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Stephanie Jacobsen GALACTICA.TV interview
Saturday, 23 May 2009

Recently Justin Berger caught up with Stephanie Jacobsen, better know for her part as Kendra Shaw in Battlestar Galactica: Razor. He talked about how she got in the business and extensively about her part on Battlestar Galactica. She also talked about Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and what's up next for her.

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.


 

This is Stephanie Jacobsen. You're listening to GALACTICA.TV

I just want to say thanks for taking the time to do this. I really appreciate it.

No, you're very welcome.

This is for GALACTICA.TV. You, of course, play Kendra Shaw in the Razor mini-movie for Battlestar Galactica.

Yep.

The first thing I want to ask is had you seen the series prior to getting involved with Battlestar Galactica?

I had. I was unfortunately not up to date with it because I basically booked the role on Razor from Sydney, Australia where we never quite worked out exactly how behind the episodes airing were in relation to here. But yeah, I was familiar with the show. I was familiar with the characters. I was familiar with the basic premise. But I wasn't up to date in terms of storyline.

 

Stephanie Jacobsen as Kendra Shaw in Battlestar Galactica: Razor

Stephanie Jacobsen as Kendra Shaw in Battlestar Galactica: Razor

 

So when you read the script for Razor, what was it about Kendra Shaw, that character, that spoke to you and made you feel like, "Yeah this is a role I definitely want to do."

Well, for me, and I'm sure that this comes down to personal opinion and personal taste for every actor, but for me it was almost a dream role. What I loved about Kendra was just the direness of her circumstance. And the fact that she had almost been rendered unemotive, almost inhuman by what she'd seen and done.

In terms of playing her when I was on set, it was really challenging to tell her story almost without the use of human emotions because she was so desensitized. It was like she never laughed. She never cried. She rarely even smiled. She seldom regretted anything. It was kind of like being told to build a house without a hammer, without any wood, without any nails. So it was very, very challenging in that respect.

What were some ways that you found you were able to showcase who she was and express that character without showing anything (emotionally)?

It was obviously there for me in the content, in the text. Razor was beautifully written. So I was given the tools that I needed to tell her story. They were just a different set maybe, to the ones that an actor might usually use.

Had you ever done Sci Fi prior to Battlestar Galactica?

I had done a couple of episodes on Farscape, which was obviously a show that was filmed in Australia and was quite successful here. That was really the extent of it.

Had you wanted to do Sci Fi? Some actors as kids they dream of dream roles and some people want to do science fiction, some people want to do horror. Was science fiction ever something that you always thought ‘I would love to do'?

It was a genre that I always, I guess, felt a kind of affinity with because my father is a big Sci Fi fan. So I was exposed to it a lot when I was growing up.

It really wasn't a conscious decision that I made. I think that it was more an attraction to the kind of female characters that the Sci Fi genre tends to promote and to nurture. So yeah, you've obviously got your very strong, competent women in Sci Fi like Cain, like Starbuck and like Lena Headey's character Sarah Connor on [Terminator:] The Sarah Connor Chronicles which is another show that I've been doing in Sci Fi. I think it was the more the essence of that kind of female character that I consciously wanted to play.

 

Stephanie Jacobsen as Kendra Shaw in Battlestar Galactica: Razor

Stephanie Jacobsen as Kendra Shaw in Battlestar Galactica: Razor

 

And I'm sure working with the cast was great, specifically you worked closely with Michelle Forbes in a lot of scenes. Just overall though, what are some of the most memorable moments that you took away from that whole experience?

The whole process was pretty memorable for me. It was really sort of an intense month of shooting.

I got to meet some amazing people, work with some incredible actors, great crew. I had an absolute ball while I was doing it. It's kind of hard to identify specific moments.

Had you ever done anything that was that action oriented before?

No.

Was that kind of a change of pace for you? Was it something that you weren't expecting or something that you were dying to get into?

Oh no, it was change of pace but it was a welcome change of pace.

Obviously we know at the end, Kendra Shaw sacrifices herself for the fleet. Is it ever frustrating as an actor, when you get into a role and then you have to face that reality that that storyline will continue on without you?

No. In this particular instance, no, it definitely wasn't like that. I mean, firstly because I had read the script beforehand so I was fully aware of where the arc ended. And secondly, because that sacrifice at the very end was her redemption, it really, in a way, purified what she'd been through. I think that it was, creatively speaking, the best possible ending for her.

Kendra was also a character who, in essence, was a temporal POV. (Point Of View) She kind of came in and then she went out. I think it would have sort of been a bit odd for her to have come in for Razor and then sort of stuck around for season four. (laughs)

If you had been given the choice to come back, even it was just a flashback or something else, would you liked to have come back to the show for that reason?

