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Gilles Nuytens

Grace Park interview (2)

Date of publishing: 21st April 2007

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 in the new Battlestar Galactica mini-series. In this 40 minutes long interview, Grace speaks about her whole experience in the show and especially her thoughts on season 3 and expectations for season 4.

Click here to download the audio interview (Zipped MP3 file, 10 Megas)
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Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: What's your overall impression about season 3?
Grace Park: I think season 3 is quite a kaleidoscope of experiences. We had the humans finally becoming free from their Cylon occupation. And in one way you can actually see them as being very, very stubborn because they weren’t ready to make peace with the Cylons; they still insisted that they were the enemy. But unfortunately when they came back to Galactica we found that characters like Tigh and Starbuck, because of what they had gone through, it was too much for them and they didn’t know how to express that so they ended up turning on the fleet themselves. So we started seeing more humans turning on humans and attacking one another and I feel that it’s just an example of how war can be destructive or, the bigger picture, how harsh situations can be destructive and how we can become self-destructive. But we also explored more of the Cylon world, which was very unusual reading it one way on the script and then seeing what they did in editing and having the scenes softly keep overlapping each other. There was a sense of… timelessness? I don’t even know what the word is, but it didn’t really seem to be grounded in right now. You couldn’t really sense when this was happening, if it was happening again or if it was in the future or in the past. So I like how we explored a little bit of that but not so much because they still left a lot of mystery, which, I think people like that. There were certainly a lot of new relationships being formed. It was a very big yet not as messy of a year as season 2. Season 2 was very gritty and, though it was very dark, we did go to some new areas. In a way, I felt pretty hard to just put it in a nutshell. A lot of big topics.

Gilles Nuytens: So far which season did you enjoy the most?
Grace Park: I think… I would say season two. Even though season two was very challenging and stressful and difficult, being so involved with the two characters and eventually having Boomer come back at the end of the season was really nice to see it all rap up. There are of course episodes that I love more, maybe, in season three or one, but I think as a whole I understand season two a little clearer. Hopefully season four will be my favorite.

Gilles Nuytens: What are your expectations for season 4?
Grace Park: I’ve heard we’re going to be exploring… you guys have probably already read the article that Ron Moore did. I know we’re going to start the year off with a bang: we’re gonna actually go back to Pegasus, and we know now that Pegasus is blown up so you think you know why we are going to flashbacks but I think there’s a big opportunity to tell a lot of stories, because with Galactica since so many twists and turns in the plots and it being very character driven, but having these either cliff hanger endings or surprise endings are so tempting and people have gotten used to that in a way we’ve been missing a lot of character growth and the interactions behind the scenes. And I think this is a beautiful way to be able to go back and flesh out a little bit more of the true nature of some of the relationships, for instance between Apollo and Starbuck and what really did happen on Pegasus and their point of view. It’s going to be really exciting to see. And for the rest of season 4, I think we are going to, even though I don’t want it, I have a feeling we are going to find Earth. I don’t know if we are going to find it near the beginning, in the middle, or the end but…Ron’s speaking about it, many many times, and maybe we will find Earth after all.

Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: Speaking of the Pegasus movie, do you already know what is your involvement in that movie?
Grace Park: I think my involvement is very light, because I wasn’t on the Pegasus very much. And I think if anything it will just be interaction with Pegasus and Galactica, so there is that part when Sharon has that interrogation, or attempted rape scene. I’m not sure if they’re going to just revisit that. I don’t know in what capacity they’re going to be exploring my character, but I think it will be more with Number Six.

Gilles Nuytens: In the original show, Athena was the name of Adama’s daughter. Now that Sharon has become quite close to Adama, do you think the choice of Athena is done in connection to that?
Grace Park: It’s funny because Adama like to say that Hera is his baby, but now you’re saying Athena was Adama’s daughter. He always like to joke that it’s actually his child, but it’s not! I think it’s really appropriate to have Sharon’s call sign being Athena. I didn’t understand really at first why it was that name, I mean it’s kind of similar to Apollo in that it’s a little more mythological with the connection, but you can see at the beginning of the season three that Adama and Athena are quite close, and he is quite fatherly towards her, and that’s certainly taken a long time to develop because he did mistrust her for so long, but it’s almost very rewarding for her to have that name if you understand the implications from the original series. But yeah, like I mentioned, Eddie [Edward James Olmos] does like the joke that Hera is actually his baby. I don’t know if he’s somehow convinced them [laugh], but that’s definitely not true.

