‘Battlestar Galactica’ countdown: Michael Hogan, surprised to be a Cylon
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In ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ there is no other character that is more grizzled, more black-and-white straightforward (yet conflicted), more in-your-face (yes, even more than Starbuck) than Col. Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan).
The guy was pushed into an XO role that, though he was qualified for it, he was maybe not prepared for it. He battled alcoholism, though it won most of the time. He was tortured (apparently) by Cylons, killed his wife for colluding with them, then found out that he was one of them. A lot to go through in 3 1/2 short seasons.
We got the chance to have a quick talk with Michael Hogan about the role.
We like to hear how actors responded to hearing the news that they were Cylons. How did you take it, and did it change how you approached your character?
Yeah, I was surprised. Initially I was not happy about it. Over the time of shooting ‘Battlestar’ I’d often thought, ‘Am I ever glad I’m not a Cylon,’ because it never really occurred to me while we were shooting it that we were shooting a sci fi. I guess on other Sci Fi shows like ‘Andromeda’ or something, you’re very aware that you’re doing sci fi. It never entered in my research with ‘Battlestar.’ It’s always been military or personal or something like that
When they said that they were making Tigh a Cylon, I initially just didn’t think it was right. But then neither did I think it was right that Tigh would get sent down to the planet, which led to the occupation. When I voiced my concerns about that, they heard them, but then I went on down to the planet, and look what Tigh was given to do during the occupation.
So I voiced my concerns about being a Cylon, and that’s what it was. It’s not really like all of a sudden Tigh clicks over and says, ‘Oh, I’m a Cylon.’ ... Tigh’s been through so much with his alcoholism and his war wounds and having to kill Ellen, after the occupation and what he’d been through there — now they call it post-traumatic stress ... so when he hears the music, it’s like he hears music often. He doesn’t really think about the music and then go, ‘Oh, I’m a Cylon.’ I treated it more as mental illness, almost like schizophrenia. Not just like, ‘Oh, I’m a Cylon. What do I do?’
‘Was there any kind of meeting with you and Rekha and any of the other actors who became Cylons?
There wasn’t officially, but I think as actors on set we would talk about ‘What do you think?’ and ‘What are your feelings?’ etc. But no, we didn’t stand around and say let’s have a meeting and yak about it. We just sort of dealt with it in our own ways. If it happened, it just happened. We didn’t really share our feelings about it.
Going forward, there is already a clip of your character and Adama interacting. It will be a tenuous relationship, but can you reveal how strained it will be? Maybe they can reconcile?
That I think you’d have to just wait and see. Not much I can really say about that ... Tigh’s heart has broken at what has happened and what they’re sitting at now, and gods only know what will happen next.
Question from commenter Tighclops: What effect do you think the cult status [of ‘Battlestar Galactica’] will have on ‘Caprica’ and the future of the ‘Battlestar’ universe as a whole?
[About the name Tighclops] That’s great! ... I read the script for ‘Caprica’ and I just loved it. I haven’t seen any of it yet. Obviously it will have an effect on ‘Caprica’ because one of the characters is called Adama, and, I think, I don’t know for sure, that the same crew is shooting ‘Caprica’ as shot ‘Battlestar.’ The unique thing about ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ let alone the fact that it’s a five-year-long movie, the same crew was with us. The same [director of photography], from Season 1 on, we had the same DOP, the same camera operators, the same focus pullers ... so it is a family. When you work with people for that long, obviously there’s a familiarity that is unique and such an amazing thing that ‘Caprica’ will inherit that language and that work ethic that is invaluable. So that certainly is going to affect it.
Question from commenter Riley: Part of Saul Tigh’s back story is that he was a Viper pilot at one point. Does he have a call sign? If not, could you please make one up.
No, I can’t. This whole thing is so huge ... I mean, I would love to. That’s something that should be talked about with Eddie Olmos, but, yeah I would rather talk to Ron Moore and others ‘cause then I go out on a whim and say something then have this amazing conversation next week with Eddie and Ron and someone goes, ‘Man, I never thought about that at all ...’ But you can let [Riley] know that I will deal with that. That’s a fascinating question.
Is there anything you want to let people know about Michael Hogan, the actor?
Let them know that he is now looking for work. If there’s any parts for old bald guys, let me know.
— Jevon Phillips
Photo: Carol Seagal / Sci Fi