The Final Cylon speaks! Exclusive interview with Kate Vernon

Jan. 17, 2009 | 7:09 a.m.


Kate_vernon_4I sat down earlier this week with Kate Vernon, the willowy actress that plays Ellen Tigh on "Battlestar Galactica" and she let me in on a secret that she has kept for longer than you think — and one that was revealed tonight on the show. The cosmic cougar is the 12th Cylon. Here’s the story that is running tomorrow on the cover of the Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times   

Like a veteran of the witness protection program, actress Kate Vernon picked a secluded corner table of a very public restaurant for the meeting. She studied the tape recorder sitting next to her tea cup on the table and then glanced around the Studio City bistro to see if anyone was eavesdropping.

"Forgive me if I’m a little awkward talking about it," Vernon said during an interview earlier this week. "It’s been two years that I’ve been sitting on this secret, and after that long it’s kind of hard to just start talking … "

Vernon, you see, is the final Cylon, a fact revealed Friday night on the acclaimed Sci Fi television series "Battlestar Galactica." That makes her the solution to a mystery that has played out like some latter-day science fiction version of the "Who shot J.R.?" saga, but, unlike that old "Dallas" plotline, this one unfolded in an Internet  Age and with a rabid-fan audience clawing for clues.

"People have been asking me and accusing me for months and months, but I played it off pretty good," said Vernon, who portrays the shrewish Ellen Tigh, a sort of Lady Macbeth in deep space whom some fans have dubbed a “cosmic cougar.” Now her character has abruptly gained new dimensions as a riddle redefined, not unlike Keyser Söze in the final jolting moments of "The Usual Suspects."

For the uninitiated, despite its clunky name, "Galactica" is revered by its loyal viewers as a television landmark in sophisticated sci-fi storytelling, and is now in its fourth and final season. This is no Buck Rogers serial — nuanced and wrenching, it’s a bleak opera about politics, religion and war in what may be the final days of the human race, which is being exterminated by sentient machines called Cylons.

The show’s themes of identity, faith, duty and betrayal are all made slippery by the fact that the humans have been living with 12 secret Cylons who all look, act and think like humans, a dozen synthetic "Manchurian Candidate" moles waiting for activation. Their identities have been slowly revealed, and, Friday night, to the shock of viewers, the last sleeper turned out to be Vernon’s Ellen, the wife of the Col. Saul Tigh, the raging, one-eyed career soldier who is still coming to grips with the fact that he is a Cylon. It’s a complicated universe.


All of this was a tremendous surprise considering Ellen was poisoned to death in Season 3, but with the Cylons the usual rules of mortality don’t apply. Vernon is thrilled to be back. Her character was originally written for a four-episode arc, but she endured and became a key character — until she was murdered by her on-screen husband.

"I wasn’t done with the character," Vernon moaned. "They killed me off. I was devastated. Why me? What did I do wrong?"

A small reprieve came when executive producer Ron Moore told her she would return as a dark vision of her husband’s tortured mind, but Vernon said she had resigned herself to the fact that her role in "one of the greatest shows ever made" was pretty much over. Then, on an especially wrenching afternoon many months ago, she got a phone call.

"I was crawling down Sepulveda and I had just come from a therapy session and I was crying, my eyes were swollen like clam eyes, and I was hanging on my steering wheel wondering what was going on in my life and my career. The phone rang. It was Ron’s assistant."

For the next 45 minutes (traffic was bad) Moore explained that Ellen would return as a centerpiece presence. "Now I’m in seven of the last nine, and they are just absolutely brilliant. I can’t tell you how good they are…"

                                               READ THE REST OF THE STORY

— Geoff Boucher


Bsg_propaganda_2 Exclusive photos: Behind the scenes with "Battlestar"

"Battlestar" propaganda posters: Winning hearts and minds

Sci Fi says (gulp) goodbye to "Battlestar"

"Star Wars," "Battlestar" and "Trek" look for their future

"Caprica": A series update and the trailer for the movie

Adama has blood on his hands: A visit to the set of "BSG"


CREDITS: Portrait of Kate Vernon by Randee St. Nicholas. “Battlestar Galactica” image courtesy of Sci Fi/NBC Universal

More in: Uncategorized, Battlestar Galactica


5 Responses to The Final Cylon speaks! Exclusive interview with Kate Vernon

  1. eric lee says:

    I don't think Ellen really is the final cylon. If you recall Col. Tigh would often hallucinate and see other women and see Ellens face. And I think thats the case again. Clearly, Starbuck is the final cylon and Tigh will eventually have the same vision but it will be Starbuck.

  2. Ptwin says:

    excelleent point. Having Ellen be final in 1st ep. is too easy. this is good observation.

  3. TheShipOfLight says:

    Ron Moore has confirmed that she is in fact the last cylon.

  4. scififan says:

    Battlestar Galactica = Quite Possibly The Most Overrated TV Show Of All Time. History will not look kindly on its laughable "sci-fi", its odious politics, and it's so silly and dark for dark's sake storytelling that all these people who have never seen a single episode of Babylon 5 but somehow have anointed this one-trick pony as "The Best Sci Fi Show of All Time" will come out looking like total buffoons.

  5. tristen says:


    >”blah bad galactica, blah good babylon5″

    I’ve seen a good deal of B5 and nearly all of BG and I have to say… I disagree with you completely, sure BG has it’s issues of needing sex in 95% of the episodes and being rather dark but those aren’t nearly as bad as the costuming in B5.

    The costuming in B5 no matter how consistent was still like a RNG to determine color and style, that shit was wack and you can’t say otherwise. To give allowance to it because they are “aliens and have different cultures” is total bull and you know it. they had to have everything different between them so they had “identity” which is fake because even here on earth our different cultures have similarities and I’d imagine that if all aliens were bipedal with two arms and one head we’d all have similar body coverings too.

    [/3yrs late]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

E-mail It
Powered by ShareThis