Starbuck speaks! Katee Sackhoff on the final days of ‘Battlestar Galactica’

Feb. 27, 2009 | 5:46 p.m.


The three-hour series finale of "Battlestar Galactica" starts March 13th and concludes on the 20th, and don’t think wild-child pilot Starbuck isn’t already locked and loaded. Actress Katee Sackhoff talks to Hero Complex contributor Michelle Castillo about sleeping on machine guns and the rumors that Starbuck might still be a Cylon: "There’s always someone out there that thinks that she is."


When the directors held an open casting call for the role of Lt. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace for the re-imagined "Battlestar Galactica" series, they were looking for a mid-30s actress with a tough military demeanor to portray the role. However, it was 21-year-old Sackhoff, with her high-heels and persistence, who won the coveted part.

"Everyone scoffed at the idea of Starbuck in high heels," Sackhoff said, looking back on the role that won her a 2006 Saturn Award. “That’s was who she was in my mind. That’s me: No one is going to tell me to take my high heels off, and I carried that throughout her attitude. Maybe not the high heels, per se, but Starbuck’s attitude was there from the very beginning with me.”


Five years later, with the final episode of the critically acclaimed series mere weeks away, Sackhoff has become one of the show’s most popular characters. And with new wrinkles and revelations every week, the saga of besieged humanity and its struggles with a race of sentient machine-people called Cylons has given Sackhoff and other cast members the daily duty of deflecting fan questions. 

“After five years, it’s got easy to pretend I don’t hear them, but I’ve even got my doctor calling me pretending he has to talk to me,” said Sackhoff, who turns 29 in April. “Instead, he’s going, ‘So about last night’s episode… .’”

Don’t expect Sackhoff to spoil the final episode; she’s remained firmly mum on the ending. Similar to Starbuck, the actress has her own tough, go-getter attitude, nurtured through her upbringing in Portland, Ore., where she spent her youth playing hard in the mud with her brother. She moved to Los Angeles right after high school graduation, and all those old days of playful combat in the sludge prepared her for an intense shoot for the final episode, which she likened to “Apocalypse Now.”

“There’s a picture of me at 3:30 in the morning, asleep on set, with a machine gun under my head, and that is how the end of the series went,” Sackhoff said. “Everyone was exhausted, and there’s probably a lot of safety issues that should have been brought up. But, hey, it’s alright when you’re firing a machine gun at 3 o’clock in the morning, I mean that’s not dangerous at all.”

The final episode, which has been turned into a three-hour event, is billed as a wrap-up that answers all the questions. But one fan of the show — Sackhoff herself — believes that "Battlestar" could have stretched out into at least one more season. She predicts that the ending is going to leave some people yearning for more.

Then there’s the matter of the forbidden C-word: Cylon. Starbuck’s destiny has been portrayed as a harbinger or key catalyst of some sort in the struggle between man and machine — but is she herself "a toaster," as Starbuck used to call Cylons? Sackhoff has said time and time again that Starbuck is not Cylon, but she also says that the series finale might leave that matter open for some debate.

“I’m just going to go ahead and let them believe what they want because there’s nothing I could say that’s going to convince anyone otherwise,” Sackhoff said. “And, the funny thing is, I can honestly say that at the very end of it, people are still going to think it. There’s always someone out there that thinks that she is.”

(Here’s a photo of Sackhoff on the Vancouver set of "Battlestar" during one of the final episodes. She’s greeting students on a field trip who just happened to cross paths with the television crew. To see more exclusive photos from the set, go here.)


She says there is definite closure for her character, however, though whether it is ill-fated or a happy ending, she won’t say. For Sackhoff, who has been a fan of the Starbuck role ever since she read the script for the miniseries, Starbuck’s evolved throughout the series. Spending most of her early 20s working on the show, Sackhoff’s grown alongside the fighter pilot, who’s changed from a person who was willing to give her life because she didn’t value it to someone who values each and every day as a gift. And then there’s her volatile relationship with husband Samuel T. Anders, the character played by Michael Trucco.

