Sources:Interview with Grace Park, January 4, 2004 (Boomer)
Grace Park: "Gracefully Boomer"
I am psyched.
This is going to be a perfect day.
Not only do I have the day after New Years off with pay... I am also expecting a very special phone call today.
From Grace Park. One of my newest science fiction heroes. She recently took on a controversial role, one that’s met with a fair share of dissension among the rather mercurial fandom of Battlestar Galactica.
It’s 11:45am. I am reviewing other online interviews with Grace. She is so well spoken. She has a quick, witty mind and comes up with some great responses to questions she’s been asked in the past. I can’t wait to see how she’ll respond to our questions.
My cat jumps onto my lap and starts purring. He wants some attention now and normally I would acquiesce to his demands but I’m afraid that his rumbling might interfere with our interview, so I banish him to the bedroom for the time being.
The phone rings.
She asks if she can call back in half an hour as she is still prepping for the interview.
No problem I say. I’m doing some prepping myself.
While I wait, I refresh myself again with her character.
Grace Park portrayed Lt. Sharon "Boomer" Valerii in the recent remake of Battlestar Galactica.
In the original 1978 Battlestar Galactica, Herb Jefferson Jr. portrayed Lt. Boomer, the sidekick and sometimes anchor of reason to the ever-capricious Lt. Starbuck, played by a grinning and gambling Dirk Benedict.
Grace brings a whole new dynamic to this character in the Sci Fi Channel’s recent two-part miniseries which premiered on December 8th 2003.
Somewhat of a rookie actress herself, she portrays a rookie Colonial Warrior who is rapidly becoming a veteran of war against the Cylons. In one of the most compelling scenes, she leaves her comrade Lt. Helo behind on Caprica to die when he gives his seat on their Raptor to Gaius Baltar, a computer genius and (as-yet-unknown to the colonials) the traitor of humankind.
I admire the courage both Grace and her colleague Katee Sackhoff have shown in taking on these controversial roles and now I have chance to tell Grace that in person! How exciting.
The phone rings. Its Grace!
Battlestar Galactica 2003: Happy New year!
Grace Park: Yeah, Happy New Year!
BG2003: Are you having an enjoyable one?
GP: I am so far. [Laughs]
BG2003: Well that’s good.
GP: Why? Did you go out?
BG2003: You know what? I didn’t. I got so tired. Its been a long week for me and I’m just getting over a cold.
BG2003: So... I decided to stay home and see the fireworks go off.
[At this point we chat a little about what the firework shows were like where we both live, and I think... she is so down to earth. This is going to be a lot more fun than interviewing politicians! If only I could have had more assignments like this back in my news-hound days. Comfortable banter established, I segue into the interview.]
BG2003: I really want you to know that I enjoyed your performance in the miniseries.
GP: Well thanks!
BG2003: And I’m a Battlestar Galactica fan myself. I watched the show when I was 13 and it was a big deal to me back then, and I was real excited to see the remake done, so it was pretty nice to have that re-envisioned. And I’ve been looking forward to talking with you!
GP: Oh. Thanks. Well it’s... you know there has been so much controversy around it...
BG2003: I know...
GP:... and it being all re-imagined...
BG2003: ..and I really commend you from taking on the part that you’ve taken...
BG2003: I mean really! You and Katee both. You guys both deserve a hand. Cause that had to have been quite a challenge.
GP: Yes... I think I must have been out of the line of fire or something. I mean I didn’t get any of that type of hard stuff coming at me, at least not that I’ve noticed so far.
BG2003: OK great! Well, we were just talking about how strong your performance was in the miniseries, and what did you think? Did you enjoy your experience a lot?
GP: Oh my gosh, I loved it. You do a lot of shows and you end up, it just ends up being work, its work but sometimes you do some work and it really seems a lot more like play and it was totally a blast. I have to say that there are... you always want to go back and re-do things...I mean acting wise, but I have to say quite a few of the scenes I’m pretty damn happy with.
GP: And if I had to go do them again it would be different maybe. But not necessarily better. But then again there’s other scenes that I would [laughing] love to go back and re-do.
BG2003: Which ones are those?
GP: Oh, I think there are certain takes like, when we touched down on Caprica and I had to leave without Helo, there was this one turn-around shot where i was lifting off and supposed to be crying but it took like half an hour to set-up. And two minutes before we went to camera, i shut down emotionally. Totally. Or so i thought i did. And brutal cuz i remember Michael [Rymer] telling me on the 3rd take, "you're just gonna have to 'act.'"
BG2003: Oh, it was harder to connect the next time around.
GP: Yes, but no. My ego got in the way and decided to shut down my artist...Actor talk. But what happened was I ended up going home and the next morning I woke up and then everything hit me, bawled my eyes out, thought i was a horrible soldier, that i killed him, Boomer & Helo forever... I tried to rationalize that in some cases characters are not always going to be emotional all the time, but I just consider it a lesson learned.