Gilles Nuytens: In the last episodes of season 3, we can see Athena sharing something special with President Roslin. What can you tell us about this special relation knowing that Athena must hate her for abducting her child?
Grace Park: Athena is absolutely horrified that she is having this experience with Roslin because of the knowledge of what Roslin did. It is very uncomfortable between the two, and I think Athena is really trying to focus on her new family, that her baby is back, that it’s actually good news, it’s not bad news. Of course it’s a time to celebrate, but at the same time there is a deep seeded resentment and of course some unforgiveness at this point towards Roslin. I mean so many things have happened to Athena. But I think one of the beautiful things about her is that she has learned to forgive and actually she is bigger and more powerful and freer actually because of it. If she had held on to everything, I think she would be much more of a wreck, a little bit more similar to Boomer. And I think that’s one of the ways that you can see that they are different. But that experience that they shared was a surprise to both of them. It was new to Athena. As a Cylon, they don’t share experiences with other models, only within one model. And so to share this with not just another person but a human, that is quite strange. But I think that it feels like the experience is either a warning or it may be spiritual or a vision. So there’s a lot of fear and uncertainty and confusion, but potentially a lot of meaning or a message within that, so I think that is what Athena is trying to focus on: the protection of her baby, does this mean something, does she have to look out for something. And that ultimately is more important than her hatred for Laura Roslin. I am not saying that they’re going to go out for drinks anytime soon and they’re probably not going to go for a manicure together, but this was an unexpected way for them to be pushed into the same situation together, look at each other face to face, and really have an opportunity to, hopefully, express what they were going through.

Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: Do you have any idea of the nature of that special link shared also with Number Six?
Grace Park: It’s very unusual. I actually don’t think it’s a projection because as you learned Cylons when they project they can make their environment look a way they would like to instead of being in a plain ship or being in the brig, and that is something they can choose to do, but this is not something that Sharon really chose to think about, and it’s very unusual because it’s not just Sharon and other Number Eights but also like we saw Number Six and Gaïus Baltar. It was unclear to us exactly what’s going on, even as actors, but I really do think that there is some type of a message or a meaning within that. Sharing a dream with somebody is very special and very odd and strange, and I think we’re going to look more into the meaning of that. I hope so, because I want to know what’s going on.

Gilles Nuytens: Me too. The show has become much more mysterious than earlier with a lot of supernatural kind of stuff. Do you like the way the show is going?
Grace Park: Yeah I like that. I do like it, because they also don’t take it too seriously, for the supernatural. They do some, and you can read into it, but it’s not completely going in that direction so that it may lose some people. I feel there’s just enough of that, but there is still the main storyline about Adama, or Roslin, and Battlestar Galactica, and the pilots, and it’s really still being character driven and it hasn’t turned into a story only about myths and spirituality, because sometimes then they can become a little too lofty and I think we haven’t done that. One of the things I really enjoy about the show is that it doesn’t--I’m not sure what you do, but I know that when I read it or watch it, I think it’s natural to try to see how it fits into what we already know in society. You know, “Oh, is that the Mormon thinking?” “Oh, are they try to talk about Al-Qaida?”, “The US in Iraq?” or is this supposed to be Hinduism, Buddhism, God, Christianity, we don’t really know. And I don’t think they’re telling it in a way to purposely in a way to confuse us but they’re not purposely following one kind. It’s very smart writing I really enjoy it. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in the end. And I’m pretty sure it’s not going to disappoint.

