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Jamie's I-Con Interview Podcast

I'm really grateful to asta77 posting the link to the podcast of Jamie's interview from I-Con at [Unknown LJ tag]bamber_news>.  I've listened to it--it's roughly about 20 minutes long.  As usual, it's a pleasure to listen to Jamie talk.  Aside from his wonderful British accent, Jamie not only is a very articulate and well spoken person, he also offers great insight into his character Lee "Apollo" Adama on BSG.

The interview is also interlaced with some interesting glimpses of the actor himself, his other (future) projects, and his relationships with other fellow actors.

Apparently there are transcripts of the podcast out there, and asta77 has provided links to them on her post.  But as mentioned, the transcripts are only partial at most.  So for my amusement, I've transcribed my own version of the podcast here.  I tried to stick as close as possible to what's been said, but I did eliminate some of the Ohs and Ahs.

R - Reporter, J - Jamie Bamber
I tried to get every word Jamie said.  But there are a few I'm not sure of.  If a word I cannot hear clearly, I put it in square brackets with question marks, or if I absolutely have no clue on what he said, I denote it with [...]


R: We taped this [podcast] just the Saturday before the season 3 finale, and we discuss that particular finale with Jamie Bamber.

J: I can say there are quite a few surprises in stored tomorrow.  Cylons revealed.  Basically the vibe going around the editing rooms and the producers' circles... I've actually hung out with the writers and producers and the cast last couple weekends, sort of watch the show and catch up, 'cuz we haven't seen each other in a few months--just to touch base...  They're all saying this is the best thing we've ever done.  They all deeply excited, Ron Moore in particular.  So yeah, there's a kind of Earth shattering revelations about cylons within, the trials as it reaches a pretty dramatic climax.  What's...  I can't say anything else without really ruining it for everyone.

R: Is this a cliff hanger?

J: Yeah, very much so.  But different kind from any other years.  Other years, the story finales have been a scattering of the characters, and different plot lines all over.  Normally 3 or 4 different locales.  You know, at the end of season one I think Starbuck was back on Caprica, there were people on the Galactica; end of season two, some were on New Caprica, and some were in the Battlestars, ah.. getting fat. (chuckles from the reporters)  This time, it's markedly different in that everyone, every character is aboard the Galactica.  So it's much more condensed, sort of unity of space at least it's been [abated?], no year jump or anything like that.  It's just sort of pretty impacting stories that are going on within the tin corridors of that hulk, and it's...  I haven't see it.  For my character's point of view, it's definitely the most interesting thing I've ever shot, and my character has been put into a very interesting predicament in the end there in that court room, and Umm...  We'll see how he comes through 'cuz until the editors show me what they've done, I don't quite know how that story spins out.  But it was a lot of fun to shoot, and I had quite a lot of hand in the writings of it as well.  So it's something that is interesting to me from that [point on?].

R: Are we going to be blown away by the final five cylons?

J: I mean when I found out who they were I was blown away, but...  Actually, it's four, not five.  There is a fifth that is still out for grabs.  So yeah, you'll find out four of them tomorrow.

R: Can you tell us the challenges of playing Lee Adama as an actor?