BG2003: I imagine that’s very hard to be able to dredge up your real personal emotions and then connect them with that character you’re playing.
GP: Yeah but actually on that day when I did that one, there wasn’t any personal stuff going on. I was so locked into Boomer and Helo, and there wasn’t any thought of bringing up [my] personal past and hooking onto that, it was just, I was crying about Helo and how I missed him and how horrible it was and you know, how I had his dog-tags and just all this other stuff that was going on. I was locked right into it.
BG2003: Wow. You have a very strong identification with your character.
GP: Yeah, sometimes [laughs]
BG2003: How familiar were you with the original Battlestar Galactica before you got the role?
GP: Not very. "Battlestar Galactica? Rings a bell...."
GP: The title, yeah. I didn’t watch it when I grew up, and I didn’t really know it at all. Because... I knew it was something big though, cause when I got the audition I was "ooh this could be huge."
BG2003: & GP: [laughing]
GP: Everyone I knew was all "oh Battlestar Galactica, I remember that, so you’re going out for that?" I was like "yeah". So wow, I was pretty stoked on that. Did you say before I auditioned or before the screen test?
BG2003: Before you got the role I guess.
GP: No I hadn’t seen it at all. And also, originally, I had gone out for two different characters before I finally got Boomer...
BG2003: Really? Which other characters did you audition for?
GP: At first I went out for Dualla. And then I auditioned with Katee for Starbuck.
BG2003: Wow! So you almost got that role, huh? Or vied for it?
GP: It was 7 girls and 6 guys for Starbuck and Apollo. Then it was down to the last four and we were "this is it."
BG2003: So did you say they had some men also audition for that part?
GP: No, no, it was actually 6 guys going for Apollo.
BG2003: Oh OK.
GP: And then, we were going for Starbuck.
BG2003: What kind of preparation work did you have to do prior to the audition?
GP: I got some coaching from one of my teachers Michèle Lonsdale Smith. I think what I had to do is first of all was relax and stop this weird thing i was doing cuz the part was a "lead." I had to get coaching on the military role, but also what was going on with the part, with the reality of that scene. Not trying necessarily to act "military" or act "tough" or anything "spacey" nothing like that. And then, just before I went in for the screen test, I got some, kind of, business coaching from Barbara Deutsch. And she told me "at this point its not about how well you can act", and that confused me. "Everyone in the room at this point can act. Everyone knows you can act. And that’s not the point. Now its, whether or not you can get through the room."
BG2003: Oh wow...
GP: That was interesting cause there were about 3 or 4 hours of us waiting around for our contracts to come through [laughs], you know and it was either your nerves are getting more and more frazzled or you’re like, just sort of kicking it back. And Katee was just totally relaxed.
BG2003: [laugh] She was probably nervous too, it just didn’t show!
GP: Oh, I dunno, she was pretty chill.
GP: But you know, you kind of have to be or else you’d crack in the room!
BG2003: I bet, I bet. Did you have to be, I mean, you were in such good shape, watching you in that show, I’m envious I wish I could be in that kind of shape - [laughs] what kind of workout regimen do you do?
GP: Oh, I’m not in good shape...
BG2003: Oh! But those muscles - I mean - you’re buff! [Laugh] You must work out...
GP: You know I think I just have good muscle memory. I used to work out a lot before. But I don’t do that much working out, like Katee and Jamie are the hard core ones, they were working out every day solid, running and at the gym and they were super hardcore.
BG2003: Wow. And you don’t hardly work out at all? You must work out! You must have a regimen that you do...
GP: Like I said, I used to work out a lot, but I go through phases. In Vancouver there’s the Grouse Grind...
GP: ...and I used to do that ... but now I’m just, I don’t know, I’m getting a lot healthier, but its kind of like mind and body?
GP: And no, I don’t really work out. I think maybe my muscles just looks like I’m working out? [laughs]
BG2003: Well, I wish I had that kind of luck! [Laughs]. So what, what was the reaction when you learned that you got the role?
GP: I think I was pretty calm... And my agent called me and I said "OK, cool. Awesome, well that sounds good. " And I think I asked a couple questions, put down the phone and took a deep breath and then I walked a few steps away from my desk and then I totally broke out in song and dance!
GP & BG2003: [Laughing]
GP: It was like I was in my apartment and I just went nuts! I can’t remember what I sang or what I did but it was like I was on Broadway all of a sudden and I just broke into song and I was racing around my apartment. I was ecstatic. I think I was screaming. It was so cool, and then I like went to the phone and started calling people.
BG2003: Oh I bet. I bet. Who was the first person you called?
GP: I think it was my boyfriend. Either my boyfriend or my parents.
BG2003: Wow. How exciting! Well now... if you had to describe Boomer to somebody, what would you have to say about her? How would you describe her as a person?