Gilles Nuytens: When you learned about the four new Cylons, what did you think?
Grace Park: I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the script. When I saw who were Cylons, I never even knew that they would be humans...Well I guess they’re not; they’re Cylons! [Laugh] I never knew that they would be people that we already knew. I was aware that they were going to be in white cloaks for the vision that Sharon, Laura, and Number Six have together. We knew that there were going to be in white cloaks, there was white light, but I guess I always thought that they were going to be that way and I had no idea that we were actually interacting with them. They are people that we knew and loved and actually a lot of them are Cylon haters. They have plotted against Cylons, they killed Cylons, they already do hate the fact that they might be Cylons. But I don’t know maybe it’s just mind control, maybe they’re not Cylons. Maybe this is all to divert us from really who the Last Five really are. I don’t know! [Laugh] It’s a whole new world now. They’re everywhere. They’re not the people at the very top, but they’re the people that you don’t suspect and it’s like everyone’s right hand man, or right hand woman. It’s like all the vice-presidents, or all the XOs, the chief of staff… You could see that as very scary, if you think Cylons are scary, or you could see this as a time to relook at what you’ve been thinking and what you’ve been saying and really to look at this new thing right in the eyes and be truthful and honest with yourself. You can’t just be prideful and thinking that your side is better, because now everything is being rewritten, and so you really have to question what is proper or what are the good values or what is ethical or moral. It’s like these are the decisions that need to be made; you can’t just keep following your side because it’s your side, and that’s what a lot of people don’t do.

Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: Colonel Tigh being a Cylon was very suprising…
Grace Park: Yeah, and it’s weird because D’Anna once said when she saw the Final Five, she says “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t know”, and a few people said oh is that because one of them was Colonel Tigh and they took his eye out. Could be.

Gilles Nuytens: Any idea about who is the Final One?
Grace Park: No I can’t think of anybody it could be and it actually being a good ending. [Laugh] Whenever I come to that type of situation I always think, “ok, it’s nobody”. I hope they end the show and we never find out. I don’t know who it is. I can’t think of who it could be that… because you know when it’s one of those types of movies, as you go along you’ve already thought it’s this person or that person, you’ve already questioned every single person. I think one of the reasons why the mini-serie’s cliff-hanger worked so great because no one expected Sharon Boomer to be a Cylon because she wasn’t a big character, and wasn’t overtly trying to be very much one of the crew, and that’s why it was such a shock.

Gilles Nuytens: What do you think of the switch between Athena and Boomer? I mean. in the first season Boomer was the human side and Athena was the Cylon one. Now it’s the complete opposite. What do you think of that? Do you like that evolution of your characters?
Grace Park: I do like that and what I liked about it is that it wasn’t obvious and it wasn’t so quick. It was quite subtle. And actually, a funny thing really, confusing because Sharon, who was down on the planet, everyone called her Bad Sharon. Like when we were shooting it, was easy to say Good Sharon Bad Sharon. And then slowly, slowly she kept doing all these things that were more good I suppose than what Boomer was doing, and she was becoming much more destructive and then she was finally murdered. And so all of a sudden Bad Sharon became Good Sharon, but then Good Sharo now did some bad things so they go “ok Bad Sharon/Good Sharon who is now bad again”. I’m so happy they gave her a new name because there’s no way we could keep doing that. But one of the reasons why I liked it is that it wasn’t like Freaky Friday or just switching places, it was an organic growth of a person, and you saw that Athena switched places with Boomer in a way. But I don’t know if she really did. I mean she actually switched physical places but she is in so much in a different place than Boomer was, because Boomer didn’t know who she was, didn’t have to go through… it’s almost like the child before you go through the self-awareness, before you go through all the puberty, eventually if you can do all the work and you don’t stay jaded you can become innocent again in your later years, like free and wise, like you were when you were young. But it’s different than if you have never gone through that, and I feel that they both went through a test, but Boomer actually ended up going a little more darker. She was very stubborn and confused and didn’t have a lot of the tools, but also I think she didn’t want to accept a lot of the way but meanwhile Athena had been shaped in a much more different way and she has always horrific things happening to her, yet she trusted, she let go, she had more like a sense of faith, and plus they both believed in different ideologies, or Gods or God. And she ended up forgiving a lot and that created her to be who she is today, so even if Boomer were to come back on Galactica, we all know that she would have a very different role than Athena would. None of the humans would trust her, and that’s not just because she shot Adama.

Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: Yeah she kind of turned to the dark side of the Force. Now we’ll have to wait for ten months before watching the next season. Don't you think that it’s way too long between two seasons?
Grace Park: Yeah that’s a very long time. Unfortunately, that is how long we’re gonna wait because what happened is when we aired in the fall this year, or last year, because we were up against some other things seasonally, like baseball and a lot of shows coming in, new shows, it was more difficult for our voice to be heard, and I think it’s more, I guess they found it a better decision to play in January and I think that’s a great idea you know the more people we can have watching the better. Because I really believe in our show, and what we have to say, and knowing that this most likely will be our last season, we want to just knock it out of the park. Why not have as many viewers as we can?

Gilles Nuytens: Yes it’s a very long time…
Grace Park: I think that’s why they’re having that two hour special in the fall. Just to tease you long enough. And I think it’s actually gonna be really good. So….People won’t forget that Battlestar is on, is out there, to keep us on the radar.

Gilles Nuytens: We now know that Chief Tyrol is a Cylon. What do you think would have happened if Boomer and the Chief were still together? I mean two Cylons together, it’s not common.
Grace Park: I know they would be fighting a lot. Their relationship always seemed to be rather tumultuous. I don’t know… I certainly know that they wouldn’t have a baby because we know that two Cylons can’t have children together. They can clone, but they can’t actually have children and that’s why they had this really bizarre and inhumane idea of trying to impregnate humans when they were down on Caprica…and they had the so-called the farm which was pretty alarming. Somehow not as far-fetched as we might think, in some ways. I’m not saying aliens, but just what people will do to each other, it’s pretty horrifying what’s been happening in the world, in different countries and different decades. But I don’t really know what would have happened with those two.

Gilles Nuytens: We have seen Cylons sleeping with humans but never between themselves. Do you know if there is a reason?
Grace Park: That’s a good question. The truth is that Cylons do sleep with each other, they do engage in sex and physical acts. They actually consider it even much more casual than we do in America today, which is already pretty casual. But the thing is we don’t actually show it on TV a lot. I’m not sure why. I would actually like to see some Cylon on Cylon action, but two men Cylons, because we always have the women Cylon being naked but we never see the guys. You know that T'ai Chi scene that Sharon does we thought it would be actually really good if Doral did it. That would have been much more weird, coming in and Doral’s doing naked T'ai Chi.

Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: Are you going to working on any projects until you get back to Galactica?
Grace Park: Well we are coming back actually very soon, so there are still some projects that I am looking at. I had to do a play in Vancouver called The Boys Next Door and a film that I did last time called West 32nd . It’s coming on the Tribeca Film Festival in two weeks, I think. So I’m gonna head over there for that. I really enjoyed that. It was a great film, with John Cho, and actors from Korea. But to work on another project, I think right now I’m going to focus on Battlestar again, because we are coming back. There’s always other projects, though, that are coming in and they look very interesting. So right now I haven’t decided to pick them up just yet, but I’ve been reading lots of good scripts.

Gilles Nuytens: Do you have any career goals for writing, producing or directing for television or motion pictures?
Grace Park: I don’t have any career goal for that, but I do have a goal to try it because I would like to experience that and I would like to try that just to see what it would do for me. It would most likely stretch me in and I’d grow and have fun. It could be horrible and it wouldn’t matter because I’m not trying to make a career out of it. Who knows because I wasn’t interested in acting when I was young and I wasn’t interested in doing a play and I just did that in January, so I don’t know. I know Jamie Bamber is thinking of that. We have some of the actors now that are shadowing our directors because we have really phenomenal directors on our show coming in, and a very good relationship with them. I think I would start doing that I would be shadowing them and exploring their process, but I’m not looking into jump into that scen any time soon. It’s a big shift and it’s a whole new career to work on. But I’m very curious. I am very interested, I love seeing the process work. I don’t think I’ll be acting forever, so, if anything, I’d like to see what’s that’s about.

