|Aaron Douglas - Chief Galen Tyrol, Battlestar Galactica|
|Blowing out airlocks and the Galactica legacy|
On Sunday 8th May, Aaron Douglas, Chief Galen Tyrol of Battlestar Galactica, was good enough to take some time out from entertaining the attendees of the Starfury Invasion convention at Heathrow's Radisson Edwardian Hotel to chat to GeekChocolate about his work on that show and the other items on his extensive science fiction resume.
Aaron Douglas – Oh, god, nothing compares to working on Galactica. Galactica was six years of my life. Galactica was a regular role. The Chief was a real fleshed out character. All those other shows I was just a guest star, you pop in for one day, you sort of make up your own whole back story, and you’re usually dead by the end of the episode. Dead or in jail. Yeah, I much prefer to work on something that’s long lasting, something that continues, but they’re all fun to work on. The Canadian crews are great, and the actors are typically fun, but it’s a different beast when you’re going to work on the same show for months and years on end.
GC – Your film CV isn’t all that different – X Men 2, Chronicles of Riddick, I, Robot. Is science fiction something you go for, or do you just have a face that makes casting directors want to put you in those roles?
AD – I get sci-fi because that’s what shoots in Vancouver. It’s literally as simple as that. Most sci-fi is shot in Canada in Vancouver, so that’s what you end up working on.
GC – I read that you snag support roles from helping in casting by reading the feed lines for whoever is auditioning. How did that come about?
AD – Yeah, I was a reader for auditions, so I read the other side of the dialogue from whoever is auditioning, and so a lot of times you get to the end of the session and the director looks over and says “You know that cop role with three lines, do you want to do it?” “Sure, yeah, I’ll do it.” “Alright, that’s it.” It’s as simple as that. I get lots of work from being a reader. Built my resume on it for sure.
GC – The last scene Galen Tyrol has in Galactica. It’s not specified onscreen, but the story is that the uninhabited island you leave for is Scotland. True or false?
AD – It is Scotland, I made it Scotland. When I first read that, the dialogue was, the Chief was talking to Tigh and Ellen, and they say “Are you sure about this?” and he says “Yeah, I’m getting on a heavy raider, and it’s going to drop me off on an island, I found an island off one of the northern continents, it’s cold but I like the cold.” And I thought immediately of Scotland, because I’m a Douglas, and I’m a very, very fiercely proud Scotsman, or of Scottish heritage at least, and so I called Ron Moore and I said, “Are we sending him to Scotland, is the Chief going to Scotland?” and Ron said “Actually I was thinking Vancouver Island,” and I said “Can it be Scotland?” He said, “Yeah, you make it whatever you want,” so that’s when I adlibbed “I found an island off the northern continents. There’s a good spot up in the Highlands. It’s cold, but I like the cold.” So just by adding Highlands, it makes it Scotland without making it Scottish. So in my mind it is, that’s where the Chief went.
GC – Working on Galactica must have been a very demanding and intense experience. Looking back at the pilot episode, and this is not aimed at you personally, it goes for the whole cast – you were all so young! Did that show just suck the youth out of you?
AD – In some ways, yes. In the pilot I look like my thinner younger brother. Well, what happened was, after season one, I lost my wife to breast cancer, and then half way through season three, I am a hockey goalie, and I tore my groin really badly. So the death of my wife was a huge turning point, and I tried salve the wound with a fine scotch, and then when I tore my groin, I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t exercise, so watching the Chief getting heavier and heavier is literally a product of me not being able to do anything but lie on the couch and eat. So that’s the cause of a lot of the weight gain. I’m trying to get it off now, but it’s really difficult, because my leg doesn’t work quite properly. But I’m trying.