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Interview: Katee Sackhoff

On July 25th, Netflix will release its highly anticipated new series Another Life. The series stars Katee Sackhoff and marks her first return to a science fiction series since Battlestar Galactica.

Sackhoff, of course, has kept busy since Battlestar Galactica. She was a series regular for several seasons on the critically-acclaimed series Longmire. She’s played the wickedly crazy Blacksmith on the CW series The Flash and gave an incredible performance in the film 2036: Origin Unknown.

We were thrilled to have the chance to talk with Katee about her new series Another Life. We talk about the premise of the series; what she thinks about the show being compared to Battlestar Galactica and what fans can look forward to with the first season. We also discuss her work as Blacksmith on The Flash, the possibility of returning to the DC Universe and her film 2036: Origin Unknown.

Pop Culture Principle – What was it about the script for Another Life that made you decide to sign on to the project?

Katee Sackhoff – I was brought in on this project from the very beginning as a producer, which was amazing. It’s what I was really looking for with my next project. I’ve been in the industry now for over twenty years and I was looking for more responsibility, a different creative outlet, and more creative control and especially if I was going to head back into science fiction again. Battlestar Galactica, whether I had a hand in it or not, hit it out of the park and to go back into that genre and not do it well had been a fear of mine, so if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it the right way.

When Chris Regina, Aaron Martin, and Noreen over at Halfire brought this idea up, I got really excited for a few reasons and a couple of things scared the crap out of me. One of them being science fiction and the other one was the really young cast.

I grew up in this industry, so for the most part, I’ve always been the youngest person on set and to then go the opposite direction was sort of really fitting, it was definitely something that I was incredibly intimidated about, but it was fitting for Niko the character and for myself and this new role as a producer that I took very seriously and put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure that we put out a great product that the fans of Battlestar Galactica would appreciate.

Pop Culture Principle – Can you give us the basic premise of Another Life?

Katee Sackhoff – An artifact lands on earth and it’s transmitting this signal into space and they decide to send a crew out to track the signal. My character, Niko Breckinridge, is the captain that is chosen to lead the mission and she leaves her daughter and her husband back on earth to follow this alien signal to find its origin and to determine whether or not it’s a threat. It’s a little tricky because Niko is an astronaut, but she’s also military and we find out very soon that her reasons for going on this mission may be very different from other people’s reasons.

Pop Culture Principle – Will we learn about Niko Breckinridge’s backstory more as the first season progresses?

Katee Sackhoff – We absolutely do. One of the things that is so great about this show and one of the things I was fearful of is that the pacing of the show is so fast. It very much lends itself to binge-watching because it’s so quick, you want to keep watching. That being said, you run the risk of not feeling emotionally connected to the characters if you don’t know anything about them and you don’t give the audience that time.

This show gives the character’s that time, gives the audience a chance to fall in love with people and that’s great. There is an entire episode completely about Niko and her backstory and where she came from with Cass, which is really important.

Pop Culture Principle – With this being another series that takes place in space, some viewers may compare the series to Battlestar Galactica. What are your thoughts on fans ultimately comparing Another Life to that iconic series?

Katee Sackhoff – Listen, it has been a concern of mine since Battlestar Galactica ended. That everyone was always going to think of me as Starbuck and ultimately what I had to come to terms with is that it’s a phenomenal character to be associated with for the rest of my career. If I never branch out of that association, I’m fine with that. She was such a phenomenal character and such a breakout role for myself, I can’t then be regretful or wish that I wasn’t associated with her.

So, of course, there is going to be a comparison and I think there is a comparison to every single character that I’ve ever played to Starbuck, including comparisons that don’t make any sense like Bitch Pudding. I mean, she’s like Strawberry Shortcake on crack and she’s a cartoon and you think she’s like Starbuck? Alright. 😊 I’m never going to get away from it and that’s ok and that was one of my concerns. Even in the writer’s room, we would have these conversations and every single time my mouth opened, people knew it was either going to be something that was safeguarding some sort of science element that I know people would be about or I would ask do you think that is a little to Starbuck.

So, it was definitely on my mind. There is another character on this show that is the Starbuck character and everyone seems to mention it and that’s Elizabeth Ludlow’s character Cass. She rocks that sort of tortured, angsty, amazing pilot, and loving human being willing to risk it all to save people Starbuck attitude like nobody’s business. So, there is that character, it’s just not Niko. Niko is incredibly calculated and she’s methodical and she is very different than Starbuck. Her emotions led her to lead this mission, but she is very analytical in the way that she leads the mission.

Pop Culture Principle – You’ve mentioned being a producer for Another Life. What was it like wearing that hat as well as being the lead character of the series?

Katee Sackhoff – It was one of those things where I knew wholeheartedly that it was a title that I was given because they had to. The one other time that I produced something was the project Sexy Evil Genius and I shocked all the producers than when I wore that hat and I took it very seriously. I got us more money for financing when I brought different cast members on board. I took it very seriously then and this was just the next step for me.

Someone asked me why I didn’t fight for an executive producer credit and I told them because I haven’t earned it and I don’t want it. I want these people to realize that I’m taking this seriously and that I actually bring something to the table as a producer in order to earn that credit. I will get there, it just isn’t right now.