“I think what’s interesting is it’s kind of been Kara from the beginning,” Sackhoff said. “It might not have been what she is, but she never really knew who she was. Where we find her now is, she doesn’t know what’s real in her life, but she realizes what she knows is real: How she feels and how much she loved Sam. What we see happen between Kara and Sam the last episode is so heartbreakingly beautiful, it puts her selfishness and her lack of commitment in relationships to rest. I think in the end she becomes a beautiful partner.”

While fans might find the hardest part saying goodbye to Starbuck, she admits that leaving the relationships that she’s formed with the cast and crew on the show will be the hardest part for her.

“We didn’t have one bad apple in the show, from the crew to the cast,” Sackhoff said. “If we did, they disappeared quietly into the night, and nobody remembers them. They really, really paid attention to people’s personalities, not when they were casting, but when we were working. I think that it shows.”

— Michelle Castillo


Bsg_propaganda_3_3 The 12th Cylon speaks!: Kate Vernon on cosmic cougar Ellen Tigh

"Battlestar" propaganda, winning hearts and minds in the fleet

Sci Fi says (gulp) goodbye to "Battlestar"…

…And hello to "Caprica"

The original Starbuck tells the new show to frak off


More in: Uncategorized, Battlestar Galactica


21 Responses to Starbuck speaks! Katee Sackhoff on the final days of ‘Battlestar Galactica’

  1. Noah Fhan says:

    Galactica is like Viagra, nobody buys the bull yet they keep advertising it. Nobody watches this ridiculous show, if they had an Emmy for Most Poorly Written, Most Overacted and specially Most Hyped show, Galactica would win it hands down, the writers of this show are so bad they are right down there with the failed "Chronicles of Sarah Connor." Yet, Fox keeps sending press releases about this unwatchable series in an annoying viral campaign more akin to Viagra Spam than anything else in history.

  2. Roger says:

    If she is about to turn 29, how is it that she spent most of her EARLY 20s working on the show? She would have been 24, MAYBE 23 when they started, right? And she's worked the 5 years since then?
    I'd call that "most of her middle/late 20s," not early.

  3. Rando says:

    I love her. She is such a talent.

  4. Kathryn says:

    Noah, I wonder if you've ever actually watched the show. Maybe you just saw the cheesy old one. Battlestar Galactica is in my opinion a work of beauty. Character, writing, and plot is all extremely well done, and it actually makes you think. I care about what happens to these people. That can't be said for most of the stuff on TV today.
    And I'm not sure what Fox has to do with it. It's from the Scifi Channel.
    If you don't have anything constructive to say about the show, why are you even reading this page, anyway?

  5. Chinnu says:

    I don't think Noah Phan knows what he/she is talking abt. Any true sci-fi fan would appreciate this show immensely. Not only does it bring a concept and uniqueness of its own to the table, it clearly reflects the inspiration of past sci-fi hits like star wars, planet of the apes, and star trek. It isn't loaded w/ a cheap sci-fi effects budget like most failed sci-fi productions, and "NO," it doesn't deserve to be categorized w/ any of the cheap drawing board junk that fox puts out. It's failed recognition at the Emmy's is due to the fact that if your not on any of the major networks, you probably won't get noticed anyway.
    I've been watching this show since 2004/2005, and I'm incredibly addicted to it still. It's brilliant, and the writers of the show have bigger balls (along w/ talent) than most writers of any other genre. The sci-fi genre goes mostly unnoticed, and we should thank Battlestar Galactica for making it worthwhile again.

