The woman who adds a whole heap of Six appeal to Battlestar Galactica says she’s just a tomboy at heart
Beautiful people: don’t they just make you sick? If we can face the mirror first thing without wanting to punch a hole in it, we call that a good day. So when we talk to Galactica ’s Cylon siren, we demand to know this: she can’t possibly maintain her on-screen aura of impossible glamour 24-7, can she?
“That’s exactly my home wardrobe,” she laughs, when we ask if she slobs out in jogging pants chez Helfer. “I grew up a tomboy. I’m a farm girl – I grew up driving tractors and fixing machinery and stuff. I love getting dressed up, but I’m definitely a jeans-and-t-shirt kinda gal!”
Tricia’s travelled a long way from her upbringing on a farm in rural Canada. Spotted by a scout at the age of 17 while queuing for a movie, she spent ten years as a model. Only in 2002 did she move to LA to pursue an acting career, bagging the Galactica gig not long after, through a combination of determination and, well, being a bit of a jammy bastard.
“I guess I got lucky! I went to acting classes for about the last year and a half while I was modelling. I needed to completely quit modelling and focus on acting. A lot of people who try to get into acting – especially models – don’t, they keep trying to do both at the same time. For me, I knew that wouldn’t work. I needed to be here and focus and challenge myself. Luckily it’s worked out so far.”
None of those night classes can have prepared her for her Galactica role – so how does she differentiate Caprica Six from the Six in Gaius Baltar’s head, and all the others?
“I look at it as that they were all the same base model, and then their individual missions or jobs have altered them: how much contact did they have with the humans? How many downloads have they gone through, and has that altered them? It gets a bit more painful to download each time, so are they a little more fearful of losing that body the next time? I purposely try to make them a little bit different. In one episode we saw the Shelley Godfrey Six, and I tried to make her like a sleeper agent, and move differently than the one in Baltar’s head, that’s more a seductress.”
Speaking of which, only the Lords of Kobol (and possibly Ronald D Moore) know why there’s a Six only Baltar can see. But what’s Helfer’s theory?
“Well, I don’t wanna get too stuck in one idea, because then if I find out it’s something else it could throw me. But I really do feel that it has something to do with the nuclear explosion. In the mini-series it was Caprica Six that protected Baltar from the explosion, in his house, and after that was when Baltar started seeing Six, after Caprica downloaded.”
Tricia spends a lot of time with James “Baltar” Callis, so it’s just as well she rates him as “really sweet”. By the sound of it she enjoys hanging out with us Brits.
“I finished another TV show last night, with [English actor] James D’Arcy. So I had the two Jameses over for brunch last Sunday, and was getting quite a kick out of working with both of them!”
That show is Them , a pilot for Fox. Directed by T3 ’s Jonathan Mostow, it’s an SF thriller about extra-terrestrial sleeper cells infiltrating human society.
“It’s about aliens and humans” says Tricia, pausing to laugh. “There’s a theme here with my work! I play Naomi, who’s a wonderful character – she’s very free-spirited. These aliens are on Earth but they don’t know why they’re there. They all have their individual jobs, but they don’t know why they’re there – they just think they’re there to help the humans.”
Helfer is cagey about whether she’d be a regular if the pilot went to a series.
“Er… well, there’s a little bit of a twist at the end that I can’t give out. We’ll see! I would love to be part of it if it happens!”
If you can’t wait for that, or the return of Galactica , you can get your dose of Tricia in new PC game Command & Conquer 3 . She appears in live-action sequences between the gameplay.
“It was really no different than working on Battlestar , because these amazing sets were built. The only difference was in TV you never look at the camera because that’s taboo. With the video game you look at the camera a lot because you’re talking to the player. So it took a little mind bending on the first day to get through that and feel comfortable looking at the camera!”
But she probably won’t be playing the game herself – she doesn’t have the time. Besides, back on the farm they didn’t have any of that new-fangled nonsense...
“We didn’t have a TV or any of that sort of thing. I have some nephews that play video games, though. I think they’re gonna find it very cool that their auntie is in a game, and when they get a little bit older we’ll be able to play.”
A thought suddenly dawns on her.
“As long as they don’t kill me! ‘Kill Auntie!’”
Command & Conquer 3 is available to buy now (RRP £34.99).