|Rick Worthy GALACTICA.TV interview|
|Written by Mike Egnor|
|Saturday, 31 July 2010|
Some time ago Mike Egnor talked extensively to Rick Worthy, better known to Battlestar Galactica 2003 fans as Simon / Cylon #4. He talked about how he got in the business, his work on Star Trek and the Battlestar Galactica series, lost opportunities in using his character on the series and his feelings on some of Simon's decisions. He also goes briefly into his future plans and what's up new for him.
You grew up in Detroit?
I grew up in the city of Detroit, Michigan. I come from an automobile family. My father and mother worked for General Motors, my grandfather and uncle worked for Ford. So in my family a lot of my family worked in the automobile industry. Me and my brother are the ones that went in a different direction. He went into music and I into theatre. I graduated from the University of Michigan and moved to Chicago. That's when I really started to dive into acting. . .
Were you from any pressure from your parents or grandparents to go into the auto industry?
Yes, that's a great question. My dad always dropped on me that I should work for GM, Ford or Chrysler. He always put that little bug in my ear. I never had dreams of working in the automobile industry, following in dad's footsteps. I wanted to do my own thing. He was concerned like any parents would be if you tell them you want to be an actor. Of course they flipped out! (laughing)
At what point did you decide that you wanted to become an actor?
I was like 21 when I told my mom and dad that I really wanted to become an actor. I wanted to move to New York and wait tables, work at a gas station, or do whatever I needed to do to survive, so I could pursue my dream. My dad completely flipped out and I can still hear him screaming at me. It didn't sit well with him. My mother was a bit more understanding and tolerant of my dreams. She gave me the thumbs up to go for it.
I moved to Chicago and did a McDonalds commercial. I was the only guy in the commercial and it was great, because you see me do all these different kind of characters. I have dreadlocks and like a second later I have a business suit on and so on. I didn't tell my parents I did it. I wanted them to naturally catch it on TV. They called me the day after the commercial aired. They said: "Hey, we just saw you on TV." And I said: "Yeah, things are going good. I have a roof over my head, the rent is paid and there's food in the fridge." Once they knew I was okay in that regards they seemed to become a bit more understanding.
Let's go back to grade school/high school. Was there any point in time that you did some acting or were interested in doing it?
My brother and I had always been very creative. We were both dancers when we were very young. My mom taught us how to dance and put us in talent shows when we were little. We won quite a few of them. When we got to high school, my brother and I continued on with our dancing. This is in the 80s when break dancing came out. We loved it and wanted to learn how to do it, so we pretty much taught ourselves how to do it. We entered more talent contests and then we heard the TV show Dance Fever was coming through Michigan. They were looking for people and my brother said: "Hey man, we should see if we could get on there."
We auditioned for Dance Fever, we got selected and they flew us out to Hollywood. So at the age of 18 we were dancing on TV. It was a great experience. When that was over I decided I wanted to continue doing things creatively, not necessarily with dancing, but more with acting. So I went to the theatre and my brother became a DJ. He began with mixing and creating his own electronic music. He actually still does that today.
You studied Film and Drama at the University of Michigan. Did you anticipate on going to theatre when you went through college?
Actually I didn't. I'm the second person in my immediate family to graduate from college, my brother being the first. My brother went to Michigan State University, which is actually quite near the University of Michigan (UFM). I went to UFM. Most kids in college go there to do pre-law or pre-medicine. I figured I'd do something like that or computer science. After a couple of years just goofing around I was just completely lost, was on probation twice and almost got kicked out the school, because my grades were so bad. I then took a year off of school and asked myself: "What is it that I really want?" It was acting. It was the clearest answer that came to me. I went back to UMF and changed my whole major around and majored in Film and Drama
actor Rick Worthy
After that you started as a stage actor in Detroit?
Yes, I started as a stage actor in Detroit and did a couple of really great shows. I knew I had to go, because at some point you have got to go. I moved to Chicago, where my brother and his wife had already moved to. I was actually thinking of going to New York first. I did go to New York and hung out there for a while and then my brother called me up and said: "Why don't you come and hang out with us in Chicago."
So I caught the M train all the way from New York to Chicago. I immediately fell in love with Chicago and ended up moving there right away. After I moved there, I got an agent and auditioned for a couple of things. I discovered that there is so much that an actor can do in Chicago. You don't have to go to New York.
