Tahmoh Penikett plays the stoic Helo on Battlestar Galactica, and as such he’s not going to give away many specifics about the show’s final episodes. (Nor, frankly, would I deign to ask, because he’s a big guy.)
Penikett, however, was more than willing to discuss more general things about the final Battlestar arc, which starts Friday on Sci Fi. The actor, who also stars in FOX’s upcoming Dollhouse (we’ll have more on that as the show gets closer to air), says more than once that the story will "blow people away."
We discussed his thoughts on the show coming to an end, where Helo’s head is now that the fleet has found Earth and one not very big spoiler. Here’s what he had to say:
You’ve been done shooting for a while, but what are your thoughts now that the final run is about to begin?
A couple times recently I’ve been realizing that it’s really done, you know? There’s been part of me that was like, "Oh, I should be going back now." This show was five years of my life, and I totally understand why it ended, and ended on a high point — I’m really happy about that. It kept the integrity of the story, and I think everyone understands that. But these people became like my family for five years. So I do miss them. I’ll miss the character [too], but it is done. It ended at the right time, so it’s all good. I’m happy to have been part of such a truly amazing ensemble and project.
Helo has always been the good soldier. How’s he dealing with getting to Earth and finding it so devastated?
I think it’s probably as hard on him as on a lot of people, but the thing about Helo — so much was riding on this … this was the last hope. Everything was about this, it was about discovering Earth. To come and discover it’s been nuked, and whatever is left is … pretty much uninhabitable and it’s not what they were hoping, it would break a lot of people — and it does. You discover that it will break more than a few people.
But ultimately, he’s a father. He’s a father and a husband, and that’s his mission. He has to mourn like everyone else, but really what it comes down to is he’s got a daughter to take care of and a wife to take care of. They’re still alive and there’s still hope, as little as it is.
As an actor, how do you try to convey that?
You just try to think of situations that are similar — who’s really gone through an experience like that? You have to use something in your life that you’ve gone through, or if you don’t have experiences like that, you have to use something similar, something that takes you to the right place. Oftentimes — you know what was great about this show, to be honest with you, having played the character for so long and the writing being so good, oftentimes it just takes you to that place. You believe the circumstances.
In broad terms, how would you describe the final arc?
I’ll tell you this — it’s not going to be predictable. I’ve heard a lot of speculation about what’s going to happen with Helo and Sharon and their family. It won’t be predictable — it’s going to surprise a lot of people, blow them away. It’s good, though, it’s good. You know what’s great too? There are some questions. Not everything is completely answered.
Is there an overarching theme to the episodes?
It’s very similar to what Helo and Sharon’s thing has been throughout. They’re tested time and time again. Their love is tested, their commitment to each other, their position and role in the fleet, whether they’re truly accepted and trusted. Their love for their daughter, their role in the ultimate goal — yeah, the overall arc is very similar. There were some surprises, but Helo and Sharon are going to be tested like they’ve never been tested before. Some of the best scenes I’ve had with Grace [Park, who plays Sharon] are actually in this last season. There was some incredible work, really great storylines — it’s really going to blow fans away.
OK, spoiler alert for these last couple questions. But not too much.
And I have to ask: Is it you? Are you the final Cylon?
[Smiles] Do you think I am?
Yeah — I wouldn’t think so. I wouldn’t think I am if I were just a fan.
That would really recast your relationship with Sharon in kind of a weird way?
Yeah. It would change a lot of things, right?