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
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