Galactica stars shine at London convention

Were you one of the many fans at the Battlestar Galactica convention this weekend at Heathrow's Thistle Hotel? SFX was in attendance, along with readers and fans, to meet and quiz key players from the hit TV series, which reaches its conclusion in 2009.

As well as autograph sessions, a dealer room, and photos with the stars, there was also a great itinerary of on-stage Q&As, and here are some of the highlights:

Nicki Clyne (favourite TV shows: Life On Mars USA, 30 Rock, Fringe) and Michelle Forbes (favourite shows Mighty Boosh, Peep Show, The IT Crowd, Spaced, The Wire - cool!) were on stage at the same time, taking questions from fans. Clyne (Cally) revealed that her favourite character in the show was Baltar - "he always brings something new to the character and makes interesting new layers" - but she also rates Roslyn, "it’s such a subtle performance." Forbes (Cain), on the other hand, has plenty of time for Muffet the dog. We're starting to like her.

Talking about Admiral Cain, Forbes told attendees how she went about making that hard character more sympathetic: "I look for vulnerabilities. I don’t really have a ‘process’. I play pretend, and start by imagining what are they're thinking when they’re awake at 4 o’clock in the morning. I play a lot of unlikeable characters… although we never explored her former salsa career! I learn something from every actor I work with. I’m working with a pig right now on True Blood. Talk about professional. The snorting is a bit much."

Clyne spoke of working with Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol) and the characters' baby. "With Aaron it was very playful, we got on really well and joked around," she said. "Babies! They weren’t very professional. Crying, throwing tantrums, going to the bathroom… They forced us to be present in the moment – you think through how the scene is going to be with adults, but we had no idea what [the baby] was going to do…" SFX got to spend time with each actress after their stage appearance, so watch out for those interviews in feature editions.


Jennifer Halley (Seelix) addresses fans in a packed main hall.

After their talk we also saw Tahmoh Penikett (Helo) and Mark Sheppard (Romo) on stage, chatting with each other and the audience. They began by talking about the revelation of who's a Cylon. Penikett: "Michael and Aaron were so upset. Aaron was in a stupor. Michael was upset too, actually tried to fight it – he called Ron. He refused to be defined by being a Cylon or not – 'I’m Saul Tigh!'"

The ever-cool Mark Sheppard spoke about his role as Romo Lampkin, who will return in the final season of Battlestar Galactica. There was a lot of support for the return of his lawyer character. "I have a photo of Tahmoh Penikett holding a ‘More Romo’ sign!" he said. "I saw a great picture of Ronald D Moore holding a 'More Romo' sign. I emailed him as soon as I saw it to ask if he had a gun at his head, and he emailed back to say ‘Your fucking fans are everywhere’. I think they had a plan [for Romo in the series]. They always had a plan – maybe they’re Cylons!"

And now these two guys are working together on Joss Whedon's new show, Dollhouse. Joss is a well-known fan of Battlestar, so has he been trying to find out from them who the final Cylon is? "He’s a huge fan. He’s asked a couple of times, but it’s a game," said Penikett. "He doesn’t really want to know, he’s banned everyone on the set from talking about it. He says Battlestar is the best thing ever made, and that he aspires to make television like it. He and Ron are very similar, particularly in smarts. They’ve finally met for lunch, after all this time!"

Finally, Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) and James Callis (Baltar) took to the stage in the main hall to answer fan questions. They were both on good form, with Callis in particular displaying a wry wit that meant it was difficult to tell when he was being serious! He launched right in with the opening gambit: "Playing Doctor Who is just not the right idea for me right now…"

When asked about what was their most difficult scene to film, Sackhoff related this experience: "We were shooting outside and it was raining, and I was in a sweatsuit. It was really cold, then they decided rain towers would be good. Most of the others were okay because they’d just come down from the ship, so they were all in uniforms, helmets... My suit was soaking up the water. A while later a medic came up to me and said ‘we have to get you out of those clothes’. I said, 'What are you talking about? I’m okay now, I’ve stopped shivering!'. ‘I know,' they said. 'You have hypothermia.’ I was purple and didn’t realise. They had to warm me up but they couldn’t do it all at once, it took ages and I worked the next couple of weeks with pneumonia."

And how would Callis like Baltar to finally die, given the choice? "Baltar would die during an orgasm with a smile on his face," said the British actor.


Enthusiastic visitors to the dealer room.

We joined the Battlestars (see what we did there?) in the green room afterwards, including Jennifer Halley (Seelix), and you'll be able to read interviews with them over the next few months as we get excited all over again about the final season. The final season of Battlestar Galactica begins airing in the UK on Sky1 in January 2009.

Thanks to the organiser and stewards for a great time. To find out more about Starfury conventions, visit the official site at www.seanharry.com .