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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2007

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA'S JAMIE BAMBER

Battlestar Galactica returns in a big way on Saturday at 9 p.m. with the two-hour Razor movie on Sci Fi Channel.

Recently Jamie Bamber, who plays Lee "Apollo" Adama, staged a telephone press conference to promote the film.

Following is an edited transcription of the interview.

Question: Revisiting your character at an earlier point before a lot of big things had happened to him like his marriage and what not, was it interesting for you to go back and sort of rethink where he was at that point?

Bamber: Yeah, definitely. Just on a nostalgic personal level, it's interesting to reminisce, you know, a couple of years in actor time and a couple of, you know, whatever it is years in character time as well. Harking back to where Lee was and where Jamie was a couple of seasons ago. It was a lot of fun.

Question: Can you talk about what the dynamic is like for him in Razor since he is just taking over Pegasus?

Bamber: I remember it being one of the sort of pivotal moments in playing Lee, that moment where he sort of puts on his father's work clothes and takes the helm of the Pegasus in a crisis, which is the episode "Captain's Hand," which we made back in Season Two, which was one of those crazy moments where I really did feel like the character has that goosebumps all over sort of thing where he's become his dad.

So there's sort of this difficult figure in his life that he kind of envied, looked up to, admired, worshipped, and also had a great many problems with -- a man who he felt distant from and didn't really understand, and felt was disconnected with his own upbringing and his own life.

So, you know, to get the chance in Razor to sort of flesh out that process with him gradually assuming command. It was really fun and really interesting because it was a quick thing when we shot it as part of the season. So it was nice to take a bit of time to sort of really look at how Pegasus was different and what that meant for Lee - and trying to sort of get the crew on board.

Obviously in Razor there's this very significant other character -- a new character -- called Kendra Shaw who represents the old Pegasus that has to be won over, and that's largely what the story is about for Lee. It is sort of gaining the respect of a crew that's had its own leaders fall and get questioned by this other Battlestar.

And we've seen it from Galactica's POV and now it's time to see it from Pegasus's POV.

Question: I was wondering what it felt like to be involved in the show at the beginning when there was that skepticism and negativity around? And how aware of it were you? And how cool and gratifying is it today that the viewers turned out to embrace it the way that they have?

Bamber: I remember it well. I'll be honest though, to me it was exciting to have so many different opinions flying around. You know, most of the time as actors when you start a new piece of work you're dealing with complete lack of knowledge. You just do it and then the press publicity machine gets cranking and people start to get curious.

With this, there was this innate curiosity and this immediate frenzied debate -- if you're going to use a polite word -- or sort of a shooting match, you know, straightaway, as soon as it was announced. And then when it was started to be cast, it represented so much for quite a sort of hardcore bunch of fans.

And I personally wasn't too scared by it because I knew the project was good. I knew the script was good. I knew it was better than the original just right from the words on the page. So, you haveŠ

Question: You had the advantage of having seen the script, of course.

Bamber : Yeah. I mean, I had seen the script and so I knew what was there. But at the same time, even that early script I had no idea really the direction the show would go and how political and how social, and how, you know, almost allegorical it would become.

And I had no idea that the mainstream, and even sort of high-brow press would really champion it as groundbreaking and thought-provoking television. That I did not know would happen. I knew we'd make it a good show. But I had no idea that we would: A, win over the die-hard fans. I thought that was probably impossible; and B, I had no idea it would really strike a nerve and, you know, be touted as the number one show on TV by the likes of Time Magazine. That was all a revelation.

And the whole ride has been desperately exciting since then. And Razor represents, in a way, a chance to go back to the miniseries and make another mini-series, which is basically how I view Razor: sort of an alternative mini-series, a pilot.

Question: Don't you think it's remarkable that a science-fiction show like this can often be more topical and more on top of what's going on politically than a show set in contemporary times?

Bamber: I think it's really gratifying that science fiction can do that and I think this is the first science fiction show on TV that's really tried to do that for quite awhile. But that's really, I would say, where science fiction comes from.

Science fiction has always been about the world in which we live and looking at the logical conclusions for the directions we're headed in. H.G. Wells and Isaac Asimov, and George Orwell and the likes of the great science fiction writers, it's what they've always been interested in

But maybe we lost sight of that post Star Wars and we got a bit too caught up in the surface of science fiction, you know, the weird-ass aliens and planets, and all this slightly juvenile side of it.

And I'm very grateful that Ron (Moore) -- from the very word go -- he started his script with a sort of mission statement about what this show is going to be and he really wanted to ground it in the world in which we live. And he and his writers -- to their credit -- really pushed it beyond what I even thought they were intending to do. And I know he raised a few eyebrows at the network and even with us.

Question: What are some of the things that you like most about Lee Adama?

Bamber: I enjoy his roundedness. The fact that he's as comfortable having a discussion on Colonial One about some political or legal issue as he is in a Viper desperately trying to stave off a Cylon attack.

He's a man of action and yet he's a man of words, and a man of thought. I like that sort of renaissance element to him, that he's a fully rounded, engaged human being in every facet of his albeit somewhat bleak existence.