J: The greatest challenge I suppose is to tread the line between appearing sort of vaguely sanctimonious, and priggish.  In a sense he is a character of conscience who's very aware of his responsibilities, and how is he perceived.  I think in this day and age that's not the kind of heroism we actually respond to.  We are much more into the cavalier, renegade hero than the fairly up-and-down, sort of self effacing hero which I think Lee is.  If there's a challenge, it's trying to keep it interesting... to put an element of danger in there, or an element of this being a conflicted journey that he's on.  As I sort of mentioned yesterday in that Q&A I did:  I'm most, most happy when I do go on the board, which I tend to do once a week when the show is airing--as long as there is a debate about whether Lee is admirable, you want to be like him, and as long as there's the flip side, and some people are going "no, he's a whinny freak," you know, "he needs a slapping," "he doesn't have balls" or whatever, then I know I've done my job because that's sort of the realm in which our show works the best--when characters polarize the opinion.  It's trying to play the hero, but trying to keep the hero interesting.  It's an old fashioned heroism this character sort of embodies.  You know I think he's quite like me to be honest.  I don't think it's a huge... (a reporter in the background interrupted him with a question I can't quite hear)  Ahh... There are times when it's tough, and there are elements to it...  But what's hard is the sort of keeping him interesting to as many people as possible, and not have him be a recurring sort of record that just repeats himself all the time.  A lot of scenes are the same kind of scenes--clashing with his Dad, either being attracted to or getting exasperated with Starbuck, the same sort of difficult relationship with Tigh, and the President.  They kind of repeat themselves, which is I think true to life.  I think most people's relationships are like that.  You know you think about your relationship with your parents, or siblings--they tend to walk in circles, they tend to go that way, and we don't change that dramatically over our lives.  These people are living through extraordinary circumstances, and you have to sort of find differences in a way that people are [...] with each other.  I think Lee, perhaps more than any character in the show, has grown up during this arc of story.  I think it's one thing I'm proudest that he's sort of growing with me.  He was quite adolescent I think in the very beginning.  And now I definitely think--you can tell me what you think after Sunday, but I think he's definitely got his own voice, and he stands on his own two feet.  He's a different creature--much more self confident, much more comfortable in his skin.

R: What is the most difficult aspect in playing the relationship between Lee and Commander Adama?

J: Understanding they never stop loving each other, and making sure you never loose sight of that, 'cuz sometimes as an actor you get...   You can play results, you see a scene that you think "Oh there's a huge dramatic potential to play it this way", and you can "I don't think we do that at all", but you can sort of just squeeze the juice out of it, and then distill it right down, and just go for THAT because it's very fun and bold.  But the thing about those two characters is everything they do is done from love--everything.  When they are horribly insensitive to each other, it's because of the love they feel, because they are not very good at expressing it, because they haven't had that kind of time.  And we worked out more and more about their back stories, how problematic and difficult, and an awkward place they actually come from as a pair.  But there's huge respect between them.  And say everything that happens--say last week's scene where Lee takes off his wings and sticks them down on the desk and says he's done, he won't serve somebody who doesn't respect him.  That scene the writers were expecting it to be really full of histrionics on it, they wanted me to sort of explode into finally snap.  And I said, "No, they've done that."  This is a moment of...  This is Lee becoming a man again.  He's done so many times, but this is about considered course of action that he has no choice but to follow.  And I think Eddie and I have huge affections for each other.  He's kinda my Dad in America on many different levels.  He's a mentor of mine and I hope to working with him for many many years as a creative pair, and on other things.  So I think we bring all that.  And when we fall out, it's quite awkward, because we end up not talking to each other for most of the day.  It's quite weird, and huge--I don't know what I'm saying anymore, I'm rambling really, but... (laughter in the background)

R: The story arc that started season 3 is really amazing.  Now you have essentially the ragtag group as refugees on the planet, New Caprica, and you also have yourself and Commander Adama on the Pegasus and Galactica in space.

J: I was extremely proud of the work the writers put into in the beginning of season because it's an area we haven't been to before.  Our story is a gang on the run, really.  And to have them settle somewhere, and to try and build a life, to look at what that means--they were building a town and a society, and the insight you got into the ways the workers were treated.  I thought it was a really bold move, and I remember being a bit worried about whether we can actually pull that off because the image of the show that you have in your mind is the ragtag fleet floating around in space desperately running from the cylons.  The whole idea of settling on New Caprica was you sort of ignore the cylons for a bit.  Then of course they turn up, and then the show goes into a different area which I was equally thrilled by.  You know the boldness with which they dealt with the suicide bombing and the stuffs like that which were very controversial, but when our show does that, and causes columns to be written, people to be shocked, that's when we are all happy.  When people are kind of outraged at what we are doing, then we are doing something right because it's THAT kind of show we're trying to make from the beginning.  They are not particularly heavy episodes for me.  But when I watched them, I was blown away.  I thought the works those guys, like Aaron and Michael Hogan were doing down on the planet, I thought was just fantastic.  They are some of my favorite episodes.  I think as a stand alone story arc, the New Caprica, sort of segments of story was one of the strongest.  And I really enjoy what Eddie and I were doing on the Battleships--just basically atrophying and decaying, you know up in space with nothing to do, and feeling entirely emasculated and cut off to the purposefulness, you know, of being a military force without any teeth--I thought was again, very interesting in today's world where most of our militaries are hugely downsized, and you talk [to?] a lot of professional soldiers and stuff in the UK and US, all over the world, they feel very much a bit of anachronism a lot of the time.  I mean I know right now last few years have changed that slightly.  But they haven't been a very successful few years--any times the military even were asked to go somewhere and do something, they haven't felt particularly well used, and they haven't felt, you know, really kept abreast by the politicians and stuff like that.  We live in a sort of very dysfunctional world where it's very hard to find a good fight anymore, like they used to be.  They used to be sort of less complex, I think.  And the whole New Caprica thing I thought really reflected that kind of difficult dark world where your moral compasses are thrown wobbling.  You don't know what's right anymore.  People make strange decisions which they believe to be right at the time.  Then in hindsight...  Collaborator is one of my favorite episodes, dealing with ramifications of what went down there, the confusion, the difficulty it is to find certainties in that kind of environment.

