind of focus... if I decide I want to do something, I usually get it done.

When the Cylons had been living among the humans prior to the attack, were they trying to infiltrate them to make it easier to control/destroy them, or were they living among the humans to study them to decide whether they could live in peace?

I think the whole idea of the Cylons living amongst the humans was to get any advantage possible. I don't think it was ever about "living in harmony", at least that's my opinion as an actor. The Cylons are the "bad guys", so it just makes sense that having them mingled into the human population was to make the destruction/control of the human race more efficient.

In the episode "Litmus", there was a Doral copy on board the Galactica that was running around with explosives strapped to him.  He finally blew himself up when he was near Adama and Tigh, though it was near Baltar's lab.  Did this Doral have a specific target or was he running around looking for an area of opportunity?

I was never told where Doral was going so I made the choice that he was either going to the engine room, (the heart of Galactica), or to an area with a substantial human population... which ever came first.

 

Matthew Bennett as Aaron Doral / Cylon #5 on Battlestar Galactica 2003

Matthew Bennett as Aaron Doral / Cylon #5 on Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

In "Final Cut", Doral says that the hybrid child of Helo and Boomer must be protected at all costs.  For somebody as cold as Doral, why did he feel this way?

The mixing of the Human and Cylon race by the Cylons would in fact give them the ultimate control, wouldn't it?

When the Cylons have taken over New Caprica, Doral tells Six "They would have destroyed themselves anyway. They deserve what they got."  If it was up to Doral alone, would he just kill all the humans off and be done with it?

Yes.

How difficult is it to shoot a scene where there are multiple Dorals going around?  How do you get the timing down if you have to talk to yourself? Do people point or stand in to show where the other Doral will be?

It's a fairly simple procedure once you've done it. You begin by figuring out where the "versions" of you are going to be and then you start the scene. The footage is shot and captured on a hard drive and then overlapped with the next "shot" and fed back through a monitor so you can actually see the whole scene coming together with all the different versions of yourself.

Obviously timing has to be taken into consideration but from my experience I've never really had any trouble with that, I'm very aware of my movements and flow both in speech and actual physical  movement.

If there's dialogue between two or three or four versions of yourself, it is sometimes possible to have someone standing in a location that's previously been shot and they can deliver your dialogue along with you as long as they're not seen by the camera.

 

Matthew Bennett as Aaron Doral / Cylon #5 on Battlestar Galactica 2003

Matthew Bennett as Aaron Doral / Cylon #5 on Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

Do you have any future projects lined up?

I've written a feature film script called Love Money which I'll be directing in the spring. The movie's a love story about a luckless guy who's disappeared for three years and has come back to his family's motel to steal  his brother's wife. I'm very excited about the project and we've got some incredible talent attached.

I'll be posting the movie information on my website once we go to camera so I hope everyone will check it out @ Matthew Bennett - The Actor's Web Site

Can you tell us about M.V.P. which is due out in 2007?

This show was a "pilot" for the CBC. As I describe it, it's a hockey show that's not about hockey. It focuses on the lives of the players and the people they know. My character's name was Malcolm LeBlanc who was the team owner. This character was something else... unscrupulous, a definate shark. I had a lot of fun playing him!

 

With did a follow up on this interview with Matthew Bennett in 2009: Matthew Bennett GALACTICA.TV interview 2

 
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