Hang on to your Stetson and dust off your Viper helmets because in this Battlestar Galactica Museum EXCLUSIVE, you got to send in some questions but Katee Sackhoff and Tricia Helfer do all the talking!
They need no introduction. Both starred (and met!) on the set of “Battlestar Galactica” and have been besties ever since. Tricia Helfer recently starred in ABC’s “Killer Women” while Katee Sackhoff is due back in New Mexico for season 3 of A&E’s hit series “Longmire” – She’s also got “Oculus” and “Tell” coming up! Today, they talk Acting Outlaws, Battlestar Galactica, stunt work, and yes, even favorite Sunday night dinners!
Let’s push up those kickstands and get this interview on the proverbial roads.
BSGM: Riding a motorcycle is still seen by many as a predominantly male pastime, as fervent bikers how did you get to be bike-curious?
Tricia: I got interested in motorbikes while filming of Battlestar Galactica. I had always liked them and grew up driving four-wheelers and ATV’s but had just never tried since I lived in New York City. Driving motorcycles is not really the first thing on your mind there. Since I was away in Vancouver a lot, my husband got a bike and started riding with a friend of his. I realized very quickly that I didn’t like being on the back, went out, got my license and a bike as well.
Katee: I’ve always been an adrenalin junky of sorts… although the irony is that I’m pretty much scared of my own shadow!
I always dated guys who rode because I was so intimidated with the whole weight of the bike and wanted to still “ride” if you will, because I enjoyed the freedom of it. Then when Tricia and I found out her husband and my fiancé actually knew each other and both rode, we challenged each other to get our licenses.
BSGM: What, to you personally, has been the most rewarding thing about starting the Acting Outlaws?
Katee: The comradery of it all, the humbling feeling of people coming together for the common good. Taking time out to help those you’ve never met. It’s really a beautiful thing. To me, there’s no true wholeness to this life we get if you only live for yourself.
Tricia: To be able to have fun with a friend, do something we love, and help out a little bit
BSGM: The LA la ride was the first official Acting Outlaws ride. Was starting the movement a reaction to the oil spill or was there an idea to do something and did the Gulf disaster substantiate or enforce the thought that you could help out?
Tricia: We had just started Acting Outlaws and were looking at things to do. Both of us have ties in New Orleans, so the spill there was something that both of us were watching closely. It seemed like a good fit. We started looking at charities to partner with and found The Gulf Restoration Network and really felt in tune with their mission.
Katee: We had been looking for a ride to do in the next calendar year . When the Gulf Spill happened, we couldn’t ignore it. Both our significant others are from New Orleans, they grew up there, their families were there, they were educated there. There’s a love that people from NoLa have for that city that can’t be denied. We had to do something.
Tricia: It just made sense to do the ride and see if we could try and help out.
BSGM: Tell us a bit more about your involvement with the Tulip Ride. How and when did it happen?
Tricia: We got involved with the Tulip Ride because Katee had done a show, Cafe Racer, and met Jeff Henshaw. Not sure if he’s involved somehow or just an admirer of John Ryland, but for whatever reason he was there when Katee was.
Katee: I met him [Jeff Henshaw] through John Ryland from Classified Moto. We bonded over our love of motorcycles and philanthropy. We swapped stories about the Tulip Ride and Acting outlaws and decided we had to collaborate!
Tricia: He’s a founder of X-box and is the one that started the Tulip Ride. Every year it has grown from just a few Microsoft guys cutting loose on a sunny day, to a few hundred riders. I think it’s even bigger this year. Jeff told Katee about the ride and invited her to join, and she did…with me in tow. We had a wonderful time last year and luckily could work it into our schedules to come back again this year.
BSGM: Is there a chance the Acting Outlaws will be doing other rides, expanding or different countries, perhaps?
Tricia: We would love to expand out to other countries, but nothing planned right now.
BSGM: Your documentary [Acting Outlaws: The LA la ride] opens viewers up, not only to the problems in the Gulf but also to “Real Life, at home Katee and Tricia”. Did that scare you at all?
Katee: To a certain extent… I’m a private person but also an open book. Sometimes the easiest way to help someone is by opening up and being honest.
Allowing people to see your personality, your strengths and weaknesses. I can’t help but be who I am. I do however keep many details about my life private. You have to.
Tricia: Not at all. We’re both comfortable with who we are. Plus we had editing control so if there was something we didn’t like we would have not allowed it. It’s also not a reality show, it’s not like the cameras are there to try and see us do something embarrassing or stupid.
BSGM: Anything you would have changed about it if you had a chance to go back?
Tricia: In hindsight, we should have had two camera teams not just one, so we could have more off the bike footage like at dinner and such. There’s only so much riding that you can show before it gets monotonous. But, we were paying for it ourselves and we could only afford one cameraman and one sound guy (who doubled as the follow car driver). We lucked out with the guys, Pete and Mike, who were just a ton of fun, really hard workers and easy going.
BSGM: People can buy Acting Outlaws calendars, t-shirts, autographed pictures. Which organizations are buyers donating to and what can we do as outsiders?