R: Does play a character like Lee who may have a different voice than you in real life help you separate yourself from the character?

J: Um Yeah, I think so.  And I say he's like me--he's like me in a sense that he is desperately aware of being perceived to do the right thing.  And I think I am the same in that regard.  I think that there is an identity that you think of yourself in a certain way.  When Lee makes difficult decisions or makes mistakes as he often does, like the whole affair with Starbuck when he is married to someone else, you see his own sense of self go for a meltdown.  Then he has no strength, you know--that's hell.  And he was in hell in those sort of episodes.  I think that's quite [...] to me.  I think if I feel I let myself down in anyway in life, you feel like you cease to be who you are, your own idea of through line* of your own character almost is destroyed.  There's nothing more scary than that.  I think we really believe, in the West anyway, that we all have an innate character.  And when you don't feel like you are acting in the way your innate character sort of, then you forget who you are.  Now there's a huge philosophical discussion about whether we do have a character at all, or whether we are just you know, we are just in some sort of state of consciousness, there is no through line through, we are just aware.  [Steady???] material that just happen to be aware of itself.  With the scenes I do with Eddie, I'm genuinely playing the...  Yeah, the voice is a thing--he expresses himself in entirely different way than I do.  I don't know, I think our pitches and our voices are different, and I'm trying to pitch Lee a little deeper in my chest than I express myself because I know I'm quite sort of exuberant with my language and stuff like that.  And the character isn't that way--he's much more codified and speaks when necessary.  He's not Starbuck who enjoys chirping in left, right, and center, which is more like I am in every day life, I think.  So there's differences between us definitely.  Oh yeah, with Eddie it's funny--the scenes where we clash, we really do go our separate ways. (Jamie chuckles) During the day, it's quite odd.

R: How has your relationship with Richard Hatch evolved throughout the years?

J: Well, it starts off very well, and it's continue to...  When I first heard he was doing the show, I was really apprehensive 'cuz I thought he was going to be bitter.  But, I've never seen that bitterness.  So, he was just very generous,  thrilled to be involved in what we are doing, very complimentary about what we are doing.  I guess as it evolved, I became a bit more sure of what I'm doing.  In the beginning, that apprehensiveness probably is a sign I was a little sort of intimidated by the idea of the original Apollo will be there with me and he's been so vocal about his own continuation idea, and I wasn't necessarily sure at the time we were going to be such hot stuff, you know.  Now I'm very proud of the work we're doing, very pleased with the stuff I've been allowed to do.  You know, we come to a much more solid place.  He's very much part of the furniture.  His character is a huge part of our show.  I love spending time with him.  He's a very interesting man, he's got a lot to say, and most of it is extremely insightful, and interesting.  He's been through a lot--so he's an interesting guy.  He's had a lot of hard times, it's made him wise in some way.

R: I recently saw you on Ghost Whisper, I thought that was a really challenging part--you almost really had to play two particular roles.  What was your experience like on that series.

