Edward James Olmos Talks BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Finale: “It’s brutal what happens to us. Not many of us make it.”

edward james olmos battlestar galactica fan expo 2008 toronto
By: Melissa Girimonte 

My mission for FanExpo 2008 in Toronto was simple – attend the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA [BSG] Q&A.  Those fans lucky enough to get in enjoyed an hour of Edward James Olmos (Admiral William Adama) and Aaron Douglas (Chief Galen Tyrol) as they shared stories from behind the scenes, revealed details on both the final episodes and the upcoming film, and even hinted at who could be revealed as the final Cylon. 

Olmos, in his first appearance at a North American sci-fi conference, spoke passionately about his experience on the show.  He stated that BSG is “the finest dramatic show in TV history so far.”  He expanded on this by explaining how the sci-fi genre allows the exploration of issues that other dramatic series will not go near.  Olmos remarked that BSG has not only elevated the entire sci-fi genre, it has also elevated dramatic structure overall.  He also paid tribute to the longevity of the series – that 25 years from now, there will be an even better understanding of it, much like 17th Century literature, or films like BLADE RUNNER.

Olmos tackled one fan’s question about the impending final episodes.  With regard to the ending, he responded, “Emotionally, heartbreaking.  I’m telling you this for a reason, because I don’t want you guys to think you’re going to go through this without getting yourself really twisted … it’s brutal what happens to us.  Not many of us make it.”  He described that executive producer/writer Ronald D. Moore has no mercy when it comes to telling the Galactica story.  It has become quite dark, and is going to get darker.  Olmos also recounted filming the episode when they arrive on Earth, only to discover it’s been nuked, saying that detail was devastating to the cast as they filmed it. 

Some in the crowd was curious to know why BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is ending after [only!] four seasons, when it could realistically continue.  Both Olmos and Douglas agreed that it was Ronald D. Moore’s decision; he preferred to end the program on a high note, and not drag the story out.  Moore had a clear vision of the how the show should end; and wrote the final four hours of BSG himself, to keep everything in line with his vision. 

Olmos conveyed that his character was always unpredictable, and it really allowed him to use his full range of emotions as an actor.  He described everyone’s character development as “insane”, particularly those who were revealed to be Cylons.  Olmos recalled how angry Aaron Douglas and Michael Hogan were when they discovered that their characters were Cylons, and apparently, Hogan still refuses to accept that he’s a Cylon.  Again, Ronald D. Moore was praised, as Olmos and Douglas credited him with being responsible for every character’s evolution.  Moore had final say on everything throughout the series, especially ending it on his terms. 

With the end of any series, there’s bound to be a wrap party, but Douglas shared the story of the cast’s last read-through.  He’d brought a bottle of Dalwhinnie that everyone shared.  Ronald D. Moore is a fan of scotch, as anyone who’s ever listened to his podcast has learned.  At the end of the read-through, everyone signed the bottle and the box, and it was presented to Moore – a gesture that moved Moore to tears.
So what’s next following BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s swan song?  A film, scheduled to air in 2009.  It was confirmed earlier this month that Olmos will be directing, but during the Q&A, he revealed that Aaron Douglas will be starring, with the film looking back at the show’s first three seasons and focusing on the Chief’s story.

Then there’s Chief and Cally, a storyline that started and ended on a tragic note.  Douglas recalled that he and Nicki Clyne had a big brother/little sister relationship on set, so once the characters were linked romantically, he felt like he was “kissing his mom”.  He did explain that Chief’s trying to find “a sense of normalcy amongst the chaos of the fleet” was the catalyst for that relationship.  Chief’s attempt at leading a normal life was getting married and having a child.  Discovering that he was one of the final five Cylons changed all of that. 

The final Cylon has yet to be revealed, and fans are anxious to know which character will be saddled with that unfortunate fate.  The subject of BLADE RUNNER kept coming up throughout the Q&A, and Olmos talked about the twist at the end when Deckard (Harrison Ford) discovers he is in fact a Replicant.  Could BATTLESTAR GALACTICA mirror BLADE RUNNER, and make our hero, William Adama, the final Cylon?  If I had to choose someone, it’d have to be Galactica’s beloved patriarch.  When someone in the crowd yelled out “who is the final Cylon”, Olmos raised his hand.  Was he just yanking our chains, or revealing a major plot detail?  I guess we’ll have to wait with bated breath for that to be revealed in the show’s final episode next year.

Melissa is a Toronto-based TV blogger and music journalist. A TV fan since birth, it was only in recent years that she discovered her love for writing about what she was watching. After contributing to several online and print magazines as a freelance writer, she started her own TV blog, The Televixen, in 2008. She’s also founder and editor of Toonage.ca, an online music magazine.

  • Marisa

    Wow – thanks for all the info. — man it’s going to be a long wait for new eps. of BSG!!!

  • SimplyKimberly

    I will be sorely disappointed, after all of this waiting, if the final Cylon isn’t someone HUGE in the ‘verse – an Adama, Roslin, Baltar or Starbuck. Tigh has already had the reveal and for me it has to be even bigger than him to make the wait make a whole hell of a lot of sense. I could go for an Adama as the final Cylon – Zach would even be a big enough character to qualify.

    January cannot come fast enough for me – that is the start of the real tv season – 24, LOST, Dollhouse AND BSG.

  • I can’t wait to see more Mary.

  • Oh, i ‘ve just noticed how unusual is to see Edward in any other colour than navy blue. Lacoste touch of pink.

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  • Blair

    THe Final cylon will be Zach…..as Adama’s son it is the only out of this world plot twist that can satisfy the fans. Adama’s son will be the final cylon and it won’t be Lee

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