Exclusive Interview: Rekha Sharma of ‘Battlestar Galactica’
When the character of Tory Foster first appeared during season 2 of Battlestar Galactica, she seemed like a fairly inconsequential background player. It’s amazing how things can change in just a couple of seasons. Since the shocking season 3 finale revealed Tory’s Cylon nature, her character has been pushed to the forefront. We’ve watched as Tory went from being a meek presidential aide to a cold, calculating, sexually charged villainess. No matter what Tory goes through, actress Rekha Sharma manages to expertly portray her character’s shifting emotions without ever stripping her of her underlying humanity.
We recently had a chance to sit down with Sharma to discuss the thrill of playing a Cylon, what Tory sees in Baltar, and what fans can expect as Battlestar Galactica moves toward its midseason hiatus.
Hi, this is Don from BuddyTV, and today I’m talking to Rekha Sharma, who plays Tory Foster on Battlestar Galactica. So I was wondering if you could tell us how you found out about the role on Battlestar Galactica and what the audition process was like for you.
The audition process was great. I came in for a couple of smaller roles on the show and I remember thinking, Wow, these guys are really cool. Like, both of the directors and the producers that I read for had such good taste in their direction, and I felt an immediate kinship with these people. And I thought, I wonder if this show is a really cool show, because I knew nothing about it. They just kept bringing me in for bigger stuff until this one came along, and when I saw it I really fell in love with the role, I just thought it was really cool. She’s such a strong woman, a political woman, and I love the idea of a female president. I was pretty excited about it, and even more excited when I booked it.
I’ve heard that all of the actors kind of had a different reaction to finding out they were Cylons at the end of last season.
How did you feel about that?
I was really excited. I remember reading it in my room and squealing like a little girl. I was pretty stoked. The idea of being part of that whole Cylon / human storyline, which is I think an amazing metaphor to explore how we as humans do war and objectify other people, and see them as different from us and make that as a way to be cool with killing people. There’s so much more to it, but that’s one of the layers that I really like. And I just thought it would be cool as well to do more exciting things, it’s a crazy roller coaster kind of to play as an actor. I can’t imagine waking up and finding out I was a Cylon, the very thing that I’ve been trying to kill for the last few years and running from. All of that, it’s pretty mind boggling.
It seems like Tory definitely embraced her Cylon nature fairly quickly compared to the other new Cylons. Why do you think she handled that reveal the way she has?
That’s a great question. I think part of it has to do with her mind. I don’t know what politicians are like, but I imagine having played one that you have to have a really wide view of the world. You have to think globally, you can’t think small. And so I think that sort of expansiveness of the way she thinks has afforded her an ability to go, Okay, what is the bigger picture here, and what is this thing that I have discovered I am, and is the answer for the end of this war maybe here? Maybe I need to look here, because we have been looking in all these other places and trying all these other tactics. And being one of the people who is at the helm of all those decisions I’ve seen that they don’t work, so maybe I should look this way. But I wonder if it’s also maybe just her nature, her Cylon nature. I mean everybody has a different personality, and maybe that’s just part of her personality. We don’t even know what that is yet, because we don’t really know the truth of who she is.
I think I was screaming at my TV during the moment where Tory sent Cally out the airlock. What was it like to read that scene and know you were going to have to do that?
[Laughing] I think my first two words when I read it was, “Oh sh*t!” [Laughs] Yeah, I was like, people are going to hate me! But it’s great, I mean it’s a crazy, dark thing to have to explore as an actor, to go to that place and what that means and figure out why the heck she did that. Pretty exciting, but also a little nerve-wracking for sure to have to kill the beautiful and talented Nicki Clyne’s character.
In the past few episodes we’ve seen Tory develop a kind of strange relationship with Baltar. What do you think attracts her to him? Is it just his preaching or is it something more than that?
As you know, initially it’s to get information. I think her full intention is to develop a relationship with him, from a very manipulative point of view. To build trust and then to find out whatever he knows about Cylons, because I think he knows more about the Cylons than any human in the fleet. When she’s there she discovers that he has a heart for Cylons, and so therefore maybe has a heart for me. In the middle of my complete flip of discovering who I am, she’s having all these feelings come up in her, these sensual experiences. She’s sitting there in Joe’s Bar with Tyrol, she’s like, “Wow, I never even liked ambrosia before.” I think the programming that makes her think that she’s a human all these years, I think it to a degree has cut off their feeling. And so now as she’s starting to feel stuff she has this man, this relationship, where she can explore some of that feeling, to let off a bit of steam, to figure out what’s what. It is a very weird and complicated relationship and I don’t even understand it fully. [Laughs]
Are there any actors in the cast that you wish you had more scenes with? I know you work a lot with probably Mary McDonnell and James Callis, but what about everyone else?
Well, actually it seems more and more I go on this Cylon journey, I’m seeing less and less of Mary. I’m really missing working with her and I wish I could work with her more. All of the cast members I wish I could work with more. There’s so many fine actors on the show. I would love to have a great scene with each and every one of them.
Are you done filming the final season, or are there still a couple episodes left?
We’re down to the last three.
What is the feeling on the set like now that it’s all coming to an end?
I’d say there’s mixed feelings going on. Everyone seems unanimously happy that the story is ending with such integrity, and that they’re following the plan of it having a beginning, middle, and an end. Most of us have read the end now and we’re all pretty darn excited about what’s on the page. It’s going to be wild. But then, on the other hand, I don’t want to say goodbye to anybody, not at all. I don’t want it to come to an end.
What are you going to do after Battlestar Galactica? Are you going to do more theater work, or TV, movies?
Well, I think I’ll keep definitely going with TV and movies, I have a couple of other things that will be coming up. But I really actually want to get back on stage. I’m just dying to do a play, it’s been a really long time. That’s my plan, I’m hoping to put a play-up in the fall. Just trying to find a theater right now and get all that into place.
Are there any hints that you can give us about what’s coming up on the show as we move into the midseason hiatus?
Any hints, well . . .
Who the fifth Cylon is, maybe?
[Laughs] Oh yes sir, no problem! You’ve got to be kidding me [laughs]. I like my job and I want to keep it, even though I only have a little bit left. To give any hints would just ruin it for you, really. It’s so exciting. I can tell you this much, I can tell you that it’s intense, that there’s going to be lots of surprises. It’s going to be everything that it has been so far: intense, dark, wonderful, exciting.
– Interview conducted by Don Williams
(Image courtesy of Ed Araquel)
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