Where there points or times that you were nervous and wondering if you could ever make it in the business?
Even today! (both laughing) Absolutely. That fear comes up, but you've got to dive into the abyss and test yourself, see what you're made of. There were many nights where I hoped I was strong enough to do this. If the work isn't coming in, you start to get worried, doubting yourself, wondering if you have talent.
I just stuck with it and even today, when I've had a really hard day or week, when I'm like testing for a new show or try to get a role in a film and nothing is happening... You're your own worst critic and I certainly am, because I beat myself up a lot -- I wonder what I did wrong. When you look back on all the things that you've done -- thank God I've been really blessed to work on some wonderful shows on TV and a couple of nice movies - you say: "I guess I'm doing the right thing."
Being an actor is like a rollercoaster ride. It's always up and down, up and down. When it's good, it's really great, but when things are bad, it's usually really, really bad.
The best advice I ever got from an actor was that the world's best actor is probably a waiter somewhere because he didn't have the perseverance to follow his dream.
Yes, you've got to have that perseverance and that ability to stick to it. You've got to have focus, laser beam focus, never losing sight of what you want. That has helped me a lot. I tried to be as honest with myself as I can, in terms of my work and my craft -- how I approach the industry and the business. I think it has paid off fairly well. This is the one thing that I do and I enjoy it immensely. There are certainly some times when you have your trials and tribulations! (laughs) At times, like during the writer's strike -- though I totally supported it -- it took its toll on me personally, as well as a lot of other people that I know. You pray your union doesn't strike, because this town simply couldn't survive two strikes in one year.
While you were in Chicago you were nominated for best actor for The Colored Museum. Can you tell us about your role and what it was about?
Good question! That was absolutely one of my favorite theatrical experiences. I was in Chicago and had worked at Victory Gardens Theatre a few times. There was a rumor going around that The Colored Museum by George Wolfe was going to be remounted and put back up at Victory Gardens. Andre De Shields, who was a great Broadway star and did the title role of The Wiz, was going to be directing it. I then knew I had to try to be in it. I called to the theatre and scooped down a little bit and found out they were going to put up The Colored Museum. I called the artistic director Dennis Zacek and asked him if there was any way that I could audition. He kept me in mind and called me down to audition.
I met Andre and didn't think I got it at first, because it was such a difficult audition. They wanted me to sing and dance, while I'm more like a pure actor. I ended up getting in the play. I did these one act scenes throughout the whole play and I play like 5 or 6 characters. It was one of the best experiences in my life. When it was over, I was just exhausted. I think I grew as an actor too from that whole experience. I ended up getting nominated for outstanding actor in a play in Chicago -- The Jeff Award.
You then moved to LA to work on film and television?
I stuck around in Chicago a little bit longer. While You Were Sleeping, the Sandra Bullock movie, I ended up shooting there -- I got a very small role offered on that. I jumped on it. It was a great opportunity for me. I did that for a couple of weeks, made some more money. I was trying to save as much as I could before I moved to LA. Then I moved to LA, probably around 1995, and I have been in LA since.
I'd like to talk about your Star Trek work, if that's ok. You actually got started with voice work on a Star Trek video game, right?
Jonathan Frakes, that you guys know from The Next Generation, is actually a great director. He directed a lot of episodes of Star Trek -- I think this was actually my very first job in LA -- and he was directing this video game. He asked if I was interested and I jumped at it. I didn't even have a car at the time, because I was so poor. I had just enough to pay my apartment and get around town by bus. Fortunately my apartment was located only two blocks from Paramount Studios where they shoot Star Trek. I was able to walk to the lot and go in and audition, which is kind of special since no actor in LA can normally walk to a lot to audition.
I auditioned, met Jonathan and the casting director Ron Surma. I think it was for Klingon #1 or #2 or something. They offered me the role that same day. It was essentially a video game that they were filming -- a live action piece. It was all on camera stuff, so it was like shooting an episode of Star Trek. It was awesome because I never played a Klingon before. That alone was just cool as hell, to be in that suit with the makeup. It was a kick and a lot of fun. The makeup took about two hours to put one and another one hour to take off. That was quite an experience! Working with all of those guys was just awesome and Jonathan is just one of the best directors. That job eventually lead to a lot of work on Star Trek.