Tricia: The donations from our merchandise and endeavors goes to different places depending on what it is. For example, the ride in November will benefit PATH, the Tulip Ride goes to Humane Society and the American Red Cross, in July it’s for Homes For Our Troops. Some of the profits of the 2013 calendar went to AmFAR. The LA La Ride text to donate campaign was the Gulf Restoration Networks own text to donate number so any money people donated that way went directly to the GRN.
BSGM: Could you elaborate on this years’ Acting Outlaws Calendar of Events?
Tricia: Our calendar of events can always change depending on work. We have a ride in Wyoming in July scheduled that will benefit Homes For Our Troops. And we’re going to produce our own ride in Los Angeles benefitting PATH on November 2nd. We’re aiming to also try and fit in the Glendale Harley Love Ride in October as well.
We’ll also be hosting a screening of The LALa Ride on the morning of Saturday April 26th, a screening of a Battlestar Galactica episode and we’ll also be doing a signing that same afternoon. Both in Seattle the day before The Tulip Ride on the 27th of April.
BSGM: Motorcycle question. What are you currently riding and, if you could choose one of the bikes the other owns, which one wouldn’t you mind having?
Tricia: I currently have a BMW F800GS and a Harley Davidson Rocker C.
The Rocker C is up for sale though because I want a Harley Davidson Fat Bob. I don’t have unlimited funds or an endless garage. To get another one, one has to be sold…
Katee: I would love a BMW GS 1200… I own a Harley Davidson Fat Boy A custom Classified Moto bike by John Ryland. I also steal my fiancés KTM 990
Tricia: … Katee’s bikes are both flashy and cool looking, but I’d go for the softail because it’s more comfortable than the Cafe Racer
BSGM: Katee, your mom gathered quite a following during the Livestream videos of The LA la Ride, how is the Mother Mary fan club doing and where can we sign up?
Katee: Hahahaha. She truly is a saint and I love that woman more than anything. She is a beautiful soul.
BSGM: On to current and future projects. Tricia, recently you’ve starred in ABC’s ‘Killer Women’. How is being “THE lead role” different from being “one of more leading roles” in an ensemble cast?
Tricia: Of course being the lead role is different than being a lead in an ensemble cast. Not the work or anything, but the amount of work. With an ensemble your storyline is not going to be front and center all the time so you have more available free time. When the show is about your character, you live, sleep, eat and breath that character. I didn’t have a split second of time when I was shooting Killer Women.
BSGM: What’s it like, shooting a major network show as the lead role? What did your shooting schedule look like?
Tricia: I loved it, but it is a massive amount of work. About half way through filming, one of the camera operators asked me how many hours I had where I wasn’t actually working. My answer: “when I’m asleep.” Because after filming for 14-15 hours, you still had to go home and study lines for the next day. Weekends were spent trying to get a handle on the upcoming week to try and alleviate some of the pressure on the weeknights. Weekends were also spent doing stunt training or breaking down an upcoming script or something.
I’m certainly not complaining because I loved it, but it is mentally and physically exhausting. There’s also more pressure as the sole lead because, of course, you feel a responsibility that hopefully it does well. So much of it is out of your hands, but knowing that still doesn’t really help with feeling responsible.
BSGM: Katee, You have Oculus coming out soon (April 11, 2014). You’ve been quoted saying you’re not much of a horror fan…
Katee: I’m not a huge horror fan. I operate with the notion that life is scary enough these days. I want to walk out of a theater with a warm feeling, not a “Thank God that’s over, will you spend the night in case a ghost comes to haunt me!“-feeling.
BSGM: What is on your schedule that we don’t know about but you’re super excited about?
Katee: Not saying! Ha
Tricia: I’m actually taking a bit of time off, looking for the next TV project. I don’t want to just jump into something, although hopefully it doesn’t take too long! Keeping myself busy with some voice work and a few small roles. I voiced a character in a video game (can’t say yet), and voiced my character in the next installment of Starcraft. I might be doing another video game soon. Katee and I are up for the two roles, which would be super fun to do, so fingers crossed it works out.
Tricia: As for on-camera, I’m filming an indie movie in the beginning of May. Omar Epps is playing the title role. It’s a dark drama and I’m playing an alcoholic prostitute, which will be fun. Odd to say it’ll be fun, but that’s acting. A movie I shot a small role in, Author’s Anonymous is being released right now, so I’ll go to the premiere for that. I’m looking at a project to possibly star in and produce. It’s a quirky, romantic type movie that we’d aim for TV. We are currently in the script meeting stage on that.
Katee: I did the episode because I was a fan of John Ryland and his work. I had never seen Cafe Racer before the episode.
BSGM: Off the bat question. You’re making your favorite Sunday dinner, what’s on the menu?
Katee: A skirt Steak with cauliflower, a big salad and wine
Tricia: Favorite Sunday dinner…I don’t know, depends on my mood and what I’ve already eaten that day. I don’t really have favorites of anything.
BSGM: Tricia, here’s a fan-favorite for you. You are a fervent cat owner. How many do you have and how are they doing?
