At the Galactica Two Convention in England, held August 4-6 2006, Martine Voppen spoke to Paul Campbell, better known as Billy Keikeya on Battlestar Galactica 2003. He talked about his part on the series, why he left the series and upcoming projects.
Does it make it easier to live in Vancouver and shooting there because you seem to move back and forth between L.A. and Vancouver a lot.
I didn't move back and forth when we were shooting Battlestar [Galactica]. I would stay in Vancouver. I was going down to Los Angeles on all the breaks just for some sunshine and because it was pilot season heaven. It does make it easy, living fifteen minutes from the studio, definitely. (laughing) It beats that three hour commute every morning on the airplane. It does!
Well you could have flown, if you would have won the role of Superman. Could you tell us anything about that?
About auditioning for the lead role of Superman? Just that is was the most fleeting, ridiculous audition in the history of auditions. They did a huge international search and they literally saw every person. It's kind of like conscription where every able bodied man is called up to audition for the part and because they wanted to cast a relatively unknown. They were looking, they weren't offering it. I think they had actually offered it to big names, but nobody wanted to do it, because of the statements that are attached on becoming a superhero.
I actually thought Bryan Singer wanted an unknown person anyway.
I think he did, but I don't think Bryan Singer was on board originally. I don't know if he was attached to it from the beginning. I could be wrong. They did decide that they wanted someone who was relatively unknown, so it's just a huge casting call and of course I fit the description of young early 20's and extremely good looking (laughs -- a cross I bear. I went in, read and I knew from the get go that there was no way in hell... I read it with a big smile on my face and said: "Thanks very much, I'll never see you again."
You're going to do another show for the NBC, Nobody's Watching. It's picked up, so could you tell us anything about that?
It's the most incredible series of events. It was just this pilot that I did for Warner Brothers before the start of Season Two of Battlestar [Galactica] when I was in Los Angeles. Warner Brothers decided not to pick the show up, and then about a month ago it was leaked onto YouTube. It was on the front page of YouTube and a bunch of people started watching it. Then the New York Times picked it up and did a story about it and all of a sudden it became this phenomenon and NBC decided to give it a go. So NBC passed on the script originally, and Warner Brothers passed on the show. Warner Brothers bought the script, made the show, but passed on it. Now NBC has come back and said: "Well, we passed on the script originally, but it has such a big fan following, that we're going to give it 6 episodes".
It's incredible. It's the first time in history that a pilot has ever come back from the dead. Once a pilot is dumped, nobody wants to touch it. It's like a leper. Unless there's another leper that wants to touch it. I don't even know how that would work...
When do you start shooting?
We're going to do 12 webisodes, for now, and those will start airing in September until mid January or February. Then we'll start shooting and we'll hopefully go on the air in March or end of February. Something like that.
Well, we'll look out for it.
I'm just looking forward to doing it, because it's so much fun to do.
Do you have any other projects lined up besides Nobody's Watching?
Nothing that I am waiting to shoot. I have, I did a little bit in a movie called 88 Minutes, that Al Pacino stars in and I'm waiting for that to come out. But other than that, no, I've just been biding my time, you know, waiting for the phone to start ringing and it did! [sounds very excited] And now, it was NBC.
So what's your role in 88 Minutes?
It's a small role, but it was a scene that I had with Mr. Pacino, so I'm very excited about it. I just play a student of his, who pisses him off in the classroom and he screams at me. It's Pacino screaming in my face and it was a highlight for me, definitely.
Kandyse McClure as Anastasia Dualla and Paul Campbell as Billy Keikeya
on Battlestar Galactica 2003
I can imagine. Let's go to Battlestar Galactica.
Let's go to it!
You played Billy Kekeiya...
Play, played... What tense are we working with here?
Played [past tense].
We don't have a lot of background information on Billy. Did you create any or did the writers give you any other background info?
Kind of... I did some of my own work just for my own personal use. When I was talking about my family and stuff, that had been killed, it was a little more personal to me or to Billy. I didn't talk about it with the producers or anything. It was so... those pauses when he's casting his memory back to his home life. He actually had something to think about. But no, it was never really discussed and I don't think... other than the odd bit that's dropped here and there about his family and about his brother. He talks about his brother, that died. I think that's about the extent of what we know about him and what they had written about him. I'm sure that Ron Moore had a full dossier about the character, but he didn't really. If he had it, he didn't feel like he needed to share with me.
On the Second Season DVD set 2.0 there is an edited scene. It's a Roslin dream sequence and Billy is acting a little bit psycho in it. He grabs her neck...
I didn't know that made it into the DVD! I was so disappointed that it didn't ever air. I didn't know that they actually saved it. I'd love to see it. It was so much fun!
It was on the DVD in the deleted scenes. Why do you think they didn't they include it?
I think because, so often, the scripts were so full and it was just a case of what was really integral to the plot of the show. It was just an extra thing they decided to do. It was one of the strongest scenes I remember shooting with Mary [McDonnell], since it was so different. I guess as far as how it affected the show, it was the first to go. I'd like to see that. Did Mary [McDonnell] look terrified?
Yeah?!? It's the first, it's the only time that I played someone that is really dangerous and I liked it. Yeah! (smiles)
Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin and Paul Campbell as Billy Keikeya on Battlestar Galactica 2003
In the series Billy seems to become comfortable working for Roslin, but always seems nervous around Adama. Is this because Billy is comfortable around politicians but fears the service or are you just in awe of Edward James Olmos?
I think what I tried to do initially, was... I think I was definitely afraid of what he embodied and just afraid of the military in general. Being more of a pacifist, just what he represented to me, was this incredible, potentially unstoppable power. So, for Billy, just being in his presence was enough to make him tremble. By the end of it, and I don't know how it played, I might have not had lost as much as that I would have liked, but I think as Billy... Inconsequentially... Billy/Roslin, the presidency began to gain more power, he had more footing. I think that he became a little more comfortable around Adama, but originally he's a really menacing guy and he's such a physical presence too. Just to be with him in the room and hear that low grumble is enough to shake anybody.
Are you going to watch the new season yourself?
Absolutely! There's no question.
I always wondered if they paired up Lee and Dee, because you were leaving or were they always going to do that?
To be honest with you, I don't know and I think that was going to happen anyway. They were showing little bits of the relationship in episodes after the Pegasus arc. They started showing Dualla looking over her shoulder noticing Apollo and stuff like that. It hadn't really been decided at that time as far as I know, that Billy was going to leave the show. That was the direction they were going. They kind of tried to make the Billy/Dee relationship work, but it didn't, it just never really clicked. It was always really awkward.
That's not true. You were a fan favourite couple.
Well, fan favourite couple, but as far as the relationship, it was never a solid relationship, right? The relationship never really worked, because it was always... Billy was after something when he wasn't delivering and Dualla wanted something that she wasn't getting and we just kind of never really clicked.
You did have chemistry together. You were a really cute couple.
Well, I loved doing it. I'm not going to say that I didn't like the stuff that we did, but I it wasn't really going to go any further and it did go as far as the proposal.
So you're happy with the way the character went?
Absolutely, I was really happy with the last final script. Really happy.
Alright, well thank you very much. Good luck on Nobody's Watching and your future projects.
Thanks so much (smiles)... Pleasure.