Rick Worthy in various roles on Star Trek
Yeah, you ended up playing a Klingon in a Deep Space Nine episode?
Yes , but that was maybe two or three years later, when I did that. When I look back on Star Trek, the Deep Space Nine episode is probably one of the first things I would think about. LeVar Burton directed the episode. Just me and him was amazing in itself, because this guy basically made history doing Roots, working with children on Reading Rainbow, all the work he did on Star Trek, movies and also as a director. It was a great honor to work with him and he's an awesome guy too. We got along so well. All of those guys are great.
I was a robot, I think he was called Prototype 3947 in Star Trek: Voyager. That was the next thing that I did after the video game. Jonathan Frakes directed that one too. It was with Roxanne Dawson who played B'Elanna Torres. We had the whole episode, since I play this robot that kidnaps her and forces her to make other copies of himself. (both laughing) That was a lot of fun, but really hard too because I couldn't see anything inside the robot suit. They put two little slits where I could barely see out. I had to practice where my marks were on the floor and when the cameras rolled I had to force myself not to look down. When it was over I had to voice over the whole thing, because I was speaking from inside of a mask and the sound wasn't recorded very well.
The biggest thing I did on Star Trek was on Enterprise. I play Zindy Jannar, the scientist and mediator between the different parties. That really a lot of fun. I did like 12 episodes of that. I thought it was a very cool series, but unfortunately it didn't last as long as the other Star Trek series.
Did it make you feel good that they kept asking you to come back? Or did you start to worry that even though you played a Klingon, a robot, a crewman, and a Zindy, that they could keep doing this because nobody remembered who you were?
I've Googled around a bit on the internet to see what people think of the different shows that I worked on. Everybody loves Star Trek and probably has the biggest fan base in the world. I didn't mind coming back in the different series of Star Trek as long as they were all different. They've all been different enough. Each one has been a totally different character. As an actor I also only wanted to do it as long as it was a different character as before. Having played a robot to an officer on a ship to a Zindy to a Klingon. They're all different enough, so I didn't really mind that too much.
Rick Worthy as Zindy Janner on Star Trek: Enterprise
Let's move on to Battlestar Galactica. Had you seen the original series?
Oh yes, with Lorne Greene, Richard Hatch... I was a big fan of the original series. When I heard that there was going to be another Battlestar Galactica I thought it would be interesting. I was driving down Sunset Boulevard and saw this big billboard for Battlestar Galactica. It was a picture of Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell and some of the other cast members and I could just tell from the tone and the casting choice that they made, that this was going to be a completely different kind of Battlestar Galactica. Dark, heavy, drama, moody and intense and it is. That show is one of the best shows on television.
I was having coffee with a buddy of mine. He just graduated from USC. I told him about one year ago, that I'd be working on Battlestar Galactica and he said: "I don't watch scifi stuff, because that's not really my thing. " I hadn't seen him in about a year and he said he'd been watching Battlestar Galactica and it was his favorite show on TV. (both laughing) he even said that it was the only thing he was really watching. That and the news. It's got something in it that is really special. People have really gravitated towards Battlestar.
The Miniseries came out before you were involved. Did you watch it when it came out?
Yes, I did. At the time the Miniseries came out, I didn't have cable. I was hoping someone would tape it for me, but I ended up buying the DVD. I was sitting in front of my TV and thought it was absolutely amazing. I popped it back in and watched the whole thing again, because I thought it was that good. It just delivered all the expectations I had of it and that I wanted it to be. I was so impressed by this show.
When I was asked to audition for it, I was so excited. When I got the job to play the role of Simon, one of the twelve Cylons, I was speechless. I was so happy to do it. I look back on the whole thing now and realize how lucky I was to be on it.
How did you get involved in it? Did someone call you? Did you audition?
I was doing a TV show, a 10 daily on ABC, called Eyes. I played a gay, psychotic detective. Well, it's a psychotic detective who also happens to be homosexual. What was brilliant about the show was that that wasn't the issue on the show with that character. It was a great show, but unfortunately ABC didn't see it that way and pulled us off the air. We got great reviews, great acclaim, but I guess the numbers weren't there.
