Tricia Helfer talks the lasting impact of 'Battlestar Galactica'
Five years after the series finale, that famous "Battlestar Galactica" refrain holds true: Pongtime fans and newcomers alike continue to discover and explore the world of the Twelve Colonies — or what’s left of them — thanks to streaming services, home-video releases and reruns.
Indeed, "Battlestar Galactica" lives on not just in the hearts and minds of viewers, but among the cast and crew as well. On Saturday, actors Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) and Tricia Helfer (Number Six) will host a "Battlestar Galactica" viewing and fan event in Washington as part of Seattle Cinerama. The two will also participate in the nearby Tulip Ride as part of their Acting Outlaws organization, which will aid the relief effort for the recent Washington mudslides.
For Helfer, "Battlestar Galactica" presents a unique opportunity: She can help make a difference in the real world through her participation in a fictional one. But it’s not just her charity efforts that make a difference. Speaking with Spinoff Online, Helfer opened up about her time on "Battlestar Galactica" and the impact the show has had on fans she’s encountered over the years — and the staying power of a certain F-word.
Spinoff Online: You and Katee Sackhoff are headlining “So Say We All Frak’n Day” at Seattle Cinerama this weekend, and the name of that event makes me very happy, because it leads into a question I’ve always wanted to ask a "Battlestar Galactica" cast member: How often do you find yourself using the word “frak” in your daily life?
Tricia Helfer: Probably not nearly as much as the rest of the cast! [Laughs] Because my character never once said it.
Never! I tried to slip it in there once or twice, just by adding it, but it never made the cut. For some reason, Six wasn’t really allowed to say it. But I do write it quite a bit. I don’t necessarily say it out loud, but if I’m writing something, I’ll write it — and not to be funny! But if I’m trying to say something else, and I shouldn’t, it’s a very good substitute!
I bring it up because I think the word says something about "Battlestar Galactica‘s" staying power. I use “frak” all the time, friends of mine use it all the time — even my parents, who are in their 60s and watched the show, have been known to drop an “F-bomb” or two. It signals to me that even though "Battlestar" has been off the air for a few years now, the show never really went away. Do you get that sense, that "Battlestar" is still in the air?
Oh, it absolutely is. A huge part of that is BBC America just running the whole series from start to finish. A whole new generation of people are watching it that were either too young to watch it, so now they’re watching it, or they’re just discovering it for the first time on BBC and Netflix. A lot of people that didn’t watch it originally are watching it now, now that they’ve heard enough about it. It’s one of those shows that can live on. It doesn’t have a real date time-stamp, so to speak.
I think a lot of what was explored in it politically and humanity-wise is and always will be relevant. At the end of the day, it was a human drama that just happened to be set in space. I think it will always resonate. I think it’s going to be one of those shows that’ll be enjoyed for future generations.
In October, it’ll be 10 years since the premiere of the regular series. That’s kind of mind-blowing for me. How does that register with you?
It makes it harder to remember certain aspects of the show! [Laughs] It’s obviously fantastic. It was my first show. I’d been acting for a year, and I got extremely lucky to wind up on a show with this staying power, and with a cast and crew that grew really close. It really became a family. For me, it’s not like it’s been ten years since I’ve seen these people — obviously not, because we finished in 2008. But we’re all still very close. It’s like I have my "Battlestar" family around me still. It doesn’t feel like that long has passed. All I have to do is look in a mirror to tell me that!
We’re all over North America, and Jamie [Bamber] and James [Callis] have moved to London, so it’s not like we see each other all the time. But there’s a closeness. There’s a respect and a love that was built. It’s rare, you know? It was my first show, so I didn’t know any differently, but it is rare — so when it happens, it’s something special.
How did Acting Outlaws come together for you and Katee?
It started because Katee and I were good friends and we both love motorbike riding. We talked about doing something to try and figure out a way to be together and have some fun, but also try and do some good. We were talking about it around the time of the BP oil spill. My husband and her fiancee are both from New Orleans. It triggered us into doing something. We started a company called Acting Outlaws, and our first project was to film us driving from Los Angeles to New Orleans. We partnered with the Gulf Restoration Network with their text-to-donate campaign, so any money texted in went straight to the GRN. We’re actually doing a screening on Saturday morning in Redmond. I’m very excited about that; neither of us have actually seen ["The LA La Ride"] on the big screen before. We have it for digital download on our site, but we’ve never seen it on the big screen, so we’re quite excited for that.
We’re coming up to [Washington] for the Tulip Ride. It’s been a challenging spring up there, and the Humane Society and the Red Cross are the charities that the Tulip Ride benefits. The Red Cross is doing a lot for the mudslide, and we wondered, how else can we do more? How can we help? So we’re doing the screening. That’s kind of how Acting Outlaws started. We did the Tulip Ride last year, we did the Glendale Harley Love Ride, we’re doing a ride in July in Wyoming benefiting Homes For Our Troops this year. We’re also doing our first ride in Los Angeles on November 2, that we’re organizing.
We have fun doing it. Hopefully we bring some awareness and raise some money, too. That’s basically what we’re about.
You’ll be engaging with a lot of fans at these events this weekend, people who are going to be very excited to meet you and Katee. What’s your experience been like with the "Battlestar Galactica" community?
First off, you always get to meet some really great people. When the Cinerama event was brought to us with us already being up there for the Tulip Ride, we thought it was another great way to help out, with our portion of the ticket sales going to the charities for the Tulip Ride. You just get to hear some really great stories. You kind of forget … at the end of the day, it’s our job. We’re acting, and it’s our job. But then you hear sometimes, at events or screenings, or on the street, somebody comes up to you and tells you how ["Battlestar"] helped them get through a rough time.
I’ve heard that a lot with the “Pegasus” episodes and the Gina character, who was tortured and suffering post-traumatic stress disorder. I’ve had people come up to me who were in the military, or had something happen to them, and they’ll say that watching the show and that character helped them get through a difficult time. It really makes you take a step back and go, “Wow.” I love doing my job, and at the same time, it can help. Even if it’s just taking someone’s mind off of a problem, or having a good laugh one day. These events, you get to meet people face to face, and you get to hear some of these stories. It can make you feel really good.
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