As Brother Cavil, Dean Stockwell has become a firm part of the Cylons' master plan. Here the actor has a quick chat with Battlestar Galactica, The Official Magazine, about how he got the role and his approach to playing a Cylon.
Words: Natalie Barnes [the interviewer].
Dean Stockwell is no stranger to viewers of science fiction. Best known for his long-running part in cult hit Quantum Leap, in which he starred as Sam's (Scott Bakula) holographic sidekick Al, the veteran actor has also starred in Star Trek: Enterprise and Stargate SG-1. Now, as a Cylon model, it looks like he's set to make his mark in yet another science fiction franchise!
How did you first get involved with Battlestar Galactica?
Well, it was one of those rare occurrences where my agent put it together [laughs]. He's got Katee Sackhoff (Kara Thrace) as a client, and he just saw this opening and it worked out.
Had you seen the show?
No--not only that, but the deal for the first two episodes I did came together rather quickly, so I did the first two episodes without having seen it.
Was that difficult?
A little bit. But I knew the quality of the writing was very high, and once
there I could tell the quality of the cast and the direction was very high.
I just trusted my own instincts about where this character needed to be. They
tried to tell me a little bit
about what the show was about, but it's very difficult to explain it to somebody without showing it to them. So when I had done the episodes, I came back home and they got me the first season. I put it on and watched it, and I was very, very impressed. It's a really
good show. And then I saw that my hunches worked out very well!
How did you approach portraying the character?
Well, I approach every acting job in the same way, and that's strictly through intuition and instinct. I don't research stuff. I don't go into depth of character or anything like that. I just get ideas, and I execute them.
As a Cylon, there are multiple versions of the same character - did that affect the way you played him?
No. I didn't try to create different personalities because I think the personality is the key thing of the individual Cylon. I don't think that should be lost.
There's a scene early on in season 3 where there are multiple versions of each Cylon model having a conference. Can you tell us a bit about how you went about filming that scene?
Well, I thought it was one of the best ways of shooting and approaching it.
In the President's office, the director set out the chairs in a circle. And
then he put the camera in the center and did a 360-degree turnaround. He had
to do that several times. Once with
one actor in one chair, and then the next time with the same actor in another chair. So, when the actual shot was put together, you'll see more than one Cylon. There's doubles and triples in the room. I think it'll be very effective.
There seems to be a lot of tension between the Cylon models. Is that something you are interested in exploring.
Yeah, we'll see where it's going to go. At this point I don't know [laughs]. After I did the two episodes this season, I can't tell you where it's going to go. That's one of the great things about this show I think. They can't kill me off!
What was the experience of filming Battlestar Galactica like?
It was enjoyable. The only cast member that I knew when I went up there the
first time was Eddie Olmos. I had done Miami Vice with him back in the early
days [laughs]. I knew him, and I knew him to be a wonderful actor, and it was
my pleasure to get to know and work with
all of these other people in the cast. I found them all to be, without exception, really cool and really good. They welcomed me wonderfully. I'm so impressed with them, I can't tell you.
I feel very lucky to have gotten it, because I've taken myself off the board for any series. I've been living up in New Mexico, 7,000 feet, on a tall mountain, and I'm making art. I make collages.
I had a show here in Dallas, and another one in Santa Monica in October, and it's becoming more important in my life. For me, it's on a higher level than acting. But this just fits in. It's recurring. Just once in a while I go up to Vancouver. I love Vancouver. It's a lovely town. So this is just perfect for me.
So are you happy to go back?
Yeah, absolutely. When I was up there last time, the writer passed around
a document to all of the Cylons in the cast that I got to read. It said very
specifically that there are seven - call them the significant seven -Cylons,
and then there's five other ones that
are in this mystery mode. No one knows where they are, what they are, and what they are up to. They're so secretive that they've programmed the significant seven so that they can't even think about the other five. They can't have a thought enter their head about these other five [laughs]. I turned out to be number three, Brother Cavil, of the significant seven. I'll be back!
There are new rumors online about a Quantum Leap "20 years later" TV movie. Can you tell about that?
There's been a rumor about that for years and years and years. I haven't heard anything from anybody that would be directly involved in it, so it seems to be nothing more than a rumor. We'll see. I would do a movie of Quantum Leap, sure. Everybody would have liked to have Sam relocated to get back safely, but that wasn't Bellisario's idea. I think it would be fun.