Anyway, while I was doing that show, we kind of had a little hiatus and I had a feeling that we might get pulled off the air. My agent was committing me for other things and she told me about Battlestar Galactica and the audition for this Cylon character. So I went and met David Eick, one of the producers and creators of Battlestar. I auditioned for him, he liked me a lot and offered me the job. It really only came down to doing this one audition and meeting David Eick.
Rick Worthy as Simon / Cylon #4 on Battlestar Galactica 2003
Writer and producer Jane Espenson said that when she was first hired, she was given the "Cylon Bible," the internal document describing Cylon culture and technology, and found it fascinating. Were you given the "Cylon Bible"?
No, I didn't even know there was a Cylon Bible! (laughing) Is there really? No, they didn't give one to me.
When you got your first script, did they explain to you about being a Cylon and what that involved?
I love to ask questions like this. I did an episode of Stargate a few years ago and when I got up to Vancouver, director Peter DeLuise gave me his cell phone number in case I had any questions. He said: "This is a lot of information, a whole different mythology and these characters are probably very new to you, so you probably have a lot of questions." and I did; I did have a million questions.
When I got up to Vancouver to shoot Battlestar Galactica I had a lot of questions who these guys were and how they take human like form. I asked anyone who would basically help me. The director and a couple of cast members were very helpful. I kind of figured out some of it on my own as well. I came up with my own idea what my character was about.
Initially, in Season 2, Simon is a doctor who is treating Starbuck after she is hurt in a Cylon ambush. Simon initially tried to convince Starbuck into bearing children, but after she declines, he schedules to remove her ovaries. She finds out who he is, and kills him and then escaping. Simon was working on Six's orders, right?
Yes, I believe that is correct.
Do you know why at the time they were trying to get Starbuck to reproduce?
My understanding was that they were trying to find out how exactly humans reproduce -- what the science was behind it. I think they were trying to find a way to do that for themselves. In the beginning of every episode in the titles you see: "Man created Cylon. The Cylons evolved. There are many copies. Etc.", but when a Cylon dies they're "downloaded" in a replica body and they're alive again.
I don't know how many times I've been killed on the show! (both laughing) Not just me but Tricia Helfer and Grace Park... We've all got it in different ways. I think for them it was a puzzle they were trying to solve. How is it that these humans create life? It's very interesting. It makes you wonder -- kind of like an ongoing question and I ask this often to people who are fans of the show: "Do you think Cylons have a consciousness? Are they aware they are alive in the way that we are or is everything programmed?" I think that's an ongoing debate about the nature of Cylons -- life and being.
Obviously Simon has some medical training. Did you create a backstory or were you given a backstory on where he came from, where he got his training from?
I wasn't given a backstory on how he was a doctor or a scientist. When I'm not given something I have to dig and create something on my own. Sometimes I'll check it with somebody to see if it's on the right path. He's pretty much the only guy on the team who's a scientist. I liked it, that he is that guy who's the doctor and the scientist. I wished they had written more scenes where you could see him do more experimental things.
I loved Simon in "The Farm", but thought after that they ruined it and underutilized his character [Note: this interview was done before The Plan was filmed].
I completely 100% agree. I have to be very honest, I began getting frustrated. I read that script and thought this was going to be really great. I hoped people would really dig it, because it's kind of a dark script -- this guy trying to steal this woman's ovaries. If you kind of let that go and allow yourself to say: "Okay, this is science fiction and a different reality I'm looking at.", it's a really well done episode. People also really responded to it. And I thought to myself: "If this is just the first time we see this guy, I can't wait to see what else they have in store for him."
Rick Worthy as Simon / Cylon #4 and Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica 2003
It's sad because they didn't write a lot for me to do. A lot of episodes they had me do one or two lines here and there. I actually wondered why I had participated on the show. "I'm an actor, so use me. Give me something to do."
I think I've done 7 or 8 different episodes of Battlestar Galactica. There were a couple where I wasn't just sitting in the background and I could get in there and have a really good scene. The episode we did where the Cylons get sick from this virus was the next chance I had to really act and do something. It wasn't a lot but it was more than they had been giving me.