Ahead of time, I was very concerned of wanting to be in the writer’s room and I wanted to pretty much have my hand in everything. I’ve been in almost every one of the sound mixes, which was amazing. I was in most of the casting, so I was in a lot of those situations as an actress sitting there watching the casting process. That was crazy for me because I realized something people have always said to me and I never believed them. Every single actor that comes in that room, you want them to be the person. You want them to be great and phenomenal.

You want them to blow you away because you want to stop looking and I never believed that when people said that to me. When we got on set though, I didn’t want that producer hat on anymore. I sat down with Noreen and per my contract, I could look at dailies every day and I could do this and that, but I said now that we are here, my job is to act and you just let me know if you need anything. So, for the most part when we were filming, it was very important to me to give everything to Niko and so as a producer, I took a step back while we were filming and then when we were done, I went back into producer mode again.

Pop Culture Principle – You’ve worked with Netflix before when they picked up several seasons of the series Longmire. What’s it been like being back with the streaming service for Another Life?

Katee Sackhoff – You know it’s funny, with Longmire there was a tremendous amount of creative freedom because Netflix knew what they were getting, they knew that it worked already and they didn’t want to mess with it so to speak. With a new show, yes, there is this beautiful, creative freedom that Netflix gives you and they are very hands-off in some aspects and then in other aspects, they are incredibly hands-on.

Chris Regina is the executive from Netflix on our show whom I’ve known since Battlestar Galactica. He is so purposeful in every single thing that he does and watching his brain work and what he wants this show to be and the conversations we have had about it are incredibly purposeful and I love that about him.

Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to with the first season of Another Life?

Katee Sackhoff – At its heart, it’s a story about how far people will go to protect the ones they love. It’s a story of relationships and trust. Trust of each other and trust of what is out in the universe. It is incredibly fast-paced and I do believe you will get to the end and ask what the hell just happened. At its core, it has a ton of relationships. From a person who comes from science fiction and was raised on science fiction with my dad, I mean, I watched Predator way before I should have, I think I was like seven years old. 😊

One of the fears of science fiction is to see the aliens when you don’t have a high budget. That can be your kiss of death and I have seen the aliens and I am so excited for people to see what I’ve seen. I’ve seen every episode and each episode is such a thrill ride. I am so proud of this cast. Working with Selma Blair has been an absolute dream. Not only is she amazing on camera, but she is also an amazing human being. To be working with Selma again is one of the highlights of my career and to see her go through the things that she is going through in her life right now the way she is with such openness and grace is just thrilling. When you see her on-screen in this, I cannot wait for people to see her work in this show.

Like I said, Elizabeth Ludlow is amazing and you just don’t find strength like that. One of my biggest concerns with the character of Cass was that this is a character who is my number two and who is literally with me in every scene and I needed an actress who allowed me to be weak and the only way that Niko could be soft in moments was if someone next to me was stronger. I needed her to own every scene we were in together because Niko has these moments where she needed to be so strong and so vulnerable on top of that as well and the only way that I have the permission to be those things is if the person standing next to me is stronger than I am.

So, we saw so many people for that role and when Elizabeth came in for the role and opened her mouth and I looked at Chris Regina and told her that we were done. She is absolutely amazing. She stands on camera an absolutely commands the room and that’s what the role needed. I am so excited for people to see her and the rest of this amazing cast.

Pop Culture Principle – One of your most recent projects 2036: Origin Unknown, seemed to be new ground for you as far as acting is concerned. What was it like filming that project since you were alone most of the film?

Katee Sackhoff – It was hands down one of the best experiences of my career. We shot that entire movie in nine days. It was supposed to be eleven days, but my work visa didn’t come through, so I was stuck in Dublin for five days. The day we finally got my passport back, we jumped on a plane. We flew from Dublin to London. We landed, they picked me up at the airport and I think it was probably 4 o’clock when I finally got through hair and make-up and our first take was twenty-seven pages.

I was so happy that I was as prepared as I was and because I had the whole thing memorized like a play, we were able to make up time. The crew was so amazing and after nine days with these people, I actually cried when I was leaving because it was so intense, so powerful and so quick, I wanted to stay. I loved every minute of it. The project turned out exactly the way I wanted it to. This movie was never supposed to be a big box office movie. It was supposed to be very different than that. The pacing was incredibly intentional and I loved it.

Pop Culture Principle – Do you think working on that project has made you a better and/or different type of actor?

Katee Sackhoff – I think that every single project if you take it seriously and you do your job as an actor, should make you better. A situation like that, you can’t help but have that make you better. I as an actor have always tried to be accommodating and have always tried to see what everyone else on set is going through and try to make everyone’s jobs easier. There is a part of me that was made to be a producer, in a sense. I loved every minute of it.

I also learned so much from Robert Taylor on Longmire. He was one of the best number ones I ever worked with. He was the first person on set, the last one out and always had his dialogue memorized and was happy every day. As the lead of a show, you have the responsibility to set the tone. At the end of the day, we are in the film industry. It should be fun, but it needs to be one of responsibility, seriousness and you need to come to work and know your stuff.

