Some moments stick with you forever. Big moments, like when we learned Boomer was a Cylon or when the Cylons invaded New Caprica and descended upon what was left of the unprepared human race. And small moments, such as when Roslin called Adama because she didn't want to get out of bed and they playfully chatted. So many moments that together make up all that SCI FI's Battlestar Galactica has come to mean to those of us who have followed this astonishing journey.
As the show begins its final 10 episodes on Friday, Jan. 16, at 10 p.m., we talked to the cast to find out what their most profound memories of the groundbreaking series were.
[Warning: If you're not up to date with the series, some spoilers may follow.]
Michael Hogan (Saul Tigh)
He lost an eye while being tortured by the Cylons, killed his wife for collaborating with them, and then, horror of horrors, discovered he was one of them.
"The whole cast was there because we were burying the soldiers. It was the funeral," says Hogan. "Adama talks about how we have to be responsible for the things that we have done, and at the end of that ... We didn't really know each other, any of the cast members, and didn't really know what to expect, especially as far as acting, because this was first day of principal photography.
"Adama finishes this speech and then says, 'So say we all,' and I guess we sort of mumbled, 'So say we all.' Eddie [Olmos] kind of looked at all of us and said it again, 'So say we all.' Well, we weren't ready for that, so we said, 'So say we all.' And he looked at us and said, 'SO SAY WE ALL.' And he got us all going, and it was a chilling, chilling time. It was like, 'Whoa,' and by the end of it the whole room, the hundreds of us, are just yelling, "SO SAY WE ALL!" And that wasn't in the script. When that was over you were kind of, 'Whoa boy, we're in for a ride now,' because Eddie just kind of looked at people and said, 'Come on. Let's go. Let's get on board here. ...' Eddie definitely did take a leadership role right from day one and continued all the way through to the end."
Katee Sackhoff (Kara "Starbuck" Thrace)
Is she a Cylon or isn't she? She led the fleet and the Cylons to Earth, but it doesn't necessarily seem like a good thing.
Sackhoff told the producers that they should fire her halfway through the last season. "I was complaining about the fact that I had no idea how to play Kara anymore. And that I felt like my acting was in complete shambles," she says. "I said, 'I've got nothing to hold on to.' I have no idea who she is, and no one's telling me anything, and I feel like I'm just grasping at straws here, and one day I'm playing her this way and the next day I'm playing her this way, because it's what's on the page.' And I really started freaking out, and [creator] Ron Moore looked at me and went, 'That's why it's so good.' And I said, 'What are you talking about?' And he goes, 'If you would just calm down for a second, you'd realize that you're actually just being her.' I was like, 'Oh. Right. 'Cause that's probably how she's feeling.' After that I calmed down. But it was my first moment as an actor where I kind of threw my hands up and went, 'I don't know what I'm doing.' It was interesting to just realize that that was in the moment of not knowing what I was doing and embracing that I found her ... after four years."
Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin)
The unexpected president found herself battling with more than Cylons as she struggled with cancer, politics and Adama.
"There was just something so real and completely in the moment about the little scene that we shot one day when Laura Roslin gave Adama his admiral's pin. I can't explain it. Just—there was something about that that encompassed the entire thing, backwards and forwards. That was a favorite acting moment. There was no work to be done in order to act the moment. It had a completely present-time life to it. It was almost like when a friend or relative graduates," laughs McDonnell. "I can't explain it. There was something so lovely about it. It just stayed with me forever. But there are many moments involving the big scenes where the entire cast is present and we're working with two directors at once or whatever, and we're all there and things are so climactic and the whole crew was working at their top speed. And everyone is just working together, and those are the moments when I would sit back and say, 'It just doesn't get any better. Doesn't get any better!' And I had a lot of those moments towards the end."
Alessandro Juliani (Felix Gaeta)
Gaeta started out as a secondary character without a first name, only to end up on "one hell of an arc," which saw the loyal officer lose his leg after being shot.
