As we all gibber with excitement about the final part of Battlestar Galactica 's fourth season, due on our screens at the start of 2009, SFX was able to catch up with star Jamie Bamber who plays Lee "Apollo" Adama. We were able to quiz him about the first 10 episodes of the final series, which aired earlier this year (out this week on DVD), and about what lies in store at the end of the journey...
SFX: You've just finished filming the last part of season four, the end of Battlestar Galactica. Were there any plot twists this year that really wrong-footed you?
Jamie Bamber: "Well, when there's a good plot twist on our show and you're wrong-footed that's when the show is right! So yes, in this season: absolutely. The ending didn't wrong-foot me really in terms of the plot, but in terms of the way it's delivered I was gobsmacked. Ron [D Moore] wrote these scripts on his own, independently of the writers room and the whole process, and the turn of it wrong-footed me absolutely. The ending I really got because Ron is a friend and we'd been bashing out ideas, so I got a piece of his mind; it's only because I had a front seat that I could really figure the ending. I don't think anybody else will. That will be a wrong-footing for the viewing fans!"
SFX: Do you think it rounded out the whole four years neatly? Or are we going to be left gasping for more?
Jamie Bamber: "Hopefully both. With any good thing you should be left wanting more! But I think there is a rightness about it - I suppose it is pretty neat. But there are always questions. You can't end a story like this and not leave questions. The way I look at it is our whole saga is like a Homeric epic poem, and it's got a cast of characters which is extraordinarily large, but it's about a moment in time and about a journey and a quest. And the end is the end. Once that final fade-to-black is made, that's it! And I think you trust the storytelling. Nobody's said, well, why didn't Homer end his poem in a different way?! You just take it. And I think that's the finality of Ron's storytelling. He's adroit and clever and sublime in the way that he manages to draw it all together - this could've gone in a crazy amount of directions (like Lost) but it hasn't…"
SFX: Lee Adama has been on quite an arc. Becoming president must have been the last thing on your mind when you signed up for the pilot!
Jamie Bamber: "Yeah, of course, absolutely. In hindsight I can't believe how lucky we were to do what we did on Battlestar. There were no two days the same. We went through the wringer. Our characters basically were, like that Shakespeare quote, 'As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods…' - well in our case, 'to Ron Moore!' He just put us through the wringer and it was great. You can't ask for anything more than that, than to play something like a Shakespearean tragedy over 75 hours of television."
SFX: Sure, and there were a lot of revelations in the first part of season four. There must've been days when you were coming to work thinking, "Oh God, I might be a Cylon…"
Jamie Bamber: "First of all - I can't reveal whether I am [laughs]. Secondly, that never really preoccupied me. Because whether you're a Cylon or not at the end of the day it's irrelevant. The challenge in front of you is to make sense of the situation at that particular moment, and the premise is so stark that you really do have to come to work with an open mind and a game face on. There's a lot to do, and whether you're a Cylon or not it doesn't really matter. The Cylons are dealing with an awful amount of stuff. They're basically human too. That's just another layer in the whole story but I never really thought about that until the finale."
SFX: So what's been your favourite part of the Battlestar experience? Has there been a particular core experience for your character that you've enjoyed?
Jamie Bamber: "Whenever I'm asked this I've always said, 'The last episode I did!' It's sad but true. We finish with a double episode by Ron that becomes a three-episode story. I was blown away, the first time I read the script; it was just one of those things where you tingle with every word that you read. So without a doubt it is doing the final days of the show – I'll be really lucky if I ever have an experience like that again."
SFX: Was there a point during the writers' strike that you actually were worried that you wouldn't be able to get through to finish this journey?
Jamie Bamber: "Absolutely. The last episode that you guys have seen, we treated as a final episode! We actually shot one more but the last day that we shot was a two-episode day and we went out for a meal and we said goodbye… and I swiped my flight suit and went back to LA [laughs] and fully expected never to come back! In a way it was more satisfying than the actual final moment, which was crazy, fragmented… none of the cast were together. That moment all the cast was together on one day in one place and we really did treat it like a final scene."
SFX: So do you think Battlestar's still going to be held up as a classic in 20 years' time?
Jamie Bamber: "I would be astounded if not. TV is trying to do this more and more, tell all these big, big stories and lots of characters - but what we had is an amazing premise and the writers have really maximized that premise. And the premise is really simple: it's basically distilling the whole world into a few characters who have all the responsibility. So it's like drama caffeinated! Souped-up drama! And in a way that Shakespeare did it, or the Greek tragedies, it's all about one room and one person shouldering the guilt and responsibility of the whole world. And our show is that… but on television in the modern day! So I think it'll be of its time and yet timeless."
SFX: Thank you Jamie, and good luck with your new show Law & Order: London !
The DVD box set of the first 10 episodes of season four are available on DVD imminently. You can find out more news about Battlestar Galactica's future in SFX issue 176, on sale Wednesday 22 October.