I agree, I wasn't used a lot on that at all. You're not the first person to mention that. There are a lot of people that walk up to me on the street and say: "Hey man, we really love your work on Battlestar." or "Hey, you're the dude from Battlestar! How come we don't see you anymore?" You know what? I wish I could give all of you guys an answer. It's kind of how it went down.
Let me go back to that first episode. After Starbuck leaves, she sees another copy of Simon who is also killed and we know he is a Cylon. After the episode, did you talk with anybody who said they might bring you back at a later time?
Actually when they called and asked me to do the episode, it was with the understanding between me, my agent, the producers and the casting office that I would return. But in what capacity or on how many episodes wasn't written in stone yet. I only knew I would be a recurring character.
He doesn't come back until Season 3, episode 2, where the fleet is on New Caprica and under Cylon control. Didn't you start to wonder when he'd be coming back?
I did, because I've got to eat and pay rent. In my mind it was like: "If you guys want to bring me back, you've got to do it now, because if I get offered another series, I'm going to take the series." I happened to be free when they brought me back. In the middle of all this I was actively involved as a lead in a Miniseries on another network, ABC Family, called Fallen. That also happened to be shooting in Vancouver at the same time Battlestar Galactica was shooting. Thank God, there wasn't a conflict, because I'd already committed myself to ABC to do this Miniseries. Otherwise they wouldn't have been able to use me, unless we shot around it, which is really, really hard. When you're second lead on a show you basically have got to be there. It's not like you can't show up for a day.
When Simon comes back he seems more like a politician than just a doctor taking orders. He is number 4, and as we can see that the seven known Cylons have distinct personalities. You said in another interview that Simon is a scientist, who isn't as religious as the other models, though he does believe in a creator. And that he wants what the humans want, the right to exist. Do you feel he is more Darwinian, in that its survival of the fittest and that the Cylons are the best bet on the evolutionary scale?
I think he is. That's very good, because I think he's very Darwinian in the sense of survival of the fittest, most fit species and all that. He's a kind of guy that wants to exist and wants his kind, his race to exist. If that means that we have to eliminate another group to do that -- the humans primarily -- that's essentially what we have to do. I've always tried to play him not as an extremist, but that there's a part of him that understands that this is what we have to do, yet he's not 100% agreeing with it. I don't know if it fits well with him, in terms of his conscience.
I was just going to ask that if he has the ability to snap his fingers and erase humanity, would he do it?
He would probably have a couple of drinks first. (both laughing) I think he probably would snap his finger, but there has to be kind of a very long pause - he'd be hesitant at first - but I think he would follow through.
Simon was the only Cylon of the seven who hadn't infiltrated the fleet. Was it because you didn't come on board until later in the series, or do you have a backstory that would have explained this? Maybe he tried to get on board as a doctor but Doc Cottle was already there and he couldn't get on [Note: again, this interview was done before The Plan was filmed].
I would have liked to see something like that. They could have made it an internet series -- some backstories where you could see what was happening at that time or that year. There is so much you could do and explain with that. I think people would have really appreciated it. I should have gone out and shot it myself! (laughing)
During the scenes on New Caprica and later, there are several models of Cylons including Simon running around on screen. Is it difficult to do these different takes interacting with other Cylon models who aren't actually onscreen at the time, or interacting with your own character?
They did some really great editing with that. It really looks realistic. Often times what they'll do is that they'll have someone like Efo, my stunt double to interact. During one of the big shoot outs, they'd shoot one of the Simons. The camera is on my face but it's Efo's body you see falling. I come down to pick myself up and get him out of there. So they'd use Efo, because he's an excellent stunt man and knows what's required of him -- like gut shots and falling -- or they use someone that's about my height and position him so that you're not looking at his face. They might also just duplicate my image digitally in post production.
In the episode "Downloaded" we see the Cylon homeworld. Simon is only seen briefly, and from behind. The person we see is actually a different actor. Ron Moore says that he used a different actor because Simon is seen so briefly that he didn't want to waste your time in coming down. Does it bother you that another actor was used or were you happy because you wouldn't have been used properly anyway?
