ECCC 09: A Conversation With Aaron Douglas

Over the last decade, Canadian actor Aaron Douglas has had several prominent guest-starring roles on many high profile television series. Six years ago the Vancouver, British Columbia native landed the role of Chief Galen Tyrol in the re-imagined version of Battlestar Galactica. We caught up with Aaron at this year’s Emerald City ComiCon in Seattle, Washington and he graciously agreed to chat with us about BSG and where you will see him next.

PCZ: Have you been to Seattle before?

AD: Yeah, I live in Vancouver, I come down for Mariners games and Seahawks games. I probably get down four or five times a year. I love Seattle, Seattle’s gorgeous. The restaurants are great, the people are lovely, obviously. Seattle is very much like Vancouver. Same kind of city.

PCZ: BSG is done. That show had to have been a lot of work, a physically demanding, emotionally demanding, mentally demanding show.

AD: Absolutely. Six years of getting put through the ringer day after day. Our writers are unbelievable. The stories mirror our real lives so much, a lot of it was really difficult to do, but exhilarating and fantastic. I’m really proud of the show, really proud of the work. It’s over, but it’s a good thing.

PCZ: What did you think when you got the first script, where you familiar with the first Battlestar Galactica?

AD: Oh yeah! No, I grew up on the old show. I read the mini-series and I thought that it could be really great. It’s a weird thing, you know, you read all kinds of scripts. I’ve read scripts that are fantastic, but the movie turns out to be a piece of crap and I’ve read scripts that are kind of so-so and, for some reason, it just works. You have no idea what’s going to really happen. It really depends on the actors, the crew, the director and then sort of tweaking as you go along. It’s a really interesting process.

PCZ: Was it a little more appealing because it wasn’t hardcore sci-fi where you were going to be having pages of techno-babble?

AD: Thank god I didn’t get the Gaeta role for sure! The techno-babble is tough stuff. The great thing about our show was it was really just a human drama that just happens to take place on a spaceship. So, it could be anywhere, on a battleship, it could be in a conference center, it could be anything. What’s so great about the show is the human drama and the interaction in the relationships. And that we don’t have green monsters.

PCZ: Were you surprised or did you find out ahead of time that the Chief was going to be a Cylon?

AD: They sat us down the day of the read-through before we started shooting that episode and told us initially. I didn’t like it at first, but I sure like it now.

PCZ: It played out pretty well.

AD: Absolutely, absolutely.

PCZ: And in the finale episode the Chief gets to be the first Highlander.

AD: That was my idea!

PCZ: Excellent!

AD: Yeah, Ron [Moore] wrote it to be Vancouver Island. The dialogue I think in the script was, “The last raptor out tomorrow is going to drop me off on an island off the northern continent.” My mind immediately went, “Scotland!” because I’m a Douglas and I’m fiercely, fiercely proud of my Scottish heritage. I called Ron and I asked if it was Scotland and he went, “Oh, ummm…” and I said, “Can it be Scotland?!?” He said he was thinking more of it being Vancouver Island as an homage and I went, “No, no, no, Scotland, Scotland!” So he sure, of course. I ad-libbed the part about the Highlands and a few other things and that’s what it became. I then talked to Bear McCreary and told him the island I’m going to off the northern continent is Scotland and so then he put in the bagpipes and the Celtic flute, which I just loved. I can’t hear that stuff without crying, it just melts my heart. It’s in my blood and DNA. Bear is such a genius and it was so wonderful of him to put that in. It was very, very cool.

PCZ: As the show went on, I was starting to wonder if we’d get to the end and still like any of the characters. Every one of these characters did something reprehensible…

AD: What the hell did I do?? What did the Chief do that was reprehensible?

PCZ: He killed one of the Number Eight Cylon models to replace Boomer in prison so she could escape.

AD: (pause) Ok, fair enough. (laughs)

PCZ: And then she absconded with Hera!

AD: Yeah, well that’s true. He didn’t know she was taking Hera, though. He just whacked some Cylon.

PCZ: Has there ever been anything in the show where you were like “Guys, are we sure we want to do this?”

AD: No, I love all of that stuff. The more difficult it is to watch or read, the better it is, because it just gives you more to play and it’s more interesting. I mean, people in life are really screwed up. It really mirrors life. Not everybody is good, everybody has sides of themselves that are good and not so good. That’s really what it was.

PCZ: Especially in the situation that the characters were in, that seems how people would behave instead of being a merry crew.

AD: And that’s what they wanted to match, they wanted to match real life.

PCZ: You have a new show, The Bridge. You get to be a cop in that one?

AD: I play a guy who was a cop for eighteen years and becomes head of the police union for six. It’s based on a real guy. So, it’s the story of him being a beat cop and then also being head of the union and dealing with all the brass, all the bullshit they go through. The pilot’s amazing. Fortunateky, I have the creator of the show also being the guy who I’m playing. He’s on set everyday and he’s a great resource.

PCZ: So, it’s based on a true story?

AD: Based on a real guy, yep. It premieres July 9th on CBS after CSI. Thursdays at 10:00PM.

PCZ: You’re also working on Emissary?

AD: Yeah, yeah, we won’t start shooting Emissary until the Fall. That’s going to be a direct-to-iTunes show. That’s with Phil Morris and Thaao Penghlis. It’s sort of a sci-fi thriller and should be really, really interesting. (pause) I play a cop in that too. (laughs) I can’t get away from being a cop.

PCZ: Cool. Well, that’s all I have for you. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.

AD: Not at all, it was nice to meet you. Thank you.