SyFy has taken the iconic BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA on step further with its DVD release of BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA: Blood and Chrome!
Starring in the DVD released film is Luke Pasqualino who plays the role of pilot William Adama and Ben Cotton as co-pilot Coker. It was a great opportunity to talk with these two actors about expanding the series and how they feel about their roles.
Thanks for talking to us today gentlemen!
Ben Cotton: You bet.
Luke Pasqualino: Hello.
How do you both feel about the film being released online then to television and then to DVD?
Luke:Go ahead Ben.
Ben:I think it’s great. It’s new to me. I had never heard of anybody doing that before.
How is it for you as an actor because this is such extra exposure?
Luke:I was thinking – I mean, you know, I think so many people actually are using the Internet now to watch movies and series and king of tuning in on iPlayer and all these different kinds of means of watching their favorite TV shows online. I think being able to take a laptop with you wherever you go and watch anything you like is so great. You know, I think people being able to watch it online first is fantastic, you know. Especially for people over on my side of the pond over in England; I think it’s brilliant. You know, we don’t have SyFy channel over in the UK. It’s quite a new channel so being able to watch it online first is fantastic.
How did you both become involved in BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA: Blood and Chrome?
Ben:I went to an audition just like anything else I guess. I went to an audition, have a couple of callbacks and then went down to L.A. to screen test for it and that’s where I met Luke. We read together in the room with a group of execs and producers and that was basically it – the short version.
Luke: I was kind of the complete opposite of Ben. I didn’t audition from America; I was sent the script by my (unintelligible) and I kind of – I wasn’t a fan of Battlestar before. I only heard of the franchise and the kind of phenomenon that was. And I was never really a fan. I knew how, you know, how well received it was. So when I was sent the script I loved it; I thought it was great. And, you know, I (unintelligible) over to the States. And it was brilliant. You know, two days after I got a call from Jonas Pate who directed (unintelligible) and then a couple weeks after that I got phoned out to test. And like Ben said that’s where we met and kind of our journey started there really.
Did you speak with Edward James Olmos about the role of Adama?
Luke:We kind of – I was given Eddie’s email address and we were kind of sending emails backwards and forward, but none of it was really about the work in terms of material and script and performances. More about just what’s expected. You know, kind of the head to go into this whole thing with and, you know, just what to expect really. I kind of – I didn’t really want — not that I don’t think Eddie’s great; I think Eddie’s fantastic. He did an amazing job and he’s got such a huge fan base. I feel like he really did – you know, he helped make Battlestar what it is today. And I think, you know, I didn’t really want any advice in terms of performance-wise from Eddie because I think seeing Adama at the age that I portray him compared to the age that Eddie portrays him, two completely different stages of anyone’s life. And I didn’t want anything that Eddie said to me to kind of really affect my interpretation of the material in a way. You know, go into it with clear heads and, you know, just kind of take what I saw really just kind of get my own stamp on it.
What was the hardest part about playing your roles?
Ben:The hardest part was the helmet. It’s hard to breathe in those helmets. Yes the green screen, you know, everybody kind of kept saying before we started it’s getting so hot. I didn’t find it to be too much of a challenge. There’s little markers you can pick to have, you know, imaginary spaceship out there, whatever it is. But after watching some of the dailies I realized, you know, that I wasn’t taking in the environment as much as I would if I was actually in some kind of a Cylon facility or whatever. But once you figure that out I didn’t find it too challenging at all.
Luke:Yes I mean I was kind of I can say a little bit daunted by the whole thing when I first realized, you know, the scale of how much green screen we would be using. And like Ben said, you know, environment and, you know, kind of you would think it would’ve caused problems in terms of where you’re going to be and, you know, kind of a lot of people who actually don’t have any physical set to touch or work with. But, you know, we did – we worked even some kind of, you know, props and a lot of the foreground stuff and our sets were actually – you know, there were props that we could actually physically touch and move around and stuff. But I think the hardest thing for me I found was really just the stuff in the spaceships; like Ben said when were in our Raptor they were hardest because when you’re trying – you know, when something hits the wind screen or blasts something you actually don’t have any of that to play to.
