How Caprica's Esai Morales follows Edward James Olmos

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Esai Morales began his roundtable interview at Comic-Con for the upcoming Battlestar Galactica prequel series, Caprica, by doing an imitation of Edward James Olmos for us. Not only was it hysterical, but it was strangely appropriate. In Caprica, Morales plays the father of Olmos' Battlestar character, Adm. Adama.

"I don't have the same gravitas as he does," Morales growled last month in San Diego. "He's quite a character to play on. I got half the genes. I gave him half of his gravelly voice. You should hear his mother, though. Oy. The mornings? Oh, ho." Between jokes, he gave us a bit of info about his character.

Caprica follows two rival families and their patriarchs—Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) and Joseph Adama (Morales)—as they compete and thrive in the vibrant realm of the 12 Colonies, a society recognizably close to our own.

Interestingly, Morales told us he wasn't originally a Battlestar fan. "I had no idea," he admitted. "It thought it was ... Lorne Green [who starred in the original series]. Do I get a cape? Actually, I have some friends who asked if I get to wear one of those cool spacesuits. ... I've seen a couple of episodes here and there. ... They said, 'Listen, we'd almost prefer you not see that, because we don't want every other thing to be a nod and a wink to the show.'" He added that the writers are taking care of those things so they wouldn't be on his shoulders.

Asked whether he felt pressure to live up to a character that is already known to fans, he said, "Absolutely. We know he was a lawyer. We know that he was a big part of his son's makeup, of what forged his character, and it's good to hear that, now that the show is being made, people are starting to see glimpses of that strength. Again, my job is not limited to leading up to Mr. Olmos' portrayal of William Adama, but you will see a lot of what makes him up."

Morales also talked about making the character his own and not peppering it with Olmos/Adama traits. "It shouldn't be about that, because that's one joke that would get old quick," Morales said. "You know?" Though he understandably didn't give any details, Morales gave us a peek into where his character is going. "I would love to tell you, but ... he is going to go through a real neoclassic Greek tragedy arc."

Caprica also stars Paula Malcomson (Amanda Graystone), Polly Walker (Sister Clarice Willow), Magda Apanowicz (Lacy) and Alessandra Torresani (Zoe Graystone). The series is from Universal Cable Productions and is executive-produced by Ronald D. Moore, David Eick and Jane Espenson. Jeffrey Reiner (Friday Night Lights) directed the pilot. Caprica kicks off with a two-hour premiere on Jan. 22, 2010, at 9 p.m. ET/PT and will air Fridays at 10 p.m.