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Tahmoh Penikett GALACTICA.TV interview 2
Written by Marcel Damen   
Monday, 27 August 2007

Last year November we published our interview with Tahmoh Penikett, better known as Capt. Karl "Helo" Agathon on the Battlestar Galactica 2003 series. At the Galactica 3 convention held August 10-12, 2007 in the UK we were again given the opportunity to talk to him about what he's been up to since the last time we spoke. We talked to him about Battlestar Galactica as well as other parts he recently did.

After seeing more of his friends and other humans dying, does Helo regret not wiping out the Cylons with the virus?

No, I don't think he does. He probably has doubts here and there, but I think those actions that he took were because he felt very strongly about them. He was strong in his convictions. He knew that it was wrong, to commit the same act. Especially being the father of a half Cylon baby. He couldn't live with himself to do that. He could never justify completely wiping them out.

 

Tahmoh Penikett as Karl C. 'Helo' Agathon in Battlestar Galactica 2003

Tahmoh Penikett as Karl C. 'Helo' Agathon in Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

That's true, because there was a big deal about Helo and Boomer's child being half human half Cylon. It's no longer unique since Chief & Callie also have a half Cylon child, but nobody knows about that of course.

Yeah, that's pretty interesting. Maybe that's what's so... That plot line and where that might go. There's a huge opportunity for it if you really think about. It will be a whole storyline completely evolved on that, because it's the next race, what's to become, I'm not sure. It's interesting. It's a shame that we've only got one season to sort of wrap that up. I mean if we had a couple more seasons to really see where that could go, the potential for that.

Can you tell us about the boxing scene between you and Jamie Bamber? Did you really get hit? Did you hit him by accident? Did things get heated?

I think Jamie took himself out of the camera once. We were really trying to get a close shot so he banged his head right into the camera. (both laughing) That's about the worst thing Jamie got. I'm pretty... I've been boxing for years, so I've been exercising and such. I have been doing boxing for many years. I'm pretty good with holding my punches. I don't think I accidentally hit Jamie. I think he might have given me a couple of good body shots because we got pretty excited about it, but that's okay. I like that, that's part of it, right? It was just great to be able to do it. It's awesome that we did it. It was a lot of fun. Yeah, we got right into it. It was tiring though. We were doing our fight scene pretty much eight hours, we just sat in that ring, and we did it over and over and over and over again.

 

Tahmoh Penikett as Karl C. 'Helo' Agathon in Battlestar Galactica 2003

Tahmoh Penikett as Karl C. 'Helo' Agathon in Battlestar Galactica 2003

 

Did you get any stunt guidance?

Yeah we had to... We had a stunt guy they brought in.

Duane Dickinson?

I think that might have been him. Yeah, I can't remember. He had never worked with us before. He was the guy that came in and he's a good fight choreographer. He came up with some great stuff and we had a good little fight routine. That was fun. That was just great. I loved how it looked on camera too. It looked really neat.

Helo sure does get shuffled around a lot. From pilot, CAG, Tactical Officer, XO. Does he get frustrated when he is demoted whenever one of the others finally get their act together? Or is he just happy to fill whatever role he can?

I think Helo aspires to do his job as best as he can. He's very much a military man. I'm sure he gets frustrated sometimes when he gets demoted. But I think in this chaotic sort of life that the last of humanity lives in, with 30,000 people left, I think it's totally normal that people or getting demoted and promoted and changed in position all the time. I'm sure, especially when he got the position of XO, he really tried his best to do it. It was a big position, a big promotion and then, you know, when Tigh came back, well I'm sure there must have been some hesitation about having to give it up. Some guilt on whether he had done the job well enough, or was having some doubts. I think other than that, he really just tries to do the best job he can in whatever position he's given into, whether it's the mayor of Dogsville or as CAG.

 

Tahmoh Penikett as Wes Keenan in Smallville

Tahmoh Penikett as Wes Keenan in Smallville

 

You've done a couple episodes in Smallville this year as Wes Keenan. You played the character Vince Davis in the show in 2004. Does it make you feel good to know that they want you back for another role, or do you feel odd that maybe they don't think you're past character was memorable enough that people would be saying, hey, wasn't he Vince Davis?

No, no, I never had that doubt. I don't think that was the situation. I was happy with my role, the first one. I was really happy with it. He's was a character... Every time you see me... I think that's part of the reason why they were able to bring me back. They always wanted to. The producers were really happy with my work, but the fact is, you know, I played a certain role, but luckily because Vince Davis was in so many different stages of dying and about to be brought back to life, and what have you. He was jaundiced most of the time. I was doing hours and hours of make-up every morning; airbrushing to get to the stages of sickness that this character was at. I wasn't that recognisable except for that one scene where I stumble into the bar. So Wes... being brought back for the Wes Keenan part is great. It's a huge honor. Obviously they loved my work and it was a neat character. The finished product? Too bad it got edited as much as it did. There were really neat things in there that I think the episode sacrificed somewhat because they had to get rid of it, but I mean there's only so much that you can put in an episode, right? It was a very physical role. It was fun, it was neat.