Gilles Nuytens: You mentioned that acting was not your first choice. What would you have done if you weren’t acting?
Grace Park: When I was young, for some bizarre reason I thought being a research scientist was really fun. Then later I think I thought of maybe being chef, especially being chef, in a restaurant or in another country, but I think if you could combine traveling and food together and you could have a show hosting or writing cook books while taking photos and assembling a cookbook, that would be so phenomenal, it would be so much fun. And then sometimes I just fantize about having a bed and breakfast on some island, who knows where. It could be Vancouver Island, it could be in the Tropics. But right now I’m acting, nothing like any of the other things.

Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: You seem quite busy. What is the hardest part of your job?
Grace Park: I think staying sane. A lot of times, there is some much attention to what… I think this is the biggest industry in the United States: entertainment, right now. I’m not sure if it’s the biggest money-making or what not, but somehow it’s topping some type of economic study in the United States. I just find there’s a lot of strange forces at play in our culture, including capitalism and the myth of perfection and the history of how America came to be, and leaving Britain, and so there’s a sense of rebelliousness. To me, I kind of link that as being more useful or child-like rather than maturing and parent-like. There is that glee in that, you know, Americans love to constantly think of themselves as kids or young or youth. And I think all these things really mixed together have fueled this industry to be quite like a pressure pot. There’s a lot of pressure on people, especially young women in the industry. If it’s not the pressure to stay thin, it’s the pressure to look like you’re not trying, or the pressure to look young, or to be talented, or to have style, or just have a good career. There seems to be so many strange things to be able to concentrate on, but really none of these things are important. So I think one of the most difficult parts of being [an actress] is I guess figuring out what is important. I guess clearing my vision up somewhat, because I think I concentrate on a lot of those other things. Because as we grow up, we listen to what our friends say and what the media says, and it’s not really taht smart. it’s better to go and listen to what long-term cultural traditions or what our parents said. So much more wisdom in that. And go back to proper faith, because it will keep you more grounded. Ultimately, when you die, those other things really don’t matter. But when you’re young you don’t care, you’re like, who cares, I’m not thinking about death, I just want to have fun, I want to go to a party, I want to look hot. It’s just got to be a fever pitch for me. Really staying sane is one of the toughest parts. And try not to compare yourself to the best actors, because everyone wants to do that. No matter what, you always fail.

Gilles Nuytens: With acting and modeling, what are the points you enjoy the most in these two crafts?
Grace Park: Oh…I love how modeling is so visually creative and there’s a limitation to what you can do in modeling because it’s usually print, and somehow I find that when you have a limitation, I find myself to be able to be more creative and free within that. It’s kind of like when you’re at school and you have to write an essay and it’s “Write about anything” it’s almost make it too vast. I can be and indecisive person, but to be able to have some boundaries makes it easier. And plus I’m very much a romantic and to be able to tell these stories visually with a sense of “chickiness” or romance or edginess there are some many stories that can be told just with a simple photo. And I really do love that about modeling, and it’s simpler. Not everyone can be a model, but if you are within that group, it can definitely be a lot of fun. Whereas with acting, it’s so much more rewarding in a way, because you put so much more into it, you put a lot of heart into it. Not that you don’t put heart into modeling, but I think acting requires a lot more of that and a lot more of self-discovery and awareness; I think it’s kind of a pre-requisite. Even if you have a lot of talent as an actor, there’s many more steps to take before you actually start working.

Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: You play with Tricia Helfer in the video-game Command and Conquer 3 but were filming at the same time. Did you speak about it sometimes?
Grace Park: We actually knew we were both doing the same video game and I came really late into the picture, so I just asked her some things about it. But then I found out we were on opposite sides. I was in GDI and she was in Nod, and they are like two warring sides. So it’s like the Cylons and the humans because they are at war. So I never got to work with her, I didn’t see her, but we did some press together. So it was funny, but also really normal because since we do Battlestar together it’s felt very comfortable but we were doing a whole different project. So the strange thing there is so much ease even though it was totally different. Yeah, a lot of people ask us about that.