Tricia: Yes I’m a big cat lover. Lover of all animals, but I happen to have rescued cats. My lips are sealed on the number, but they are doing great. One of my girls is getting really old and frail, but she’s pretty adamant to stick around for awhile longer.
BSGM: Back to acting. Is it easier to act hating someone you love…or to act loving someone you don’t necessarily care for/like?
Tricia: It’s probably easier to pretend hating someone you like than to pretend loving someone you don’t like. Chemistry is hard to determine though. It’s either there or it isn’t. It’s not dependent on if you actually like the person or not.
How many movies have you seen where it’s a real life couple and their chemistry is terrible on screen? It’s just one of those factors you can’t really predict.
Katee: Hating someone you love…. Ain’t that just the thing! ; )
BSGM: Did you know that a moment between Starbuck & Six is often referred to as “the tackle-hug”?
Tricia: I did not know there’s a “tackle-hug” reference. That fight was one that both Katee and I trained for.
BSGM: How do you, as an actor, prepare for scenes like that.
Katee: You can’t prepare for that, really…. I stretch, watch the stunt double very closely, don’t hesitate… (you can’t be scared, that’s when people get hurt) adrenalin is different than scared, by the way.
Tricia: I worked with a kick boxer, martial arts trainer and Katee worked with a regular boxing trainer. Then we worked together with the stunt coordinator on the actual fight we were going to shoot. Both of us generally do most of our own stunts because we both enjoy them and we’re good at them.
BSGM: Are you disappointed if/when a stunt-double ends up in the final cut of a scene you did so many preparations for?
Katee: Tricia and I were both pissed we couldn’t do that [tackle-hug] stunt. we left work that day only half fulfilled.
Tricia: I have a hard time relinquishing my character up to someone else, but of course I’m not upset if a stunt double is used for some stuff and makes it into the final product. That’s what they are there for. It would be odd if they didn’t make it into the final product.
BSGM: Ever got hurt in the process?
Tricia: Getting bumps and bruises is fine but I have no desire to really get hurt. I separated a rib once and that was not fun! The stunt actors are incredibly trained and do some really hard stuff. How they don’t get hurt seriously more often is beyond me. But if the actor doesn’t do a lot of it themselves, I think it shows and hurts the final product. It’s pretty obvious that it’s a stunt double if you never see the characters face.
BSGM: How much of the “Tackle Hug”-scene people saw on TV was Katee and Tricia and how much of it was done by stunt doubles?
Tricia: The BSG fight that Katee and I did was mostly all us. I think everything is us except the final fall. The tackle-hug moment you mentioned was a moment of editing trickery as all stunt scenes are. We shot Katee running full bore at me and tackling me, shoving us backwards out of frame and into the waiting strong arms of the stunt coordinator. Then they changed camera angles and shot the stunt doubles. Producers would not allow us to do the actual fall so the picture depicted is the stunt doubles . You can see they are actually going over the edge there
BSGM: Tricia, BSG was your first really big role and we’ve seen so much comments saying how people literally saw and appreciated the fact that your acting grew so much throughout the episodes. In which ways was BSG a learning experience?
Tricia: BSG was my first big role, yes. I’d been acting for a year and was very lucky to get what turned into a great project. I appreciate people saying my acting grew through the series. It did, and I hope it continues to, still. There was also the fact that I was given more interesting things to do as the seasons went along. The first season and a half was only Red Dress Six, which was limiting. So of course I grew as an actor, With some of the other Six’s, I was given material that I could sink my teeth into more.
BSGM: Does your method of (scene) preparation change whether you have to be in an emotional scene, or otherwise be elated?
Katee: All preparation for me is the exact same, I’m usually joking around quite a bit until about a minute before they say action. It’s just my process, other actors are very different.
BSGM: Katee, another bit of phenomenal work, both in acting and in writing, were those last scenes between Starbuck and Anders…
Katee: Those last scenes with Trucco were difficult in the sense that it was art imitating life to a certain respect. I love that man very much, he’s a beautiful human being and a great friend ( Sandra too!!) to think of a world without him is heartbreaking, that’s what I was thinking about when we shot those last scenes. I was also trying to put myself in Anders’ shoes, how alone he must have felt…
BSGM: What was your goal for Starbuck at the end of the series?
Katee: My goal for Starbuck at the end of the whole series was for her to not be alone and I ultimately realized Anders was alone and she would’ve done anything to take away that knowledge. Make him feel safe, and in turn feel safe herself.
BSGM: Last Question. Do you think the fact that the BSG cast was on such a good rapport with one another helped the final product to be so good and believable for a sci-fi project?
Tricia: The cast getting along so well probably helped. It’s nice to feel supported and in turn you are more free to take risks. But it starts with the writing. Luckily the writers/producers were very collaborative and listened to the actors opinions. Not that they would go with them all the time, but I do think that collaborative spirit helped the show.
We would very much like to thank Tricia Helfer and Katee Sackhoff for their time in answering these questions.
Please also check out the following links:
All rights reserved, no portion of this interview may be blatantly copy/pasted without prior consent or backlinking to the original article © Battlestar Galactica Museum 2014