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Gilles Nuytens

Grace Park interview
Date of publishing: 24th January 2006

Grace Park interview Battlestar Galactica Born on March 14th, Grace Park's family moved to Vancouver while she was just a child. Once a model, Grace cut her acting teeth on the CBC Network series Edgemont in the role of Shannon Ng. She has appeared in movies such as "Romeo Must Die" and "L.A. Law: The Movie", and has guest-starred on numerous television episodes for series like The Outer Limits, Dark Angel, The Immortal, and Stargate-SG1. Among her non-acting accomplishments, Grace Park has earned a degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia. In 2003, Grace Park won the role of Sharon Valerii after trying out for the role of Galactica bridge crew member Dualla and being passed over for Starbuck. The original Boomer had been played by Herbert Jefferson Jr., but Grace never watched the show prior to winning a part in the new mini-series, so she bypassed any intimidation some actors might feel at following in another's footsteps. This interview was done in collaboration with www.bsgtns.com


Gilles Nuytens: Can you speak about yourself? What do you do outside of acting?
Grace Park: I like to travel, I just went to France this summer, we went to India on our honeymoon, and shortly, I’ll be going to South America. But other than traveling, maybe some snowboarding, surfing if we go somewhere warm… other than that, I just have a love for film, fashion and arts. I’m paying much more attention now to the craft of acting. Instead of just trying to get another job, actually trying to cultivate that a bit more. So when I’m not on set, a lot of the times, I’m doing work in class, and just still training.

Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: What are your thoughts on science fiction genre in general? Has that opinion changed since you became involved in Battlestar Galactica?
Grace Park: Yeah, I think Galactica to me has created more room within the genre. We have pushed the boundaries of science fiction a bit because, before, it was so much in the realm of intergalactic travel, and finding new species of aliens or other human-like forms, and there was a lot of fantasy-type thinking with that. Being able to use your imagination, to suspend your disbelief and just believe in a different dimension of reality. Whereas, what I find with Battlestar, what we’ve done is we have taken very human elements of what we know everyday (life) to be: love, struggles, politics, sex, torture… and then put them into the dimension of space. So I think it’s opened my eyes more towards science fiction, and knowing that science fiction is a bit broader- I think it is more inviting to more people now.

Gilles Nuytens: Sometimes people don’t have a very good opinion of science fiction.
Grace Park: Yeah, I agree. I know there’s a lot of science fiction fans out there, but I guess before, I just knew the very stereotypical science fiction things, and some of them weren’t of very good quality, so I didn’t like them. Of course there were always shows that I liked a lot (when I was growing up) that were probably sort of science fiction.

Gilles Nuytens: What is your opinion of the original series? It’s a bit different from the new one.
Grace Park: Yeah, I don’t remember watching it at the time, but I think it was ideal for the late 70’s, early 80’s. It was much more of a family show. It involved, I think, somewhat less dramatic tension - there’s just more enjoyment. Of course you still had conflict and struggle and then a resolution, but I feel like with the new show it’s much more long-term unrelenting suspense and turmoil. It’s an arduous journey, and it doesn’t let up. So I feel it looks like the (present) time in that we know much more, our eyes are open more to what is happening around the world, and the plights of people, whether they be of the same race, or of a different world, and that we can’t really afford to keep our eyes closed, and we may try to escape in a TV show, or go to a movie, or what have you. But I think more and more people are growing up, and seeing that we have a responsibility, and living in a place in this world where we have so many blessings and a lot of opportunity. If we just sit idly by and waste them away it makes people feel guilty, if you actually know what’s happening around the world. So I think, in a way, it reflects how society is more open to the rest of the world. We’re digging deep and looking at our own flaws, because so many of the characters are flawed on the show. And realizing there isn’t just good and bad- it’s not so black and white- and I felt like that it was a little easier back then. (Our thinking was) a little bit simpler, or maybe we were just more idealistic. That could be it.

Gilles Nuytens: What do you think of Boomer in the original series? Did you watch some scenes with him in it?
Grace Park: Yeah, I watched a little bit with him in it, but not enough to really flesh out his character. I found that he was the loyal friend, who people could depend on, someone who you could lean on, someone you could trust. The new Boomer certainly isn’t anywhere close to that. Actually she’s the direct opposite. You never know when you can trust her, no matter what she’s done for you.

Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: Your character is more complex and interesting, I think.
Grace Park: Absolutely, so much more complex, and plus it’s not just one character, we have a few characters, so depending on which one you are talking about- you have different degrees of how much you should trust them.

