'Battlestar Galactica's' Jamie Bamber Speaks.
Definite spoilers through 'Sine Qua Non'. And while Jamie tries very hard to be tight lipped, he does make some general comments about the rest of the season/series that might be considered spoilery for those who want to avoid any information beyond what has aired.
Big episode for you last week, huh?
Yeah, I guess it was.
Lee is now Acting President of the Twelve Colonies, which is a big change when you think long-term. The character started off as more of an action guy with dog fights, illicit sex, and all that good stuff, and now he's all political and calm.
I got short-changed, huh? Stuck behind a desk. There’s no kissing and killing anymore. That’s a shame. It’s kissing and killing of a different political, oily, kind. Yeah, it’s what’s great about 'Battlestar Galactica' in that we’ve really been allowed to take these characters on a journey. On so many TV shows, the Golden Rule is to establish the character in the pilot and then repeat that formula every week to keep the audience comfortable. That’s the diametric opposite of what [executive producers] Ron Moore and David Eick have set out to do with this. Every character has been transformed, changed, taken to completely surprising places and been spat out the other side as a different kind of person. They all have a heart and a core which is unchanged, but they’ve been on an intense life journey and Lee is no different.
What is at Lee's core?
He’s always been a son, who’s been defined by -- and maybe spiteful of -- a very prominent, proud and stubborn father, and if there is one thing that’s a through line, it’s that he’s always seeking to challenge himself and to be his own guy within that framework. He did as much of that in the military as he probably could. And now there’s kind of an opening in the world of the presidency, because you’ve got an ailing leader who’s also lost touch a bit with the popular voice. So Lee does what every ambitious young man does. He leaves home and tries to make his own fortune and that’s what the last episode was really all about.
Do you miss the guy that he used to be?
Yeah, sure. From time to time, I see the viper pilots climbing into their birds, being the swashbuckling heroes of the show and there is the element [of nostalgia]. It’s called 'Battlestar Galactica'. It’s about life on a battleship and Lee doesn’t live on that battleship anymore. In that regard, I do feel a bit marginalized and like I’m not getting to have the fun. But as an actor, I find it far more stimulating to joust with words, than I do with fists and joysticks. I really enjoy having to use rhetoric and to duel with Mary McDonnell (pictured below left) is hard work, week in and week out. She’s such a great actress. It’s a fight when Mary and I get up in that Quorum and go at each other, a different kind of fight.
This question and answer I found most enlightening. It helps settle some of the debate as to whether or not Lee was scheming to become the interim president.
Were you surprised when you found out that Lee was going to take over as president or did you feel it was coming?
I was surprised by how it happened. I kind of knew he was heading in that direction from the beginning of the season, but to be frank, Michael Taylor, who wrote the script, and I had sort of a disagreement over quite how he should become president. I was hoping to explore -- at least in some of the more personal, private scenes -- a more opportunistic, more ambitious, more overtly scheming [ascent to the presidency] in a very pragmatic and purposeful way. And I think Michael was uncomfortable exposing this supposedly idealistic and heroic young character to those kind of Machiavellian machinations. But we kind of hit a compromise and tried to do it unconsciously, beneath the text.
Very interesting, because we actually have seen a different side of Lee as of late.He's resorted to a couple dirty trickster ways, talking to Tom Zarek behind President Roslin's back. Do you feel like he's lost some of his idealistic, moral center?
No, I absolutely don’t. I think Lee has always been someone who wants to contribute. He believes in sacrifices, he believes in service, he believes in helping those around him. I think what he sees in the beginning of season four is a vertical framework that is antiquated and does not fit this sort of fledgling society. The Presidency was a huge office back on Caprica and then it was like the United States presidency suddenly boiled down to the one state of New Hampshire. Is there room for two Houses and a judiciary and all this stuff when you have just one state? The answer is probably no. And I think what Lee sees with Roslin is that she’s someone he admires very much, but she’s been on a torturous journey as the president, personally and politically. She’s lost touch with the civilian voice, she’s become very cozy with Admiral Adama and they've become kind of a de facto autocracy. And I think Lee understands that it’s necessary and probably the right way to govern, but what he feels is that they could do a better job of at least having the illusion of being accountable to the rest of the fleet. So I think he starts off trying to help the President, trying to bring a new, fresh, young sort of face to this leadership, and one that could maybe involve the people, giving them some sort of voice. And then he realizes she’s very much set [in her ways] and she views him as a threat post-trial, and he decides that this isn’t the right way to do things. I think he’s still being the same Lee. He’s got a vision and he’s an idealist, but he’s not afraid [to make moves]. As I'm sure, if you were with Barack Obama in the back rooms and if you were really talking to him as part of his team, he would bare his teeth. He’s got to be ambitious. He’s got to be single-minded and he’s got to tread on some fingers sometimes. Lee’s no different.
You gotta do what you gotta do to ultimately get things done.
Exactly. If you’re going to exist in that world, that’s how you make things happen. You have to be squeaky clean on the outside, but there must be an element of you that is steely underneath. And that’s what I think makes the character interesting, and why I thought [last week's] episode was a good opportunity to show him behaving that way. I don’t think it would make people think less of him, because you realize he’s just a young, ambitious guy who senses an opportunity to get where he wants to get, and be where he feels he needs to be.
We haven’t seen a lot of them (Lee and Kara) together this season.
No, we haven’t and that’s just sort of indicative of the story. They really have done everything short of get married and divorced or have a kid or whatever. And so I think the writers have been less involved with that one this year.
It’s cool that the writers don’t exploit that relationship, even knowing how much the audience likes it. But I assume we will see them paired up more in the second half of the season.
Yeah, you will. You'll get a bit more.
Last week, the Admiral really divulged the extent of his feelings for Roslin. Do you feel like Lee’s connection with Kara is similar?
Yeah I do. I think it’s getting more mature. He’s already expressed his love for her and he's said everything that needs to be said, and they’ve consummated it physically, and there were problems, and then they had an affair. There’s nothing that hasn’t been stated about it, and yet there’s so much implicit guilt about their relationship with the adultery and the dead brother. They’re almost siblings, so it’s almost incestual at a certain point. And militarily, it’s probably not according to protocol either. But in season four, I think their relationship is, in a way, even more screwed up because Lee thinks she’s died and come back to life, and there's a strange acceptance in him that he doesn’t really care if she's a Cylon or whatever she is. He knows something weird happened, because he saw her explode. And I think that maybe changed the relationship and made it more platonic in a way and much more spiritual, because they understand that there’s always going to be a connection between them, without having to be in each other’s pockets or dominate each other’s lives as was the case up to that point. And it’s weird. It's definitely a weird relationship in season four.
Do you feel like the show is ending at the right time?
Yes, absolutely. I read Ron’s ending and it’s absolutely brilliant. The best thing I’ve ever read. It’s amazing. He’s a very talented writer and he’s delivered something extraordinary. I’m playing this character and I feel like I’ve done everything I want to do with him. I get a bit frustrated with him, with the idea that he’s a hero with a conscious and he’s always trying to do the right thing. We’ve put him in so many corners and I’ve enjoyed all of them, but I’m worn out of thinking of ways to push him to be interesting week in and week out. It’s time for all of us as actors to do other things. So I wouldn’t have it any other way right now.
And this was intriguing:
Have you finished filming the series finale already?
No, we’re just about to start filming the finale. It’s actually a double episode, possibly even a triple episode, but yeah it’s one big story.
So, does this mean we could get an extra episode?