"Somewhat morbidly ... it was the end. By complete chance, I was a part of the very last shot of Battlestar ever. ... Well, of this incarnation, anyway. This was after the series had wrapped. After the TV movie, The Plan, had wrapped. It was just me and Grace and a body double. A skeleton crew shooting the last webisode in a tent on a nearly empty soundstage. All the sets had been torn down and pulverized. We shot this one simple scene, and that was that. This massive chapter of my life was over. It was strange and wonderful and profound, and I won't ever forget that moment."
James Callis (Dr. Gaius Baltar)
Just because the narcissistic genius who has a thing for blond model Number Six Cylons unwittingly helped the Cylons wipe out the 12 Colonies, that doesn't make him a bad person ... at least in his mind. Now the former president may even be a holy man, and he's got the devoted followers to prove it.
After filming the miniseries, Callis was asked to stay in Vancouver to finish a final shot called a pickup. He got an envelope with instructions on what they'd be shooting. "I open it up. It's like, 'Baltar removes Six's plastic knickers.' And I'm like, 'What?' They're like, 'We didn't get it on the day, James.' And I'm like, 'You are kidding me?' They're like, 'No.' 'That's why I'm staying back in Vancouver? I've got to take black plastic knickers off.' 'Yes, we need it. We need the shot.' That was just terribly funny, the idea that out of this whole space opera and drama that was the one shot they needed of us," laughs Callis. 'They didn't need our faces. ... That is a cute little memory I will hold."
Michael Trucco (Samuel T. Anders)
He may have arrived as a "plot device" to cause trouble for Kara and Lee, but that was before the writers got a look at the smoking-hot potential between Kara and Sam.
"One of my fondest memories from this series came in my first week on set way back in early season two," says Trucco. "After about three or four days of shooting on location in the forest, I had become fairly comfortable and close with Katee and Grace and Tahmoh. We all hit it off almost immediately. The four of us just gelled, and Tahmoh and I have very similar senses of humor, so we'd riff off each other at the drop of a hat. And one afternoon on set between setups I was sitting in one of the cast chairs next to Grace, and she looked over at me and said, 'It feels like you've been here since the beginning. ... I think they should keep you around.' Who knew then that that would eventually be the case? That meant a lot to me in that moment, and I've never forgotten it since."
Edward James Olmos (William Adama)
The admiral managed to hold together the remnants of the human race, but he had some trouble dealing with the fact that his best bud, Saul Tigh, is a Cylon.
"We were there for the very first episode, and we were all together sitting there, and the excitement and the butterflies and the nerves were just careening off the wall ... for me. I sat there with the cast. We all had a wonderful get-together. ... We kind of outlined a future that could possibly happen, and it was almost exactly to the T. We pretty much called it, and it was amazing, 'cause it was like we all started into this knowing that it could be a five-year run. It turned out to be a situation where we had to pace ourselves and understand that we'd come out really strong," says Olmos.
"The first episode that we did was '33,' and that was a tremendous piece of work written just extraordinarily by Ron Moore. He had a great understanding of what we were about to face and where the reality had to be, and the lines that he was taking in respects of the A-line, the B-line and the C-line in the storytelling and how he was dealing with them. The A-line, which was the longest one that was going to flow all the way through and make it all the way to the end, was the strongest I could ever have felt, and I knew that we were in for a hell of a ride. If this was our first episode, what the hell was the second one going to be like? So we were all caught. That meeting, that moment, was probably the most special time because we really knew [what we had to do]."
Grace Park (Sharon / Number Eight)
Even Boomer believed she was a human until she (and we) knew she wasn't. She was, in fact, Cylon model Number Eight. Copies of Number Eight have gone on to attempt to assassinate Adama, become a hero of the Cylons, marry Helo and become the mother of the human/Cylon hybrid, Hera.
"One of the best moments was when Ron Moore popped the champagne and said, 'That's a show wrap.' It was about 4:30 in the morning, and we'd been going at a blistering pace for a few days, well for a weeks," laughs Park. "It had heightened to a climax, and at that moment it was pretty great for him to be there, because people were all collecting at the end. ... So it was pretty cool to have that moment."
