Accent Envy and Schizophrenia – James Callis and Tricia Helfer Talk BATTLESTAR GALACTICA


When you think of Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica the image of Dr. Gaius Baltar and Six is undoubtedly one of the first images that comes to mind. We were lucky to have Tricia Helfer and James Callis be amongst the featured guests at the recent Sci-Fi Expo, presented by Dallas Comic-Con, held just a few weeks ago in Dallas, Texas. In the Battlestar Galactica Q&A panel that Helfer and Callis did along with Edward James Olmos, they revealed some interesting details about getting cast for the show and about their hand in crafting their characters.


When asked if there was any glowering going on from fellow Brit Jamie Bamber to James Callis since Callis got to use his native British accent while Bamber had to perform with an American accent, Callis commented to the contrary:

sci-fi-expo-2013-james-callisJames Callis: No, as an English actor, there’s a few things you want to do: you want to work in America, you want to work for the Americans, or for the Americans in Vancouver…

[crowd laughs]

James Callis: And the other thing you want to do is practice your American accent that you’ve tried so hard with. [James drops into a lower registers for his American accent for a moment.] Actually I auditioned with an English accent. That was great and then I do remember on the very first day on set I’m being interviewed by a lady on tv [for the scene] and I remember my first line was something like, “Thank you, Kellan.” I remember they were like “rolling and action!” and I went [back into American accent,] “Thank you, Kellan.”

[crowd laughs]

James Callis: Director went “CUT! What the hell are you doing?” Well, I’m going to be like this and they were like “No, you’re not.” They said, “You auditioned as an English man and that’s it. That’s how we bought you. What are you doing?” I thought I’d get it past them subtlety. So no, I was more upset that I didn’t get to do my American inverted commas. Jamie was very, very excited to [play] an American. He’s got an incredible accent.

Q&A Moderator: It has to be really gratifying to play somebody whose moral compass not only swings with the breeze but any time the door opens!

James Callis: Luckily, no acting required!

[crowd cheers]

Playing Six actually gave Tricia Helfer the latitude of playing many different characters. Here she is what she said about crafting the different versions of the number Six Cylon:

sci-fi-expo-2013-tricia-helferTricia Helfer: I knew nothing about it at all. I got lucky to get the show. I had been acting for barely a year and it was my first pilot season. All we had was the miniseries which was pretty much all head Six that was as we look back, Caprica Six, but turned into head Six quite quickly and lasted throughout the entire first season and the first half of the second season.

It wasn’t until Pegasus episodes and Gina that I got a glimpse. And that’s when I discussed it with Ron [Moore] because I wanted it to make Gina different because of what she had gone through. And that’s where really the idea of making them specifically different [came from.]

I do remember speaking to Ron about it because I think he was more under the assumption that they were just going to be the same so I talked to him about making them different and that bled through to the rest of them- the Natalies, the Sonias, and Lila…

Q&A Moderator: As if it weren’t schizophrenic enough…

Tricia Helfer: I was very happy to get Gina at that point. To be completely honest I was getting a little frustrated with just head Six at that point after a season and a half of head Six. The whole first season it was the gag of ‘oh, nobody else can see her.’ And that’s funny because you know, in directing those episodes…

James Callis: Apart from the audience.

Tricia Helfer: True. It got more challenging to bring Six in in a unique way. It started to feel like a shtick at the end. To be able to have Gina, for me personally, it brought a new enjoyment back to playing Six.

There’s more from the Battlestar Galactica panel at the Sci-Fi Expo. Stay tuned!

Convention photography by Dallas Comic-Con photographer

Lillian 'zenbitch' Standefer
Written by Lillian 'zenbitch' Standefer

is Senior Managing Editor for SciFi, skips along between the lines of sci-fi, fantasy, and reality, and is living proof that geek girls really DO exist!