On the Phone with Ronald D. Moore and the Fifth and Final Cylon

[Warning: Spoilers Lie Ahead!] Since this TV Addict doesn’t yet have the readership of the Los Angeles Times and isn’t named Mo Ryan (again just wait until my legal name change goes through. I mean which showrunner in their right mind is going to not pick up the phone for Mo Goodman Ausiello dos Mitovich!), theTVaddict.com had to settle for a conference call with BATTLESTAR GALACTICA creator Ronald D. Moore alongside the fifth and final Cylon Kate Vernon. Here are the highlights:

Now that you’ve officially revealed who the fifth and final Cylon is, could you possible let the fans know who the runner-up was?
Ronald D. Moore:
I think the way it worked was that we [the writers] just threw out names. I don’t know there was a second character. We talked about all of our regulars. We dismissed Edward [James Olmos] and Mary [McDonnell] fairly quickly. As I just felt that it took something away from the show and the journey once we said Adama was a Cylon. Dualla, Gatea, they were interesting character but again, it just didn’t feel like it jumped, heightened the stakes, bumped everything up to a different level. With Ellen it did.

How hard was it to keep the secret?
Kate Vernon:
There were waves of intense agony and frustrating and then times when I would completely forget about it. For the most part, it was something I wanted to talk about desperately because it was such an honor to be given this role. When they killed me off I went to Ron [Showrunner Ronald D. Moore], looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Is there anyway I can come back?” He looked at me very gently and said “No.” In Ron’s eyes, I was done. In my heart I had a love affair with Ellen and the show and I never let go of it.

Ronald D. Moore: Killing off Ellen was great creatively and one of those things that we knew was going to be powerful. But it was hard to let go of the character. One of the hardest moments on the show was having to call up Kate Vernon and tell her we were killing her character. And I think that on some level I carried that with me which certainly motivated to want to bring Ellen back.

In the wired age we live in, how on earth did you guys manage to keep the identity of the fifth and final Cylon a secret? Were any special precautions taken?
Ronald D. Moore:
We didn’t have to do much work because there was so much bad information out there. There was so much speculation online about how the show was ending and who the final Cylon was that the few nuggets of truth were hard to sift out. The people who had sort of figured out were simply lost in the mix.


What if anything can you reveal about what the fans might expect from upcoming episodes?
Kate Vernon:
Ahhhhhhh [Awkward Silence!]
Ronald D. Moore: Talking, lots of talking…
Kate Vernon: Talking and walking. I get to reunite with my husband in the good ol’ fashioned way that they do. But I can’t really talk too much without spilling something.
Ronald D. Moore: Just saying that you reunite alone is enough. The trick is now now through the end of the series is to pretty much one continuous story, so we don’t want to give any of the building blocks away because they you’ll know [too much]

Were you pleased with the reaction to Friday’s big reveal?
Ronald D. Moore:
I’m pleased. It got a huge response and that’s what you go for. You try and get a response our of your audience. You want them to feel something, have a reaction, think what it means when Dualla blows her brains out. Whatever their specific reaction is is fine with me as long as they have a reaction and it means something.

Can you talk about the status of CAPRICA.
Ronald D. Moore:
CAPRICA is getting underway. It’s very exciting, a very different challenge and a very different show. There’s a sense that BATTLESTAR GALACTICA set a very high bar forcing everyone to bring their “A” game. That’s the spirit that we’re approaching CAPRICA with.

In terms of the show, what is is, figuring out how to tell stories, teasing the audience, there is a sense of exploration, uncharted territory, it’s both exciting and scary. It’s scary to get one of these off the ground again and hope that people like it. Especially when people compare it to BSG. Btu that’s why we’re in the business.

What was it like directing your first episode of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (airing this Friday January 23)
Ronald D. Moore:
I had a tremendous amount of fun. It was great to do it on a show that had been my show for several years. Knowing the cast and the crew intimately, I got a lot of extra special attention and support and people wanted me to succeed. It was an environment where I could say “I don’t know what to do here” and people would help. Things that I wanted to do they would snap to make it happen. It was an incredibly collegial welcoming environment to step into. I had the opportunity to do the one thing that I have never done: shoot the movie in my head. For the first time I could actually go and make that movie. It was really fulfilling, fun and I will be doing it again.

Were any scenes particularly challenging to shoot or different then you had imagined in your head?
Ronald D. Moore:
It’s a character piece, a smaller episode. I designed it deliberately to sort of take a breath after the shocking events of the past couple episodes. The show is just about the ship and the crew, where they are before, the next giant arc pulls them into an even bigger event.

Can you talk a little bit about the incredibly dark tone of the show?
Ronald D. Moore:
I thought it was important to never lose sight of the premise of the show. The show is born out of an apocalypse. Literally, billions of people were wiped out. What remains are survivors who’ve only got four metal walls to surround them. These people are nomads going from place to place seeking an oasis, a home, a place called earth. In that context, I didn’t want to just say everything got better four episodes into the first season. The emotional reverberations would continue forever and would always be with them. Sure they could laugh, joke around but we always wanted to maintain the reality of where they were. Be truthful to their experience as human beings. That way, the audience would invest themselves, go with them on this ride, go along with killer robots from space as long as we dealt with the human emotion truthfully.

Would it be fair to draw parallels between the nuclear holocaust on earth and the destruction of Kobol?
Ronald D. Moore:
Yes. Next question.

Did you hold back on wrapping up the GALACTICA mythology in an effort to leave things open for CAPRICA
Ronald D. Moore:
We set out to answer as many of the questions by the end of the series. We didn’t hold anything and say we’ll deal with it on CAPRICA. CAPRICA is about how people developed the Cylons and it is its own story.

Over the course of the series, were there any crazy ideas or big plot twists that never made it out of the writer’s room?
Ronald D. Moore:
Oh sure, there were lots of things. Lots of blind alleyways that you go down. Sometimes on the page, sometimes even on camera. It’s part of the process. One of the things I like to do is not have any bad ideas. Throw out anything in the writer’s room, we’ll take any idea seriously. You have to be able to take risks. The biggest ideas that really paid off were the riskiest on paper. Jumping ahead a year in the narrative, the idea of the final Cylons at first sounded ludicrous, but we found a way to do it.

Did you hold back on wrapping up the GALACTICA mythology in an effort to leave things open for CAPRICA
Ronald D. Moore:
We set out to answer as many of the questions by the end of the series. We didn’t hold anything and say we’ll deal with it on CAPRICA. CAPRICA is about how people developed the Cylons and it is its own story.

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