Admiral William “Husker” Adama is an iconic hero in sci-fi history, leading the human race back from the brink of extinction in Battlestar Galactica. The Sci-Fi Expo, presented by Dallas Comic-Con, had the distinct pleasure of hosting actor Edward James Olmos along with co-stars Tricia Helfer and James Callis earlier this month. In the Battlestar Galactica panel, Olmos talked about how he was cast for the role of Adama, what would kill his character (it’s literally written in his contract), and how he knew this was an incredible project.
Edward James Olmos: “I was very fortunate. They offered me the role after Ron Moore and David Eick sat in a room saying, ‘We need to get somebody like Edward James Olmos [for the role.]’
[laughter from the crowd]
And that’s really what happened. Ron says, ‘Well, why don’t we ask him?’ They said, ‘Well, he turned down Star Trek.’ So they asked me to partake in this and at the beginning I had not seen the original because at the time the original [series] was being played in 1978, I was doing a play which ran for three consecutive years called Zoot Suit. I was doing eight shows a week for three years and it took me on Broadway and it was really an extraordinary experience but I never really watched television because I was never home at night.
So, needless to say, they offered me the role and I was deeply committed at that moment in time to doing other work and so out of necessity to keep my agents because they said, ‘You’ve gotta read this.’ I said [to myself] ‘Battlestar Galactica? I don’t think so.’
I did Bladerunner and it was enough and it was going to be very, very difficult to do anything that hits that or is better. So I had done my work in that field and I just wanted to keep on going. Well, I read it and I gotta tell you, it was in the writing. Ron Moore did an extraordinary thing.
I got the opportunity to talk to Ron, David, and Michael Rymer who was the director of the pilot. The three of them and myself sat down and I said that the only way I could do this honestly and I really appreciate your work here because I thought it was brilliantly written. The only way I could do this is if we go into the world that Bladerunner allowed us to understand.
So, the first four-eyed, two-eared, two-mouthed creature I see, I am going to fall on the ground and faint. Aaaaaahhhh! Boom. And then I’m off the show. The Commander dies. And that’s it. It was in my contract.
That’s why they were so upset they were really scared when they did the hybrid. I said, no, I understand this. This is not something freaky like some jellyfish or something. It’s part machine, part human. I got this. This is good.
The first day [the principal cast] were all together, we were having a chat inside my trailer, I turned to them and said, ‘Listen, you guys, I got to tell you, this is the best work I’ve read or going to be able to do on television. This is an incredible opportunity.’
‘You won’t understand it right now because you will have to get some distance to it, but we’re going to do this for at least five years and we’re going to go through this and it‘s just going to get better and better and better. And you will see that it will grow into something that you will have never expected. This is just incredible. And I was just going off the script. We didn’t even know if we were going to get picked up. I could just look into this world and say, this is it!’”
Convention photography by Dallas Comic-Con photographer