You know, he does explore every aspect of that existence. And over those four seasons, I think more than any character in the show, he has been sort of an aerosphere of this fleet and tried to make a difference. And as an actor that's great fun to play, an action sequence one day and the next to have a forlorn monologue, you know, or quite some complexity in an argument that has to sway a whole fleet.

So it's the balance of all the parts that make Lee, for me, great fun to play.

Question: What did you make of the basic concept of Razor - a prequel kind of building to the new season, to fill the hole between, you know, repeats and new episodes?

Bamber: The basic concept I was really, really in love with. I thought it was very bold, different. You know, every one of us in the Galactica family has always nurtured a not-so-secret passion to try and make a movie out of the show because there are so many things that on a week-in, week-out one-hour drama that you have to compromise on budgetarily and in terms of storylines and how much you can fit into 44 minutes of a narrative.

It was great to tell a longer story and to have a bit more money to throw at it. And to go right back from before the miniseries, before the very first shot that we ever picked up on, on the show, and go right the way through to the back end of Season Two.

It was a huge script in its ambition and it tried to introduce a new character, which I thought was a great way to reintroduce a different angle from the Pegasus angle - to see it all from a pair of eyes that we haven't actually met before, that will have to meet all the main characters all over again.

I thought that was a very worthy endeavor and a good way to bring in new audience members to Battlestar, before a third season or fourth season being aired.

Structurally it's very ambitious. And I know we've had some problems, you know, editing it and making the story clear, and the story work. But when I read the script, I was really excited and it sort of invigorated me yet again to start another year of Battlestar. It was nice to start from the beginning again.

Question: How sad are you to see the show go? And is there something to be said for going out on top or is it too early for your case?

Bamber: No, I think it's a good time. We've been saying from the very first season that the most important thing is to be able to finish this story in a way that is up to the people that create the story, and not up to the audience or up to a network, or up to, you know, the sort of financial criteria of what it is to make a TV show.

It should be about ending the story because the story begs an ending. And that's the first and foremost thing about having ended. I mean, I think it is sad. I think there's always nostalgia.

It's been an amazing learning process for me personally and this experience is, without doubt, the most interesting and rich one I've had as a professional working actor. And I've learned everything from everyone around me, so it'll be very sad to sort of disband the team.

And every day that we're up here in Vancouver, there is an element of nostalgia about moments passing and little scenes that will never be revisited, and sets maybe that disappear because, you know, they're gone forever. So that's all, you know, very sad.

But I look to the future and we all do. And I'm very keen to do other work and to test myself in other ways. So it's positive nostalgia.

Question: Have you earmarked any bit of the set or any bit of your costume as a souvenir to take away with you?

Bamber: Yeah. Oh yeah, definitely. Well, I actually swiped my dog tags after the mini-series because I wasn't even sure we would go to a series. I've already got them in the bag. I think if there was anything in particular that I would love to take, it's the horrendous green flight suit that we wore in all those cockpit Viper scenes. I would love to have that.

As for the set, no, I can't see myself getting my chainsaw out and sawing off a corner of the CIC or anything like that. But, you know, definitely items of wardrobe, I think those flight suits would look good framed, hung on the wall. So I think I might do that.

Question: How it feels to be a sci-fi sex symbol?

Bamber: That's not how I think of myself, but thanks for reminding me. It's great, you know. I love when I meet fans and I see the excitement that they draw just from talking to me and meeting me, and sharing some insights that they have about the show and insights that I have about the show.

Question: Do you find that you're getting more attention from female fans than from male fans?

Bamber: No, I don't. I find that the sci-fi sort of world that that really express their love and really pursue their passion are completely unisex. I find as many men come up to me and go, "I need you to sign this for my wife or I want this for my brother. We love the show. "

The women tend to have a different angle when they do come up, but they are not outnumbered by the men, nor do they outnumber them either. It's just one big band of obsession and love.

Question: What kind of influence have you had on the development of Lee Adama, do you think?

Bamber: Well I have had some. I mean, I have a very good relationship with Ron and David, and all the writers. And I've had a constant, not battle with them, but my sort of refrain has been a gentle reminder every season really that Lee is not a sort of a cardboard cutout, do-good, heroic type, that he is someone who has some very difficult opinions and beliefs.

And that is, he's more pragmatic than idealistic or he's more pragmatic than people might think If there's been a battle that I've had, it's to force him to the more interesting surprising areas where Lee becomes ­ well this season, you know, ambition is the thing that we've ­ that I've sort of tried to highlight in him which is not always an attractive quality and it can be a quality that causes you to have to trample on a few fingers and toes.

So I've always looked for those things in the character that make it more interesting and make his innately heroic nature more real and more of a struggle. And I know speaking to Richard Hatch, who played a basically a two dimensional character. Richard was constantly trying to find a third dimension that sort of made this sort of innate nobility of the character more interesting just by creating the shadow in the darkness in there.

And the writers have done that. They've created a very difficult past, a difficult relationship with his dad. He was a sort of chippy adolescent in the beginning of the mini-series which I had to come through. And gradually he emerged as someone who is unwilling to hold down the same job for any length of time because he is constantly looking for new challenges, that there's an element to him which is sort of self-seeking, self-serving as well as being a good officer and community spirited and slightly self-effacing.



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