And then there's her least favorite Battlestar moment. After the excitement of filming the last few scenes for the series, Park had one more day of shooting for the webisodes. While they were filming, the set was being taken apart. There was this "slow disintegration of everything and watching one of your favorite things just completely be disassembled and then destroyed, and it was just like fibers of wood and paint and just little chips on the ground. ... The very, very last shot of that scene was on a character that was the bottom rung. It was an ND8, a nondescript Eight, and I had no lines and just gave a look, and that was it. It was the antithesis of the high point," says Park.
Rekha Sharma (Tory Foster)
The president's right-hand gal is actually one of the Final Five Cylons, and for her, that's a good thing.
On her first day, Sharma got an unexpected surprise. She got to work across from Oscar-nominated Mary McDonnell all day long, says Sharma. "I had so much fun. Mary was just so generous. I was looking around at all these people who were just really having such a great time. At that point, I didn't even know anything about the show. I was just really blown away by how much everyone was really dedicated to doing the best job that they could and really making a work of art, and the entire process that was happening on set was so much more creative than a lot of the stuff that I worked on and a lot of the stuff that is on television, in my opinion. I was so happy that at the end of the day I actually shed a tear in my trailer."
Tricia Helfer (Number Six)
Tall blonde in a smoking-hot red dress ... who just happens to be a Cylon.
"There were so many moments and memories that are special to me. Funny moments, sad moments, painful moments, silly moments, thrilling moments, endearing moments ... I think you get the picture," says Helfer. "One funny moment was when we were shooting a scene in Baltar's house and Number Six is laying on the bed, naked, with a conveniently placed sheet, and Baltar is sitting in a chair with a towel around his waist. The boom operator [sound tech], Greg, had to hide under the bed, not to be seen, because of all the windows and reflections. At one point I look down and Greg is as red as a tomato. Not only is he squished under the bed, but he is super embarrassed because he doesn't know where to look. He has to look to make sure the boom isn't in the shot, but if he looks up, he is staring at my breasts spilling over the edge of the bed, and if he looks over, he is staring into James' underwear-less crotch under the towel, that only Greg's angle is privy too. It was funny to see him get so flustered. The crew and cast were so great to work with. We had fun, and we all had each others' backs."
Tahmoh Penikett (Karl "Helo" Agathon)
The epitome of a selfless hero, Helo also happens to be the daddy of the human/Cylon hybrid, Hera.
"When you get on a new series with someone like Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, there's a lot of nerves involved in the beginning. I was green at the time. You're in your head quite a lot. I'm sure Grace [Park] would say the same thing. We were both in the same position. You know, feeling a lot of pressure," says Penikett. "We've got Eddie directing the episode, and he's got complete confidence, and he's just laughing and he's super excited, and I just had this real moment where I'm like, 'Holy crap! I'm sitting here on a new series and I've got Edward James Olmos taking to me like a little kid, and he's so excited about doing this scene with me.' It was a huge moment for me, because one of my favorite films is Blade Runner. I remember seeing that when I was a little kid with my dad, and I remember being so moved by Eddie more than anything else. Even as a little kid I was like, 'Who is that guy? I want to know more about him.' He was completely compelling and interesting. I've been a fan of his ever since. And then to come full circle and finally be working with the man was a huge moment for me."
Jamie Bamber (Lee "Apollo" Adama)
Despite his conflicts with daddy (Adm. Adama), he finally found his own path as a leader outside the military.
"Actually, one of the best ones for me was the moment when after 60-something episodes we were all in the CIC; me, Eddie and Mary finally hear that we are in orbit of a planet that we think is Earth. Just the sense of anticipation of that moment. ... To finally be on the precipice of that quest being realized, and Gaeta called in the coordinates and confirmed that we are indeed in healthy orbit above an atmospheric planet that looks like the one we've been searching for and weren't sure existed, was a hell of a moment," says Bamber.
"The release that that was involved looking into Eddie and Mary's eyes. I remember that being ridiculously poignant. Now we knew within the context of the show that there was a plan to continue for another 10 episodes, so it wasn't the complete resolution, but we nevertheless had to play that resolution, and I hopped up on the dradis and threw my coat into the crowd and all that sort of stuff, and it was just an un-Lee thing to do, but it was great. ... We all felt that achievement as actors and writers and directors, that we've been on creditable journey and that was the arrival point, at least for a few minutes."