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Feature: Battlestar Galactica (2000s)

Beware

Actress Katee Sackhoff on sex, violence and the unrepentent life of Lt Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace

In Battlestar Galactica’s first season finale Kobol’s Last Gleaming, Lt Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace returns to the Cylon-occupied planet of Caprica at the request of President Laura Roslin to retrieve the Arrow of Apollo. The president believes that this ancient artefact will help show them the way to Earth. While on Caprica, Starbuck is reunited with Lt Helo, who has been missing, as well as Lt Sharon ‘Boomer’ Valerii, who turns out to be a Cylon and is now pregnant with Helo’s child. Starbuck ends up stranded with Helo on Caprica when, in the year two opener Scattered, Boomer steals her ship. The lieutenant’s temporary exile on Caprica leads to some new adventures and a brush with the past.

“One of the most challenging scenes for me so far this season was in episode two [Valley of Darkness], where she and Helo [Tahmoh Penikett] just sat there in her old apartment,” recalls Katee Sackhoff, who plays the tough yet emotionally vulnerable Starbuck. “My character is constantly moving. Starbuck doesn’t feel comfortable sitting still or allowing her brain to pause because then she has time to think, especially about the past, and she doesn’t like to do that because that’s where her pain is.

“So she’d always rather be physically and/or mentally challenged and looking ahead. However, in this scene we see her stop and not have anything to do. Starbuck sinks into that moment and takes advantage of it. As a result, we see a very different side of her. Her line at the end of the scene is quite telling and it’s one I made up on the day of filming. She says, ‘Everyone I know is fighting to get back what they had, and I’m fighting because it’s all I know how to do’. It’s kind of handing the scene to audiences on a silver platter, which is something I don’t like to do with dialogue. However, this was such a painful moment for my character that I actually wanted her to say that out loud.”

Using drugs to stave off radiation sickness, Starbuck and Helo do their best to steer clear of Cylon patrols while trying to find a way off Caprica. Much to their surprise, in the episode Resistance, they meet up with a group of allies, led by Anders (Michael Trucco) and Sue-Shaun (Tamara Lashley), all members of a professional pyramid team who were training in the mountains when Caprica was attacked by the Cylons. Coincidentally, Starbuck loves to play pyramid – and ends up going one-on-one with Anders – and not only on the game court.

“Anders is everything that Starbuck has ever wanted in a man and she falls in love with him in a single day,” says Sackhoff. “That just doesn’t happen with her. Usually she has sex with a guy and then throws him away, but this is someone who doesn’t allow her to get away with much. Anders challenges her; he doesn’t put up with her crap and meets her eye-to-eye. He has strength and dignity as well as a duty to fight the Cylons that attracts my character to him. Of course, she then has to leave him behind. Once again, Starbuck loses someone she loves. There are so many emotional places that she goes while on Caprica, and it helps explain a lot to the viewers about not only why she’s screwed up but also why Starbuck continues to be screwed up.”

by Steven Eramo

Read the full interview in
Cult Times #124

Image © Visual Imagination, Battlestar Galactica © The Sci-Fi Channel
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #124
January 2006
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