Gilles Nuytens: So, in the show you play a type of clone, a different character, but at the same time the same. How did you manage the situation?
Grace Park: Well, in the first season it was a bit simpler, because we were mostly dealing with two clones, and one was always trying to deceive her companion, Helo, and always trying to act exactly like the other one. So that wasn’t really a problem, especially since we were always shooting on location.

For Sharon down on Caprica. surprisingly, just the physical difference between (being on) the ship and being out in the woods made such a difference. Then when the character got written back onto Galactica, everybody got confused…me, the writers, the directors…everyone was like, “But don’t you know, haven’t you met {Bob Farren}, like, don’t you know him?”- “No, this is the other Sharon”, and everyone was like “Oh, right, OK…” Even the writers would write them similar, but at the core, I knew they were very different, and the one down on the planet, especially, knew the situation with Boomer- she knew that she had a sleeper program, or some type of programming in her, and she was aware of that. Whereas the other one was veiled from the real truth, so I felt like even though, on the surface, when she was pretending to act the same, inside her core, she had very different motivations. She had her own loyalty and knowledge about the Cylons. She had a different line of faith- she believed in the one true god. Whereas Boomer believed in, like the humans believed, in many gods. So that also changed how they thought- one thought she was human and therefore the Cylon was the enemy, whereas the Cylon knew they had a very different plan for humanity, and I think the one on the planet was much more linked to, or much more connected to her source of power and vision. That’s quite different. When she came back to Galactica and met all the humans, they changed all that.

Gilles Nuytens: Which is your favorite Boomer, the first or the second?
Grace Park: It used to be the second one, I think, because that Boomer that was more victimized, and she was in denial and was believing lies- it was very very draining to play that, and I felt like after a while, it felt repetitive… that she was constantly lost, conflicted, and tortured. So it was a relief to let her die, and pass on. But there are some interesting story plots coming up in the future, because after all, she is a Cylon and you know that Cylons can resurrect, so there are some… we’ll see what happens with that character eventually, and that ends up being very very interesting. So I’ve almost taken to her again, so it keeps switching, it’s like one then the other. Next season it will be like the third Boomer.

Gilles Nuytens: Would you presume that she has all the memories of the first one?
Grace Park: Of the two characters? Yes, almost all the memories. She’ll have two years of memories when Boomer was living on the ship, right until the attack- and after the attack, I think they haven’t downloaded her memory. That’s what Ron sort of suggested, but on Battlestar, anything can change.

Gilles Nuytens: The first Boomer, the one that died in the beginning of season two, is she completely dead, or has she been resurrected?
Grace Park: Yeah, I think at that point the resurrection ship is still intact- that character has been downloaded, but we don’t know when we are going to see her again. We might not ever see her again, but then again we might. So it’s something that will leave everybody crossing their fingers, or who knows? Maybe they don’t want her to come back. It should be a very interesting story.

Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: It could be a change to see the two Boomers together in a scene.
Grace Park: Yeah, we’ll call it Adaptation.

Gilles Nuytens: Of all the Cylon characters in the show, yours is the most sympathetic, and one gets the sense, that maybe they are not as evil as we might think. What are your thoughts on the Cylon Agenda, is there some logic to their goal?
Grace Park: I think the Cylons, like humans, are led by faith, but their faith is not perfect- just like humans, we can take something that’s given to us, then twist it to our own advantage. I think that’s what the Cylons have done. They try to use their own logic and their own agenda so that they are almost twisting what God is telling them to do. Because I think there is a plan for the Cylons. I mean they always say that they have a plan, and the Cylons do have a plan, and it does involve the humans, but many of the Cylons are being led astray…I mean, to kill all those humans was not necessarily- it was not a good thing. They’ve done that and it’s interesting because I think every religion out there, well maybe not everyone, has done some unfavorable acts in the past, and it’s all in the name of God. The Cylons definitely do have a plan, and it’s not only logical, it’s like faith and logic put together. And ideally what will happen is that the Cylons will carry out the plan which would be good for everybody, because (although) it looks like they’re going to destroy the humans, that’s not the ultimate plan. The ultimate plan is so that they can live together. But let’s see if that can do that, or they might destroy everybody. Destroy the galaxy.

Gilles Nuytens: I think that Boomer is the deepest, and most complex character on the show. What is the most challenging part of playing her?
Grace Park: I’d have to say a lot of the challenges were actually script-based, what the writers would give Sharon, and many of the story lines are actually quite human, involving a pregnancy, a baby, losing love, or the threat of death… all those types of things. I think it’s actually just the clarity of keeping each character unique and separate, yet the reality is that they are the same, they are clones, but each experience that each one has does shape them and change them- keeping each one true is along the storylines- that’s the biggest challenge.