Gilles Nuytens: And how was the whole experience of working on this game?
Grace Park: It was good! I found it was much simpler than I was fearing it was going to be, I didn’t know what to expect but they ended up doing it very similar just to regular acting. But we had to look into the camera because the player is gonna watch it and we‘re talking to the player. So that was quite different. And the set was much, much smaller. I think I wore heells, and nobody in Battlestar Galactica wears heels except maybe the President, but she’s not an officer. It was nice, and plus it’s different: it’s video-game, it’s not real life, it’s not as gritty as… we’re not trying to portray realism as much as Battlestar Galactica, so there is a sense of humor. I kind of made my character a little more softy, so it was fun.

Gilles Nuytens: In Galactica, which characters would you like to see your character interact with more?
Grace Park: I feel there’s unfinished business between Sharon and Tigh and Sharon and the Chief. Even though it’s not the same person, it’s the same model, and I think there’s a connection there. I would really like to see them interacting a little bit more. But now that I know that they are the Final Five, I really want them to interact. I want to know what’s going to happen. I want to know what the Final Five is. Like what they are so supposed to do, what their purpose is. I want to know more about that. I’m so curious.

Grace Park interview Battlestar GalacticaGilles Nuytens: How was it to act with a baby? Is that something you enjoyed doing?
Grace Park: I love Lilly. She’s so cute, she’s really an adorable child, really fun to play with. But she does not get happy when she comes on the set. In her trailer she is laughing, eating, having fun, but as soon as she steps in the studio, it’s very dark, she starts crying and it’s so heartbreaking. Me and Tahmoh are up in arms when we are trying to do the scenes with her because she always gets so upset and we don’t know how to make her feel better. But it’s actually perfect because she’s always supposed to be upset in the thing anyway but I really do feel that we are traumatizing her, and pretty soon we’re going to start a petition to have her off the show or have another actress. Not that we don’t love her, she’s perfect, except that we want her to have a good experience. And maybe when she grows up she’ll look back and say “Oh, yeah that was me” or she might look back and hate us [laugh]. But yeah, it’s very chllenging and sometimes when we can’t get it to work we’re like, “ok, we just have to pretend that she is sleeping in this scene. We’ve got to get the scene done”. We’ve actually had scene times when we would just wait for about thirty minutes to try to get her to calm down. It’s not easy, and now that’s she’s learned to talk it’s going to be even more challenging, so we’ll see what happens.

Gilles Nuytens: One last question: how was the experience of answering fan questions of the SciFi World forums?
Grace Park: Oh, it was good! I think I tried to answer them all, and then some nice people would respond and there would be more and more questions so I guess I kept trying to finish it, and it was a little alarming for me. I was like “Ok, I‘ll step away for a little while and then come back”. And I guess it’s a little overwhelming sometimes because doing lots of press, and people have similar questions and interests and curiosity about the show, so just retelling the same thing over and over is a little frustrating because I kind of wish that everyone could get information at once but they can’t, you know. So I feel sometimes I’m answering the same question for I don’t know how many people maybe five people, but maybe there’s 5 000 or 50,000 looking at it but there’s only a small collection that are writing. I’m grateful, though, that people are interested and they say Happy Birthday, or they post their questions or their points of view, very interesting stuff. And then we learn things on the website that we haven’t thought of. So thank you for that!

Gilles Nuytens: Any chance for a come back on the forum ?
Grace Park: Yeah, of course. I would like to come back on the forum.

Gilles Nuytens: Can you say a few words to the people of The SciFi World?
Grace Park: Hi, this is Grace Park from Battlestar Galactica. Thank you all the fans on SciFi World. It’s really exciting to see you being interactive on the website and it’s so much fun being a part of th show and I hope that you’re having as much fun being a part of it by interacting on the forums as much as we are because we get to talk about it with each other and I guess in a way that’s how you guys are doing as well. So thank you, keep the comments coming, we are watching and dropping in once in a while, so…on to season 4!

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  Check also our first interview with Grace Park here

© 2007 Interview by Gilles Nuytens for The Scifi World
Transcript by Mathieu Pesin (Angel10), reviewed by Jennifer Redelle Carey


 



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