Battlestar Galactica‘s Grace Park is no stranger to Sci-Fi, her resume includes stints on The Immortal, Stargate SG1, Jake 2.0, Andromeda, Outer Limits, and, surprisingly, more. She is probably best known for her role as the Cylons Boomer, Athena, Sharon ad infinitum. BuddyTV was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with Grace to discuss Battlestar Galactica‘s past, present, and future as well as the intricacies of playing a character with the most extreme multiple personality disorder on TV today.
BuddyTV: How did you first get the role of Boomer?
Grace: I just went in for a regular audition for the role of Dualla actually, who is played by Kandyse McClure and did a short little scene. The director wasn’t there but I guess he saw a tape and when he saw it he said, “Get her to come back in for Starbuck.” So I went in for Starbuck and did the first part against Katee down in LA because I did the other part up in Vancouver. Jamie Bamber was also there because he was going for Apollo and they were doing the two characters next to each other. And at the end of the day they narrowed it down to me and Katee, and Jamie and another guy and they told everyone else to go home. And then they couldn’t decide so they told us to go home. I think we had to wait a week and they called back. I had a bad feeling that I didn’t get Starbuck, but my agent told me, “But I have this character Sharon.” And I thought, “Sharon? Who’s Sharon? I don’t want Sharon.” I only wanted that other role. So in the end I ended up having [Sharon] Boomer, which I totally love and I couldn’t even imagine being Starbuck anyhow. And of course, Katee wanted to be Sharon, so it all works out.
So I read that at one point you studied psychology. How did you wind up in acting?
I have no idea how I winded up in acting. You know what it was? I had done some commercials and I really liked it. I didn’t even want to be in psychology. I was going towards architecture but what happened was I just ended up thinking, “Well, I like being on set a lot and for a year I’ll just try acting.” In the beginning it’s just one of those things that you never know. So I just gave it a shot. I got a Canadian teen series called “Edgemont” right away and ended up doing it. My parents kept telling me to get a real job and I was like, “No this is a big deal, I’m on a series!” Not that it paid very much. But, you know I just kept going with it a little longer and pretty soon I got Battlestar.
Of all of the different versions of Sharon, which do you prefer to play?
I think I usually prefer playing Athena, frankly. Yeah, because her little short snippets down on the planet, it felt like we were always doing some type of obstacle course; jumping out of lofts and barns, running through rivers, and some stunt or another was always attached to that character. So that seemed really fun because the other character is so conflicted and I think I have enough drama in my own life so it’s just nice to get away and do something physical. But then of course Athena ended up having a way bigger deal when she got back to the Brig. But it was still kind of more enjoyable to play. And now she has matured, so she has this wisdom and a different sense of value of herself, and being less conflicted is wonderful.
How do you see her internally? Is she more like this person who came from a bad family or is she struggling with this lifelong point of view that humans are bad?
Athena? Well, you know she’s robot right?
Okay, I know. I’m just teasing you about the bad family. Yeah, I guess the Cylons could be her big, giant extended bad family. I don’t really see her as coming from a bad family. I think, if anything, she had a very good sense of who she was and her people and a vision. I think when she was younger, when they were down on Caprica, I think at that point she knew she had a mission and that was to make Helo fall in love with her. And that was frankly a really fun mission and she didn’t think much deeper of it. But then as she started to fall in love with him and find out what mattered to her most, was it loyalty to her people or was it something greater than that, which was to her, love and unification of two nations or two different peoples at war with a lot of bloodshed. And I think she thought that was the higher value. So I think her having this sense of meaning and direction and vision really gave her a direction to go towards and allowed a healthy dose of forgiveness to get past all these other things that have happened.
Do you think Athena still has a bad Cylon streak in her?
Oh she’s always got that bad Cylon streak, it’s in her genetics.
As an actress, what kind of rituals do you do to get into the different mindsets of the different characters? Do they have different personalities to you?
Mmhmm. They do, they absolutely have different personalities. Quite a few different things; I think they’ve just developed over the years. I don’t use them all on any particular day but sometimes, just total actor perspective, besides doing a relaxation before I start, just doing a review of who this character is, where they’re coming from, what their past has been. Just trying to get as relaxed or get connected to my body because that certainly helps with accessing the different emotions and the states that they’re at. I feel like, I’m not sure if it comes across, but I know for me their voices do seem a little different or I think maybe where they’re at emotionally inflects their voices. I think Boomer right now is in not as good a space, lets say. So I think she ends up having a lot more edge to her. I think she’s a little more rebellious now and definitely angry.
When you took on the Athena persona that gives you the distinction of now having played two characters that were derived from the original series. Did that renew any fan backlash from the staunch original series stalwarts?
I don’t know. I’m not sure if it has or not. I haven’t gotten any fan mail post the new name. I’ve been very blessed not to have too much of the backlash, but if it’s out there I’m sure it’s on the internet and yeah, I’m not really welcoming that. Because I was like, Athena, why would they call me Athena? But then again I look nothing like Boomer either, so…
Part Two >>