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SYFY WIRE Battlestar Galactica

That Time Katee Sackhoff Didn't Sleep For 3 Straight Days Shooting Battlestar Galactica

Sackhoff on stretching herself too thin: "It almost killed me."

By Josh Weiss
Katee Sackhoff as Kara "Starbuck" Thrace in Battlestar Galactica Season 4

In order to take the lead role as time traveling teenager Marty McFly in Back to the Future, Michael J. Fox famously agreed to a nightmarish schedule where he'd film episodes of Family Ties during the day and the seminal Zemeckis film at night.

For three months straight, the two projects "swallowed me whole," Fox admits in Stillthe Apple TV+ documentary about his life and career (now streaming). "I experienced confusion as to what set I was on and basically who I was in the first place."

RELATED: Katee Sackhoff On Difference Between Longer TV Seasons Like Battlestar Galactica vs. Shorter Like The Mandalorian

Katee Sackhoff experienced a similar arrangement, albeit on a much smaller scale, in the late 2000s while filming Battlestar Galactica and White Noise: The Light (a sequel to the Michael Keaton-led movie from 2005) at the same time.

"The only way that they would let me do it is if I was shooting Battlestar during the day and White Noise 2 at night," she recalled to co-host and executive producer Kristian Harloff on the latest episode of her new podcast  Blah Blah Blah. "My mom came to Vancouver with me and stayed awake with me to keep me through it and help me with my dog."

Sackhoff made it three full days without a wink of shuteye before breaking down in her White Noise trailer.

"My mom literally opened the trailer door to the producer and went, ‘She’s done. You gotta do something.’ They brought in a double and they let me go home. I think I slept for like three hours and then did my last day on Battlestar. It killed me. I cannot imagine doing it for that long [referring to Michael J. Fox] … I did it for three days and it almost killed me."

Nevertheless, she did concede that the manic mindset from lack of sleep may have actually played to her advantage for the Battlestar arc in which Starbuck is brainwashed by Leoben (Callum Keith Rennie). "It probably helped," Sackhoff mused. "But when we did some of those scenes, I hadn’t slept for three days straight. It was a lot."

Since then, however, the actor has tried not to let her exhaustion show on set, lest it impact crew morale.

"It’s one of my biggest things because they’re more tired than I ever will be," Sackhoff concluded. "And learned that, oddly enough, when I was doing Riddick. I fell asleep on set because it was night shoots. I had one of the producers tell me to not [fall asleep]. She was like, ‘Up! Out of here! Don’t let the crew see you sleeping. Don’t let Number One see you sleeping.’ At the time, I was like, ‘F*** you.’ But at the same time, I do understand what she meant. You can’t let people see you down because it takes everyone down with you. I’ve learned those lessons as I’ve gotten older in this industry."

SYFY's Battlestar Galactica ran from 2003 to 2009, encompassing a miniseries, four full seasons and two made-for-TV movies (plus a 2012 web series prequel). The series was one of the most acclaimed sci-fi shows of the modern era, notching Emmy wins, TCA awards and finding itself on plenty of "Best Of" lists along the way.

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