Gilles Nuytens: Speaking of the baby, what do you know about him, and what are we going to know this season about him.
Grace Park: The baby first of all is a girl. We know that about her. We know that this is the first Cylon human hybrid, there will probably be some complications along the way, other than that… Oh I think the baby is going to have a very difficult upbringing if it makes it to being born, because Sharon is living in a cell, and the humans know that she’s pregnant, and they obviously can’t have a Cylon human hybrid baby being born there and running around. So I think she is being born into a very difficult circumstance. Actually, we don’t know what is going to happen with the baby, so I can’t even tell you.

Gilles Nuytens: Do you have any idea how the character of Boomer will evolve in season 3?
Grace Park: No, I have no idea, I’m so curious myself.

Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: So how would you want the character to evolve?
Grace Park: That’s such an interesting question. I’ve been thinking about that off and on the last few months. I think what will be really interesting to watch and to explore is her acceptance of the situation and her growth, rather than her fighting and feeling a victim. But I almost think it’s like Nelson Mandela, how she would accept the situation, and from that what she could do- that’s she’s not a victim and powerless, but actually she is growing and changing and maturing. I think watching her mature, and get over the tragedy of the situation, I think that will be really powerful to watch, because so many people on the show are victims of their circumstance, and so many things have happened to Sharon on the show, and also with Boomer dying we see them in so many tragic situations, it would be really nice to not see them be crushed and demolished by that, but to use every fiber of their being to come up from that, and rise up. That’s the true human spirit. We all understand.

Gilles Nuytens: Speaking of difficult scenes, the rape scenes on Resurrection Ship were a bit controversial. What is your opinion, and was there any concern that the scene would be cut for airing?
Grace Park: Yeah, actually when it was first scripted it was written that an attempt was going to start, but before any penetration, Helo and the Chief run in and stop the atrocious rape from happening. That is how it was written, but knowing on the day coming in that it was Michael Rymer directing, and he was going for a raw and intense (performance), I asked him, are we going to shoot it that way, or are we going to shoot it so that she gets raped? He said, what do you think? And I said, I’m open to it. I didn’t really mind either way, and he said let’s shoot it as a rape, and we will have to deal with everything else later. So shooting it that way was intense leading up to it, but we all kind of knew that our hands were going to be somewhat tied when it came to how they were going to edit it. I had an exact feeling how they were going to edit it, and it was true, they edited it in a way so that there was no graphic specific evidence, but from the cuts you could put together the pieces (in regards to) what was happening and that she was indeed getting raped. But the network freaked out, and a lot of the people up top freaked out, and said we couldn’t do that, so they just kept trying to edit it down. What I found was that the more the network and executives were getting upset that we were trying to include the rape scene, (the more) I was getting upset. Because I felt, before, it was just a simple choice, and I know there’s a lot that rests on it, but the more they tried to shut it down, extinguish it, or hide it, I noticed that as a woman, I started getting more concerned or upset, because this is a situation that happens. Assault or rape happens to 1 in 3 women around the world. (So) how come on our show, we can have people beating each other up to a bloody pulp, and assault, even a man to a woman, killing hundreds of thousands of people, putting people out an airlock, or people just sleeping with each other, getting drunk, like you name it, you can have all of those things, mutiny, threatening to shoot a commander… Yet something that happens every single day around the world, many times a day, is too taboo, and we have to be shameful of it. It’s a shameful act, but it happens everywhere, and I thought that covering it up was a way to blind everybody’s eyes, and pretend that this is not happening. I thought that was very unfair. It robs everybody of an experience, and of a story, and of a release, and also of a compassion that we missed. So I started to get pretty upset.

Gilles Nuytens: In a short period of time, you have become very popular, how has that affected your professional and personal life, does it affect the kinds of roles you are offered?
Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGrace Park: Well I wasn’t offered anything before. As a starting actor you just have to go after everything, but yes, some stuff has been offered, I find that they hasn’t been stereotypes, and not all similar. Plus, I have two characters, and the range is so broad and varied. Maybe I’m not getting musicals and comedies, but just about everything else it feels like. So things that are offered are so varied, and the feedback has been really good. My friends are still my friends, and I still do the same things. The only difference is that I had to sign some fan mail, but in Canada, we don’t have as much advertising as compared to the United States, so here, I’m still pretty much exactly the same. I don’t really get recognized that much, maybe a few times a year, whereas if I go down to the States, it will happen a bit more often. So really, it’s been great.