I can understand their point of view in that. If it's such a quick shot, they just don't want to spend the money to fly me into Vancouver from LA. I'd have to go out for two days, do the shot and go home again. It's probably easier for them to find somebody that is about my height and size and position him in such a way that they can shoot around me. Obviously they didn't do that good of a job since there are people who brought that up. (laughing) My neighbor upstairs also saw the episode and told me that they had a dude like me but was absolutely not me. He could tell it was not me. If they wanted me, they definitely could have called me. If I'd been free, I would have been there.
Rick Worthy as Simon / Cylon #4 on Battlestar Galactica 2003
In the episode "Torn", a sister base ship has become infected. Simon, in charge of the other baseship, doesn't see any way of rescuing the ship scientifically. Is Simon really that cold and logical?
They're ready to give up information and he kind of sells everybody out. So yeah, I guess he's that cold. I hate to think of him that way, but sometimes I can't help the way it is written. If it's written in a certain way, I have to say the lines. I remember a buddy of mine that called me the next day. He said: "Man, it was a good episode, but you just sold out your whole team." We'll tell you what you need to know as long as you give us the cure.
One would think that if Simon was so logical, he would have rather died that to disclose the information. Do you think that Simon isn't so logical when it comes to saving his own skin?
He's self serving. I guess he gets that way. What a wicked character, huh? (both laughing) No wonder my nephew has never seen the show. They keep asking: "When are we going to see you on TV?" He's like 10 years old. I always tell him: "When your dad says it's okay."
Ron Moore relates in his podcast there was protracted debate in the writer's room about the moral decision of using the virus to wage biological warfare against the Cylons. Some writers were for and others against. Ultimately the character Helo was tapped to shoulder the burden of this moral dilemma alone by taking matters into his own hands and depriving the Colonials from carrying through with the deed. Ron Moore said there was no clear answer to this argument, no right or wrong answers to the questions raised. In fandom, this debate rages on to this day. If the tables were turned, would Simon have used it against the Colonials?
Wow, that's a very good question. (pondering the question) I've always seen him as someone who'll again do what's necessary. My approach is probably different from what Ron and David wanted. I tried to make him a bit more morally ambiguous in terms like: "Should we do this or shouldn't we do this?" I don't know if you remember what Spock said in Star Trek? It's great and I'll never forget it. He said: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one." I think in Simon's case when it comes to the needs of the many Cylons -- and maybe his personal need is not in line -- he will do what is necessary, so their needs amend and everybody else's needs are satisfied. They're trying to get to a certain place. They have an objective and a goal. He'll do what it takes to get there.
Even the scene with Katee Sackhoff, you think: "Wow, just think what he's doing here." It probably took him some time to go ahead and go through with tricking this woman into thinking everything is okay, but in the end he went into her body and took her ovaries.
It's a good question and I wish I had a clear answer , but I don't want to think of him as a character who would authorize the use of biological weapons. If he has to do it, I think he will with a bit of reluctance.
Let me ask you personally. If you had the chance, as Rick Worthy, to get rid of all the Cylons like that, would you have done it?
You're talking of the elimination of entire race. What they want and what we want may be different and they may be seen as the bad guy, the enemy, but doesn't that mean they have a right to live? And do have the right to decide to not let them live? I don't I have that right. The other question is: "Are they truly alive or are they not?"
I'm going to go off balance a bit here with this example, only because I just saw Dark Knight. (both laughing) The one thing that I think makes Batman an exceptional character is that he has one hard rule: he'll not take another life. He'll do anything he can to create a kind of balance without taking lives. Whereas the Joker will do anything and destroy whoever is in his way. That's the perfect opposite balance for Batman and why the Joker is the perfect villain for him -- like two sides of the same coin. I'm probably more in line with Batman's way of thinking. There's evil out there, there are forces that are beyond our control, that maybe are trying to eliminate my life. There's a way to stop that without eliminating them. If life or the lives of your loved ones is truly threatened, I have no problem in stopping that. If it means killing them, I believe that is necessary.
In the episode "Precipice", the Cylons decide to crack down and conduct summary executions of suspected Colonial insurrectionists. In the episode "Six of One", the Cylons are caught in a split vote decision whether to lobotomize the newly sentient Raiders and this sows the seeds of a Cylon civil war. Two pivotal decisions that have profound and lasting repercussions for the entire series. Each time, the involvement of the Simon model is limited to voicing a yes vote without any explanation or justification. What are your views about your character being denied an opportunity to explain his reasoning in two very important scenes from two different seasons?
