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Battlestar Galactica's Edward James Olmos got duped by Starbuck's death in real life

Contributed by
Aug 21, 2018

The surprise death (and even more surprise revival) of Battlestar Galactica’s Kara Thrace aka Starbuck (played by Katee Sackhoff) was one of the sci-fi show’s most bonkers, adventurous moments. It was also a secret plotline coming to fruition at the dawn of social media — so the writers went to extra precautions to guard its reveal. However, as a new history of the show reveals, this also fooled everyone else working on the show...with heated results.

According to EW, So Say We All: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Battlestar Galactica (by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman) collected the complete story of the ruse — and one of Sackhoff’s co-stars was one that fell for it hardest. Edward James Olmos (who played William Adama) got pretty angry that one of the show’s beating hearts was being cut — and he wasn’t afraid to make his fury known.

“Our feeling was this was only going to work if the audience thinks we mean it, and the characters mean it,” said creator Ronald D. Moore. “We’ll take her name out of the main credits, we want this to be a shock. Katee knows she’s coming back and we swear her to secrecy, so then, of course, it just becomes a fiasco and Katee is telling everyone she’s leaving the show. The script comes out and she’s dead.” But it wasn’t supposed to happen like that.

“We knew we were going to bring her back, so we wrote two endings for that script. One is that she doesn’t die,” said writer Michael Angeli. “That’s the one that we circulated, because, first of all, we wanted it to be a surprise. Second of all, we didn’t want to raise concern with the cast thinking, ‘Oh my God, they’re killing her off. What are they doing?’”

Starbuck Battlestar Galactica

“Well, somehow the real draft got leaked, and there was just chaos, Angeli continued. “Everybody thought, ‘You’re killing off Katee?’ Leading the charge was Eddie Olmos. He was like, ‘This is preposterous. This is wrong. She’s one of the signature characters in the show. What the hell are you guys doing?’ Her mother even called, saying, ‘Why are you killing her? How could you possibly . . . ?’ Of course we had to explain what was going on, and come clean about everything. But it was astonishing how militant Eddie got about keeping her on the show.”

Moore said that he got a phone call where some told him “Eddie’s pissed, walking around saying, ‘This is the death of the show’,” which grew from the reaction the actor had when he first read the script: “The show will never be the same.” So of course, Sackhoff had to step in and ruin the surprise just to keep her friend from burning down the whole show on her behalf.

“Finally I was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I’m telling Eddie,’” the actress said. “So I called him and then he told everyone. We were doing the Maxim photo shoot and he stood up on something and he told the entire cast that I wasn’t really dead, and I felt like such an a**hole.” So the intra-show surprise was spoiled just to keep the very loyal cast happy. It’s a heartwarming story about a shocking twist that goes to show just how close the bonds become between coworkers when the stories they tell are so resonant...so resonant that they’ll fight for their friends if they feel like they get unjust ends.

So Say We All: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Battlestar Galactica is available in stores now.

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