GP: I would say that Boomer is a lot about survival, and she’s a quick thinker, and she learns quickly, and she’s feisty. She’s competitive. She likes to have fun and she can totally be one of the guys. On one hand she can be a team player, but then she’s also very independent and I think that stems from the fact that she lost her parents at a really young age and I think that’s also why she’s protective of Boxey.
BG2003: Yes, that’s right. Wasn’t she an orphan? Boomer?
GP: Yeah. She was orphaned when, I think... No, I say that she was orphaned when she was one or two, something like that.
BG2003: She was adopted, or wasn’t there something about that?
GP: I don’t remember that particular line. But yeah I said that I was, like when we went to boot camp and we had to come up with a bit of our backstory and I said that on Picon my parents had died when i was 1 or 2, and i was raised by my mom's sisters on Gemon.... but I think if they change it, it they change it. Because this is what we made up ourselves.
BG2003: That would be - do you think that would be interesting to go into, if this goes to series, which we all hope it does, um, wouldn’t that be interesting, maybe like a flashback episode?
GP: Yeah that would be pretty cool! That would be very interesting.
BG2003: You could delve a little bit deeper into who Boomer is and explore that character a little bit.
GP: Yeah. Exactly. I would like to be able to do that. I think because there’s the fact that she was orphaned, and she has this, like she’s searching, though I’m not sure even what she’s searching for. I think there’s that. And so that’s why the Battlestar Galactica, or the people on it, the crew and pilots are totally her family.
BG2003: Yeah. And I also get the idea that off screen you’re family as well, I mean you’ve gone to this boot camp with the other actors, you must have a real strong sense of family with the rest of the, with your co-workers.
GP: Exactly and its not competitive at all, its just comradery and its fun. We, in a sense we all connect to each other and we’re all looking out for each other.
BG2003: That’s wonderful. Here’s another question that we have here. How would you rate your experience playing Boomer versus other characters you’ve played in the past?
GP: Oh, Boomer was the most fun! I got to do so much with her. She was easily my biggest character. I fleshed her out, and over the course of a two part miniseries, that's huge.
BG2003: Yeah. How many hours would you say you guys spent, or how many hours did you spend filming?
GP: Oh I, I think I had 12 or 16 shooting days, and each day being, I don’t know, about 8 to 14 hours.
BG2003: Wow, that’s a lot of work.
GP: Oh yeah, but its fun. I think the crew did most of the work...
BG2003: [laughing] Oh yeah the camera guys and everything...
BG2003: Yeah. And then having to re-shoot... which scene do you think they spent the most time on? You mentioned the one with Helo, was that the one that they spent the most time on with you?
GP: For us, yeah, definitely. That scene in Caprica, that took 2 days to do.
BG2003: That was a very emotional scene, a lot of emotion in that scene.
GP: Yeah there was, but you know what though, its because Tahmoh Penikett, who plays Helo, he’s such a generous actor... and the whole thing was just fun. It's like when you were a kid and you played make-believe with your sister or friend...like that, having fun all day long. Plus we were kickin back during setups.
BG2003: Fun. That sounds like a lot of fun. How do you think that Boomer would react if she found out all about Baltar’s treachery, in view of the fact that Helo gave up his seat for Baltar, how do you think that Boomer would react if she were to then find out about how Baltar is a traitor?
GP: I don’t think it would be in Baltar’s best interests for Boomer to find out.
BG2003: [Laugh!] I guess not!
BG2003: No! [laughing]
GP: There would probably be a low rumble, and a slow boil and then... I can’t say what would happen after that.
BG2003: Ooh! I think it would be interesting to see!
GP: Oh yeah, yeah definitely.
BG2003: Your role was, some would say, was probably the second most controversial change, according to some of the "purist" fans, because of the gender change, like with Katee playing Starbuck and there is a lot of controversy associated with that, but what is your feeling, what is your opinion on the gender changes that were made to Starbuck and Boomer for the remake?
GP: I love it, because that’s why I have a job.
BG2003: [Laugh] That’s a good way to put it.
GP: Other than that, I think it was really essential for there to be some female pilots, the main ones, not secondary ones...
GP: And I know that for the fans of the original Battlestar Galactica, the top 3 pilots would be Apollo, Starbuck and Boomer.
GP: And I think they would have had to change at least one, if not two.
BG2003: You know and I remember back when I was 13 even at that age I remember kind of wishing even then there had been a woman pilot.
GP: Oh yeah?
GP: I know, its like something’s missing!
BG2003: And the pilots have all the fun. Its like, I didn’t want to be the one sitting back on the Galactica, "Oh where’s my honey? He’s out fighting" I’d want to be out there kicking butt! So, I think its great, and do you think that, would you envision Boomer as sort of a role model for young people watching this show?
GP: I guess so, because she’s a female and she’s strong [and] she takes the initiative and yeah, so in that way it gives people something to look towards, it gives them a voice. Or a sense that for them, that they can do it.