Gilles Nuytens: So what made you decide to go into acting. I think you may have been a psychology student?
Grace Park: Yeah, I was in psychology. I just really liked being on set. I had done a whole bunch of commercials, they were a lot of fun and I was very fun oriented. I thought I could get used to this. I was just going to do it on a trial basis for one year, and just see where it went from there.

Gilles Nuytens: Then you got the role on Edgemont.
Grace Park: Yeah, I got Edgemont right away, and I was also in Hong Kong at the time, and I got a lead in a martial arts feature, even though I can’t really do martial arts… they didn’t care. I was offered that, and at the same time, Edgemont came along, and I had to choose, so I decided to come back to Canada.

Gilles Nuytens: What motivates you or drives you, in general, to a role?
Grace Park: Absolutely the most important thing is the script. If the script is great, the role can be small, I don’t mind. What attracts me to a role is change within the person, how do they change throughout the story line. Or, if they don’t change, why, does that hurt them? I guess that’s what interests me right now. But at the same time, I’d like to go for something humorous, maybe a little bit lighter, and not necessarily so intense again. It would be nice to kind of broaden my work right now.

Gilles Nuytens: You have a main role in two shows that are still running. Edgemont and Galactica. How do you manage to juggle the demands of two shows?
Grace Park: Well Edgemont finished in 2003, and we did the miniseries for Galactica in 2003, so for the last two years, I’ve only had to do one show.

Gilles Nuytens: I thought it was two at the same time. So Edgemont, is over?
Grace Park: Yeah, we finished 5 seasons.

Gilles Nuytens: If you hadn’t decided to go into acting, what would you have done?
Grace Park: I was thinking about architecture, but I don’t think that was really my genre. It would definitely be something creative. I probably would have traveled a little bit more. I always wanted to be a chef and have a restaurant. It’s funny because I married a restaurateur, but once I realized how much work was involved, from morning to late night, every single day, it’s so draining, I don’t know if I would have done that either. I don’t know what I would have done really. I think I’m meant to do this.

Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: What’s the funniest thing that has happened on the set?
Grace Park: A lot of really weird things happened, I think one of the funniest things that I can remember that after the rape scene, even though it sounds pretty morbid, but we’d done it so many times… Lt. Thorn always had to pull down my pants. I was wearing something underneath, but still, when we were done, I said now that we’re done here, turn around and drop your pants. And I was joking, but he said sure, and he turned around, and dropped his pants. So I saw his butt too, I thought that was pretty funny. Then we shook hands, and we said thanks.

Gilles Nuytens: Do you have any amusing anecdotes about your contact with your fans?
Grace Park: This one person wrote in, and asked for autograph and was really sweet. Then asked me for a date or something like that, and said, you can’t blame a guy for trying. Then I looked up his return address on Map Quest, and I found the closest block right to his house, and said Saturday at 3 o’clock, meet me at the corner of Broadway and Fir, or whatever, for a date. I just pretended to do that. Then I just told him I was joking, and I said, yeah, my husband thinks I’m great too. Just kind of doing things like that, it’s amusing because it’s nice to have an attraction with people, and I certainly don’t put myself on this big pedestal so I can go and bug everybody, so it creates a lot of open opportunities.

Gilles Nuytens: So now some quick questions for your fans:
What is your favorite movie?

Grace Park: That’s tough, I like…. it’s a tie between Fight Club, and…. Maybe Fight Club, but I always liked Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Gilles Nuytens: Your favorite TV Show?
Grace Park: I don’t know if I have one right now.
Gilles Nuytens: Galactica?
Grace Park: Yeah, I’d have to say Galactica. (laughs) I really, really like our show.

Gilles Nuytens: Favorite quote in Galactica?
Grace Park: I don’t know, I haven’t thought about that. Not sure… “We have a plan”.

Gilles Nuytens: Favorite sport?
Grace Park: Snowboarding

Gilles Nuytens: Favorite joke?
Grace Park: I don’t have one off the top of my head.

Gilles Nuytens: Favorite holiday destination?
Grace Park: That one’s tough, but I think... there are so many great places, but I love the Maldives, those islands.

Gilles Nuytens: I like that too (laughs)
Ok, thank you very much!

Grace Park: You're welcome! Thank you very much for the interview.

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Interview by Gilles Nuytens for The Scifi World & www.bsgtns.com
Special thanks to Eric Chu and NetRanger for the help on the transcript.


 



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