Luke:All we have is a tennis ball on the end of a stick that you have to follow. You know, that was really the kind of the hardest for me. But everything else was really just – yes I mean it all came. I think to speak for Ben as well, I think we kind of adapted to it a lot quicker than we thought we would.
Ben:Yes it becomes a little bit more like doing – it becomes a little bit like doing a black box theater type of situation, you know, where you just have to use your imagination through it.
Can you talk about the development of your character relationships?
Luke:I mean a lot of it comes from the pages.
Luke:But we had – I mean, you know, a lot of it come to rehearsals. You know, we had kind of a good week of rehearsals and stuff. So, you know, we worked very closely with Jonas and, you know, it was like a really great team effort. I think we both knew what to expect in terms of character, what we wanted to do with our character. And I think being able to explore every realm – you know, being able to take these characters and this character’s relationship with my character’s relationship, with Ben’s character, I think to be able to take it anywhere. I really think it came – for me I think it came from me and Ben becoming such quite friends. You know, we didn’t feel that we have to hold back on any kind of performance. If I wanted to shout at him I could’ve shout at him. If I wanted to laugh at him I could’ve laughed at him. If I wanted to scream in his face I could’ve screamed in his face. You know, it was one of those things that we just had so much confidence in performances and Jonas gave us a lot of free reigns to kind of take it wherever we wanted in terms of improvisation and all of that. So it was, you know, involving kind of team effort and team effort really. It was brilliant. And, you know, if ever something was completely out of character that wasn’t, you know, on the page, any kind of that; then they just didn’t use it in the final edit, you know? But, you know, I do think a lot – so much of the great performances that you see, you know, some parts in there really are improvised. And you just work with it and, you know, until you got the final product.
And you Ben?
Ben:I found there was a real freedom on this to just sort of let it go and just play with each other like Luke said. You know, I felt like, you know, you could yell at each other; you could shout at each other. You could laugh; you could do all of those things. And Jonas let us – he let us make it up now and then. You know, you just kind of keep rolling and you would go at each other a little bit. So it was really fun because, you know, you just work with an actor who’s going to hand it back to you and you hand it to them. And it just kind of rises and it keeps going, keeps going. And then there’s this chemistry happens and I thought we were lucky because it was cool. It was really cool.
Luke, you’re stepping into a role already created, how is that for you?
Luke:It was more fun than I can probably describe in a phone call actually. I think I need to get paint or even paint you a picture or something else in real vibrant colors. I had such a great time making it and I was never really phased by kind of the bar that Eddie had set. You know, I just kind of really wanted to go in like I said before and just kind of with my own interpretation of the material; just do the best as an actor. Just try and get, you know, the writing. You know, Michael Taylor wrote an amazing script and I think just to go in there and really push those limits as far as we could go.
Do you think someone watching the film might pick up characteristics from the previous person playing the role?
Ben:I mean it introduces the Adama character and if you weren’t aware of him before I think you’d get a pretty good picture of this person. I mean I’m always a big fan of doing things in order, but then again with this show you’d have to start with Caprica. Wouldn’t you start with Caprica and then this and then Battlestar, the re-imagined version. But I feel like – no I feel like this is a contained story. You could jump in and just watch this and get a really good feeling for who these people are and what the world is and what’s going on, you know?
Did either of you watch older episodes to prepare for your roles?
Ben:I did and then I stopped. I started to watch the series and then I just thought you know what I just got to focus on this. And also my character wasn’t in the other series. So it wasn’t – I don’t know. I didn’t have to know that world terribly well beyond what was in our script. So I opted to sort of pick my battles because – but from the time that I found out that I booked the job to shooting really wasn’t that much time. So kind of hard to pick where to focus.
Luke:Yes for me – yes being a Battlestar virgin the first thing that David actually did to me was throw Seasons 1 and 2 of Caprica at me because obviously that was, you know, kind of the dorm – you know, the star of this whole – the Cylon and, you know, birth of the Cylon in Caprica. And I think that was his kind of input to my performance really; just sit down and watch Caprica just so you know where we’re at in terms of story. And I did and, you know, I really enjoyed it and it helped me a lot to see where, you know, our show sit into the whole Battlestar mix. You know, to see that – you know, like I said, you know, anything that’s all set completely in the future. So that didn’t really affect my performance at all, but Caprica I did watch.