BG2003: Yeah and you know I think it would have made a big difference to me when I was 13 years old, to see a woman, you know flying – and I remember the one, they had one episode in the original series where all the men got sick and so then the females - the women were allowed...
GP: [laughs] I saw it! I saw that episode I think. And all the women stepped up?
BG2003: Yeah and the women got a chance, but its kind of so I mean it was probably a big step back in 1978 but... today it would be kind of a...
GP: [Laughing] Well today’s climate for women, trying to take a step forward and they’re not having to be better than the men, but they are trained in the same field and we’re all supportive of each other.
GP: So I think its very important. I think they had to change it!
BG2003: Yeah, I think you’re right. I was very, I was at first shocked when I saw the changes and then I thought, "this could be really cool". I thought "this could be really good." Do you feel a lot of pressure on you as a woman and as a minority sometimes in this role?
GP: I don’t feel think I feel any pressure as a woman. Because I think Katee was at the forefront for that.
GP: As a minority, well, maybe its just there every day of my life so I don’t really think its even necessarily that much stronger, or that much more significant. But I don’t think that because I’m a minority that there’s a big difference. Actually I thought because I’m not Black maybe the NAACP would be giving me a call... [laughs]
BG2003: Oh, there’s been some rumblings in fandom I think about the lack of an African American lead, but I don’t know I think maybe when they go to series they could explore that further. And then there was Dualla...
GP: A lot of people died. So there’s gonna be more pilots changed, there’s gonna be more cast members.
GP: I just watched the pilot episode last night...
GP: And it was so good! I loved it!
BG2003: The original or the one you were in?
GP: The original.
BG2003: Oh wow. And you really liked it.
GP: Oh yeah, I totally loved it. And I noticed there was actually a major lack of Asian characters.
BG2003: There was.
GP: Yeah, and also Hispanic, so its like "hey what’s up with that?"
BG2003: What I noticed for myself, is, with this remake it seems was a lot more broad based. It had characters of just about every ethnic background that I could think of, I mean, you know with Olmos there, and then yourself, and then of course, Dualla, and I was really impressed with that.
GP: I think its really representative of our world as we see it...
GP: ...and things being so global now and the world seemingly getting smaller. I think it just happens to be a better representation of humanity.
GP: And its not, I mean originally there were more Caucasians on the show...
GP: ...and I think I really like the way its going now. It feels more global and universal, I guess. You get the feeling that it is really different tribes, and we survived, people are coming together...
BG2003: Right, which is what it is. How would you describe Boomers relationship with Starbuck? I mean in the original they had this kind of a comradery with Boomer and Starbuck, they were buddies and in some ways Boomer was kind of like Starbuck’s anchor, because Starbuck was very capricious and Boomer would kind of say, "OK, Buddy, reel it in a little bit." Do you, I mean do you see kind of a similar relationship between you and Starbuck in this series?
GP: I don’t think that much. I think because Starbuck is, I think she’s more rebellious than Boomer and can fight a lot more often than Boomer so in that way, comparatively, I could be an anchor, but I don’t think in that way Boomer’s necessarily a strong anchor. There is definitely a comradery between us. Boomer totally looks up to Starbuck, and she is the pilot of the fleet...
BG2003: So she looks up to her.
GP: Exactly. I look up to her and we have a great time. And I think that they would probably be the closest, well for Boomer at least, Starbuck’s my closest female friend and i like to think of her as my sidekick.
BG2003: Oh yeah? She’s your sidekick? [Laughs]
BG2003: That’s cute!
GP: But I think for Starbuck, on the Galactica she took Boomer under her wing, because I'm young and I'm the rook.
BG2003: The rookie.
BG2003: OK. With Chief Tyrol. What is the chemistry there, why is it that Boomer is so drawn to him?
GP: How can you resist a man who’s in charge and in uniform?
BG2003: [Laughs] And he’s good looking too!
GP: He’s ruggedly handsome, definitely. But it's because he's charming, passionate, loyal, and great in the rack.
BG2003: Yeah [laughs] and we’ve already discussed the Helo and Boomer thing so I’m going to move on and talk about Boxey. You have a lot of scenes, in the miniseries where you’re getting to know Boxey better, do you think there might be, I mean is Boomer like officially adopting Boxey? Do you see that if they go to series, do you see her sort of becoming a surrogate type parent for Boxey?
GP: I think so, but I think it’s interesting because Boomer is not the mothering and maternal type.
GP: And I think that the miniseries, I think that the story explores a lot of relationships that aren’t so typical, are unpredictable, and so I really like how they paired me and Boxey together. Right off the bat, visually, we're not a natural match, I'm asian and Boxey's white. But I think it speaks of life, how we're continuously thrown into new situations, and it seems to be the only way we grow. And it is interesting to see how people adapt and change to these needs.
BG2003: And yet there’s that, that you have in common, you’re both orphans.
BG2003: So maybe Boomer empathizes with Boxey? I mean she sees this child and it reminds her of herself.
GP: Exactly and I totally have an instinct to protect him.
