During Salt Lake Comic Con FanX, I had the opportunity to interview Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica) and attend a panel highlighting Douglas and his career. I loved Ron Moore’s remake of BSG and it easily stands as one of my favorite TV series of all time. So interviewing Douglas was certainly a high point of my experience at Comic Con, and the man couldn’t have been nicer. The heartbreaking moment was after the Con when we realized that our camera had had a meltdown and we had lost all of the audio from our footage of the interview and panel. Great video, but no audio. There is still a little tear in my eye when I think about it.
SPOILER ALERT: Some big character moments from the show will be mentioned in my recap of the interview and panel. So if you haven’t watched Battlestar Galactica (the mid-200s series, not the original from the 70s), then run out and watch it now. It’s amazing. Trust me. And if you can’t trust me, who can you trust?
Since this site is primarily about Comic Con tips and reviews, I asked Douglas what advice he would have for people coming to Comic Con. His answer: drink heavily. He followed up his half-joking, half serious answer with another tip: if you’re going to ask a question, don’t ask something that you could just look up on Google because it’s been asked a million times. For example, Douglas can’t count how many times someone has asked him how he felt when he found out that his character was a Cylon. (Remember that for later.) He also told me a little about his upcoming role in a Lifetime movie. It was actually shot here in Salt Lake City and he plays a really creepy guy. Fans should check it out because it won’t be something that they are used to seeing from him.
In his panel, Douglas shared a few funny stories about Battlestar Galactica. On his flight to Salt Lake, Douglas got up to use the restroom, and he noticed the guy across the aisle was watching BSG on his iPad. When the man looked up to see who was standing over him, Douglas him. It was Karl Urban (Lord of the Rings, Star Trek) who was also on his way to Salt Lake Comic Con. Douglas said, “I was watching you watching me!” Urban told him how much he loved BSG. In a similar celebrity run-in story, Douglas shared a Six-Degrees of Aaron Douglas style story of how he got George Lucas to watch BSG. Check out the video below for the whole story. (Thanks to Shad Engkilterra for the video since ours is lost to time and space.)
Douglas also shared funny stories from the set like the time he took his nine year-old son to a day of filming. His son saw a Viper ship and was amazed. As he was looking into the cockpit, he asked his dad with total sincerity if they could take it for a spin. He refused to believe his dad when Douglas told him that they weren’t real, especially since Katee Sackhoff had just come onto the set in full flight gear. When she heard the story, Sackhoff gushed about how cute the boy was. Needless to say, Douglas’ son was embarassed and hates that his dad tells that story.
Douglas had originally tried out for the role of Apollo on BSG, and even got a call back for Gaeta. The role of Chief Tyrol was supposed to go to an older man, similar to the age of Saul Tigh. But they really loved Douglas and changed the role to fit him. In the mini series that served as a pilot for the show, Douglas ad-libbed the line, “So let’s get the old girl ready to roll, and kick some Cylon ass!” Executive producer David Eick loved the line, and it stayed in the final version.
One of the first questions that the moderator asked was (ready for it?), “How did you feel when you found out the Chief Tyrol was a Cylon?” Despite being so tired of being asked this question over and over again, Douglas didn’t show his frustration and gave a very patient answer. Basically, each of the actors responded like their characters would have. Tyrol said, “Of course”. Tigh said, “No fraking way.”
More stories were shared about working with the amazing Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos, but the funniest story of the whole panel had to be this one:
Aaron Douglas was a great “get” for Salt Lake Comic Con. Battlestar was a huge series for the type of people, like myself, that attend these Cons. And he was very open to talk about the show and his experiences. I’m sure that he’ll have a long and successful career, but I was grateful that he recognizes how important Chief Tyrol was to us and that he seems genuinely grateful to have been a part of that show.