Can you tell us about The Green Chain and your character as Brett Hall. Tricia Helfer is also in that.

I play a forest fire fighter, who going through rough times trying to support his family, and what have you. He doesn't have that much of an education. I think he was at one time probably the popular athletic guy, maybe the hockey player. The hockey star in high school, what have you, but he never finished his education. Hooked up with a girl, got her pregnant right away, so he's living in the typical small town BC (British Columbia). Living and trying to support his family by being a fire fighter and of course fire fighters up there... The forest fire fighters, they completely depend on whether there's a fire or not. So when there's no fire, there's no work. So he ends up having to work at the Dairy Queen, or what have you, to try to provide for his family. Yeah, that's the character I play in there. Really, it's a neat part. Each of us does these really lengthy monologues. It's probably the longest monologue I ever did.

Does this movie work with your own political and environmental thoughts?

Yeah, it definitely works with that. What's brilliant about the movie is that... What's intelligent about the movie is that they really examine all the issues in the forestry industry, which is pretty much the biggest industry in BC (British Columbia). There are a lot of different angles. You've got the fire fighter, you've got the tree feller, who cuts down the trees; he's the logger. Ironically, you've got the personation guy, who works for one of the big logging companies. You've got the old lady who's an activist, and you've got the tree huggers. It's examining each and all angles of the forest industry from five completely different opinions, so it's really intelligent. Yeah, I agree with the film. A film like that needs to be made. It's smart.

 

Tahmoh Penikett as Brett Hall in The Green Chain

Tahmoh Penikett as Brett Hall in The Green Chain

 

I was also wondering how your father, a former Yukon Premiere would have felt about a movie like that?

Oh, he absolutely agrees with it. My dad's a left wing man, he's a socialist, he's the leader of the NDP (New Democratic Party), so he's very much... He's always been a conscious environmentalist and he's all about sustainable resources. I was raised in that environment. Of course my mother is First Nation, so I have a huge respect for the environment, Mother Nature and to just use what we need, and respecting the environment and what have you.

Okay. Can you tell us about Trick 'r Treat and your character Henry in that movie?

Yeah, I can't really say that much about it other than my character Henry is the loving husband to Emma, who's played by Leslie Bibb. She's a great actress, really funny, beautiful energy, and a nice spirit. Anyway, Henry is very much into Halloween. He loves it. He loves the tradition of it where as Emma isn't so keen as him. But it was a neat role. We had a loaded cast on that film: Brian Cox, Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin...

Did you get to work with her?

I didn't get to work with any of them directly other than Leslie Bibb. I got to work with Anna a little bit. We shared... we kind of shared a scene.

Oscar Award Winner in The Piano, right? What was that like?

She's a sweetheart. Very witty. Very smart. She's been in the business a long time, so she's very savvy of what's going on. Of course they're all talented people. The director and writer, Michael Dougherty, is 32 years old. He's my age. He's so talented, I mean he wrote X2, he wrote Superman Returns, and now he's directing this Bryan Singer feature so that's good for him. It's great to work with young and talented people like that.

So what's going on in Season 4 for Battlestar Galactica?

It's excellent. I love it. I think it will be one of our best seasons. I guarantee it. It's really intelligent, it's new, they're wrapping things up, but they're also, you know, touching on some new grounds. I think that most of the fans will be just as surprised as they usually are with how it wraps up.

Is it working okay for you as a character, for Helo? Is it what you wished?

Yeah, it's good! I just finished some mid-season stuff that I'm really prevalent in. An opportunity to act with some actors who I haven't been able to work with for a while, so that's always fun. That's great, I'm really enjoying that. It's been some strong stuff.

Okay. Good! Is there anything in the final ten episodes that you would like them to add

You know, whenever I get asked this I really... There's so much. It's a shame that the show is going on a little bit longer, but that's the way it is, so... It's been an incredible ride and...

 

Tahmoh Penikett at Galactica Three in the UK

Tahmoh Penikett at Galactica Three in the UK

 

What do think is most important for Helo to wrap up?

I'd like it to actually be left with a little bit of a question mark, you know. I'd like Helo and his family to get to a place, possibly where they think they can survive, but they also know that they're not completely safe. I think if they do get there, that that might be the situation. So questions should be left a little bit.

Okay. Thanks.

Excellent. Thank you very much.

 

This interview is a follow up on our interview with Tahmoh Penikett in 2006: Tahmoh Penikett GALACTICA.TV interview and is followed up again in by an interview we did with Tahmoh Penikett in 2008: Tahmoh Penikett GALACTICA.TV interview 3.

 
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