BG2003: With the ending of the Battlestar Galactica miniseries there was this cliffhanger... with Boomer possibly being a Cylon or the Cylons making a duplicate. What is your take on that? Is Boomer a sleeper agent?
GP: That’s classified.
BG2003: Ahhh! You can’t tell us?
GP: No, I just like to say that. [Laughs]
BG2003: [Laughs.] You just like to say that.? [Laughs]
GP: Can I?
GP: Naw, I can’t give everything away. We wouldn’t have anything to watch!
BG2003: Ahhh! Now that sounds like a pretty big hint that we have something to expect...
BG2003: I bet you’re stoked.
GP: Oh, yeah, completely. When I originally read the script for Starbuck I read the whole thing with her in mind and then I hadn’t read the script again for a while until after I got Boomer and then I read the ending! I was totally floored!
BG2003: Oh wow!
GP: I don’t know how I missed that! [laughs]
GP: I thought when I read the script originally, Starbuck gets in a lot of fights, she’s so feisty, and I’m like "oh Boomer, what does Boomer do, she’s all emotional..."
BG2003: Oh I dunno...
GP: ...not at all!
BG2003: That "By Your Command" chilled me...
GP: Oh yeah I know.
BG2003: "By Your Command." OK. Does Boomer know how to fly a Viper? Is she going to be a Viper pilot?
GP: Oh hell yeah she knows how to fly a Viper but she’s not necessarily a Viper pilot.
BG2003: The Raptor seems to be her area...
GP: Oh yeah, the Raptor is totally her shit. Totally.
BG2003: [Laughs] Well... alright! I guess that Aaron Douglas said that you are the Raptor expert. What is some of your technical knowledge of the Raptor?
GP: Oh boy the technical knowledge, you want a spiel of it?
GP: I’ll give it to you. The Raptor is a reconnaissance platform, in other words, it’s a carrier-based stealth scout ship, it has multiple capabilities, but our main purpose is atmosphere and space early warning, and command and control functions for the carrier battle group. We provide real time info, we are the eyes and ears of the fleet.
GP: Basically it provides reconnaissance information for the Battlestar, but we have a lot of additional missions, we do surface surveillance coordination, strike and interceptor control, and search and rescue guidance.
BG2003: Well you’ve got that down!
GP: [laughs] Yeah there’s a lot of stuff. For the crew, there’s the pilot and then there’s the radar platform operator, Helo. I’m the pilot, he’s my co-pilot.
BG2003: OK, so you’re the pilot and Helo...
GP: I'm not the expert on all the technology, he’s the expert on all the radar and stuff. There are some big shoes left to fill.
GP: We also have reception, analysis, jamming and manipulation capabilities of electronic or electromagnetic signals, along with laser-torpedo guns, missiles, commo pods, swallows, jiggers, drones, and markers.
BG2003: Wow... You’ve just got that down...
GP: I had that ready!
BG2003: Yeah, they weren’t kidding when they said you’re the expert. [laughs] What would you say is your fondest memory of the filming? Do you have like a special memory of like maybe a day or a moment, when you were filming this mini, that comes to your mind that you will never forget that will always kind of stick with you maybe changed you or I don’t know, influenced you?
GP: Oooo, that's tough, cuz I wouldn't trade our bootcamp for anything. But from filming, it would have to be the scenes with Helo, on Caprica. That was so much fun, everything was fun. I mean, just arriving that day, I think it was like 6 in the morning. Seeing the Raptor parked out there in the field. "Look at that! That’s our ship! Its so cool!" And all the crew was out there and everyone from the all the extras got there and they were all dirtied up and there were like a hundred of them running through this field.
BG2003: Oh wow...
GP: ...and all the scenes with Helo and not just how emotional they were, but how fun they were, like Baltar was there and him being just completely oblivious to everything, and it was so much fun, I can’t say there was one particular moment. But there were a lot of things that were cut out of the miniseries, from the final cut...
BG2003: I bet that would be interesting to see.
GP: Yeah we added to some scenes, cause we went to Michael and said, "hey we have this great idea," like I wanted to do this scene and have Helo give his dog-tags to me.
BG2003: That was your idea?
BG2003: That’s great. That’s very...
GP: thought it was cool and then Michael OK’d it, so it could work. But it didn't make the final cut that you see, but maybe the director’s cut, hopefully it will be there.
BG2003: That would have been nice to see cause that’s very touching.
GP: Yeah, it was heart wrenching.
BG2003: Oh yeah... that, for us brings back a lot of memories of dog-tags and what they mean, you know, to us with war veterans and... that would have been really strong.
GP: It was tough.
GP: It was tough...but...
BG2003: Can you describe maybe what it was like to work with Edward James Olmos, and Mary McDonnell? I mean these guys, some of these veteran actors, did they have any, like, did you have any special, memorable moments with them, or any advice that they gave you on your career?