Oh, of course, of course, I would have most definitely. I mean, time permitting and contractually permitting, yeah, yeah, obviously.

I know there were a lot of fans who were speculating that Kendra Shaw may have been the final Cylon.

(laughs) Right. Yeah, I heard that. (laughs)

Of course I think they thought everybody was the final Cylon, at some point.

Yeah, I mean I think that for a little while there was speculation that Superman was the final Cylon, and your mom -- anyone really. (laughs)

We talked about you doing action. Obviously you've done drama a lot in your career. Do you prefer one over the other or do they both give you something equally that you enjoy?

I think that for me, my utmost personal preference is a mingling of the two.

I've been very, very fortunate in my career thus far in the sense that I have been able to work on projects that allow for that.

 

Stephanie Jacobsen as Kendra Shaw in Battlestar Galactica: Razor

Stephanie Jacobsen as Kendra Shaw in Battlestar Galactica: Razor

 

We look back at the story of Razor and the character Kendra Shaw, by the time Jamie Bamber's character Apollo finds Kendra, she's a drug addict working in the ship's galley.

Yeah. (laughs)

What do you think Apollo saw in her that made him decide that she was the right choice for his XO?

Firstly, it was an effort on his part to honor the memory of their dead commander for the Pegasus crew. In that scene, he says something to the effect that, "I'm no Cain, but I'm going to let you carry her torch." It was a symbolic gesture.

I guess he also realizes that dire times call for dire measures and she was a dire measure. I personally always got the sense that Apollo knew exactly what Kendra was made of or what she had become at that point. And he was smart enough, or experienced enough, to realize that he needed to use her as a resource

There was a lot of conflict between Kendra and Starbuck.

Yeah (laughs)

Do you think Kendra saw a reflection of herself in Starbuck and then in some ways didn't like what she saw?

No, no, she actually liked her. It's just Kendra. It was like... I've said this about her before, but what I felt about her was that Kendra never actually liked or disliked people. She either respected them, or she didn't, and she respected Starbuck.

I actually think that they were very different. I mean Starbuck... in a way, it almost felt like Kendra was the antithesis of Starbuck in the sense that in Starbuck, despite her tough exterior, her call was always very human and very noble. Where as Kendra's call was quite cold and quite desensitized. I mean I always imagined that Starbuck would have been more annoyed with Kendra. (laughs)

When we first see Kendra and she comes in, she's kind of the bright eyed optimist about the fleet and has hopes and aspirations. What do you think, before the Cylons attacked and turned the world upside down, what do you think Kendra really hoped to get out of being in the fleet?

I think that she actually always intended to go where she went. Yeah, I think - I mean she died a major. I think that even had that not happened she would have worked her way up the hierarchy.

Also, bear in mind Kendra's mother had died. Kendra's mother had been a prominent figure, so I think that that familial legacy would have been there, irrespective of whether or not the Cylons attacked.

 

Stephanie Jacobsen as Kendra Shaw in Battlestar Galactica: Razor

Stephanie Jacobsen as Kendra Shaw in Battlestar Galactica: Razor

 

Was she looking towards the military as replacing that structure in her life that was gone when her mother died?

No. I'm going to say no. To me, she was never that vulnerable. Also, I envisaged Kendra's relationship with her mother as having been different. I would say that perhaps her attachment to Cain was reflective of the loss of her mother in some indirect way, but it definitely wasn't like a child looking for shelter or looking for someone to enforce a sense of purpose or anything like that.

So she was a lot stronger than that.

Yeah, I think so.

And then Cain brought that strength out in her.

Yeah, yeah.

That's what it kind of seemed to me, from what you just said it kind of makes sense. Speaking in line with that, I had read interviews that you said she (Kendra) looked at Cain as a mother figure. But even with that in mind, do you think there was a time when Kendra really questioned her loyalty to Cain? And do you think there was ever a thought about killing Cain herself?

No, definitely not. (laughs)

Never at any time?

No. When I said also that she perceived Cain as a maternal figure, I didn't mean a conventional maternal figure. No, she most definitely never disliked Cain. I mean, she was a soldier.

From what I understand, soldiers I guess perceive the world differently. So if someone hits you across the face and tells you to shape up when you're a soldier, it's not the same as if someone hit you or I across the face and told us to shape up. (laughs) It's not as personal. It's not as outrageous. In fact, it's not outrageous at all.

When she finally discovers that Gina is a Cylon and then she goes and confronts Cain and Gina together, what was going through Kendra's mind? I just got the sense when I was watching it, she always felt there was something wrong with Gina. She kind of felt like there's something not right here and it kind of was a vindication for her, like okay those thoughts are accurate. Was there ever that with Kendra?

