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Feature: Battlestar Galactica

Secrets and Lies

James Callis as Baltar

Dr Gaius Baltar is not the kind of man you’d trust in a crisis, yet somehow he has become vice president of the Battlestar Galactica fleet. We met actor James Callis to discuss what’s next for the conniving Baltar…

Love, or, better still, infatuation, can make a person do strange things, and, on occasion, something bad, very bad. Dr Gaius Baltar knows this only too well. In the 2003 Battlestar Galactica mini-series, the brilliant scientist made the mistake of falling head-over-heels for a sexy blonde, Number Six, who – surprise, surprise – turned out to be a Cylon. He unwittingly gave her access to the defence systems for the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, making possible a Cylon attack. Ironically, Baltar was one of those who survived this cold-blooded massacre, keeping his involvement a secret. In fact, in some small twisted way, he considers himself a victim.

“My character has made an art out of sidestepping the blame that’s coming his way,” notes actor James Callis, who portrays the wily Baltar. “This is a man who believes, really, that he’s only partially responsible, if at all, for the near total genocide of his own race. By that I mean Baltar thinks he could be fingered for the blame, but on a literal level of the way it happened, part of him is thinking, ‘Hey, look, I had no idea that I was going out with a robot’. However, this is the same person who, at the end of last year, tried to convince Boomer to kill herself. That’s a big leap for someone to take who’s like, ‘Hey, don’t look at me, I’m not involved’. Then there was that shocking twist later on in Season One where Baltar ended up as President Roslin’s vice president.

“In many ways I never really knew last year what was going to come next with him. However, I felt his story arc was very fluid and I enjoyed how it unfolded. It wasn’t so much that Baltar grew by leaps and bounds during Season One, but rather it was like some dynamic inside him was pushing him apart. As a result, it made his references to people and situations all the more diverse. I’ve been talking with the show’s producers and writers about Baltar becoming, perhaps, a little bit grimmer this season. And the thing is, after episode three [Fragged], he’s less inclined to tears. He’s cried it all out of his system.

“Baltar did a very bad thing, then a few more bad things, and now he’s getting ready to do even more,” says Callis, grinning. “This time around, though, it’s with a sort of impunity or dissidence.”

by Steven Eramo

You will find the full interview in
Starburst #329

Photo © Sci-Fi Channel
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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