Edward James Olmos on ‘Battlestar Galactica’ Past and Future

by | September 13, 2010 at 9:01 PM | TV News

“I want to know what he’s doing right now, don’t you?”

That’s what Edward James Olmos has to say about Admiral Bill Adama of ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ the character he embodied for four seasons as he led the last remnants of humanity across the galaxy in search of Earth, fighting cunning Cylons all the way.

“I was left with him sitting about to build his cabin,” he says, referring to the finale of ‘BSG,’ wherein the remaining humans tried to restart civilization on a brave new world that will eventually become our own. “So I’d like to know what’s happening to him right now. In many moments throughout the day, I’ll think, ‘I wonder what he’s doing. What the heck is he up to? What the heck are these people up to? There they were 200,000 years ago on this earth. They came from the experience that they came from.’ Aren’t you guys curious?”

Come to think of it – yeah, we certainly are. That was a great ending for the series, but it’s hard not to want to see more of that crew we came to love so much. Olmos has ideas on how to satisfy that curiosity – when asked if he thinks they’ll ever go back to that story from that point, he speaks with the authority of Adama. “If they don’t, I am. I’m going to go there. I’m going to go there in a graphic novel.”

Watch clips from ‘Battlestar Galactica.’

“Pretty soon, I hope,” he adds. “It just depends on whether people can get behind it and understand it for what it is. I think people will. I think people would flip out to know what Lee Adama is doing on the planet, what the chief is doing on the planet. What is the colonel doing on the planet, and how is the planet treating us? And how are we treating the planet? How are we getting along being the kind of human development that we were inside the human development that we see today. That’s pretty heavy.”

“And if you really want to get your mind blown with this whole thing,” he suggests, “when you finish seeing ‘Battlestar,’ if you start from the beginning, and you go through it, at the very end when you get to the final scene of the final episode, and it goes to black, put in Blade Runner, and you’ll see where the story continues. It’s really heavy. It’s really, really good, and you’ll find that Gaff is a direct descendant of Adama. He even looks a lot like him.”

If you’re too young to get that reference – Olmos played Gaff in that 1982 cult classic sci-fi film, starring Harrison Ford and some very Cylon-like “replicants.”


Olmos may have to go with the graphic novel approach, because the next ‘BSG’ spin-off project is going to be ‘Blood & Chrome,’ an online series of about ten episodes of about ten minutes a piece that would delve into a young Adama’s early days as a pilot in the First Cylon War.

“They have ‘Caprica,’ which is 51 years before ‘Battlestar’ started,” Olmos says. “That’s when I was around 11 or 10 years old. Then they’re going to go to when I was around 20 during the Cylon wars. That’s the next time they’re going to look at it. And of course, I think Glen Larson is going to come up with a film, but that will be different. That will be completely different.”

As for who would play the young “Husker” Adama? Olmos thinks we’ve already seen him back in ‘Battlestar Galactia: Razor.’ “I think he’s already been cast – the guy who played a young me in the series,” he says, referring to Nico Cortez. “He was great. He should just continue. Maybe they’ll put him in there. I don’t know, maybe they’ll try to find somebody with a name, but I don’t know if there’s anybody.”

Does Olmos really think they can recapture the magic they managed with that incredible series? He’s certainly optimistic, and he’s got no shortage of enthusiasm for the series as a whole and the world they created.

“I think it’s going to be hard for Ronald Moore to create that kind of art again,” Olmos muses. “I don’t think that comes every time you touch the art form. I’m finding it hard to create that kind of art. It really was a blessing. That’s a lot of luck, a lot of preparedness and opportunity hitting you at the same time.”

“Everyone was prepared for that one,” he goes on, celebrating his castmates. “Even the people who had never done anything rose to a level of artistry that pushed them right through. Helo [Tahmoh Penikett] and Dualla [Kandyse McClure], all these kids who had just never graced parts. They’d never had to undergo that kind of scrutiny, and they rose and hit a grand slam. Me and Mary McDonnell and Michael Hogan who played Tigh, we were all very involved in theatre and working prior to this, but even Katee Sackhoff, she was quite young. She was 23 years old. She hadn’t done that much and neither had Tricia Helfer and Jamie Bamber and James Callis. They were all young kids when we started seven years ago. They were all in their twenties. They had worked but not really on this level, and boy, they were fantastic! That reality that hit, I miss.”

He doesn’t miss anyone when doling out the kudos for the success of ‘BSG.’ “Writers wrote the piece, then they handed a great piece of work – well crafted – to the production. The production got it and elevated it to a reality which we put it on film. Then we handed it to the post-production, and they elevated it even higher. We never thought it could get to that level. And the music and the special effects and the editing – oh my God, the editing was brilliant!”

Even the fans are in EJO’s praise loop. “Then the consciousness, it was the consciousness of the people. Then they put the piece out, and from the moment the piece was seen anywhere around the world, it was downloaded, and then it was pushed across the Internet. People started to blog and talk to one another all over the planet about seeing it, and people were downloading it off the Internet and looking at it on the computers, and then they would talk about it. Days later, everyone on the planet was talking about it, and then the writers go into the blogs, and all hell broke loose. Once the bloggers started talking about what it meant to them, the writers started to say, ‘Yeah, that’s what I meant, yeah, you got it,’ but they were taking it to a much higher level.”

“Boy, by the end of this thing, it was flying. I loved it,” Olmos gushes. “The last season was like a rocket ship and just took off and went everywhere. I was blown away. We would read the scripts just like you guys would watch the episodes – with anticipation wondering what the next page brought. It was really crazy. It was really a lot of fun, and it was so poignant.”

It was so intensely relevant to our society that Olmos was invited to speak at the United Nations’ Durban Review Conference in Geneva in March of 2009. “It was amazing, earth-shattering. We changed the course of the history of the planet.” That may sound like an overstatement, but it isn’t to “Papadama.” In fact, when he talks about it, you almost get the sense that the admiral is delivering another inspiring speech to the gathered troops.

“I spoke, Adama spoke, and all of a sudden the whole planet took a left turn. It was amazing. From what I stated there at that conference at the U.N. was about there’s only one race – the human race, and we described the whole understanding of what has happened to our planet. They ended up changing their charter. They changed their entire charter on the usage of the term ‘race’ as a cultural determinant. In other words, there is no such thing as a white race, a brown race, a black race, a yellow race, an indigenous race. There’s no such thing as that. There’s only one race – the human race, and out of that, there are brilliant cultures. There are Caucasian cultures, there are African cultures, there are Latino cultures, but there is only one race, and that was what was really gotten from that one moment in time when Battlestar was invited to the U.N. We’re waiting for the U.N. to change their definition of ‘race’ also, and then when they do that, that’s going to be a step in the right direction for the future of this planet, I’ll tell you that right now. We’ve got to get off the fact that there are races when there’s nothing different between the Caucasian cultures and the Latino cultures. They’re all one race – the human race – period, but we use the word ‘race’ as if it there was a black race or a white race or a yellow race or a red race. You can’t do that anymore – that’s what’s caused the problem. We’re all the same race. The only reason that was started was because it was easier to kill each other. You didn’t want to kill your own race, so you had to make them the Other.”

“It’s fantastic what happened,” he concludes, “and it came about because of ‘Battlestar.’”