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Feature: Battlestar Galactica (2000s)

Identity Crisis

Michael Trucco

Hero, celebrity, husband... Cylon! Now Anders’s secret is in the open, can he dare to hope for a better future? Actor Michael Trucco discusses…

Some people spend half their lives trying to ‘find themselves’ and figure out their place in the world, but for professional-Pyramid-player-turned-resistance-fighter Sam Anders that seemed obvious, even as the world was turned upside down around him. At least it did, until Battlestar Galactica’s third season finale revealed that he was, in fact, a humanoid Cylon, one of the Final Five. But, with the Cylons attacking, he didn’t have time to dwell on it, as the newly trained pilot showed where his loyalties lay by flying his Viper into battle against the machines.

Shooting those combat scenes was a dream come true for the actor who plays him, Michael Trucco. “I was like a kid in a candy store,” he enthuses. “After two seasons on the show, not to mention being a fan of Galactica, to finally get a chance to sit in a cockpit of a Viper, I mean, how cool is that. I love that the fourth season opens with a ‘bang’ and we’re right in the thick of things. Sirens are going off, lights are flashing, it’s a full-fledged attack and our heroes are throwing everything they’ve got, including Anders, at the Cylons. Coincidentally, I had done a lot of cockpit work before on a TV show about military fighter pilots called Pensacola: Wings of Gold. Almost every week our characters spent time in the cockpit and, just like Galactica, we’d have a similar shooting set-up with a mock-up plane sitting on a gimble and the camera right in front of us.

“So I was already familiar with that kind of work and was looking forward to doing it again on Galactica. It’s acting at its most definitive. You really have to create the whole world around you because you’re just looking out at a stage and being told, ‘You’ve got bogeys high right, off your six, behind you,’ etc. Whatever the case may be, you have to react accordingly with your eyes and play the forces of the ship as well as the intensity of the combat. And with Anders, he was also dealing with his newfound identity along with his overwhelmed state of flying a Viper and being in combat for the first time. As an actor there were so many levels I had to wrap my head around, and for me, personally, it made for a great time as well as great scenes. I also enjoyed working with our Michael Rymer,” the director of the Season Four opener, He That Believeth in Me, “on this episode. He explained to me, ‘OK, this is what we have to do and the story we have to tell,’ and then kind of just let me run with it.”

The skirmish with the Cylons is cut short, however, when a Cylon Raider eyeballs Anders and breaks away, saving the fleet from attack, but bringing home very forcefully how close Anders and the other Cylons aboard Galactica are to exposure. “The stakes of being exposed are so high, and for Anders, there’s the fear of being found out by his wife, Starbuck,” says Trucco. “There’s that scene between the two of them in the season opener where he’s so close to telling her, hoping that she might be the fifth and final Cylon, or that she would at least be OK with the fact that he was one. Unfortunately for him, Starbuck makes her feelings pretty clear by telling my character that if she ever found out he was a Cylon, she would put a bullet between his eyes. So there’s an inner struggle that develops with Anders between his alliance with Starbuck and his affinity with his newfound identity. That’s a constant in every episode, certainly early on in the fourth season."

by Steven Eramo

Read the full interview, plus an interview with Edward James Olmos in
Starburst #365

Photo © The Sci-Fi Channel
Feature © Visual Imagination 2008. Not for reproduction

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Starburst #365
October 2008
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