GP: I didn’t have individual or one on one scenes with Edward or Mary, but, I’ve heard that Eddie likes to play a lot of practical jokes and that you have to watch out for that...
BG2003: [laughs] Oh, that would be interesting...
GP: Yeah that would be interesting I know, but him as a man, he is just such a presence. He is so generous and he’s huge, he has a huge heart and you just know that he is standing there, you can feel it. And he’s just really great. I love him.
BG2003: Yeah he certainly filled the Adama role out, very well. Very well. He really had it down.
GP: Oh, "So Say We All," that big speech? He basically had a monologue at the end, he said "so say we all" and I think he was just supposed to say it once. But, he just went on and it wasn’t scripted but we automatically just started falling in line and we looked up to him and we just recited the same thing. And I just felt a fire in my chest.
BG2003: I would never have guessed that wasn’t scripted! That was - that’s phenomenal!
GP: Oh it was great and he just knew what to do, like exactly how it would be in real life, you know? He took the initiative and he had the ability to do that. It was amazing
BG2003: Wow. That was one of the most memorable scenes...
BG2003:... in the series, and that was totally improv?
GP: Oh yeah it was totally him, standing there.
GP: And Mary, she’s great. She’s fun and she’s cool and totally calm and I think my first day ever was with her and actually at the time I didn’t know she was an Academy Award Nominee and I’m kind of glad I didn’t know that cause I was already so frazzled that day! [laughs]
GP: My first day on the set, you know, everyone had died, and they don’t bring you in easy.
GP: [laughs] She was so great and she’s really human and it was surprising to know how much she's just like us. During this one scene, between takes the director kept coming over to give her notes and I think it was like take 8, and when he left she said "oh god I suck" and I was "No! You can’t say that! Mary, you’re a veteran! If you say that then what are we supposed to say?"
GP: [laughs] So it was very cool to know that she was just very real and really approachable.
BG2003: Yes she did an excellent job with her character also. I really, really empathized with her character. You know, just struggling between her own personal, you know tragedy with the breast cancer and then coping with the survival of the human race.
GP: She was very strong. But it was a feminine strength.
GP: And she doesn’t apologize for that.
BG2003: Yeah, and its something I’ve kind of noted that she and, her character and Adama both have this passion for the survival of humanity, but they approach it from such different angles, I mean they naturally butt heads because they’re so passionate. It’s interesting.
GP: Yeah they’re kind of like the mother and father figures of the fleet...
GP: ... with very individual voices but they came together.
BG2003: Yeah. Now, really quick, you commented on one of the sneak previews of Battlestar Galactica that you found that the new Cylon Centurions are - I think this is a quote - "freaking scary"?
GP: [laughs] Did I say that?
BG2003: Did you know that the concept artist who created the Cylon Centurion, Eric Chu, is apparently a great admirer of yours? Do you have a message for him and maybe some of the other behind the scenes people who brought the Galactica Universe to life?
GP: I think it was fuckin’ great.
GP: Can I say that?
BG2003: [laughs] Well this is the Internet...
GP: Totally. And I don’t really have a particular message. I guess I could say something like "keep up the good work" Oh! But you know what? I would love to meet them. I think that would be very cool. And, sit down and talk and just put our heads together...
GP: ... and I dunno, shoot the shit.
BG2003: Yeah [laughing] It sounds like they’d probably like that too.
GP: Yeah. Totally.
BG2003: Well you have so much technical knowledge on the Raptor, you guys could talk for hours! [laughing]
GP: [laughs] I’d like to take flying lessons but it says in my contract that I’m not allowed to.
BG2003: Oh you’re not? Because of the danger, probably.
GP: Yeah and I’m not even allowed to go skiing or anything.
BG2003: You’re gonna be jealous but I went up with the Blue Angels once.
GP: Oh you did?
GP: How? Do you fly?
BG2003: Yeah, well, I did a story on them and, one of the stories I did at one of the air- fairs and I went up with them, in an F-18.
GP: Oh neat. That was fun! [laughs]
BG2003: Let me tell you... because it meant a lot to me, being an old-time Battlestar Galactica fan when I was a kid, watching the Vipers take off and thought "that would be so cool" and then I went in an F-18. Wow! It was cool! [laughs]
GP: That’s totally neat. I’d love to do that.
BG2003: You might get to some day. You never know, I mean, you get to be an actress and you get well known and there will be opportunities that come your way. And that’s wonderful. Well, how would you describe what it was like to work with director Michael Rymer?
GP: Oh, he’s awesome! He’s the best! You know, he told me that he took two years of Meisner, which is an acting technique...
GP: ...before going into directing. And he didn’t even want to be an actor. He did that strictly for directing.
BG2003: So that he would understand actors more?
GP: Yeah. So he could talk to them and understand what they were going through and probably just thought it was something he needed to go through.
GP: Michael was open for anything and wanted us to bring ideas, but mostly he wanted the honesty and rawness of what the characters were experiencing. He let us be completely free, but he had this way of getting exactly what he wanted. He was so patient. And really relaxed.