Not consciously. It was certainly never a motivating feeling. The only thing that I will say about that is that she was curious about Gina. I think that Kendra actually perceived Gina as a vulnerable point in Cain. I actually felt that Kendra, one to one, liked Gina. Gina was effective. She was good at what she did. They got along.

It was never something that I was consciously playing. (laughs) Let's put it that way.

In regarding the Cylons looking like humans, and once they discover that fact -- because what we'd seen on Galactica - they (the Pegasus crew) kind of took a different route with that obviously. Where the Galactica treated their Cylon prisoners, not as harshly as the Pegasus crew treated theirs, do you think Kendra ever felt bad for Gina, being a Cylon who was tortured? Or do you think as that Colonial officer, she felt they were justified in everything that they did?

I think that overall, and in regards to everything as that Colonial officer, she felt that she was justified in everything she did. And she felt that every officer around her was justified in everything that they did as well. I mean bearing in mind Kendra shoots one of her own soldiers, straight in the head. (laughs) Yeah.

That's what I meant I guess about the challenge in playing her. She didn't succumb to a lot of those human feelings of doubt and guilt and that kind of stuff. She was really all about getting the job done.

 

Stephanie Jacobsen as Kendra Shaw in Battlestar Galactica: Razor

Stephanie Jacobsen as Kendra Shaw in Battlestar Galactica: Razor

 

Do you think there was a definite turning point? Because it seemed at the beginning she was a little unsure of herself. And then it seemed like at that point, when she goes to the ship, forces the civilians to come to the Pegasus, it seems like to me, personally, that was the turning point where she decided, as Cain said, "You're a razor." And that's where she became a razor, and before that she was kind of unsure of that. Personally for me, at that point, she said, "Okay, I'm all in. This is what I need to do in order for us to survive."

Do you think that was a definite turning point or was there some other time?

Here's the thing, I mean obviously within the story, that's when the circumstance calls for her to make a decision. But I think that she had sort of pledged herself to Cain sooner than that. So I feel that for Kendra, it was something that was always going to happen. What happened to her on board Scylla (the civilian ship discovered by Pegasus) was that that was when she went past the point of no return. The significance of that for me personally, was that that there was no coming back from it.

Just to sort of exemplify further, she was on board that civilian ship with Colonel Fisk, who was a colonel, who had been in service longer than her, who was made Cain's XO. And he hesitated -- Kendra didn't. It was a choice that she made then. I think that what that showed, for me personally, was that she was embracing Cain's mentality more readily than even some of her superior officers were.

I'm sure you're aware there's a Kendra Shaw action figure out now.

I heard about that! I haven't seen it yet.

Did you ever think you'd be immortalized in plastic?

It's one of those things where I guess like when you're an actor, you always know it could happen. (laughs)

It's just kind of funny though when you sort of hear about it.

I have a cousin in Australia who has one. (laughs) He was like, "Yeah, I got your action figure today." I was like, "What action figure?" He said it actually doesn't look anything like me. Which is interesting but then it can't be expected to, right?

Yeah, they always screw that up.

Yeah. (laughs)

 

Stephanie Jacobsen as Jesse in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Stephanie Jacobsen as Jesse in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

 

You're currently starring in the new Terminator series, The Sarah Connor Chronicles. How did you get involved with that series?

I went and I read for the producers really, or I read for Josh Freedman, who was the creator of the series, and they had seen Razor and they liked it. I'm assuming that they liked what I did in the audition as well and they gave me the role.

What specifically about The Sarah Connor Chronicles, if there's anything, that you're getting to do that you haven't been able to do in your career yet?

I think that if you're taking your craft seriously, you're going to make a point of taking something new away from every role. I guess that it's the first time that I've really played a pseudo villain, I guess, on The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The first time I've played a character who was, in a lot of ways, intended to be misunderstood.

I mean Kendra, obviously did a lot of, or a few at least, outrageous things but she was still positioned as a protagonist in Razor.

My character on The Sarah Connor Chronicles was an antagonist. So it's the first time I've done that.

What other projects are you involved with? Is there anything in the future we can look forward to seeing you in?

Well, I'm actually going to be doing the Melrose Place reboot for The CW.

Oh, cool.

Yeah, I'm very excited about that. It's something different. So that's the next thing.

Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans, not only Battlestar Galactica fans, but to your personal fans?

 

Stephanie Jacobsen

Stephanie Jacobsen

 

Just a big fat thank you really. Thank you so much for supporting me.

Thank you for bearing with me. [I] just wish them all the best really.

I really, really appreciate you taking the time to do the interview. It's been a great pleasure talking to you.

Thanks guys! Take care.

 
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