Tonight's cuppa: decaf Irish breakfast tea
With only a few episodes left of Sci Fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica," airing Fridays, fans will soon know the ultimate fates of all the characters — and one of the most interesting is likely to be that of President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell).
Simultaneously battling breast cancer, leading her people on a flight across space from implacable enemies and acting as an agent of religious prophecy — and, of late, carrying on a torrid, possibly doomed, romance with Adm. William Adama (Edward James Olmos) — Roslin is the textbook definition of a well-rounded character.
McDonnell was gracious enough to answer some email questions about the show and her character. Enjoy.
Q: The end is nigh.
It’s been quite a ride, both for the show and for the fans. What do you hope
will be the show’s legacy?
A: The show is and will continue to be a breathtakingly
accurate depiction of the dilemma of being human. Are we on the edge of
extinction, or catapulting ourselves into our next evolutionary step? It is a
timeless question and the show will remain potent, I think, forever. As a
bookended collection the show's implications resonate with an even greater power
then the innocent first viewing.
Q: When TV
journalists talk about TV presidents, they don’t always remember Laura Roslin.
What were your role models in thinking about her leadership style and demeanor?
What do fans say to you about her?
A: Laura Roslin's presidency was unique in that she became
president during war and cataclysm without the energy of ambition fueling her
decisions. This was a woman who hadn't a clear political ambition. This made
her very different from the women in power that we see on TV. Her story was one
of a woman grappling with untapped, literally unrecognized, qualities
classically male, in order to achieve one paramount goal -the survival of the
One of the things that critics and fans alike responded to
in Laura Roslin was the utter lack of sentimentality in her writing. There was
no romanticizing the woman in power and I think the audience stayed with her
even when they disagreed with her.
Q: What (or whom)
will you miss most?
A: I miss the family of cast and crew, the daily interaction,
people’s trials and tribulations. I miss Michelle Hrescak, my makeup artist and
all the women in makeup and hair who classically understood Laura Roslin as
well as I did — irreplaceable. I will miss the extraordinary feeling of being a
band of storytellers who trust their lead scribe completely. I miss the beauty
and calm of
Q: Even though you
had a successful career before BSG, what did you learn, either about yourself
or acting, from the experience?
A: I learned that I love the creativity of being at the edge
of a character and collaborating on who she is and will become. This was my
first hour drama, and I felt quite satisfied most of the time. Laura Roslin
taught me a great deal about the trade-off that occurs, the constant
negotiation between heart and mind that occurs in a woman when operating at the
top of the male power structure.
Playing this female president gave me a deep curiosity and
profound visceral experience of smart capable women who choose to step into the
top job. My respect and admiration for Hillary Clinton, which was
already high, grew exponentially (and continues to grow) during my
exploration of Laura Roslin.
Q: There are not many
have you enjoyed
most about playing this relationship?
A: One of the reasons that I enjoyed Adama/ Roslin so very
much was the utter compatibility between Eddie and myself. There was never
really a question of how do we do this. Sometimes you get lucky in your work.
Ed and I had an instant and deep respect for each other that
naturally grew into a fondness. I think that is what mature relationships
are made of.
They are completely authentic and earned through an
experience of other as partner and soul mate. The audience (both the younger
and more mature) LOVED this relationship because it created hope and because it
was based on total acceptance of the other person regardless of differences.
UPDATE: For an interview with Olmos, click here.