In the 1970’s series, the show had a huge following, and the continuation had an even bigger following. Are you surprised that the followers are excited?
Luke:You know, no matter what the size. I mean I think we’re very lucky to have so many fans and so many people that like it, but with making a show, any show, you know, any project that you’re a part of be it film, TV or play; I think just to have – you know, if you’ve got one person who appreciates it, then you’ve done your job in my opinion. You know, and the fans are the people that we have to please and I’m just – I’m very, very happy that we’ve kind of managed to kind of keep everybody entertained and, you know, kind of keep at that level that the Battlestar franchise is set.
Why do you think BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA and then CAPRICA and now BLOOD AND CHROME keep bringing people back?
Ben:You know, because it’s a great show. I think the writing has always been really good and people love it. And fans are the best fans that you’re going to find. You know, they’ll stick with you. So I think, you know, people want to embrace this story or so it seems anyway. People are excited.
Luke:And I think aside from that, you know, even someone like me that even isn’t – I wasn’t a Battlestar fan before I was involved in it. People like to see action. People like to see relationships. People like to see, you know, real life stories. People like to see drama. They like to see comedy. They like to be humored. They like all these different things and Battlestar can offer that. The only difference is between Battlestar and any other show is that it’s set in place, you know? I think we’re dealing with real life situations here, you know, whether it’s love, it’s hate, it’s you know, whatever’s been going on there.
Luke:And Battlestar is set in space. So it just looks cool and, you know, people like what the Battlestar Galactica franchise does for them. And, you know, I think I speak for Ben as well, just eternally grateful.
How do you both deal with so much green screen in the story?
Luke:Yes I mean well setting up on set before we’ve started filming we were given a book and it was like kind of like pages and pages of what the sets would actually look like. But all we had as reference really was a piece of paper with fantastic, you know, beauty and the most drawn out computer generated image of what the set would actually look like. And then you take that image in your head and then you have to kind of visualize your surroundings based on a picture given to you on a piece of paper. So it does involve imagination for sure and I think, you know, that’s what performance is all about. You have to be able to take your character and your performance any which way you can and you have to go in there and like I said before it did cause – you know, kind of posed problems in certain areas just because me and Ben had really never worked on green screen to that scale before. But ultimately it was just such an enjoyable experience and it taught me so much about, you know, about our work for sure. So, you know, yes it was great. It was great.
Ben:And you do kind of get accustomed to, you know, having to imagine. You know, a lot of the times when you do close-ups on that the other actor can’t even be in your eye line because you’re too close to the camera. You have to – because half the time you’re talking to a piece of tape. So, you know, you get used to, you know, using your imagination.
How do you feel about this becoming more and more popular?
Luke:You can with a virtual environment like we create like going out with the rest of the special effects created in Battlestar. You can take it anywhere. You know, most of things have no location anymore, this kind of technology. You know, we shot – every day of our shot was in one studio surrounded by green walls. You know, we didn’t – we weren’t – we didn’t have to do any locations. And by doing that, that’s when you can achieve anything you want. We could’ve put a sandy beach on that backdrop; we could’ve put, you know, a snowy mountain, which we did.
Luke:We can put any type that we want. You know, that’s what I love about it; you know, you can take a story anywhere with this kind of technology. It’s great.
Ben:Yes, it’s phenomenal.
So Ben, do you think Coker might be a Cylon?
Ben: No, personally I don’t think he’s a Cylon.
Luke:I did. I do.
Ben:You do, do you? He could be.
Are you both hoping that BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA: Blood and Chrome will be a returning series?
Luke:You know, I think hopeful is probably the best word you could’ve used there because really there it’s entirely out of – I mean especially with me and Ben it’s entirely out of our hands now. And really we just need to see how well it’s received, you know, when it airs and obviously we are very hopeful. I think actually for Ben as well and I said if we both get to carry on working on the show. I mean we had a great time working on it for the four weeks that we shot the pilot and, you know, to carry that on would be absolutely fantastic. Like I said all we can do now is just sit with our fingers crossed and just hope for the best.
And so are we as SyFy has resurrected something pretty amazing with BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA: Blood and Chrome out on DVD February 19th. Get your copy and keep up with the action!
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