BG2003: And I bet that was so important when you’re on the spot and you’re doing, like, a scene and you know, you see all these cameras and it doesn’t, I mean to us it looks so real out in the viewing audience but to you, you’re seeing just the cameras and people and lights...
GP: Oh, I know... You’re dealing with all those people and cameras. Especially though, the Raptor scenes, when we were flying. It gets so hot in there and they always have to open the thing up [while] you’re trying to concentrate on your performance and the emotional state to be in, and you have all these people gakking and prepping you from props, wardrobe and makeup with helmets, belts, light, air, and sponges... [laughs] and you're being strapped into a 5-point seat belt and everything, the windshield's being taken out, and then there’s all the crew and cameras you’re looking at...
BG2003: And you’re trying to ignore all of that and just concentrate on your character [laughs].
GP: Exactly like, I didn’t realize how focus is so, so huge. At one of the acting classes I take, we do this exercise 'relaxation' and I didn't realize how much it had helped me develop my focus. If I hadn’t had that I would not have made it through those scenes.
BG2003: Really. I can imagine. Especially with that crane lifting the Raptor up...
GP: Oh that part was easy, it felt like we were actually going to fly away.
GP: [laughs] That was easy cause I was looking out at the field, but it’s the indoor scenes where you’re standing in front of a green screens, that stuff is crazy...
BG2003: Oh yeah, when you don’t even know what they’re going to put in there.
BG2003: You don’t know how its going to even really look but you’ve got to act like its there and like its real. Wow. Well, that’s a job, that’s a challenge.
GP: If we could see the effects before, it would be phenomenal.
BG2003: Wouldn’t it... How do you feel about the Galactica becoming a weekly series, are you getting pretty positive signals that its going in that direction?
GP: I think from the start we’ve all thought we were going to go. But I was always pretty hesitant about telling everyone that we are going ahead. I thought we were just waiting for the ratings, but the ratings were through the roof, so I don’t know what we’re waiting for. I dunno, I think I would be surprised if it didn’t go.
BG2003: Yeah, I think most people would be. Because to put that kind of money and that kind of promotion into something and then not go to series would be interesting [laughs]
GP: And hey - with that cliffhanger - how can you just let it be like that? We have to know!
BG2003: Would you, I assume you’d be returning to play Boomer? If it does go to series.
GP: I hope so!
BG2003: Yeah you’d better!
BG2003: [laughs] Cause then I’ll have to stomp on down there and protest.
BG2003: Would you like to meet Herb Jefferson Jr, kind of similar to how Katee met Dirk Benedict at Starbuck’s?
GP: Yeah sure, I think its totally cool. I didn’t even know that she met him until I clicked on it online and I’m like "Dude - that’s Katee!"
BG2003: I thought that was cool, Starbuck with Starbuck at Starbuck’s.
GP: I know.
BG2003: I don’t know what you could do for Boomer but you could come up with something kind of like that.
GP: That would be cool.
BG2003: You could talk with him.
GP: I’d love to talk to him.
BG2003: What do you think you’d ask him?
GP: You know, I’d really have to watch the rest of all the old episodes before I’d know what to ask him, but...
GP: ... but, probably like, I’d want to know what he’s up to, and I kinda want to know what he thought of the new Battlestar.
BG2003: Yeah, what he thought of your performance?
GP: Yeah, maybe that too, and we could talk a little bit about his acting. Boomer changed a lot more than Starbuck did.
BG2003: Yeah, in some ways, I think so. And Starbuck, in some ways, remained the same, same ornery kind of, you know, maverick character.
GP: Oh yeah, totally. In some ways its hard for me to admit that I didn’t watch the original Battlestar Galactica...
BG2003: In a way, don’t you think watching it might have biased you? I mean, do you think in a way approaching it fresh gave you sort of a purity that you might not have had if you’d watched the original before you started acting?
GP: That’s exactly it. And some people might think it’s a cop out, an excuse, but I get so easily influenced, that I wanted to approach it with a full 360 degrees and just be able to bring and do anything and everything to it rather than just what people might think I should be doing with it. I mean, its good that I didn’t watch it. But now that we've shot it, and I formed my character, I can sit down and see the original.
BG2003: Oh yeah. Go back to the original and compare. I’m sure there are similarities but there’s also many differences.
BG2003: Would you like to do Science Fiction conventions in the future, and maybe meet some of the fans face to face?
GP: I think I want to just try everything! I’d love to try that.
GP: Yeah I’d just probably just be checking out all the other booths.
BG2003: [laughs] Yeah?
GP: Yeah it sounds like fun. I’ve worked with some of the Sci Fi people in Vancouver...
BG2003: Are they a lot of fun too?
GP: Yeah, they are.
BG2003: How many interviews have you been doing lately? I imagine you’ve been getting a lot of requests.
