"A Conversation with Katee Sackhoff" By Jason Anders
Jason Anders: First of all, I can't believe I'm on the phone with Starbuck. Do people on the street often address you as Captain Thrace?
Katee Sackhoff: (laughs) Um, no... I haven't been yet. Occasionally I'll be standing in the line at Starbucks Coffee and some guy behind me will freak out. I guess the irony is just too much for them.
JA: So how are things?
KS: Things are fantastic! I'm just working on 24 and I've been doing that for months now. I think we're on episode seven. It's funny because my first episode that I did was with one of the directors from Battlestar Galactica, Brad Turner- he directed "Flesh and Bone" from the first season. As far as the subject matter and the style of the show, it was just a very seamless transition for me.
JA: I just read that before getting into acting you originally wanted to be a professional swimmer?
KS: It's funny when people call it a "professional swimmer", but my goal was to go to the Olympics. I look back at it fondly now and wonder if I ever would have made it, and I have no idea.
What's interesting in my being an athlete is that I did just enough in school to make sure my grade point average was high enough to get into the college I wanted to go to. Most schools, like Stanford, you would think you'd need a high GPA to get in to- but if you're an athlete it seems to go down quite a bit. So I did just well enough, and by the time I stopped swimming I realized it was something I didn't want to do. I had no desire to go to college, and I got in to some schools and just wasn't excited about it. It was my worst fear in life to follow the path of everyone else. I just kind of threw the dice and picked something out.
JA: Were you ever interested in theater?
KS: I acted in high school because I was bored. I got fired from one of the plays because I was told that I was unprofessional and that I wouldn't have a career by my drama teacher, and also that I was untalented. I thought that was interesting because she was later fired. She had actually fired me from the play because I was at ski-team practice, and I was supposed to be at rehearsal and was late. She told me that I don't take my job seriously enough and that I'll never make anything out of myself. She was a lovely woman.
JA: Did that have a major affect on you?
KS: No, I just said "you're a high school drama teacher, I think I'll be okay."
JA: What was your first professional acting job?
KS: I was seventeen and there were auditions to be Kirsten Dunst's body double in a Lifetime movie in 1998 called Fifteen and Pregnant. She had to go to school at the time, and while she was in school they would bring in body doubles and do other people's close-ups on her back. However, I didn't get the role because I was too tall, but they told me I should audition for a role that they were casting and I that's what I ended up getting.
I got my SAG card from that, which I didn't realize then how important it was to have. The director from that movie really liked me, and convinced my mom that she should let me move to Los Angeles. He even introduced me to my agent who is now my manager today. Cut to thirteen years later and I'm still with the same people I was with then, so I really owe a lot to that director (Sam Pillsbury) because he's the one who got me my start.
JA: A series you were involved in that I really enjoyed was The Education of Max Bickford; what was it like working with Richard Dreyfuss and playing his daughter?
KS: It was fantastic! It really came and went, right? That show was unique because Marcia Gay Harden had just won an Oscar for her performance in Pollock, Eli Wallach and Peter O'Toole were phenomenal actors, and I got to come to work every day and perform with Oscar-winners on a daily basis. Also, I think that when you're twenty years old you don't quite know what is staring you right in the face, and so I think I kind of took it for granted at the time, but it taught me a valuable lesson.
JA: What are the earliest stages of becoming involved in Battlestar Galactica that you can recall?
KS: In December of 2002 I got a script and I read it, purely because it was pilot season and I was auditioning for everything. I was told that I would never get the role because I was too young and not tough enough, but I auditioned anyway. Six auditions later I had the role.
JA: I'm sure you get this question all the time, but was the role of Starbuck changed to a female character from the original series for you, or was it always intended to be a female character in the re-imagined show?
KS: I've never been asked that before, actually. No, it wasn't. It was a decision that Ron Moore made the second he got the script that Starbuck and Boomer needed to be women. He didn't give it much thought or plan it out, he just made a decision. It could have just as easily been Apollo, it could have been anyone. It could have been Adama for all I know.
JA: You were surrounded by quite the cast and crew for this series as well.
KS: You know, I've been blessed to always have a certain caliber of actors surrounding me, so it's acting school on a daily basis. You get to work and have professionals staring you in the face, it's really nice. Ron Moore is one of the most brilliant people I've ever met and I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for him. I would follow him into the sun.
JA: Is there a piece of work that stands out to you as your best?
KS: I think that I constantly surprise myself. I remember calling my manager from the set of 24 and told her how I just did the best work of my life. I would say that Battlestar Galactica is a prime example of actors growing from the very beginning. I think that the series allowed actors to grow and become better.
JA: Have you ever had role models in the business?
KS: No, I never really looked up to anyone in this business because I never aspired to have that persona, it never caught me as something that would be interesting. I just wanted to do this job. I'm intrigued by people like Glenn Close and Meryl Streep, but as far as looking to them... I never modeled them or tried to emulate somebody.
JA: Would you define yourself as someone who lives in the moment?
KS: I'm not a "live in the moment" type of person, I wish that I was! I'm constantly striving to accomplish something else. I don't know, there's an audition on Friday and I really want to get the movie - and then after Friday it'll be like "now I really have to pack up my house and get out of here as fast as possible." After that it'll be like "wow, I really wanna get those new parts for my motorcycle."
Something I've learned about this business is that if you really try to navigate yourself through the waters of your career, the more disappointed you'll become because it never quite works out the way you wanted it to. You really just have to go with it, and you'll be surprised.
JA: Any idea what is next for you?
KS: I have an audition this Friday...
JA: Can you tell us what for?
KS: No. (laughs) I'll tell you if I get it.
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