There are a million people who would trade jobs with anyone of us in a heartbeat if you want to take it for granted. So, I wanted to show up on time every day with a smile on my face making sure everyone knew how much they were appreciated and how lucky we are to be here. It was a really fun set to be on in my opinion and I learned that from Robert Taylor.

Pop Culture Principle – You also played the character Blacksmith in several episodes of The Flash. She’s definitely one of the most interesting characters you’ve played in your career. How much fun was it playing that character?

Katee Sackhoff - The Flash is the most fun I’ve ever had on set in my life. She is diabolically insane. I wanted her that way and I wanted her crazy. Of course, there are haters out there and even they have a wild opinion about her and that is exactly what I wanted. This is The Flash; this isn’t Shakespeare in the Park with Judy Dench.

This is supposed to be fun and engaging and over the top and memorable and that is what I set out to do. Some people thought that my accent wasn’t right and it wasn’t supposed to be and you were missing the point of who I wanted her to be. I wanted her to be an imbecile, but also crazy and dangerous and a survivalist and an opportunist. She is all of those things and I loved every minute of it.

Pop Culture Principle – You mentioned some DC Universe fans not being happy with the accent for Blacksmith. Can you talk about your decision to do that particular kind of accent?

Katee Sackhoff – It was funny because there is so little actually about Blacksmith in the comics. There is no real origin story for that character. I don’t know if her origin had ever been in the comics but when they came to me and they asked me why the accent. I told them that she was created when the particle accelerator exploded which means this woman was not born with powers. So, if I had been taken advantage of my entire life and hit on by men who had been treating me like a piece of meat and was a flight attendant and all of a sudden got super powers and decided I wanted to be evil, I wouldn’t’ be myself.

I’d put on a character and be completely opposite of myself because that’s fun. I think that they are missing the fact that this is a woman who is having fun and she is playing a character. She’s crazy and she doesn’t need to make sense. That’s my opinion and I love that people hate her because at least they feel something for her.

Pop Culture Principle – Would you like to return to the DC universe in the near future if the opportunity presents itself?

Katee Sackhoff – I think I may be going back to do more episodes of The Flash next season. Stay tuned.

Pop Culture Principle – You play some very strong and intelligent characters. Is that something you look for in picking a project and don’t you think it’s time for an all-female Expendables movie?

Katee Sackhoff – I mean, I feel like an all-female Expendables movie has been talked about for so long that at this point, there is a whole other set of women that would be up for the roles. I think it’s about time that it happened.

When I got into this industry, I was a very insecure little girl and to be honest, I still am a bit. I moved here basically from a small town as I had only lived in Portland for three years before I moved to Los Angeles. I was not secure and confident in myself at all and I saw myself getting pigeon holed into these stereotypical blond character roles and I didn’t see longevity in those types of characters.

I got strength and confidence as Katee playing these women that I was most certainly not as strong as. I grew up on camera when I was playing Starbuck. Her honesty and her bravado and her strength and her balls to the wall attitude became who I was for so long because I faked it until I really knew who I was which was probably at 30. I finally figured out who I was at 30 and these women have helped shape me as a person.

Pop Culture Principle – You are also now a part of the Cameo universe. For people who don’t know what that is, can you tell us what it is and how you’ve enjoyed the experience so far?

Katee Sackhoff – I love Cameo. The guys have been asking me to do Cameo for a long time. I think it was sort of the path that I had to go through with conventions. I had to get to a point where I realized that it wasn’t taking advantage of a fan’s loyalty or excitement to meet you or get an autograph or get a Cameo. It is giving them a different experience and Cameo is the autograph now.

It is another form of fandom, if you will, in a new age. People have always asked me at conventions to record videos for other people. What I love about this is that it is very similar to the autographs I sell on my website. All of the money goes to charity and my mom runs my website. I give the fans the option to tell me what to say, within reason of course. 😊 It’s just so cool and I love it.

Pop Culture Principle – Any other upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

Katee Sackhoff – Absolutely. One of the things Cameo, Instagram, and social media has provided is a safe place that I have always tried to create on my social media where people can come and say whatever they want to say. So, people on Cameo have reached out and asked me to give them some motivational advice or something. I asked people on Instagram about a year ago what they wanted from me and the answer was pretty resoundingly clear what they wanted and I didn’t think Instagram was the right place because it wasn’t longform enough.

So, I decided to launch a Youtube channel and completely control the entire thing and get messages out that I want to get out that the fans specifically asked for. I am so thrilled that the channel will launch on August 6th. Right now, it’s called the Katee Sackhoff channel. It’s health and wellness and fun and seeking joy in your life within a fun community. I am so excited about this channel.

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A HUGE thank you to Katee Sackhoff for taking the time to chat with us. Don't forget, her new Netflix series Another Life will be released on July 25th!

If you would like to keep up with all of Katee's latest news, social media and projects, please visit her official website here.

**All Another Life photos courtesy of Netflix**

**The Flash photo courtesy of Jeff Weddell/The CW**

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