Again, I wish I had more to say. That's when I was getting really frustrated with the show. This character was an important character, so I need to say something, besides the "yes", "no", "I agree". It wasn't just me. There were other Cylons that kind of became less vocal too, like Doral for example, played by Matthew Bennett. There were some key instances where his character also just didn't say anything. So it wasn't just me, it was other actors as well. Like you said, those are very important scenes, which shifted the direction of the whole show and I wished I had been given the chance to say something.
In the episode "Six of One", we see Simon lobotomizing a raider after voting to do so in order to keep control over the raiders and machines. Was there any considerations that Simon gave in the fact that the raider at least was a living entity? Or was it just cold logic again?
I can't remember ever seeing the airing of that episode. I remember I tried to play it that this raider is a part of us -- like a living thing or part living part machine. To reach down and kind of yank the inside of it was pretty "interesting". I tried to play it in a careful way. I wanted to express some concern of what I was doing there, yet I knew I had to do it. I hope it doesn't come off as cold, and like you can't get any compassion from a guy like that. You have to find the heart of what he was and I hope I played it that way.
You said you remember sticking your hand in the brain tissue. Do you know what it was made of?
I don't know what it was made of, but I do remember that the blood and all that stuff looked and felt so real. If it's in the open air for a while it starts to gel up, like real blood. The director kept telling me: "Dig in deeper. Go deeper!" (both laughing) It felt real and I didn't want to go all the way in there, but he said: "No. Go, go, go. Go deep." So I went in as far as I could. It was some sort of Styrofoam with blood and glycerin on it. It was a creepy realistic feel, like it's something living, like organs or something.
Rick Worthy as Simon / Cylon #4 on Battlestar Galactica 2003
Which of the models do the Fours get along with the best?
(laughing) Personally I like them all of them, all the actors that play the Cylons. The whole cast is just awesome, even though I wasn't on the show as a regular, this was one of coolest and nicest group of actors that I've worked with. Everybody is so ego free, which is kind of rare in Hollywood. Eddie [Olmos], Mary [McDonnell], Tricia [Helfer], Grace [Park], Katee [Sackhoff] Jamie [Bamber] and James [Callis]. All of them are awesome and I'll miss them so much and I hope I can work with them again.
Which one does Simon get along with the best? Probably Sharon... (pondering the question) That's a good question. In the scene where we're all sick and throwing up, I just remember that Grace [Park] and I sat next to each other and then she kind laid her head in my lap. We were all sitting there dying and I thought that was kind of a nice little moment. I remember thinking that Simon probably likes her a lot. Plus I personally like Grace a lot. She's a great person. Though later on, you'll see a direct reverse of that in some very intense scenes between them. She goes against Simon because she feels that what he's doing is wrong and immoral. Even though I'm taller, Grace was extremely strong...
You took Tai Kwan Doe, and have used it in stunt work. I wondered why they never used those fighting skills in Battlestar Galactica?
Well, you try to fight the way the director wants the fight to go. We've got a great stunt coordinator, who knows a mix of martial arts. He always gives us different things to do and tries to make it as realistic as possible, great for the camera and he does a great job. When Grace and I had our fight scene it looked really professional and you wonder who is going to win.
During rehearsal readings or while filming on the set were there scripts that you felt took your character "out of character?" Have you talked to the writers or director and said: "Simon would never do or say it in that way."?
I don't feel like I had a lot of pull on the show in terms of like me saying: "Hey, I disagree with this or that." Primarily I was a hired gun. When you're a guest you just try to be there and do the best job you can to support the regular cast, say your lines, hit your marks and make everybody happy. Because the used me so sporadically throughout the seasons I didn't really step up to anyone and say: "I disagree with this or that." I think if I maybe had a larger role... When they brought Lucy Lawless on, she had such a huge presence on the show, that it was almost like she was part of the regular cast for a while. For many episodes she was kind of the leader and everything centered around her.
Or someone like Dean Stockwell, who is a Hollywood star, a veteran of 500 movies, probably --he does have! -- easier access and is able to express how he feels about something. Also the producers were working on other shows at the time, like Bionic Woman, and whenever I asked if David [Eick] or Ron [Moore] were around they told me that they were not here right now. I never felt like I had an avenue to come to anybody and say anything. Unfortunately that's how it went down with me.