  6. alice says:

    to Roger: the miniseries came out in 2003, and katee is born in april 1980 (hello imdb) so she was probably 22 when she started filming battlestar galactica. It also states in the article that she was about 21 when she started auditioning for Starbuck. I'd say that counts as early 20s… They just did her make-up really weird in the beginning because they wanted her to look more mature, I suppose.
    anyway, great article and i loved Katee in last nights episode (417)

  7. Alex Rules says:

    I remember watching reruns of the original Battlestar and even vaguely remember the 1980 series with the flying motorcyles, it still weird to watch that chick.
    The new series isn't my thing, I watched the first season and then watch a little bit including part where they got to Earth and it's a Cylon graveyard. Man, thats what is with these shows and their non-endings. It's kind of absurd the show is more about the machines than the man, maybe the end will be the man are the machines or some hokey stuff like that. Their premise' are too large, I've seen that recently in other story mediums. There's no way you can properly pay it off.

  8. Selina says:

    I feel sorry for the lot of you that continue to bash the show. The show is obviously over your head in terms of depth. It is and has been one of the most compelling, gritty, dark, well written shows every produced. The casting is perfect for each character. Not to mention Starbuck is incredible character and wonderfully played.
    It's interesting with such a big cast, no one that I remember had ever asked to let go from the show.

  9. Jess says:

    ugh I don't want starbuck to end up with sam…she belongs with lee

  10. rigel says:

    Compared to previous seasons and plots, these final episodes seem rushed. It is as if they were trying to finish up before the money ran out! I agree with Sackoff. NBC/Universal should have green-lighted another season, to properly flesh out some of the more intriguing plot lines. For instance, it would have been interesting to learn more about the culture of Cylon Earth and the events which led up to the devastation. Nevertheless, the show is one of the better dramas on TV today and the ONLY program on the SCI FI Channel that I watch!

  11. galveston says:

    I'm thrilled that Kara ends up with Sam. Why on Earth would she end up with Lee? That was over a long time ago. She offered to leave Sam and then Lee, rightfully so, rejected her. They were toxic. I'm so glad that Kara's grown past that and Lee's got his own life going with his focus on taking over the presidency after poor Laura passes. A Lee and Kara ending would ring so false.
    I want some kind of closure for poor, pitiful, vengeful Boomer. Talk about a tragic character.

  12. duram says:

    Hey, "Cylon Earth" sounds like another prequel opportunity!

  13. Randy says:

    As a fan of only a year now, I want more of this show. I'm hoping that in a few months we'll be able to watch another episode as a feature film.

  14. Anna B says:

    Ahh, I can't believe the show is over. Starbuck was always my favorite character; Katee Sackhoff is a fantastic actress, and I hope we get to see her often from now on. The ending did fit her character and give her closure, and I have to say I'm satisfied—though of course I'd be lying if I didn't say that I wanted more! I'd love to see Sackhoff play a villain again: Bionic Woman wasn't good, but she was great on it.

  15. Sensei says:

    AAAAAhhhhhhh what an ending…. Fav character… Miserable oldd Sol Tai

  16. Violet says:

    Amazing show, probably my favorite TV show ever, and it will be hard for anything to ever top it. The scripts, the editing, the acting and the story were so good. One of the few shows that could leave me breathless and stunned. I miss it a lot.

  17. Blessed Cheesemaker says:

    Posting here, at the end of 2010, because I just picked up the DVD's, and man! I was blown away by how good the plot lines were, and the acting. There will always be some dissatisfactions, it is hard to do justice to any stories in depth on TV, even movies. Witness the Lord of the Rings trilogy & how much they had to cut out of the books in order to make it a 9 hour movie.

    Anyway, BSG is the best TV I have seen. Yes it is dark, and it has some cheesy moments (mostly when they pay homage to the original series from the late '70's, which I remember well, LOL), but the acting was always top-notch, and the commitment to story-telling was always there. Too bad it had to end, like everything does…

  18. KnightChatX says:

    She did a great job on Battlestar Galactica and Bionic Woman.

  19. Kara says:

    Great show! After watching all the webisodes and deleted scenes (yes, they give some more in-depth storylines and answers on a lot of questions…) now it's time for the movie: 'The Plan' and then for the series 'Caprica' and for sure coming up next: ' Blood and Chrome'…I can not wait to see this :>

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