GP: Not as many as Katee, she’s doing, apparently she’s doing like 1 a day and I’m not getting as many as that but, I’ve then, never done interviews before in my life...
GP: ...except for another show, just one other, and that was a whole new thing.
BG2003: When it goes to series, get ready for the calls! [laughs]
GP: I think I’m so much more comfortable doing the interviews in person because I have someone to talk to.
BG2003: Yeah and it works better with a camera, it can capture your nuances and your expressions better.
GP: But you’re friendly, so I feel relaxed.
BG2003: :[laughs] I’m glad. I wanted you to be. What would be your message to Battlestar Galactica fans around the world?
GP: You mean the new fans or the old fans?
BG2003: I would say the new ones, the fans of the miniseries whether they’re the old fans or new fans, anyone that, you know, enjoys this mini series, what would you have to say to them? I mean, and they’re going to be all around the world.
GP: I think I would want to say something like... I’m stoked to be on this show. And I’m so happy that other people love this show as much as I do. Well probably a whole lot more. There are the people who have been following this for 25 years. And, I’d have to say that, if anything, I would love these people to go out there and do something of their own that I could love just as much, and that I could be a part of, whatever they’re doing.
BG2003: Oh that’s cool. That’s really cool.
GP: It’s awesome.
BG2003: Well I am happy that you’re getting to take part in a career that is so much fun and so much a part of who you are and I think, I really look forward to seeing more of you and I hope that this does go to series . I just think you’re doing a phenomenal job and I, you know, I’m stoked to see more of it.
GP: I feel really blessed. And after going to the premier when they showed the first half, I was so amped! And I just felt like, ahhh, like watching everyone’s performances up there, and everything being brought together like the Cylons and the editing and the special effects, it just made me think like, I felt again, like a rook. It was like "wow" I feel like I’ve just taken a few baby steps and I have so far to go. So yeah, I’m really stoked. If its not Battlestar it will be something else.
BG2003: What would be your dream character?
GP: Oh that would be action. I think maybe before I was thinking along the lines of a James Bond girl.
BG2003: Yeah? Or maybe like Tomb Raider?
GP: I was thinking action at the beginning, but then I'd love to have humour as a part of it too, so it would probably be Charlie's Angels.
GP: But then there'd be the Charlie’s Angels purist fans!
BG2003: No, no, no, no we won’t go there! [laughing] Well is there anything you would like to add? Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to say that no one ever asks? Any thoughts you have?
GP: I think I’m trying to be a lot more accepting because I thought I'd have things to say, but I’m realizing that the people that are out there that are purists, its because they loved something and you can’t take that away from anybody.
BG2003: No, you’re right.
GP: And I can’t say love it less, I can’t say like just change, you know, because people are who they are and they’re like that for a reason and something about the original Battlestar drew them to it. You have to commend the innocence and the enthusiasm and all that, I don’t know, that raw dedication.
BG2003: I’ve always viewed them as two different shows. I loved the original and I think it had a lot of merit and you know, was ahead of its time, when it was on. But that was 25 years ago and...
GP: Yes it did very well. I was floored by the original.
BG2003: They’re so different, I try not to compare them too much because they’re different shows.
BG2003: I mean, it’s the same idea, the same premise, but two very different takes on it.
GP: I think if the original had just finished airing a few years ago I could understand picking up from where it left off...
GP: ....that would make a lot more sense, but so much time has passed that...
BG2003: I almost am glad they’re not, that it wasn’t continuing, because I like it where it is. I like it where it stayed.
GP: It was very precious and so innocent.
GP: ...and I don’t think we want to alter that so much. I think its better that we stepped far away from it.
BG2003: I agree.
GP: Far away rather than too close.
BG2003: I agree. Grace, I really thank you for your insights. I’ve enjoyed talking with you, and I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions, and say what you had to say.
GP: Thanks so much
BG2003: I think the fans will really appreciate it.
GP: Thanks so much for the interview...
We chat a little more and then say goodbye, and Grace says she would be willing to do more interviews with Galactica2003 if/when Battlestar Galactica goes to series.
What strikes me most about Grace is how down-to-earth she is, how humble she is about her new-found Stardom. She is fun to talk with, so fun that for a while I almost feel that we are old friends, talking about a subject we both love. She is very open and unafraid to be the real person she is... and like her name, she is indeed Gracious and Graceful.
With a great deal of typing ahead of me now, I free the cats from their prison. They are most displeased with their hour-long incarceration but I give them a can of Science Diet Salmon and once again peace descends upon our house.
2004 has gotten off to a great start. Well, maybe not for the cats. But for myself, and for Battlestar Galactica fandom... this is a wonderful beginning to a new year full of promise.
Farvoyager over and out.
Webmaster note: Due to technical problems with the audio recording of the preceding interview, we invited Grace Park to assist us in making some editorial changes for the sake of clarity and accuracy. Some other sites who reported on the interview may continue to carry original quotes from the transcript.