Do you have any funny stories about shooting that you could share?
I do. People don't realize that a lot of the scifi and fantasy shows that are on, like Smallville, Supernatural and before that The X-Files, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis all shoot in Vancouver. I live in LA and a lot of the actors that are working in Vancouver are working on those type of scifi/fantasy shows. The first show I did up there, was about 10 years ago, a show called Seven Days with Jonathan LaPaglia. It's about a guy who's an astronaut and part of a secret government program that has a time machine. It allows them to travel back seven days. When I was up there and asked what else is shooting up in Vancouver and it turned out to be a lot of scifi/fantasy stuff. Even Fantastic Four and several other superhero films.
Anyway, I had been up to Vancouver to work I don't know how many different times and different shows. This was before Battlestar Galactica. After a while I thought of going to Vancouver in as many ways as I possibly could, other than flying. So one day I gassed up my car and drove north. I got into Vancouver like two days later. (both laughing) I caught the M track train from LA to Seattle and got on a train straight to Vancouver by train from there. I did that a couple of times.
Last year I got a Labrador Retriever puppy and I wanted to take him to the set. In Canada they're really cool about that. You can take your dog to work as long as there is someone there to watch him. I thought it would be fun to take my dog to Canada. So I again gassed up the car, put him in the front seat and drove all the way up to the border. When we got there Tricia and Grace were amazed by this cute little dog and we all played for a while. Then I put him in the trailer and told him: "Dad has going to go to work!" (laughing) So I would go in there, do my scenes and at lunch time I played ball with him.
I tried to make it as interesting as I possibly could and tried to get as much out of it. You know this show is going to be ending and one day it will be over and hopefully continue on something else. But while you're in it you'll have to try and enjoy it as much as you can. So that's what I tried to do and I think I did that.
Where there any practical jokes on set?
One time we were shooting and Michael Rymer was directing. I think it was the last episode or one of the three last episodes, and we were shooting out of sequence. I was a little confused about which scene we were doing and I was also very tired, because I sometimes get insomnia. So I got to the set and kind of looked real quickly at what we were doing. I normally know my lines but I completely blanked out. So when he called "Action!" it just got really quiet and I couldn't for the life remember what I was supposed to say. Eddie Olmos then started whistling and everybody looked at me like: "Rick, you have a line. Right now. Say something." Then Michael yelled "Cut!" and we all burst out in laughter. It was so funny.
Throughout the rest of the week Katee [Sackhoff] kept teasing me: "Rick, do you know your lines today? Are you sure you know your lines this morning?" She never let me forget about that, ever, for the entire week. It was a fun cast to work with.
Rick Worthy as Simon / Cylon #4 on Battlestar Galactica 2003
Do you watch the episodes you're in after shooting?
I do. I can't always see them on the night that they air, but thank God for Tivo. I don't always like watching myself. I did this episode on CSI Miami. A pretty intense episode, where I play this father who may or may not have killed his own daughter and he hid the body. It was a very heavy episode. I watched it just this one time and I haven't seen it since. I just wanted to make sure I was on the right track. I normally really, really criticize myself in the sense that I could have done better here or could have dropped ten pounds. You know how it goes: actors... (laughing) We're just constantly criticizing and correcting ourselves.
There are a couple of episodes that I haven't had a chance to see. But I just need to sit down and watch them one day.
What projects do you have lined up in the future?
I did this movie with director Tony Gilroy. I was in New York for a couple of months in the beginning of the year. I had a nice supporting role in this movie called Duplicity, which starred Clive Owen and Julia Roberts. It's about corporate espionage. It's kind of comedy, drama and a love story all wrapped in one. It was nice working on a big movie with big stars, big director... That was a great experience -- to live and work in New York for a couple of months. It was amazing because I always wanted to do that.
Any hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
In my free time I spend a lot of time with my dog. I go out to the beach a lot to throw the ball and do some swimming. I like to give him as much playtime as possible. My best friend and I wrote and directed a short film, which got into a few festivals. We recently reedited the whole thing and kind of made it a whole new movie. We want to try to get it in some more festivals and expand to motion picture, but we need funding for that. Anybody want to donate? (both laughing)
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