J: It's kinda freaky.  For those of you who didn't see it, I was playing a guy committed suicide because he was about to go to his ten year high school reunion.  Because he's a washed out football star, his greatest days were when he was in high school.  So he committed suicide, and his body is then taken over by a kid who he was in school with, who has cerebral palsy or something.  I was playing my ghost--my ethereal spirit of this dead guy, and also playing my body being inhabited by the kid had been disabled, never had...  Anyway, it was crazy, it was a lot of fun, there was a bit of humor which I was really grateful to try and tackle.  And it was hard work, I worked really hard for that week.  But it's all doing someone else's show.  It's a different experience, and it made me very grateful for the sense of belonging I feel in the world of Battlestar, and the fact our show is so stimulating and demanding.  There's no sense in which we dumb down.  I'm not saying you do on Ghost Whisper, but there's definitely a different challenge that we sort of enjoy and meeting when we go to work on Battlestar Galactica script.  But I thought Jennifer Love Hewitt is adorable, she's a really classy human being, her crew worship her.  It was a privilege to see how someone else does it.

R: Are there any film or television projects you might be working on during the Galactica break?

J: Ahh, nothing definite at the moment.  There's something may happen which is sort of exciting, but I can't, I can't really divulge 'cuz it's not definite for sure, and it's gonna take a bit of jiggling with the Galactica schedule as well.  So...

R: Do you think we'll get a chance to see that particular project?

J: I hope so, I hope so.  And then as I say, I think I'm shocking the world by saying this--it's probably going to be the last year for Battlestar [and anything after that?].  So, you know, life moves on.  I'm very excited--I just moved to L.A., I'm excited about producing some stuff of my own, and trying to develop material.  I've learned a lot from the guys who make Battlestar, and I think it's been a huge learning curve.  It's gonna stand me in the better stead then I'd otherwise would've been that's for sure.

R: How have you find I-Con 26 so far?

J: Oh, I enjoyed it.  Very much.  I've never been to this part of the world before.  I don't get to see much, I mean--Holiday Inn and here, so (laugh)...

R: It is a particularly ugly campus.

J: Well, we have a lot of these in the UK too.  So I know this is campus university, probably built in the 60s and 70s, so I know what it's about.

R: Any romantic prospect for Lee?

J: I think he's all romanticked out for the time being.  I think getting left by your wife after the long time love of your life killed herself--I think that would put him on the hiatus for a while, I hope. (Jamie laughs)  I actually do.  I know a lot of people didn't really go for the more romantic story lines, the love quadrangle, whatever.  To me that was one of the things I was proudest of with Lee.  I think one of the reason people don't like it is because they don't like their larger than life heroic characters brought to their knees by the heart.  But that's the truth of life I think.  That's the most vulnerable part of our anatomy to most people.  It was very interesting to put Lee there.  But having done that this year...  And I must say something about that--I think, you know, our relationships in the show are never purely the relationships.  So they are not soap operatic in that sense because they always have a social repercussion because these characters are pivotal within the fleet.  Their relationships are much more than the affairs of the heart.  They are, you know, illicit affairs in uniforms with superiors, with the people you are commanding, people that day-in day-out affect the very social structure of the fleet.  So they are more interesting than a lot of people made them out on those message boards.  I disagree with the overall prognosis that they were soap operatic.  But I think Lee's already done that.  But who knows--Ron and David will probably surprise me with something else...

R: Battlestar Galactica is really more a set of drama than a soap opera.

J: Yeah, these are the things...  You know, Hamlet is an example I always go back to--there are affairs of the heart in Hamlet, but they happen to occur within a castle with huge political ramification.  Everything is internal, it's personal, it's social as well.  If you can combine those three elements, then what you got is a perfect drama.  It's not soap opera.  Soap opera tends to be purely on one level--on a personal level.  There's no implication or ramification to what's going on.  Whereas if you can make sure the affair has an impact on the wider world of the fleet, then it makes it more dramatic in the sense.

With that, comes to the end of the interview.

*through line: I didn't quite understand what he meant by "through line" as I never heard of the phrase before.  So I looked it up.  I found this brief description from Wikipedia:

The through line, sometimes also called the spine, was first suggested by Konstantin Stanislavski as a simplified way for actors to think about characterisation. He believed actors should not only understand what their character was doing, or trying to do, (their objective) in any given unit, but should also strive to understand the through line which linked these objectives together and thus pushed the character forward through the narrative.
Tags: battlestar galactica, jamie bamber, jamie interview
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